The Articles of Ellen Gould Harmon White as printed in the Signs of the Times.
March 4, 1880 Return of Moses to Egypt
Filed under: EG White Articles

By Mrs. E. G. White.

, 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
February 26, 1880 The Call of Moses
Filed under: EG White Articles

By Mrs. E. G. White.

To the oppressed and suffering the day of their seemed to be long deferred; but in his own God designed to work for them in mighty power. was not to stand, as he at first anticipated, at the head of armies, with waving banners and glittering armor. That people, so long abused and oppressed, were not to gain the victory for themselves, by rising up and asserting their rights. was to be accomplished in a way to pour contempt on human pride and glory. The deliverer was to go forth as a humble shepherd, with only a rod in his hand; but God would make that rod powerful in delivering his people from oppression, and in preserving them when pursued by their enemies.

Before Moses went forth, he received his high commission, his ordination to his great work, in a way that filled him with awe, and gave him a deep sense of his own weakness and unworthiness. While engaged in his round of duties he saw a bush, branches, foliage, and trunk, all burning, yet not consumed. He drew near to view the wonderful sight, when a voice addressed him from out of the flame. It was the voice of God. It was He who, as the angel of the covenant, had revealed himself to the fathers in ages past. The frame of Moses quivered, he was thrilled with terror, as the Lord called him by name. With trembling lips he answered, “Here am I.” He was warned not to approach his Creator with undue familiarity: “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet; for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” “And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.”

Finite man may learn a lesson that should never be forgotten,–to approach God with reverence. We may come boldly into his presence, presenting the name of Jesus, our righteousness and substitute, but never with the boldness of presumption, as though he were on a level with ourselves. We have heard some address the great and all-powerful and holy God, who dwelleth in light unapproachable, as they would not address an equal, or even an inferior. We have seen some behave themselves in the presence of God as they would not dare to do in the presence of an earthly friend. These show that they have not a proper view of God’s character and the greatness of his power. They should remember that God’s eye is upon them; he reads the thoughts of their hearts concerning him. He will not be mocked. God is greatly to be reverenced; wherever his presence is clearly realized, sinful man will bow in the most humble attitude, and from the depths of the soul cry out, “How dreadful is this place!”

As Moses waited in reverent awe before God, the words continued: “I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.” “Come now, therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

Amazed and frightened at the command, Moses drew back, saying, “Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” The reply was, 

“Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee. When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain. Moses thought of the difficulties to be encountered, the blindness, ignorance, and unbelief of his people, who were almost destitute of all knowledge of God.

“Behold,” he said, “when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you, and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say to them?” The answer was,

“I AM THAT I AM. Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” Moses was commanded first to assemble the elders of Israel, the most noble and righteous among them, who had long grieved because of their bondage, and to declare to them a message from God, with a promise of deliverance. Then he was to take the elders before the king, and say to him,

“The Lord God of the Hebrews hath met with us, and now let us go, we beseech thee, three day’s journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.”

The Pharaoh before whom Moses was to appear was not the one who had decreed that he should be put to death. That monarch was dead, and another had taken the reins of government. The name Pharaoh was a title borne by nearly all the Egyptian kings.

Moses was forewarned that Pharaoh would resist the appeal to let Israel go. Yet the courage of God’s servant must not fail; for the Lord would make this the occasion to manifest his power before the Egyptians and before his people. “And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof; and after that, he will let you go.”

The mighty miracles wrought for the deliverance of the Hebrews, would give them favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when they should leave Egypt they were not to go empty-handed. They were to ask or seek from their Egyptian neighbors valuable articles, such as jewels of silver and gold, which could be easily transported. The Egyptians had been enriched by the labor unjustly exacted from the Israelites; and now, as the latter were to start on their long journey to a new home, it was right that they should receive a portion of the wealth which they had fairly earned. This would be a small recompense for their many years of unpaid servitude.

