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The Kings of Judah, History of the Church

Posted by adventbiblestudy on September 11, 2008


The Kings of Judah

This study compares the history of the kings of Judah recorded in the books of Kings and Chronicles to the history of the church, recorded in The Great Controversy written by Ellen G. White. The book Great Controversy may be easily obtained. It is available from popular book stores, and easily found on the Internet. The brackets { }, and letters GC correspond to the Great Controversy. The numbers correspond to the page number and paragraph.

The great events which have marked the progress of reform in past ages are matters of history, well known and universally acknowledged by the Protestant world; they are facts which none can gainsay. This history I have presented briefly, in accordance with the scope of the book, and the brevity which must necessarily be observed, the facts having been condensed into as little space as seemed consistent with a proper understanding of their application. In some cases where a historian has so grouped together events as to afford, in brief, a comprehensive view of the subject, or has summarized details in a convenient manner, his words have been quoted; but in some instances no specific credit has been given, since the quotations are not given for the purpose of citing that writer as authority, but because his statement affords a ready and forcible presentation of the subject. In narrating the experience and views of those carrying forward the work of reform in our own time, similar use has been made of their published works. {GC xi.4}

It is not so much the object of this book to present new truths concerning the struggles of former times, as to bring out facts and principles which have a bearing on coming events. Yet viewed as a part of the controversy between the forces of light and darkness, all these records of the past are seen to have a new significance; and through them a light is cast upon the future, illumining the pathway of those who, like the reformers of past ages, will be called, even at the peril of all earthly good, to witness “for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” {GC xii.1}

 

Let men beware lest they neglect the lesson conveyed to them in the words of Christ. As He warned His disciples of Jerusalem’s destruction, giving them a sign of the approaching ruin, that they might make their escape; so He has warned the world of the day of final destruction and has given them tokens of its approach, that all who will may flee from the wrath to come. Jesus declares: “There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations.” Luke 21:25; Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24-26; Revelation 6:12-17. Those who behold these harbingers of His coming are to “know that it is near, even at the doors.” Matthew 24:33. “Watch ye therefore,” are His words of admonition. Mark 13:35. They that heed the warning shall not be left in darkness, that that day should overtake them unawares. But to them that will not watch, “the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2-5. {GC 37.2}

The world is no more ready to credit the message for this time than were the Jews to receive the Saviour’s warning concerning Jerusalem. Come when it may, the day of God will come unawares to the ungodly. When life is going on in its unvarying round; when men are absorbed in pleasure, in business, in traffic, in money-making; when religious leaders are magnifying the world’s progress and enlightenment, and the people are lulled in a false security–then, as the midnight thief steals within the unguarded dwelling, so shall sudden destruction come upon the careless and ungodly, “and they shall not escape.” Verse 3. {GC 38.1}

 

RSV Psalms 147:3. He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. 4. He determines the number of the stars, he gives to all of them their names. 5. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.

RSV 1 Chronicles 27:23. David did not number those below twenty years of age, for the Lord had promised to make Israel as many as the stars of heaven.

RSV Daniel 12:2. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

 

This study is based on information from the Bible, and insight given by Ellen White concerning the last days. One thing these texts seem point out to is the fact, the “stars” or seed of David, or Kings of Judah, are a prophesy leading up to the last days. The Bible reveals, the sons of Jacob are represented by “stars” in the sky. The sons of Jacob also reveal a prophesy.

 

RSV Exodus 32:13. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou didst swear by thine own self, and didst say to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it for ever.'”

 

Here is a reference to Jacob and his sons, symbolizing them as “stars”.

 

RSV Genesis 37:9. Then he dreamed another dream, and told it to his brothers, and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream; and behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”

 

In this text we see Joseph’s brothers, represented by stars in a dream. Of course this dream was fulfilled when Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to purchase grain. The son’s of Jacob were also used as symbols in a prophesy.

 

RSV Genesis 49:1. THEN JACOB called his sons, and said, “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in days to come.

 

In this prophecy Jacob blesses each of his sons. A careful study of each blessing will reveal they are in fact a prophesy showing the history of the church.

 

Do the sons of David also reveal a detailed prophecy revealing the history of the church? This study shows some very striking similarities between the line of the Kings of Judah, from David, and recorded history of the Christian church, its struggles, and accomplishments. Although Saul was not from the line of David, could Saul be a symbol showing the condition of the church before the time of Christ?

 

 

KING DAVID

RSV Acts 13:22. And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king; of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’

Of the disciples after the transfiguration of Christ it is written that at the close of that wonderful scene “they saw no man, save Jesus only.” Matthew 17:8. “Jesus only”– in these words is contained the secret of the life and power that marked the history of the early church. When the disciples first heard the words of Christ, they felt their need of Him. They sought, they found, they followed Him. They were with Him in the temple, at the table, on the mountainside, in the field. They were as pupils with a teacher, daily receiving from Him lessons of eternal truth. {AA 64.3}

After the Saviour’s ascension, the sense of the divine presence, full of love and light, was still with them. It was a personal presence. Jesus, the Saviour, who had walked and talked and prayed with them, who had spoken hope and comfort to their hearts, had, while the message of peace was upon His lips, been taken from them into heaven. As the chariot of angels received Him, His words had come to them, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end.” Matthew 28:20. He had ascended to heaven in the form of humanity. They knew that He was before the throne of God, their Friend and Saviour still; that His sympathies were unchanged; that He would forever be identified with suffering humanity. They knew that He was presenting before God the merit of His blood, showing His wounded hands and feet as a remembrance of the price He had paid for His redeemed ones; and this thought strengthened them to endure reproach for His sake. Their union with Him was stronger now than when He was with them in person. The light and love and power of an indwelling Christ shone out through them, so that men, beholding, marveled. {AA 65.1}

 

It is easy to see, the life of David, and the way he had followed God were indeed similar to the days of the early church.

 

 

KING SOLOMON

RSV 1 Kings 11:1. NOW KING Solomon loved many foreign women: the daughter of Pharaoh, and Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, 2. from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods”; Solomon clung to these in love. 3. He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. 4. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done.

 

Early in the history of the church the mystery of iniquity foretold by the apostle Paul began its baleful work; and as the false teachers concerning whom Peter had warned the believers, urged their heresies, many were ensnared by false doctrines. Some faltered under trial and were tempted to give up the faith. At the time when John was given this revelation, many had lost their first love of gospel truth. But in His mercy God did not leave the church to continue in a backslidden state. In a message of infinite tenderness He revealed His love for them and His desire that they should make sure work for eternity. “Remember,” He pleaded, “from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works.” Verse 5. {AA 587.1}

 

THE SCRIPTURES FORETELL A GREAT APOSTASY, WHICH EVEN IN THE DAYS OF THE APOSTLES HAD BEGUN TO MANIFEST ITSELF AMONG CERTAIN FALSE BRETHREN IN THE CHURCH, AND WHICH FINALLY WAS TO DEVELOP INTO A “FALLING AWAY,” AND THE REVELATION OF “THAT MAN OF SIN, . . . THE SON OF PERDITION,” OF WHOM PAUL WROTE TO THE THESSALONIANS. 2 THESSALONIANS 2:1-7. {CET 241.1}

IN FULFILLMENT OF THESE PREDICTIONS, IT IS A MATTER OF HISTORICAL RECORD THAT FOLLOWING THE DEATH OF THE LAST OF THE APOSTLES OF JESUS, SOME MEMBERS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH BEGAN TO DEPART FROM THE SIMPLICITY OF THE TRUTH AS TAUGHT BY CHRIST; AND GRADUALLY THESE CHURCH MEMBERS WERE LED TO UNITE WITH THE WORLD IN HEATHEN PRACTICES. {CET 241.2}

AS THE YEARS PASSED BY, AND THE CHURCH INCREASED IN NUMBERS AND IN POPULARITY, THERE WERE MANY WHO BECAME LESS AND STILL LESS STRICT IN THEIR OBEDIENCE TO BIBLE TEACHING, UNTIL FINALLY, IN THE FIFTH AND SIXTH CENTURIES AFTER CHRIST, THE GREATER NUMBER OF THOSE WHO CLAIMED TO BE CHRISTIANS WERE IN REALITY NOT LIVING IN HARMONY WITH THE TEACHINGS OF CHRIST. FOR MANY CENTURIES THEREAFTER AN APOSTATE FORM OF CHRISTIANITY HELD SWAY. THE TRUTH WAS SUPPRESSED AND LOST SIGHT OF, AND IGNORANCE PREVAILED. {CET 241.3}

THESE CENTURIES OF APOSTASY ARE CORRECTLY DESIGNATED IN HISTORY THE “DARK AGES.” DURING THIS TIME ATTEMPTS WERE MADE TO ALTER OR TO SET ASIDE MANY OF THE FUNDAMENTAL TEACHINGS OF THE BIBLE. UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, IT IS NOT SURPRISING THAT, IN SUCH A TIME, AS LIKEWISE IN THE CENTURIES IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING THE FIRST ADVENT OF CHRIST, THE MANIFESTATION OF THE GIFT OF PROPHECY ALMOST WHOLLY DISAPPEARED. {CET 242.1}

 

As the early church grew, many ideas came in which were not Biblically based, and were not taught by the apostles. The early church was taking the same steps as Solomon, who thought marriages to many strange women would strengthen Israel. After the apostles passed on, leaders of the early church compromised with established Pagan religions, thinking this would make the church stronger.

 

 

KING REHOBOAM

RSV 1 Kings 12:6. Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” 7. And they said to him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants for ever.” 8. But he forsook the counsel which the old men gave him, and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him. 9. And he said to them, “What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father put upon us’?” 10. And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus shall you speak to this people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but do you lighten it for us’; thus shall you say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins. 11. And now, whereas my father laid upon you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.'” 12. So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said, “Come to me again the third day.” 13. And the king answered the people harshly, and forsaking the counsel which the old men had given him, 14. he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.”

 

The history of the early church testified to the fulfillment of the Saviour’s words. The powers of earth and hell arrayed themselves against Christ in the person of his followers. Paganism foresaw that should the gospel triumph, her temples and altars would be swept away; therefore she summoned her forces to destroy Christianity. The fires of persecution were kindled. Christians were stripped of their possessions, and driven from their homes. They “endured a great fight of afflictions.” [HEB. 10:32.] They “had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment.” [HEB. 11:36, 37, 38.] Great numbers sealed their testimony with their blood. Noble and slave, rich and poor, learned and ignorant, were alike slain without mercy. {GC88 39.2}

These persecutions, beginning under Nero about the time of the martyrdom of Paul, continued with greater or less fury for centuries. Christians were falsely accused of the most dreadful crimes, and declared to be the cause of great calamities–famine, pestilence, and earthquake. As they became the objects of popular hatred and suspicion, informers stood ready, for the sake of gain, to betray the innocent. They were condemned as rebels against the empire, as foes of religion, and pests to society. Great numbers were thrown to wild beasts or burned alive in the amphitheaters. Some were crucified; others were covered with the skins of wild animals, and thrust into the arena to be torn by dogs. Their punishment was often made the chief entertainment at public fetes. Vast multitudes assembled to enjoy the sight, and greeted their dying agonies with laughter and applause. {GC88 40.1}

Wherever they sought refuge, the followers of Christ were hunted like beasts of prey. They were forced to seek concealment in desolate and solitary places. “Destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy; they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” [HEB. 11:36, 37, 38.] The catacombs afforded shelter for thousands. Beneath the hills outside the city of Rome, long galleries had been tunneled through earth and rock; the dark and intricate network of passages extended for miles beyond the city walls. In these underground retreats, the followers of Christ buried their dead; and here also, when suspected and proscribed, they found a home. When the Lifegiver shall awaken those who have fought the good fight, many a martyr for Christ’s sake will come forth from those gloomy caverns.

 

History of the Kings of Judah, continued to parallel the history of the church. At the beginning the church was fully dedicated to Christ, but some leaders saw what seemed to be an easier way. King Rehoboam neglected to ask council from God. Instead he sought the council of the elders, the same people his father trusted. Later he decided on what seemed like an easier route. Rehoboam decided he should be the only man in charge. He began to rule with an iron fist. This of course resulted in a division of his rule, which became two kingdoms, Israel and Judah.

 

RSV 1 Kings 14:21. Now Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonitess. 22. And Judah did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, more than all that their fathers had done. 23. For they also built for themselves high places, and pillars, and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree; 24. and there were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. 25. In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem; 26. he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house; he took away everything. He also took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made; 27. and King Rehoboam made in their stead shields of bronze, and committed them to the hands of the officers of the guard, who kept the door of the king’s house. 28. And as often as the king went into the house of the Lord, the guard bore them and brought them back to the guardroom.  29. Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 30. And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually. 31. And Rehoboam slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonitess. And Abijam his son reigned in his stead.

 

Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, “the mystery of iniquity” carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism found their way into the Christian church. The spirit of compromise and conformity was restrained for a time by the fierce persecutions which the church endured under paganism. But as persecution ceased, and Christianity entered the courts and palaces of kings, she laid aside the humble simplicity of Christ and His apostles for the pomp and pride of pagan priests and rulers; and in place of the requirements of God, she substituted human theories and traditions. The nominal conversion of Constantine, in the early part of the fourth century, caused great rejoicing; and the world, cloaked with a form of righteousness, walked into the church. Now the work of corruption rapidly progressed. Paganism, while appearing to be vanquished, became the conqueror. Her spirit controlled the church. Her doctrines, ceremonies, and superstitions were incorporated into the faith and worship of the professed followers of Christ. {GC 49.2}

This compromise between paganism and Christianity resulted in the development of “the man of sin” foretold in prophecy as opposing and exalting himself above God. That gigantic system of false religion is a masterpiece of Satan’s power–a monument of his efforts to seat himself upon the throne to rule the earth according to his will. {GC 50.1}

Satan once endeavored to form a compromise with Christ. He came to the Son of God in the wilderness of temptation, and showing Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, offered to give all into His hands if He would but acknowledge the supremacy of the prince of darkness. Christ rebuked the presumptuous tempter and forced him to depart. But Satan meets with greater success in presenting the same temptations to man. To secure worldly gains and honors, the church was led to seek the favor and support of the great men of earth; and having thus rejected Christ, she was induced to yield allegiance to the representative of Satan –the bishop of Rome. {GC 50.2}

 

Here we see distinct parallels between Rehoboam’s introduction of false religions in Judah, and the marriage between Christianity, and pagan influences introduced by Rome. Both resulted in the same consequences. Hidden within the words of 1Kings 14:26-27 is symbolism foretelling this event. When the gold was taken from the temple, Rehoboam replaced them with bronze shields. Often the Bible uses gold to symbolize God, His people and His word. Bronze (brass) symbolizes man’s deficiencies. KJV Jeremiah 6:28 They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: they are brass and iron; they are all corrupters. KJV Ezekiel 22:18. Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross: all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver.

