ORGANIZATION AND FINANCES
The Exodus Movement was throughly organized. Exodus 12:17; 13:18. “By five in a rank.”—Margin. Numbers 10:18. “According to their armies.” They were organized after the pattern of an army, the most thorough of all human organizations. Moses had been the commander-in-chief of the armies of Egypt and was therefore well trained for organizing and handling large bodies of people. There were doubtless between two and four millions of men, women and children who left Egypt, besides their vast herds of domestic animals, and it would have been impossible to lead them on such a journey without the discipline and organization of an army.
The organization of the movement was further perfected as the needs required. Exodus18:13-26. Who was Jethro who gave this counsel? Verses 1, 12. He was a priest of God. The Israelites had seven groups of rulers or leaders over as many divisions. Moses was the general human leader of the entire movement, which was divided into the twelve tribal divisions with their respective leaders or princes. These were sub-divided into bodies of thousands, hundreds, fifties, tens and fives, with their respective leaders. The organization was so complete that when Balaam saw the camp of Israel in such perfect order, “according to their tribes”, that the “spirit of the Lord came upon him” and he blessed those he had come to curse. Numbers 24:2. Without this perfect organization the Exodus Movement would have utterly failed of its purpose and would have been helpless against its enemies. Organization saved the movement from going to pieces when the different apostasies and offshoots tried to wreck it or lead it back to Egypt.
Spirit of Prophecy
“The government of Israel was characterized by the most thorough organization, wonderful alike for its completeness and its simplicity. The order so strikingly displayed in the perfection and arrangement of all God’s created works was manifest in the Hebrew economy. God was the center of authority and government, the sovereign of Israel. Moses stood as their visible leader, by God’s appointment, to administer the laws in His name. From the elders of the tribes a council of seventy was afterwards chosen to assist Moses in the general affairs of the nation. Next came the priests, who consulted the Lord in the sanctuary. Chiefs, or princes, ruled over the tribes. Under these were ‘captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens’; and lastly, officers who might be employed for special duties.”—P.P. 374. See Deuteronomy 1:15.
In 1 Corinthians 12 the church is symbolized by the human body with the head representing Christ, its Leader, and the various members symbolizing the divisions of the church into working bodies. The human body is the most perfect symbol of organization known, even exceeding that of an army. It represents the most perfect unity and cooperation down to the smallest and humblest members which are said to be “necessary”. One of the spiritual gifts enumerated in verse 28 is “governments” or “directors”. “Powers of organization” -Wey. “Capacity to govern.”—C.N.T. “Administrators”—(Moffatt). In Romans 12:8, “he that ruleth” is rendered “the President” in the Twentieth Century New Testament. In Ephesians 2:19-23 the church is represented as a building “fitly framed together”. No one part of a building can stand alone. Although there are pillars and timbers holding more important positions than others, all are necessary to make a complete building.
Similar to Israel
The organization of the Advent Movement is strikingly similar to that of the Exodus Movement and there has been no effort to imitate it either. The President of the General Conference corresponds to the position of Moses, the princes of the twelve tribal divisions to the presidents of the division conferences of which there are twelve, the captains over thousands to the presidents of union conferences, the captains over hundreds to the presidents of local conferences, the captains over fifties to the pastors of churches, the captains over tens to the leaders of departments in the church, and the groups “five in a rank” to the band organizations in the church and the classes in the Sabbath School.
Order in Heaven
Order is said to be heaven’s first law. The universe is well organized. Among the stars there is perfect order, system and organization. The angels are formed into companies with leaders. Christ is “the Great Prince” and “the Captain of the Lord’s Host.” He declared that “legions of angels were under His command. “God is a God of order. Everything connected with heaven is in perfect order; subjection and thorough discipline mark the movements of the angelic host. Success can only attend order and harmonious action. God requires order and system in His work now no less than in the days of Israel.”—P.P. 376.
Evil Hosts Organized
While Satan would like to see God’s work disorganized, and uses his agents to attempt to accomplish this purpose, he believes in a thorough organization for his own forces and government. Ephesians 6:12. “O how Satan would rejoice if he could succeed in his efforts to get in among this people, and disorganize the work at a time when thorough organization is essential, and will be the greatest power to keep out spurious uprisings, and to refute claims not endorsed by the word of God. We want to build the lines evenly, that there shall be no breaking down of the system of organization and order that has been built up by wise, careful labor.”—Vol. 9:258. Of course organization is a power for evil if not under the control of God. “Organizations, institutions, unless kept by the power of God, will work under Satan’s dictation to bring men under the control of men; and fraud and guile will bear the semblance of zeal for truth, and for the advancement of the kingdom of God.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 494.