Moses saw before him difficulties which seemed unsurmountable. What proof could he give his people that God had indeed sent him? “Behold,” he said, “they will not believe me, nor hearken to my voice; for they will say, ‘The Lord hath not appeared unto thee.’” Evidence which appealed to his own senses was now given. He was told to cast the rod in his hand upon the ground. He did so; it became a serpent, and he fled before it. He was recalled and commanded to seize it. As he obeyed, it became again a rod. He was bidden to put his hand into his bosom. He did so, and on taking it out, saw it all covered with the white scabs of leprosy. On being told, he put it again into his bosom, and on withdrawing it saw that it had become like the other. By these signs the Lord assured Moses that his own people as well as Pharaoh should be convinced that one mightier than the king of Egypt was manifest among them.

But the servant of God was still overwhelmed by the thought of the strange and wonderful work before him. In his distress and terror he now pleaded as an excuse a lack of ready speech: “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore nor since thou hast spoken to thy servant; but I am slow of speech and of a slow tongue.” He had been so long from the Egyptians that he had not so clear knowledge and ready use of their language as when he was among them. This hesitancy on the part of Moses would seem to imply a fear that God was unable to qualify him for the great work to which he had called him, or that he had made a mistake in his selection of the man. The Lord said to him, “Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord?” What an appeal! What a rebuke to the distrustful!

To this was added another assurance of divine aid: “Now, therefore, go, and I will be with thy mouth, and will teach thee what thou shalt say.” But Moses still entreated the Lord to select a more competent person. These excuses at first proceeded from humility and self-diffidence. But after the Lord had promised to remove all his difficulties, and to give him final success, then any further shrinking back and complaining of his unfitness showed unbelief and distrust of God himself.

Moses was now directed to Aaron, his elder brother, who was eloquent, and who, having been in daily use of the language of the Egyptians, understood and could speak it perfectly. He was told that Aaron was coming to meet him, and when he came would rejoice at the meeting. The Lord then commanded Moses,

“Thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth; and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people; and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God. And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.”

Moses could make no further resistance, for all ground for excuses was removed. He returned to his father-in-law’s tent, and asked permission to visit his brethren in Egypt. Jethro gave it, with his blessing, “Go in peace.” So, taking his wife and children, Moses set out on his journey. He had not dared to make known the object of his mission, lest they should not be allowed to accompany him. Before reaching Egypt, however, he himself deemed it best, for their own safety, to send them back to her father’s tent.

The Lord said unto Moses, “When thou goest to return unto Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand; but I will harden his heart, that he will not let the people go.” That is, the display of almighty power before Pharaoh, being rejected by him, would make him harder and more firm in his rebellion. But the Lord would overrule the course of this haughty monarch, so that his obstinacy and perverseness would cause the name of God to be magnified before the Egyptians, and before his people also.

Moses was directed to say unto Pharaoh, “Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my first-born. And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me. And if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy first-born.” The Lord called Israel his first-born because he had singled out that people to be the depositaries of his law, obedience to which would preserve them pure amidst idolatrous nations. He conferred upon them special privileges, such as were generally granted to the first-born son.

As Moses journeyed to Egypt, the angel of the Lord met him, and assumed a threatening posture, as though he would slay him. He did not explain the reason for his appearance in this manner, but Moses knew that there was a cause. He was going to Egypt in obedience to the express command of God; therefore the journey must be right. He at once remembered that his youngest son had not been circumcised. In compliance with the wishes of Zipporah, he had postponed the ceremony, contrary to the divine requirement. Now the wife, fearful that her husband might be slain, overcame her feelings of undue affection for her son, and performed the rite herself. After this, the angel let Moses go. In his mission to Pharaoh, he was to be placed in a perilous position, where his life would be exposed to the will of the king, if God did not by his power, through the presence of angels, preserve him. While Moses was living in neglect of one of God’s positive commands, his life would not be secure; for angels could not protect him in disobedience.

In the time of trouble, just previous to the coming of Christ, the lives of the righteous will be preserved through the ministration of holy angels. But there will be no security for the transgressor. Angels cannot then protect those who are living in neglect of a known duty or an express command of Jehovah.

Jenny @ 7:54 pm
February 19, 1880 Moses
Filed under: EG White Articles

By Mrs. E. G. White.

