Old Paths Masthead

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. 26, No.12 Straight and Narrow December 2017


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"Thy Rod and thy staff, they comfort me."

 

In this issue:

The Covenant-Keeping God

The Great Last Days

2018 West Virginia Camp Meeting Notice

A Word About Camp Meeting “Lost” Videos

Youth’s Corner

Hiking and Health

 

 

The Covenant-Keeping God

The idea for the following study was taken from a portion of a scholarly paper written by Dr. Richard Davidson professor at Andrews University for the Adventist Theological Society’s Fall Symposium, entitled “The Heritage of the Reformation.” We have tried to place these concepts in a non-scholarly manner, adding things that we felt could communicate the points better for our readers and removing some points (such as trinitarian references) that are not justified by the scripture. I gratefully acknowledge the work of Dr. Davidson, as I put together this article.

After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away. And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates. (Genesis 15:1–18)

Verse 6 states that Abram believed in the LORD and that God counted it to him for righteousness. The Hebrew word for believed is âman, from which we get the Hebrew word âmên. Abram trusted and counted on God’s faithfulness, but we also read in verse 8 that his faith began to waver.

And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? (Genesis 15:8)

Ellen White notes:

Still the patriarch begged for some visible token as a confirmation of his faith and as an evidence to after-generations that God’s gracious purposes toward them would be accomplished. The Lord condescended to enter into a covenant with His servant, employing such forms as were customary among men for the ratification of a solemn engagement. (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 137; all emphasis in this article supplied unless otherwise noted)

In an endeavor to help Abram’s faith be strong and to help him understand the gospel message of righteousness by faith, God used sacrificial imagery, as he magnanimously entered into a covenant with Abram.

As you read the text, the scene is one that would not be very acceptable to our modern-day eye, but it was one of deep meaning. God has Abram choose a three-year old heifer, goat, and ram. A turtledove and a young pigeon are also chosen. These are all spotless and in the peak of health. Then Abram slays them all, cutting their necks with the slaughter knife. The larger animals are cut in half, down the middle, with each half laid beside the other. The birds are left whole and are laid opposite one another. All of this was done to allow room for someone to pass through the row of paired carcasses.

Birds of prey come down to try to eat the pieces, but Abram drives them away. The sun sets, and Abram falls into a deep sleep, while he is among the separated parts. The Bible then states that “an horror of great darkness fell upon him.” All is silent and black.

Let us now focus upon verse 17:

And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. (Genesis 15:17)

The text says that a smoking furnace and a burning lamp passed between the pieces.

The Hebrew for smoking furnace could be translated smoking fire pot or smoking oven. The marginal reading for burning lamp is lamp of fire.

After God promised Abram that his seed would one day possess the land, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch appear out of the darkness. The fire pot and torch slowly pass between the pieces of the dead animals. Ellen White adds:

As a pledge of this covenant of God with men, a smoking furnace and a burning lamp . . . passed between the severed victims, totally consuming them. (White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 137)

This was not a vision Abram had when he had been sleeping, but a reality, for we read that the carcasses were totally consumed. This is one of the most mystical experiences in all of the Bible. What does it mean?

Verse 18 contains a Hebrew word that is going to be a key in unlocking this mystery. That Hebrew word is karat, which is translated made.

In the twenty-eight times that the KJV Bible uses the expression made a covenant, the Hebrew word for made is the Hebrew word karat, which literally means cut. To make a covenant was to cut a covenant. In the ancient times, the common practice of making a covenant was done by cutting a sacrifice and walking between the pieces.

In Jeremiah we have a reference to this practice:

And I will give the men that have transgressed my covenant, which have not performed the words of the covenant which they had made (karat) before me, when they cut (karat) the calf in twain, and passed between the parts thereof, The princes of Judah, and the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, and the priests, and all the people of the land, which passed between the parts of the calf. (Jeremiah 34:18, 19)

The words made and cut in verse 18 are the exact same forms of karat. Remember:

The Lord condescended to enter into a covenant with His servant, employing such forms as were customary among men for the ratification of a solemn engagement. (White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 137)

The suzerain and its vassal

A suzerain is a sovereign or a state which has some control over another state that is internally autonomous. The state it has control over is a vassal. The vassal is then a holder of land on the condition of homage and allegiance. For example, Babylon was a suzerain over Judah, during the reign of Zedekiah.

In ancient times, when a suzerain would enter into a treaty or into a covenant with a vassal, a sacrifice would be made. The animal was cut (karat) into two pieces, and the vassal would pass between the pieces. The vital point for us to see here is that it is the vassal that passes through the pieces, and he was, in effect, saying,

May I be cut in two as was done to this animal if I am unfaithful to the covenant.

There are many records of this practice in antiquity,[1] where the king is saying, in effect, to the vassal,

You will be cut in two as this animal, if you are not faithful to the covenant.

Thus, the vassal acknowledges that, by passing through the pieces, he will undergo similar dismemberment, if he is not faithful to the covenant. This was the accepted and expected practice, when such a covenant was made.

Now we come to the interesting and important part of this covenant promise. Please note that in Jeremiah it was the people (vassals or lesser) that passed through the pieces, but in Genesis 15 it is vastly different. There we have no mention of the lesser (Abram) passing through the pieces; instead, we have the smoking pot and the burning lamp going between the pieces.

In antiquity only the vassal would normally pass between the pieces and never the suzerain; however, here we have a radically different scene. Notice what the Spirit of Prophecy states about the smoking furnace and the burning lamp:

As a pledge of this covenant of God with men, a smoking furnace and a burning lamp, symbols of the divine presence, passed between the severed victims, totally consuming them. (White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 137)

The smoking furnace and the burning lamp are symbols of the divine presence.

This is comparable to the smoking fire on Mt. Sinai. The same two Hebrew words representing the divine presence link these two events together. Those words are smoke (Hebrew: ashan) and lamp (Hebrew: lappid).

And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking (ashan) furnace, and a burning lamp (lappid) that passed between those pieces. (Genesis 15:17)

And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke (ashan), because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke (ashan) thereof ascended as the smoke (ashan) of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. (Exodus 19:18)

And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings (lappid), and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking (ashan): and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. (Exodus 20:18)

Notice that there are two symbols of the divine presence in Genesis 15 and not three. The smoking furnace and the burning torch represent two divine light sources: the Father and the Son. This divine combination is elsewhere in the Old Testament.

At creation it was the Father and the Son. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Who are the us in this verse?

