The Articles of Ellen Gould Harmon White as printed in the Signs of the Times.
April 22, 1880 Israel Arrives at Sinai
Filed under: EG White Articles

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By Mrs. E. G. White.
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The , obedient to the onward movement of the , left , having tarried there some time, and journeyed on toward . Their line of march had been across open plains, over steep ascents, and through narrow defiles. Again and again, when they had crossed a sandy waste, and their further progress seemed impossible because of the huge piles of massive rocks which lay directly in their way, a narrow passage would appear, and when this was passed, another barren, uninteresting plain would open to their view.

It was through one of these deep, gravelly passes that they were now called to pass. What a scene was this! Millions of people walled in by abrupt cliffs of rocks which rise hundreds of feet on either side, following a by day, and guarded at night by a , as if the eye of God were fastened directly upon them. Christ in this wilderness school is here giving his people their first lessons in faith and trust in God.

Finally they come to a long range of mountains, upon which the cloudy pillar rests. The people encamp beneath its shadow, and while locked in slumber, the bread from Heaven gently falls upon the encampment. In the early morning, as the sun begins to brighten behind the dark ridge of eastern mountains, its soft, golden tints penetrate the dark gorges, seeming to those weary, almost discouraged travelers, like golden beams of mercy from the throne of Heaven.

Anxious eyes often turn in wonder upon the pillar of cloud hanging over the mount. The immense, rugged piles of granite rocks, with their irregular shapes and peaks, seem thrown together in the wildest confusion. The whole country seems strangely solemn to the weary travelers. They frequently contrast the verdant valleys of Egypt with these dark, and cheerless ravines, and the bustling activity of their former home, with the mountain solitude.

Here the Lord had gathered his people to himself, that he might talk with them. There was nothing here that they chose to worship, nothing to divert their minds, and nothing upon which they would fasten their affections. Everything was calculated to make man feel his nothingness in the presence of him who has “weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance.”

Soon after their arrival at Sinai, Moses received a divine summons to ascend the mountain. Alone he climbed the steep and jagged rocks, placing his feet in steps made without hands; and far up on those solitary heights, God informed him that Israel was now to be taken into close and peculiar connection with himself, and that they were to become an organized church in the wilderness, and a nation whom he would govern. These are the words which he spake:–

“Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”

Moses came down, and having assembled the elders of Israel, he repeated to them the message of God. When it was made known to them, they answered: “All that the Lord hath spoken, we will do.” Here they entered into a solemn covenant with God to accept him as their ruler, by which they became, in a special sense, the subjects of his divine authority.

Again Moses ascended, and the Lord said unto him, “Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee forever.” When the Hebrews met with difficulties in the way, they were disposed to murmur against Moses and Aaron, and accuse them of leading the host of Israel from Egypt to destroy them. God would now honor Moses before them, that they might be led to confide in his instructions.

The Lord was about to come near to his people; they were to hear his law spoken, not by angels, but by himself; and Moses was now commanded to prepare them for that solemn event: “Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes, and be ready against the third day; for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai.” The people were required to refrain from worldly care and labor, and to possess devotional thoughts. God required them also to wash their clothes. He is no less particular now than he was then. He is a God of order, and requires his people to observe habits of strict cleanliness. Those who worship God with uncleanly garments and persons, do not come before him in an acceptable manner. He is not pleased with their lack of reverence for him, and he will not accept the service of filthy worshipers, for they insult their Maker. The Creator of the heavens and the earth considered cleanliness of so much importance that he said, “And let them wash their clothes.” Some who profess to be followers of Christ, call order and neatness, pride. They seem to consider it a virtue to leave their houses and premises in a disorderly, unimproved condition, thinking that they will thus give evidence of their disregard for temporal things, and their high estimate of spiritual things. But this same neglect and slothfulness which characterizes their business life, will be imparted to their religious life. Their religious experience will be defective. Says the apostle: “Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” God requires his people to be neat and orderly. All his directions to the children of Israel were of a character to establish habits of order and cleanliness in their dress, and in their surroundings. This was essential in order for them to preserve health, and to exert a proper influence upon other nations as a people adopted by the living God.