Organization calls for a financial system to operate it. The chief source of revenue for the church is the tithe. The tithing system largely financed the Exodus Movement. Leviticus 27:30-32. The tithe is on the same basis as the Sabbath. Both are “holy unto the Lord.” The Creator reserves one seventh of our time and one tenth of our income. The first is a recognition that He is the Creator of all things, and the second that He is the Owner of all things. Psalm 24:1. The purpose of the tithe is given in Numbers 18:21-26. Because of the principle involved in tithe paying, the priest paid tithe on the tithe they received. Nehemiah 10:38. The tithe had to be paid into the recognized treasury to be distributed by the appointed treasurers. Nehemiah 13:10-13. No person was permitted to make his own decision as to where the tithe should be paid and how it should be used. If it was wrongly used by the priests they had to bear the responsibility and not those who paid it. It belongs to the Lord and must go into His treasury. Malachi 3:8-10.
Not a New System
The tithing system was not new as it was God’s plan in the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Genesis 14:18-20; 28:20-22. Like many other truths and institutions the tithing system was lost sight of during the sojourn of Israel in Egypt. A recognition that God is the Owner as well as the Creator must be a part of every reformation. The tithe is numbered among the first-fruits and if it is faithfully paid it will be followed by a fruitful harvest. Proverbs 3:9,10; Malachi 3:8-12. Both temporal and spiritual blessings are promised. Unfaithfulness brings a withering curse because it is declared to be robbery. It is that form of robbery known as embezzlement because it is a breach of trust.
In ancient Israel there were also many different free-will offerings for various purposes. The tithe is not an offering because it belongs to God. It is estimated that the Israelites gave from one fifth to one fourth of their income in tithes and offerings. The first-fruits of everything were given to the Lord. Every special spiritual, temporal or physical blessing was celebrated with a thank-offering. Since the plan of salvation was laid in sacrifice there is a very close relation between giving and spirituality. Prosperity in health and the temporal blessings of life depend more than we realize upon soul prosperity. 3 John 2. In Deuteronomy 16:16,17 we are given the true basis of giving. This is the basis on which the tithe is paid. If all would do this there would be plenty of means in the treasury.
A Liberal People
Israel was the most liberal of all ancient peoples. Their liberality in free-will offerings for the building of the sanctuary is a good demonstration of their spirit. Exodus 25:1-8; 35:21, 22; 36:5-7. The offerings must be made “willingly” and be love-gifts from the heart. the Lord refuses to accept gifts grudgingly made. Since they had been a race of slaves, where did they get their wealth? Genesis 15:13, 14. They came out of Egypt “with great substance.” The Exodus Movement was a tremendous undertaking. A nation of several millions of people must be rooted up, led through a barren country, and transplanted in a new territory after destroying thirty nations each stronger than they. It looked like a super-human task and it was. But God was the Leader and nothing is impossible with Him.
Wealth of Egyptians. Exodus 11:2, 3; 12:35, 36.
“Borrow is a very unfortunate translation and gives a wrong impression. The Revised Version says “ask” as does also the Douay. “They let the people have what they asked for.” (Moffatt). The meaning is to solicit, beseech, and almost demand as it if was the duty of the Egyptians to give. “Demand” (Fenton). It was their duty as they owed their very lives to the Israelites. Joseph had saved the nation from ruin. The wealth of the Egyptians not only belonged to the Lord but they had gotten rich through the slave labor of the Israelites. “The Egyptians had made slaves of the children of Israel, when they were not slaves, and the Egyptians were not entitled to their labor. They had only allowed the children of Israel a sustenance, and had enriched themselves with the labor which they had extorted from them.”—Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 3, p.191. The Israelites only asked for what rightly belonged to them, their just wages. It was not a loan, or even a gift, but a debt. They received “such things as they required”.
“It is plain that the gold and silver articles and the raiment, were free-will gifts, which the Egyptians never expected to see again, and which the Hebrews asked and took, but in no sense “borrowed”. Hengstenberg and Kurtz have shown clearly that the primary meaning of the words translated ‘borrowed’ and ‘lent’ is ‘asked’ and ‘granted’ and that the sense of ‘borrowing’ and ‘lending’ is only to be assigned to them when it is required by the context. -George Rawlinson in “Pulpit Commentary”. Because of their misconception of the meaning of these texts the Mormons believe that it is proper to borrow of their Gentile neighbors and never repay or return that which they borrowed. Others do the same thing without the pretext of Scriptural backing. A neglect to return or repay that which is borrowed is a form of stealing.
Secret of Success
All the Israelites took part in this ingathering campaign and every man asked his neighbor, and every woman her neighbor and those that sojourned “in her house”. Every man solicited “his friend”. They were on friendly terms with their neighbors. “The Lord gave them favor in the sight of the Egyptians”, and their gifts were willing and liberal. Most of the wealth was in jewels and vessels of gold and silver, and in raiment. Much of this was put to a wrong use especially by the “mixed multitude”. They used them for adornment and from the jewels the golden calf was made at Mount Sinai. Exodus 32:1-4. The offerings for the building of the sanctuary were mostly jewels and vessels of Gold and Silver solicited from the Egyptians.
