Timely Greetings Volume 1, No. 14
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ISMS, AND THE REMEDY
TEXT OF ADDRESS BY V.T. HOUTEFF,
MINISTER OF DAVIDIAN 7TH-DAY ADVENTISTS
SABBATH, NOVEMBER 9, 1946
MT. CARMEL CHAPEL
A PRAYER THOUGHT
I shall read from The Mount of Blessing, page 166, beginning with the first paragraph. This reading is based on the scripture, “Forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.”
M.B. p. 166 — “Jesus teaches that we can receive forgiveness from God only as we forgive others. It is the love of God that draws us unto Him, and that love cannot touch our hearts without creating love for our brethren.
“After completing the Lord’s prayer, Jesus added: ‘If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. He who is unforgiving, cuts off the very channel through which alone he can receive mercy from God. We should not think that unless those who have injured us confess the wrong, we are justified in withholding from them our forgiveness. It is their part, no doubt, to humble their hearts by repentance and confession; but we are to have a spirit of compassion toward those who have trespassed against us, whether or not they confess their faults. However sorely they may have wounded us, we are not to cherish our grievances, and sympathize with ourselves over our injuries; but as we hope to be pardoned for our offenses against God, we are to pardon all who have done evil to us.”
Now, what should be the burden of our prayer this afternoon? — That we might have love for our brethren; that we forgive the faults of others whether or not they forgive our faults, that we confess our sins, regardless what others might do.
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ISMS, AND THE REMEDY
Let me introduce my subject by telling you a simple story.
Once upon a time six brothers were building a bridge, supposedly to the god of Justice. The purpose of the bridge was to unite the east with the west.
They had no difficulty laying the foundations and setting the pillars. But, lo, when they came to join the east wing with the west one, they found themselves confronted with a phenomenal obstacle: What they had built up during the day was torn down during the night. This miracle continued day after day. Finally the brothers sat down in a council meeting to discuss how they might solve their harrassing problem. Feeling that to quit would be the greatest folly they could ever commit, that it would bring their names into disrepute, they studied and they prayed.
At long last they concluded that the god of Justice was for some reason displeased with them and that a human sacrifice would appease him. So it was that they resolved to sacrifice the best one of their wives. This however, was not to be divulged to the women. In order to make an impartial and acceptable selection, they further resolved that on the morrow each would instruct his wife to prepare the best possible
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breakfast and dinner, and to take the meals to him at the bridge as early as possible. They were to explain to their wives that they must needs eat and pray at the bridgeside to the glory of the god of Justice, and for the success of their project. The woman to arrive with the meals first was to be the victim.
Five of the men, though, did not stick to their solemn oath. Each of them straightway told their wives what was to be done, and that therefore they should not hurry to the bridge with the meals.
In the morning, at the appointed time, the men were at the bridge site. Shortly afterwards they saw in the distance someone coming to the bridge. For a few moments no one knew for sure who it was, but soon the man who had kept his part of the agreement recognized it to be his wife. He, of course, immediately burst into tears, and with groans he fell to the ground. Seeing her husband’s strange behaviour, the wife dropped her basket of food and ran to the scene to learn what was the trouble. But while she was attempting to comfort her husband, the other five brothers seized her, carried her to a gap in the bridge, and there they cemented her alive. Now, the brothers confidently expected the bridge to stay up, for they felt that they had done all they could to appease the god of Justice.
Thus it was that while the five dishonest men that night returned home in happiness, the honest one returned to his home in grief.
On the following morning, all the men hurried to the bridge, expecting to find it standing intact. But to their surprise and consternation they found the whole bridge lying flat on the ground!
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Naturally, the incident was rumored throughout the city, and the judges of that city went to see what the great excitement was about. As they listened to the builders argue and philosophize from cause to effect, they learned that the unfortunate woman was not sacrificed by fair chance, but by fraud! Thus they judged that the whole disaster was due to the fact that unjust men were trying to build a bridge in the honor of a just god! The matter was brought to court and the judges finally decreed that Justice must be satisfied, else not only the bridge, but even their city might fall to the ground. Accordingly, on that very day the five unjust men were executed, and the honest one was made mayor of the city.
Christians have been building a bridge, so to speak, to the God of Justice for many years. But they do not seem to be any more successful than were the six bridge-builders. And for what reason? — For the very same reason the six builders were unsuccessful: Selfish men are engaged in the work, and though they see the need for a sacrifice, yet they somehow always manage to make others do the sacrificing.
