Old Paths

Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16

The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant. Psalm 25:14

Vol. 18, No.9 Straight and Narrow September 2009

Rye field

The Third Angel’s Message

and Perfection

And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:9-12).

The U.S. Marines have a recruiting slogan which says, “We’re looking for a few good men.” Not just anyone can become a United States Marine. The basic training is twice as long and is more difficult than the other service corps, and there are greater demands placed upon a Marine. Marines are almost always the first to go into battle, and, friends, God is looking for men and women–young, old, and in-between– who recognize that any goodness in them comes from God and not from themselves (Philemon 1:6). God is looking for people he can trust and upon whom he can pour his Spirit, people who will be faithful to him no matter the circumstances and who are willing to go into warfare for him.

The Apostle Paul was one such man. He was dedicated to Jesus Christ and was willing to endure great privation for Jesus.

Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:24-28).

Why do you think Paul endured such hardship? Why was he willing to go back into Lystra after being stoned there? Why was he willing to continue preaching in Philippi after being beaten and imprisoned there? Why was Paul willing to continue, apparently in the minority, in the face of assault? The answer is really very simple. Paul declared: “The love of Christ constraineth us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). The RSV says that “the love of Christ controls us.” The Phillips translation says: “The very spring of our actions is the love of Christ.” The love of Jesus Christ was so deeply ingrained in the heart of Paul that no sacrifice was too great for him.

God is going to have a special group of men and women at the close of probation who will love him and Jesus Christ so much that they “will stand for the right though the heavens fall” (Education, p. 57); a group of men and women who will continue in the face of the assault of the enemy and who will proclaim the three angels’ messages. It is because there is a remnant of believers who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ that Satan exhibits such wrath (Revelation 12:17). As we continue our study on the three angels’ messages this month with the message of the third angel, we will see why Satan hates this message so much, for it points out the truth about God’s character and what he is able to do through man. It also clearly reveals Satan to be the liar that God has declared him to be.

The Serious Nature of the Third Angel’s Message

The serious nature of this message should not be overlooked. The third angel’s message is one of life and death and not just in temporal terms. Those who receive the mark of the beast will be eternally lost while those who refuse the mark of the beast will receive the seal of God and live with God and Christ forever. As Adventists, we have rehearsed the mark of the beast crisis and the Sabbath/Sunday issue over and over. For our readers, the basic outline of this controversy should be elementary, and, while a review of all our fundamental teachings is always safe, in this issue we will not review those details. We will, instead, focus on the goal that the third angel points us to–perfection.

When attention to a serious issue is needed, God has told his people to make it clearly known. In Isaiah 58:1, we read: “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” God does not ask that the message be given in a corner or with a timid voice; rather, the people of God are told to “cry aloud” with the message of sin and salvation. The messages of the first and third angels specifically say that they are given “with a loud voice” (Revelation 14:7, 9). “This message [Revelation 14:9-12] embraces the two preceding messages. It is represented as being given with a loud voice; that is, with the power of the Holy Spirit” (Manuscript Releases, vol. 14, p. 159).

Furthermore, we are told to spare not the message that must be given. God directed Moses to tell Israel: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2). Those who fail to give the message will find that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). Isaiah 58:1 also tells the people of God that their voice is to be trumpet-like; sounding loudly and clearly, resonating deeply into the hearts of the hearers.

Why must these messages be given so loudly and clearly? What is the reason for the seriousness of their nature? Those who reject the messages will at last receive the mark of the beast and be lost forever.

The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name (Revelation 14:10,11).

This corresponds to the part of Ezekiel’s vision that deals with the slaughter of the wicked.

And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house (Ezekiel 9:4-6).

Those who do not receive the seal of God will be lost. Though the slaughter begins with the ancient men or leaders of apostasy, it does not stop there. All who have been infected by the environment of apostasy are also cut down. We read that “old and young, both maids, and little children, and women” are all included. In fact, several times during the chapters that include and surround this vision we are told that God’s eye will not spare or have pity (Ezekiel: 5:11; 7:4, 9; 8:18; 9:5, 10)!

Beloved, God must be God. He must work consistently with his character of both love and justice. He is never capricious nor does he act based on feelings (though his heart is full of feelings), but rather he acts out of principle. To allow his wrath to be poured out without mercy as Revelation 14:10, 11 state, God must exhaust all of his power to warn the wicked. He desires all the wicked to turn from their ways so they may live.

Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel (Ezekiel 33:11)?

The 144,000

We are living in perilous times (2 Timothy 3:1). We may face danger, but, like the Apostle Paul, we can be sure of God’s help. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

This is the scene that is presented to me. But the church must and will fight against seen and unseen foes. Satan’s agencies in human form are on the ground. Men have confederated to oppose the Lord of hosts. These confederacies will continue until Christ shall leave His place of intercession before the mercy seat and shall put on the garments of vengeance. Satanic agencies are in every city, busily organizing into parties those opposed to the law of God. Professed saints and avowed unbelievers take their stand with these parties. This is no time for the people of God to be weaklings. We cannot afford to be off our guard for one moment (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 42; all emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted).

In his foreknowledge, God knows of the last-day crisis in which this earth will be involved and is now preparing a people for that crisis. The 144,000 are specifically mentioned two places in the book of Revelation and each time they are shown as God’s answer to the last-day apostasy. Revelation 6:12-17 describe the 6th seal and the coming of Jesus, at which time all the wicked attempt to hide themselves. In response to the question of verse 17, “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” we find the answer given with the first description of the 144,000 in Revelation 7:1-8. Remember the chapter and verse divisions are not part of the original text of Revelation. One needs to read continuously from the end of chapter 6 through the first part of chapter 7 to catch the sweeping view that is being presented.

The second time that the 144,000 are mentioned is in Revelation 14:1-5 in response to the crisis of the mark of the beast and the image of the beast in Revelation 13.

Let me read: (Revelation 14:1-3, quoted.) Why were they [the 144,000] so specially singled out? Because they had to stand with a wonderful truth right before the whole world, and receive their opposition, and while receiving this opposition they were to remember that they were sons and daughters of God, that they must have Christ formed within them the hope of glory. They were ever keeping in view the great and blessed hope that is before them (Sermons and Talks, bk. 1, pp. 72, 73).

The 144,000 are said to have no guile in their mouth, “for they are without fault before the throne of God” (Revelation 14:5). The 144,000 are without fault! These are people who have bridled their tongues. James says: “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man” and “the tongue can no man tame” (James 3:2, 8). If no man can tame the tongue, then the 144,000 have learned to totally depend upon God so that he is now in control of their lives. What alone can do this for them but the power of God by his Holy Spirit to clothe them with the righteousness of Jesus Christ?

Righteousness by Faith Is Involved

It is no wonder, then, that Ellen White connects the message of righteousness by faith with the third angel’s message:

Several have written to me, inquiring if the message of justification by faith is the third angel's message, and I have answered, ‘It is the third angel’s message in verity.’– (The Review and Herald, April 1, 1890).

