Reading 5 – Wednesday, December 10, 2014
The Health Reform Message in the Reformation
By Roland De La Paz, Philippines
One hundred years ago, a crisis in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Europe occurred. It was during the time of war that God’s people were tested and the church was severely shaken. When the leaders and members of the Seventh-day Adventists in Europe decided to defend the fatherland in war and bear arms on the Sabbath, the two percent who refused were summarily disfellowshipped.
After the war, the leaders of the General Conference visited the European Division offices; and in 1920, during the meeting in Friedensau, Germany, they stated that they had given their members full liberty to follow their individual consciences in such matters. This communication revealed the position of the Seventh- day Adventist General Conference and the need for the Reform Movement.
As this year, 2014, has been dedicated to remembering the beginning of the Reform Movement and its development, let us look at the relevant facts which led to its separation from the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
During the meetings of the representatives of the Reform Movement with the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference leaders and the European Division on July 21-23, 1920, in Friedensau, Germany– for the purpose of clarifying positions and possibly restoring the previous Adventist principles of nonviolence–the following questions were asked by the Reform Movement brethren:
1. "How does the General Conference stand with reference to the position taken by the leaders of Germany in the year 1914 toward the fourth and the sixth commandments?"
2. "What proofs are brought to us that we have not, from the beginning, taken the Biblical path?"
3. "What is the position of the General Conference toward the Testimonies of Sister White? Are they inspired? Yes or No? Is health reform still the right arm of the message?"
4. "Are our message and people, according to Revelation 14:6-12, national or international?”
We notice immediately that one of the main points presented for discussion was health reform, concerning which the Scriptures teach: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”
“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 7:1. Ever since those days, up to this present time, matters of health reform have revealed a difference between Seventh-day Adventists and the Reform Movement.
First, let us review the testimonies on this subject, some of which were given before the American Civil War. Early visions on the subject were given to Sister White in 1848, 1854, and 1863, and they were recorded in the Review and Herald, November 8, 1870, where James White declares: “It was twenty-two years ago the present autumn, that our minds were called to the injurious effects of tobacco, tea, and coffee, through the testimony of Mrs. White….
“When we had gained a good victory over these things, and when the Lord saw that we were able to bear it, light was given relative to food and dress.” –Selected Messages, book 3, p. 272.
Important principles revealed in 1854
“I then saw a lack of cleanliness among Sabbath keepers…. I saw that God was purifying unto Himself a peculiar people. He will have a clean and a holy people in whom He can delight. I saw that the camp must be cleansed, or God would pass by and see the uncleanness of Israel and would not go forth with their armies to battle. He would turn from them in displeasure, and our enemies would triumph over us and we be left weak, in shame and disgrace.
“I saw that God would not acknowledge an untidy, unclean person as a Christian. His frown was upon such. Our souls, bodies, and spirits are to be presented blameless by Jesus to His Father, and unless we are clean in person, and pure, we cannot be presented blameless to God….
Appetite and proper food
“Pride and idols must be laid aside. I saw that rich food was destroying the health of bodies, was ruining constitutions, destroying minds, and was a great waste of means.” –Selected Messages, book 3, pp. 273, 274.
As disease crept into the church, a warning was given: “I saw that many were sickly among the remnant who have made themselves so by indulging their appetites….
“There are some Sabbath keepers who made a god of their bellies. They waste their means in obtaining rich food. Such, I saw, if saved at all, will know what pinching want is unless they deny their appetites and eat to the glory of God. There are but few who eat to the glory of God.” –Selected Messages, book 3, pp. 274, 275.
Sixteen days after the General Conference was organized on May 21, 1863, as the Civil War was raging, Sister White had a major vision on health reform on June 6, 1863, at the house of Aaron Hilliard in Otsego, Michigan. The vision gave significant counsel on clothing and preserving one’s strength through proper labor and a cheerful, peaceful frame of mind. It presents our “duty to speak, to come out against intemperance of every kind–intemperance in working, in eating, in drinking, and in drugging–and then point them to God’s great medicine, water, pure soft water, for diseases, for health, for cleanliness, and for a luxury.” –Selected Messages, book 3, p. 280.
On December 25, 1865, another vision was given to her in Rochester, New York. As a consequence, she made the following appeal: “I was shown that our Sabbath keeping people have been negligent in acting upon the light which God has given in regard to the health reform, that there is yet a great work before us, and that as a people we have been too backward to follow in God’s opening providence as He has chosen to lead us….