When was forty years of age, an event occurred which seemed to change the whole current of his life. His soul was deeply stirred with a sense of the wrongs done to his people, and he would often leave the royal courts, to visit his brethren in their servitude, and encourage them with the assurance that it would not be always thus, that God would open the way for their . One day, while thus abroad, he saw an beating an . Moses sprang forward and slew the Egyptian. He had taken the precaution, even in this sudden , to see that he was unwatched, and he buried the body hastily in the sand. But the man whom he had rescued failed to keep the secret, and Moses soon found that it was known to others. The next day he saw two contending, one of them clearly in the wrong. When Moses reproved the wrong-doer, he at once turned his rage upon his reprover and basely cast against him his previous act: “Who made thee a prince and ? Intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian?”

There could be no further hope of concealment. The whole matter was made known to the Egyptians by the envious Hebrew, and, greatly exaggerated, soon reached the ears of Pharaoh. The monarch was informed that Moses designed to make war upon the Egyptians, to overthrow their government, and make himself king. Pharaoh was exceedingly angry. He thought that this act of Moses meant much, and that there was no safety for his kingdom while the offender lived. He therefore commanded that Moses should be slain. But the servant of God became aware in season of Pharaoh’s intent on his life, and he hastily left the palace and fled toward Arabia.

The Lord directed his course, and he found a home with the priest of Midian, Jethro, a man who worshiped God, and who was highly honored by the people of all the surrounding country, for his far-seeing judgment. After a time, Moses married one of the daughters of his benefactor; and here, in the service of his father-in-law, as keeper of his flocks, he remained forty years.

Moses was too hasty in slaying the Egyptian. He supposed the people of Israel understood that God’s special providence had raised him up to deliver them. But the Lord did not design to accomplish this work by warfare, as Moses thought, but by his own mighty power, that the glory might be ascribed to him alone. Yet even this rash act was overruled by God to bring about his purpose.

Moses had become, in every sense, a great man. As a writer, as a military leader, and as a philosopher, he had no superior. Love of truth and righteousness had become the basis of his character, and had produced a steadfastness of purpose which no fickleness of fashion, opinion, or pursuits, could influence. Courtesy, diligence, and a firm trust in God, marked his life. He was young and vigorous, overflowing with energy and manly strength. He had deeply sympathized with his brethren in their affliction, and his soul had kindled with a desire to deliver them. Surely, it would appear to human wisdom that he was in every way fitted for his work.

But God seeth not as man sees; his ways are not as ours. Moses is not yet prepared to accomplish this great work, neither are the people prepared for deliverance. He has been educated in the school of Egypt, but he has yet to pass through the stern school of discipline before he is qualified for his sacred mission. Before he can successfully govern the hosts of Israel, he must learn to obey, he must learn self-control. For forty long years he is sent into the retirement of the desert, that, in his life of obscurity, in the humble work of caring for the sheep and lambs of the flock, he may gain the victory over his own passions. He must learn entire submission to the will of God, before he can teach that will to a great people.

Short-sighted mortals would have dispensed with that forty years of training amid the mountains of Midian, deeming it a great loss of time. But Infinite Wisdom placed him who was to be the mighty statesman, the deliverer of his people from slavery, in circumstances, during this period to develop his honesty, his forethought, his faithfulness and care-taking, and his ability to identify himself with the necessities of his dumb charge. Those to whom God has intrusted important responsibilities have not been brought up in ease and luxury; the noble prophets, the leaders and judges of God’s appointment, have been men whose characters were formed by the stern realities of life.

God does not select for his work men of one mold and one temperament only, but men of varied temperaments. The human element is seen in all who have been chosen to accomplish a work for God. They have been men of intellect, of depth of feeling; men who would do and dare, whose powers could be directed in the right channel, and who would learn wisdom from God. Said Christ, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine.” Those who, by earnest, anxious inquiry, seek to learn the will of God, who seize upon and improve every ray of light shining upon their pathway, God will lead. They will not be left to walk in doubt and darkness. Connected with God, the source of all wisdom, man may reach any height of moral excellence.

But inspiration will not come to man in darkness, while he makes no effort to press toward the divine light. Moses must realize his great weakness and deficiency, and his soul must be drawn out for special help from Him who can help. Moses must closely apply his mind to the great change to be wrought in himself. Had he taken matters in a listless, easy, and indifferent manner, shunning care, hardship, and disagreeable responsibilities, as do many young men of today, God would never have intrusted him with a sacred and important work. He was aroused to the highest kind of thought, and to his great want of experimental knowledge of God; and his prayer came forth from a soul burdened with a sense of need and poverty. He hoped, he longed, he prayed, for close connection with God.