To see the larger issues, we must go below the surface. Involved with the seal of God and the mark of the beast is whether we will worship the Creator or the creature (man). Will we do things God’s way or man’s way? In fact, the Bible says the number of the beast is the number of man. “Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six” (Revelation 13:18). There are two points of interest from the Greek that should be considered. Firstly, there is no indefinite article (a) in Greek and the “a” before “man” does not have to be in the text. Secondly, the word translated “man” anthropou (ajnqrwvpou), as well as its pronoun autou (aujtou:) translated “his,” can be in the neuter or the masculine form. The grammar could, therefore, allow for the translation: “Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of man; and its number is Six hundred threescore and six.”

While there are interpretations that 666 should be understood in the light of “vicarius filii dei,” here we see a broader and more basic application. Seven is the number of perfection and six is the number that falls short of perfection and represents man and the works of man.

The basic principle of all false religions is the claim that man has the ability to raise himself by himself–salvation by works–but the Bible teaches the exact opposite picture. It presents man as having no ability to do anything to elevate himself. Man needs a Saviour. He is totally in need of Jesus to save him from sin and self. Is it any wonder that Ellen White said:

What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself. When men see their own nothingness, they are prepared to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ (The Faith I Live By, p. 111).

Justification by faith is the work of God in doing what man is not able to do for himself. The issue of the mark of the beast comes down to doing things our way, the way of failure versus the way of God, the way of truth and perfection. It comes down to the worship of man instead of the worship of God.

Going on to Perfection and the Seal of God

The book of Hebrews discusses the perfection of the saints. Jesus Christ was made perfect so that we might be made perfect.

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec (Hebrews 5:8-10).

Paul then goes on to state: “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God” (Hebrews 6:1). The word “therefore” means because of this or for this reason. Because Christ was perfected, we are to be perfected. So, we are to go on to perfection, but what kind of perfection? The same kind Jesus had.

Paul addresses the incompleteness of the Levitical priesthood in chapter 7, showing that perfection could not come through it:

 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? … For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God (Hebrews 7:11, 19).

Paul is emphatic that perfection was not found in either the Levitical priesthood nor in the law, but, on the other hand, Paul says a better hope has been introduced through which we draw near to God. Perfection is not via the old system but by the priesthood of Christ. Focusing on the main issue of the old system, Paul noted that it “was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience” (Hebrews 9:9). The conscience or the mind is the battleground of the Christian. While health reform is important, the flesh or body of a man may be very deformed, but he may still be an upright Christian if he has a “clean conscience.” The Bible does not say to have the flesh of Jesus Christ, for we already have that, but what we need is the mind of Jesus (Philippians 2:5). Jesus came in sinful flesh and conquered in that flesh, and that victory is promised to each one who lives by faith (1 Corinthians 15:57; 1 John 5:4).

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained [thus securing, RSV] eternal redemption for us (Hebrews 9:11, 12).

In Christ we receive the eternal redemption needed which could not be provided for by the law. Paul then goes on to reinforce this point in verses 13 and 14:

For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God (Hebrews 9:13, 14)?

The sacrifices of the Levitical system were designed to teach wonderful truths about the plan of salvation, but they had no power within themselves to cleanse our minds or consciences. However, Christ can “purge your conscience from dead works.” The Bible says that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Sin brings death, and dead works are works of sin. In the life of the believer there are to be no dead works or works that bring death—sin.

Continuing in chapter 10 of Hebrews, Paul reinforces his point again that the law was a shadow or a lesson book of the better priesthood that was to come.

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins (Hebrews 10:1-4).

Paul again states that no perfection could be found in the Levitical priesthood. Perfection is the goal all the way through. He is continually contrasting the Levitical priesthood with that of Jesus. One could not produce perfection, and the other could. In the light of these and other plain statements we shall look at, it is a denial of the gospel to say that God’s people cannot obtain perfection of character. Many do not believe that all victory over sin is possible, yet this philosophy is actually saying that the new covenant is no better and has no more power than the old covenant. We are told that perfection, total victory over sin, is not attainable and that our goal should rather be to simply get close to the mark, but the Scriptures say that God’s plan is to have no more conscienceness of sins. God does not say some conscienceness of sins.

Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second (Hebrews 10:5-9).

Paul is very plain. The first system that was to be done way with was the sacrifices and offerings. The second that would be established is the will of God. “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). What is God’s will on the matter of perfection and overcoming sin? May the word of God explain:

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48).

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. … For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ (Ephesians 4:8, 12, 13).

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will (Hebrews 13:20, 21).

God’s will is sanctification for the believer and since that involves no more consciousness of sin, the ministry of Jesus must take away our sins and this it does do. The law cannot do this. “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” (Romans 3:20). In fact, “the law worketh wrath (Romans 4:15).” Ellen White insightfully noted:

Were the law understood apart from Christ, it would have a crushing power upon sinful men, blotting the sinner out of existence. But by understanding the law in connection with Christ, receiving him by faith as his substitute and surety, man sees himself as a prisoner of hope. The truth as it is in Jesus is an acquaintance with the holy, just, and good law of God, as this law is elevated, and its immutability demonstrated, in Christ. He magnified the law, expanded its every precept, and in his obedience left man an example, that he also may meet its demands (The Review and Herald, February 8, 1898). 

Outside of Christ, the law can only crush us, but if Christ is in us (Colossians 1:27), we may meet the law’s demands which Hebrews 10:10 declares to be the will of God.

The Ministry of Jesus to Perfection

Do you may think that Paul is finished contrasting law and grace, our efforts and the work of Jesus? No, he is not done yet but continues to press his point: “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins” (Hebrews 10:11). The old cannot take away sins and anything that tries to bring back the old cannot either. By perfectly doing the perfect will of God, we establish perfection.

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified (Hebrews 10:12-14).

The Greek word for “perfected” is from the same root word as we find in John 19:30 when Jesus said it is “finished.” At each step in the plan of salvation, Christ has perfected and finished that stage of the plan, and he will step-by-step bring the believer to perfection through a new and living way.

Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin (Hebrews 10:15-18).

God’s new way involves receiving from him a new heart, a new mind, and God declares that he will remember our sins no more! All this is obtained by the ministry of Christ. “By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh” (Hebrews 10:20). Through the flesh of Christ, through his coming to live as we have to live and obtaining victory as we must obtain victory, we have the assurance of perfection in our lives, as we have Christ.

 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil (Hebrews 2:14).

Through his flesh, he has consecrated for us a new and living way. “For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore” (Hebrews 7:28). If you wish to be perfect as Christ, then you need to be as consecrated as Christ. He was sinless: “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26). Yet, his humanity reaches us. He who was born with sinful flesh, but not a sinner, will help all who come to him as he ministers as our high priest in heaven today. “Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God” (Psalm 77:13).

 And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised (Hebrews 10:21-23).

We may have hearts full of assurance because we have Jesus who overcame in sinful flesh.

For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, … To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven (Hebrews 12:18, 19, 22-25).