And now God says to his Son, “Let us make man in our image.” (Ellen White, The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, p. 24)

At Mt. Sinai, where we also see the symbols of the fire and the smoke, we also have the presence of both the Father and the Son.

Christ and the Father, standing side by side upon the mount, with solemn majesty proclaimed the Ten Commandments . . . (Ellen White, Historical Sketches, p. 231)

Clearly it was both the Father and the Son who made the covenant with Abraham. The heart-rendering truth of Genesis 15 is the first real token of the total sacrificial giving of the Son by the Father for the salvation of mankind. The Father and Son are revealing what was determined in the council of peace, saying, in effect:

If we break our promise of the covenant, then let the us be cut in two. If we fail on our promise, we will be separated, as these pieces are separated, never to be reunited.

When Isaiah writes that “the government shall be upon his shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6), the prophet meant that the stability of God’s throne, of the whole universe, and even the life of the Son of God were at stake. In the covenant made with Abram, the Father and Son were placing the stability of the universe and even their relationship and the existence of their unity (Christ’s existence) at stake.

To further illustrate the faithfulness of God, it should be noted that Abram and his descendants did break the covenant, but, instead of destroying mankind (dismembering humanity), Christ took our place and the covenant curses upon himself. (See Galatians 3:10–13.) The animals chosen in Genesis 15 were all animals to be later used in the sacrificial system, as taught in Leviticus. This was to teach or illustrate the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus in taking the sinner’s place.

The linkage of Genesis 15 with Christ as the Messiah is revealed in another way. The Hebrew root word for pieces in Genesis 15:17 (gzr) is the same root translated cut in Isaiah 53:8, where the text states “he [the Messiah] was cut off (gzr) out of the land of the living.” In using gzr for being sacrificially “cut off,” Isaiah hearkens back to Genesis 15 and connects passing through the pieces in Genesis 15 with the death of the Messiah. This reveals the substitutionary atonement and the imputation of the guilt of the world to the Suffering Servant.

Another gospel parallel in connection to Genesis 15 is found in Daniel 9:26:

And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut [Hebrew: karat] off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

This text links the death of the Messiah with Genesis 15, where the covenant was karat (cut). The Hebrew verb karat (in the Niphal passive) “to be cut off” is used in Leviticus as a technical term for those who receive the death penalty.[2]

The thought is strongly implied, especially in the context of the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:29), that this is a death penalty, with no future life, equivalent to what the book of Revelation calls the “second death” (Revelation 21:8).

The foremost fulfillment of the covenant of Genesis 15 is found at Calvary.

On the cross Jesus takes the sin of humanity upon himself, and, as Jesus takes upon himself the curses of the covenant, we hear the bitter cry:

Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46)

As we study the type and the antitype, we begin to see some of the terrible significance of the covenant from Genesis. Remember that it was the divine presence that passed between the pieces of sacrifice. Ellen White boldly declares that while Jesus was on the cross, as he took the sins of the world, his unity with the Father was so broken or cut in two that he felt that he would be eternally separated from his Father.

Upon Christ as our substitute and surety was laid the iniquity of us all. He was counted a transgressor, that He might redeem us from the condemnation of the law. The guilt of every descendant of Adam was pressing upon His heart. The wrath of God against sin, the terrible manifestation of His displeasure because of iniquity, filled the soul of His Son with consternation. All His life Christ had been publishing to a fallen world the good news of the Father’s mercy and pardoning love. Salvation for the chief of sinners was His theme. But now with the terrible weight of guilt He bears, He cannot see the Father’s reconciling face. The withdrawal of the divine countenance from the Saviour in this hour of supreme anguish pierced His heart with a sorrow that can never be fully understood by man. So great was this agony that His physical pain was hardly felt.

Satan with his fierce temptations wrung the heart of Jesus. The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God. (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 753)

In the light of Genesis 15, Jesus was ripped from his Father! The divine family was torn asunder. The Father and the Son were torn apart that we might live and be united with God!

As we noted earlier, Jesus took our curses so that we could have eternal life, through the righteousness that comes by faith. As Ellen White noted:

Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. “With His stripes we are healed.” (Ibid. p. 25)

This is the core of the gospel—Jesus taking our place and God imputing our guilt to him and then imputing Christ’s righteousness to us.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9, 10)

God’s love, so freely given to us, is the great factor that drives and compels us.[3] To realize that Christ risked all to save mankind places another dimension upon the plan.

Look upon the Saviour uplifted on the cross. Hear that despairing cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Mark 15:34. Look upon the wounded head, the pierced side, the marred feet. Remember that Christ risked all. For our redemption, heaven itself was imperiled. (Ellen White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 196)

The known universe is beyond the human mind to begin to understand and yet all was risked for us. Even heaven was imperiled, and God’s cut covenant, as given in Genesis 15 and affirmed in Isaiah 53 and in Daniel 9 and finally fulfilled on the cross, declares his self-sacrificing love for his creatures. What a God we serve! We owe him all. May we purpose each day, beloved, to live for him wholly.

The last great crisis is almost upon us. Only those who know and love their God will be able to stand in that final great conflict. God has promised and has demonstrated his commitment to us. May we each promise to serve him and to demonstrate that commitment by our loyal obedience to him.

Allen Stump

[1]. See Theological Word Book of the Old Testament, p. 457.

[2]. See Leviticus 20:3, 5, 6, 26, 30; 23:29.

[3]. See 2 Corinthians 5:14.


The Great Last Days

A great drama has been taking place on the worldwide stage for about six thousand years, and every unfallen world in the universe has watched it unfold—“worlds that thrilled with sorrow at the spectacle of human woe and rang with songs of gladness at the tidings of a ransomed soul” (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 677).

Great deceptions past and future

The spirits of devils will go forth to the kings of the earth and to the whole world, to fasten them in deception, and urge them on to unite with Satan in his last struggle against the government of heaven. By these agencies, rulers and subjects will be alike deceived. (White, The Great Controversy, p. 624; published 1888)

On December 13, 1888, Alonzo T. Jones appeared before the United States Senate Committee on Education and Labor to argue against a bill introduced by Senator Henry W. Blair of New Hampshire. Blair’s proposed legislation sought to mandate the first day of the week as a day of rest. Interestingly, in the 1870s Senator Blair had introduced a constitutional amendment for national prohibition, but at this time, in 1888, he wanted Sunday to be a national day of rest:

. . . the bill banned almost all Sunday work, games, and amusements in the United States territories and the District of Columbia. Among the states, the bill banned all interstate commerce, the operation of the postal system, and military parades and drills on Sunday. Although the bill’s stated purpose was civil in nature––mainly to provide a day of rest to laborers––it endured sharp criticism for its failure to separate church and state. Ultimately, the interests of different religious groups, freethinkers, and industrial owners converged to defeat it. (Bethany Rupert, “The Sunday Rest Bill and the Battle To Keep The Civil Sabbath,” Seton Hall Legislative Journal, vol. 39:2, p. 287)

This was not the first attempt to propose legislation for a day of rest, but the United States government had rejected previous attempts “on the ground that it did not have the power to legislate morality. However, after the Civil War, the national government’s power expanded. Christian lobbyists revamped their efforts in hope that the government would be more willing to use its power for moral legislation. The drastic decrease since the Civil War in observance of the Sabbath [Sunday] and enforcement of state Sabbath [Sunday] laws motivated lobbyists” (Ibid., pp. 288, 289) to promote national legislation.

