The Guiding Pillar. Exodus 13:21, 22; Nehemiah 9:12
The pillar of cloud by day and fire by night was the outward and visible sign of the divine leadership of the Exodus movement. It hovered over the camp when they rested, and went before them when they marched. Israel kept their eyes on the cloudy chariot and it indicated when they should march and which way they should go. That Christ was the occupant of the cloudy and fiery chariot is evident from several texts: 1 Corinthians 10:1-4; Isaiah 63:8, 9, 12; Nehemiah 9:6-15. It was Christ who led and preserved the Exodus movement, and the pillar was the visible sign of His presence and leadership. It was Christ who furnished Israel with both physical and spiritual food; who gave the law and all the instructions concerning the sanctuary and its services.
The Advent Movement
Christ is likewise the Leader of modern Israel in the Advent movement. 1 Corinthians 10:9, 11. Those who sin in this movement are tempting Christ the Leader. God's remnant people are likewise guided and protected by a pillar of cloud and fire, or light. Isaiah 4:5, 6; 49:1-12, 22, 23. "I saw a covering that God was drawing over His people to protect them in the time of trouble; and every soul that was decided on the truth, and was pure in heart, was to be covered with the covering of the Almighty." Early Writings, p. 43. What is the light that guides, and the covering and shield that protects God's remnant people on their journey to the heavenly Canaan? Psalm 91:1-4; 9-12; Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 6:22, 23; John 1:4, 9, 10. "I am the Light of the world," said Jesus.
The Visible Sign
The outward and visible sign that modern Israel is under divine leadership is their obedience to the Law and the Scriptures. Isaiah 20; 1 John 2:3, 4. The Sabbath as the seal of the law and the mark of loyalty to the true God, is the sign of sanctification. Ezekiel 20:12, 20. "There is a great similarity between our history and that of the children of Israel. God led His people from Egypt into the wilderness, where they could keep His law and obey His voice. So, at this time, there is a people whom God has made the depositaries of His law. To those who obey them, the commandments of God are as a pillar of fire, lighting and leading the way to eternal salvation." Vol. 4:27. Christ is the living Law and Word.
"Every chapter and every verse of the Bible is a communication from God to man. If studied and obeyed, it would lead God's people as the Israelites were led, by the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night." Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 504.
The Human Agent. Hosea 12:13
The Exodus movement was led and preserved by Christ through the human instrumentality of Moses, His prophet and spokesman. Moses was assisted by Aaron and Miriam. Psalm 77:20; Micah 6:4. The movement would have gone to pieces on many different occasions had it not been for the spirit of prophecy that held it together. Without this divine gift the Israelites never would have left Egypt, and after leaving Egypt they never could have reached Canaan but would have returned to Egyptian bondage. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had the gift of prophecy, but this gift was withdrawn during the time Israel was in bondage and darkness because they had forgotten God and His law. Proverbs 29:18; Lamentations 2:9.
Character of Moses. Numbers 12:3
Meekness is one of the chief qualifications for leadership and has characterized all of God's prophets. Moses did not seek leadership. Exodus 3:10, 11; 4:10-14. Esteeming others better and more qualified than themselves has always been the attitude of those whom God chooses to do special service for Him. But Moses did not shirk responsibility. He was afraid that Israel would not believe him or accept him as their prophet and leader. Exodus 4:1, 29-31. Israel was soon convinced that Moses was chosen of God to be His spokesman and their leader. As the end of the prophetic period was approaching, the Lord began to prepare His agencies for the deliverance of His people. Moses was born on time and trained for the task. Acts 7:17-22. The forty years as a shepherd in the Land of Midian was an important part of his preparation to shepherd Israel for forty years in the same wilderness.
Not "by prophets," but "by a Prophet" was Israel led and preserved during their journey from Egypt to the borders of the promised land. Moses, the prophet of the Exodus movement, died a short time before Israel entered Canaan. Before his death, Moses was given a vision of the promised land including the new earth. Deuteronomy 34:1-4. "And now a panoramic view of the land of promise was presented to him. Every part of the country was spread out before him, not faint and uncertain in the dim distance, but standing out clear, distinct, and beautiful to his delighted vision. In this scene it was presented, not as it then appeared, but as it would become, with God's blessing upon it, in possession of Israel. He seemed to be looking upon a second Eden." "Still another scene opens to his view, the earth freed from the curse, lovelier than the fair land of promise so lately spread out before him. There is no sin, and death cannot enter. There the nations of the saved find their eternal home. With joy unutterable, Moses looks upon the scene, the fulfillment of a more glorious deliverance than his brightest hopes have ever pictured. Their earthly wanderings forever past, the Israel of God have at last entered the goodly land." Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 472, 477. Moses also saw the deliverance under the Advent movement in that last vision.