 

 

KING ABIJAM

RSV 1 Kings 15:1. NOW IN the eighteenth year of King Jeroboam the son of Nebat, Abijam began to reign over Judah. 2. He reigned for three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom. 3. And he walked in all the sins which his father did before him; and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father. 4. Nevertheless for David’s sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, setting up his son after him, and establishing Jerusalem; 5. because David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. 6. Now there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life.

RSV 2 Chronicles 13:3. Abijah went out to battle having an army of valiant men of war, four hundred thousand picked men; and Jeroboam drew up his line of battle against him with eight hundred thousand picked mighty warriors.

 

It is one of the leading doctrines of Romanism that the pope is the visible head of the universal church of Christ, invested with supreme authority over bishops and pastors in all parts of the world. More than this, the pope has been given the very titles of Deity. He has been styled “Lord God the Pope” (see Appendix), and has been declared infallible. He demands the homage of all men. The same claim urged by Satan in the wilderness of temptation is still urged by him through the Church of Rome, and vast numbers are ready to yield him homage. {GC 50.3}

 

As Abijam could not see a way of walking in the ways of the Lord, the early church also went astray upon a path of it’s own making. But just as God had patience with the nation of Judah and called them back time and time again, God also shared this same love with the early organized church. The lessons that should have been learned from the past were once more ignored. As the priests and leaders of Jerusalem confessed to the Lord, “if it had been us we would not have treated the prophets as our fathers did”, they would not see the Son of God in front of them. Sent to reveal the love of the Father. Just as the leaders of Jerusalem had stoned and condemned those that came after Jesus, the early church was blinded by the same ambitions. The same lust for power.

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 13:5. Ought you not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel for ever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt? 6. Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, a servant of Solomon the son of David, rose up and rebelled against his lord;

 

But those who fear and reverence God meet this heaven-daring assumption as Christ met the solicitations of the wily foe: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” Luke 4:8. God has never given a hint in His word that He has appointed any man to be the head of the church. The doctrine of papal supremacy is directly opposed to the teachings of the Scriptures. The pope can have no power over Christ’s church except by usurpation. {GC 51.1}

 

It is whole-hearted, thoroughly decided men and women who will stand now. Christ sifted His followers again and again, until, at one time, there remained only eleven and a few faithful women, to lay the foundation of the Christian church. There are those who will stand back when burdens are to be borne, but when the church is all aglow, they catch the enthusiasm, sing and shout, and become rapturous; but watch them. When the fervor is gone, only a few faithful Calebs will come to the front and display unwavering principle. These are salt that retains the savor. It is when the work moves hard that the churches develop the true helpers.–Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 130. {ChS 236.2}

 

The covenant of salt. Why did God use salt as a symbol of an agreement? God used salt as a symbol used in the sacrifice. Aaron was commanded to season the incense with salt. We know the work of the church is first and foremost to be the work of Christ, with Christ and Christ only as the head of the church. Based in the lesson taught in the destruction of Sodom, salt in large quantities, may be of little value. Salt is a seasoning when used in correct quantities will improve the taste adding the appeal of the food. The word of God is the bread of life. When the word is replaced by the words of man (salt) the bread can loose it’s appeal.

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 13:7. and certain worthless scoundrels gathered about him and defied Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and irresolute and could not withstand them.

Romanists have persisted in bringing against Protestants the charge of heresy and willful separation from the true church. But these accusations apply rather to themselves. They are the ones who laid down the banner of Christ and departed from “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 3. {GC 51.2}

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 13:8. “And now you think to withstand the kingdom of the Lord in the hand of the sons of David, because you are a great multitude and have with you the golden calves which Jeroboam made you for gods. 9. Have you not driven out the priests of the Lord, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and made priests for yourselves like the peoples of other lands? Whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull or seven rams becomes a priest of what are no gods.

Satan knew the Holy Scriptures would enable men to recognize his deceptions and withstand his power. It was by the word that even the Saviour of the world had resisted his attacks. At every assault, Christ presented the shield of eternal truth, saying, “It is written.” To every suggestion of the adversary, He opposed the wisdom and power of the word. In order for Satan to maintain his sway over men, and establish the authority of the papal usurper, he must keep them in ignorance of the Scriptures. The Bible would exalt God and place finite men in their true position; therefore its sacred truths must be concealed and suppressed. This logic was adopted by the Roman Church. For hundreds of years the circulation of the Bible was prohibited. The people were forbidden to read it or to have it in their houses, and unprincipled priests and prelates interpreted its teachings to sustain their pretensions. Thus the pope came to be almost universally acknowledged as the vicegerent of God on earth, endowed with authority over church and state. {GC 51.3}

The accession of the Roman Church to power marked the beginning of the Dark Ages. As her power increased, the darkness deepened. Faith was transferred from Christ, the true foundation, to the pope of Rome. Instead of trusting in the Son of God for forgiveness of sins and for eternal salvation, the people looked to the pope, and to the priests and prelates to whom he delegated authority. They were taught that the pope was their earthly mediator and that none could approach God except through him; and, further, that he stood in the place of God to them and was therefore to be implicitly obeyed. A deviation from his requirements was sufficient cause for the severest punishment to be visited upon the bodies and souls of the offenders. Thus the minds of the people were turned away from God to fallible, erring, and cruel men, nay, more, to the prince of darkness himself, who exercised his power through them. Sin was disguised in a garb of sanctity. When the Scriptures are suppressed, and man comes to regard himself as supreme, we need look only for fraud, deception, and debasing iniquity. With the elevation of human laws and traditions was manifest the corruption that ever results from setting aside the law of God. {GC 55.1}

 

It is without doubt, the organized church of Rome was far superior in numbers to any other church at that time in history. That was not an error. The error was in the consuming greed the church exhibited, attempting to control the entire world. Making all people slaves to their beliefs, based on their superior numbers. Their goal was to put an end to the gift of freedom God so willingly, and loving gave man on his first day on earth. The true light of the scriptures was substituted with fear and superstitions, just as the golden calves were a substitute for the living God in Israel. Is it any wander why God had given the house of David the smaller portion of the kingdom, as an example of the history of His true church?

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 13:10. But as for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken him. We have priests ministering to the Lord who are sons of Aaron, and Levites for their service. 11. They offer to the Lord every morning and every evening burnt offerings and incense of sweet spices, set out the showbread on the table of pure gold, and care for the golden lampstand that its lamps may burn every evening; for we keep the charge of the Lord our God, but you have forsaken him. 12. Behold, God is with us at our head, and his priests with their battle trumpets to sound the call to battle against you. O sons of Israel, do not fight against the Lord, the God of your fathers; for you cannot succeed.”

 

Those were days of peril for the church of Christ. The faithful standard-bearers were few indeed. Though the truth was not left without witnesses, yet at times it seemed that error and superstition would wholly prevail, and true religion would be banished from the earth. The gospel was lost sight of, but the forms of religion were multiplied, and the people were burdened with rigorous exactions. {GC 55.2}

 

KING ASA

RSV 1 Kings 15:11. And Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as David his father had done. 12. He put away the male cult prostitutes out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. 13. He also removed Maacah his mother from being queen mother because she had an abominable image made for Asherah; and Asa cut down her image and burned it at the brook Kidron. 14. But the high places were not taken away. Nevertheless the heart of Asa was wholly true to the Lord all his days.

RSV 2 Chronicles 14:2. And Asa did want what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. 3. He took away the foreign altars and the high places, and broke down the pillars and hewed down the Asherim, 4. and commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to keep the law and the commandment. 5. He also took out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the incense altars. And the kingdom had rest under him.

RSV 2 Chronicles 14:7. And he said to Judah, “Let us build these cities, and surround them with walls and towers, gates and bars; the land is still ours, because we have sought the Lord our God; we have sought him, and he has given us peace on every side.” So they built and prospered.

Notwithstanding that vice prevailed, even among the leaders of the Roman Church, her influence seemed steadily to increase. About the close of the eighth century, papists put forth the claim that in the first ages of the church the bishops of Rome had possessed the same spiritual power which they now assumed. To establish this claim, some means must be employed to give it a show of authority; and this was readily suggested by the father of lies. Ancient writings were forged by monks. Decrees of councils before unheard of were discovered, establishing the universal supremacy of the pope from the earliest times. And a church that had rejected the truth greedily accepted these deceptions. (See Appendix.) {GC 56.1}

The few faithful builders upon the true foundation. (1 Corinthians 3:10, 11) were perplexed and hindered as the rubbish of false doctrine obstructed the work. Like the builders upon the wall of Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s day, some were ready to say: “The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build.” Nehemiah 4:10. Wearied with the constant struggle against persecution, fraud, iniquity, and every other obstacle that Satan could devise to hinder their progress, some who had been faithful builders became disheartened; and for the sake of peace and security for their property and their lives, they turned away from the true foundation. Others, undaunted by the opposition of their enemies, fearlessly declared: “Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible” (verse 14); and they proceeded with the work, everyone with his sword girded by his side. Ephesians 6:17. {GC 56.2}

 

As always throughout the history of man, when all sight of hope seems to be lost, God will raise up a few faithful followers. People true to the calling of the Holy Spirit that will give their lives to keep the light alive. The Exodus from Egypt began with a single man at a burning bush. Later God added a staff, and his brother Aaron. Alone the two stood before the King of Egypt, the leader of one of the most powerful nations at that point in earth’s history.

 

RSV 1 Kings 15:16. And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days.

RSV 2 Chronicles 14:10. And Asa went out to meet him, and they drew up their lines of battle in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. 11. And Asa cried to the Lord his God, “O Lord, there is none like thee to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on thee, and in thy name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.”

RSV 2 Chronicles 15:1. THE SPIRIT of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded, 2. and he went out to meet Asa, and said to him, “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The Lord is with you, while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. 3. For a long time Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law; 4. but when in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found by them. 5. In those times there was no peace to him who went out or to him who came in, for great disturbances afflicted all the inhabitants of the lands.

 

The same spirit of hatred and opposition to the truth has inspired the enemies of God in every age, and the same vigilance and fidelity have been required in His servants. The words of Christ to the first disciples are applicable to His followers to the close of time: “What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” Mark 13:37. {GC 56.3}

 

 

KING JEHORAM (AHAZIAH)

RSV 2 Kings 8:25. In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, Ahaziah the son of Jehoram, king of Judah, began to reign. 26. Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah; she was a granddaughter of Omri king of Israel. 27. He also walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, as the house of Ahab had done, for he was son-in-law to the house of Ahab.

 

The darkness seemed to grow more dense. Image worship became more general. Candles were burned before images, and prayers were offered to them. The most absurd and superstitious customs prevailed. The minds of men were so completely controlled by superstition that reason itself seemed to have lost its sway. While priests and bishops were themselves pleasure-loving, sensual, and corrupt, it could only be expected that the people who looked to them for guidance would be sunken in ignorance and vice. {GC 57.1}

 

RSV 2 Kings 9:18. So a man on horseback went to meet him, and said, “Thus says the king, ‘Is it peace?'” And Jehu said, “What have you to do with peace? Turn round and ride behind me.” And the watchman reported, saying, “The messenger reached them, but he is not coming back.”

 

Another step in papal assumption was taken, when, in the eleventh century, Pope Gregory VII proclaimed the perfection of the Roman Church. Among the propositions which he put forth was one declaring that the church had never erred, nor would it ever err, according to the Scriptures. But the Scripture proofs did not accompany the assertion. The proud pontiff also claimed the power to depose emperors, and declared that no sentence which he pronounced could be reversed by anyone, but that it was his prerogative to reverse the decisions of all others. (See Appendix.) {GC 57.2}

 

RSV 2 Kings 9:22. And when Joram saw Jehu, he said, “Is it peace, Jehu?” He answered, “What peace can there be, so long as the harlotries and the sorceries of your mother Jezebel are so many?”

RSV 2 Kings 9:27. When Ahaziah the king of Judah saw this, he fled in the direction of Beth-haggan. And Jehu pursued him, and said, “Shoot him also”; and they shot him in the chariot at the ascent of Gur, which is by Ibleam. And he fled to Megiddo, and died there.

 

The advancing centuries witnessed a constant increase of error in the doctrines put forth from Rome. Even before the establishment of the papacy the teachings of heathen philosophers had received attention and exerted an influence in the church. Many who professed conversion still clung to the tenets of their pagan philosophy, and not only continued its study themselves, but urged it upon others as a means of extending their influence among the heathen. Serious errors were thus introduced into the Christian faith. Prominent among these was the belief in man’s natural immortality and his consciousness in death. This doctrine laid the foundation upon which Rome established the invocation of saints and the adoration of the Virgin Mary. From this sprang also the heresy of eternal torment for the finally impenitent, which was early incorporated into the papal faith. {GC 58.2}

 

Not only were there false symbols of worship brought into the church at this time, false doctrines accompanied them. Like an arrow aimed at the heart of truth, false doctrines were accepted in the church, threatening the eternal lives of those teaching the doctrine of men over the word of God. Many of these false doctrines are still accepted today. This fact is revealed in the symbolic location given in scripture, Megiddo, which in the Greek language is Armageddon.

 

 

KING JOASH

RSV 2 Kings 11:1. NOW WHEN Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal family.

Then the way was prepared for the introduction of still another invention of paganism, which Rome named purgatory, and employed to terrify the credulous and superstitious multitudes. By this heresy is affirmed the existence of a place of torment, in which the souls of such as have not merited eternal damnation are to suffer punishment for their sins, and from which, when freed from impurity, they are admitted to heaven. (See Appendix.) {GC 58.3}

Still another fabrication was needed to enable Rome to profit by the fears and the vices of her adherents. This was supplied by the doctrine of indulgences. Full remission of sins, past, present, and future, and release from all the pains and penalties incurred, were promised to all who would enlist in the pontiff’s wars to extend his temporal dominion, to punish his enemies, or to exterminate those who dared deny his spiritual supremacy. The people were also taught that by the payment of money to the church they might free themselves from sin, and also release the souls of their deceased friends who were confined in the tormenting flames. By such means did Rome fill her coffers and sustain the magnificence, luxury, and vice of the pretended representatives of Him who had not where to lay His head. (See Appendix.) {GC 59.1}

 

Athaliah attempted to destroy the entire royal family. This is an illustration of what the doctrine of purgatory was designed to do to the family of God. There has not been a single more effective deception developed which turns the hearts of people away from the One True Sacrifice. The doctrine of purgatory has one goal in mind, to lead believers of this doctrine to think they have a part to act in their salvation. Worse then that, purgatory teaches people to believe the salvation of their loved ones may rely on them, and not on Christ. It is Satan’s goal to take away every true belief in Christ, one by one. The Bible tells us about a number of deceptions Satan will use. It is Satan’s goal to take the life of every human, by deception, torture or death.

