Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

January 13, 1890

“How Much Owest Thou?”

By Mrs. E. G. White

(Concluded.)

Satan is in controversy with God. Says the prophet: “And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee; is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair miter upon his head. So they set a fair miter upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by. And the angel of the Lord protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts: If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.”

We should seek to appreciate the unparalleled mercy and the inexpressible love of God in not giving those who have dishonored him into the hands of the enemy of souls. It is the care of God that preserves them from Satan's power. Satan constantly presents the sins and wrongs of those who claim to be the children of God, and he taunts the angels of God with their defects. What will bring the Lord's people into a right position before him? The Lord answers the question in Malachi, saying, “Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts.” When we seek the Lord with full purpose of heart, he will be found of us.

Daniel purposed in his heart that he would be true to the God of heaven. He determined that he would not eat of the king's meat, or drink of his wine; and his three companions determined that they would not dishonor God by bowing down before the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar set up in the plain of Dura. When we purpose to serve the Lord with a determination like that of these faithful servants of God, the Lord will take our part, and enable us to lay hold of his strength. When there is no repentance for sin, no effort made to reform, Satan will not molest the soul; but when the heart is touched by the love of Christ, when sin is confessed, and in the strength of Christ efforts for reform are put forth, then Satan arouses to oppose the work that God would do for his children. At every step he will seek to hedge up the way; but if the children of God will press on, the Lord will work in their behalf, and reveal himself as a sin-pardoning Saviour, who will impart his grace and righteousness to all that come unto him.

The prophet speaks of a class who are insensible of their need. They ask, “Wherein shall we return?” They do not realize that they are far from God. But the answer is, “Will a man rob God?” as though this was a crime of which man could scarcely be guilty. Angels look with amazement upon the ingratitude of those for whom God has done so much in continually bestowing his favors and gifts. Men forget the claims of God, and indulge in selfishness and worldliness. The Lord says: “Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.”

God cannot bless men in lands and flocks when they do not use his blessings for his glory. He cannot trust his treasure to those who misapply it. In the simplest language the Lord has told his children what he requires of them. They are to pay tithes of all they possess, and to make offerings of that which he bestows upon them. His mercies and blessings have been abundant and systematic. He sends down his rain and sunshine, and causes vegetation to flourish. He gives the seasons; sowing and reaping-time come in their order; and the unfailing goodness of God calls for something better than the ingratitude and forgetfulness that men render to him. Shall we not return to God, and with grateful hearts present our tithes and offerings? The Lord has made duty so plain that if we neglect to fulfill his requirements we shall be without excuse. The Lord has left his goods in the hands of his servants to be handled with equity, that the gospel may be preached in all the world. The arrangement and provision for the spread of his truth in the world has not been left to chance. The tithe is the Lord's, it is his interest money, and it is to be paid regularly and promptly into his treasury. We are to render him his own with gladness for his love toward those who are so undeserving of his mercy. The gospel of Christ is to go to the uttermost part of the earth, and when men fail to pay God his interest money, they are unfaithful stewards. Souls just as precious as their own are to be saved, and missionaries must be sent, that the precious light of the truth which the Lord has permitted to shine upon us in these last days may be diffused. We should see to it that there is provision made for the cause of God and for the relief of the poor; for these claims cannot be neglected; they must be met with the unvarying promptness that their importance demands. The Lord says: “Bring ye all the tithes into the store-house, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed; for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.”

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