Dear Follow Believers:
These are indeed challenging times in which we live. How grateful we are for God’s guiding Word, the Bible, but the Bible teaches us that we have added light certainly not to replace God’s Precious Word, but to add even more light needed for such a time as this.
Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7 KJV)
Porque no hará nada el Señor Jehová, sin que revele su secreto á sus siervos los profetas. (Amós 3:7 SRV)
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 KJV)
Entonces el dragón fué airado contra la mujer; y se fué á hacer guerra contra los otros de la simiente de ella, los cuales guardan los mandamientos de Dios, y tienen el testimonio de Jesucristo. (Apocalipsis 12:17 SRV)
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. (Revelation 19:10 KJV)
Y yo me eché á sus pies para adorarle. Y él me dijo: Mira que no lo hagas: yo soy siervo contigo, y con tus hermanos que tienen el testimonio de Jesús: adora á Dios; porque el testimonio de Jesús es el espíritu de la profecía. (Apocalipsis 19:10 SRV)
When Ellen White lived in Australia, a family lived nearby on a large fruit farm. She had a great interest in the family. The father raised excellent oranges and lemons, as well as other fruit. He liked to read, and by doing so he had learned much about Adventist doctrines and accepted them as true. Yet he had not committed himself to follow them and live for God. Although he knew better, he clung to many of his old habits.
Soon after this Mrs. White had a vision one night in which an angel stood by her bed and directed her to visit the fruit grower again and to take him copies of her books. The angel said that the books would help convert him. Obeying the instruction, she collected a few of her larger books, put them on the buggy seat beside her, and drove over to the fruit farm. Although the man was working out in the orchards, he came up to the house when he learned that she had stopped by. “I have brought some books for you and your children to read,” she said. Again he replied that he could get such books at the library. She looked around the room. “I don’t see any library books here. Perhaps you feel reluctant to take out books from the public library.”
Before she left, Mrs. White knelt and prayed with him. When they stood again, tears rolled down his leathery cheeks. “I’m glad you came to see me. I thank you for the books,” he repeated over and over.
The next time she visited the fruit farm, the man told her that he had read part of Patriarchs and Prophets. “There is not one syllable I could change,” he commented. “Every paragraph speaks right to the soul.”
“Which book do you consider the most important?” she asked.
“I lend them all to my neighbors, and the hotelkeeper thinks The Great Controversy is the best.” Suddenly his lips began to quiver. “But I think Patriarchs and Prophets is the best. It is the one that has pulled me out of the mud.”
He and his family joined the church, and together they helped bring in several neighboring families. Those books still change hearts and draw people to Jesus.
“As a hart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?” (Psalms 42:1-2 RSV)
COMO el ciervo brama por las corrientes de las aguas, Así clama por ti, oh Dios, el alma mía. Mi alma tiene sed de Dios, del Dios vivo: ¡Cuándo vendré, y pareceré delante de Dios! (Salmos 42:1-2 SRV)
From the very beginning, creation was filled with sound, and every possible means of communication. In His desire to communicate with His children, God met them in the cool of the day to educate and guide them. He had placed Adam and Eve in a splendid garden and declared that all was good. “The book of nature, which spread its living lessons before them, afforded an exhaustless source of instruction and delight. On every leaf of the forest and stone of the mountains, in every shining star, in earth and sea and sky, God’s name was written. With both the animate and the inanimate creation——with leaf and flower and tree, and with every living creature, from the leviathan of the waters to the mote in the sunbeam——the dwellers in Eden held converse, gathering from each the secrets of its life” (Education, 21). God, who created human beings in His image, loved to communicate with them and to share with them the wonders of creation.
Today we find that animals, insects, and all living creatures have ways to communicate. The dancing bee indicating to his fellow workers where the nectar can be found; a young bird’s song that is learned from his parents; all of nature is abuzz with the sounds, smells and colors of communication. The herring gull, for example, communicates with its hungry chick by the red spot on its beak, and in response the chick tries to peck at the red spot, thus causing the mother gull to regurgitate food for it. Communication is indeed the common bond that holds all nature together.
We have an inborn need to be in contact with other people and to communicate with them.
