Satan and his angels determined to make Christ’s death as humiliating as possible. They filled the hearts of the Jewish leaders with feelings of bitter hatred against the Saviour. Controlled by the enemy, priests and rulers stirred the multitude to take part against the Son of God. Aside from Pilate’s declaration of His innocence, no one spoke a word in His favor. And even Pilate, knowing His innocence, gave Him over to the abuse of men under the control of Satan.
Similar events will take place in the near future. Men will exalt and rigidly enforce laws that are in direct opposition to the law of God. Though zealous in enforcing their own commandments, they will turn away from a plain “Thus saith the Lord.” Exalting a spurious rest day, they will seek to force men to dishonor the law of Jehovah, the transcript of His character. Though innocent of wrongdoing, the servants of God will be given over to suffer humiliation and abuse at the hands of those who, inspired by Satan, are filled with envy and religious bigotry.
Religious powers, allied to heaven by profession, and claiming to have the characteristics of a lamb, will show by their acts that they have the heart of a dragon and that they are instigated and controlled by Satan. The time is coming when God’s people will feel the hand of persecution because they keep holy the seventh day. Satan has caused the change of the Sabbath in the hope of carrying out his purpose for the defeat of God’s plans. He seeks to make the commands of God of less force in the world than human laws. The man of sin, who thought to change times and laws, and who has always oppressed the people of God, will cause laws to be made enforcing the observance of the first day of the week. But God’s people are to stand firm for Him. And the Lord will work in their behalf, showing plainly that He is the God of gods.
The Lord has said: “Verily My Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations.” Exodus 31:13. None should disobey His command in order to escape persecution. But let all consider the words of Christ: “When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another.” Matthew 10:23. If it can be avoided, do not put yourselves into the power of men who are worked by the spirit of antichrist. Everything that we can do should be done that those who are willing to suffer for the truth’s sake may be saved from oppression and cruelty.
Christ is our example. The determination of antichrist to carry out the rebellion he began in heaven will continue to work in the children of disobedience. Their envy and hatred against those who obey the fourth commandment will wax more and more bitter. But the people of God are not to hide their banner. They are not to ignore the commandments of God and, in order to have an easy time, go with the multitude to do evil.
The Lord encourages all who seek Him with the whole heart. He gives them His Holy Spirit, the manifestation of His presence and favor. But those who forsake God in order to save their lives will be forsaken by Him. In seeking to save their lives by yielding the truth, they will lose eternal life.
The night of trial is nearly spent. Satan is bringing in his masterly power because he knoweth that his time is short. The chastisement of God is upon the world to call all who know the truth to hide in the cleft of the Rock and view the glory of God. The truth must not be muffled now. Plain statements must be made. Unvarnished truth must be spoken, in leaflets and pamphlets, and these must be scattered like the leaves of autumn.
The remnant church will be brought into great trial and distress. Those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus will feel the ire of the dragon and his hosts. Satan numbers the world as his subjects, he has gained control of the apostate churches; but here is a little company that are resisting his supremacy. If he could blot them from the earth, his triumph would be complete. As he influenced the heathen nations to destroy Israel, so in the near future he will stir up the wicked powers of earth to destroy the people of God. All will be required to render obedience to human edicts in violation of the divine law. Those who will be true to God and to duty will be menaced, denounced, and proscribed. They will be betrayed “both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends.” Luke 21:16. [Testimonies for the Church 5:472, 473. ]
“Hearken unto Me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is My law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool;” “but My salvation shall be forever, and My righteousness shall not be abolished.” Isaiah 51:7, 8, 6.
Chapter 28—Sunday Labor
August 17, 1902.
I will try to answer your question as to what you should do in the case of Sunday laws being enforced.
The light given me by the Lord at a time when we were expecting just such a crisis as you seem to be approaching, was that when the people were moved by a power from beneath to enforce Sunday observance, Seventh-day Adventists were to show their wisdom by refraining from their ordinary work on that day, devoting it to missionary effort.
To defy the Sunday laws will but strengthen in their persecution the religious zealots who are seeking to enforce them. Give them no occasion to call you lawbreakers. If they are left to rein up men who fear neither God nor man, the reining up will soon lose its novelty for them, and they will see that it is not consistent nor convenient for them to be strict in regard to the observance of Sunday. Keep right on with your missionary work, with your Bibles in your hands, and the enemy will see that he has worsted his own cause. One does not receive the mark of the beast because he shows that he realizes the wisdom of keeping the peace by refraining from work that gives offense, doing at the same time a work of the highest importance.
When we devote Sunday to missionary work, the whip will be taken out of the hands of the arbitrary zealots who would be well pleased to humiliate Seventh-day Adventists. When they see that we employ ourselves on Sunday in visiting the people and opening the Scriptures to them, they will know that it is useless for them to try to hinder our work by making Sunday laws.
Sunday can be used for carrying forward various lines of work that will accomplish much for the Lord. On this day open-air meetings and cottage meetings can be held. House-to-house work can be done. Those who write can devote this day to writing their articles. Whenever it is possible, let religious services be held on Sunday. Make these meetings intensely interesting. Sing genuine revival hymns, and speak with power and assurance of the Saviour’s love. Speak on temperance and on true religious experience. You will thus learn much about how to work, and will reach many souls.
Let the teachers in our schools devote Sunday to missionary effort. I was instructed that they would thus be able to defeat the purposes of the enemy. Let the teachers take the students with them to hold meetings for those who know not the truth. Thus they will accomplish much more than they could in any other way.