One of the two major Christian lobbies seeking Sunday legislation was the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), which emerged in the 1870s. The other was the National Reform Association (NRA), formerly known as the National Association to Amend the Constitution, and both the WCTU and the NRA determinedly lobbied the government for a national Sunday law.

Some lobbyists even talked of a “civil sabbath,” which justified Sunday laws not as the government’s religious responsibility but something government did to preserve Christians’ right to rest and worship. They also cited scientific findings that people needed a periodic day of rest to ensure their health and happiness. Having all citizens rest on a common day, proponents of a civil sabbath emphasized, brought immigrants into a shared culture and created a bond between rich and poor. By unifying society and providing a time for moral and spiritual uplift, Sunday thereby served a civil function; it helped prevent unrest and preserved the republic. Strikes would not so easily pass into riots if laborers were not . . . demoralized by being deprived of the Sabbath’s humanizing home fellowship and its culture of conscience,” wrote Crafts in 1890. “In a very literal sense our nation is ‘laying up wrath’ by its delay to emancipate our three millions of ‘white slaves’ from their Sunday slavery. Sunday work is unpaid toil in a deeper sense than that of the slaves of the South.” (Gaines M. Foster, Moral Reconstruction: Christian Lobbyists and the Federal Legislation of Morality, 1865–1920, pp. 95, 96; quoting Wilbur F. Crafts (1850–1922), reformer of morals and a lobbyist)

An example of the NRA’s political power is its influence on the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, which had planned to be open on Sundays.

The Congregationalists, northern Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, and six other denominations sent protests, but the National Reform Association led the fight to convince the Centennial Commission, the oversight board appointed by Congress, to close the exposition on Sunday. The NRA’s representative, T. P. Stevenson, appeared before the commission . . . The commission sided with Stevenson. In voting to close on Sunday, the chair claimed, the commission helped “form a bulwark” for “religion and morality for centuries to come.” (Ibid., p. 96)

Other pushes for a civil Sabbath occurred over the years, until, in 1888, Senator Blair introduced his bill for the observance of Sunday as a national day of rest.

Elder Jones argued in detail before the committee against this bill, and his testimony was continually interrupted and questioned by the chairman, but his presentations did more than that of any other person to stop the progress of this bill through Congress. His testimony can be read in the pioneer section of the Ellen G. White database under his name, as well as at a number of internet sites. Blair’s bill did not make it to the floor for a vote and died at the end of the fiftieth session of Congress, but Blair reintroduced it, with changes, in the fifty-first session, but it also did not pass.

H. R. 7179

In 1926, bill H. R. 7179 was introduced into the House of Representatives and was assigned to one of the subcommittees of the Committee on the District of Columbia for hearings. Some of these hearings were attended by Charles S. Longacre, the then religious liberty director of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The purpose of the bill was to secure Sunday as a day of rest in the District of Columbia. The bill prohibited any secular work on Sunday, other than works of charity and/or necessity, and contained the provision for violators to be fined up to five hundred dollars and given a jail sentence of six months. Interestingly, this bill was submitted by W. C. Lankford, a representative of the state of Georgia, but it was not he who sponsored it. A deception was trying to be foisted upon the Congress. H. R. 7179 was actually sponsored by the Lord’s Day Alliance. Elder Longacre uncovered this deception to the subcommittee with communications from the Lord’s Day Alliance that stated their purpose was for Congress to pass H. R. 7179, which was only applicable to the District of Columbia, knowing that it would set a precedent for the states to follow.[1] The bill did not pass, thanks to the efforts of Elder Longacre and of others.

Deceptions elsewhere

In 1932 many people in the Soviet Union were starving. The lack of food in the Soviet Union had been an issue for several years. Lenin’s policies, known as the Red Terror, were mainly directed against his political opponents, but they were also in response to economic disaster. “The workers of Moscow and Petrograd [in 1918] were down to one ounce of bread per day” (Anne Applebaum, Red Famine: Stalin’s War On Ukraine, p. 31), and the government was “barely able to feed the delegates during the Congress of Soviets in the winter of 1918: ‘Only a very few wagons of flour had arrived during the week at the Petrograd railway stations’” (Ibid.). So, when Joseph Stalin became General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1922, changes occurred, including centralization of the economy and collectivization of land and farming equipment and of other supplies. Collectivization started at the peasant level. Farms were coerced from peasant owners, as well as their equipment and farm animals. Even pots and pans were taken to supply the distant iron mills. All of this was commandeered by the government, but food supplies still did not improve; in fact, this system only made the threat of starvation worse by taking personal food supplies from the farmers to meet state-mandated quotas. Families tried to survive by burying bags of wheat and corn, but activist brigades went from home to home and farm to farm, with long poles, which they poked into the ground to locate any caches of food supplies.

Secret police reports and letters from the grain-growing districts all across the Soviet Union—the North Caucases, the Volga region, western Siberia—spoke of children swollen with hunger; of families eating grass and acorns; of peasants fleeing their homes in search of food. (Ibid., p. xxv)

Corpses lay on the street, for few had the strength to bury them. A natural famine was occurring across a section of the Soviet Union, it is true, but it was made worse in Ukraine, in particular, because of the policies of Stalin. Everything food-wise was taken from the Ukrainians, and they were then prevented from moving out of their republic to other areas not affected by the swath of the famine. The Ukrainians call it the Holodomor, a combination of two Ukrainian words that mean hunger and extermination. It was their holocaust:

. . . in the autumn of 1932, the Soviet Politburo . . . took a series of decisions that widened and deepened the famine in the Ukrainian countryside and at the same time prevented peasants from leaving the republic in search of food. At the height of the crisis, organized teams of policemen and party activists . . . entered peasant households and took everything edible: potatoes, beets, squash, beans, peas, anything in the oven and anything in the cupboard, farm animals and pets. (Ibid., p. xxvi)

Everything edible was taken, including food in the oven and food in the cupboards, and all pets and farm animals were likewise confiscated. God’s people can expect a similar treatment in the future.

