Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

April 3, 1894

The Treasure of Truth Rejected

By Mrs. E. G. White

“But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel.”

The work that John came to do could in no way harmonize with the work of the Pharisees. The forerunner of Christ was to be as the “voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Anciently it was the custom, when kings traveled in countries where the roads were rough, to send a company ahead of the royal chariot, to smooth the steep places, and to fill up the hollows. This was the work to be done by John; for he was to prepare the way of the Lord. He was to be as a voice crying in the wilderness: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

The difficulties that were to be met by John were far greater than the difficulties to be met by those who prepared the way of earthly kings. The hearts of men around him were filled with every evil, with strife, envy, malice, and wickedness. They would not be impressed by a message of mercy and love. They were represented by John as a generation of vipers, and to them he gave scathing rebukes because of their self-righteousness. His voice rang out as a trumpet, crying, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” “When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

The message of John the Baptist was a new and startling message, and could not be interwoven with the superstitions and traditions of the Pharisees. The disciples of John were not to think that his self-denial, his self-sacrifice, his prayers, his devotions, his fastings, were like those of the Pharisees. The Pharisees fasted in hypocrisy, and there was no vitality in their religious exercises. To seek to blend the pretense of the Pharisees with the devotion of John would be only to make more evident the breach between them. The work of John was to expose the character of the works of the Pharisees, to set their traditions and heresies in their true light before the people.

At an early stage in his ministry the disciples of John came to Jesus as the One who was mightier than John. But when they saw Jesus eating with publicans and sinners, they were surprised and troubled. They had heard the charges of the Pharisees against Jesus, and they began to think that there was some foundation for their accusations. They thought much of the prescribed rules and rigorous ceremonies practiced by the Pharisees, and even hoped themselves to be justified by the works of the law. They thought their righteousness would entitle them to the favor of God, and went among the class, who, having the law, failed to keep it. They became agents of Satan to prefer charges against Christ at the very time when the Pharisees were questioning the authority of Jesus and seeking to lessen his influence over the people.

The Jews claimed to be the covenant people of God, and as a nation prided themselves in the idea that they were the chosen of heaven, yet many among them did not know God. They had been taught as a nation to look for the Redeemer. Holy men of God had spoken to them as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. In type and shadow and symbol they had been instructed concerning spiritual things, yet many had not understood the import of what had been revealed. A vail seemed to be before their faces, and they did not discern the glory of the dispensation of types and shadows. They needed to have a spiritual teacher always with them, to instruct them in regard to the significance of their rites, to show them the spiritual import of types and shadows. The spiritual worshiper alone was able to do this. There was much that was obscure to the minds of the prophets and teachers. Peter says, “Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”

In Jesus Christ type met antitype. He was the One of whom Moses, in the law and the prophets, did write. He was the manifestation of the Father's love, the brightness of his glory, the express image of his person. Christ was the author of truth; not a gem of thought, not a jewel of truth, but he originated. He saw the precious truth buried under a mass of superstition and traditions of men, and he came to rescue truth from its connection with error. He came to rebuild the structure of truth. Fallen man was to be raised from his low estate, lost man was to be recovered, sin was to be pardoned, the sinner saved, and the world was to see in Christ a representation of the Father's love. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.”

The Lord Jesus Christ came first to the Jewish nation. They thought themselves perfect; they were filled with self-righteousness, regarding themselves as rich and increased in goods and in need of nothing in the way of spiritual knowledge. They thought they had no need of depending upon, and drawing from, the resources that Jesus opened before them. He presented to them the field containing the hidden treasure, but they turned from it. The bright and holy seraphim, the hosts of heaven, who wondered at the glorious plan of salvation, watched with intense interest to see how the people of God would receive the divine Son of God, clothed in the garb of humanity. The wisdom of God was in his only begotten Son. The tabernacle of God was with men. God was hidden in the habitation of humanity.

Step by step the angels followed the world's Redeemer as he unfolded his divine wisdom in the truths he restored to humanity; but with amazement they saw that the Jewish priests and rulers, filled with their own self-righteousness, did not wish to be disturbed, and saw nothing desirable in a higher wisdom than they possessed. They had false ideas of God, and were deceived in themselves. They set themselves in resistance of Christ, and after once having taken the step, they were too proud to acknowledge their error, confess their sin, and retrace their steps. As they did not desire to repent and confess that they had erred, they continually beset the steps of Christ, acting as spies, and seeking to catch something from his lips, that they could turn against him, and thereby secure his condemnation.

Jesus, the treasure-house of wisdom, came to our world to open to men the jewels of truth. In him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and he desired to reveal the riches of God to the world. He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” The field is to be explored, and the more it is examined, the more treasures will be revealed to the seeker. While Christ was upon earth, he longed to make known to the Jewish nation and especially to his disciples, the hidden treasures of truth and he said unto them, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” He was continually educating his disciples to work in the mine of truth, to sink the shaft deep, and gave them the assurance that their labors would be richly rewarded; for they would discover many precious veins of valuable ore. The field was the unsearchable riches of Christ. But the Lord presented these treasures to the Jewish nation in vain. Their own ideas and opinions, their own false sentiments and traditions, were of more value in their eyes than anything that Jesus could offer. They preferred the commandments of men to the commandments of God.

“No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment; for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.” How gladly would Jesus have poured into these bottles the new wine; but it would have been of no use. The only way in which they could receive his teaching was to see and hear him without prejudice; but unless they were converted, they could not do this; for they were filled with their own righteousness, and were relying on their own works as a means of salvation. They did not desire that a new element should be brought into their religion. Heaven looked with amazement to see the nation that had been blessed with so much light, which had been favored with so many advantages, refusing the precious treasure of truth.

Patriarchs and prophets had foretold that the Jewish nation would not accept the covenant of grace; for they had closed their eyes to the truth, and because of their ignorance of the real meaning of God's word, they added injunction to injunction from their own human knowledge. Because of the pride of their heart, the blindness of their mind, they closed the door to Christ. The good-will of God to men they did not accept as a thing apart from themselves. They connected it with their own merit, because of their good works.

To the present time, men insist on being saved in some way by which they may perform some important work. If they see there is no way in which to weave self into the work, they reject the salvation provided. They trample under foot the Son of God, and count the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified as an unholy thing. Jesus could give alone security to God; for he was equal with God. He alone could be a mediator between God and man; for he possessed divinity and humanity. Jesus could thus give security to both parties for the fulfillment of the prescribed conditions. As the Son of God he gives security to God in our behalf, and as the eternal Word, as one equal with the Father, he assures us of the Father's love to usward who believe his pledged word. When God would assure us of his immutable counsel of peace, he gives his only begotten Son to become one of the human family, forever to retain his human nature as a pledge that God will fulfill his word.

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