 

RSV 2 Kings 11:2. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from among the king’s sons who were about to be slain, and she put him and his nurse in a bedchamber. Thus she hid him from Athaliah, so that he was not slain;

 

Amid the gloom that settled upon the earth during the long period of papal supremacy, the light of truth could not be wholly extinguished. In every age there were witnesses for God–men who cherished faith in Christ as the only mediator between God and man, who held the Bible as the only rule of life, and who hallowed the true Sabbath. How much the world owes to these men, posterity will never know. They were branded as heretics, their motives impugned, their characters maligned, their writings suppressed, misrepresented, or mutilated. Yet they stood firm, and from age to age maintained their faith in its purity, as a sacred heritage for the generations to come. {GC 61.1}

 

RSV 2 Kings 11:3. and he remained with her six years, hid in the house of the Lord, while Athaliah reigned over the land.

 

But of those who resisted the encroachments of the papal power, the Waldenses stood foremost. In the very land where popery had fixed its seat, there its falsehood and corruption were most steadfastly resisted. For centuries the churches of Piedmont maintained their independence; but the time came at last when Rome insisted upon their submission. After ineffectual struggles against her tyranny, the leaders of these churches reluctantly acknowledged the supremacy of the power to which the whole world seemed to pay homage. There were some, however, who refused to yield to the authority of pope or prelate. They were determined to maintain their allegiance to God and to preserve the purity and simplicity of their faith. A separation took place. Those who adhered to the ancient faith now withdrew; some, forsaking their native Alps, raised the banner of truth in foreign lands; others retreated to the secluded glens and rocky fastnesses of the mountains, and there preserved their freedom to worship God. {GC 64.1}

The faith which for centuries was held and taught by the Waldensian Christians was in marked contrast to the false doctrines put forth from Rome. Their religious belief was founded upon the written word of God, the true system of Christianity. But those humble peasants, in their obscure retreats, shut away from the world, and bound to daily toil among their flocks and their vineyards, had not by themselves arrived at the truth in opposition to the dogmas and heresies of the apostate church. Theirs was not a faith newly received. Their religious belief was their inheritance from their fathers. They contended for the faith of the apostolic church,–“the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 3. “The church in the wilderness,” and not the proud hierarchy enthroned in the world’s great capital, was the true church of Christ, the guardian of the treasures of truth which God has committed to His people to be given to the world.

 

Just as Joash was hidden in the temple, right in Athaliah’s back yard so to speak, the Walsenses were hidden in God’s mountain fortress. In many instances the Bible depicts a mountain as person’s belief.

 

 

 

RSV 2 Kings 11:5. And he commanded them, “This is the thing that you shall do: one third of you, those who come off duty on the Sabbath and guard the king’s house

 

Among the leading causes that had led to the separation of the true church from Rome was the hatred of the latter toward the Bible Sabbath. As foretold by prophecy, the papal power cast down the truth to the ground. The law of God was trampled in the dust, while the traditions and customs of men were exalted. The churches that were under the rule of the papacy were early compelled to honor the Sunday as a holy day. Amid the prevailing error and superstition, many, even of the true people of God, became so bewildered that while they observed the Sabbath, they refrained from labor also on the Sunday. But this did not satisfy the papal leaders. They demanded not only that Sunday be hallowed, but that the Sabbath be profaned; and they denounced in the strongest language those who dared to show it honor. It was only by fleeing from the power of Rome that any could obey God’s law in peace.

 

This is one of the strangest passages in the Bible. Why would Joash over throw the kingdom on the Sabbath? I am not sure what traditions they had developed in Judah at that time, concerning the Sabbath, but over throwing a kingdom must not have been on the lists of things not to do on the Sabbath. Religious decline may have reached a point that breaking the Sabbath may not have seemed like such a serious matter. The Bible shows us, the priests were right in the middle of the planning. Later in the story we see the Chief Priest instructing Joash. 2 Kings 12:2 And Jehoash did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him. It should be noted that one of Rome’s greatest fears concerning the Waldenses, was their day of worship. The Waldenses kept the original seventh day Sabbath of the Lord.

 

RSV 2 Kings 11:6. (another third being at the gate Sur and a third at the gate behind the guards), shall guard the palace; 7. and the two divisions of you, which come on duty in force on the Sabbath and guard the house of the Lord,

 

The Waldenses were among the first of the peoples of Europe to obtain a translation of the Holy Scriptures. (See Appendix.) Hundreds of years before the Reformation they possessed the Bible in manuscript in their native tongue. They had the truth unadulterated, and this rendered them the special objects of hatred and persecution. They declared the Church of Rome to be the apostate Babylon of the Apocalypse, and at the peril of their lives they stood up to resist her corruptions. While, under the pressure of long-continued persecution, some compromised their faith, little by little yielding its distinctive principles, others held fast the truth. Through ages of darkness and apostasy there were Waldenses who denied the supremacy of Rome, who rejected image worship as idolatry, and who kept the true Sabbath. Under the fiercest tempests of opposition they maintained their faith. Though gashed by the Savoyard spear, and scorched by the Romish fagot, they stood unflinchingly for God’s word and His honor. {GC 65.2}

 

Under the direction of God, the Waldenses were responsible for guarding the word of God. Many of the earth’s oldest Bibles can be traced to the origin of these great keepers of the light.

 

RSV 2 Kings 11:8. shall surround the king, each with his weapons in his hand; and whoever approaches the ranks is to be slain. Be with the king when he goes out and when he comes in.” 9. The captains did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded, and each brought his men who were to go off duty on the Sabbath, with those who were to come on duty on the Sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest.

 

Behind the lofty bulwarks of the mountains–in all ages the refuge of the persecuted and oppressed–the Waldenses found a hiding place. Here the light of truth was kept burning amid the darkness of the Middle Ages. Here, for a thousand years, witnesses for the truth maintained the ancient faith. {GC 65.3}

God had provided for His people a sanctuary of awful grandeur, befitting the mighty truths committed to their trust. To those faithful exiles the mountains were an emblem of the immutable righteousness of Jehovah. They pointed their children to the heights towering above them in unchanging majesty, and spoke to them of Him with whom there is no variableness nor shadow of turning, whose word is as enduring as the everlasting hills. God had set fast the mountains and girded them with strength; no arm but that of Infinite Power could move them out of their place. In like manner He had established His law, the foundation of His government in heaven and upon earth. The arm of man might reach his fellow men and destroy their lives; but that arm could as readily uproot the mountains from their foundations, and hurl them into the sea, as it could change one precept of the law of Jehovah, or blot out one of His promises to those who do His will. In their fidelity to His law, God’s servants should be as firm as the unchanging hills. {GC 66.1}

The mountains that girded their lowly valleys were a constant witness to God’s creative power, and a never-failing assurance of His protecting care. Those pilgrims learned to love the silent symbols of Jehovah’s presence. They indulged no repining because of the hardships of their lot; they were never lonely amid the mountain solitudes. They thanked God that He had provided for them an asylum from the wrath and cruelty of men. They rejoiced in their freedom to worship before Him. Often when pursued by their enemies, the strength of the hills proved a sure defense. From many a lofty cliff they chanted the praise of God, and the armies of Rome could not silence their songs of thanksgiving.

 

RSV 2 Kings 11:10. And the priest delivered to the captains the spears and shields that had been King David’s, which were in the house of the Lord; 11. and the guards stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, from the south side of the house to the north side of the house, around the altar and the house.

 

From their pastors the youth received instruction. While attention was given to branches of general learning, the Bible was made the chief study. The Gospels of Matthew and John were committed to memory, with many of the Epistles. They were employed also in copying the Scriptures. Some manuscripts contained the whole Bible, others only brief selections, to which some simple explanations of the text were added by those who were able to expound the Scriptures. Thus were brought forth the treasures of truth so long concealed by those who sought to exalt themselves above God. {GC 68.2}

By patient, untiring labor, sometimes in the deep, dark caverns of the earth, by the light of torches, the Sacred Scriptures were written out, verse by verse, chapter by chapter. Thus the work went on, the revealed will of God shining out like pure gold; how much brighter, clearer, and more powerful because of the trials undergone for its sake only those could realize who were engaged in the work. Angels from heaven surrounded these faithful workers. {GC 69.1}

 

ASV Ephesians 6:113. Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. 14. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15. and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16. withal taking up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. 17. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18. with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints

 

RSV 2 Kings 11:12. Then he brought out the king’s son, and put the crown upon him, and gave him the testimony; and they proclaimed him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, “Long live the king!”

 

To the Waldenses the Scriptures were not merely a record of God’s dealings with men in the past, and a revelation of the responsibilities and duties of the present, but an unfolding of the perils and glories of the future. They believed that the end of all things was not far distant, and as they studied the Bible with prayer and tears they were the more deeply impressed with its precious utterances and with their duty to make known to others its saving truths. They saw the plan of salvation clearly revealed in the sacred pages, and they found comfort, hope, and peace in believing in Jesus. As the light illuminated their understanding and made glad their hearts, they longed to shed its beams upon those who were in the darkness of papal error. {GC 72.1}

 

King Joash was given the testimony to guide his people. The Waldenses also relied upon the word of God to guide them in their responsibilities and duties.

 

RSV 2 Kings 11:13. When Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she went into the house of the Lord to the people; 14. and when she looked, there was the king standing by the pillar, according to the custom, and the captains and the trumpeters beside the king, and all the people of the land rejoicing and blowing trumpets. And Athaliah rent her clothes, and cried, “Treason! Treason!”

 

The Waldensian missionaries were invading the kingdom of Satan, and the powers of darkness aroused to greater vigilance. Every effort to advance the truth was watched by the prince of evil, and he excited the fears of his agents. The papal leaders saw a portent of danger to their cause from the labors of these humble itinerants. If the light of truth were allowed to shine unobstructed, it would sweep away the heavy clouds of error that enveloped the people. It would direct the minds of men to God alone and would eventually destroy the supremacy of Rome. {GC 76.1}

 

RSV 2 Kings 11:17. And Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord and the king and people, that they should be the Lord’s people; and also between the king and the people.

 

Thus the Waldenses witnessed for God centuries before the birth of Luther. Scattered over many lands, they planted the seeds of the Reformation that began in the time of Wycliffe, grew broad and deep in the days of Luther, and is to be carried forward to the close of time by those who also are willing to suffer all things for “the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 1:9. {GC 78.1}

 

 

 

KING AMAZIAH

 

RSV 2 Kings 14:3-4

3. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not like David his father; he did in all things as Joash his father had done. 4. But the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.

 

Like after Reformers, Wycliffe did not, at the opening of his work, foresee whither it would lead him. He did not set himself deliberately in opposition to Rome. But devotion to truth could not but bring him in conflict with falsehood. The more clearly he discerned the errors of the papacy, the more earnestly he presented the teaching of the Bible. He saw that Rome had forsaken the word of God for human tradition; he fearlessly accused the priesthood of having banished the Scriptures, and demanded that the Bible be restored to the people and that its authority be again established in the church. He was an able and earnest teacher and an eloquent preacher, and his daily life was a demonstration of the truths he preached. His knowledge of the Scriptures, the force of his reasoning, the purity of his life, and his unbending courage and integrity won for him general esteem and confidence. Many of the people had become dissatisfied with their former faith as they saw the iniquity that prevailed in the Roman Church, and they hailed with unconcealed joy the truths brought to view by Wycliffe; but the papal leaders were filled with rage when they perceived that this Reformer was gaining an influence greater than their own.

 

Just as Amaziah did not attempt to remove the influences of paganism in Judah, Wycliffe did not attempt to challenge Rome. But rather attempted to work from within the church.

 

RSV 2 Kings 14:5. And as soon as the royal power was firmly in his hand he killed his servants who had slain the king his father. 6. But he did not put to death the children of the murderers; according to what is written in the book of the law of Moses, where the Lord commanded, “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, or the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall die for his own sin.”

 

Another evil against which the Reformer waged long and resolute battle was the institution of the orders of mendicant friars. These friars swarmed in England, casting a blight upon the greatness and prosperity of the nation. Industry, education, morals, all felt the withering influence. The monk’s life of idleness and beggary was not only a heavy drain upon the resources of the people, but it brought useful labor into contempt. The youth were demoralized and corrupted. By the influence of the friars many were induced to enter a cloister and devote themselves to a monastic life, and this not only without the consent of their parents, but even without their knowledge and contrary to their commands. One of the early Fathers of the Roman Church, urging the claims of monasticism above the obligations of filial love and duty, had declared: “Though thy father should lie before thy door weeping and lamenting, and thy mother should show the body that bore thee and the breasts that nursed thee, see that thou trample them underfoot, and go onward straightway to Christ.” By this “monstrous inhumanity,” as Luther afterward styled it, “savoring more of the wolf and the tyrant than of the Christian and the man,” were the hearts of children steeled against their parents.–Barnas Sears, The Life of Luther, pages 70, 69. Thus did the papal leaders, like the Pharisees of old, make the commandment of God of none effect by their tradition. Thus homes were made desolate and parents were deprived of the society of their sons and daughters. {GC 82.2}

 

The context of these two statements refer to the same subjects, but are opposites. They are mirror images of one another. Amaziah did not condemn the children of the guilty parties, only those responsible. On the other hand the monks plan was to condemn the children through a sentence of life long service. Through the children they had planned to extend their influence.

 

RSV 2 Kings 14:8. Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz, son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, “Come, let us look one another in the face.” 9. And Jehoash king of Israel sent word to Amaziah king of Judah, “A thistle on Lebanon sent to a cedar on Lebanon, saying, ‘Give your daughter to my son for a wife’; and a wild beast of Lebanon passed by and trampled down the thistle. 10. You have indeed smitten Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Be content with your glory, and stay at home; for why should you provoke trouble so that you fall, you and Judah with you?”