The Lord has shown me repeatedly that it is contrary to the Bible to make any provision for our temporal wants in the time of trouble. I saw that if the saints had food laid up by them or in the field in the time of trouble, when sword, famine, and pestilence are in the land, it would be taken from them by violent hands . . . (Ellen White, Early Writings, p. 56)

The world is moving closer to its own worldwide cleansing, a cleansing that will attempt to rid the earth of God’s faithful ones. It will be as a Holodomor for them because they will refuse to bow the knee to Babylon and will refuse to accept and honor Sunday sacredness. To say so should not seem strange or questionable. God himself has given us a view of the future to prepare us for it. It is actually the enemies of God’s people who will find themselves deluded at that time: “The world see the very class whom they have mocked and derided, and desired to exterminate, pass unharmed through pestilence, tempest, and earthquake. . . . The people see that they have been deluded” (White, The Great Controversy, pp. 654, 655), and they turn on each other. We have been given the most important, the most solemn, and the most fearful warnings ever given to mankind. These warnings concern the time of the end and a time of trouble, the severity of which has never been experienced by man: “There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time” (Daniel 12:1). This time of trouble cannot even be grasped by our imagination: “The most vivid presentation cannot reach the magnitude of the ordeal” (White, The Great Controversy, p. 622). It is the time of Jacob’s trouble, a trouble so great that nothing is comparable to it.

But first comes the investigative judgment, and the investigative judgment has become a contested teaching.

The investigative judgment

The books of record in heaven, in which the names and the deeds of men are registered, are to determine the decisions of the judgment. (White, The Great Controversy, p. 480)

On October 22, 1844, at the conclusion of the 2,300 day prophecy, the ministration of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary moved from the holy place to the most holy place. Thrones were placed in the most holy place, the judgment was set, and the books were opened (Daniel 7:9, 10).

Thus was presented to the prophet’s vision the great and solemn day when the characters and the lives of men should pass in review before the Judge of all the earth, and to every man should be rendered “according to his works.” . . .

Every man’s work [every man who has professed Christ] passes in review before God and is registered for faithfulness or unfaithfulness. Opposite each name in the books of heaven is entered with terrible exactness every wrong word, every selfish act, every unfulfilled duty, and every secret sin, with every artful dissembling. Heaven-sent warnings or reproofs neglected, wasted moments, unimproved opportunities, the influence exerted for good or for evil, with its far-reaching results, all are chronicled by the recording angel. (White, The Great Controversy, pp. 479, 482)

But wait, many Adventist theologians favor a forensic-only investigative judgment. For example:

In the pre-advent judgment the universe is looking at the records of human works, good and bad (Dan. 7:10). But more than that, they are looking to see whether individuals have accepted or rejected the saving work that Jesus did for them on the cross. Their relation to the substitutionary judgment of the covenant-Saviour is determinative (cf John 16:26-27; 17:3)

It is precisely that, and nothing else, that determines personal destiny. (Norman Gulley, “Daniel’s Pre-advent Judgment in Its Biblical Context,” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, 2/2 1991, p. 59; all emphasis in this article supplied unless otherwise noted)

Gulley says it is our relationship to Christ and nothing else that determines our personal destiny. Faith in the substitutionary death of Christ and in his victory over sin is absolutely necessary for our salvation, but there is something more. Overcoming.

The divine Intercessor presents the plea that all who have overcome through faith in His blood be forgiven their transgressions, that they be restored to their Eden home, and crowned as joint heirs with Himself to ‘the first dominion,’ Micah 4:8” (White, The Great Controversy, p. 484)

Faith and works are necessary in the Christian life.

Faith and works are the two oars with which we are to make our way in the Christian life. The Lord calls upon all who think they know what faith is, to be sure that they are not pulling with only one oar, and their little bark going round and round, making no progress at all. Faith without intelligent works is dead. (Ellen White, Australasian Union Conference Record, October 15, 1905)

We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), but we are judged by our works (James 2:24).

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14)

The investigative judgment investigates our works, and this is where many Christians want to look the other way. It is easy to believe and much harder to obey. If we choose to obey and rely on God’s word, he will give us the power to do his will.

Communion with God imparts to the soul an intimate knowledge of his will. But many who profess the faith know not what true conversion is. . . . and have never felt the power of divine grace to sanctify the heart. Praying and sinning, sinning and praying, their lives are full of malice, deceit, envy, jealousy, and self-love. The prayers of this class are an abomination to God. (Ellen White, Gospel Workers 1892, p. 36)

Faith in the substitutionary death of Christ is vital for eternal life, yes, but, as we read above, “every man’s work passes in review before God and is registered for faithfulness or unfaithfulness.” Every one who has “done good” will come forth from the grave “unto the resurrection of life” (John 5:29). Doing is a word of action, and the good to which we are to conform our lives is “the law of God [which] is the standard by which the characters and the lives of men will be tested in the judgment” (White, The Great Controversy, p. 482). Let us now consider the time of trouble.

Time of Jacob’s trouble

Jacob’s night of anguish, when he wrestled in prayer for deliverance from the hand of Esau . . . represents the experience of God’s people in the time of trouble. (Ibid., p. 616)

When the death decree is issued against the small minority who refuse to yield to the popular demand for Sunday sacredness, then God’s people will be “plunged into those scenes of affliction and distress described by the prophet as the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Ibid.).