It has been almost 2,000 years since the Apostle Paul gave up all for Christ and followed the path of Christian perfection. Why did he do it? The love of Christ constrained him and the 144,000 will be constrained by the faith and love of Christ to stand in defense of the truth, even amidst apostasy and among cold companions. We are told, “Let us strive with all the power that God has given us to be among the hundred and forty-four thousand” (Maranatha, p. 241). God wants everyone, but it will only be a few good men and women who will be ready when Jesus comes. As seen by Ezekiel (9:8, 9), there is only to be a small, final remnant, but you can be a part of it. The seal of God can be for you. You may have perfection of character because Christ has trodden the path for you and has consecrated it with his own blood. The will of God is clear and unmoveable. You have more than a target to aim at, you have the very power of God through Christ who is able to keep you from falling (Jude 24). You can be one of God’s special men or women who will stand on the sea of glass and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb (Revelation 15:1-3). You can be a part of the group of men and women who will continue in the face of the assault of the enemy and give the vital messages, the three angels’ messages. Allen Stump

Prayer Requests

The apostle Paul states: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), while James says: “Pray one for another. … The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). With these thoughts in mind, we would like to invite each one of you to pray for Smyrna as we lay plans for the forthcoming General Conference Session to be held in Atlanta, Georgia. “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2). If you would like to participate in this missionary endeavor in any way possible, please contact us.

 Please continue to remember our young people and those we have mentioned before who have health issues. My daughter, Judy, recently had a spontaneous spinal injury and needs prayer for physical, as well as spiritual, healing. Ann Ford

The Sins of Ingratitude and Retaliation

Guest Editorial by David Sims

“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy (2 Timothy 3:2).”

While fleeing for his life from King Saul, David heard of the danger threatening the inhabitants of Keilah. He asked counsel of the Lord, and, assured of God’s blessing, he went and fought the Philistines. He placed his life in jeopardy for the inhabitants of Keilah, but when Saul heard David was there he called the army together to besiege Keilah and capture him. God revealed to David that the people had such ingratitude they would deliver him up to Saul. The Scriptures do not relate to us how David felt about their base ingratitude, but it does tell us of another instance which sorely tested David.

This is an experience that I have contemplated and never fully comprehended until circumstances taught me the same lesson that David learned in the school of affliction.

David had spent night and day for months in the wilderness watching for thieves, bandits, wild animals, and anything else which could harm Nabal’s herds and herdsmen (1 Samuel 25). This assistance was rendered without a desire for gain or from any selfish motive. It was given from a genuinely good, unselfish heart. David’s generous, good, and kind heart is seen in numerous instances throughout the Scriptures, but Nabal was a selfish man, according to the Scriptures. When David and his men were suffering and in need of provisions, Nabal completely ignored David’s goodness and kindness toward him. Besides that, Nabal repeated the false accusation circulating about David.

Let us put ourselves in a modern-day situation to really understand what David was experiencing. Suppose we labored day after day with many sleepless nights and month after month stretching our nerves and energies to the limit to help someone, and suppose that we never heard one word of thanks from immediate family members who should have been the most grateful. Suppose rumors were spread so that our characters were slandered and our motives misjudged. Suppose our desire to know the well-being of the person we had helped, our every communication, as well as all our gifts, were totally ignored. Suppose there was no Abigail. If this was our experience, how would we feel?

David told his men to gird on their swords, and they hastily set out to destroy Nabal and his household. Perhaps we do not respond in this way today, for we would be thrown into jail, but we may respond with anger, bitterness, and feelings of rejection, discouragement, and despair. Fortunately for David, God had an Abigail. She was Nabal’s wife, and, having heard the whole story, she set out at once loaded with gifts to meet David on his way. She spoke words that could have been inspired only by the Holy Spirit. She counseled that David should not fight his own battles but the Lord’s and that vengeance belongs to the Lord, and this counsel is good for us also.

Oh, for an Abigail when we need one! Sad to say, seldom will we have an Abigail. They are few and far between; however, we have this lesson from the history of David to speak to our hearts. And we need to learn this lesson, for the disposition to hurt or destroy those who do not appreciate our work or who act contrary to our ideas is the spirit of Satan.

Have we had a similar experience? We can receive solace in the fact that Jesus was unappreciated, falsely accused, and rejected. When the disciples wanted to call fire down from heaven on the Samaritans for refusing hospitality to Jesus, Jesus said “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village” (Luke 9:55, 56).

Jesus was tested in the same way, for “from that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:66).

With a yearning heart, Jesus saw those who had been His disciples departing from Him, the Life and the Light of men. The consciousness that His compassion was unappreciated, His love unrequited, His mercy slighted, His salvation rejected, filled Him with sorrow that was inexpressible. It was such developments as these that made Him a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief (The Desire of Ages, p. 393).

Just one leper out of ten returned to give thanks to Christ.

May God help us to rise above discouragement, disappointment, anger, and other wrong feelings when our love is unrequited, when our efforts are unappreciated, and when our interest in another’s welfare, our communication, and our gifts are ignored.

Because God disapproves of the disposition to retaliate against those who do not appreciate our sacrifices for them, does it mean that God looks lightly upon the sin of ingratitude? Absolutely not. It is mentioned as one of the sins characterizing the perilous times of the last days. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy” (2 Timothy 3:1-2).

Christ values acts of heartfelt courtesy. When anyone did Him a favor, with heavenly politeness He blessed the actor. He did not refuse the simplest flower plucked by the hand of a child, and offered to Him in love. He accepted the offerings of children, and blessed the givers, inscribing their names in the book of life. In the Scriptures, Mary’s anointing of Jesus is mentioned as distinguishing her from the other Marys. Acts of love and reverence for Jesus are an evidence of faith in Him as the Son of God (The Desire of Ages, p. 564).

The Spirit of Christ mentions, as evidences of a woman’s loyalty to Christ, that she has “washed the saints’ feet…relieved the afflicted…[and] diligently followed every good work” (1 Timothy 5:10).

Christ delighted in the earnest desire of Mary to do the will of her Lord. He accepted the wealth of pure affection which His disciples did not, would not, understand. The desire that Mary had to do this service for her Lord was of more value to Christ than all the precious ointment in the world, because it expressed her appreciation of the world's Redeemer. It was the love of Christ that constrained her. The matchless excellence of the character of Christ filled her soul. That ointment was a symbol of the heart of the giver. It was the outward demonstration of a love fed by heavenly streams until it overflowed.

The work of Mary was just the lesson the disciples needed to show them that the expression of their love for Him would be pleasing to Christ. He had been everything to them, and they did not realize that soon they would be deprived of His presence, that soon they could offer Him no token of their gratitude for His great love. The loneliness of Christ, separated from the heavenly courts, living the life of humanity, was never understood or appreciated by the disciples as it should have been. He was often grieved because His disciples did not give Him that which He should have received from them. He knew that if they were under the influence of the heavenly angels that accompanied Him, they too would think no offering of sufficient value to declare the heart’s spiritual affection.

Their afterknowledge gave them a true sense of the many things they might have done for Jesus expressive of the love and gratitude of their hearts, while they were near Him. When Jesus was no longer with them, and they felt indeed as sheep without a shepherd, they began to see how they might have shown Him attentions that would have brought gladness to His heart. They no longer cast blame upon Mary, but upon themselves. Oh, if they could have taken back their censuring, their presenting the poor as more worthy of the gift than was Christ! They felt the reproof keenly as they took from the cross the bruised body of their Lord.

The same want is evident in our world today. But few appreciate all that Christ is to them. If they did, the great love of Mary would be expressed, the anointing would be freely bestowed. The expensive ointment would not be called a waste. Nothing would be thought too costly to give for Christ, no self-denial or self-sacrifice too great to be endured for His sake.