Moses had been learning much which he must unlearn. The influence which had surrounded him in Egypt,–the love of his adopted mother, his own high position as the king’s grandson, the enchantments of grandeur in art, the dissipation on every hand, the imposing display connected with the idolatrous worship, and the constant repetition, by the priests, of countless fables concerning the power of their gods,–all had left deep impressions upon his developing mind, and had molded, to some extent, his habits and character. These impressions, time, change of surroundings, and close connection with God, could remove. Yet it must be by earnest, persevering effort, a struggle as for life, with himself, to uproot the seeds of error, and in their place have truth firmly implanted. At every point, Satan would be prepared to strengthen error and dislodge truth; but while God designed that Moses should be self-trained by severe discipline, he himself would be his ever-ready helper against Satan when the conflict should be too severe for human strength.

With the wild mountains surrounding him, alone with God, Moses had a precious opportunity to learn himself, to discern his pride and self-exaltation, and to overcome the habits formed amid the luxury, ease, and indulgence of court life. The magnificent temples of Egypt were no longer before his eyes, impressing his mind with their superstition and falsehood. Amid the towering rocks and everlasting hills he could behold the evidences of the Creator’s greatness and majesty, and power, and contrast with the insignificance of the gods of Egypt. Every where the Creator’s name was written. Moses was surrounded with his presence, and covered with his overshadowing glory. God himself was speaking to his servant through these mute representatives of his power. 

The light of nature and that of revelation are from the same source, teaching grand truths and always agreeing with each other. As Moses saw that all God’s created works act in sublime harmony with his laws, he realized how unreasonable it is for man to array himself in opposition to the law of God. The conflict was most trying, the effort long, to bring heart and mind on all points in harmony with truth and with Heaven; but Moses was finally a victor. He came forth from the proving of God, mild in spirit, patient in temper, generous toward the erring, kind, reverent, and humble, one of the meekest of men in his intercourse with the world. Every child of God will have a similar experience. It is only after sore discipline and severe instruction that man, in obedience to Christ an heir of glory, can learn to wear divine honors with grace and dignity becoming to his position as a member of the royal family.

As year after year passed by, and left the servant of God still in his humble position, it would have seemed to one of less faith than he, as if God had forgotten him; as if his ability and experience were to be lost to the world. But as he wandered with his silent flocks in solitary places, the abject condition of his people was ever before him. He recounted all God’s dealings with the faithful in ages past, and his promises of future good, and his soul went out toward God in behalf of his brethren in bondage, and his fervent prayers echoed amid the mountain caverns by day and by night. He was never weary of presenting before God the promises made to his people, and pleading with him for their deliverance.

Those prayers were heard. Could his eyes have been opened, he would have seen the messengers of God, pure, holy angels, bending lovingly over him, shedding their light around him, and preparing to bear his petition to the throne of the Highest. The long years spent amid desert solitudes were not lost. Not only was Moses gaining a preparation for the great work before him, but during this time, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wrote the book of Genesis and also the book of Job, which would be read with the deepest interest by the people of God until the close of time.

Jenny @ 7:04 pm
October 23, 1879 Wisdom and Compassion of Jesus.
Filed under: EG White Articles

By Mrs. E. G. White

While was engaged in , the brought to him a woman whom they accused of the of , and said to him, , “now in the us that such should be ; but what sayest thou? This they said, him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.”

The and had agreed to bring this case before Jesus, thinking that whatever decision he made in regard to it, they would therein find occasion to and him. If he should acquit the woman, they would accuse him of despising the , and condemn him on that account; and if he should declare that she was , they would accuse him to the as one who was stirring up sedition and assuming authority which alone belonged to them. But Jesus well knew for what purpose this case had been brought to him; he read the secrets of their hearts, and knew the character and life-history of every man in his presence. He seemed indifferent to the question of the Pharisees, and while they were talking and pressing about him, he stooped and wrote carelessly with his finger in the sand.

