Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

May 16, 1899

“Not by Might, Nor by Power”

Mrs. E. G. White

“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write: These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hands who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks: I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted.” “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.”

This figure, presented to John by Christ when he appeared to him on the Island of Patmos, is similar, in many respects, to the one shown to Zechariah. “The angel that talked with me,” writes Zechariah, “came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, and said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof.... Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive-trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”

This chapter is full of encouragement for those who do the work of the Lord in these last days. Zerubbabel had gone to Jerusalem to build the house of the Lord. But he was compassed with difficulties. His adversaries “weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building,” “and made them to cease by force and power.” But the Lord interposed in their behalf, and the house was finished. “This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.... For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth.”

The very same difficulties which were created to hinder the restoration and upbuilding of the work of God, the great mountains of difficulty which loomed in Zerubbabel's way, will be met by all who today are loyal to God and to his work. Many human inventions are used to carry out plans after the mind and will of men with whom God is not working. But it is not boastful words nor a multitude of ceremonies that show that the Lord is working with his people. The assumed power of the human agent does not decide this question. Those who place themselves in opposition to the Lord's work may hinder for a time, but the same Spirit that has guided the Lord's work all the way through will guide it today. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” Through the golden pipes, the olive-branches empty the golden oil out of themselves. These olive-branches are the anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth. Through them the Holy Spirit is communicated to the churches. Thus heaven and earth are united. The power that is in heaven unites with human intelligences.

The Lord would have every soul strong in his strength. He would have us look to him, receiving our directions from him. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.”

We are to ask God for wisdom, believing that our prayers are heard. Thus we may brace ourselves against temptation. God would have us stand as firm as a rock to principle, working in harmony with him, that he may answer our prayers; for he can do nothing to help unless we co-operate with him. Unless we keep our souls in the love of God, unless we have firm, determined faith, we are like the waves of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed. Under favorable circumstances and good influences, we seem to make advancement, and we think we have faith. But when circumstances alter, when the waves of temptation beat strongly against us, we falter, and lose heart. God would have us advance always, trusting in his power. Angels of God minister to every believing child. Only believe the promises of God; and when temptation comes, set your face as a flint Zionward, and move forward.

God would ever have us witness for him, strengthened to do this by his Holy Spirit. As we do this, we may be called upon to suffer tribulation; but wherever we are, whatever we are called upon to suffer, Christ will be near us. The disciple John ever bore the most unflinching testimony for Christ. As long as he lived, he preached Christ as the word of life. “The Word was with God, and the Word was God,” he declared. “The same was in the beginning with God.... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” As John drew near the close of his life, his testimony was given with the power of the Spirit of God.

This living witness greatly disturbed those who had rejected Jesus. Kings and rulers could not bear to hear this name; for they deemed Christ a rival. The mention of his name, the incidents of his life, his death, and his resurrection, kindled their furious jealousy. They saw John the aged, honored and beloved, constantly referring to Jesus as the eternal Word, giving to him a power exceeding their power. His testimony was always the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. And notwithstanding his age, his venerable appearance, his white locks, in their envy and jealousy they condemned the faithful apostle to what was then thought to be the most severe of all punishments. He was separated from his beloved people, and banished to Patmos. “I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

Christ's aged representative was exiled, that his testimony might no longer be heard; for it was a living power on the side of right. But though separated from his brethren, he was visited by Christ, whom he had not seen since the ascension. “I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day,” he writes, “and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.... I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore.”

Christ knew just where to find John; and there, on the lonely island, he gave him a view of the closing scenes of this earth's history. This has been recorded for us. The record is “the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The revealer is the revealed. The living God is shown, superintending, day by day, the events connected with his church. John was shown the slain Lamb of God, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Conqueror, standing in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, which are the seven churches.

When the mother of Zebedee's children came to Christ with the request, “Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left, in thy kingdom,” Christ said, “Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give.” This baptism James had already experienced. John was now drinking of the cup of which Christ had partaken. He was being baptized with suffering for his name's sake.

God judges every man according to his work. Not only does he judge, but he sums up, day by day and hour by hour, our progress in well-doing. Should not this constrain us no longer to be children, but men, who are learning of Christ? Shall we not create such an atmosphere about our souls, through the grace given us by Christ, that we shall constantly advance heavenward? As the people of God, shall we not unite in seeking him with humble and contrite hearts? The Lord said to Jacob, “Let me go, for the day breaketh.” But Jacob said, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” And there and then he was blessed. “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel,” God declared; “for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” Even so will God's children be blessed if they wrestle with him for his Spirit.

We are living amid the closing scenes of this world's history, and our lives should not be as the life of a butterfly. As servants of God, we should quit us like men, and be strong. The contrast between a vain life and a life full of holy purpose can not fail to be seen. Let us remember that our citizenship is in heaven. Here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come. Let us heed the call, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate.” Do not mingle with the world from choice; but if you have a word of warning, of invitation, of entreaty, do not fear to speak it. Lose no opportunity of witnessing for Christ. He is the source of all grace, and he will send to his people the precious golden oil, enabling them to witness boldly for him. As we consecrate ourselves to God, the Holy Spirit will impart to us the holy oil, that our lamps may be kept bright and shining.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

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