The words spoken in indignation, “To what purpose is this waste?” brought vividly before Christ the greatest sacrifice ever made,–the gift of Himself as the propitiation for a lost world. The Lord would be so bountiful to His human family that it could not be said of Him that He could do more. In the gift of Jesus, God gave all heaven. From a human point of view, such a sacrifice was a wanton waste. To human reasoning the whole plan of salvation is a waste of mercies and resources. Self-denial and wholehearted sacrifice meet us everywhere. Well may the heavenly host look with amazement upon the human family who refuse to be uplifted and enriched with the boundless love expressed in Christ. Well may they exclaim, Why this great waste?

But the atonement for a lost world was to be full, abundant, and complete. Christ’s offering was exceedingly abundant to reach every soul that God had created. It could not be restricted so as not to exceed the number who would accept the great Gift. All men are not saved; yet the plan of redemption is not a waste because it does not accomplish all that its liberality has provided for. There must be enough and to spare. (Ibid., p. 564).

Divine love has been stirred to its unfathomable depths for the sake of men, and angels marvel to behold in the recipients of so great love a mere surface gratitude. Angels marvel at man’s shallow appreciation of the love of God. Heaven stands indignant at the neglect shown to the souls of men. Would we know how Christ regards it? How would a father and mother feel, did they know that their child, lost in the cold and the snow, had been passed by and left to perish by those who might have saved it? Would they not be terribly grieved, wildly indignant? Would they not denounce those murderers with wrath hot as their tears, intense as their love? The sufferings of every man are the sufferings of God’s child, and those who reach out no helping hand to their perishing fellow beings provoke his righteous anger. This is the wrath of the Lamb. To those who claim fellowship with Christ yet have been indifferent to the needs of their fellow men, will he declare in the great Judgment day: “I know you not whence ye are; depart from Me, all ye workers of iniquity (Luke 13:27).” (Ibid., p. 825)

(Pastor Sims lives in Lookout, California, and helps to lead out in the Pacific Virtual Church and the Waldensian Education Center. If you wish to contact him, his email address is: david@historyinfo.net. His website is: http://historyinfo.net)

The Gracious Woman

There are many references in Scripture to the graciousness of God. Over and over we read in the Bible of God’s grace. “I am gracious,” he tells us in Exodus 22:27, and in Exodus 34:6 we read that the LORD God is “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” David also tells us that “the Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy” (Psalm 103:8), and both Luke and Peter report that Jesus is gracious (Luke 4:22 and 1 Peter 2:3), but only once do we read in the Bible of a “gracious woman.” “A gracious woman retaineth honor” (Proverbs 11:16), Solomon says, and this is true for all sisters in Christ.

What does it mean for a woman to be gracious? In the above texts, we noted that God is gracious. In these verses in Exodus and Psalms, the Hebrew word for “gracious” (khane) is used to express a quality or characteristic of a person—something they are—but in Proverbs 11:16 the use of the word denotes something that is given. It is a charm or pleasantness that is bestowed upon someone else. (See Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, volume 1, page 303.) We know that Solomon cannot be describing a woman with a charming personality or a physical beauty alone because in Proverbs 31:30 he says, of a godly woman, that “favour [the same Hebrew word translated in English as “gracious” in Proverbs 11:16, by the way] is deceitful and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.” The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament explains that the graciousness Solomon is referring to in Proverbs 11:16 is wisdom, and because of this wisdom she is worthy of honor. Remember, it is a woman that fears the Lord that shall be praised, and “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom‘ (Psalm 111:10).

Deuteronomy 24:1 uses the Hebrew word khane to also describe a quality (or favour) that can be bestowed or given between a husband and a wife.

So, how does a “gracious woman” bestow her wisdom? Firstly, it is done with a “meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price‘ (1 Peter 3:4). Whatever she is doing, whether it is at the family fireside, in the extended church family, or in her community of friends and relatives, it will be with the beautiful attitude of a meek and quiet spirit.

Secondly, the “gracious woman” will go through her day with the utmost kindness and love. Peter admonishes us to “add to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity” (2 Peter 1:7). The kind person watches for opportunities to make others feel welcome and comfortable, for example. Some of us can feel uncomfortable in a crowd, but a thoughtful, nonintrusive question can start a warm conversation and bring people together. Showing interest in what another has to say and being sympathetic to their troubles is a powerful tool for being a representative of Christ to others.

A “gracious woman” is also generous with her time and resources, helping to make life easier for those around her. “She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy” (Proverbs 31:20). She may share a warm meal, visit the residents of a nursing home, or provide a ride for someone who has no transportation. She sees the needs of others (family and non-family members alike) and does not hide herself from them.

A godly woman is thoughtful about what she says. “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6). Thinking about our words before we say them can save much hurt and embarrassment. Once a young wife said very emotionally to her visitor, “I am so tired of living with someone else’s hand-me-down furniture” when she realized too late that she was speaking to the very one who had given her the furniture! The “gracious woman” lets others speak and does not dominate the conversation nor force her views on others. She doesn’t have to have the last word or top everyone else’s stories. She lets others shine because she cares about them. “Charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own” (1 Corinthians 13:4, 5).

Let us think about Eve and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for a moment. It was not because Eve was hungry that she decided to taste the fruit of this tree. She thought that eating the fruit would make her wise, for it had given the serpent the ability to speak.

The tempter assured Eve that as soon as she ate of the fruit she would receive a new and superior knowledge that would make her equal with God. He called her attention to himself. He ate freely of the tree and found it not only perfectly harmless, but delicious and exhilarating; and told her that it was because of its wonderful properties to impart wisdom and power that God had prohibited them from tasting or even touching it; for he knew its wonderful qualities. He stated that by eating of the fruit of the tree forbidden them was the reason he had attained the power of speech (The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, pp. 37, 38).

Eve desired wisdom, but her desire was misplaced and foolish and in direct opposition to God. True wisdom, as we have seen, is found only in the fear of God.

God did not ask anything too hard of Adam and Eve or something that would have hurt them or harmed another. (Satan, on the other hand, required parents to sacrifice their children to Molech. What a downward spiral from the Garden of Eden!)

We do not know how many varieties of food there were in the Garden of Eden, but I am sure that the garden was full of wonderful fruits, nuts, and grains, far more than Adam and Eve could possibly have imagined or desired. Not being able to taste one kind of fruit would never have been missed by them, if they only had remained faithful to God, but they failed—Eve because she desired a forbidden, foolish “wisdom” and Adam because he lacked faith in God to provide for his needs in a time of crisis.

He lacked faith in his merciful and benevolent Creator. He did not think that God, who had formed him out of the dust of the ground into a living, beautiful form, and had created Eve to be his companion, could supply her place (Ibid., p. 39).

We might condemn Adam and Eve for their actions, but if we dally and listen to the suggestions of Satan concerning ways forbidden by the Word of God and/or if we doubt God, are we any better? No; we are far worse, for we have their examples, as well as all the counsel God has given mankind throughout the ages in his Word and in the Spirit of Prophecy, to protect us from such a course of action.