Although doing this without apparent design, Jesus was tracing on the ground, in legible characters, the particular sins of which the woman’s accusers were guilty, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest. At length the Pharisees became impatient at the indifference of Jesus, and his delay in deciding the question before him, and drew nearer, urging the matter. But as their eyes fell upon the words written in the sand, fear and surprise took possession of them. The people, looking on, saw their countenances suddenly change, and pressed forward to discover what they were regarding with such an expression of astonishment and shame. Many of those who thus gathered round also read the record of hidden sin inscribed against these accusers of another.

Then Jesus “lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.” The accusers saw that Jesus not only knew the secrets of their past sins, but was acquainted with their purpose in bringing this case before him and had in his matchless wisdom defeated their deeply laid scheme. They now became fearful lest Jesus would expose their guilt to all present, and they therefore “being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last; and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.”

There was not one of her accusers but was more guilty than the conscience stricken woman who stood trembling with shame before him. After the Pharisees had hastily left the presence of Christ, in their guilty consternation, he arose and looked upon the woman, saying, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee. Go, and sin no more.”

Jesus did not palliate sin nor lessen the sense of crime; but he came not to condemn; he came to lead sinners to eternal life. The world looked upon this erring woman as one to be slighted and scorned; but the pure and holy Jesus stooped to address her with words of comfort, encouraging her to reform her life. Instead of to condemn the guilty, his work was to reach into the very depths of human woe and degradation, lift up the debased and sinful, and bid the trembling penitent to “sin no more.” When the woman stood before Jesus, cowering under the accusation of the Pharisees and a sense of the enormity of her crime, she knew that her life was trembling in the balance, and that a word from Jesus would add fuel to the indignation of the crowd, so that they would immediately stone her to death.

Her eyes droop before the calm and searching glance of Christ. Stricken with shame, she is unable to look upon that holy countenance. As she thus stands waiting for sentence to be passed upon her, the words fall upon her astonished ears that not only deliver her from her accusers, but send them away convicted of greater crimes than hers. After they are gone, she hears the mournfully solemn words: “Neither do I condemn thee. Go, and sin no more.” Her heart melts with penitential grief; and, with gratitude to her Deliverer, she bows at the feet of Jesus sobbing out in broken accents the emotions of her heart, and confessing her sins with bitter tears.

This was the beginning of a new life to this tempted, fallen soul, a life of purity and peace, devoted to the service of God. In raising this woman to a life of virtue, Jesus performed a greater act than that of healing the most grievous bodily malady; he cured the sickness of the soul which is unto death everlasting. This penitent woman became one of the firmest friends of Jesus. She repaid his forgiveness and compassion, with a self-sacrificing love and worship. Afterward, when she stood sorrow-stricken at the foot of the cross, and saw the dying agony on the face of her Lord, and heard his bitter cry, her soul was pierced afresh; for she knew that this sacrifice was on account of sin; and her responsibility as one whose deep guilt had helped to bring about this anguish of the Son of God, seemed very heavy indeed. She felt that those pangs that pierced the Saviour’s frame were for her; the blood that flowed from his wounds was to blot out her record of sin; the groans which escaped from his dying lips were caused by her transgression. Her heart ached with a sorrow past all expression, and she felt that a life of self-abnegating atonement would poorly compensate for the gift of life, purchased for her at such an infinite price.

In his act of pardoning, and encouraging this fallen woman to live a better life, the character of Jesus shines forth in the beauty of a perfect righteousness. Knowing not the taint of sin himself, he pities the weakness of the erring one, and reaches to her a helping hand. The self-righteous and hypocritical Pharisees denounce, and the tumultuous crowd is ready to stone and slay, and the trembling victim waits for death–Jesus, the Friend of sinners, bids her, “Go and sin no more.” 

It is not the true follower of Christ who turns from the erring with cold, averted eyes, leaving them unrestrained to pursue their downward course. Christian charity is slow to censure, quick to detect penitence, ready to forgive, to encourage, to set the wanderer in the path of virtue, and stay his feet therein.

The wisdom displayed by Jesus on this occasion, in defending himself against the designs of his enemies, and the evidence which he gave them that he knew the hidden secrets of their lives, the conviction that he pressed home upon the guilty consciences of the very men who were seeking to destroy him, were sufficient evidence of his divine character. Jesus also taught another important lesson in this scene: That those who are ever forward to accuse others, quick to detect them in wrong, and zealous that they should be brought to justice, are often guiltier in their own lives than those whom they accuse. Many who beheld the whole scene were led to compare the pardoning compassion of Jesus with the unrelenting spirit of the Pharisees, to whom mercy was a stranger; and they turned to the pitying Saviour as unto one who would lead the repentant sinner into peace and security.

