Reading 5 – Wednesday, December 12, 2018
“… BELIEVE HIS PROPHETS, SO SHALL YE PROSPER”
By J. V. Giner, Spain/Switzerland
What is the gift of prophecy?
The people of God in all times have lived in harmony with the divine will. And the true worshipers at the time of the end are defined in the Bible as follows: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. To “keep the commandments of God” is to obey His holy law, the Decalogue, given in Exodus 20:1-17. This is clear without discussion. “The law is the great standard of righteousness. It represents the character of God, and is the test of our loyalty to His government. And it is revealed to us, in all its beauty and excellence, in the life of Christ.” –Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 62. The question is: What does “the faith of Jesus” or “faith in Jesus” mean?
The observance of the commandments and the faith of Jesus are closely linked. While God’s law is a reflection of His character and there- fore the standard that He desires every human being to reach, faith in Jesus is the way to achieve it, for in our sinful nature we cannot by ourselves meet the divine requirements. Romans 8:7. Only through the power of Christ is it possible for a human being to obey God’s law. One who exercises faith in Jesus as his personal Saviour receives the power of the Holy Spirit to obey God’s commandments, the basis of His divine government. In fact, Jesus stat- ed that obedience characterizes those who love Him: “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15.
In the Revelation, the same emphasis is placed on God’s remnant people keeping the Ten Commandments as the sign that distinguishes the true worshipers from those who are unfaithful. “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17. The inspired word is very clear in teaching that there has always been and there will always be a remnant that keeps the commandments of God as proof of their loyalty to Him. We have also seen that by the grace of Christ every Christian is able to do this, for, as the Bible text states, the remnant people of God have the “testimony of Jesus Christ.” What does this mean? The phrase is in Revelation
19:10: “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
The Spirit of prophecy includes all the messages that Jesus gave His people through the prophets. Through- out Biblical history, God raised up prophets to transmit His divine messages to the people. In very difficult and dangerous moments, a prophet arose in the power of God to proclaim, transmit, and declare the heavenly messages. “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken.” Deuteronomy 18:15. The words were not those of the prophet but of God (Deuteronomy 18:18), who revealed them to His instruments through dreams and visions. Joel 2:28; Ezekiel 1:1; Numbers 12:6.
These visions were accompanied by special physical phenomena, including the loss of strength (Daniel 10:8, 17); not breathing (Daniel 10:17); unconsciousness (Daniel 10:9), etc. It was revealed that certain qualities distinguished the true prophet: He spoke according to the law and testimony; he did not present strange doctrines contradicting those previously revealed (Isaiah 8:20); everything he prophesied came true (Jeremiah 28:9); he did not exalt himself but gave all glory to God (Daniel 2:28; Jeremiah 14:14); he did not speak words to please the hearers but those that God gave him, clearly reproving sin (Jeremiah 23:22); and his messages lifted the people’s minds to a higher spiritual level, never tempting them to disobey or go into apostacy. Deuteronomy 13:1-3.
The term “prophet” in He- brew, nâbî, means “to proclaim,” “to shout”; that is, the prophet is one who receives divine messages that he then proclaims. The prophet is therefore God’s spokesperson, because he ex- presses His will. Such messages can be advice, warning, instruction, exhortation, prophecy, and others. In the most critical moments for God’s people, such as when Israel was to be freed from Egyptian bondage, God chose His prophets to carry out His work. Deuteronomy 34:10. In the important times for His people, the prophets played essential, transformative roles as God’s instruments to enlighten, speak to, guide, and admonish His people.
There were prophets–both men and women–who mediated be- tween God and His people in Judah and also in Israel. The words of the prophets were not always well accept- ed; there were times when their lives were at stake if the messages were not flattering to the people and rulers. That prophets had a great relevance we can see in the Biblical record; they were raised up and encouraged by God. True prophets never put themselves forward as such; they were chosen specifically by God. Jeremiah 1:7. Their responsibilities were very great, and of- ten they had severe internal struggles, for their purpose was not to please the people but to convey the divine messages, no matter whether they positive or negative for the receivers.
It is also true that not every- thing in the prophets’ messages was a condemnation or admonition; there was also the voice of hope from God. When the people were ready to become discouraged or despair because of immediate danger or a very difficult situation, the voice of the seer comforted, guided, and strengthened them.
The messianic prophecies of the Old Testament prophets were the anchor of faith for millions of believers throughout history. Having the security and conviction that one day the Messiah would come to earth in the flesh to dwell with man was a powerful truth to encourage the people in the very worst situations, especially when they were oppressed by foreign nations.
Many prophecies were pro- claimed regarding the character and work of the promised Messiah when He would come to this earth. And the most amazing thing is that all of the prophecies of His first coming were fulfilled perfectly! Is this not something wonderful? Is this not enough reason to cause people to believe Him?
In the times of the New Testament, there were also prophets (1 Corinthians 12:28) whose messages were fulfilled, while others will still be fulfilled in the future. Having a clear view of what is going to happen in the future is a great encouragement to the believer, who can see that he is standing on the platform of truth and can discern falsehood coming from people who do not know God. In short, prophecy encourages him to prepare for the coming trials and grow in faith. 2 Peter 1:18.