Burden of Moses
Moses was afraid that the younger generation who had not witnessed the power of God in the beginning of the movement would fail to recognize its divine leadership all along the way. "Before relinquishing his position as the visible leader of Israel, Moses was directed to rehearse to them the history of their deliverance from Egypt and their journeyings in the wilderness, and also to recapitulate the law spoken from Sinai. When the law was given, but few of the present generation were old enough to comprehend the awful solemnity of the occasion." "After the public rehearsal of the law, Moses completed the work of writing all the laws, the statutes, and the judgments which God had given him, and all the regulations concerning the sacrificial system. The book containing these was placed in charge of the proper officers, and was for safe-keeping deposited in the side of the ark. Still the great leader was filled with fear that the people would depart from God. In a most sublime and thrilling address he set before them the blessings that would be theirs on condition of obedience, and the curses that would follow upon transgression." Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 463, 466. Before Moses died he was given all the instruction needed to take the Children of Israel into the promised land and establish them there. He wrote out this instruction and Joshua simply carried it out as the appointed leader of Israel. Deuteronomy 34:9, 10.
Test of Prophetic Gift. Deut. 13:1-5
The Lord told ancient Israel how to test the claim to the gift of prophecy. The performing of a miracle or the fulfilling of a prediction do not in themselves constitute sufficient evidence. The magicians of Pharaoh performed signs and the Witch of Endor foretold the death of Saul. Through conjecture based on his knowledge of the past, through the wonders of modern science, and because of his ability to carry out his own predictions or plans, Satan through his human mediums and false prophets is able to perform wonders and reveal future events. God alone can actually see the future. The only safe test is the life and teachings of the prophet. Both must be in harmony with the word and character of God. Isaiah 8:20. God chooses "holy men" to speak for Him. And yet His prophets have all been human beings subject to all the mistakes and frailties of mankind. They must get the victory and develop characters in the same way that others do. James 5:17. Deuteronomy 18:9-15 is a timely warning for both ancient and modern Israel.
In Advent Movement. 1 Corinthians 1:6-8; 12:1-28; Ephesians 4:8-11; Revelation 12:17; 19:10.
The gift of prophecy played an important part in the apostolic church. But during the "falling away" the spirit of prophecy with all the gifts of the Spirit gradually diminished in their operations. During the middle ages of darkness and apostasy the gift of prophecy was divinely bestowed only occasionally and then temporarily. With the dawn of the Reformation, spiritual gifts began to return. At times the Lord gave visions and dreams to Savonarola, Wycliffe, Luther, Huss, Jerome, John Wesley, and other godly reformers to help them through emergencies. But not until the Advent message started and began to bring a people all the way back to the faith once delivered to the saints, including obedience to all the commandments of God, did the Lord place the gift upon a permanent prophet in the Church.
The Instrument Chosen
In 1842 the gift of prophecy was given to J.B. Finley, a godly young man who believed the advent message. He was given a vision to prepare the church for the disappointment, and because he did not understand its meaning he refused to follow instructions to relate it. Later in the same year the same vision was given to William Foy, a young Baptist who was preparing for the ministry. For the same reason he refused to relate it to the Advent people. The vision was contrary to their teachings and expectations regarding the future and he was sure they would not believe him. Early in 1844 the same vision was given to Hazen Foss who was instructed to relate it so as to prepare the Adventists for the bitter disappointment soon to take place. He too refused and the Lord told him that the gift would be given to "the weakest of the weak." It was bestowed upon Ellen G. Harmon, who at the age of 17 was given the same vision which she faithfully related.
"After I came out of this vision, I was exceedingly troubled. My health was very poor, and I was but seventeen years old. I knew that many had fallen through exaltation, and I knew that if I in any way became exalted, God would leave me, and I should surely be lost. I went to the Lord in prayer and begged Him to lay the burden on someone else. It seemed to me that I could not bear it. I lay upon my face a long time, and all the light I could get was, 'Make known to others what I have revealed to you.' In my next vision I earnestly begged of the Lord, that, if I must go and relate what He had shown me, He would keep me from exaltation. Then He showed me that my prayer was answered, and if I should be in danger of exaltation His hand should be laid upon me, and I should be afflicted with sickness." Early Writings, pp. 20, 21. The prophet of the Advent movement was as meek and humble as Moses. Just as Moses was afraid to tell Israel that the Lord had appeared to him, so the instrument chosen to be God's spokesman in these days hesitated to relate her vision to modern Israel.
But One Prophet
"By a prophet" has modern Israel been led and preserved, not by "prophets." Mrs. Ellen G. White was the prophet of the advent movement for 71 years and still is through her written testimonies. In harmony with the type there will doubtless be no other regular prophet and indeed there is no need of one. Like Moses she died on the borders of the heavenly Canaan without enjoying the privilege of translation, but before her death all the instruction for the entire journey of the advent people was written out in detail. While the gift will doubtless be temporarily given to various persons during the very closing days to help God's people through emergencies and crises, there is really no need for another regular prophet. See Joel 2:28-30. The duty of the leaders now is to carry out the instruction given in such abundance. Before her death God's servant was given visions of the heavenly Canaan to cheer on the Advent people to the end of their pilgrimage. She was promised a part in the inheritance.