 

Again Wycliffe was called to defend the rights of the English crown against the encroachments of Rome; and being appointed a royal ambassador, he spent two years in the Netherlands, in conference with the commissioners of the pope. Here he was brought into communication with ecclesiastics from France, Italy, and Spain, and he had an opportunity to look behind the scenes and gain a knowledge of many things which would have remained hidden from him in England. He learned much that was to give point to his after labors. In these representatives from the papal court he read the true character and aims of the hierarchy. He returned to England to repeat his former teachings more openly and with greater zeal, declaring that covetousness, pride, and deception were the gods of Rome. {GC 84.3}

In one of his tracts he said, speaking of the pope and his collectors: “They draw out of our land poor men’s livelihood, and many thousand marks, by the year, of the king’s money, for sacraments and spiritual things, that is cursed heresy of simony, and maketh all Christendom assent and maintain this heresy. And certes though our realm had a huge hill of gold, and never other man took thereof but only this proud worldly priest’s collector, by process of time this hill must be spended; for he taketh ever money out of our land, and sendeth nought again but God’s curse for his simony.” –John Lewis, History of the Life and Sufferings of J. Wiclif, page 37. {GC 85.1}

 

RSV 2 Kings 14:12. And Judah was defeated by Israel, and every man fled to his home.

 

The papal thunders were soon hurled against him. Three bulls were dispatched to England,–to the university, to the king, and to the prelates,–all commanding immediate and decisive measures to silence the teacher of heresy. (Augustus Neander, General History of the Christian Religion and Church, period 6, sec. 2, pt. 1, par. 8. See also Appendix.) Before the arrival of the bulls, however, the bishops, in their zeal, had summoned Wycliffe before them for trial. But two of the most powerful princes in the kingdom accompanied him to the tribunal; and the people, surrounding the building and rushing in, so intimidated the judges that the proceedings were for the time suspended, and he was allowed to go his way in peace. A little later, Edward III, whom in his old age the prelates were seeking to influence against the Reformer, died, and Wycliffe’s former protector became regent of the kingdom. {GC 85.3}

 

Both instances in history illustrate the same lesson. Both began as a good will meeting to discuss their differences in an attempt to reach a peaceful resolution. Both resulted in what appeared as the stronger power resorting to violence, to force the weaker into submission.

 

RSV 2 Kings 14:16. And Jehoash slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria with the kings of Israel; and Jeroboam his son reigned in his stead. 17. Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, lived fifteen years after the death of Jehoash son of Jehoahaz, king of Israel.

 

But the arrival of the papal bulls laid upon all England a peremptory command for the arrest and imprisonment of the heretic. These measures pointed directly to the stake. It appeared certain that Wycliffe must soon fall a prey to the vengeance of Rome. But He who declared to one of old, “Fear not: . . . I am thy shield” (Genesis 15:1), again stretched out His hand to protect His servant. Death came, not to the Reformer, but to the pontiff who had decreed his destruction. Gregory XI died, and the ecclesiastics who had assembled for Wycliffe’s trial, dispersed. {GC 86.1}

 

RSV 2 Kings 14:14. And he seized all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king’s house, also hostages, and he returned to Samaria.

 

Again the papal leaders plotted to silence the Reformer’s voice. Before three tribunals he was successively summoned for trial, but without avail. First a synod of bishops declared his writings heretical, and, winning the young king, Richard II, to their side, they obtained a royal decree consigning to prison all who should hold the condemned doctrines. {GC 89.3}

Wycliffe appealed from the synod to Parliament; he fearlessly arraigned the hierarchy before the national council and demanded a reform of the enormous abuses sanctioned by the church. With convincing power he portrayed the usurpation and corruptions of the papal see. His enemies were brought to confusion. The friends and supporters of Wycliffe had been forced to yield, and it had been

confidently expected that the Reformer himself, in his old age, alone and friendless, would bow to the combined authority of the crown and the miter. But instead of this the papists saw themselves defeated. Parliament, roused by the stirring appeals of Wycliffe, repealed the persecuting edict, and the Reformer was again at liberty. {GC 89.4}

 

Judah removed the gold and silver from the temple. This is a symbol of God’s word and His people. The papal leaders also attempted to destroy the words of truth Wycliffe was and passed along to the people.

 

KING UZZIAH

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 26:3. Uzziah was sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jecoliah of Jerusalem. 4. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. 5. He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.

 

John Huss was of humble birth, and was early left an orphan by the death of his father. His pious mother, regarding education and the fear of God as the most valuable of possessions, sought to secure this heritage for her son. Huss studied at the provincial school, and then repaired to the university at Prague, receiving admission as a charity scholar. He was accompanied on the journey to Prague by his mother; widowed and poor, she had no gifts of worldly wealth to bestow upon her son, but as they drew near to the great city, she kneeled down beside the fatherless youth and invoked for him the blessing of their Father in heaven. Little did that mother realize how her prayer was to be answered. {GC 98.1}

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 26:11. Moreover Uzziah had an army of soldiers, fit for war, in divisions according to the numbers in the muster made by Je-iel the secretary and Ma-aseiah the officer, under the direction of Hananiah, one of the king’s commanders.

 

When after a time the excitement in Prague subsided, Huss returned to his chapel of Bethlehem, to continue with greater zeal and courage the preaching of the word of God. His enemies were active and powerful, but the queen and many of the nobles were his friends, and the people in great numbers sided with him. Comparing his pure and elevating teachings and holy life with the degrading dogmas which the Romanists preached, and the avarice and debauchery which they practiced, many regarded it an honor to be on his side. {GC 102.2}

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 26:7. God helped him against the Philistines, and against the Arabs that dwelt in Gurbaal, and against the Me-unites.

 

The schism in the church still continued. Three popes were now contending for the supremacy, and their strife filled Christendom with crime and tumult. Not content with hurling anathemas, they resorted to temporal weapons. Each cast about him to purchase arms and to obtain soldiers. Of course money must be had; and to procure this, the gifts, offices, and blessings of the church were offered for sale. (See Appendix note for page 59.) The priests also, imitating their superiors, resorted to simony and war to humble their rivals and strengthen their own power. With daily increasing boldness Huss thundered against the abominations which were tolerated in the name of religion; and the people openly accused the Romish leaders as the cause of the miseries that overwhelmed Christendom.

 

Uzziah had faced threats from many fronts. Huss also faced not one but three popes, all with the same intent, to silence him. God protected Uzziah, He also protected Huss. As the prophesy of Christ declares, “a house divided can not stand.” As the popes warred one against another, Huss was able to fulfill the work God had given him.

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 26:21. And King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death, and being a leper dwelt in a separate house, for he was excluded from the house of the Lord. And Jotham his son was over the king’s household, governing the people of the land.

 

Unmoved by the tempest, Jerome exclaimed: “What! do you suppose that I fear to die? You have held me for a whole year in a frightful dungeon, more horrible than death itself. You have treated me more cruelly than a Turk, Jew, or pagan, and my flesh has literally rotted off my bones alive; and yet I make no complaint, for lamentation ill becomes a man of heart and spirit; but I cannot but express my astonishment at such great barbarity toward a Christian.”–Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 151-153. {GC 114.2}

 

 

 

KING JOTHAM

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 27:5. He fought with the king of the Ammonites and prevailed against them. And the Ammonites gave him that year a hundred talents of silver, and ten thousand cors of wheat and ten thousand of barley. The Ammonites paid him the same amount in the second and the third years. 6. So Jotham became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God.

 

The enemies of the Bohemians, knowing that the blind warrior was dead, deemed the opportunity favorable for recovering all that they had lost. The pope now proclaimed a crusade against the Hussites, and again an immense force was precipitated upon Bohemia, but only to suffer terrible defeat. Another crusade was proclaimed. In all the papal countries of Europe, men, money, and munitions of war were raised. Multitudes flocked to the papal standard, assured that at last an end would be made of the Hussite heretics. Confident of victory, the vast force entered Bohemia. The people rallied to repel them. The two armies approached each other until only a river lay between them. “The crusaders were in greatly superior force, but instead of dashing across the stream, and closing in battle with the Hussites whom they had come so far to meet, they stood gazing in silence at those warriors.”–Wylie, b. 3, ch. 17. Then suddenly a mysterious terror fell upon the host. Without striking a blow, that mighty force broke and scattered as if dispelled by an unseen power. Great numbers were slaughtered by the Hussite army, which pursued the fugitives, and an immense booty fell into the hands of the victors, so that the war, instead of impoverishing, enriched the Bohemians. {GC 116.2}

A few years later, under a new pope, still another crusade was set on foot. As before, men and means were drawn from all the papal countries of Europe. Great were the inducements held out to those who should engage in this perilous enterprise. Full forgiveness of the most heinous crimes was ensured to every crusader. All who died in the war were promised a rich reward in heaven, and those who survived were to reap honor and riches on the field of battle. Again a vast army was collected, and, crossing the frontier they entered Bohemia. The Hussite forces fell back before them, thus drawing the invaders farther and farther into the country, and leading them to count the victory already won. At last the army of Procopius made a stand, and turning upon the foe, advanced to give them battle. The crusaders, now discovering their mistake, lay in their encampment awaiting the onset. As the sound of the approaching force was heard, even before the Hussites were in sight, a panic again fell upon the crusaders. Princes, generals, and common soldiers, casting away their armor, fled in all directions. In vain the papal legate, who was the leader of the invasion, endeavored to rally his terrified and disorganized forces. Despite his utmost endeavors, he himself was swept along in the tide of fugitives. The rout was complete, and again an immense booty fell into the hands of the victors. {GC 116.3}

Thus the second time a vast army, sent forth by the most powerful nations of Europe, a host of brave, warlike men, trained and equipped for battle, fled without a blow before the defenders of a small and hitherto feeble nation. Here was a manifestation of divine power. The invaders were smitten with a supernatural terror. He who overthrew the hosts of Pharaoh in the Red Sea, who put to flight the armies of Midian before Gideon and his three hundred, who in one night laid low the forces of the proud Assyrian, had again stretched out His hand to wither the power of the oppressor. “There were they in great fear, where no fear was: for God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee: thou hast put them to shame, because God hath despised them.” Psalm 53:5.

 

Many times through out history, God has given us examples showing us, what first appears to be the weaker opponent, can become the victor, if they are right with the Lord.

 

 

 

KING AHAZ

 

RSV 2 Kings 16:5. Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to wage war on Jerusalem, and they besieged Ahaz but could not conquer him.

 

RSV 2 Kings 16:7. So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and your son. Come up, and rescue me from the hand of the king of Syria and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are attacking me.” 8. Ahaz also took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasures of the king’s house, and sent a present to the king of Assyria.

 

The papal leaders, despairing of conquering by force, at last resorted to diplomacy. A compromise was entered into, that while professing to grant to the Bohemians freedom of conscience, really betrayed them into the power of Rome. The Bohemians had specified four points as the condition of peace with Rome: the free preaching of the Bible; the right of the whole church to both the bread and the wine in the communion, and the use of the mother tongue in divine worship; the exclusion of the clergy from all secular offices and authority; and, in cases of crime, the jurisdiction of the civil courts over clergy and laity alike. The papal authorities at last “agreed that the four articles of the Hussites should be accepted, but that the right of explaining them, that is, of determining their precise import, should belong to the council–in other words, to the pope and the emperor.”– Wylie, b. 3, ch. 18. On this basis a treaty was entered into, and Rome gained by dissimulation and fraud what she had failed to gain by conflict; for, placing her own interpretation upon the Hussite articles, as upon the Bible, she could pervert their meaning to suit her own purposes. {GC 118.1}

A large class in Bohemia, seeing that it betrayed their liberties, could not consent to the compact. Dissensions and divisions arose, leading to strife and bloodshed among themselves. In this strife the noble Procopius fell, and the liberties of Bohemia perished. {GC 118.2}

 

During his early reign Joshua vanquished his enemies with God’s help. Later he fell victim to the inhabitants of Gibeon, and their trickery. Joshua switched his trust from God to his own judgment. Both Ahaz and the Bohemians reached what seemed to be a compromise without consulting God.

 

 

 

KING HEZEKIAH

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 29:1. HEZEKIAH BEGAN to reign when he was twenty-five years old, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abijah the daughter of Zechariah. 2. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done. 3. In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the Lord, and repaired them.

RSV 2 Kings 18: 3. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done. 4. He removed the high places, and broke the pillars, and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had burned incense to it; it was called Nehushtan.

 

Foremost among those who were called to lead the church from the darkness of popery into the light of a purer faith, stood Martin Luther. Zealous, ardent, and devoted, knowing no fear but the fear of God, and acknowledging no foundation for religious faith but the Holy Scriptures, Luther was the man for his time; through him God accomplished a great work for the reformation of the church and the enlightenment of the world. {GC 120.1}

Like the first heralds of the gospel, Luther sprang from the ranks of poverty. His early years were spent in the humble home of a German peasant. By daily toil as a miner his father earned the means for his education. He intended him for a lawyer; but God purposed to make him a builder in the great temple that was rising so slowly through the centuries. Hardship, privation, and severe discipline were the school in which Infinite Wisdom prepared Luther for the important mission of his life. {GC 120.2}

 

Other kings removed the gold and silver from the doors of the temple. Now we see Hezekiah is repairing the doors of the temple, just as Luther was to become the “repairer of the temple” in his time. Luther took giant strides in bringing back the truth of the sacrifice only Jesus can provide. Luther could not find peace in his life until the light of Christ, His healing power, and the truth of His sacrifice was revealed to him. Understanding the one true sacrifice set Luther free, and gave him the strength to face the trials ahead. Every trial Luther faced stood as nothing compared to the emptiness he felt without a savior.

 

RSV 2 Kings 18:6. For he held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments which the Lord commanded Moses.

 

The fear of the Lord dwelt in the heart of Luther, enabling him to maintain his steadfastness of purpose and leading him to deep humility before God. He had an abiding sense of his dependence upon divine aid, and he did not fail to begin each day with prayer, while his heart was continually breathing a petition for guidance and support. “To pray well,” he often said, “is the better half of study.”– D’Aubigne, b. 2, ch. 2. {GC 122.1}

 

RSV 2 Kings 19:5-6

5. When the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah, 6. Isaiah said to them, “Say to your master, ‘Thus says the Lord: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled me.

