Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

June 12, 1893

“Build the Old Waste Places”

By Mrs. E. G. White

“They that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places; thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

The work expected of those who honor God has been plainly opened before us. “They that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places; thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations.” This prophecy refers to the fourth commandment, which has been broken down and laid waste. The prophet brings to view a class of people who see and feel the importance of exalting the day that God has specified as his own, which is being dishonored and disregarded by the Christian world.

Paul, in his second epistle to the Thessalonians, points out the power that has attempted to break down the law of God. He warns the believers concerning the great apostasy and the blasphemous antichristian power that would be developed and perform its work before Christ should come the second time. He says: “That day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.... The mystery of iniquity doth already work; only he who now letteth [hindereth] will let [hinder], until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” The prophet Daniel, describing the same power, says, “He shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws.”

How strikingly have these prophecies been fulfilled by the Romish Church! Not only has this power attempted to change the times and laws of God, but she openly avows that she has made such changes, and she declares that by the observance of Sunday, which rests solely upon her authority, the Protestant world is acknowledging the supremacy of Rome. It is the breach which has thus been made in the law of God that the people described by Isaiah are seeking to build up.

“Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do justice; for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the Lord, speak, saying, The Lord hath utterly separated me from his people.... The sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, everyone that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer.”

Mark the conditions of the promise; it is to him “that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.” And the time when this promise especially applies is when “My salvation is near to come, and My righteousness to be revealed.” There is a special work for God's people in these last days, to turn away their feet from trampling upon the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, and to exalt it before men, calling it “a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable.”

But when the claims of the Sabbath are presented, there are many who ask, What difference does it make what day we keep as the Sabbath, so long as we observe one day in seven? We answer, It makes all possible difference whether we obey or disregard the word of God. God has given us the Sabbath as a memorial of the great work of creation. He says: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work; ... for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” He declares through Moses, “It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever.” And the children of Israel include all who believe in Christ. For “if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed.” Again, by the prophet Ezekiel, the Lord says, “Hallow my Sabbaths; for they shall be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.” The Sabbath is a sign of God's creative power; it shows him to be supreme, the Maker and Upholder of the universe, the One from whom we receive “life and breath and all things,” and hence the One to whom our allegiance is due.

Satan is determined that the knowledge of God, of his creative power, shall be banished from the contemplation and remembrance of men. But he cannot accomplish his purpose while the fourth commandment is kept; for the Sabbath directs the minds of men to the Creator. Therefore Satan has worked through the Papacy to set aside this precept. He inspired the Romish Church to “think to change” the times and laws of God. In setting aside the true Sabbath, which is the sign of God's power and authority, and substituting the institution which is the sign of Rome's supremacy, the “man of sin” is indeed “sitting in the temple of God, and showing himself that he is God.” He is turning the minds of men away from God, and directing them to himself, and to the one whose instrument he is,—to the prince of evil.

The Sunday sabbath, the child of the Papacy, has been accepted by the Protestant church, who have fostered and cradled it as if of heavenly birth. But their human sanction can never give it acceptance with God. It is a rival, spurious Sabbath, usurping the place of the holy day upon which God rested, which he blessed and sanctified, and gave to man as an everlasting memorial of the Creator's work. When the facts are brought before them, will Protestants, by their deference to the Sunday, consent to recognize the sacrilegious claims of the man of sin? Will they choose to worship him instead of God?

Can we who see the Sabbath as the sign of the living God consent to renounce that sign? Do we wish to renounce it? Or do we desire to keep and cherish the sign which God has given to designate his commandment-keeping people? The world's persistent unbelief of this grand truth does not lessen its importance. Although we may refuse to obey, it remains the truth still; if not allowed to guide, it will condemn us.

Now is the time when God calls upon us to honor his precepts that have been made void. As soon as the light shines upon us, we are to seek, by voice and pen and influence, to make up the breach in the law of God.

The mystery of iniquity, which had already begun to work in Paul's day, will continue its work until it be taken out of the way at our Lord's second coming. The climax of the working of iniquity will soon be reached. When the land which the Lord provided as an asylum for his people, that they might worship him according to the dictates of their own consciences, the land over which for long years the shield of Omnipotence has been spread, the land which God has favored by making it the depository of the pure religion of Christ,—when that land shall, through its legislators, abjure the principles of Protestantism, and give countenance to Romish apostasy in tampering with God's law,—it is then that the final work of the man of sin will be revealed. Protestants will throw their whole influence and strength on the side of the Papacy; by a national act enforcing the false Sabbath, they will give life and vigor to the corrupt faith of Rome, reviving her tyranny and oppression of conscience. Then it will be time for God to work in mighty power for the vindication of his truth.

Our Duty

The prophet says: “I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen.... And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” When do her sins reach unto heaven? When the law of God is finally made void by legislation. Then the extremity of God's people is his opportunity to show who is the governor of heaven and earth. As a Satanic power is stirring up the elements from beneath, God will send light and power to his people, that the message of truth may be proclaimed to all the world.

The Lord calls upon his people to rise to the emergency; the human agencies are to cooperate with the divine. It is always difficult to hold fast to the profession of faith, when a deadening, paralyzing influence is exerted in the religious world against loyalty to God. But because iniquity abounds, shall God's people permit their love to grow cold? Shall our hearts faint? Shall we not rather stand to our allegiance, and bear the noblest testimony that man can bear to the honor of God? Those who are not whole-hearted will lean to the world's side of the question; they will advise that the plain, decided truth be suppressed. But such is not the teaching of the word of God.

“The dragon [Satan and all that are imbued by his spirit] was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” “Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” The true children of God will not be less fervent in their adherence to his law because it is made void. As opposition to God's law increases, the chosen and faithful will love his commandments above gold, while the world counts them as dross. All who are loyal to heaven will put on the whole armor of God, that they “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.”

“Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” The time when God is especially dishonored by those who make void his law is the time when every loyal subject should unfurl the banner inscribed “The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”

The Lord's injunction to Joshua when he was about to take command of the armies of Israel, was: “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee; turn not from it to the right hand nor to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” Those who do thus meditate in the commandments of God, and whose hearts are stayed on the Lord, are the ones who will be found repairers of the breach in God's holy law. They will build the old waste places, and raise up the foundations of many generations.

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