The Lord continued his instructions to Moses: “And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it. Whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death. There shall not a hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live. When the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.” This command was designed to impress the minds of this rebellious people with a profound veneration for God, the author and authority of their laws.

Three days the people were before the mount. During this time, they had ample opportunity to review their past course of murmuring and impatience, and to repent. God had given them his gracious promise that they should become a peculiar treasure unto him, on condition of obedience; but if they were disobedient he would reject them, and choose another people.

Many regard the Jewish economy as an age of darkness. They have received the erroneous idea that repentance and faith had no part in the Hebrew religion, which they claim consisted only of forms and ceremonies. But the children of Israel were saved by Christ as virtually as is the sinner of today. By faith they saw Christ in those types and shadows which pointed forward to his first advent and death, when type should meet anti-type. They rejoiced in a Saviour to come, typified by sacrificial offerings, while we rejoice in a Saviour who has come. That which was expectation to ancient Israel, is certainty to modern Israel. The world’s Redeemer was in close connection with his people then, being enshrouded in that cloudy pillar. Let us not say, then, that they had not Christ in the Jewish age. The inspired apostle writes: “By faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,” “esteeming the reproaches of Christ of greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.”

The command given to Moses to sanctify the people, brought great responsibility upon him. He was to faithfully point out their past errors, that they might, by humiliation, fasting, and prayer, purify their hearts from the defilement of sin, as well as cleanse themselves from all outward impurities. When the children of Israel were doing all they could to remove from them all defilement of the flesh and spirit, they were doing the same work that God requires us to do if we would be brought into close communion with him. However severe and close the battle to overcome wrong habits, and sinful indulgences, it must be fought and the victory gained. After the power of the will is brought into activity, then there must be a firm reliance upon Christ. When Israel thirsted in the wilderness, and yielded to sinful murmurings, Christ was to them what he is to us, a compassionate mediator, and he pardoned their transgressions. After man has done what he can to cleanse the soul-temple, then Christ’s blood alone will avail for us, as Christ’s typified blood availed for ancient Israel.

Jenny @ 4:49 am
March 7, 1878 The Law from Sinai.
Filed under: EG White Articles

By Mrs. E. G. White.
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When the children of left they pursued their journey, winding up a narrow opening through the bold rocks of the . They gradually ascended higher and higher, until there opened before them a wide extended plain, enclosed by granite ridges and towering toward the . ’s range stood before them in somber , its rocky crags towering aloft directed the eyes of the travelers . Awful, silent reigned over all. What a contrast was this scene to the busy activity of ! Here there was nothing to distract the , nothing to speak to the senses but the stern granite pinnacles pointing toward . had commanded to bring his people to this place of natural and sublimity, that they might hear his voice, and receive the book of heaven.

previous to this the had lighted the path through the that God had opened before the marching of his people. They had since then made their way slowly onward through the ; and God, by his , had wrought for them in their necessity. When they were parched with they had against God, forgetful of what he had done for them; but God did not forget them, he gave them from the flinty rock, and rained down to satisfy their ; and, through his , taught them lessons of in his .

The whole now encamped in the plain, in full view of . Then followed the days of for the great scene which was to make a most vivid upon their minds. The Lord gave express directions in regard to this preparation which must be made by his people. “And the Lord said unto Moses, go unto the people and them today and tomorrow; and let them wash their clothes, and be ready against the ; for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people, upon .” The people were required to refrain from , and to cultivate devotional thoughts to put away their sins, to be free from all personal uncleanness, and to cherish an abiding sense of the holiness of God whose voice they were soon to hear.

God commanded Moses to put bounds around the mount, that no man or beast should touch it, for God was to sanctify the mount by his presence, and the contact of sinful man with that divine presence would result in the instant death of the former. The people moved about, making these solemn preparations with subdued deportment, and hushed voices, while their eyes were instinctively drawn toward the rugged heights of Mount Horeb. They obeyed the directions of Moses with alacrity, waiting to hear the words of God spoken through him, telling them what next they should do.