For thus saith the LORD; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. (Jeremiah 30:5–7)

Succeeding as Jacob succeeded

There are important points to consider about Jacob’s experience that will help God’s people during the time of Jacob’s trouble. First of all, Jacob persevered with God in prayer, and God’s people at this time will do the same. They will be afflicting their souls before God, pointing to their past repentance of their sins, and they will plead the promise of Isaiah 27:5:

Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me. (Isaiah 27:5)

Though suffering the keenest anxiety, terror, and distress, they do no cease their intercessions. They lay hold of the strength of God as Jacob laid hold of the Angel; and the language of their souls is: “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” (White, The Great Controversy, p. 620)

Secondly, God did not cast off Jacob during his night of wrestling, and he will not cast off his people at this time:

Jacob’s history is also an assurance that God will not cast off those who have been deceived and tempted and betrayed into sin, but who have returned unto Him with true repentance. While Satan seeks to destroy this class, God will send His angels to comfort and protect them in the time of peril. The assaults of Satan are fierce and determined, his delusions are terrible; but the Lord’s eye is upon His people, and His ear listens to their cries. Their affliction is great, the flames of the furnace seem about to consume them; but the Refiner will bring them forth as gold tried in the fire. God’s love for His children during the period of their severest trial is as strong and tender as in the days of their sunniest prosperity; but it is needful for them to be placed in the furnace of fire; their earthliness must be consumed, that the image of Christ may be perfectly reflected. (Ibid., p. 621)

And thirdly, all will succeed as Jacob succeeded, if they apply themselves as Jacob did:

Jacob prevailed because he was persevering and determined. His victory is an evidence of the power of importunate prayer. All who will lay hold of God’s promises, as he did, and be as earnest and persevering as he was, will succeed as he succeeded. Those who are unwilling to deny self, to agonize before God, to pray long and earnestly for His blessing, will not obtain it. Wrestling with God—how few know what it is! How few have ever had their souls drawn out after God with intensity of desire until every power is on the stretch. When waves of despair which no language can express sweep over the suppliant, how few cling with unyielding faith to the promises of God. (Ibid.)

Preparing for that time

First of all, our sins must go beforehand to judgment. If Jacob had not previously repented of his sin of obtaining the birthright by fraud, God would not have heard his prayer and would not have preserved his life.

So, in the time of trouble, if the people of God had unconfessed sins to appear before them while tortured with fear and anguish, they would be overwhelmed; despair would cut off their faith, and they could not have confidence to plead with God for deliverance. But while they have a deep sense of their unworthiness, they have no concealed wrongs to reveal. Their sins have gone beforehand to judgment and have been blotted out, and they cannot bring them to remembrance. (Ibid., p. 620)

Not only are we to truly repent of our sins and to seek forgiveness, we must also separate ourselves from sin:

The young would not be seduced into sin if they would refuse to enter any path save that upon which they could ask God’s blessing. . . .

Now, while our great High Priest is making the atonement for us, we should seek to become perfect in Christ. . . . Satan could find nothing in the Son of God that would enable him to gain the victory. He had kept His Father’s commandments, and there was no sin in Him that Satan could use to his advantage. This is the condition in which those must be found who shall stand in the time of trouble.

It is in this life that we are to separate sin from us, through faith in the atoning blood of Christ. Our precious Saviour invites us to join ourselves to Him, to unite our weakness to His strength, our ignorance to His wisdom, our unworthiness to His merits. . . . It rests with us to co-operate with the agencies which Heaven employs in the work of conforming our characters to the divine model. None can neglect or defer this work but at the most fearful peril to their souls. (Ibid., pp. 622, 623)

In this work of preparation we are to confess our sins and seek forgiveness. Not only are we to seek to become perfect in Christ and to separate sin from us through faith in Christ’s atoning blood, but there is more. We are to lay hold of the promises of God and to cling unyieldingly to them, praying long and earnestly for God’s blessing.

Those who delay a preparation for the day of God cannot obtain it in the time of trouble or at any subsequent time. The case of all such is hopeless. . . .

The season of distress and anguish before us will require a faith that can endure weariness, delay, and hunger—a faith that will not faint though severely tried. The period of probation is granted to all to prepare for that time. (Ibid., pp. 620, 621)

In summary, our preparation for the time of Jacob’s trouble consists in just three things: 1) Seeking forgiveness NOW of our sins, so that they may be blotted out in the investigative judgment, 2) Becoming perfect in Christ and separating from sin NOW, so that Satan can find nothing in us to use to his advantage during the time leading up to, and including, Jacob’s trouble, and 3) Developing our faith in God’s promises NOW, so that we will cling tenaciously to them during the time of Jacob’s trouble because they are all we will have to depend upon when Satan is allowed to test us in the furnace of fire, where our earthliness will be consumed. One more thought concerning preparation is that Satan will endeavor to so entangle us in the cares of this life that we will neglect the necessary preparation mentioned in the three points above. Let us study, be watchful, and pray.

Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. (Mark 13:33)

Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak. (Mark 14:38)

Ellen White states that we are to strive mightily to be part of the one hundred forty-four thousand:

Let us strive with all the power that God has given us to be among the hundred and forty-four thousand. (Ellen White, The Review & Herald, March 9, 1905)

What does it mean to strive to be part of the one hundred forty-four thousand? This striving is not a determined turning of the mind from the satisfaction of a comfortable life to an embracing of the terrible ordeal we know is in the future. It is not mentally putting ourselves on edge to prevent settling down into a pleasant life. We need to realize heaven is our home and not the temporary surroundings we have obtained for ourselves, but striving to be part of the one hundred forty-four thousand is more than appreciating heaven as our home. It is the striving for perfection in thought, word, deed, and desire; for only the one hundred forty-four thousand will live in the sight of a holy God without the need of a mediator, for they are without sin. Not because they have never sinned, but because their many sins have gone beforehand to judgment AND because God has cleansed them, with their cooperation, of every sin. This is what the great striving is all about. It is hard work. It is moment-to-moment work. It is a striving against the onslaughts of Satan, and one of the great promises we can claim for this transformation of character is the promise declared by David:

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)

We have applied this beautiful promise to the blotting out of the record of our sins in the investigative judgment—it is gone, as if to the east and to the west—but it is also a promise for the cleansing of our hearts from sin. In the following quotation, Ellen White connects Psalm 103:12 with the transformation of our hearts, not with the forensic cleansing of the record of our sins:

God’s forgiveness is not merely a judicial act by which He sets us free from condemnation. It is not only forgiveness for sin, but reclaiming from sin. It is the outflow of redeeming love that transforms the heart. David had the true conception of forgiveness when he prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10. And again he says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12. (Ellen White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 114; emphasis in original)

Is not that a beautiful addition to our understanding of Psalm 103:12?

We have looked at the great time of Jacob’s trouble and at a great striving, but there is also a great test, and this test returns us to the great drama, referred to at the beginning of this article, and to the greatest deception ever.