 

When it appeared to Luther that all was lost, God raised up a friend and helper for him. The pious Staupitz opened the word of God to Luther’s mind and bade him look away from himself, cease the contemplation of infinite punishment for the violation of God’s law, and look to Jesus, his sin-pardoning Saviour. “Instead of torturing yourself on account of your sins, throw yourself into the Redeemer’s arms. Trust in Him, in the righteousness of His life, in the atonement of His death. . . . Listen to the Son of God. He became man to give you the assurance of divine favor.” “Love Him who first loved you.”–Ibid., b. 2, ch. 4. Thus spoke this messenger of mercy. His words made a deep impression upon Luther’s mind. After many a struggle with long-cherished errors, he was enabled to grasp the truth, and peace came to his troubled soul. {GC 123.3}

 

RSV 2 Kings 18:14. And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, “I have done wrong; withdraw from me; whatever you impose on me I will bear.” And the king of Assyria required of Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15. And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasuries of the king’s house. 16. At that time Hezekiah stripped the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord, and from the doorposts which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid and gave it to the king of Assyria.

 

But light and darkness cannot harmonize. Between truth and error there is an irrepressible conflict. To uphold and defend the one is to attack and overthrow the other. Our Saviour Himself declared: “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34. Said Luther, a few years after the opening of the Reformation: “God does not guide me, He pushes me forward. He carries me away. I am not master of myself. I desire to live in repose; but I am thrown into the midst of tumults and revolutions.”–D’Aubigne, b. 5, ch. 2. He was now about to be urged into the contest. {GC 126.3}

The Roman Church had made merchandise of the grace of God. The tables of the money-changers (Matthew 21:12) were set up beside her altars, and the air resounded with the shouts of buyers and sellers. Under the plea of raising funds for the erection of St. Peter’s Church at Rome, indulgences for sin were publicly offered for sale by the authority of the pope. By the price of crime a temple was to be built up for God’s worship–the cornerstone laid with the wages of iniquity! But the very means adopted for Rome’s aggrandizement provoked the deadliest blow to her power and greatness. It was this that aroused the most determined and successful of the enemies of popery, and led to the battle which shook the papal throne and jostled the triple crown upon the pontiff’s head. {GC 127.1}

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 30:1. HEZEKIAH SENT to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the passover to the Lord the God of Israel. 2. For the king and his princes and all the assembly in Jerusalem had taken counsel to keep the passover in the second month–

 

In an appeal to the emperor and nobility of Germany in behalf of the reformation of Christianity, Luther wrote concerning the pope: “It is a horrible thing to behold the man who styles himself Christ’s vicegerent, displaying a magnificence that no emperor can equal. Is this being like the poor Jesus, or the humble Peter? He is, say they, the lord of the world! But Christ, whose vicar he boasts of being, has said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ Can the dominions of a vicar extend beyond those of his superior?”– D’Aubigne, b. 6, ch. 3. {GC 140.4}

He wrote thus of the universities: “I am much afraid that the universities will prove to be the great gates of hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, and engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not unceasingly occupied with the word of God must become corrupt.”– Ibid., b. 6, ch. 3. {GC 140.5}

This appeal was rapidly circulated throughout Germany and exerted a powerful influence upon the people. The whole nation was stirred, and multitudes were roused to rally around the standard of reform. Luther’s opponents, burning with a desire for revenge, urged the pope to take decisive measures against him. It was decreed that his doctrines should be immediately condemned. Sixty days were granted the Reformer and his adherents, after which, if they did not recant, they were all to be excommunicated. {GC 141.1}

 

RSV 2 Kings 18:17. And the king of Assyria sent the Tartan, the Rabsaris, and the Rabshakeh with a great army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. When they arrived, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is on the highway to the Fuller’s Field.

 

In conclusion he endeavored to cast contempt upon the adherents of the reformed faith: “What are all these Lutherans? A crew of insolent pedagogues, corrupt priests, dissolute monks, ignorant lawyers, and degraded nobles, with the common people whom they have misled and perverted. How far superior to them is the Catholic party in number, ability, and power! A unanimous decree from this illustrious assembly will enlighten the simple, warn the imprudent, decide the waverers, and give strength to the weak.” –D’Aubigne, b. 7, ch. 3. {GC 148.2}

With such weapons the advocates of truth in every age have been attacked. The same arguments are still urged against all who dare to present, in opposition to established errors, the plain and direct teachings of God’s word. “Who are these preachers of new doctrines?” exclaim those who desire a popular religion. “They are unlearned, few in numbers, and of the poorer class. Yet they claim to have the truth, and to be the chosen people of God. They are ignorant and deceived. How greatly superior in numbers and influence is our church! How many great and learned men are among us! How much more power is on our side!” These are the arguments that have a telling influence upon the world; but they are no more conclusive now than in the days of the Reformer. {GC 148.3}

 

RSV 2 Kings 19:30. And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward; 31. for out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord will do this.

 

The Reformation did not, as many suppose, end with Luther. It is to be continued to the close of this world’s history. Luther had a great work to do in reflecting to others the light which God had permitted to shine upon him; yet he did not receive all the light which was to be given to the world. From that time to this, new light has been continually shining upon the Scriptures, and new truths have been constantly unfolding. {GC 148.4}

 

RSV 2 Kings 18:27. But the Rabshakeh said to them, “Has my master sent me to speak these words to your master and to you, and not to the men sitting on the wall, who are doomed with you to eat their own dung and to drink their own urine?” 28. Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out in a loud voice in the language of Judah: “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! 29. Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you out of my hand. 30. Do not let Hezekiah make you to rely on the Lord by saying, The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’ 31. Do not listen to Hezekiah; for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me; then every one of you will eat of his own vine, and every one of his own fig tree, and every one of you will drink the water of his own cistern;

 

RSV 2 Kings 18:36. But the people were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s command was, “Do not answer him.”

 

The legate’s address made a deep impression upon the Diet. There was no Luther present, with the clear and convincing truths of God’s word, to vanquish the papal champion. No attempt was made to defend the Reformer. There was manifest a general disposition not only to condemn him and the doctrines which he taught, but if possible to uproot the heresy. Rome had enjoyed the most favorable opportunity to defend her cause. All that she could say in her own vindication had been said. But the apparent victory was the signal of defeat. Henceforth the contrast between truth and error would be more clearly seen, as they should take the field in open warfare. Never from that day would Rome stand as secure as she had stood. {GC 149.1}

 

Just like the people of Jerusalem refused to answer Rabshakeh’s threats, the council in Luther’s time was also a one sided affair.

 

RSV 2 Kings 19:6. Isaiah said to them, “Say to your master, ‘Thus says the Lord: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled me. 7. Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.'”

 

While most of the members of the Diet would not have hesitated to yield up Luther to the vengeance of Rome, many of them saw and deplored the existing depravity in the church, and desired a suppression of the abuses suffered by the German people in consequence of the corruption and greed of the hierarchy. The legate had presented the papal rule in the most favorable light. Now the Lord moved upon a member of the Diet to give a true delineation of the effects of papal tyranny. With noble firmness, Duke George of Saxony stood up in that princely assembly and specified with terrible exactness the deceptions and abominations of popery, and their dire results. In closing he said: {GC 149.2}

“These are some of the abuses that cry out against Rome. All shame has been put aside, and their only object is . . . money, money, money, . . . so that the preachers who should teach the truth, utter nothing but falsehoods, and are not only tolerated, but rewarded, because the greater their lies, the greater their gain. It is from this foul spring that such tainted waters flow. Debauchery stretches out the hand to avarice. . . . Alas, it is the scandal caused by the clergy that hurls so many poor souls into eternal condemnation. A general reform must be effected.”–Ibid., b. 7, ch. 4.

 

RSV 2 Kings 20:1. IN THOSE days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order; for you shall die, you shall not recover.'”

 

The papists had not believed that Luther would really venture to appear at Worms, and his arrival filled them with consternation. The emperor immediately summoned his councilors to consider what course should be pursued. One of the bishops, a rigid papist, declared: “We have long consulted on this matter. Let your imperial majesty get rid of this man at once. Did not Sigismund cause John Huss to be burnt? We are not bound either to give or to observe the safe-conduct of a heretic.” “No,” said the emperor, “we must keep our promise.”–Ibid., b. 7, ch. 8. It was therefore decided that the Reformer should be heard. {GC 153.4}

 

Both Hezekiah and Luther faced what appeared to be certain death.

 

RSV 2 Kings 20:2. Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, 3. “Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in thy sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

 

“O almighty and everlasting God,” he pleaded, “how terrible is this world! Behold, it openeth its mouth to swallow me up, and I have so little trust in Thee. . . . If it is only in the strength of this world that I must put my trust, all is over. . . . My last hour is come, my condemnation has been pronounced. . . . O God, do Thou help me against all the wisdom of the world. Do this, . . . Thou alone; . . . for this is not my work, but Thine. I have nothing to do here, nothing to contend for with these great ones of the world. . . . But the cause is Thine, . . . and it is a righteous and eternal cause. O Lord, help me! Faithful and unchangeable God, in no man do I place my trust. . . . All that is of man is uncertain; all that cometh of man fails. . . . Thou hast chosen me for this work. . . . Stand at my side, for the sake of Thy well-beloved Jesus Christ, who is my defense, my shield, and my strong tower.”–Ibid., b. 7, ch. 8. {GC 156.3}

An all-wise Providence had permitted Luther to realize his peril, that he might not trust to his own strength and rush presumptuously into danger. Yet it was not the fear of personal suffering, a dread of torture or death, which seemed immediately impending, that overwhelmed him with its terror. He had come to the crisis, and he felt his insufficiency to meet it. Through his weakness the cause of truth might suffer loss. Not for his own safety, but for the triumph of the gospel did he wrestle with God. Like Israel’s, in that night struggle beside the lonely stream, was the anguish and conflict of his soul. Like Israel, he prevailed with God. In his utter helplessness his faith fastened upon Christ, the mighty Deliverer. He was strengthened with the assurance that he would not appear alone before the council. Peace returned to his soul, and he rejoiced that he was permitted to uplift the word of God before the rulers of the nations. {GC 157.1}

 

RSV 2 Kings 20:5. “Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the prince of my people, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will heal you; on the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. 6. And I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake.”

 

Two conflicting opinions were now urged by the members of the Diet. The emissaries and representatives of the pope again demanded that the Reformer’s safe-conduct should be disregarded. “The Rhine,” they said, “should receive his ashes, as it had received those of John Huss a century ago.”–Ibid., b. 7, ch. 9. But princes of Germany, though themselves papists and avowed enemies to Luther, protested against such a breach of public faith, as a stain upon the honor of the nation. They pointed to the calamities which had followed the death of Huss, and declared that they dared not call down upon Germany, and upon the head of their youthful emperor, a repetition of those terrible evils. {GC 163.1}

 

To another appeal he said: “I consent to renounce my safe-conduct. I place my person and my life in the emperor’s hands, but the word of God–never!”–Ibid., b. 7, ch. 10. He stated his willingness to submit to the decision of a general council, but only on condition that the council be required to decide according to the Scriptures. “In what concerns the word of God and the faith,” he added, “every Christian is as good a judge as the pope, though supported by a million councils, can be for him.”–Martyn, vol. 1, p. 410. Both friends and foes were at last convinced that further effort for reconciliation would be useless. {GC 166.2}

 

Luther was soon commanded by the authority of the emperor to return home, and he knew that this notice would be speedily followed by his condemnation. Threatening clouds overhung his path; but as he departed from Worms, his heart was filled with joy and praise. “The devil himself,” said he, “guarded the pope’s citadel; but Christ has made a wide breach in it, and Satan was constrained to confess that the Lord is mightier than he.”–D’Aubigne, b. 7, ch. 11. {GC 166.4}

 

God had provided a way of escape for His servant in this hour of peril. A vigilant eye had followed Luther’s movements, and a true and noble heart had resolved upon his rescue. It was plain that Rome would be satisfied with nothing short of his death; only by concealment could he be preserved from the jaws of the lion. God gave wisdom to Frederick of Saxony to devise a plan for the Reformer’s preservation. With the co-operation of true friends the elector’s purpose was carried out, and Luther was effectually hidden from friends and foes. Upon his homeward journey he was seized, separated from his attendants, and hurriedly conveyed through the forest to the castle of Wartburg, an isolated mountain fortress. Both his seizure and his concealment were so involved in mystery that even Frederick himself for a long time knew not whither he had been conducted. This ignorance was not without design; so long as the elector knew nothing of Luther’s whereabouts, he could reveal nothing. He satisfied himself that the Reformer was safe, and with this knowledge he was content. {GC 168.1}

 

Both Hezikiah and Luther were saved through God’s intervention.

 

There were of course other important reformers at the time of Luther. A study of Ellen White’s “The Great Controversy” will show some amazing parallels between each of these reformers. One interesting point is that most, if not all of them had a death decree put upon them from the Papal system. And each of them had escaped the jaws of death through some form of circumstances that may be considered as divine intervention. A few of the names are mentioned here. But for the most part, the works that they performed and the relating text would become a repeat of the events cover in the study of Luther.

 

A few weeks after the birth of Luther in a miner’s cabin in Saxony, Ulric Zwingli was born in a herdsman’s cottage among the Alps. Zwingli’s surroundings in childhood, and his early training, were such as to prepare him for his future mission. {GC 172}

 

The doctrine preached by Zwingli was not received from Luther. It was the doctrine of Christ. “If Luther preaches Christ,” said the Swiss Reformer, “he does what I am doing. Those whom he has brought to Christ are more numerous than those whom I have led. But this matters not. I will bear no other name than that of Christ, whose soldier I am, and who alone is my Chief. Never has one single word been written by me to Luther, nor by Luther to me. And why? . . . That it might be shown how much the Spirit of God is in unison with itself, since both of us, without any collusion, teach the doctrine of Christ with such uniformity.” –D’Aubigne, b. 8, ch. 9. {GC 174.2}

 

In France, before the name of Luther had been heard as a Reformer, the day had already begun to break. One of the first to catch the light was the aged Lefevre, a man of extensive learning, a professor in the University of Paris, and a sincere and zealous papist. In his researches into ancient literature his attention was directed to the Bible, and he introduced its study among his students. {GC 212.1}

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 32:18-20

18. And they shouted it with a loud voice in the language of Judah to the people of Jerusalem who were upon the wall, to frighten and terrify them, in order that they might take the city. 19. And they spoke of the God of Jerusalem as they spoke of the gods of the peoples of the earth, which are the work of men’s hands. 20. Then Hezekiah the king and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, prayed because of this and cried to heaven.