And you remember that though the building of the tower of Babel was counter to God’s will and His order, still all the while the builders worked harmoniously among themselves, their project prospered — their tower skyrocketed. But when their language was confused and they could no longer understand one another, then the progress of the tower stopped. And to show them that He was displeased with their project and that He was the One Who had confounded their language, God blasted the tower so that it crumbled to the ground. That which happened to the bridge happened also to the tower.
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Christians are working at cross-purposes among themselves. One Christian brother is betraying another. Christian ministers, rather than preaching the Truth, are preaching against one another. One goes ahead to build up, and another trails behind to tear down. They do not see eye to eye; nor do they understand one another even as much as did the confused tower-builders.
Just so long as such selfishness and dishonesty, confusion and animosity, exist among Christians, their bridge and their tower, so to speak, will come to naught as certainly as did the bridge of the six covenant-breakers and as did the tower of the prophet Noah’s mockers. There is no way of stopping ism trouble without removing the cause — no, no more than a splinter wound can heal before the splinter has been removed.
You are familiar with the fact that there was no ism trouble in Moses’ day as long as Moses alone interpreted the Word of God to the people. But just as soon as Korah, Dathan, Abiram and others aspired to Moses’ office ism trouble started. And the only remedy that even God Himself could find was to cause the earth to open her mouth and to swallow the ism-breathing multitude, the self-appointed representatives of God.
In our day there is an even greater flood of private interpreters of the Scriptures (the cause of today’s isms) than there was in Moses’ day. And according to Revelation 12:15, 16, the Lord warns that He will again use a remedy similar to the ancient remedy against today’s ism-breeding flood. Then some may learn to respect the office of the Spirit of Prophecy. Let us now read of the fate of
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those who chose to continue walking in sparks of their own kindling.
Rev. 12:16 — “…and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.”
Here we see that a similar remedy which caused isms to cease in Moses’ day, is again to be used to cause isms to cease in our day, the only means by which harmony can be restored among fellow-members in the church itself, as well as among Christians in general.
2 Tim. 3:16, 17 — “All scripture is given by Inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
2 Pet. 1:20, 21 — “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
Affirmatively stated, all Scripture, not merely a part of It, is inspired. Negatively stated, none of It is privately interpreted, for the reason that It did not come of men but of God; that is, as the Spirit of God dictated to men the Scriptures, so the Spirit of God must interpret the Scriptures to men, that no man privately (without Inspiration) is capable of disclosing the sealed prophecies or interpreting any part of them or even capable of understanding their importance after they are interpreted except it be by the gift of the Spirit of Truth “None of the wicked,” therefore,
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“shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” Dan. 12:10.
We should now be convinced that as long as this Divine command and principle of interpreting God’s Word is overlooked and abused, and as long as selfishness and bigotry exist among Christians in general and among Bible students in particular, isms will continue to increase, and the strength of the people will continue to be wasted just as was the strength of both the builders of the bridge and the builders of the tower. Yes, just as certainly as night follows day, just that certain will their efforts come to naught, and their shame be uncovered.
That we cannot be led into all Truth without the gift of the Spirit of Prophecy, Inspiration symbolically forewarns through the prophet Zechariah. Let us turn to Zechariah 4, and begin with the first verse.
Zech. 4:1-4 — “And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, and said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and has seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: and two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my Lord?”
The illustration here exhibited, you note, is an exact reproduction of Zechariah’s symbolism. In order that our study be simplified and vivid, we shall study the chapter along with the illustration.
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Now let us hear the angel’s explanation of this symbolism.
Zech. 4:5, 6 — “Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my Lord. Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the Word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.”
The angel disclosed two things: First he made known that the symbolism is concerning the Word of the Lord (the Bible) to the servants of God; second, that His Word is revealed, not by man’s might nor by power, but by the Spirit of God.
Plainly this symbolism as a whole represents the system by which the Lord transmits His revealed Word to His people. That we might have a thorough understanding of this Divinely designed system, we need to know what each component part of the illustration stands for. The Spirit of Prophecy gives the clue.
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In The Great Controversy, page 267 is explained that the “olive trees” represent the “Old and New Testaments;” Testimonies to Ministers, page 188, says that the golden oil represents the Holy Spirit; and on page 337 of the same book, along with Revelation 1:20, says that the seven lamps represent the church, and that the seven tubes (the ministry) convey the oil to the churches.
Now study the illustration itself as you would study any cartoon. First of all, the trees represent the Word of God (the Bible — both Old and New Testaments — two trees).