The great test

When Jesus ceases his intercession in the most holy place and the cases of all have been decided for life or for death, he lifts his hands and with a loud voice says: “It is done. … He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still” (Revelation 22:11). Then darkness covers the earth, for the Spirit of God has been withdrawn, and Satan will have entire control of the impenitent. He will:

. . . plunge the inhabitants of the earth into one great, final trouble. . . . The whole world will be involved in ruin more terrible than that which came upon Jerusalem of old. (White, The Great Controversy, p. 614)

There will be fearful convulsions of nature and fearful supernatural sights in the heavens. Strife and bloodshed will be everywhere. The forms of religion will continue, with an apparent zeal for God. Satan’s work of deceit and destruction will reach its culmination, and God’ people will be faced with a great test:

Those who exercise but little faith now, are in the greatest danger of falling under the power of satanic delusions and the decree to compel the conscience. And even if they endure the test they will be plunged into deeper distress and anguish in the time of trouble, because they have never made it a habit to trust in God. (Ibid., p. 622)

The above quotation tells us that the test comes first and the time of trouble second. The test will be over the powerful end-time delusions of Satan, which are the worst ever imposed on man, and over the decree to compel the conscience. This greatest of all tests includes the death decree pronouncement against all who will not honor Sunday as the Sabbath and who continue to honor the seventh-day Sabbath as God’s holy day, but what are the powerful Satanic delusions? The Great Controversy tells us, on page 624, that they are supernatural sights in the heavens, deceptions caused by spirits of devils who go to rulers and subjects alike to fasten them in Satan’s grip, the fictitious claims to be Christ by people who also perform miracles of healing and who profess to have revelations from heaven that contradict Scripture, and, finally, the impersonation of Christ by Satan himself, in different parts of the world. Satan will perform miracles and speak pleasant words of blessing but will also claim to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday. This impersonation of Christ is the strongest deception ever wrought by Satan on the mind of man, and it is an almost overmastering delusion. The whole world will be fooled by it, except the small remnant faithful to God. They will not be deceived because:

The teachings of this false christ are not in accordance with the Scriptures. His blessing is pronounced upon the worshipers of the beast and his image, the very class upon whom the Bible declares that God’s unmingled wrath shall be poured out.

And, furthermore, Satan is not permitted to counterfeit the manner of Christ’s advent. The Saviour has warned His people against deception upon this point, and has clearly foretold the manner of His second coming. . . .

Only those who have been diligent students of the Scriptures and who have received the love of the truth will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive. By the Bible testimony these will detect the deceiver in his disguise. To all the testing time will come. By the sifting of temptation the genuine Christian will be revealed. Are the people of God now so firmly established upon His word that they would not yield to the evidence of their senses? Would they, in such a crisis, cling to the Bible and the Bible only? Satan will, if possible, prevent them from obtaining a preparation to stand in that day. He will so arrange affairs as to hedge up their way, entangle them with earthly treasures, cause them to carry a heavy, wearisome burden, that their hearts may be overcharged with the cares of this life and the day of trial may come upon them as a thief. (Ibid., p. 625)

To ALL the testing time will come, but not all will pass the test. In fact, most will not. It will be like being in a deciduous forest of summer trees and randomly picking one hundred forty-four thousand leaves from the forest, maybe two leaves a tree, an infinitesimal amount compared to what is left on the trees. That is the way God’s people will feel, compared to the world’s population. They will stand alone, but our wonderful God knows each one, and no one can take them out of his hand.

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (John 10:28)

Satan will do his best to destroy and to weaken the faith of God’s people, and it will seem that they are left to perish. The hunger of the Ukrainians in 1917 and the perverse actions and reactions of Stalin go before us and are a warning of what to expect. The efforts of Senator Blair and of Representative Lankford are precursors to future legislation compelling the conscience. All of Satan’s past efforts have been trial runs in preparation for his final great deception and of his final attempted cleansing of God’s faithful people from off the face of the earth. Satan is preparing, and so must we, but he is a defeated foe. When it is the darkest, “a rainbow, shining with the glory from the throne of God, spans the heavens and seems to encircle each praying company” and the “mocking cries die away” (White, The Great Controversy, p. 636).

Through a rift in the clouds there beams a star whose brilliancy is increased fourfold in contrast with the darkness. . . . Those who have sacrificed all for Christ are now secure, hidden as in the secret of the Lord’s pavilion. They have been tested, and before the world and the despisers of truth they have evinced their fidelity to Him who died for them. (Ibid., pp.638, 639)

Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Revelation 3:9–13)

Let us strive to enter into the joy of our Lord.

Onycha Holt

[1]. See Nathaniel Krum, Charles S. Longacre: Champion of Religious Liberty, page 94


2018 West Virginia Camp Meeting Notice

The 2018 West Virginia camp meeting will be held June 12–16. While most of the details are not complete, we want to announce the date, so you can plan time off from work, from school, etc. We look forward to this camp meeting as a time when God’s people can draw together in biblical unity. Please plan to attend now. We will do anything we can to help accommodate those who that want to attend but face challenges in so doing.


A Word About Camp Meeting “Lost” Videos

We want to explain the delay in posting the videos from last summer’s camp meeting. Simply put, we had a hardware failure. While we have been able to post twelve of the presentations, we still have several to edit and post. God has blessed us with a good Macintosh computer and excellent video editing software, but we have struggled to get even the few videos done, due to the system repeatedly crashing. Reinstalling the software and even the OS did not help. After more prayer and a call to the Apple company and with the good will of a great tech person, we finally found the problem. The flash card that the files were recorded on had some bad contacts, and very small portions of the recordings were corrupt. Even though these were small bits of bad information, they interrupted the process and stopped the proper processing of the files.

We are not sure how long we will need to try to fix the current files, but we are working as diligently as possible. Thank you for your prayers and for your consideration in this matter.


Youth’s Corner—A Kingdom of Romance

(Chapter 4 of Cannibals of Head-Hunters of the South Seas, by Charles H. Watson, published in 1926 by the Review and Herald Publishing Association)

“It was calm most of the way to Pitcairn. Ten days of travel across a wide sea, 3,000 miles without one object visible but the sea, the stars, the sky, and the sun, then a little ‘dot’ rose out of the ocean before us. Moments passed, and it grew more distinct, rose to loftier view and greater proportions, and before noon our good ship had stopped before the little kingdom of romance — Pitcairn Island.”

Thus writes Mr. Hare, a missionary to this island, whose pen has supplied the following description of Pitcairn:

“Sabbath, just the day before, the sea was rough, and heavy rain fell most of the day. The question of landing was assuming a serious aspect, but on Sunday morning the sea was as a great mirror of glass, for the storm had gone by.

“On the voyage across our captain delivered a lecture on Pitcairn and her people. Thus an interest was awakened in the minds of the passengers. So, long before reaching the island, the deck was lined with eager watchers, looking out over the cliffs and groves of the little world that had grown out of the sea.