 

A few men, deeply affected by the excitement in the religious world, imagined themselves to have received special revelations from Heaven, and claimed to have been divinely commissioned to carry forward to its completion the Reformation which, they declared, had been but feebly begun by Luther. In truth, they were undoing the very work which he had accomplished. They rejected the great principle which was the very foundation of the Reformation–that the word of God is the all-sufficient rule of faith and practice; and for that unerring guide they substituted the changeable, uncertain standard of their own feelings and impressions. By this act of setting aside the great detector of error and falsehood the way was opened for Satan to control minds as best pleased himself. {GC 186.2}

 

In Hezikiah’s time, Satan deceived many people into thinking they were following the true God when they were following false gods. During the reformation, Satan employed the same deception. This well conceived plan was introduced to mislead Christ’s new followers. This is a deception Satan will not hesitate to employ today. Satan is the master of compromise, who understands he may still win if he can conquer half a soul.

 

RSV 2 Kings 18:16. At that time Hezekiah stripped the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord, and from the doorposts which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid and gave it to the king of Assyria.

 

Upon his return from the Wartburg, Luther completed his translation of the New Testament, and the gospel was soon after given to the people of Germany in their own language. This translation was received with great joy by all who loved the truth; but it was scornfully rejected by those who chose human traditions and the commandments of men. {GC 193.4}

The priests were alarmed at the thought that the common people would now be able to discuss with them the precepts of God’s word, and that their own ignorance would thus be exposed. The weapons of their carnal reasoning were powerless against the sword of the Spirit. Rome summoned all her authority to prevent the circulation of the Scriptures; but decrees, anathemas, and tortures were alike in vain. The more she condemned and prohibited the Bible, the greater was the anxiety of the people to know what it really taught. All who could read were eager to study the word of God for themselves. They carried it about with them, and read and reread, and could not be satisfied until they had committed large portions to memory. Seeing the favor with which the New Testament was received, Luther immediately began the translation of the Old, and published it in parts as fast as completed. {GC 194.1}

 

Here again we see the symbolism of gold and silver. This time it is compared to the Luther’s work. This is one of the most important turning points in the reformation when not only Luther, but others took up the cause of translating the Bible into the language of their home land.

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 30:13. And many people came together in Jerusalem to keep the feast of unleavened bread in the second month, a very great assembly. 14. They set to work and removed the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for burning incense they took away and threw into the Kidron valley.

 

The appointed time came to appear before the emperor. Charles V, seated upon his throne, surrounded by the electors and the princes, gave audience to the Protestant Reformers. The confession of their faith was read. In that august assembly the truths of the gospel were clearly set forth, and the errors of the papal church were pointed out. Well has that day been pronounced “the greatest day of the Reformation, and one of the most glorious in the history of Christianity and of mankind.”–D’ Aubigne., b. 14, ch. 7. {GC 207.1}

 

Hezikiah took away the pagan alters in Jerusalem. The reformers began to expose the forms of false worship of the church of Rome.

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 30:26. So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.

 

In the days of Paul the gospel for which he was imprisoned was thus brought before the princes and nobles of the imperial city. So on this occasion, that which the emperor had forbidden to be preached from the pulpit was proclaimed from the palace; what many had regarded as unfit even for servants to listen to was heard with wonder by the masters and lords of the empire. Kings and great men were the auditory, crowned princes were the preachers, and the sermon was the royal truth of God. “Since the apostolic age,” says a writer, “there has never been a greater work or a more magnificent confession.”–D’Aubigne, b. 14, ch. 7. {GC 208.1}

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 30:27. Then the priests and the Levites arose and blessed the people, and their voice was heard, and their prayer came to his holy habitation in heaven.

 

Some of the princes of Germany were won to the reformed faith. The emperor himself declared that the Protestant articles were but the truth. The Confession was translated into many languages and circulated through all Europe, and it has been accepted by millions in succeeding generations as the expression of their faith. {GC 208.3}

God’s faithful servants were not toiling alone. While principalities and powers and wicked spirits in high places were leagued against them, the Lord did not forsake His people. Could their eyes have been opened, they would have seen as marked evidence of divine presence and aid as was granted to a prophet of old. When Elisha’s servant pointed his master to the hostile army surrounding them and cutting off all opportunity for escape, the prophet prayed: “Lord, I pray Thee, open his eyes, that he may see.” 2 Kings 6:17. And, lo, the mountain was filled with chariots and horses of fire, the army of heaven stationed to protect the man of God. Thus did angels guard the workers in the cause of the Reformation.

 

RSV Isaiah 38:5. “Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.

 

Calvin was still in Paris, preparing himself by study, meditation, and prayer for his future labors, and continuing to spread the light. At last, however, suspicion fastened upon him. The authorities determined to bring him to the flames. Regarding himself as secure in his seclusion, he had no thought of danger, when friends came hurrying to his room with the news that officers were on their way to arrest him. At that instant a loud knocking was heard at the outer entrance. There was not a moment to be lost. Some of his friends detained the officers at the door, while others assisted the Reformer to let himself down from a window, and he rapidly made his way to the outskirts of the city. Finding shelter in the cottage of a laborer who was a friend to the reform, he disguised himself in the garments of his host, and, shouldering a hoe, started on his journey. Traveling southward, he again found refuge in the dominions of Margaret. (See D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin, b. 2, ch. 30.) {GC 223.2}

 

RSV Isaiah 38:16. O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these is the life of my spirit. Oh, restore me to health and make me live! 17. Lo, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but thou hast held back my life from the pit of destruction, for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.

 

Here for a few months he remained, safe under the protection of powerful friends, and engaged as before in study. But his heart was set upon the evangelization of France, and he could not long remain inactive. As soon as the storm had somewhat abated, he sought a new field of labor in Poitiers, where was a university, and where already the new opinions had found favor. Persons of all classes gladly listened to the gospel. There was no public preaching, but in the home of the chief magistrate, in his own lodgings, and sometimes in a public garden, Calvin opened the words of eternal life to those who desired to listen. After a time, as the number of hearers increased, it was thought safer to assemble outside the city. A cave in the side of a deep and narrow gorge, where trees and overhanging rocks made the seclusion still more complete, was chosen as the place of meeting. Little companies, leaving the city by different routes, found their way hither. In this retired spot the Bible was read aloud and explained. Here the Lord’s Supper was celebrated for the first time by the Protestants of France. From this little church several faithful evangelists were sent out. {GC 224.1}

 

Just like Luther, Calvin also faced certain death, but was saved by circumstances controlled by God.

 

RSV Isaiah 39:4. He said, “What have they seen in your house?” Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them.” 5. Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: 6. Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the Lord. 7. And some of your own sons, who are born to you, shall be taken away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”

 

By some secret hand–whether of indiscreet friend or wily foe was never known–one of the placards was attached to the door of the king’s private chamber. The monarch was filled with horror. In this paper, superstitions that had received the veneration of ages were attacked with an unsparing hand. And the unexampled boldness of obtruding these plain and startling utterances into the royal presence aroused the wrath of the king. In his amazement he stood for a little time trembling and speechless. Then his rage found utterance in the terrible words: “Let all be seized without distinction who are suspected of Lutheresy. I will exterminate them all.–Ibid., b. 4, ch. 10. The die was cast. The king had determined to throw himself fully on the side of Rome. {GC 225.1}

Measures were at once taken for the arrest of every Lutheran in Paris. A poor artisan, an adherent of the reformed faith, who had been accustomed to summon the believers to their secret assemblies, was seized and, with the threat of instant death at the stake, was commanded to conduct the papal emissary to the home of every Protestant in the city. He shrank in horror from the base proposal, but at last fear of the flames prevailed, and he consented to become the betrayer of his brethren. Preceded by the host, and surrounded by a train of priests, incense bearers, monks, and soldiers, Morin, the royal detective, with the traitor, slowly and silently passed through the streets of the city. The demonstration was ostensibly in honor of the “holy sacrament,” an act of expiation for the insult put upon the mass by the protesters. But beneath this pageant a deadly purpose was concealed. On arriving opposite the house of a Lutheran, the betrayer made a sign, but no word was uttered. The procession halted, the house was entered, the family were dragged forth and chained, and the terrible company went forward in search of fresh victims. They “spared no house, great or small, not even the colleges of the University of Paris. . . . Morin made all the city quake. . . . It was a reign of terror.” –Ibid., b. 4, ch. 10. {GC 225.2}

 

RSV Isaiah 37:20. So now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou alone art the Lord.”

 

Steadily and surely the darkness of ignorance and superstition was dispelled by the blessed light of the gospel. Freed from Romish oppression, the nation attained to a strength and greatness it had never before reached. Sweden became one of the bulwarks of Protestantism. A century later, at a time of sorest peril, this small and hitherto feeble nation–the only one in Europe that dared lend a helping hand–came to the deliverance of Germany in the terrible struggle of the Thirty Years’ War. All Northern Europe seemed about to be brought again under the tyranny of Rome. It was the armies of Sweden that enabled Germany to turn the tide of popish success, to win toleration for the Protestants,–Calvinists as well as Lutherans,–and to restore liberty of conscience to those countries that had accepted the Reformation. {GC 244.2}

 

RSV Isaiah 36:4. And the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you rest this confidence of yours?

 

A diligent student and an earnest seeker for truth, he had received the gospel from the Greek Testament of Erasmus. He fearlessly preached his convictions, urging that all doctrines be tested by the Scriptures. To the papist claim that the church had given the Bible, and the church alone could explain it, Tyndale responded: “Do you know who taught the eagles to find their prey? Well, that same God teaches His hungry children to find their Father in His word. Far from having given us the Scriptures, it is you who have hidden them from us; it is you who burn those who teach them, and if you could, you would burn the Scriptures themselves.”–D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, b. 18, ch. 4. {GC 245.2}

Tyndale’s preaching excited great interest; many accepted the truth. But the priests were on the alert, and no sooner had he left the field than they by their threats and misrepresentations endeavored to destroy his work. Too often they succeeded. “What is to be done?” he exclaimed. “While I am sowing in one place, the enemy ravages the field I have just left. I cannot be everywhere. Oh! if Christians possessed the Holy Scriptures in their own tongue, they could of themselves withstand these sophists. Without the Bible it is impossible to establish the laity in the truth.”–Ibid., b. 18, ch. 4. {GC 246.1}

 

 

 

KING MANASSEH

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 33:1. MANASSEH WAS twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. 2. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel.

 

For centuries, truth and error struggled for the mastery. At last the evil triumphed, and the truth of Heaven was thrust out. “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.” John 3:19. The nation was left to reap the results of the course which she had chosen. The restraint of God’s Spirit was removed from a people that had despised the gift of His grace. Evil was permitted to come to maturity. And all the world saw the fruit of willful rejection of the light. {GC 265.1}

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 33:3-6

3. For he rebuilt the high places which his father Hezekiah had broken down, and erected altars to the Baals, and made Asherahs, and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served them. 4. And he built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever.” 5. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. 6. And he burned his sons as an offering in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and practiced soothsaying and augury and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with wizards. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger.

 

“They shall prophecy a thousand two hundred and three-score days, clothed in sackcloth.” During the greater part of this period, God’s witnesses remained in a state of obscurity. The papal power sought to hide from the people the word of truth, and set before them false witnesses to contradict its testimony. (See Appendix.) When the Bible was proscribed by religious and secular authority; when its testimony was perverted, and every effort made that men and demons could invent to turn the minds of the people from it; when those who dared proclaim its sacred truths were hunted, betrayed, tortured, buried in dungeon cells, martyred for their faith, or compelled to flee to mountain fastnesses, and to dens and caves of the earth–then the faithful witnesses prophesied in sackcloth. Yet they continued their testimony throughout the entire period of 1260 years. In the darkest times there were faithful men who loved God’s word and were jealous for His honor. To these loyal servants were given wisdom, power, and authority to declare His truth during the whole of this time. {GC 267.2}

“And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.” Revelation 11:5. Men cannot with impunity trample upon the word of God. The meaning of this fearful denunciation is set forth in the closing chapter of the Revelation: “I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Revelation 22:18, 19. {GC 268.1}

 

RSV 2 Kings 21:7. And the graven image of Asherah that he had made he set in the house of which the Lord said to David and to Solomon his son, “In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name for ever; 8. and I will not cause the feet of Israel to wander any more out of the land which I gave to their fathers, if only they will be careful to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them.” 9. But they did not listen, and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than the nations had done whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel.

 

“The great city” in whose streets the witnesses are slain, and where their dead bodies lie, is “spiritually” Egypt. Of all nations presented in Bible history, Egypt most boldly denied the existence of the living God and resisted His commands. No monarch ever ventured upon more open and highhanded rebellion against the authority of Heaven than did the king of Egypt. When the message was brought him by Moses, in the name of the Lord, Pharaoh proudly answered: “Who is Jehovah, that I should hearken unto His voice to let Israel go? I know not Jehovah, and moreover I will not let Israel go.” Exodus 5:2, A.R.V. This is atheism, and the nation represented by Egypt would give voice to a similar denial of the claims of the living God and would manifest a like spirit of unbelief and defiance. “The great city” is also compared, “spiritually,” to Sodom. The corruption of Sodom in breaking the law of God was especially manifested in licentiousness. And this sin was also to be a pre-eminent characteristic of the nation that should fulfill the specifications of this scripture. {GC 269.2}

According to the words of the prophet, then, a little before the year 1798 some power of satanic origin and character would rise to make war upon the Bible. And in the land where the testimony of God’s two witnesses should thus be silenced, there would be manifest the atheism of the Pharaoh and the licentiousness of Sodom. {GC 269.3}

This prophecy has received a most exact and striking fulfillment in the history of France. During the Revolution, in 1793, “the world for the first time heard an assembly of men, born and educated in civilization, and assuming the right to govern one of the finest of the European nations, uplift their united voice to deny the most solemn truth which man’s soul receives, and renounce unanimously the belief and worship of a Deity.”–Sir Walter Scott, Life of Napoleon, vol. 1, ch. 17. “France is the only nation in the world concerning which the authentic record survives, that as a nation she lifted her hand in open rebellion against the Author of the universe. Plenty of blasphemers, plenty of infidels, there have been, and still continue to be, in England, Germany, Spain, and elsewhere; but France stands apart in the world’s history as the single state which, by the decree of her Legislative Assembly, pronounced that there was no God, and of which the entire population of the capital, and a vast majority elsewhere, women as well as men, danced and sang with joy in accepting the announcement.”–Blackwood’s Magazine, November, 1870. {GC 269.4}

 

RSV 2 Kings 21:10. And the Lord said by his servants the prophets, 11. “Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these abominations, and has done things more wicked than all that the Amorites did, who were before him, and has made Judah also to sin with his idols; 12. therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such evil that the ears of every one who hears of it will tingle.