Just imagine what life would be like if we suddenly lost all the inventions that have to do with communication: the written word, newspapers, radio, TV, faxes, telephones, cell phones, the internet. Without communication our world would grind to a halt! Communication is vital for human existence, and if communication is so vital to us, how important it must be to God. God’s preferred means of communication is face to face; this is the way God instituted His initial communication with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. “Our heavenly Father personally directed their education” (Education, 21)——it was that important to Him! So it was that God met them in the cool of the evening and educated them in all the secrets of the created world. What a joy and delight that must have been, to hold face-to-face communion with God! Ellen White reminds us of how heaven viewed this matter: “All heaven took a deep and joyful interest in the creation of the world and of man. Human beings were a new and distinct order. They were made ‘in the image of God,’ and it was the Creator’s design that they should populate the earth” (Review and Herald, February 11, 1902).
COMMUNICATION AND THE FALL
The entrance of sin brought separation between God and His children; no longer could there be face-to-face communion. As Isaiah 59:2 reminds us, “Your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”
“Before the entrance of sin, Adam enjoyed open communion with his Maker; but since man separated himself from God by transgression, the human race has been cut off from this high privilege. By the plan of redemption, however, a way has been opened whereby the inhabitants of the earth may still have connection with heaven. God has communicated with men by His Spirit, and divine light has been imparted to the world by revelations to His chosen servants. "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." 2 Peter 1:21.” (The Great Controversy, Introduction, p. v)
God’s desire to guide and save us is so strong that He designed a way to communicate His plans to us after sin entered the picture. Amos 3:7 tells us, “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.”
The purpose of this sermon is to explore how God continued to communicate with humanity and how that in the planning and providence of God the time will come when the perfect mode of face-to-face communication will again be restored.
COMMUNICATION DURING PATRIARCHAL TIMES
Before bringing destruction on the world, God called Noah to be His spokesman and preacher for 120 years! God’s call to Abram demonstrated a new strategy in His communication with His fallen creatures. He not only called a man, but He promised him descendants and gave him the prospect of being the father of a great nation. This new nation would evangelize others and keep alive God’s purposes in the world. Now it was no longer just a single leader or person that was called to be God’s mouthpiece, but an entire nation was to do His bidding (Gen. 12:1-3).
As this nation of faith grew, God chose to speak to His people in various ways. He spoke to Joseph through dreams, to the High Priest by means of the Urim and Thummim, and then through visions to the prophets who were called to be God’s spokespersons. During the time of the Judges the Lord continued to speak through the leaders, and especially through His messengers, including people like Deborah, Samuel, and others.
Prophets are not only spokesmen for God but are also known as the foretellers of things to come. During the time of the kings the prophets played a very important role in the affairs of the nation. It is from this time that we come across the well known text from 2 Chronicles 20:20, when King Jehoshaphat said to the people, “Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.”
By the time the nation was being established there were already some criteria for testing a prophet. False prophets have often plagued the people of God.
TEACHING IN THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH
In looking down the passage of time, Jesus expected the prophetic gift to continue to the end of time, for He warned the end-time church to beware of false prophets (Matt. 24:24). A warning against false prophets implies that there should also be genuine prophets, from whom the false ones must be distinguished, or else the warning would be against any prophets. Therefore we need to heed carefully the words of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:20, “Do not despise prophecies.”
It is clear that God’s last church on earth would have the prophetic gift. In fact, this gift would be one of the marks of the remnant church as recorded in Revelation 12:17 and Revelation 19:10. The disciples on the road to Emmaus were dismayed as they walked in the shadow of the crucifixion, thinking all was lost. Then Jesus came near and opened their minds to the events of their day and brought them hope and comfort. In a similar way, after the confusion and despair following the October 22 disappointment of 1844, God came close to His people by means of the prophetic gift, to encourage them, warn them of what was coming, and to prepare a people to meet their God.
SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS AND THE PROPHETIC GIFT
The Seventh-day Adventist Church that arose after the great disappointment of October 22, 1844, came to believe strongly in the role and place of the prophetic gift in the church. Ellen Gould Harmon, at the age of 17, revealed what God had shown her. She was sickly, shy, and by no means one to promote herself, but she had a message for the people that God had shown her in vision. She saw herself as the weakest of the weak and a handmaiden of the Lord. Ellen was a frail and sickly teenager who could barely speak above a whisper. Yet she was given a vision in December, 1844, which she was told to share with early believers. She married James White, a minister, in 1846, and therefore became known to members of the church as Ellen G White.
For seventy years her ministry and writings guided the church, and today, 105 years after her death, her writings still continue to point God’s church to the Bible and the Savior that it presents, the Lord Jesus Christ.
With the Bible writers we also exclaim, “Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus, Come!” Come and restore the original mode of communication with all mankind——face to face!
Don’t you just love a God who would become flesh to dwell among us!
Pastor Richard Parent