Led and Preserved
This movement would have gone to pieces long ago had it not been for the guidance of God through the gift of prophecy. Through this means the plans of Satan for the disrupting of the movement have been disclosed, and his false doctrines and deceptions have been revealed. In times of crisis, instruction has come to guide the church safely through, and time has abundantly demonstrated that the instruction was of divine origin. Through this gift perplexing problems have been solved and hidden truths revealed. Our success or failure as individuals or as a church depends upon our attitude toward the instruction given through this medium.
Satan's Anger. Revelation 12:17
"Furiously angry." Wey. From Satans viewpoint there is every reason why he should hate the gift of prophecy in the church and persecute the prophet. He always has. Through this means the Lord reveals his most secret plans against the church. See 2 Kings 6:8-17. Through this gift the Lord leads and preserves His church, and obedience to the instruction of God through His prophets brings prosperity. 2 Chronicles 20:20. The bitterest attacks made against the Advent movement have been and will continue to be against the Spirit of Prophecy. These attacks will grow more frequent and fierce as we near the end. Every effort will be made to undermine faith and confidence in this gift and the instruction given through it.
Meets the Test
The most modern of all of God's prophets meets all the tests of a true prophet. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-23. This shows that there will be prophesying in the remnant of God's church that will stand the test of proof and investigation, and that this gift will be instrumental in perfecting a people for translation. Wherever there is the false there must be the true. Satan never counterfeits what does not exist. There will be many false prophets in the last days. Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12; Revelation 13:13, 14; 16:14. The test of a true prophet is not on the basis of appearance or miracles, or even the fulfillment of predictions. The important questions are, first, does the life of the prophet harmonize with the Scriptures? And second, are the instructions in harmony with the law and the testimony of the other prophets? When Canright was making his attacks against Sister White and her writings he was publicly asked if he thought anyone would be saved who followed the example of her life and obeyed the instructions of her writings. His answer was, "Yes."
A Human Being
No prophet of God was ever fully accepted as a prophet by all the members of the church to whom they ministered. It always has been true that, "a prophet is not without honor, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house." Mark 6:4. The great prophet Elijah "was a man subject to like passions as we are" and so were all the other prophets including Sister White. The bestowing of the gift of prophecy or any of the other spiritual gifts does not insure perfection. A prophet, like an apostle, pastor, teacher, or evangelist, must develop character in the same way as the humblest member of the church. Having a gift of the Spirit does not insure perfection or victory over sin. It does add to one's responsibility to live a careful Christian life. When the Lord selected Ellen G. Harmon, she was "the weakest of the weak," both physically and intellectually and then He demonstrated what He could do through such a weak instrument. See 1 Corinthians 1:27-29. We must learn to take our eyes off of the weak human instrument and fix them upon the divine gift. The human instrument was subject to the mistakes and frailties of human flesh, but the gift itself is divine and therefore infallible.
"If man had kept the law of God, as given to Adam after his fall, preserved by Noah, and observed by Abraham, there would have been no necessity for the ordinance of circumcision. And if the descendants of Abraham had kept the covenant, of which circumcision was a sign, they would never have been seduced into idolatry, nor would it have been necessary for them to suffer a life of bondage in Egypt; they would have kept God's law in mind, and there would have been no necessity for it to be proclaimed from Sinai, or graven upon tables of stone. And had the people practiced the principles of the ten commandments, there would have been no need of the additional directions given to Moses." P.P. 364. In other words, most of the instruction to ancient Israel through the gift of prophecy would have been unnecessary if they had faithfully obeyed the law and the instructions previously given.
In Advent Movement
The same is true today. The Spirit of Prophecy among God's remnant people does not reveal additional light but calls us back to the neglected Scriptures. "If you had made God's word your study, with a desire to reach the Bible standard and attain to Christian perfection, you would not have needed the Testimonies. The written Testimonies are not to give new light, but to impress vividly upon the heart the truths of inspiration already revealed. Additional truth is not brought out; but God has through the Testimonies simplified the great truths already given, and in His own chosen way brought them before the people, to awaken and impress the mind with them, that all may be left without excuse." Life Sketches, p.198, 199.
"I referred them to ancient Israel. God gave them His law; but they would not obey it. He then gave them ceremonies and ordinances, that in the performance of these, God might be kept in remembrance. They were so prone to forget Him and His claims upon them, that it was necessary to keep their minds stirred up to realize their obligations to obey and honor their Creator. Had they been obedient, and loved to keep Gods commandments, the multitude of ceremonies and ordinances would not have been required. If the people who now profess to be God's peculiar treasure would obey His requirements, as specified in His word, special testimonies would not be given to awaken them to their duty, and impress upon them their sinfulness and fearful danger in neglecting to obey the word of God. Consciences have been blunted, because light has been set aside, neglected and despised." Ibid., pp. 200, 201.
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