Eve really believed the words of Satan, but her belief did not save her from the penalty of sin. She disbelieved the words of God, and this was what led to her fall. In the judgment men will not be condemned because they conscientiously believed a lie, but because they did not believe the truth, because they neglected the opportunity of learning what is truth. Notwithstanding the sophistry of Satan to the contrary, it is always disastrous to disobey God. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 55).

To be a woman (and a man) that is noble, diligent, wise, and caring is a high and holy calling, but a calling that we can all treasure, for it is one that, if filled with the virtues of Isaiah 58:6-10, brings the sweet blessing of verse 11: “And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.”

A “gracious woman” is a wise woman even though she may not be skilled in the studies of this world. It can be a great blessing to understand astronomy, botany, chemistry, languages, etc., but they do not compare to the wisdom of kindness, thoughtfulness, patience, discretion, obedience, and love. May we all, as sisters in Christ, exhibit the bright and shining jewels of true wisdom, for in this way we are truly godly and gracious women! Onycha Holt

Quiz on Job 8-10

1. Who is the speaker in Job chapter 11?

2. Summarize the speaker’s purpose in verses 2-6.

3. Job 10:7 might be used as support to justify the speakers statement in Job 11:4, but what other prior verse might be used to show he misunderstood Job?

4. What New Testament text could be a reference for Job 11:8?

5. Why would the statement in Job 11:20 be especially cruel to Job?

6. Who is speaking in chapters 12-14??

7. What did the speaker mean in Job 12:3 by saying, “I am not inferior to you"?

8. God is spoken of as having wisdom and strength in which two verses of Job 12?

 9. What Old Testament text would reference well with Job 12:18 ?

10. Explain Job 13:4.

11. What would the expression “if ye so secretly accept persons” mean in our current language?

12. What did the speaker of chapter 13 say about his trust in God? Was there anything that could cause the speaker to give up on his hold of God?

13. What is being asked in Job 13:23?

14. What is the speaker’s possible reason for his troubles, according to Job 13:26?

15. Give a New Testament reference for Job 14:4.

16. Job 14:5 seems to say that we have a set number of days upon this earth that cannot be changed. If this is not so, explain and give proof that we can add to or shorten our days.

17. Does Job 14:12 teach there is no resurrection? Explain.

18. What does the Hebrew word translated “grave” in Job 14:13 mean?

19. Explain Job 14:22.

Answers to Quiz on Job 8-10

1. The speaker in Job chapter 8 is Bildad.

2. Job’s words are compared to a “wind” in Job 8:2. Bildad could have found this comparison in Job 6:26.

3. The word “betimes” in Job 8:5 means early or diligently.

4. Bildad’s appeal in chapter 8 is to their fathers and close ancestors for knowledge and help in understanding current circumstances because, as he says in v. 9, “we” know nothing. It most likely is not an appeal to ancient forefathers such Adam, Abraham, and Noah because the books of Moses were not written at the time of Job.

5. Job 8:11 follows up Bildad’s appeal to turn to their fathers for wisdom, help and understanding because just as the rush cannot grow without the mire nor the flag without water, Job cannot grow in understanding without that which is handed down to him from his father(s).

6. Another translation for the word “hypocrite” in Job 8:13 would be godless or irreligious.

7. Job 8:20 might seem to fail in this life but is sure in the life to come.

8.The speaker in Job 9 and 10 is Job.

9. Job’s mood is one of confusion and he is weary of life.

10. The star groups mentioned in Job 9 are Arcturus, Orion, Pleiades.

11. The Hebrew word translated “prospered” in Job 9:4 is Shalam. This word is the root word for the commonly known Hebrew word, Shalom, which means, pay, peace, and reward.

12. The Hebrew word translated “breaketh” in Job 9:17 is Shuwph. It is first used, other than in the book of Job, in Genesis 3:15: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

13. The New Testament text of Matthew 12:37 would reference well to Job 9:20.

14. The word “post” in Job 9:25 means a swift-running messenger.

15.The statement of Job in 9:33 that there is no “daysman” is not true. 1 Timothy 2:5 tells us we have a mediator in Jesus. (Also see DA, p. 25.)

16. In Job 10:2b, Job is asking God to explain to him what is happening.

17. The expression “poured me out” in Job 10:10 means how Job was conceived and his gestation in the womb.

18. Job makes a comparison to the hunting of the lion.

19. Again, in Job 10:18, Job is asking for an explanation.

20. In Job 10:20, Job is asking to be left alone that he might have a little peace and comfort.

Youths’ Corner — Dr. Wilson and Everett

Our story this month is about Dr. Wilson and Everett. Dr. Wilson was born in 1881 but lived all the way through to the 1960s. When he grew up he went to school and became a doctor, but not only was he a doctor, he loved and studied nature. And not only did he love nature, but he was a tent maker. And not only was he a tent maker, but he was a preacher too.

Since Dr. Wilson loved nature and because he was a doctor, he was able to talk about nature and about our bodies when he preached! And the children loved to hear him preach. He talked about our bodies in a way that even they could understand. He did not always talk about the intricacies in our blood and the complexities of our organs. Sometimes for the children he would say something like: “You know, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. God made us just perfect. Think about our noses, for example. What if God had made us with our noses turned up the other way? We could still breathe. That would not be a problem, but we would not like it very much walking around in the rain like that! God knew how to make our noses, and he slanted them just the right way! Isn’t God wonderful?” That is the way Dr. Wilson talked to children.

He would also talk to the children about nature. He might say: You know, I saw Miss Ant the other day and she was carrying a morsel of food. She had found a supply of food, perhaps after someone’s picnic was over, and had picked up a piece and was carrying it when she met her friend, Miss Ant. The first Miss Ant stopped to talk to her friend. She put her morsel of food down on the ground and their little antennae twitched and touched each other. Somehow the first ant told the second ant just where the stash of food was. Miss Ant #2 went on her merry way to the food, and Miss Ant #1 picked up her morsel of food and continued walking home when she met another friend! (And these are all lady ants because, according to Dr. Wilson, it is the lady ants that gather the food.) When Miss Ant #1 met Miss Ant #3, she put her morsel of food down on the ground again and talked to her friend in perfect ant talk, and Miss Ant #3 hurried away to find the wonderful supply of food. Dr. Wilson told this story because he wanted the children to know something special about ants. Each time Miss Ant #1 put her morsel of food down she did not have to worry about one of her friends quickly picking it up and running away with it. They were very kind and respectful to each other and did not argue about such things. Instead they went looking for their own food (or toys!), and that is the way children should be too (and then be willing to share their toys with one another).