The camp was now alive with subdued excitement and expectancy. At length the trumpet is lifted to the lips of Moses, and the word peals forth, Let all the people come now and meet with God! The trumpeters, who have been waiting for this signal, take up the sound and repeat the command all along the line, wakening the resounding echoes of the mountains. The people obey the summons, and hurry from their tents with pale and anxious faces. They gather around the mount, and stand with bated breath, in solemn awe. Every murmur is hushed until the stillness is painful. Suddenly the mighty pealing of a trumpet is heard from the mount, followed by terrific thunder and lightning, while an earthquake shakes the mountain from base to summit, and, from the black and terrible cloud hanging over it like a pall, issues smoke and fiery flames.

The deafening thunder reverberates from mountain top to mountain top, and seems to roll with awful power down the sides of Mount Horeb, and resound throughout the earth. It appears to the people that the mountain will be shattered into fragments and fall upon and cover them. The Hebrews fall prostrate to hide from their eyes the mystery and grandeur of the mount as it groans and trembles under the footsteps of the God of heaven. Wives cling to their husbands and children to their parents in terror, many begging to be removed from the fearful scene. Long concealed sins were there confessed in broken utterances, and repentance and humility softened the hearts and subdued the spirits of the most hardened and reckless.

The Lord now calls to Moses. He answers to the call. Then the Lord bids him come up to him into the mount. The eyes of all are turned toward their leader. Will he dare to go? Moses did not hesitate to obey, but with calm and trustful faith, passed up the quivering mountain with slow and solemn steps, amid smoke and flame, and is lost to the sight of the astonished people, while the mount remained shrouded in darkness, and volumes of thunder rolled down its quaking sides. At length Moses descends the mount.

The scene increases in awful grandeur as God speaks forth his holy law. At length the people instinctively retreat from the mount leaving Moses standing alone. The majesty and terror of this scene brings vividly before our minds the solemn events of the judgment, when the Prince of heaven shall come the second time, and the loud voice of the trumpet shall resound from one end of the earth to the other, penetrate the prison house of death, and break the sleep of the dead, who shall come forward to receive according to the deeds done in the body.

The Hebrews in terror cried to Moses, “Speak thou with us, and let not the Lord speak to us lest we die.” They did not discern their Advocate with the Father, standing between him and sinful man, and claiming the erring people of Israel as the purchase of his own blood. They did not recognize in the voice that caused them such terror the voice of the angel that had conducted their travels from Egypt to Sinai.

Many can only discern in Sinai’s God a Sovereign, Legislator, and Judge; but he has also given us there a true portrayal of his character as a loving as well as a just Father in this record, “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”

The Sovereign of the world has made known, in the ten commandments, the principles that should govern mankind. He requires the implicit obedience of his subjects, and if they refuse this, they are disloyal to the God of heaven. Two mighty principles are declared in those ten precepts. On the first table of stone were inscribed the four precepts showing the duty of man to God; and on the second table were the six showing the duty of man to his fellow man. Christ, who spoke the law, declared that all the law and the prophets hang upon the two chief commandments that illustrate those two great principles. They contain in brief the whole duty of man, to love God supremely and to love his neighbor as himself.

The law of the ten commandments, given in awful grandeur from Sinai, can never be repealed while the heavens and the earth remain. All enlightened law and government had its origin in those ten words of the Almighty. Those who speak slightingly of the moral code are blinded by sin, and are on the side of the great rebel, who has ever been at war with the law of God which is the foundation of his government in heaven and on earth. When God issues a proclamation that men are guiltless if they cease to love him, to reverence his name, and to keep holy his Sabbath–then, and not till then will the law of God be abrogated.

God requires of his subjects obedience, not to nine-tenths of the law, but to every one of the ten precepts. They are like the links of a chain; if one is broken the chain is of no value. The violation of one commandment makes us commandment breakers; and we must yield willing obedience to all the precepts of Jehovah if we would be true commandment-keepers, for “He that offendeth in one part is guilty of all.”

