The Articles of Ellen Gould Harmon White as printed in the Signs of the Times.
April 8, 1880 Journeyings of the Israelites
Filed under: EG White Articles

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By Mrs. E. G. White.
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After leaving the , the , guided by the , journeyed through the . Although the scenery around them was most dreary, composed of solemn looking destitute of , , and the sea stretching far away behind them, its banks strewn with the bodies of their enemies, they were in the consciousness of their , and for a time every thought of was hushed.

But for three days they journeyed without finding any water to quench their thirst, having that only which they had been commanded to take in their vessels. and were acquainted with this route, and knew that after traveling several days in the way in which they were then going they would find only bitter water. With what intense anxiety, therefore, mingled with forebodings, did they watch the leading of the pillar of cloud. And how the heart of Moses ached as the people gave the glad shout, Water! water! and it was echoed all along the line. Men, women, and children in joyous haste rush to the water, when lo, what a moan of anguish breaks forth from that vast company,–the water is bitter.

In their grief and disappointment, they reproach Moses for having led them in such a way, and do not consider that the Divine Presence in that mysterious cloud had been leading Moses and Aaron as well as themselves. Filled with sorrow as he saw the suffering of the people, Moses did that which the people should have done: he prayed earnestly to God, and he did not cry in vain. The Lord showed him a tree to which had been imparted healing properties, so that on its being cast into the fountain, the water became pleasant to the taste.

God here made a covenant with his people, through their leader:–If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord that healeth thee.”

From Marah the people journeyed to Elim where they found “twelve wells of water and three-score and ten palm trees.” In this delightful spot they remained several days before entering the wilderness of sin. When they had been a month away from Egypt, they made their first encampment in this wilderness. Their store of provisions had now begun to fail. There was scanty herbage in the wilderness and their flocks also were fast diminishing. Famine seemed to be staring them in the face, and as they followed the cloudy pillar over the desert wastes, doubts filled their hearts, and again they murmured, even the rulers and elders of the people joined in complaining against the leaders of God’s appointment: “Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh-pots, and when we did eat bread to the full! for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” The children of Israel seemed to possess an evil heart of unbelief. They were unwilling to endure hardships in the wilderness. When they met with difficulties, they would regard them as insurmountable obstacles. Their confidence would fail, and they would see nothing before them but death.

They had not really suffered the pangs of hunger. They had food for the present necessities, but they feared for the future. They could not see how the hosts of Israel were to subsist, in their long travels through the wilderness; and in their unbelief they saw their children famishing. The Lord was willing that their supply of food should be cut short, and that they should meet with difficulties, that their hearts might turn to Him who had hitherto delivered them. He was ready to be to them a present help. If, in their want, they would call upon him, he would manifest to them tokens of his love and continual care. But they were unwilling to trust the Lord any further than they could witness before their eyes the continual evidences of his power. If they had possessed true faith and a firm confidence in God, inconveniences and obstacles, or even real suffering, would have been cheerfully borne, after the Lord had wrought in such a wonderful manner for their deliverance from bondage.

The Lord had promised that if they would obey his commandments no disease should rest upon them, and it was criminal unbelief in them to anticipate that themselves and children might die of hunger. They had suffered greatly in Egypt by being overtaxed with labor. Their children had been put to death, and in answer to their prayers of anguish, God had mercifully delivered them. He had promised to be their God, to take them to himself as a people, and to lead them to a large and good land. But they were ready to faint at any suffering they should have to endure in the way to that land. They had suffered much while in bondage to the Egyptians, but now they could not endure hardships in the service of God. They were ready to yield to gloomy doubts, and to sink in discouragement when they were tried.

The sinful course of the Israelites is recorded as a warning to the people of God now upon the earth. Many look back to them, and marvel at their unbelief and continual murmurings, after the Lord had given them such repeated evidence of his love and care. They think that they would not have proved so ungrateful. But some who thus think, murmur and repine at things of far less consequence. They do not know themselves. God frequently proves them, and tries their faith in small things; and they endure the trial no better than did ancient Israel.

Many have then present wants supplied, yet they will not trust God for the future. They manifest unbelief, and sink into despondency and gloom. Some are in continual trouble lest they shall come to want, and their children suffer. When difficulties arise, or when they are brought into strait places–when their faith and their love to God are tested–they shrink from the trial, and murmur at the process by which God has chosen to purify them. Their love does not prove pure and perfect, to bear all things. The faith of the people of the God of Heaven should be strong, active, and enduring–the substance of things hoped for. The language of such will be, Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name; for he hath dealt bountifully with me. Self-denial is considered by some to be real suffering. Depraved appetites are indulged. And a restraint upon the unhealthy appetite would lead even many professed Christians now to start back, as though actual starvation would be the consequence of a plain diet. And, like the children of Israel, they would accept slavery, diseased bodies, and even death, rather than to be deprived of some hurtful indulgence. Bread and water is all that is promised to the remnant in the time of trouble.