“Boats were now visible, coming across the water. Reaching the side of the steamship, the islanders soon scrambled up the ladder with oranges, bananas, and curios for sale. Quite a lot of business was done. A boatload of tourists was taken ashore, another load of fruit brought out, then the things for Pitcairn were loaded into the boats. We were sent down in a large basket, and then, with a sweet farewell song the islanders said good-by, and three boats pulled for the shore.

“The landing place consists of a narrow strip of sand between the cliff and a narrow ledge of rocks that serves as breakwater. Great skill is required in navigating this part of the journey. The boat must wait until the wave lifts her into just the right position, and then every oarsman must pull with his strongest stroke. As the boat strikes the shore, several of the men jump out into the water and draw the little craft up as far as possible, and then as the wave recedes the others get out.

“We were astonished at the richness of the vegetation, and the beauty of the steeps that rose before and beside us. On the way up we passed through a cocoanut grove where the trees towered to the height of fifty and seventy-five feet. Each bore its cluster of nuts just underneath the leaves that must battle with many a storm. Vegetation is luxuriant, and both sugar cane and sweet potatoes flourish.

“We were glad to reach the end of our journey on the sea. As we reached the top of the village and looked out over the deep, we had our last view of the departing vessel. Then there came a little thought of solitude—life on a little dot with ninety million square miles of ocean all around. But there is every comfort in the realization that there is no part of our little world beyond the reach of our heavenly Father.

“Only the sound of the wild, wild waves,

Washing against the shore:

Only the sigh of the wild, wild winds,

Whispering forevermore.

Yet glad in the thought of service sweet,

We turn our eyes to Him,

And all the echoes passing by

Change to a holy hymn.

“The wild waves, rolling forever on,

Rolling by night and day,

Tell of the Hand that curbs their might,

And the Voice they all obey.

Pale moonbeams wear their sweetest smile,

Shaded by love divine,

And hope points on to the glory-light,

Where suns immortal shine.

“Roll on, wild waves, his freedom’s home,

Roll on in tireless glee,

Whisper with us the endless praise

Of Him who rules the sea.

Echo, ye wild winds; sweet and low

Faith chants her evening prayer —

There’s not a place our feet may tread

But love can find us there.

“There is no place on the earth where the human heart might live more oblivious to the world’s cares and annoyances than on Pitcairn, the lone rock of the ocean. Here the rush and struggle after personal gain does not appear, neither does the rise or fall of tomorrow’s market press the heart.

“Some forty-eight homes nestle among the cocoanut and orange groves on the northern slopes of Pitcairn. Of these dwellings, some are thatched with leaves from the palm trees, but others, of more modern style, are roofed with corrugated tin. Most of them are provided with open windows, having shutters that may be closed in case of storm. Locks and fastenings are unknown and unnecessary in the simple home life of this little kingdom.

“In their domestic life, some of the homes are provided with ovens built of stone. In these a fire is lighted, and when sufficiently heated, the ashes and embers are removed and the bread, made of corn and sweet potato grated, is readily and perfectly baked.

“When requiring salt, large tin dishes are filled with salt water and placed over a furnace. Here the boiling process is continued until the water evaporates and the salt is left behind. To supply the place with sugar, the sugar cane is ground up and pressed, and the juice thus secured is boiled in a vessel similar to that used for making salt, till it becomes a thick sirup that will keep for any length of time.

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Church of Adamstown on Pitcairn Island Photo courtesy of Makemake at German Wikipedia

“The homes have wooden floors, and walls built of boards cut by pit saws in the forest. Water is caught in tanks, but a permanent supply is obtained from a spring far up on the hillside, and carried down in a long line of open pipes formed of the hewn-out stems of palm trees. The water is brought to a place convenient to the village. There the little boys and girls bring their wheelbarrows and fill their vessels with pure, sweet water.

“On wet days and at odd times, when not engaged in the forest or about the gardens, the men and boys take an interest in making small boats, walking sticks, small boxes, and various souvenirs of Pitcairn. Many of these articles display both skill and patience in their workmanship. The women and girls are very expert in making baskets from the cocoanut leaves. Smaller baskets are also made of strips obtained from the palm leaves. Some of these are perfect works of art. Various forms of hats are also made from fibers obtained from leaves that grow on the island. The work in some of these is of a very fine quality, and much time is required for the making.

“Many of these things are sold to passing ships and tourists, who sometimes land for an hour. Life on Pitcairn is full of activity, and in the case of manning the boats on a rough sea, it requires both skill and courage. Storms sometimes blow fiercely, though as a rule climatic conditions are mild.”

Small places usually need but little in the way of description, but Pitcairn is an exception to the rule. Though just a dot in the wild waste of Pacific waters, there is perhaps no other land washed by the tide of that great ocean that so captivates the romantic thought of the civilized world.

Lying midway between the coasts of Australia and South America, it has until recent years occupied a position of strange isolation, far from the track of ocean steamer or sailing ship. In extent it is only a little over two miles long and about one mile across — a little sea-girt kingdom comprising about 1,280 acres of land.

When the mutineers first reached it, its surface was very thickly covered with trees. But time has wrought many changes in its appearance. The highest part of the land is about 1,100 feet above sea level. Facing the north is an immense rock in which is a large cave, well concealed by the trees and shrubbery, which help to make it a secure hiding place. The mutineers had intended to make this cave their refuge in the event of their island retreat being discovered.

Overlooking the small bay where the “Bounty” was burned is a peak known as Ship-landing Point. “It rises in bold outline almost perpendicularly from the sea, its rugged, rocky front softened here and there by patches of grass and shrubs.” Near its highest point is a curious rock showing in clear outline the figure of a man’s head of enormous proportions. This is called the Old Man’s Head. So very realistic is this rock representation of humanity that no flight of fancy is required to imagine that it looks continually down into the little bay with the mild benevolence of old age.

“Round the rocky shore some unique and interesting scenes are pictured — steeps, headlands, inlets, and caves are all in their places; but the rocks are stern and rugged, and the sea whitens them in vain. The caves forever echo forth the sound of a rolling tide.

“About halfway up the mountains on either side of the island a spring of water flows forth, cool and clear and sweet. That on the western side has never been known to run dry, but the one on the eastern side, which supplies the inhabitants with water, ran dry some years ago. The people claim that in answer to their prayers it was restored, and now gives a constant flow.”

Truly the power of God is wonderful and His ways are past finding out; for in the midst of a waste of ninety million square miles of salt sea, this sweet spring water is lifted far above the tide, and caused to run in ceaseless flow upon a land from which rain is sometimes withheld for months together.