Those who profess to be ministers of God, yet teach the people that God’s holy law has no longer any claims upon them, are working directly against Christ. They say to the sinner, You are no longer under the terror of Sinai, and the bondage of the law; only come to Jesus, and believe in him and you will be saved. But how can these teachers define sin to their hearers? The apostle Paul gives us this definition, “Sin is the transgression of the law. What shall we say then, is the law sin? Nay, I had not known sin but by the law, for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. For without the law sin was dead; for I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came sin revived and I died, wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”

David exclaims, “The law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul.” David had transgressed the law, and the law held him a prisoner until he repented of his sin, and was pardoned through faith in the virtue of the promised Redeemer. There is no power in the law to remove a single defect, nor to save the sinner from the consequence of his transgression. But when the sinner is convicted by the light of the law, then he has a work to do: Repentance toward God because of transgression of his law, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, the sinners substitute and surety. Then pardon and free salvation may be his. But Jesus Christ will never save any one who has a knowledge of the law of God, yet lives in transgression of it.

Christ came to earth to maintain and exalt the divine law, by himself suffering the penalty of sin, and to thereby evidence that God will in no wise clear the guilty. Many claim that the law of God is done away with; but Christ said: “Until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or tittle shall pass from the law till all be fulfilled.” The ceremonial law of sacrificial offerings, pointing to Christ, ceased at the death of Christ, but his mission to earth was to vindicate the supreme law of God, not to annul it. If this latter could have been done, the Son of God need not have died to redeem sinful man. But because the law of God was as changeless as his character, it was necessary in order to preserve the authority of the universal Sovereign, and at the same time save man from the consequences of his transgression, that Jesus Christ should die, a sinless offering for a sinful world. The death of Christ therefore testifies to the immutability of God’s law.

Many accept nine of the commandments, but are troubled about the fourth. They see no fault in the first, which commands that we should have no gods before the Infinite One, neither in the second, which prohibits image-worship, nor in the third which provides against the profanation of God’s name. But the fourth seems difficult for them to comprehend; and they inquire why the world at large, and the churches do not observe the seventh day, and especially why the ministers do not teach its observance from their pulpits.

Ministers decide to accept a papal institution in the place of the day which God sanctified and blessed, rather than to be singular from the world, and incur the inconveniences resulting from such a reform. But their disloyalty does not excuse others in showing disrespect to the God of heaven, by trampling upon the sanctity of the day he has set apart for man to observe.

The fourth commandment is the only one that defines who is the living God. It points us back to creation, and to Eden: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and rested on the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed and sanctified the seventh day.” Thus this precept bears the signet or seal of the Creator. The fourth commandment occupies a central position in those regulations which define man’s duty to God, and to his fellow men. It is the golden link which unites finite man to the Infinite God. What authority has man to flout at or object to this prominent precept more than to any one of the other nine?

The specific rules for the government of the social and religious life of the Hebrews, were given to Moses for the Israelites, and embraced the principles of the ten commandments. But those commandments themselves spoken by the voice of God in hearing of all the people, and engraven on the two tables of stone, were given for the benefit of all mankind, and were to endure through all time. Because the transgression of the fourth commandment is so general, does not lessen the sin of the transgressor. God holds man responsible for the observance of every one of his precepts.

Because the professed teachers of the people declare that the Sabbath law is no longer binding upon man, shall we lay aside our Bibles to accept their statement? Shall we trust our-souls to the ministers? Can they answer for us in the day of God? When Christ announced that he was the Anointed One, if the Jews had searched the Scriptures for themselves, to ascertain if his words were true, they would not have been wrapped in error and bigotry. But they believed what the priests and rulers told them, that Christ was an impostor, and darkness closed about them. We do not wish to place ourselves in a position similar to that of the unbelieving Jews. We would follow the injunction of our Saviour: “Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me.”

The transgressor of the divine law will be in a fearful position in the day of God. No tears or prayers, or reformation can justify him before the Almighty. There is but one name given under heaven and among men that can save the sinner from the condemnation of the law. The name of Jesus is efficacious to the sinner during his probation. Jesus never broke the law of his Father; he honored and magnified it, and bore its curse for us. Repentance toward God, and simple faith in the blood of Christ, and obedience to the law of God will save the sinner; for Christ will then impute to him his righteous character. But the blood of Christ will never atone for a sin unrepented and unconfessed.

Oh that the people would seek wisdom for themselves, and consider the great truths of God’s word! Their eternal interests are involved in these matters, and none can afford to make a mistake. All our difficulties and questioning doubts will depart, if we but accept Christ as our teacher, and learn wisdom of him.

Jenny @ 4:14 pm