God was not unmindful of the wants of his people, and in his wisdom he provided the needed supply. He said to their leaders; “I will rain bread from Heaven for you.” The Lord designed to prove them, and by indulgence through miraculous provision for their wants to test them to see whether they would keep his commandments or no. The Lord promised to supply them through Moses with abundance of food. By his power he would give them flesh to eat in the evening and in the morning bread in abundance. Moses told them that their murmurings were not against him, but against the Lord. He that was enshrouded in the pillar of cloud heard all their murmurings and bitter complaints. While Aaron was speaking to the congregation there was a remarkable change in that pillar of cloud.

The Lord designed to give the Israelites evidences of his presence that they might be held in restraint and subordination as they knew the presence of the Lord, not merely the man Moses, was guiding them. Evidences of this kind were the books of knowledge opened to their senses that they should learn in regard to God, and his fear be before them. The greatest changes were to be wrought in the characters of these demoralized people. God was working by his power to lift them up through a knowledge of himself. Thus a visible manifestation of the glory of God was given them; a splendor which they had never witnessed, which symbolized the Divine presence. While the people were greatly terrified at this revelation of God, and feared his judgments, an audible voice came from the glory commanding Moses and Aaron to draw near to the cloudy pillar in which his glory was manifested. And the Lord talked with Moses and Aaron, and the Israelites heard his voice, saying that he had heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, and repeated his promise of flesh in the morning and bread in the evening. There God gave them evidence that he would supply their necessities, protect and preserve them, if they would be obedient to his commandments. In the evening the quails covered the ground about the camp. And in the morning the ground was covered with a strange substance, in small, white grains of the size of coriander seed, hard, and pleasant to the taste. The children of Israel knew not what it was, so they called it manna, which means, What is it? Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat. This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, gather of it every man, according to his eating, an omer for every man according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.”

The people gathered the manna, and found that there was a sufficiency for the entire company. They “ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and made cakes of it; and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.” We are also told that “the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.”

According to the direction of Moses they were to gather an omer (about five pints) for every person; and they were not to leave of it until the morning. Some attempted to keep a supply until the next day, but what they laid by bred worms and became offensive. The supply for each day was to be gathered each morning; for as the heat of the sun increased, the substance melted and disappeared.

Jenny @ 4:37 am
March 4, 1880 Return of Moses to Egypt
Filed under: EG White Articles

By Mrs. E. G. White.
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, being instructed by , went forth to meet his brother, from whom he had been separated for many years; and they met, amid the desert solitudes, in the . Here they communed together, and told Aaron “all the who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him.” Together they journeyed over the wastes, toward ; and having reached the land of , they proceeded to assemble together the elders of Israel. Aaron, the eloquent spokesman, communicated to them all the dealings of God with Moses, and then they gave the signs before the people. “The people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped.”

The next work of the two brothers was to communicate with the king himself. They entered the great palace of the Pharaoh’s as commissioners from Jehovah; they felt that God was with them there, and they spoke with authority: “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.”

“Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go?” demanded the monarch; “I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go.” They answered,

“The God of the Hebrews hath met with us; let us go, we pray thee, three days’ journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the Lord our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.”

The king had heard of them before, and of the excitement among the people. He became very angry. “Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let [hinder] the people from their works? Get you unto your burdens.” Then he added, as a thought of the loss occasioned by this interruption in their work passed through his mind. “Behold, the people of the land are many, and ye make them to rest from their burdens.”

The same day the king issued orders to all the officers superintending the work of the Israelites, to do that which made their slavery doubly severe and cruel. The buildings of that country were and still are made of sun-dried bricks, with cut straw intermixed to hold the earth together, even their finest edifices being so constructed, and then faced with stone. The king now commanded that no more straw should be issued to the workmen; but the same amount of brick was rigidly required.

This order produced great distress among the Israelites throughout the land. The Egyptian taskmasters had appointed Hebrew officers to oversee the work of the people, and these officers were responsible for the labor performed by those under their charge. When the unfeeling requirement of the king was put in force, the people scattered themselves throughout the land, to gather stubble instead of straw; but they found it impossible to accomplish the usual amount of labor. For this failure, the Hebrew officers, as well as the people, were cruelly beaten.

