Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3, pp. 299-308 Day 171

He, therefore, had been trying this new policy. He carried out his natural temperament by yielding to the wishes of the people, to save dissatisfaction and preserve their good will, and thereby prevent a rebellion, which he thought would certainly come if he did not yield to their wishes. But had Aaron stood unwaveringly for God; had he met the intimation of the people for him to make them gods to go before them to Egypt with the just indignation and horror that their proposition deserved; had he cited them to the terrors of Sinai, where God had spoken His law in such glory and majesty; had he reminded them of their solemn covenant with God to obey all that He should command them; had he told them that he would not, at the sacrifice of his life, yield to their entreaties, he would have had influence with the people to prevent a terrible apostasy. But when, in the absence of Moses, his influence was required to be used in the right direction, when he should have stood as firm and unyielding as did Moses, to prevent the people from pursuing a course of sin, his influence was exerted on the wrong side. He was powerless to make his influence felt in vindication of God’s honor in keeping His holy law. But on the wrong side he swayed a powerful influence. He directed, and the people obeyed.

When Aaron took the first step in the wrong direction, the spirit which had actuated the people imbued him, and he took the lead and directed as a general, and the people were singularly obedient. Here Aaron gave decided sanction to the most aggravated sins, because it was less difficult than to stand in vindication of the right. When he swerved from his integrity in giving sanction to the people in their sins he seemed inspired with a decision, earnestness, and zeal new to him. His timidity seemed suddenly to disappear. With a zeal that he had never manifested in standing in defense of the honor of God against wrong he seized the instruments to work out the gold into the image of a calf. He ordered an altar to be built, and, with assurance worthy of a better cause,

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he proclaimed to the people that on the morrow there would be a feast to the Lord. The trumpeters took the word from the mouth of Aaron and sounded the proclamation from company to company of the armies of Israel.

Aaron’s calm assurance in a wrong course gave him greater influence with the people than Moses could have had in leading them in a right course and in subduing their rebellion. What terrible spiritual blindness had come upon Aaron that he should put light for darkness and darkness for light! What presumption in him to proclaim a feast to the Lord over their idolatrous worship of a golden image! Here is seen the power that Satan has over minds that are not fully controlled by the Spirit of God. Satan had set up his banner in the midst of Israel, and it was exalted as the banner of God.

“These,” said Aaron without hesitation or shame, “be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” Aaron influenced the children of Israel to go to greater lengths in idolatry than had entered their minds. They were no longer troubled lest the burning glory like flaming fire upon the mount had consumed their leader. They thought they had a general who just suited them, and they were ready to do anything that he suggested. They sacrificed to their golden god; they offered peace offerings, and gave themselves up to pleasure, rioting, and drunkenness. They were then decided in their own minds that it was not because they were wrong that they had so much trouble in the wilderness; but the difficulty, after all, was with their leader. He was not the right kind of man. He was too unyielding and kept their sins continually before them, warning, reproving, and threatening them with God’s displeasure. A new order of things had come, and they were pleased with Aaron and pleased with themselves. They thought: If Moses had only been as amiable and mild as Aaron, what peace and harmony would have prevailed in the camp of Israel! They cared not now whether Moses ever came down from the mount or not.

When Moses saw the idolatry of Israel and his indignation

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was so aroused at their shameful forgetfulness of God that he threw down the tables of stone and broke them, Aaron stood meekly by, bearing the censure of Moses with commendable patience. The people were charmed with Aaron’s lovely spirit and were disgusted with the rashness of Moses. But God seeth not as man sees. He condemned not the ardor and indignation of Moses against the base apostasy of Israel.

The true general then takes his position for God. He has come direct from the presence of the Lord, where he pleaded with Him to turn away His wrath from His erring people. Now he has another work to do, as God’s minister, to vindicate His honor before the people, and let them see that sin is sin, and righteousness is righteousness. He has a work to do to counteract the terrible influence of Aaron. “Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves today to the Lord, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother, that He may bestow upon you a blessing this day.”

Here Moses defines genuine consecration as obedience to God, to stand in vindication of the right and to show a readiness to carry out the purpose of God in the most unpleasant duties, showing that the claims of God are higher than the claims of friends or the lives of the nearest relatives. The sons of Levi consecrated themselves to God to execute His justice against crime and sin.

Aaron and Moses both sinned in not giving glory and honor to God at the waters of Meribah. They were both wearied and provoked with the continual complaining of Israel, and,

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at a time when God was to mercifully display His glory to the people, to soften and subdue their hearts and lead them to repentance, Moses and Aaron claimed the power of opening the rock for them. “Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?” Here was a golden opportunity to sanctify the Lord in the midst of them, to show them the long-suffering of God and His tender pity for them. They had murmured against Moses and Aaron because they could not find water. Moses and Aaron took these murmurings as a great trial and dishonor to themselves, forgetting that it was God whom the people were grieving. It was God whom they were sinning against and dishonoring, not those who were appointed of God to carry out His purpose. They were insulting their best Friend in charging their calamities upon Moses and Aaron; they were murmuring at God’s providence.