“The coast line of the little island is irregular and broken. In the quaint folklore of the people are told some interesting stories associated with certain localities.”

Bounty Bay is the little cove where the old ship “Bounty” was grounded and burned by the mutineers. “Down a Rope” is a steep cliff over three hundred feet high, and so called because in former years the steep descent could be accomplished only by means of a rope. It was at the foot of this cliff that the mutineers first found the stone axes and other implements which told of earlier inhabitants. Here, too, is the rude imagery of that same bygone age,— carvings of a people of whom history has no record, “but no interpreter has yet been found to give them speech. Mute in their unknown eloquence, they face the great deep, but whether their records are of agony or triumph none can tell.”

To the northwest, at a considerable distance from the shore, is a rock that received its name from an incident in which two young men romantically figured. In the early days the sons of McCoy and Quintall swam off to this rock, and there made a firm agreement that they would each win and wed the other’s sister. This they did, and so the rock received its name, “Tane M’a” (the Place of Agreement).

“In the valley between Ship-landing Point and the great rock facing north, lies nestled among the trees the village settled by the mutineers more than one hundred years ago. Groves of cocoanut and orange trees surround it, while the beautiful banyan tree, with its curious growth of long, rope-like roots hanging in thick profusion, and its towering branches covered for ten months of the year with a spring- like robe of green, lends a delightful charm to the scenery.”

But the groves are silent, for no song bird ever enlivens the deep shade with his sweet warblings. One small, homely bird, with coat of brown and white, is the sole occupant of these solitary woods, and to him has been imparted no gift of song. But as if to give him feathered company through the warm spring days, a beautiful white sea bird comes and deposits her eggs upon the bare branches of the banyan tree; but the sharp, shrill cry of this snow-white visitant from the ocean serves only to remind us that the song of the birds is a feature of the woods, and is never heard upon the sea.

“From the highest point of the island a view of the entire horizon may be obtained, the far-away blue of the ocean mingling with the far-away mistiness of the sky in a perfect circle. Close to this viewpoint an orange tree is growing, buffeted by storms, yet bearing its golden fruit. There the eye may gaze upon nature’s wonderful vision while the taste enjoys her wonderful sweetness.

“There is no vehicular traffic of any kind on this curious land. The roads that lead to the village, the gardens, and cross the mountains are all trodden by shoeless feet.” No way of the city has ever intruded there, but the charm of nature’s romantic scenery more than compensates for the absence of all that the city man would have.

“Pitcairn! To thee, land of my birth,

My song I bring;

Thy hills and valleys, trees and flowers,

Their praise I sing.

“The cocoanut, with waving plumes

Of shining green,

The sweetly scented orange blooms,

Both here are seen.

‘‘And stately trees and luscious fruits

Thy soil supplies;

But the enriching showers and rains

The heaven denies.

“Thou once wast fertile, rich and green,

But now, how bare;

And yet thou still art beautiful,

Still sweet and fair.

“Such matchless days of calm, fair skies

Thy summers bring!

And lovely, too, are all the hours

Of balmy spring.

“Each season as it rolls around,

New beauties gives;

And every object, silent, cries,

‘My Maker lives.’”

To be continued

 

Hiking and Health

Adventists have long known that “pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, [and] trust in divine power—these are the true remedies” (Ellen White, The Ministry of Healing, p. 127). If there is one remedy that we as a people emphasize more than another, it is proper diet, and that certainly helps to lay a strong foundation for over-all health. But while we spend great percentages of our means upon good food, there is an area that is often neglected that costs little to nothing, and that is exercise. When I first learned of the health message my thought was, Well, there never would be such a thing as an overweight Seventh-day Adventist. Was I wrong!

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The Appalachian Trail, with its famous white blaze marking the path.

While many of our people abstain from meat and some are total vegans, I still see overweight believers. I used to think it was from eating the wrong foods and surely this is partly true, but it is not the whole story. Then I began to think that it was also from eating too much food, even good food. This is also true but not entirely the answer.

What I have realized over time is that we have many health issues among us, not only being overweight, but diabetes, hypertension, and a host of diseases from a failure of obeying all of the eight natural remedies.

I would like to say that I think one of the most neglected aspects of the heath message is exercise. We all realize the necessity of taking time to eat, but the time it takes to exercise is grudgingly released. Yet the benefits of exercise are so many that it is hard to see why we neglect it!

Walking, hiking, or backpacking in nature is one of the best activities that I have found to help with my health because, at least for me, it has allowed me to incorporate all the laws of health into one sweet package. Let me explain with an example.

This last year I have begun hiking the Appalachian Trail, a wilderness trail of almost 2,200 miles stretching from northern Georgia to Maine.[1] Each year hundreds of people devote several months of their time to hike this trail straight through. Some only day hike small bits and pieces and some, like me, work on hiking it in sections, perhaps a state or part of a state at a time. This year I was able to hike 200 miles (far short of my goal of 400 miles). However, I was greatly blessed with the time in God’s second book, and now let me explain how all the laws of health become incorporated into such a hike.

Certainly going up and down the mountains is great exercise, but that is not all. As one is out in the mountains, they are away from the cites and the ways of the world. Here you see the works of God’s hands. You get the pure air and sunlight naturally. Their are fresh springs along the way for drinking water, and you will be thirsty too! In the woods you will not have available false stimulants of the world for a temptation, and I assure you that you will be glad for rest at the end of the day. Furthermore, as you are in God’s second book, you will have time to pray and talk to God and read his word instead of watching a TV or playing a video game in the evening. Another point: the trail has a great way of producing a good appetite. While I have had to be careful and selective, I have found ways to take healthful food for my trips.

I realize that not everyone can backpack, but most of us can at least walk or hike some, and there is no better place than in God’s nature; whether it be a forest, a meadow with lakes, or even a park in a city. Why not take time this coming year to explore God’s second book and to enjoy all the benefits of the true remedies.

Allen Stump

[1]. For those not acquainted with the Appalachian Mountains, they are a chain of mountains and hills that run along the eastern part of the United States. While some parts of the trail are level, most parts run up and down, up and down, and then up and down again, through the mountains. As one hikes the trail and looks on a map, it seems as though the trail designers were trying to make the path as difficult as possible. I promise you that if you will hike this trail, you will exercise!


Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, 750 Smyrna Road, Welch, WV 24801–9606 U. S. A. 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 website. The url is: http://www.smyrna.org. Phone: (304) 732–9204. Fax: (304) 732–7322.

Editor Allen Stump—editor@smyrna.org
Associate Editor Onycha Holt—onycha@smyrna.org