Sabbath, July 16, 2005
“If I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15.
• To understand the necessity of organization and church order
• To cooperate for the benefit of the whole body and for the missionary work.
THE TIME OF THE PATRIARCHS
1. How do we understand that the church existed in a form of family in ancient times?
Genesis 18:19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
“In early times the father was the ruler and priest of his own family, and he exercised authority over his children, even after they had families of their own. His descendants were taught to look up to him as their head, in both religious and secular matters. This patriarchal system of government Abraham endeavored to perpetuate, as it tended to preserve the knowledge of God.
It was necessary to bind the members of the household together, in order to build up a barrier against the idolatry that had become so widespread and so deep-seated.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 141.
2. How do we know that the family functioned as a church, and the worship system was observed in rules and order?
Genesis 28:14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
Genesis 12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
“Abraham’s affection to his children and his household led him to guard their religious faith, to impart to them a knowledge of the divine statutes, as the most precious legacy he could transmit to them, and through them to the world. All were taught that they were under the rule of the God of heaven. There was to be no oppression on the part of parents and no disobedience on the part of children.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 141, 142.
THE CHURCH IN THE WILDERNESS
3. As Israel was still in Egypt, who was carrying certain leadership functions among the people?
Exodus 3:16, 18 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: 18. And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The Lord God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.
Exodus 12:21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover.
4. Considering the great necessity of order, what kind of organization was given to the people in the wilderness?
Exodus 24:1, 9 And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the Lord, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off… Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel.
Exodus 18:25, 26 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves.
Deuteronomy 1:9-16 And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone: The Lord your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude. (The Lord God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!) How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife? Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do. So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes. And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.
“The government of Israel was characterized by the most thorough organization, wonderful alike for its completeness and its simplicity. The order so strikingly displayed in the perfection and arrangement of all God’s created works was manifest in the Hebrew economy…Next came the priests, who consulted the Lord in the sanctuary. Chiefs, or princes, ruled over the tribes.
Under these were ‘captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens,’ and, lastly, officers who might be employed for special duties.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 374.
“From the beginning, God has been working by His Holy Spirit through human instrumentalities for the accomplishment of His purpose in behalf of the fallen race. This was manifest in the lives of the patriarchs. To the church in the wilderness also, in the time of Moses, God gave His ‘good Spirit to instruct them.’ (Nehemiah 9:20). And in the days of the apostles He wrought mightily for His church through the agency of the Holy Spirit.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 53.
LESSONS FOR THE CHURCH OF OUR DAYS
5. Are the instructions given to the wilderness church also a lesson and a mirror for us?
1 Corinthians 10:1-3, 6 (first part), 11 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat;… Now these things were our examples … Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
“Has God changed from a God of order? No; He is the same in the present dispensation as in the former. Paul says: ‘God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.’ He is as particular now as then. And He designs that we should learn lessons of order and organization from the perfect order instituted in the days of Moses for the benefit of the children of Israel.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 653.
“We want to hold the lines evenly, that there shall be no breaking down of the system of organization and order that has been built up by wise, careful labor. License must not be given to disorderly elements that desire to control the work at this time.
“The stars of heaven are all under law, each influencing the other to do the will of God, yielding their common obedience to the law that controls their action. And, in order that the Lord’s work may advance healthfully and solidly, His people must draw together.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 258.
6. What important matter should the church consider if it wants to cooperate with the angels?
1 Corinthians 14:40 Let all things be done decently and in order.
“Angels work harmoniously. Perfect order characterizes all their movements The more closely we imitate the harmony and order of the angelic host, the more successful will be the efforts of these heavenly agents in our behalf. If we see no necessity for harmonious action, and are disorderly, undisciplined, and disorganized in our course of action, angels, who are thoroughly organized and move in perfect order, cannot work for us successfully …
“Satan well knows that success can only attend order and harmonious action. He well knows that everything connected with heaven is in perfect order, that subjection and perfect discipline mark the movements of the angelic host. It is his studied effort to lead professed Christians just as far from heaven’s arrangement as he can.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 28, 29.
CONFLICTS AND SOLUTIONS
7. What is one of the reasons that sometimes causes trouble in the church?
Proverbs 26:12 Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.
Isaiah 5:21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
8. What is the wise way of solving and avoiding problems?
1 Corinthians 3:18-21 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours.
Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
1 Peter 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
Ephesians 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
“There is altogether too little respect paid to the opinion of members of the same church. It is the want of deference for the opinions of the church that causes so much trouble among brethren. The eyes of the church may be able to discern in its individual members that which the erring may not see. A few persons may be as blind as the one in error, but the majority of the church is a power which should control its individual members.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 107.
“I have been shown that no man’s judgment should be surrendered to the judgment of any one man. But when the judgment of the General Conference, which is the highest authority that God has upon the earth, is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be maintained, but be surrendered. Your error was in persistently maintaining your private judgment of your duty against the voice of the highest authority the Lord has upon the earth.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 492.
FOR OUR THOUGHTS
• Discuss the necessity of organization, and how the family system, instituted by God, was used in the work of salvation.
• Relate the purpose of choosing Abraham to make a nation as men became corrupt. Consider God’s providence of building the wilderness church that stands as a lesson for the modern church.
• Remembering that the work of God grew to be more systematical as times went on, try to discover the reasons why it was necessary.
• Consider how individualism in the last days can cause a problem in the church. How should we harmonize the order of the church and personal affairs?