One time Dr. Wilson was holding a series of meetings for adults and children in a room that had a potbellied stove to keep the room warm. The stove was about 2/3’s of the way back in the room and no one liked to sit around it because it was very hot near the stove, but on this night behind the potbellied stove and stovepipe sat Everett. Now Everett did not know very much about God. In fact, this was the first time he had ever been to a meeting about God. When he was a child, his parents did not tell him anything about the God in heaven or about heaven or about angels or even about the right and the wrong things to do, so Everett was known about town as something of a bad boy. He was in his 20s when he decided to go to one of Dr. Wilson’s meetings. Now, if you had had the opportunity to hear Dr. Wilson speak, you might have gone too. In spite of many people knowing Everett, he was really a shy person, and he decided to sit behind the potbellied stove and stovepipe so that when Dr. Wilson stood up front to preach he would not see him but would only see the stove and stovepipe. Dr. Wilson knew Everett was sitting there, though, and he went ahead and preached for all he was worth just for Everett! Whenever Everett heard something that sparked his interest, he peeked around the stovepipe and looked at Dr. Wilson but then quickly pulled himself back behind the stovepipe. Dr. Wilson knew Everett was listening. His sermon was on how Jesus can make us alive when we are dead in our sins. So, the next time Everett popped his head out, he looked right at Everett and said, “You are dead in your sins,” and Everett went back behind the stovepipe. Dr. Wilson talked a little bit about what it meant to be dead in sin. Then Everett came out and looked at Dr. Wilson again and this time Dr. Wilson said, just for Everett, “Jesus can make you alive again,” and Everett went back behind the potbellied stove. Dr. Wilson continued talking to the congregation, and the next time Everett’s body curved out, Dr. Wilson said, “You must be born again,” and Everett went back behind the stovepipe! Dr. Wilson explained what it meant to be born again, and he talked about Nicodemus’ visit with Jesus. Everett’s head came out again, and Dr. Wilson said, “Jesus said he is the resurrection and the life.” Then Everett’s head disappeared.

This appearing and disappearing act of Everett continued throughout the meeting. Whenever Everett peeked around the stovepipe, Dr. Wilson spoke just to him and then Everett would pull himself back behind the stove.

When the meeting was over, Everett did not stay to talk to anyone. He was too shy. He did not even talk to Dr. Wilson but left as soon as he could! He went back to his house, but God’s Spirit was talking to Everett, and Everett couldn’t sleep. “What was that text Dr. Wilson read about being dead but we can have life? I know it is somewhere in John.” So, Everett lit his lantern. The only Bible he had was a small New Testament, and he started reading in the gospel of John to find the text about someone who can be dead but still have life.

He was a slow reader because he did not do very well in school, but at 2 o’clock in the morning he found it! And this is what he found:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life (John 5:24).

That was the text that Dr. Wilson used! When Everett read the text for himself, it spoke to his heart, and he knew that he was not doing what was right. He knew he needed to be born again, and so right there on his knees he prayed in his own broken way: “Jesus, I give you my life. I want you to live in me and I want to do the things that you want me to do. Amen.

Do you know what happened? A wonderful peace filled his heart, and he knew a change had happened. He wasn’t troubled anymore. He felt wonderful. He knew this was a gift from God. He was so happy that he continued reading in John. He read and read until he came to John 7:4, which says: “For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world,” and he thought, this is talking about me!

Now, of course, this verse wasn’t talking about him in particular, but it is about the brothers of Jesus telling him to go to Jerusalem, but Everett did not know that. He knew he had just accepted Jesus into his life, and he thought that the Bible was telling him that he should not do it in secret. He needed to show himself to the world! So, even though it was very early in the morning, he went down the steps from his little room, out to his neighbor’s house and knocked on the door.

Someone came to the window upstairs and said, “What is going on down there?” “Oh, it is Everett, your neighbor. I just want you to know that I have learned about Jesus, and I have given my life to him, and I am a changed person!” And the person upstairs who had been woken up from a sound sleep said drowsily, “Okay.”

Then Everett went to another neighbor’s house and knocked on the door. Someone came to the window and said, “Who is that down there?” “Oh, this is Everett your neighbor. I just want you to know that Jesus has changed my life and I am a new person!” And his neighbor said matter-of-factly, “Good” and left the window. Everett went to all his neighbors and told them about his new life in Jesus because this is what he had read to do in John 7:4!

Now, the next time Dr. Wilson preached, where do you think Everett sat? On the front row! He moved all the way up to the front row, and not only was he on the front row, but he had something opened on his lap! The biggest Bible you have ever seen! Dr. Wilson preached, Everett listened, and afterwards Everett stayed. He talked to Dr. Wilson, and Dr. Wilson said, “You know, I noticed your Bible and I am wondering about it.” Everett said, “Oh, well, after I accepted Jesus as my Saviour I went to the store to buy a Bible because I only had a little New Testament. The man brought out a Bible to me, and I said, ‘Do you have a bigger Bible?’ and he brought out a bigger Bible. I said, ‘Do you have something bigger?’ And he brought out the biggest Bible he had in the store, and I bought it!” The Bible the man brought out to Everett was a pulpit Bible, which is a very big Bible that you often see laying opened on a table in the foyer of a church or on a table close to where the minister preaches.

Dr. Wilson asked, “Well, why did you buy such a big Bible?” And Everett said, “This is why. If I would happen to meet my old friends while walking to your meetings or when walking to church, Satan might tempt me by saying ‘Just slip your New Testament in your pocket while you talk to your friends.’ And then my friends might say, ‘Well, we are going fishing today. Why don’t you come along and go with us?’ And even though I might say, ‘Oh, I am going to a meeting,’ or ‘I am going to learn about God at church,’ they might say, ‘Well, we will be out in nature. It will be peaceful and you can be close to God there. Just go fishing with us,’ and I would not want to be tempted like that, so I got a big Bible that I cannot slip into my pocket. That way everyone will know that I am going to church and that I am going to worship God.”

Everett probably later obtained a smaller Bible that was easier to carry to church, but he knew it would be easier to be tempted to be with his friends and stay away from church while he was beginning the habit of going to church, and he did not want that to happen. He loved Jesus too much. Even though he may not have yet learned of Paul’s counsel to not forsake the fellowshipping of ourselves together, he knew in his heart that he needed to be where God’s Word was preached, and he was there on the front row for the rest of Dr. Wilson’s meetings! He did not want his friends to tempt him to stay away from church, so he carried a big Bible. Everett had given his heart to Jesus. We can do that too, and throughout the day we need to surrender our hearts and our lives to Jesus, just like Everett did at 2 o’clock in the morning and then told all his neighbors the good news! We can tell our neighbors by the way we look, by the way we act, by what we say, by what we do, and by the Bible we carry! Onycha Holt

What Camp Meeting Is to Me

Nearer, still nearer, nothing I bring, Naught as an offering to Jesus, my King; Only my sinful, now contrite heart... Nearer, still nearer, while life shall last, Till safe in glory my anchor is cast. The words to this song were the cry and desire of my heart when I left camp meeting this year. What inspired that desire? If you come to camp meeting seeking a blessing, you will be blessed in more ways than one. The sweet fellowship with like believers is like none other. There is an understanding and a closeness that you just can’t have with people not of the same faith. It is truly refreshing and encouraging to have that Christian fellowship, at least for me. I was thrilled to be able to spend time with some dear friends (family in Christ) and meet new people. It was like a little taste of heaven on earth.

In the youth class at this last camp meeting, we learned how to study our Bibles. Then we formed groups and prepared Bible studies that each group presented during one of the class periods. We also went to a nursing home and played music, sang, shared, and prayed with the folks there. Seeing the tears of a touched heart made me feel thankful that God could use us to touch the life of one of his children.

It is not just being on the receiving end but serving others that brings joy. Another activity which was a lot of fun was making some granola and vegan cookies to pass out with some literature. As we passed them out, we invited people to come to our table where we had free books, DVDs, blood pressure checks, as well as a massage. It was a good experience.

