Ellen G. White Writings

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The Youth’s Instructor

December 20, 1900

Christ's Humiliation

It will baffle the keenest intellect to interpret the divine manifestation of the burning bush. It was not a dream; it was not a vision; it was a living reality,—something that Moses saw with his eyes. He heard the voice of God calling to him out of the bush, and he covered his face, realizing that he stood in the immediate presence of God. God was conversing with humanity. Never could Moses describe the impression made upon his mind by the sight he then saw, and by the sound of the voice that spoke to him; but this impression was never effaced. Heaven came very near to him as, with reverent awe, he listened to the words, “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” What wondrous condescension for God to leave the heavenly courts, and manifest himself to Moses, talking with him face to face, “as a man speaketh unto his friend.”

This lesson contains instruction that is profitable for all. Here is revealed a symbol radiant with the glory of Christ, the Great Teacher. The symbol chosen for the representation of the Deity was not a cedar of Lebanon, but a lowly bush, that seemingly had no attractions. This enshrined the Infinite. The all-merciful God shrouded his glory in a most humble type, that Moses might look upon it, and live. God declared: “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” All the manifestations of God's glory have been shrouded, that man might behold it, and not be consumed. Veiled in a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night, God could honor finite man by communicating to him his will, and imparting to him his grace. God's glory must be subdued, and his majesty veiled, that the weak vision of finite man may look upon it.

This symbol, obscuring the manifestation of God's glory, foreshadowed Christ's appearance in our world, his divinity clothed with humanity. Surely in the eyes of the world Christ possessed no beauty that they should desire him, yet he was the incarnate God. This is the mystery of godliness. Human science, even though it be of the highest order, can not explain it. Men may think that they possess superior qualities, represented by the noble oak, or the stately cedar. Mark the humble birth of Christ, his condescending grace, his infinite humility, the depths to which he descended. He is the eternal Word. Yet he was made flesh, and dwelt among us.

Before Christ came in the likeness of men, he existed in the express image of his Father. He thought it not robbery to be equal with God. Nevertheless he voluntarily emptied himself, and took the form of a servant. He was the incarnate God, the light of heaven and earth. In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Yet he was born in a stable, in Bethlehem of Judea. He was the son of Mary, supposed to be the son of Joseph, and he grew up as any other child. His earthly life was one of self-denial and self-sacrifice. “The foxes have holes,” he said, “and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”

“We see Jesus,” writes Paul, “who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” Thus will the testimony appear in clear lines in that day when all must hear the final decision of a righteous Judge, when every case will be decided, and every man rewarded according to his works. The loyal and believing children of God will then be separated from the children of the wicked one, as the sheep are divided from the goats. The righteous will be placed on the right hand of God, while the transgressors will be placed on his left hand.

Prophecy foretold that Christ was to appear as a root out of dry ground. “He hath no form nor comeliness,” wrote Isaiah, “and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” This chapter should be studied. It presents Christ as the Lamb of God. Those who are lifted up with pride, whose souls are filled with vanity, should look upon this picture of their Redeemer, and humble themselves in the dust. The entire chapter should be committed to memory. Its influence will subdue and humble the soul defiled by sin and uplifted by self-exaltation.

Think of Christ's humiliation. He took upon himself fallen, suffering human nature, degraded and defiled by sin. He took our sorrows, bearing our grief and shame. He endured all the temptations wherewith man is beset. He united humanity with divinity: a divine spirit dwelt in a temple of flesh. He united himself with the temple. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” because by so doing he could associate with the sinful, sorrowing sons and daughters of Adam.

The glory of Christ was veiled, that the majesty and beauty of his outward form might not become an object of attraction. In this is a lesson for all humanity. “Verily man at his best state is altogether vanity.” Christ came with no outward display. Finding himself in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, showing that fallen man must ever walk humbly before God. Riches, worldly honor, human greatness, can never save a soul from death. “To this man will I look,” declares the Lord, “even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”

Mrs. E. G. White

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