 

France presented also the characteristics which especially distinguished Sodom. During the Revolution there was manifest a state of moral debasement and corruption similar to that which brought destruction upon the cities of the plain. And the historian presents together the atheism and the licentiousness of France, as given in the prophecy: “Intimately connected with these laws affecting religion, was that which reduced the union of marriage–the most sacred engagement which human beings can form, and the permanence of which leads most strongly to the consolidation of society–to the state of a mere civil contract of a transitory character, which any two persons might engage in and cast loose at pleasure. . . . If fiends had set themselves to work to discover a mode of most effectually destroying whatever is venerable, graceful, or permanent in domestic life, and of obtaining at the same time an assurance that the mischief which it was their object to create should be perpetuated from one generation to another, they could not have invented a more effectual plan that the degradation of marriage. . . . Sophie Arnoult, an

actress famous for the witty things she said, described the republican marriage as ‘the sacrament of adultery.'”–Scott, vol. 1, ch. 17. {GC 270.1}

“Where also our Lord was crucified.” This specification of the prophecy was also fulfilled by France. In no land had the spirit of enmity against Christ been more strikingly displayed. In no country had the truth encountered more bitter and cruel opposition. In the persecution which France had visited upon the confessors of the gospel, she had crucified Christ in the person of His disciples. {GC 271.1}

 

RSV 2 Kings 21:11. “Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these abominations, and has done things more wicked than all that the Amorites did, who were before him, and has made Judah also to sin with his idols;

 

But blackest in the black catalogue of crime, most horrible among the fiendish deeds of all the dreadful centuries, was the St. Bartholomew Massacre. The world still recalls with shuddering horror the scenes of that most cowardly and cruel onslaught. The king of France, urged on by Romish priests and prelates, lent his sanction to the dreadful work. A bell, tolling at dead of night, was a signal for the slaughter. Protestants by thousands, sleeping quietly in their homes, trusting to the plighted honor of their king, were dragged forth without a warning and murdered in cold blood. {GC 272.1}

As Christ was the invisible leader of His people from Egyptian bondage, so was Satan the unseen leader of his subjects in this horrible work of multiplying martyrs. For seven days the massacre was continued in Paris, the first three with inconceivable fury. And it was not confined to the city itself, but by special order of the king was extended to all the provinces and towns where Protestants were found. Neither age nor sex was respected. Neither the innocent babe nor the man of gray hairs was spared. Noble and peasant, old and young, mother and child, were cut down together. Throughout France the butchery continued for two months. Seventy thousand of the very flower of the nation perished. {GC 272.2}

 

RSV 2 Kings 21:9. But they did not listen, and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than the nations had done whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel.

 

The same master spirit that urged on the St. Bartholomew Massacre led also in the scenes of the Revolution. Jesus Christ was declared to be an impostor, and the rallying cry of the French infidels was, “Crush the Wretch,” meaning Christ. Heaven-daring blasphemy and abominable wickedness went hand in hand, and the basest of men, the most abandoned monsters of cruelty and vice, were most highly exalted. In all this, supreme homage was paid to Satan; while Christ, in His characteristics of truth, purity, and unselfish love, was crucified. {GC 273.1}

“The beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.” The atheistical power that ruled in France during the Revolution and the Reign of Terror, did wage such a war against God and His holy word as the world had never witnessed. The worship of the Deity was abolished by the National Assembly. Bibles were collected and publicly burned with every possible manifestation of scorn. The law of God was trampled underfoot. The institutions of the Bible were abolished. The weekly rest day was set aside, and in its stead every tenth day was devoted to reveling and blasphemy. Baptism and the Communion were prohibited. And announcements posted conspicuously over the burial places declared death to be an eternal sleep. {GC 273.2}

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 33:2-4

2. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. 3. For he rebuilt the high places which his father Hezekiah had broken down, and erected altars to the Baals, and made Asherahs, and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served them. 4. And he built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever.”

 

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” Psalm 14:1. And the Lord declares concerning the perverters of the truth: “Their folly shall be manifest unto all.” 2 Timothy 3:9. After France had renounced the worship of the living God, “the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity,” it was only a little time till she descended to degrading idolatry, by the worship of the Goddess of Reason, in the person of a profligate woman. And this in the representative assembly of the nation, and by its highest civil and legislative authorities! Says the historian: “One of the ceremonies of this insane time stands unrivaled for absurdity combined with impiety. The doors of the Convention were thrown open to a band of musicians, preceded by whom, the members of the municipal body entered in solemn procession, singing a hymn in praise of liberty, and escorting, as the object of their future worship, a veiled female, whom they termed the Goddess of Reason. Being brought within the bar, she was unveiled with great form, and placed on the right of the president, when she was generally recognized as a dancing girl of the opera. . . . To this person, as the fittest representative of that reason whom they worshiped, the National Convention of France rendered public homage. {GC 275.1}

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 33:5. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord.

 

When the goddess was brought into the Convention, the orator took her by the hand, and turning to the assembly said: “Mortals, cease to tremble before the powerless thunders of a God whom your fears have created. Henceforth acknowledge no divinity but Reason. I offer you its noblest and purest image; if you must have idols, sacrifice only to such as this. . . . Fall before the august Senate of Freedom, oh! Veil of Reason!” {GC 276.1}

“The goddess, after being embraced by the president, was mounted on a magnificent car, and conducted, amid an immense crowd, to the cathedral of Notre Dame, to take the place of the Deity. There she was elevated on the high altar, and received the adoration of all present.”–Alison, vol. 1, ch. 10. {GC 276.2}

 

RSV 2 Kings 21:14. And I will cast off the remnant of my heritage, and give them into the hand of their enemies, and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies,

 

The gospel would have brought to France the solution of those political and social problems that baffled the skill of her clergy, her king, and her legislators, and finally plunged the nation into anarchy and ruin. But under the domination of Rome the people had lost the Saviour’s blessed lessons of self-sacrifice and unselfish love. They had been led away from the practice of self-denial for the good of others. The rich had found no rebuke for their oppression of the poor, the poor no help for their servitude and degradation. The selfishness of the wealthy and powerful grew more and more apparent and oppressive. For centuries the greed and profligacy of the noble resulted in grinding extortion toward the peasant. The rich wronged the poor, and the poor hated the rich. {GC 279.3}

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 33:9-10

9. Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that they did more evil than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel. 10. The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they gave no heed.

 

Unhappy France reaped in blood the harvest she had sown. Terrible were the results of her submission to the controlling power of Rome. Where France, under the influence of Romanism, had set up the first stake at the opening of the Reformation, there the Revolution set up its first guillotine. On the very spot where the first martyrs to the Protestant faith were burned in the sixteenth century, the first victims were guillotined in the eighteenth. In repelling the gospel, which would have brought her healing, France had opened the door to infidelity and ruin. When the restraints of God’s law were cast aside, it was found that the laws of man were inadequate to hold in check the powerful tides of human passion; and the nation swept on to revolt and anarchy. The war against the Bible inaugurated an era which stands in the world’s history as the Reign of Terror. Peace and happiness were banished from the homes and hearts of men. No one was secure. He who triumphed today was suspected, condemned, tomorrow. Violence and lust held undisputed sway.

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 33:11. Therefore the Lord brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks and bound him with fetters of bronze and brought him to Babylon.

 

When France publicly rejected God and set aside the Bible, wicked men and spirits of darkness exulted in their attainment of the object so long desired–a kingdom free from the restraints of the law of God. Because sentence against an evil work was not speedily executed, therefore the heart of the sons of men was “fully set in them to do evil.” Ecclesiastes 8:11. But the transgression of a just and righteous law must inevitably result in misery and ruin. Though not visited at once with judgments, the wickedness of men was nevertheless surely working out their doom. Centuries of apostasy and crime had been treasuring up wrath against the day of retribution; and when their iniquity was full, the despisers of God learned too late that it is a fearful thing to have worn out the divine patience. The restraining Spirit of God, which imposes a check upon the cruel power of Satan, was in a great measure removed, and he whose only delight is the wretchedness of men was permitted to work his will. Those who had chosen the service of rebellion were left to reap its fruits until the land was filled with crimes too horrible for pen to trace. From devastated provinces and ruined cities a terrible cry was heard–a cry of bitterest anguish. France was shaken as if by an earthquake. Religion, law, social order, the family, the state, and the church–all were smitten down by the impious hand that had been lifted against the law of God. Truly spoke the wise man: “The wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.” “Though a sinner do evil a hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before Him: but it shall not be well with the wicked.” Proverbs 11:5; Ecclesiastes 8:12, 13. “They hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord;” “therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.” Proverbs 1:29, 31.

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 33:12. And when he was in distress he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 13. He prayed to him, and God received his entreaty and heard his supplication and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.

 

God’s faithful witnesses, slain by the blasphemous power that “ascendeth out of the bottomless pit,” were not long to remain silent. “After three days and a half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.” Revelation 11:11. It was in 1793 that the decrees which abolished the Christian religion and set aside the Bible passed the French Assembly. Three years and a half later a resolution rescinding these decrees, thus granting toleration to the Scriptures, was adopted by the same body. The world stood aghast at the enormity of guilt which had resulted from a rejection of the Sacred Oracles, and men recognized the necessity of faith in God and His word as the foundation of virtue and morality. Saith the Lord: “Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel,” Isaiah 37:23. “Therefore, behold, I will cause them to know, this once will I cause them to know My hand and My might; and they shall know that My name is Jehovah.” Jeremiah 16:21, A.R.V. {GC 287.1}

 

 

 

KING AMON

 

RSV 2 Kings 21:19. Amon was twenty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Meshullemeth the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah. 20. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, as Manasseh his father had done. 21. He walked in all the way in which his father walked, and served the idols that his father served, and worshiped them;

 

The English Reformers, while renouncing the doctrines of Romanism, had retained many of its forms. Thus though the authority and the creed of Rome were rejected, not a few of her customs and ceremonies were incorporated into the worship of the Church of England. It was claimed that these things were not matters of conscience; that though they were not commanded in Scripture, and hence were nonessential, yet not being forbidden, they were not intrinsically evil. Their observance tended to narrow the gulf which separated the reformed churches from Rome, and it was urged that they would promote the acceptance of the Protestant faith by Romanists. {GC 289.1}

 

RSV 2 Kings 21:22. he forsook the Lord, the God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of the Lord.

 

“For my part, I cannot sufficiently bewail the condition of the reformed churches, who are come to a period in religion, and will go at present no farther than the instruments of their reformation. The Lutherans cannot be drawn to go beyond what Luther saw; . . . and the Calvinists, you see, stick fast where they were left by that great man of God, who yet saw not all things. This is a misery much to be lamented; for though they were burning and shining lights in their time, yet they penetrated not into the whole counsel of God, but were they now living, would be as willing to embrace further light as that which they first received.”–D. Neal, History of the Puritans, vol. 1, p. 269. {GC 292.1}

 

 

 

KING JOSIAH

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 34:1. JOSIAH WAS eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. 2. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father; and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left. 3. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet a boy, he began to seek the God of David his father; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the Asherim, and the graven and the molten images.

 

Endeavoring to lay aside all preconceived opinions, and dispensing with commentaries, he compared scripture with scripture by the aid of the marginal references and the concordance. He pursued his study in a regular and methodical manner; beginning with Genesis, and reading verse by verse, he proceeded no faster than the meaning of the several passages so unfolded as to leave him free from all embarrassment. When he found anything obscure, it was his custom to compare it with every other text which seemed to have any reference to the matter under consideration. Every word was permitted to have its proper bearing upon the subject of the text, and if his view of it harmonized with every collateral passage, it ceased to be a difficulty. Thus whenever he met with a passage hard to be understood he found an explanation in some other portion of the Scriptures. As he studied with earnest prayer for divine enlightenment, that which had before appeared dark to his understanding was made clear. He experienced the truth of the psalmist’s words: “The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” Psalm 119:130. {GC 320.1}

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 34:4. And they broke down the altars of the Baals in his presence; and he hewed down the incense altars which stood above them; and he broke in pieces the Asherim and the graven and the molten images, and he made dust of them and strewed it over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. 5. He also burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and purged Judah and Jerusalem.

 

The doctrine of the world’s conversion and the spiritual reign of Christ was not held by the apostolic church. It was not generally accepted by Christians until about the beginning of the eighteenth century. Like every other error, its results were evil. It taught men to look far in the future for the coming of the Lord and prevented them from giving heed to the signs heralding His approach. It induced a feeling of confidence and security that was not well founded and led many to neglect the preparation necessary in order to meet their Lord. {GC 321.2}

Miller found the literal, personal coming of Christ to be plainly taught in the Scriptures. Says Paul: “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice

of the Archangel, and with the trump of God.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16. And the Saviour declares: “They shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew 24:30, 27. He is to be accompanied by all the hosts of heaven. “The Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him.” Matthew 25:31. “And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect.” Matthew 24:31. {GC 321.3}

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 34:8. Now in the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had purged the land and the house, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, and Ma-aseiah the governor of the city, and Joah the son of Joahaz, the recorder, to repair the house of the Lord his God.

 

The prophecy which seemed most clearly to reveal the time of the second advent was that of Daniel 8:14: “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Following his rule of making Scripture its own interpreter, Miller learned that a day in symbolic prophecy represents a year (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6); he saw that the period of 2300 prophetic days, or literal years, would extend far beyond the close of the Jewish dispensation, hence it could not refer to the sanctuary of that dispensation. Miller accepted the generally received view that in the Christian age the earth is the sanctuary, and he therefore understood that the cleansing of the sanctuary foretold in Daniel 8:14 represented the purification of the earth by fire at the second coming of Christ. If, then, the correct starting point could be found for the 2300 days, he concluded that the time of the second advent could be readily ascertained. Thus would be revealed the time of that great consummation, the time when the present state, with “all its pride and power, pomp and vanity, wickedness and oppression, would come to an end;” when the curse would be “removed from off the earth, death be destroyed, reward be given to the servants of God, the prophets and saints, and them who fear His name, and those be destroyed that destroy the earth.”–Bliss, page 76. {GC 324.3}

 

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 34:8. Now in the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had purged the land and the house, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, and Ma-aseiah the governor of the city, and Joah the son of Joahaz, the recorder, to repair the house of the Lord his God.