These officers supposed that their oppression came from their taskmasters, and not from the king himself; therefore they went to him with an account of their grievances, and the unjust treatment which they had received. Their remonstrance was met by Pharaoh with a taunting charge of idleness, to indulge which, he said, they were desirous of going into the wilderness for the purpose of sacrificing. They were ordered back to their work, which was to be in no wise diminished, but to be everywhere exacted. As they were returning, they met Moses and Aaron, and cried out to them: “The Lord look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savor to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us.”

As the Hebrew elders thus reproached Moses, he was greatly distressed. The sufferings of the people had been much increased. All over the country a cry of anguish went up from men, women, and children; and all united in charging upon Moses this disastrous change in their condition. Alone he went before God, with the bitter cry,

“Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? Why is it that thou hast sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh, to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.” The reply to him from Jehovah was,

“Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.” And then he was reminded of the covenant which God had made with his forefathers, and assured that it would be faithfully carried into effect.

The Hebrews had expected to be released from bondage without any particular trial of faith, or any suffering on their part. But they were not yet prepared to be delivered. They had but little faith, and were unwilling patiently to suffer their afflictions, until God should work for them a glorious deliverance.

Many years had the children of Israel been in servitude to the Egyptians. Only a few families went down into Egypt, but they had become a great multitude. And being surrounded with idolatry, many had lost the knowledge of the true God, and had forgotten his law. Yet there were some among them who still worshiped the living God, the Maker of the heavens and the earth. They were grieved to see their children daily witnessing, and even engaging in, the abominations of the idolatrous people around them, and bowing to Egyptian deities, made of wood and stone, and offering sacrifice to these senseless objects. In their distress, the faithful cried unto the Lord for deliverance from the Egyptian yoke; that he would bring them out of Egypt, where they might be free from idolatry, and the corrupting influences which surrounded them.

They did not conceal their faith, but openly acknowledged before the Egyptians that they served the only true and living God. They rehearsed the evidences of his existence and power, from creation down. The Egyptians thus had an opportunity to become acquainted with the faith of the Hebrews, and their God. They tried to subvert the faithful worshipers of the true God by threats, by the promise of reward, and by cruel treatment.

The elders of Israel endeavored to encourage the sinking faith of their brethren, by referring to the promise made to Abraham, and the prophetic words of Joseph before his death, foretelling their deliverance from Egypt. Some would listen and believe. Others looked at their own sad condition, and would not hope. When the Egyptians learned the expectations of the children of Israel, they derided their hopes of deliverance, and spoke scornfully of the power of their God. They pointed them to their own situation, as merely a nation of slaves, and tauntingly said to them, If your God is so just and merciful, and possesses power above the Egyptian gods, why does he not make you a free people? Why not manifest his greatness and power, and exalt you? The Egyptians then called attention to their own people, who worshiped gods of their own choosing, which the Israelites termed false gods. They exultingly said that their gods had prospered them, and had given them food, and raiment, and great riches, and had also given the Israelites into their hands to serve them, and that they had power to oppress them, and destroy their lives, so that they should be no people.

Pharaoh boasted that he would like to see their God deliver them from his hands. These words destroyed the hopes of many of the children of Israel. It appeared to them very much as the king and his counselors had said. They knew that they were treated as slaves, and that they must endure just that degree of oppression which their taskmasters and rulers might choose to inflict upon them. Their male children had been hunted and slain. Their own lives were a burden; and they were believing in, and worshiping, the God of Heaven. Then they contrasted their condition with that of the Egyptians. The latter worshiped the sun, moon, and stars, and also beasts, and even images, the work of their own hands; yet they were prosperous, and wealthy. And some of the Hebrews thought that if the Lord was above all gods, he would not thus leave them as slaves to an idolatrous nation.

The faithful servants of God understood that it was because of their unfaithfulness to him as a people, and their disposition to intermarry with other nations, thus being led into idolatry, that the Lord had suffered them to go into Egypt. And they firmly declared to their brethren that God would soon break their oppressive yoke.

But many of the Hebrews were content to remain in bondage, rather than to go to a new country, and meet the difficulties attending such a journey; and the habits of some had become so much like those of the Egyptians that they preferred to dwell in Egypt. Therefore the Lord did not deliver them by the first display of his signs and wonders before Pharaoh. He overruled events to more fully develop the tyrannical spirit of the Egyptian king, and also by manifestations of almighty power, to give the Israelites more exalted views of the divine character, that they might be anxious to leave Egypt and choose the service of the true and merciful God. The task of Moses would have been much easier, had not many of the Israelites become so corrupted that they were unwilling to leave Egypt.

Jenny @ 8:01 pm