This sin of these noble leaders was great. Their lives might have been illustrious to the close. They had been greatly exalted and honored; yet God does not excuse sin in those in exalted positions any sooner than He does in those in more humble positions. Many professed Christians look upon men who do not reprove and condemn wrong, as men of piety and Christians indeed, while they think that those who stand boldly in defense of the right, and will not yield their integrity to unconsecrated influences, lack piety and a Christian spirit.

Those who stand in defense of the honor of God and maintain the purity of truth at any cost will have manifold trials, as did our Saviour in the wilderness of temptation. While those who have yielding temperaments, who have not courage to condemn wrong, but keep silent when their influence is needed to stand in defense of the right against any pressure, may avoid many heartaches and escape many perplexities, they will also lose a very rich reward, if not their own souls. Those who are in harmony with God, and who through faith in Him receive strength to resist wrong and stand in defense of the right, will always have severe conflicts and will frequently have to stand almost alone. But precious victories will be theirs while they

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make God their dependence. His grace will be their strength. Their moral sensibility will be keen and clear, and their moral powers will be able to withstand wrong influences. Their integrity, like that of Moses, will be of the purest character.

The mild and yielding spirit of Aaron, and his desire to please the people, blinded his eyes to their sins and to the enormity of the crime that he was sanctioning. His course in giving influence to wrong and sin in Israel cost the lives of three thousand men. In what contrast with this is the course of Moses. After he had evidenced to the people that they could not trifle with God with impunity; after he had shown them the just displeasure of God because of their sins, by giving the terrible decree to slay friends or relatives who persisted in their apostasy; after the work of justice to turn away the wrath of God, irrespective of their feelings of sympathy for loved friends and relatives who continued obstinate in their rebellion–after this, Moses was prepared for another work. He proved who was the true friend of God and the friend of the people.

“And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin. And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book which Thou has written. And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book. Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, Mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them. And the Lord plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.”

Moses supplicated God in behalf of sinning Israel. He did not try to lessen their sin before God; he did not excuse them in their sin. He frankly acknowledged that they had sinned

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a great sin and had made them gods of gold. Then he loses his timidity, and the interest of Israel is so closely interwoven with his life that he comes with boldness to God and prays for Him to forgive His people. If their sin, he pleads, is so great that God cannot forgive them, if their names must be blotted from His book, he prays the Lord to blot out his name also. When the Lord renewed His promise to Moses, that His Angel should go before him in leading the people to the Promised Land, Moses knew that his request was granted. But the Lord assured Moses that if He was provoked to visit the people for their transgressions, He would surely punish them for this grievous sin also. But if they were henceforth obedient, He would blot this great sin out of His book.

Chap. 29 – To a Young Minister and His Wife

Dear Brother and Sister A: For some months I have felt that it was time to write to you some things which the Lord was pleased to show me in regard to you several years ago. Your cases were shown me in connection with those of others who had a work to do for themselves in order to be fitted for the work of presenting the truth. I was shown that you were both deficient in essential qualifications and that if these are not obtained your usefulness and the salvation of your own souls will be endangered. You have some faults in your characters which it is very important that you should correct. If you neglect to take hold of the work resolutely and in earnest, these wrongs will increase upon you and will greatly cripple your influence in the cause and work of God, and will finally result in your being separated from the work of preaching the truth, which you love so well.

In the vision given me for B, I was shown that he had a very unfortunate stamp of character. He had not been disciplined, and his temper had not been subdued. He had been

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permitted to have his own head and to do very much as he pleased. He was greatly deficient in reverence for God and man. He had a strong, unsubmissive spirit and but a very faint idea of proper gratitude to those who were doing their utmost for him. He was extremely selfish.

I was shown that independence, a firm, set, unyielding will, a lack of reverence and due respect for others, selfishness and too great self-confidence, mark the character of Sister A. If she does not watch closely and overcome these defects in her character she will surely fail of sitting with Christ in His throne.

In regard to Brother A, I was shown that many of the things mentioned in the testimony to B applied to you. I was pointed back to your past life. I saw that from a child you have been self-confident, headstrong, and self-willed, and have followed your own mind. You have an independent spirit, and it has been very difficult for you to yield to anyone. When it was your duty to yield your way and your wishes to others, you would carry matters out in your own rash way. You have felt that you were fully competent to think and act for yourself independently. The truth of God has been accepted and loved by you and has done much for you, but it has not wrought all that transformation necessary for the perfection of Christian character. When you first started out to labor in the cause of God you felt more humble and were willing to be advised and counseled. But as you began to be successful in a degree, your self-confidence increased, and you were less humble and became more independent.