 

He had devoted two years to the study of the Bible, when, in 1818, he reached the solemn conviction that in about twenty-five years Christ would appear for the redemption of His people. “I need not speak,” says Miller, “of the joy that filled my heart in view of the delightful prospect, nor of the ardent longings of my soul for a participation in the joys of the redeemed. The Bible was now to me a new book. It was indeed a feast of reason; all that was dark, mystical, or obscure to me in its teachings, had been dissipated from my mind before the clear light that now dawned from its sacred pages; and, oh, how bright and glorious the truth appeared! All the contradictions and inconsistencies I had before found in the word were gone; and although there were many portions of which I was not satisfied I had a full understanding, yet so much light had emanated from it to the illumination of my before darkened mind, that I felt a delight in studying the Scripture which I had not before supposed could be derived from its teachings.”–Bliss, pages 76, 77. {GC 329.2}

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 34:33. And Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel, and made all who were in Israel serve the Lord their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the Lord the God of their fathers.

 

“With the solemn conviction that such momentous events were predicted in the Scriptures to be fulfilled in so short a space of time, the question came home to me with mighty power regarding my duty to the world, in view of the evidence that had affected my own mind.”–Ibid., page 81. He could not but feel that it was his duty to impart to others the light which he had received. He expected to encounter opposition from the ungodly, but was confident that all Christians would rejoice in the hope of meeting the Saviour whom they professed to love. His only fear was that in their great joy at the prospect of glorious deliverance, so soon to be consummated, many would receive the doctrine without sufficiently examining the Scriptures in demonstration of its truth. He therefore hesitated to present it, lest he should be in error and be the means of misleading others. He was thus led to review the evidences in support of the conclusions at which he had arrived, and to consider carefully every difficulty which presented itself to his mind. He found that objections vanished before the light of God’s word, as mist before the rays of the sun. Five years spent thus left him fully convinced of the correctness of his position. {GC 329.3}

 

RSV 2 Kings 23:2. And the king went up to the house of the Lord, and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great; and he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant which had been found in the house of the Lord.

 

It was only at the solicitation of his brethren, in whose words he heard the call of God, that Miller consented to present his views in public. He was now fifty years of age, unaccustomed to public speaking, and burdened with a sense of unfitness for the work before him. But from the first his labors were blessed in a remarkable manner to the salvation of souls. His first lecture was followed by a religious awakening in which thirteen entire families, with the exception of two persons, were converted. He was immediately urged to speak in other places, and in nearly every place his labor resulted in a revival of the work of God. Sinners were converted, Christians were roused to greater consecration, and deists and infidels were led to acknowledge the truth of the Bible and the Christian religion. The testimony of those among whom he labored was: “A class of minds are reached by him not within the influence of other men.”–Ibid., page 138. His preaching was calculated to arouse the public mind to the great things of religion and to check the growing worldliness and sensuality of the age. {GC 331.2}

 

RSV 2 Kings 23:4. And the king commanded Hilkiah, the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the threshold, to bring out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven; he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel. 5. And he deposed the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places at the cities of Judah and round about Jerusalem; those also who burned incense to Baal, to the sun, and the moon, and the constellations, and all the host of the heavens.

 

Earnest were the efforts put forth to draw away the minds of the people from the subject of the second advent. It was made to appear a sin, something of which men should be ashamed, to study the prophecies which relate to the coming of Christ and the end of the world. Thus the popular ministry undermined faith in the word of God. Their teaching made men infidels, and many took license to walk after their own ungodly lusts. Then the authors of the evil charged it all upon Adventists. {GC 336.1}

 

RSV 2 Kings 23:8. And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beer-sheba; and he broke down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on one’s left at the gate of the city.

 

The instigator of all evil sought not only to counteract the effect of the advent message, but to destroy the messenger himself. Miller made a practical application of Scripture truth to the hearts of his hearers, reproving their sins and disturbing their self-satisfaction, and his plain and cutting words aroused their enmity. The opposition manifested by church members toward his message emboldened the baser classes to go to greater lengths; and enemies plotted to take his life as he should leave the place of meeting. But holy angels were in the throng, and one of these, in the form of a man, took the arm of this servant of the Lord and led him in safety from the angry mob. His work was not yet done, and Satan and his emissaries were disappointed in their purpose. {GC 336.4}

 

RSV 2 Chronicles 35:18. No passover like it had been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet; none of the kings of Israel had kept such a passover as was kept by Josiah, and the priests and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

 

A Great religious awakening under the proclamation of Christ’s soon coming is foretold in the prophecy of the first angel’s message of Revelation 14. An angel is seen flying “in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” “With a loud voice” he proclaims the message: “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Verses 6, 7. {GC 355.1}

 

RSV 2 Kings 23:24. Moreover Josiah put away the mediums and the wizards and the teraphim and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might establish the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord.

 

Everywhere the searching testimony was heard, warning sinners, both worldlings and church members, to flee from the wrath to come. Like John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, the preachers laid the ax at the root of the tree and urged all to bring forth fruit meet for repentance. Their stirring appeals were in marked contrast to the assurances of peace and safety that were heard from popular pulpits; and wherever the message was given, it moved the people. The simple, direct testimony of the Scriptures, set home by the power of the Holy Spirit, brought a weight of conviction which few were able wholly to resist. Professors of religion were roused from their false security. They saw their backslidings, their worldliness and unbelief, their pride and selfishness. Many sought the Lord with repentance and humiliation. The affections that had so long clung to earthly things they now fixed upon heaven. The Spirit of God rested upon them, and with hearts softened and subdued they joined to sound the cry: “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.” {GC 369.1}

 

RSV 2 Kings 23:25. Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him.

 

With unspeakable desire those who had received the message watched for the coming of their Saviour. The time when they expected to meet Him was at hand. They approached this hour with a calm solemnity. They rested in sweet communion with God, and earnest of the peace that was to be theirs in the bright hereafter. None who experienced this hope and trust can forget those precious hours of waiting. For some weeks preceding the time, worldly business was for the most part laid aside. The sincere believers carefully examined every thought and emotion of their hearts as if upon their deathbeds and in a few hours to close their eyes upon earthly scenes. There was no making of “ascension robes” (see Appendix); but all felt the need of internal evidence that they were prepared to meet the Saviour; their white robes were purity of soul–characters cleansed from sin by the atoning blood of Christ. Would that there were still with the professed people of God the same spirit of heart searching, the same earnest, determined faith. Had they continued thus to humble themselves before the Lord and press their petitions at the mercy seat they would be in possession of a far richer experience than they now have. There is too little prayer, too little real conviction of sin, and the lack of living faith leaves many destitute of the grace so richly provided by our Redeemer. {GC 373.1}

 

RSV 2 Kings 23:26. Still the Lord did not turn from the fierceness of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked him.

 

The time of expectation passed, and Christ did not appear for the deliverance of His people. Those who with sincere faith and love had looked for their Saviour, experienced a bitter disappointment. Yet the purposes of God were being accomplished; He was testing the hearts of those professed to be waiting for His appearing. There were among them many who had been actuated by no higher motive than fear. Their profession of faith had not affected their hearts or their lives. When the expected event failed to take place, these persons declared that they were not disappointed; they had never believed that Christ would come. They were among the first to ridicule the sorrow of the true believers. {GC 374.1}

But Jesus and all the heavenly host looked with love and sympathy upon the tried and faithful yet disappointed ones. Could the evil separating the visible world have been swept back, angels would have been seen drawing near to these steadfast souls and shielding them from the shafts of Satan. {GC 374.2}

 

RSV 2 Kings 23:26. Still the Lord did not turn from the fierceness of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked him.

 

The first angel’s message of Revelation 14, announcing the hour of God’s judgment and calling upon men to fear and worship Him, was designed to separate the professed people of God from the corrupting influences of the world and to arouse them to see their true condition of worldliness and backsliding. In this message, God has sent to the church a warning, which, had it been accepted, would have corrected the evils that were shutting them away from Him. Had they received the message from heaven, humbling their hearts before the Lord and seeking in sincerity a preparation to stand in His presence, the Spirit and power of God would have been manifested among them. The church would again have reached that blessed state of unity, faith, and love which existed in apostolic days, when the believers “were of one heart and of one soul,” and “spake the word of God with boldness,” when “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Acts 4:32, 31; 2:47. {GC 379.1}

If God’s professed people would receive the light as it shines upon them from His word, they would reach that unity for which Christ prayed, that which the apostle describes, “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” “There is,” he says, “one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Ephesians 4:3-5. {GC 379.2}

 

RSV 2 Kings 23:27. And the Lord said, “I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and I will cast off this city which I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.”

 

But the churches generally did not accept the warning. Their ministers, who, as watchmen “unto the house of Israel,” should have been the first to discern the tokens of Jesus’ coming, had failed to learn the truth either from the testimony of the prophets or from the signs of the times. As worldly hopes and ambitions filled the heart, love for God and faith in His word had grown cold; and when the advent doctrine was presented, it only aroused their prejudice and unbelief. The fact that the message was, to a great extent, preached by laymen, was urged as an instrument against it. As of old, the plain testimony of God’s word was met with the inquiry: “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed?” And finding how difficult a task it was to refute the arguments drawn from the prophetic periods, many discouraged the study of the prophecies, teaching that the prophetic books were sealed and were not to be understood. Multitudes, trusting implicitly to their pastors, refused to listen to the warning; and others, though convinced of the truth, dared not confess it, lest they should be “put out of the synagogue.” The message which God had sent for the testing and purification of the church revealed all too surely how great was the number who had set their affections on this world rather than upon Christ. The ties which bound them to earth were stronger than the attractions heavenward. They chose to listen to the voice of worldly wisdom and turned away from the heart-searching message of truth. {GC 380.1}

In refusing the warning of the first angel, they rejected the means which Heaven had provided for their restoration. They spurned the gracious messenger that would have corrected the evils which separated them from God, and with greater eagerness they turned to seek the friendship of the world. Here was the cause of that fearful condition of worldliness, backsliding, and spiritual death which existed in the churches in 1844.

 

RSV 2 Kings 23:29. In his days Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt went up to the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates. King Josiah went to meet him; and Pharaoh Neco slew him at Megiddo, when he saw him.

 

Babylon is said to be “the mother of harlots.” By her daughters must be symbolized churches that cling to her doctrines and traditions, and follow her example of sacrificing the truth and the approval of God, in order to form an unlawful alliance with the world. The message of Revelation 14, announcing the fall of Babylon must apply to religious bodies that were once pure and have become corrupt. Since this message follows the warning of the judgment, it must be given in the last days; therefore it cannot refer to the Roman Church alone, for that church has been in a fallen condition for many centuries. Furthermore, in the eighteenth chapter of the Revelation the people of God are called upon to come out of Babylon. According to this scripture, many of God’s people must still be in Babylon. And in what religious bodies are the greater part of the followers of Christ now to be found? Without doubt, in the various churches professing the Protestant faith. At the time of their rise these churches took a noble stand for God and the truth, and His blessing was with them. Even the unbelieving world was constrained to acknowledge the beneficent results that followed an acceptance of the principles of the gospel. In the words of the prophet to Israel: “Thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through My comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God.” But they fell by the same desire which was the curse and ruin of Israel–the desire of imitating the practices and courting the friendship of the ungodly. “Thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because of thy renown.” Ezekiel 16:14, 15. {GC 382.3}

Many of the Protestant churches are following Rome’s example of iniquitous connection with “the kings of the earth”–the state churches, by their relation to secular governments; and other denominations, by seeking the favor of the world. And the term “Babylon”–confusion–may be appropriately applied to these bodies, all professing to derive their doctrines from the Bible, yet divided into almost innumerable sects, with widely conflicting creeds and theories. {GC 383.1}

 

RSV 2 Kings 23:22. For no such passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah; 23. but in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this passover was kept to the Lord in Jerusalem.

 

Like a tidal wave the movement swept over the land. From city to city, from village to village, and into remote country places it went, until the waiting people of God were fully aroused. Fanaticism disappeared before this proclamation like early frost before the rising sun. Believers saw their doubt and perplexity removed, and hope and courage animated their hearts. The work was free from those extremes which are ever manifested when there is human excitement without the controlling influence of the word and Spirit of God. It was similar in character to those seasons of humiliation and returning unto the Lord which among ancient Israel followed messages of reproof from His servants. It bore the characteristics that mark the work of God in every age. There was little ecstatic joy, but rather deep searching of heart, confession of sin, and forsaking of the world. A preparation to meet the Lord was the burden of agonizing spirits. There was persevering prayer and unreserved consecration to God. {GC 400.2}

Of all the great religious movements since the days of the apostles, none have been more free from human imperfection and the wiles of Satan than was that of the autumn of 1844. Even now, after the lapse of many years, all who shared in that movement and who have stood firm upon the platform of truth still feel the holy influence of that blessed work and bear witness that it was of God.

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

The work of God in the earth presents, from age to age, a striking similarity in every great reformation or religious movement. The principles of God’s dealing with men are ever the same. The important movements of the present have their parallel in those of the past, and the experience of the church in former ages has lessons of great value for our own time. {GC 343.1}

No truth is more clearly taught in the Bible than that God by His Holy Spirit especially directs His servants on earth in the great movements for the carrying forward of the work of salvation. Men are instruments in the hand of God, employed by Him to accomplish His purposes of grace and mercy. Each has his part to act; to each is granted a measure of light, adapted to the necessities of his time, and sufficient to enable him to perform the work which God has given him to do. But no man, however honored of Heaven, has ever attained to a full understanding of the great plan of redemption, or even to a perfect appreciation of the divine purpose in the work for his own time. Men do not fully understand what God would accomplish by the work which He gives them to do; they do not comprehend, in all its bearings, the message which they utter in His name. {GC 343.2}

 

William Miller: My hope in the coming of Christ is as strong as ever. I have done only what, after years of solemn consideration, I felt it my solemn duty to do. If I have erred, it has been on the side of charity, love to my fellow men, and conviction of duty to God.” “One thing I do know, I have preached nothing but what I believed; and God has been with me; His power has been manifested in the work, and much good has been effected.” “Many thousands, to all human appearance, have been made to study the Scriptures by the preaching of the time; and by that means, through faith and the sprinkling of the blood of Christ, have been reconciled to God.” –Bliss, pages 280, 281.

 

This is only a small potion of what is actually revealed in the Bible. The stories of the Kings contain much more information about the history of the church, and the reformation then what is presented here.

 

A further study of King Josiah will show evidence of a female prophet, which teaches about a time when the law and commandments of God will once again become a major part of the church. Based on the chronological order in the books of Kings, and Chronicles, compared to the book, The Great Controversy, this happened during the reformation in William Miller’s time.

 

Many more comparisons will be seen when comparing scripture with the history of the church. All of these have been placed by the finger of God for our benefit in the last days, to draw all who chose to take the time to gain a closer relationship with God. A relationship that will grow and endure for all eternity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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