“They have other gods before the Lord. Their taste, their appetite, is their god;… Those who have indulged their depraved appetites at the expense of health are touched, their sin pointed out,… They do not wish to be convinced; and although God’s voice should speak directly to them to put away those health-destroying indulgences, some would still cling to the hurtful things which they love. They seem joined to their idols, and God will soon say to His angels: Let them alone….”
Also the call to construct a health institution was declared as she wrote “that Seventh-day Adventists should have a home for the sick where they could be treated for their diseases and also learn how to take care of themselves so as to prevent sickness.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pp. 484-486, 553.
And on December 10, 1871, she emphasized: “I was again shown that the health reform is one branch of the great work which is to fit a people for the coming of the Lord. It is as closely connected with the third angel’s message as the hand is with the body. The law of ten commandments has been lightly regarded by man; but the Lord would not come to punish the transgressors of that law without first sending them a message of warning. The third angel proclaims that message. Had men ever been obedient to the law of Ten Commandments, carrying out in their lives the principles of those precepts, the curse of disease now flooding the world would not be.” – Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 69.
Trying to convey the importance of health reform, she added: “… Transgression of the laws of nature is transgression of the laws of God.” –Counsels on Health, p. 206.
One important subject for Seventh-day Adventists today is vegetarianism. Sister White, after receiving the vision in 1863, wrote: “But since the Lord presented before me, in June 1863, the subject of meat-eating in relation to health, I have left the use of meat.” –Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4A, p. 153.
In 1868 she wrote: “Yet we do not hesitate to say that flesh meat is not necessary for health or strength…. “The liability to take disease is increased tenfold by meat eating. The intellectual, the moral, and the physical powers are depreciated by the habitual use of flesh meats. Meat eating deranges the system, beclouds the intellect, and blunts the moral sensibilities. We say to you, dear brother and sister, your safest course is to let meat alone.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, pp. 63, 64.
Looking back at the experience of ancient Israel as they traveled from Egypt to Canaan, one of their tests was on the point of appetite. “Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in My law, or no.”
|“And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar-frost, on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna; for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.
“This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, Gather of it every man, according to his eating, an omer for every man according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents. And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack. They gathered every man according to his eating. And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. Notwithstanding, they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was wroth with them. And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating, and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.” Exodus 16:4, 14-21.
The Israelites were tested on the point of appetite, for, although God gave them “a certain rate,” some still gathered more than they needed. Gluttony is a sin. The inspired pen writes: “The word of God places the sin of gluttony in the same catalogue with drunkenness. So offensive was this sin in the sight of God that He gave directions to Moses that a child who would not be restrained on the point of appetite, but would gorge himself with anything his taste might crave, should be brought by his parents before the rulers of Israel, and should be stoned to death. The condition of the glutton was considered hopeless. He would be of no use to others, and was a curse to himself.” Referring to the present, the messenger of the Lord observes the same tendency: “Gluttony is the prevailing sin of this age. Lustful appetite makes slaves of men and women, and beclouds their intellects and stupefies their moral sensibilities to such a degree that the sacred, elevated truths of God’s word are not appreciated. The lower propensities have ruled men and women.” –Counsels on Diet and Foods, pp. 133, 32. Here it is good to note that the manna melted when the sun got hot. This shows that God is a God of order. He wants man to follow His directions precisely for his own good. The Israelites needed to wake up early, gather their food, prepare it, and then eat it at a regular time.
The instructions for the preparation day were also definite. “And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man. And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord. Bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over, lay up for you, to be kept until the morning. And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade; and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. And Moses said, Eat that today; for today is a Sabbath unto the Lord. Today ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none.” Exodus 16:22-26.
The same principle applies now. On Friday, we to prepare everything for the Sabbath–our minds, clothing, and food– so that when the holy day begins, everything will be ready and our minds will be centered on heavenly things. Let professed Sabbath keepers today not follow their own desires, for the heavenly instruction is: “The Lord is no less particular now in regard to His Sabbath, than when He gave the foregoing special directions to the children of Israel. He required them to bake that which they would bake, and seethe that which they would seethe, on the sixth day, preparatory to the rest of the Sabbath. Those who neglect to prepare for the Sabbath on the sixth day, and who cook food upon the Sabbath, violate the fourth commandment, and are transgressors of God’s law. All who are really anxious to observe the Sabbath according to the commandment will not cook any food upon the Sabbath. They will, in the fear of that God who gave His law from Sinai, deny themselves, and eat food prepared upon the sixth day, even if it is not so palatable. God forbade the children of Israel’s baking and boiling upon the Sabbath. That prohibition should be regarded by every Sabbath-keeper, as a solemn injunction from Jehovah to them. The Lord would guard His people from indulging in gluttony upon the Sabbath, which He has set apart for sacred meditation and worship.” –Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, pp. 225, 226.