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” Jesus had represented himself, in his relation to fallen man, as a fountain of living water, to which all who thirst may come and drink. The brilliant lights in the temple illuminated all Jerusalem, and he now used these lights to represent his relation to the world. In clear and thrilling tones he declared: “I am the light of the world.” As the radiant lamps of the temple lit up the whole city, so Christ, the source of spiritual light, illuminated the darkness of a world lying in sin. His manner was so impressive, and his words carried with them such a weight of truth, that many were there convicted that he was indeed the Son of God. But the Pharisees, ever ready to contradict him, accused him of egotism, saying, “Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.” Jesus, answering their objections, asserted again his divine commission:–

“Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true; for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I came and whither I go.” They were ignorant of his divine character and mission because they had not searched the prophecies concerning the Messiah, as it was their privilege and duty to do. They had no connection with God and Heaven, and therefore did not comprehend the work of the Saviour of the world, and, though they had received the most convincing evidence that Jesus was the Saviour, yet they refused to open their minds to understand. At first they had set their hearts against him, and refused to believe the strongest proof of his divinity, and, as a consequence, their hearts had grown harder until they were determined not to believe nor accept him.

“Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet, if I judge, my judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.” Thus he declared that he was sent of God, to do his work. He had not consulted with priests nor rulers as to the course he was to pursue; for his commission was from the highest authority, even the Creator of the universe. Jesus, in his sacred office, had taught the people, had relieved suffering, had forgiven sin, and had cleansed the temple, which was his Father’s house, and driven out its desecrators from its sacred portals; he had condemned the hypocritical lives of the Pharisees, and reproved their hidden sins; and in all this he had acted under the instruction of his Heavenly Father. For this reason they hated him and sought to kill him. Jesus declared to them: “Ye are from beneath; I am from above. Ye are of this world; I am not of this world.”

“When ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself, but as my Father hath taught me.” “And he that sent me is with me; the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.” These words were spoken with thrilling power, and, for the time, closed the lips of the Pharisees, and caused many of those who listened with attentive minds to unite with Jesus, believing him to be the Son of God. To these believing ones he said, “If ye continue in my word, then ye are my disciples indeed. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” But to the Pharisees who rejected him, and who hardened their hearts against him, he declared: “I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins; whither I go, ye cannot come.”

But the Pharisees took up his words, addressed to those who believed, and commented upon them, saying, “We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man; how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free:” Jesus looked upon these men,–the slaves of unbelief and bitter malice, whose thoughts were bent upon revenge,–and answered them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin.” They were in the worst of bondage, ruled by the spirit of evil. Jesus declared to them that if they were the true children of Abraham, and lived in obedience to God, they would not seek to kill one who was speaking the truth that was given him of God. This was not doing the works of Abraham, whom they claimed as their father.

Jesus, with startling emphasis, denied that the Jews were following the example of Abraham. Said he, “Ye do the deeds of your father.” The Pharisees, partly comprehending his meaning, said, “We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.” But Jesus answered them: “If God were your Father, ye would love me; for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.” The Pharisees had turned from God, and refused to recognize his Son. If their minds had been open to the love of God, they would have acknowledged the Saviour who was sent to the world by him. Jesus boldly revealed their desperate condition:–

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.” These words were spoken with sorrowful pathos, as Jesus realized the terrible condition into which these men had fallen. But his enemies heard him with uncontrollable anger; although his majestic bearing, and the mighty weight of the truths he uttered, held them powerless. Jesus continued to draw the sharp contrast between their position and that of Abraham, whose children they claimed to be:– 

“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad.” The Jews listened incredulously to this assertion, and said, sneeringly, “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham:” Jesus, with a lofty dignity that sent a thrill of conviction through their guilty souls, answered, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” For a moment, silence fell upon all the people, as the grand and awful import of these words dawned upon their minds. But the Pharisees, speedily recovering from the influence of his words, and fearing their effect upon the people, commenced to create an uproar, railing at him as a blasphemer. “Then took they up stones to cast at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”

Jenny @ 6:21 pm