As you looked at the work of Brother and Sister White you thought that you could see where you could have done better than they. Feelings have been cherished in your heart against them. You were naturally skeptical, infidel, in your feelings. As you have seen their work, and heard the reproofs given to those who were wrong, you have questioned how you would bear such plain testimony. You decided that you could not receive it, and began to brace yourself against the manner of their laboring, and thus opened a door in your heart

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for suspicion, doubt, and jealousy of them and their work.

You became prejudiced in your feelings against their labor. You watched, and listened, and gathered up all you could, and surmised much. Because God had given you a measure of success, you began to place your short experience and labors upon a level with Brother White’s labors. You flattered yourself that, were you in his place, you could do very much better than he. You began to grow large in your own eyes. You thought your knowledge far more extensive and valuable than it was. Had you had one-hundredth part of the experience in real labor, care, perplexity, and burden bearing in this cause that Brother White has had, you would be better able to understand his work and be better prepared to sympathize with him in his labors, rather than to murmur and be suspicious and jealous of him.

In regard to your own post of labor you should be very jealous of yourself lest you fail to do your work to God’s acceptance, and lest you fail to honor the cause of truth in your labors. You should, in humiliation of soul, feel: “Who is sufficient for these things?” The reason why both of you are so ready to question and surmise in regard to Brother White’s work is because you know so little about it. So few real burdens have ever pressed upon your souls, so little real anguish for the cause of God has touched your hearts, so little perplexity and real distress have you borne for others, that you are no more prepared to appreciate his work than is a ten-year-old boy the care, anxiety, and wearisome toil of his burdened father. The boy may pass along joyous in spirit because he has not the experience of the burdened, careworn father. He may wonder at the fears and anxieties of the father, which look needless to him; but when years of experience shall be added to his life, when he takes hold of and bears its real burdens, then he may look back to his father’s life and understand that which was mysterious to him in his boyhood; for bitter experience has given him knowledge.

I was shown that you are in danger of getting above the

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simplicity of the work and of placing yourself upon the pinnacle. You feel that you need no reproof and counsel, and the language of your heart is: “I am capable of judging, discriminating, and determining between right and wrong. I will not have my rights infringed upon. No one shall dictate to me. I am capable of forming my own plans of action. I am as good as anybody. God is with me and gives me success in my efforts. Who has authority to interfere with me?” These words I heard you utter, as your case was passing before me in vision, not to any person, but as if in conversation with yourself. My attending angel repeated these words, as he pointed to you both: “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

I saw that the strength of the children of God is in their humility. When they are little in their own eyes, Jesus will be to them their strength and their righteousness, and God will prosper their labors. I was shown that God would prove Brother A. He would give him a measure of prosperity; and if he would bear the test, if he would turn the blessings of God to good account, not taking honor to himself and not becoming lifted up, selfish, and self-confident, the Lord would continue His blessings for the sake of His cause and for His own glory.

I saw, Brother A, that you were in the greatest danger of becoming lifted up, self-righteous, self-sufficient, and feeling that you are rich and in need of nothing. Unless you guard yourself upon these points, the Lord will allow you to go on until you make your weakness apparent to all. You will be brought into positions where you will be sorely tempted if others do not regard you in as exalted a light as you estimate yourself and your ability. I was shown that you were poorly prepared to bear much prosperity and a great amount of success. A thorough conversion alone will do the work necessary to be done in your case.

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I have been shown that both of you are naturally selfish. You are in constant danger, unless guarded, of thinking and acting in reference to yourselves. You will lay your plans for your own accommodation, without taking into account how much you may inconvenience others. You are inclined to carry out your ideas and plans without regarding the plans and respecting the views or feelings of others. Both of you should cultivate reverence and respect for others.

Brother A, you have considered that your work was of too great importance for you to come down to engage in household duties. You have not a love for these requirements. You neglected them in your younger days. But these small duties which you neglect are essential to the formation of a well-developed character.

I have been shown that our ministers generally are deficient in making themselves useful in the families where they are entertained. Some devote their minds to study because they love this employment. They do not feel that it is a duty which God enjoins upon ministers to make themselves a blessing in the families which they visit, but many give their minds to books and shut themselves away from the family and do not converse with them upon the subjects of truth. The religious interests in the family are scarcely mentioned. This is all wrong. Ministers who have not the burden and care of the publishing interest upon them, and who have not the perplexities and numerous cares of all the churches, should not feel that their labor is excessively hard. They should feel the deepest interest in the families they visit; they should not feel that they are to be petted and waited upon while they give nothing in return. There is an obligation resting upon Christian families to entertain the ministers of Christ, and there is also a duty resting upon ministers who receive the hospitality of Christian friends to feel under mutual obligation to bear their own burdens as far as possible and not be a tax to their friends. Many ministers entertain the idea that they must be especially favored and waited upon, and they are frequently injured and their usefulness crippled by being treated as pets.

Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3 pp. 299-308

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