We had a prayer board that we wrote prayer requests on and three times each day we came together to pray for them. It was a sweet time and I’m sure God heard our petitions. We were also blessed by the early morning prayer bands where we learned from the short devotional thoughts presented before lifting our hearts up to God in supplication.

In mentioning all of these things, I must not fail to mention the main meetings too, for they met the soul’s need. I’m sorry for those who did not attend some of them, for they truly missed out! Some of us young people sang for special music in the evening, “Nearer, still nearer, close to Thy heart, Draw me, my Savior so precious Thou art.” Isn’t that what camp meeting is supposed to be about, to inspire us to draw nearer to our Savior and to help us on our walk to heaven?

Camp meeting is more than words can explain and there are so many different things that are special and that mean a lot to me, I could never adequately write about it. The happy smiles, the warm hugs, the love, the fellowship, the fun, the wholesome laughter, the words of encouragement, the sincere prayers, the soul-stirring messages, and the conviction and inspiration that comes with it, et cetera, are all things that are special to me and why I love being at camp meeting so much. The only thing I don’t like is when it ends and it’s time to say goodbye. Elyssa Sims

Angels in HebrewsHebrews_Puzzel_OP


1. “All the angels of God ____” (1:6).

3. “Worship ____” (1:6).

5. “Be ____ forgetful” (13:2).

6. “Entertain ____” (13:2).

8. “All the ____” (1:6).

10. “A little lower ____” (2:7).

11. “Than ___ angels” (1:4).

12. “____ not” (13:2).

14. Homonym of sew (1:4).

16. “____ than the angels” (2:7).

17. “Being made so much ____” (1:4).

18. “Let ____ the angels” (1:6).

19. “A ____ lower than the angels” (2:7).

21. “The ____ spoken by angels was stedfast” (2:2).

22. “An ____ company of angels” (12:22).

24. “The nature ____ angels” (2:16).

25. “Innumerable ____ of angels (12:22).”


2. “Who maketh his angels ____” (1:7).

4. “Entertained angels ____” (13:2).

6. “The word spoken by angels was ____” (2:2).

7. “____ angels unawares” (13:2).

9. “For unto the angels hath he not put in ____ the world to come” (2:5).

13. “Be not ____ to entertain strangers” (13:2).

15. “The ____ to come whereof we speak” (2:5).

20. “He took not on him the ____ of angels” (2:16).

23. “Being made so ____ better than the angels” (1:4).

Sixth Catholic Justice on the Supreme Court

After much hype over Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s qualifications due to her past racially-provocative statements as well as her rulings made on the lower court, she was confirmed as the first Hispanic and the third female Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

As I watched much of the confirmation hearings online, I was struck by one important aspect of her answers. She never appealed to the Constitution for an answer. She mostly stated how other courts have ruled or gave an opinion of her own rulings. After all, precedent is important in lower court rulings. However, no court sets precedent over or above the Supreme Court. They sit because they are willing to reject lower court rulings and they must base their decisions upon the Constitution, but she did not reference her answers in the frame work of the Constitution.

Interestingly, Sotomayor is Catholic, and she becomes the sixth Catholic on the current nine-member court, joining Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito. This is quite notable, for Catholics make up 23-24 percent of the nation’s population but will now hold 67 percent of the high court’s seats. Two of the justices are Jewish, Breyer and Ginsburg, and the resignation of Justice David Souter, who is an Episcopalian, will leave, just one Protestant on the Supreme Court, 89-year-old Justice John Paul Stevens. This is amazing since the majority of Americans declare themselves to be Protestants. 

The number of Catholics has doubled from three to six in just the last four years, with the replacements of Rehnquist, O’Conner, and Souter.

Sotomayor, interestingly, has had strong ties with the Jesuit Priest Joseph O’Hare, according to Catholic News Services:

“Jesuit Father Joseph O'Hare, the retired president of Fordham University who served with Sotomayor on a New York City campaign finance review council, said when he knew her beginning in the late 1980s she was indeed a practicing Catholic. He said he has no reason to think that has changed. They have stayed in touch intermittently, and he said she gave his name as a reference for her FBI background check” (Catholic News Service, May 26, 2009). Allen Stump

Knowing Your ABCs—Vitamin A

Why Is Vitamin A Important?

Vitamin A, as you might guess, is the first vitamin to have been discovered. It is a fat-soluble vitamin and is also known as retinol because of its participation in producing the pigments in the retina of the eye. The retina is located at the back of the eye, and when light passes through the lens, the retina senses it and converts the light to nerve impulses for interpretation by the brain. Retinol is transported by the circulatory system to the retina where it is stored and when needed used in the formation of the pigment in rod cells. Rod cells are able to detect very small amounts of light, making them very important for night vision.

Not only does vitamin A play an important role in vision, it is also vital for bone growth, reproduction, cell division, and cell differentiation (the process by which a cell becomes part of the brain, muscle, lungs, blood, or specialized tissue.)

Vitamin A has been called the “anti-infective” vitamin due to its role in supporting the activities of the immune system. Vitamin A helps prevent or fight off infections through its role in helping to make white blood cells (cells that destroy harmful bacteria and viruses) and possibly by helping some of the white blood cells fight infection more effectively.

Vitamin A is also required to maintain the integrity and the function of the skin and of the mucosal cells that line the airways, the digestive tract, and the urinary tract. These cells function as a barrier and form the body’s first line of defense against infection. When the skin or these linings break down, it becomes easier for bacteria to enter the body and cause infection. In vitamin A-deficient individuals, for example, cells lining the lungs lose their ability to remove disease-causing microorganisms, and this may contribute to the pneumonia associated with vitamin A deficiency.

What Are the Sources of Vitamin A?

While retinol, or preformed vitamin A, occurs only in foods of animal origin, fruits and vegetables that contain certain carotenoids also provide vitamin A activity because they can be converted in the body into retinol. We call them provitamin A carotenoids. Carotenoids are plant pigments responsible for the red, orange, and yellow color of fruits and vegetables, and many of these vegetables and fruits contain significant quantities of provitamin A carotenoids. Deep green leafy vegetables can also contain considerable quantities of red, yellow, and orange provitamin A carotenoids though the green pigment of the chlorophyll masks their presence. (We can see the carotenoids in deciduous leaves every fall, for example, because the trees’ chlorophyll production has halted.) We know one of these provitamin A carotenoids as beta-carotene, and mammals make two-thirds of their vitamin A from this carotene, but alpha-carotene and gamma-carotene are also provitamin A carotenoids. Even though hundreds (563 and counting) of different carotenoids are synthesized by plants, fewer than 10% of them are provitamin A carotenoids. Lycopene and lutein, for example, are carotenoids that do not have vitamin A activity but have other health-promoting properties; therefore, the Institute of Medicine encourages consumption of all carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables for their varied health-promoting benefits.

Good sources of beta-carotene are carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, winter squashes, cantaloupe, pink grapefruit, apricots, broccoli, spinach and most other dark green, leafy vegetables. The more intense the color of a fruit or vegetable, the higher the beta-carotene content.

Vegetarians who do not consume eggs and dairy foods need provitamin A carotenoids to meet their need for vitamin A. They should include in their daily diet a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables and regularly choose dark yellow to orange and dark green leafy vegetables and orange and yellow fruits to make enough vitamin A.