The Advent Movement
The world-wide work of modern Israel is supported largely by the tithing system. 1 Corinthians 9:13, 14. “Even so” indicates the same means or system. The Lord instituted the tithing system and it therefore cannot be improved upon by human inventions. Christ placed His approval upon tithe paying and named it as one of the Christian duties. Matthew 23:23. It is just as necessary to recognize God as the Owner now as in the days of ancient Israel. The Melchizedek priesthood was supported by the tithe and that priesthood is unchangeable. Hebrews 7:1-3,24. The priesthood of Christ is after the same order. All Christians are children of Abraham and will therefore “do the works of Abraham”. Galatians 3:29; John 8:39. One of the works of Abraham was to pay tithe to support the Melchizedek priesthood which is continued in the priesthood of Christ. This is not a new system but a return to what was lost when the church went into Babylon where is was supplanted by many foolish and man-made substitutes. Tithe paying is a part of the reformation that prepares a people for the second advent of Christ.
Besides the tithe it requires many annual, monthly and weekly free-will offerings to finance the great undertaking of a world-movement. Only the offerings that are made freely and cheerfully are acceptable to the Lord. 2 Corinthians 9:6,7. No gift should ever be made grudgingly or because of pressure. Force or high pressure methods are out of place in God’s work, and begging and undue urging should never be permitted. “There may sometimes have been too much urging for means. But when the light and love of Jesus illuminates the hearts of His followers, there will be no occasion for urging or begging their money or their service. … They will with cheerful heart and unswerving fidelity render to God the things that are His. The Lord will not accept an offering that is made unwillingly, grudgingly.”—Vol. 5:285.
Most Liberal People
Seventh-day Adventists have the reputation of being the most liberal people in the world. The tithe and offerings per capita for home and foreign work exceeds that of other religious bodies. We are constantly held up as worthy examples in liberal giving. “If the Methodist Episcopal Church had given as much per capita for all church expenses as the Seventh-day Adventist gave, she would have paid $163,175,261 in a single year instead of $47,074,301, or enough to take care of all her church expenses and $116,100,960 to apply on her Centenary subscription, thus paying in a single year the whole five year quota. —World Survey of the Interchurch World Movement, Foreign Volume, p. 184. This is a sample of many such comparisons.
No Cause for Boasting
“The work of God, which should be going forward with ten-fold its present strength and efficiency, is kept back, like a spring season held by the chilling blast of winter, because some of God’s professed people are appropriating to themselves the means that should be dedicated to His service. Because Christ’s self-sacrificing love is not interwoven into the life practices, the church is weak where it should be strong. By its own course it has put out its light, and robbed millions of the gospel of Christ.” R.H. Oct. 13, 1896.
“The True Witness declares, ‘I know thy works.’ … They profess to believe that Jesus is coming; but their works deny their faith. Every person will live out all the faith he has. False-hearted professor, ‘Jesus knows thy works.’ He hates your stinted offerings, your lame sacrifices.”—Vol.1:195.
Covenant by Sacrifice. Psalm 50:3-5
We do not yet know much about real sacrifice. “I looked to see who of those who professed to be looking for Christ’s coming, possessed a willingness to sacrifice offerings to God or their abundance. I could see a few humble poor ones, who like the poor widow, were stinting themselves, and casting in their mite. Every such offering is accounted to God as precious treasure. But those who are acquiring means, and adding to their possessions, are far behind. They do comparatively nothing to what they might. They are withholding, and robbing God, for they are fearful that they shall come to want. They dare not trust God. This is one of the reasons that, as a people, we are so sickly, and so many are falling into their graves.”—Vol. 2:198, 199.
Wealth of Gentiles. Isaiah 60:1-16
This will happen during the latter rain after the church has been awakened by the Laodicean message and is clothed in the glory of Christ’s righteousness. “God has an abundance in our world, and He has placed His goods in the hands of all, both the obedient and the disobedient. He is ready to move upon the hearts of worldly men, even idolaters, to give of their abundance for the support of His work; and He will do this soon as His people learn to approach these men wisely and to call their attention to that which it is their privilege to do. If the needs of the Lord’s work were set forth in a proper light before those who have means and influence, these men might do much to advance the cause of present truth.”—Southern Watchman, Mar. 15, 1904. But the Lord will never bring to us the wealth of the Gentiles until we learn to sacrifice to the limit of our ability.
Under the Latter Rain
The promised gift of the Holy Spirit “brings all other blessings in its train”. Under the early rain the believers gave all their possessions and there was no lack of means. Joseph and Nicodemus and other wealthy men gave all their wealth. There was no necessity for urging or campaigning for means to support the work nor will there be under the latter rain. “God is not straitened for men or means.”—Vol. 5:224. He is not restricted, for the wealth of the world is His and He can get it when He wants it. He can multiply means as Christ multiplied the loaves and fishes in the feeding of the multitude. “The means in our possession may not seem to be sufficient for the work; but if we will move forward in faith, believing in the all-sufficient power of God, abundant resources will open before us. If the work be of God, He Himself will provide the means for its accomplishment.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 370.