In the constantly changing, unpredictable world in which we live, there is nothing more disconcerting for human beings than not to know what is coming. Soothsayers, mediums, and fortune tellers have always been and still are successful, because people want to know what will happen in the future. God absolutely forbade His people to have anything to do with such people (Deuteronomy 18:10, 11), for His prophets gave His message; all others were and are satanic deceivers.
The prophetic gift among the remnant
As stated above, in the most important moments for God’s people, there were always prophets at hand to guide and encourage them, and this was part of the divine plan. Amos 3:7. In His great love and mercy, the Lord also made provision for the prophet- ic gift in His end-time church: “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17.
As explained above, the “testimony of Jesus Christ” is the “Spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10), showing that this gift would be manifested in the remnant church. This happened when Sister Ellen G. White, a simple, God-fearing young woman, was called by God to be a spokesperson for Him. Under divine inspiration, she wrote thousands of pages for books, articles, letters, and manuscripts that have been published for the great benefit and inspiration of God’s remnant people in Adventism. She demonstrated the Biblical characteristics of a true prophet. We accept the messages in her writings as coming from God to guide His people of the end times to the heavenly Canaan.
Sister White was entrusted with the prophetic gift, as were other women in the Bible, including Moses’ sister Miriam (Exodus 15:20), Deborah (Judges 4:4), Ana (Luke 2:36), and others. The Scriptures state that women also receive this gift. Joel 2:28. The Spirit of prophecy is the Holy Spirit who inspires the prophets. We should not say that the Spirit of prophecy is what Sister White wrote but that she was inspired by the Spirit of prophecy.
She never called herself a “prophet” or “prophetess” but in humility and love performed the work of a true prophet. Her writings were not intended to take the place of the Bible but to direct the people’s attention to God’s word. “Little heed is given to the Bible, and the Lord has given a lesser light to lead men and women to the greater light.” –Colporteur Evangelist, p. “A lesser light” does not mean that her writings should not be accepted as inspired but that light comes from the throne of God. If that light was given to His people, it is because the Eternal has been pleased to do this for their good and for their edification.
The Bible is the revelation of God to His people. “In His word, God has committed to men the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are to be accepted as an authoritative, infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the revealer of doctrines, and the test of experience.” –The Great Controversy, p. vii.
God’s holy word is man’s guide, and the writings of Sister White inspire us to love, respect, obey, and proclaim that word. She did not write anything that would separate one from the precious revelation, but rather the opposite. When you read the Testimonies, you realize how deep they are and the fruit that they produce in your life. They elevate, inspire, encourage, admonish, and guide. The light that that has been given on health reform has been a great blessing to millions of people all over the world, and the spiritual books have been translated into many languages and spread all over the earth. Steps to Christ, a practical description of the principles of the Christian life first published in 1892, has been translated into more than 170 languages, with 10 million copies print- ed and distributed. I have met Protestant pastors who praise this book for its great spiritual value. Its pages are full of loving advice and teachings that help the reader grow in his Christian walk.
Sister White wrote more than fifty books, and she penned thousands of pages containing counsel for individuals and the church. Books that she wrote include The Desire of Ages, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, The Great Controversy, The Ministry of Healing, Patriarchs and Prophets, Prophets and Kings, Early Writings, Messages to Young People, Christ’s Object Lessons, Counsels on Diet and Foods, and many more.
A call to reflection
Keeping in mind that we are on the threshold of eternity, we should be very grateful to God for giving His people the light of the Spirit of prophecy. “We are living in the time of the end. The fast-fulfilling signs of the times declare that the coming of Christ is near at hand. The days in which we live are solemn and important. The Spirit of God is gradually but surely being withdrawn from the earth. Plagues and judgments are already falling upon the despisers of the grace of God. The calamities by land and sea, the unsettled state of society, the alarms of war, are portentous. They forecast approaching events of the greatest magnitude.” – Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 11.
The enemy will try to destroy the influence of the Testimonies so the people are left in darkness. “The very last deception of Satan will be to make of none effect the testimony of the Spirit of God. ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish.’ Proverbs 29:18.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 48.
Now is the time, more than ever before, dear brothers and sisters, to appreciate the Spirit of prophecy (1 Thessalonians 5:20) and to follow it carefully. 2 Peter 1:19. “Besides the instruction in His Word, the Lord has given special testimonies to His people, not as a new revelation, but that He may set before us the plain lessons of His Word, that errors may be corrected, that the right way may be point- ed out, that every soul may be without excuse.” –Letter 63, 1893 (“The Primacy of the Word”); Selected Messages, book 3, p. 31.
Dear brothers and sisters, I en- courage you to dedicate more time and effort to studying God’s instructions contained in the Testimonies that He gave to His people for their blessing. The Spirit of prophecy supplied the key to understanding the Bible in this very time in which we are living. God bless you.