Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

July 24, 1884

“Walk in the Light”

By Mrs. E. G. White

(Concluded.)

Says the psalmist, “The law of the Lord is perfect.” It is also changeless, the standard of righteousness, or right-doing, through all the ages. It is “the perfect law of liberty;” hence the happiness of man as well as the glory of God demand that it be respected and obeyed.

God has highly honored his holy law. The ark of the testament, containing the law engraven on tables of stone, was the symbol of his presence with his people. This sacred ark was interwoven with the national history of the Israelites as well as with their religious faith. It was with them in their wanderings in the wilderness; and when the people passed over Jordan to take possession of the promised land, by the command of God the ark was borne by the priests into the midst of the river, and there remained until all Israel had passed over in the path that through the favor of God had been opened for them. It was often borne by the armies of Israel as a token that God was with his people, and made their cause his own. When this was the case, their enemies were terrified; for they knew that nothing could stand before the mighty God of Israel. But if they transgressed that law, they forfeited the divine protection, and were delivered into the hands of their enemies.

In consequence of the wickedness of the people, and because they rashly carried the emblem of his presence into the camp when the Lord was not with them, God gave the children of Israel into the hands of their enemies, the Philistines, and the ark was taken. But the heathen were not permitted to regard the sacred ark of God as a common thing. Dagon, their god, was humbled before it; and in every city where the ark was taken, the people were sorely afflicted. And the Philistines said, “The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us; for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god.”

“The Philistines called for the priests and diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the Lord? Tell us wherewith we shall send it to his place.” These men counseled the people not to send the ark away empty, but to return a trespass offering with it. Said they: “Ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel; peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land. Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed? Now therefore make a new cart, and take two milch kine, on which there hath come no yoke, and tie the kine to the cart.” And the Philistines did so; and they put the ark in the new cart, with the jewels of gold for a trespass offering in a coffer beside it.

The kine came with a straight course to Bethshemesh on the borders of Israel, and the men of Bethshemesh offered them as an offering unto the Lord. But when the Israelites, from motives of idle curiosity, looked familiarly into the ark, fifty thousand of them were slain for their rashness. The ark was then taken to Kirjath-jearim, and remained many years in the house of Abinadab.

Then came King David, with thirty thousand chosen men of Israel, to bring it to his own city, with music and rejoicing, with great display and with signal honors. The ark was carried in a new cart; and when they came to a rough place in the road, Uzzah put forth his hand to steady it. God had commanded that no hand but that of a consecrated priest should touch the sacred repository of his law, and special ceremonies of purification and preparation were enjoined; but Uzzah touched it with sinful, unhallowed hand, and was slain before the Lord. “And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and said, How shall the ark of the Lord come to me?” And he left the ark in the house of Obed-edom; and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household because of the ark.

Thus God guarded with jealous care the ark that contained his holy law, that all might be deeply impressed with the sacred character of that law. It is no wonder that as the people witnessed the judgments inflicted upon those who despised the law of God or treated it with disrespect, they exclaimed, “Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?” The law was ordained unto life, and is an expression of the love of God to man. To despise it is to despise its Author; for it partakes of the perfection of the divine character. To the transgressor it becomes, not a savor of life unto life, but of death unto death. Jesus magnified the law and made it honorable, by dying to satisfy its claims. He gave his life an offering for transgressions, that through his righteousness imputed to them, men might be reconciled to God, and escape the punishment due to disobedience.

And yet the law of God is almost universally despised and trampled upon, while human laws are exalted. There is a power that is called in the Scriptures the man of sin, that has thought to change this great standard of righteousness. He has torn the fourth commandment from the bosom of the decalogue, and in place of God's holy Sabbath has substituted one of his own invention. Those who accept this spurious Sabbath do great dishonor to the God of Heaven, and their offense is greatly exaggerated when they not only break the law themselves, but endeavor to lead others to disregard it also.

The Lord has specified that the seventh day is his Sabbath. “Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” But a human institution has been made to take the place of the divine; another day has supplanted God's holy, sanctified rest-day. The Christian church accept this day in place of the one God has chosen, and present it to the world to be observed and reverenced. They thus show that they do not love the law of God, nor prize its righteous, restraining influence.

God has laid down the conditions of salvation. He requires that men keep his commandments as obedient children. The Holy Scriptures are full of lessons showing that God is satisfied with no partial obedience. He does not leave men to rely on their human judgment, and select that portion of his law which they choose to obey. They are required to have correct views of duty. They are not at liberty to accept what ignorant, sinful, feeble man may suggest, believe, or urge upon them; but they must take God's word, and walk in accordance with his revealed will.

God has given men reason, and the noblest use to which the intellectual faculties can be put is the study of his word. And when through diligent and prayerful application the will of God has been discerned, nothing should be allowed to come in between God and the soul to swerve it from the path of strict obedience. No suggestions of propriety, no motives of expediency, no selfish desire for gain, no fear of loss, dishonor, or reproach, should be considered for a moment. God commands, and that is enough. The light shines, and it is our duty to walk in it. If men substitute human customs and traditions for the precepts of God's law, and proclaim to the world that that law, or any part of that law, is no longer in force, however honest they may be, they are under the condemnation of the law, and will perish as transgressors.

If you accept unpopular truth, ministers may say, “You are too particular. In order to have influence with the world, you must do as the world does.” But such men are acting as mouth-piece for Satan. They are preaching a doctrine that pleases him well. No authority of church or State, no decrees of kings or emperors, no commands of bishops or priests, can absolve you from obedience to the law of God, or justify the least departure from his requirements. Finite reasoning must not take the place of simple trust; self-will must not lead us in a course of disobedience.

Do not let the words of men who profess to be wise in the Scriptures deter you from searching them for yourself, or keep you back from obeying the precepts of Jehovah. Do not harbor the thought that some of the things taught in the Bible are nonessential. “To the law and to the testimony” for proof. The problems of duty and destiny become clear only when studied in the light of God's revealed will. Amid the devices of Satan to which we are exposed, and the varied temptations that surround us, we have the sure promise of divine guidance. “Thy word,” says David, “is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”

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