What About Vitamin A Deficiency?

Vitamin A deficiency is rarely seen in the United States but is common in developing countries, and approximately 250,000 to 500,000 malnourished children in the developing world become blind each year from a deficiency of this vitamin. Vitamin A deficiency contributes to blindness by making the cornea very dry and damaging the retina and cornea. Healthy adults usually have a reserve of vitamin A stored in their livers, but long-term problems in absorbing fat may result in a deficiency. In the United States, vitamin A deficiency is most often associated with strict dietary restrictions and with large quantities of alcohol intake. For example, severe zinc deficiency, which is usually associated with strict dietary limitations, often accompanies vitamin A deficiency, for zinc is required to make a binding protein which transports vitamin A. Therefore, a deficiency in zinc limits the body’s ability to move vitamin A stores from the liver to body tissues. Vitamin A deficiency can also occur when vitamin A is lost through chronic diarrhea and when there is an overall inadequate intake of this vitamin. Low levels of retinol can result from an inadequate intake of protein, iron and zinc since these nutrients are needed in the processing of vitamin A. Also, chronic alcohol consumption results not only in depletion of liver stores of vitamin A but also in diets that often do not provide sufficient amounts of vitamin A.

Problems with Excess Vitamin A

There is a risk of vitamin A toxicity when too much vitamin A is ingested. Excess intake of vitamin A has been associated with loss of bone mineral density which is a precursor to osteoporosis. Use of cod liver oil, which is rich in vitamins A and D, has been traditionally recommended during the fall and winter months as a protective measure against vitamin D deficiency in several northern European countries. In a recent health study, a total of 3,052 women living in Norway between the ages of fifty and seventy had the bone mineral density measured in their forearms. Women reporting no childhood cod liver oil intake had significantly higher bone mineral density than those with any ingestion of cod liver oil, and it is interesting to note that the vitamin A content of commercial cod liver oil has been recently reduced by 75% in Norway. There is no evidence of an association, however, between beta-carotene intake from fruits and vegetables and an increased risk of osteoporosis. Current evidence points to a possible association with vitamin A as retinol only.

High storage levels of vitamin A in the body can lead to toxic symptoms such as birth defects, liver abnormalities, reduced bone mineral density, and central nervous system disorders. These high storage levels of vitamin A are caused by over-consumption of preformed vitamin A (animal-based), not carotenoids (plant-based), for preformed vitamin A is rapidly absorbed and slowly cleared from the body. On the other hand, provitamin A carotenoids are generally considered safe, for their conversion to vitamin A decreases when body stores are full. Your skin can turn yellow from an over-consumption of provitamin A carotenoids, but this is not considered dangerous to health. The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin A (2,300 IU/day for women and 3,000 IU/day for men) is sufficient to support normal gene expression, immune function, and vision. However, taking a multivitamin/multimineral supplement daily could supply as much as 5,000 IU/day of vitamin A as retinol (animal-based vitamin A), the amount that has been associated with adverse effects on bone health in older adults. For this reason, the Oregon State University recommends that if you take a multivitamin/multimineral supplement it should provides no more than 2,500 IU of vitamin A or if the supplement provides 5,000 IU of vitamin A at least 50% should come from beta-carotene. High potency vitamin A supplements should not be used without medical supervision due to the risk of toxicity, and if you are a person on acne medicine, you might wish to visit this site http://kidshealth.org/teen/misc/vitamin_chart.html as it contains information about the possibility of vitamin A toxicity in association with some acne medications.

According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, “Nutrient needs should be met primarily through consuming foods. Foods provide an array of nutrients and other compounds that may have beneficial effects on health. In certain cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements may be useful sources of one or more nutrients that otherwise might be consumed in less than recommended amounts. However, dietary supplements, while recommended in some cases, cannot replace a healthful diet.”

Cooking and Vitamin A

Neither cooking nor storage significantly affects the amount or availability of preformed vitamin A in foods. Cooking, however, can affect the availability of carotenoids. In certain cases, cooking can improve the availability of carotenoids in foods. For example, the availability of lycopene from tomato products is increased when the foods are processed at high temperatures. As a result, your body absorbs the lycopene in canned, pasteurized tomato juice more easily than the lycopene in a fresh tomato; however, the concentration of beta-carotene in fresh tomatoes has been shown to be higher than in cooked tomatoes, and lightly steaming carrots and spinach improves your body’s ability to absorb the carotenoids in these foods.

Another study revealed that the traditional processing practices of sun drying and storage in ventilated containers resulted in a significant decrease in the concentration of total carotenoids, beta-carotene and alpha-carotene for all the vegetables studied (amaranth, cowpea, peanut, pumpkin, and sweet potato leaves) and that conventional blanching and cooking resulted in a significant increase in the concentration of carotenoids in the cowpea, peanut and pumpkin leaves while in amaranth and sweet potato greens the blanching and cooking resulted in a significant decrease in the concentration of these nutrients. Another study revealed an increase in the beta-carotene and lycopene content in pumpkin after cooking, so no one hard and fast rule can apply to all foods. The best that can be said is that the extent and nature of processing can have a significant impact (either in a positive or a negative way) on the form and content of carotenoids in fruit and vegetables. Also, in most cases prolonged cooking of vegetables decreases the availability of carotenoids because it changes the configuration of the carotenoid from its natural state. For example, fresh carrots contain 100% all-trans beta-carotene, while canned carrots contain only 73% all-trans beta-carotene.


As we continue to see, our understanding about the proper intake of vitamins is essential. Thankfully, precursors to vitamin A (carotenoids) are readily available from many different plant sources, and they are nontoxic even in large quantities! We again see the wisdom of our heavenly Father in providing the things of the earth for our diet, and he provides them in beautiful packages of red, yellow, orange, and green, so that our foods look very appealing and make the whole eating experience a joy! Onycha Holt

Tasty Recipe: No-Bake Peach Pie

This no-bake recipe from Sister Ana K. is simple and easy to make. Refrigerate overnight for a softer crust or serve immediately for a more chewy-crunchy crust.

Mix 1 cup well-chopped dates with 1 cup finely-chopped pecans or walnuts. Add 1-2 teaspoons water if needed to hold the mixture together. Press into a 9-inch pie pan. 

Peel and slice 5 ripe peaches. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons vanilla powder over the peaches and add either 3 tablespoons maple syrup, 1-2 teaspoons honey or a pinch of Stevia. Stir well and place onto the date-nut pie shell. 

Everyone who has tried this fresh pie enjoys it! We hope you will too.

If you have a favorite healthy vegan recipe you would like to share, please send it to us for consideration. 

Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published monthly by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, HC 64 Box 128-B, Welch WV 24801-9606. U.S.A. It is sent free upon request. The paper is dedicated to the propagation and restoration of the principles of truth that God gave to the early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers. Duplication is not only permitted, but strongly encouraged. This issue, with other gospel literature we publish, can be found at our web sites. The urls are: http://www.smyrna.org and http://www.presenttruth.info. Phone: (304) 732-9204. Fax: (304) 732-7322.

Editor: Allen Stump - E-mail: editor@smyrna.org.
Assistant  Editor: Onycha Holt - E-mail Onycha@smyrna.org

Please also visit our Present Truth Website!