Here is seen that the whole symbolical set up is for the purpose of depicting the accomplishment of but one thing — of keeping the seven lamps (the entire church membership) supplied with spiritual oil (Bible Truth) so that it might give spiritual light all round about, that the church might lighten the world with the revealed Word of God. And since the ministry’s duty is to feed the church with spiritual food, the fact is that the seven tubes represent the ministry at work, taking the oil (revealed Truth) from the bowl to the seven lamps, the churches. Now the truth that in the illustration the tubes (the ministers) do not take the oil directly from the olive trees (the Bible), it positively indicates that the bowl in which the oil is deposited represents the container or the store in which the compilations of Inspired Bible interpretations are stored, and that from it, not from the olive trees, the ministers help themselves with oil and carry it to the seven lamps (to the church).
The two golden pipes, therefore, can be only a representation of the inspired channels which are capable to extract the oil (light of Truth) from the
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trees (from both Testaments) and store it in the bowl (books) for the tubes (ministers) to convey it to the candlestick (to the churches).
The symbolism, therefore, points out the system which Heaven has ordained for dispensing the Word of the Lord to His church: that the Spirit of Prophecy at work is the only remedy against isms in the church and in the world.
Those who do not avail themselves of the golden oil, and those who continue ever to hunt for some kind of oil, or whoever try to extract their own, will, of course, drop into the pit when the earth opens her mouth to swallow up the flood. Then it is that ism-breathers and ism-seekers shall forever pass away.
Zech. 4:8, 9 — “Moreover the Word of the Lord came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you.”
These scriptures positively imply that there are doubts in the minds of some as to whether antitypical Zerubbabel, or some other shall finish the work which Zerubbabel has started. Whom does Zerubbabel represent? —
The Word of God explains that ancient Zerubbabel is a signet, type, at the time God overthrows the thrones of the kingdoms, at the time their armies are destroyed by one “brother” Christians’s sword cutting down another brother Christian. (Haggai 2:22, 23). Zerubbabel, therefore, represents God’s servant at a time the crowned kings, “throne of kingdoms,” are overthrown, and in which time one Christian nation
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is at war with another Christian nation. Since the crowned kingdoms are fast passing away, and other forms of governments are taking their places, all proves that antitypical Zerubbabel’s appearance is now due. And the Lord’s own answer is “the hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it.”
Zech. 4:10 — “For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth.”
The day this scripture is fulfilled, is the day in which the Lord of hosts starts a reformatory work in an apparently very small and insignificant way, and those who despise small and insignificant beginnings will at last rejoice and shall see that antitypical Zerubbabel is the one to direct the work along with all (seven) his helpers. They are the eyes of the Lord. What a momentous day! What a great people! Evidently they constitute the “stone” of Zechariah Three which we studied several weeks ago, and learned that it has seven eyes, complete spiritual vision. Obviously this is the stone that smites the great image of Dan. 2:45.
Zech. 4:11, 12 — “Then answered I, and said unto Him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? And I answered again, and said unto Him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?”
All these taking place at this particular time, and the prophecies now unfolded, prove that antitypical Zerubbabel must now be here, and that as he has
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started the work, he also must finish it. The fact that Inspiration takes the pains to tell who is to finish the work in itself is proof that there must be active usurpers of his office as there were of Moses’ office.
Zech. 4:13, 14 — “And He answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my Lord. Then said He, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”
From the angel’s information it is now clearly seen that the symbolism depicts the system of interpreting the written Word of God, and of transmitting It to the church. The time of which is in the New Testament era, when both trees are in existence.
Let us now summarize the lesson by the aid of the illustration. Here we see a candlestick (a church) all of gold, the finest of all candlesticks (no “tares” in it). It constitutes the remnant (those that are left after the sinners are done away with) which indeed keep the commandments of God, and have the Testimony of Jesus Christ, the Spirit of Prophecy (Rev. 12:17; 19:10). This fine candlestick is fully trimmed and burning. The two golden pipes (God’s inspired interpreters) store the golden oil in the golden bowl (Spirit of Prophecy publications). And the seven tubes (the entire ministry) convey from the golden bowl the golden oil to the seven golden lamps (to the entire laity).
Under this perfect system of preparing, and dispensing the Word of God, “meat in due season,” to His people, there need be no fear that the reservoir will run dry, or that the lamps will grow dim. This is the only system, moreover, that can make the church perfect, without spot, wrinkle, or any such thing — a people without guile in their mouths, all seeing eye to eye,
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all saying the same thing. Truly “a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like.” Joel 2:2. This beyond doubt is the mighty power that lightens the earth, it is the Loud Cry. Indeed this symbolism reveals the church at the time she is endowed with the Spirit of Prophecy and with the righteousness of Christ.
Obviously, the system of Bible interpretation, described by Zechariah, is the Lord’s only system. It is the only remedy for isms and discord among Christians. Thus it is that His “watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.” Isa. 52:8.
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