The faithful children of God will heed these instructions, knowing that “Those who would rather die than perform a wrong act are the only ones who will be found faithful.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 53.
Let us remember that “Sins of the greatest magnitude are committed through the indulgence of perverted appetite.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 30.
“Self-denial is considered by some to be real suffering. Depraved appetites are indulged. And a restraint upon the unhealthy appetites would lead even many professed Christians to now start back, as though actual starvation would be the consequence of a plain diet. And, like the children of Israel, they would prefer slavery, diseased bodies, and even death, rather than to be deprived of the flesh pots. Bread and water is all that is promised to the remnant in the time of trouble.” –The Story of Redemption, p. 129.
Let us thank God for health reform, for “The light God has given on health reform is for our salvation and the salvation of the world.” –Counsels on Health, p. 446.
Appropriate clothing is a blessing of God to His people. He patterned the garments of the Israelites to differentiate them from other nations and identify them as His special people. A blue ribbon and fringes were two distinguishing features of their garments. “Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: That ye may remember, and do all My commandments, and be holy unto your God.” Numbers 15:38-40.
For Christians, the following recommendation should be a permanent guideline: “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.” 1 Timothy 2:9. Emphasizing what is revealed in the inspired word, the Spirit of prophecy adds: “Our words, our actions, and our dress are daily, living preachers, gathering with Christ or scattering abroad. This is no trivial matter to be passed off with a jest….
“We would not by any means encourage carelessness in dress. Let the attire be appropriate and becoming.”
In other serious quotations, Sister White writes: “All exhibitions of pride in dress, which is forbidden in the word of God, should be sufficient reason for church discipline. If there is a continuance, in face of warnings and appeals and entreaties, to still follow the perverse will, it may be regarded as proof that the heart is in no way assimilated to Christ. Self, and only self, is the object of adoration, and one such professed Christian will lead many away from God.
“There is a terrible sin upon us as a people, that we have permitted our church members to dress in a manner inconsistent with their faith. We must arise at once and close the door against the allurements of fashion. Unless we do this, our churches will become demoralized.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, pp. 641, 642, 647, 648.
According to the word of God, a clear distinction should exist between the ways men and women dress. “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.” Deuteronomy 22:5. “God designed that there should be a plain distinction between the dress of men and women, and has considered the matter of sufficient importance to give explicit directions in regard to it; for the same dress worn by both sexes would cause confusion and great increase in crime.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 460.
“In this style of dress God’s order has been reversed, and His special direction disregarded. ‘The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.’ Deuteronomy 22:5.” –Review and Herald, February 6, 1900, Art. B, par. 8; Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pp. 459, 460.
“So the dress of Christ’s followers should be symbolic. In all things we are to be representatives of Him. Our appearance in every respect should be characterized by neatness, modesty and purity.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 96.
“In dress, as in all things else, it is our privilege to honor our Creator. He desires our clothing to be not only neat and healthful, but appropriate and becoming…. Our appearance in every respect should be characterized by neatness, modesty and purity.” –The Faith I Live By, p. 243.
“Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” 1 Peter 3:3, 4.
A natural, healthful hair style
The New Testament presents the position of the Christian church regarding hairstyle. In 1 Corinthians 11:14, 15 we read: “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.” Also, regarding the color of one’s hair, it is wise, honoring to the Lord who made us, and a blessing to our spiritual well being to avoid chemicals and have the color of one’s hair remain natural.
Appeal from heaven
In ancient times, there was a temptation to worship and serve the idols that men made with their own hands, despite the sacred prohibitions for the people’s blessing. Such idol worship was forbidden not only at that time but also today. Furthermore, idolatry is not confined to the worship of statues and images; the modern form can be seen in following fashion, indulging oneself by eating unhealthful foods and substances, and accepting the world’s ideas and practices. May the Lord preserve His people from every form of modern idolatry.
The following inspired counsel shows the high ideal and holy principles that God has for His people. “We need to understand that God is in the health-reform movement. When we put Christ in it, it is right for us to grasp every probability and possibility.” –Counsels on Health, p. 495.
“All men are weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, and God would have all realize this fact.” –Our High Calling, p. 139. May God help us to live accordingly to the light He has given us, working in every possible way to maintain the strength of body, mind, and spirit by eating, drinking, and clothing ourselves for God’s honor and our blessing.