God has given us plain directions regarding our work. We are to proclaim the truth in regard to the Sabbath of the Lord, to make up the breach that has been made in His law. We are to do all that we can to enlighten those in ignorance; but we are never to confederate with men of the world in order to receive financial assistance.
Of the children of Israel we read: “Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness. And I gave them My statutes, and showed them My judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them. Moreover also I gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them. But the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness: they walked not in My statutes, and they despised My judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; and My Sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out My fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them.
“But I wrought for My name’s sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, in whose sight I brought them out. Yet also I lifted up My hand unto them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands; because they despised My judgments, and walked not in My statutes, but polluted My Sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols. Nevertheless Mine eye spared them from destroying them, neither did I make an end of them in the wilderness. But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols: I am the Lord your God; walk in My statutes, and keep My judgments, and do them; and hallow My Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between Me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.” Ezekiel 20:10-20.
The Sabbath is the Lord’s test, and no man, be he king, priest, or ruler, is authorized to come between God and man. Those who seek to be conscience for their fellow men, place themselves above God. Those who are under the influence of a false religion, who observe a spurious rest day, will set aside the most positive evidence in regard to the true Sabbath. They will try to compel men to obey the laws of their own creation, laws that are directly opposed to the law of God. Upon those who continue in this course, the wrath of God will fall. Unless they change, they cannot escape the penalty.
The law for the observance of the first day of the week is the production of an apostate Christendom. Sunday is a child of the papacy, exalted by the Christian world above the sacred day of God’s rest. In no case are God’s people to pay it homage. But I wish them to understand that they are not doing God’s will by braving opposition when He wishes them to avoid it. Thus they create prejudice so bitter that it is impossible for the truth to be proclaimed. Make no demonstration on Sunday in defiance of law. If this is done in one place, and you are humiliated, the same thing will be done in another place. We can use Sunday as a day on which to carry forward work that will tell on the side of Christ. We are to do our best, working with all meekness and lowliness.
Christ warned His disciples in regard to what they would meet in their work as evangelists. He knew what their sufferings would be, what trials and hardships they would be called upon to bear. He would not hide from them the knowledge of what they would have to encounter, lest trouble, coming unexpectedly, should shake their faith. “I have told you before it come to pass,” He said, “that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.” John 14:29. Their faith was to be strengthened, rather than weakened, by the coming of trial. They would say to one another: “He told us that this would come, and what we must do to meet it.”
“Behold,” Christ said, “I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” “Ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” Matthew 10:16, 22. They hated Christ without a cause. Is it any marvel that they hate those who bear His sign, who do His service? They are counted as the offscouring of the earth.
“When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another.” It is not the will of God that your lives shall be carelessly sacrificed. “Verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.” Verse 23.
The people must be given the truth, straightforward, positive truth. But this truth is to be presented in the spirit of Christ. We are to be as sheep in the midst of wolves. Those who will not, for Christ’s sake, observe the cautions He has given, who will not exercise patience and self-control, will lose precious opportunities of working for the Master. The Lord has not given His people the work of making a tirade against those who are transgressing His law. In no case are we to make a raid on the other churches. Let us remember that, as a people entrusted with sacred truth, we have been neglectful and positively unfaithful. The work has been confined to a few centers until the people in them have become gospel-hardened. It is difficult to make an impression on those who have heard so much truth, and yet have rejected it….
All this is against us now. Had we put forth earnest efforts to reach those who, if converted, would give a true representation of what present truth would do for human beings, how much further advanced our work would now be. It is not right that a few places should have all the advantages while other places are neglected.
At our Avondale school, near Cooranbong, Australia, the Sunday labor question came up for decision. It seemed as if the lines were soon to be drawn so tightly about us that we should not be able to work during Sunday. Our school was situated in the heart of the woods, far from any village or railway station. No one was living near enough to us to be disturbed in any way by anything we might do. Nevertheless, we were watched. The officers were urged to come around to inspect our premises, and they did come. They could have seen many things if they had desired to prosecute us, but they did not appear to notice those who were at work. They had so much confidence in us as a people, and so great respect for us on account of the work we had done in that community, that they believed they could trust us anywhere.
Many recognized the fact that the whole community had been transformed since we went there. A woman who was not a Sabbathkeeper said to me: “You would not believe me if I should inform you fully in regard to the transformation that has taken place in this community as the result of your moving here, establishing a school, and holding these little meetings.”
So when our brethren were threatened with persecution and thrown into perplexity in regard to what they should do, the same advice was given as was given in answer to the question concerning games. I said: “Employ Sunday in doing missionary work for God. Teachers, go with your students. Take them into the bush [this is what we called the sparsely settled districts in the woods, where houses are often a mile or two apart], and visit the people in their homes. Let them know that you are interested in their soul’s salvation.” They did so and, as the result, were greatly benefited themselves and were able to help others as well. The blessing of God rested upon them as they diligently searched the Scriptures in order to learn how to present the truths of the word in such a way that these truths would be received with favor.
August 20, 1903.
At one time those in charge of our school at Avondale inquired of me, saying: “What shall we do? The officers of the law have been commissioned to arrest those working on Sunday.” I replied: “It will be very easy to avoid that difficulty. Give Sunday to the Lord as a day for doing missionary work. Take the students out to hold meetings in different places, and to do medical missionary work. They will find the people at home and will have a splendid opportunity to present the truth. This way of spending Sunday is always acceptable to the Lord.”
We are to do all we can to remove the prejudice that exists in the minds of many against our work and against the Bible Sabbath.
Teach the people to conform in all things to the laws of their state when they can do so without conflicting with the law of God.
Sometimes the hearts of persecutors are susceptible of divine impressions as was the heart of the apostle Paul before his conversion.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9 pp. 229-238