Monday, June 24, 2013

"Lest We Forget (Malachi)"

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

Major Lessons From Minor Prophets

Lesson 13: "Lest We Forget (Malachi)"


Some people think that the "straight testimony"--the 1888 message--of "the faithful and true witness" to the "angel of the church of the Laodiceans" [1] is too negative for the Seventh-day Adventist Church and should be toned down or eliminated because it's too critical of the leadership and laity (Rev. 3:14). It is believed that the message calls for repentance when none is needed, for the church is proclaiming the evangelistic message of righteousness by faith.

Every one of the minor prophets has a message for the Laodicean church addressing its apathy and lukewarmness. [2] Malachi is no exception. [3] The state of the church is so serious because of a compromised leadership that God spares no pains as He places a "burden of the word ... to Israel" upon Malachi (Mal. 1:1).

After Israel's return from Babylon the Lord sent them leaders and prophets who motivated the people to restore the temple and worship services. The Lord gave them security and prosperity. They were cured of idol worship. They promised God right and left to obey His laws. They even had the biggest reform movement under the leadership of Nehemiah that had been seen since the days of King Josiah. [4] And, yet, they failed God's purpose for them to share the glorious good news of salvation to the world and selfishly turned inward.

Malachi taught that the lessons of the past should not be not forgotten, and that they must believe the covenant made by Jehovah with the house of Israel. [5] Only by heartfelt repentance could the blessing of God be realized. "The covenant of 'life and peace' God had made with the sons of Levi--the covenant which, if kept, would have brought untold blessing--the Lord now offered to renew with those who once had been spiritual leaders. ..." [6]

Clearly Israel had not grasped their problem, and more specifically God's new covenant gift of a new heart and a life of righteousness by faith in Him. This was a sad repeat of their history ever since the pattern was set at Mt. Sinai when their forefathers pledge themselves to do everything just right (Ex. 19:8). The consequence was that throughout their history Israel's rollercoaster ride was up and down. When they fell into disaster there would follow reformations based on their old covenant promises. Their reforms never lasted and the cycle repeated itself from one generation to the next. Now four hundred years before Christ's first advent they were no more prepared to receive their Messiah than they were after Mt. Sinai. [7]

God raises six disputes with the people in which they reply to Him in a very surly, self-satisfied manner. I have loved you," but they don't see it. "Wherein hast thou loved us?" (Mal. 1:2). We have yet even to begin comprehending "the breadth, and length, and depth, and height" of "the love of Christ" (Eph. 3:18, 19). This is the great dynamic of the "most precious" sanctuary truth. So we have a moral fall of having "left thy first love" (Rev. 2:4).

In the Lord's second dispute He says, "where is mine honor?" (Mal. 1:6). The problem is the priests, the spiritual leaders, who "despise my name." And they respond vacuously, "Wherein have we despised thy name?" They are offering diseased and defective animals for sacrifice. That which was to represent the pure, sinless, Lamb of God, was polluted by their cheap, lame substitutes in order to save money. It's like there were plenty of crosses in their churches proclaiming their profession of Christianity, but little comprehension of the meaning of the cross.

God's purpose for His people is that they might appreciate what it cost the dear Son of God to die for them on the cruel cross. Such an understanding of the cross leads to a deepening repentance so that they might uplift the cross and thus the character of God's love before the world. [8] God declares, "from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same My name shall be great among the Gentiles" "for My name shall be great among the heathen" (Mal. 1:11, cf. Rev. 18:1-2). This is God's destiny for His people.

God declares the solution to the sin problem is to be found in the cleansing of the sanctuary truth: "Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me; and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to Histemple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in; behold He shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts" (Mal. 3:1). Here the sanctuary truth and God's everlasting covenant are combined. The Messenger of the Covenant is the Lord Jesus Himself who comes "suddenly to His temple." Equally important is He comes to our soul temple via the Holy Spirit.

In 1844 the people were not expecting their High Priest to enter into the Most Holy of the Heavenly sanctuary. "This coming is foretold ... by the prophet Malachi." "The coming of the Lord to his temple was sudden, unexpected, to his people. They were not looking for him there. They expected him to come to earth." "Christ had come, not to the earth, as they expected, but, as foreshadowed in the type, to the most holy place of the temple of God in Heaven." [9]

God will send His "messenger" "Elijah the prophet" to prepare the way for the coming of "the Messenger of the covenant" into the sanctuary for the investigative judgment. "I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me" (Mal. 3:1). "I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD" (Mal. 4:5).

In anticipation of the 1888 Minneapolis General Conference, Ellen White published her Great Controversy the same year in which she wrote: "Light was to be given, directing their minds to the temple of God in Heaven; and as they should by faith follow their High Priest in his ministration there, new duties would be revealed. Another message of warning and instruction was to be given to the church." [10] Here she refers to the Elijah message. This is the promised latter rain of the Holy Spirit bringing "the straight testimony" sent by Jesus from the sanctuary. "The time of test is just upon us, for the loud cry of the third angel has already begun in the revelation of the righteousness of Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer. This is the beginning of the light of the angel whose glory shall fill the whole earth. For it is the work of every one to whom the message of warning has come, to lift up Jesus." [11]

How can you recognize "Elijah" when "he" comes? Knowing Jesus as we do, it must be a most precious message. Elijah's message will be one of reconciliation (Mal. 4:6). "Elijah's" message "turns" hearts, changes hearts, heals alienation in hearts, melts hard hearts. That's possible when people kneel together at the cross.

Elijah's message prepares the hearts of all God's people for the time when God's Holy Spirit will be withdrawn from the earth--the seven last plagues poured out (Rev. 16). "Elijah's message" will direct our attention to Christ as our High Priest "sending" a special final message of heart-union with Him.

--Paul E. Penno


[1] "The message given us by A. T. Jones, and E. J. Waggoner is the message of God to the Laodicean church, and woe be unto anyone who professes to believe the truth and yet does not reflect to others the God-given rays" (The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 1052).
[2] Our Sabbath School quarterly, "Lessons from the Minor Prophets" makes no connection of the prophets to the Laodicean message. In 1983 Leo R. Van Dolson wrote: "There can be no question at all about the significance of this book [Malachi] to the Laodicean remnant church. Those terms, Laodicean and remnant, sound like a contradiction ... but that is the situation we face in the last-day church" (Boost Your Prophets, 1983, p. 153).
[3] Notice how eerily parallel are some of the themes which Ellen White outlines regarding the Laodicea church immediately following the 1888 Conference, with the themes of the book of Malachi: The great controversy, the temptation of leadership by Satan to corrupt, unfaithfulness in returning to God His own tithes and offerings, the necessity for repentance (Ellen G. White, "Our Duties and Obligations," Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Dec. 18, 1888, pp. 794-795).
[4] "Under the leadership of Zerubbabel, of Ezra, and of Nehemiah they repeatedly covenanted to keep all the commandments and ordinances of Jehovah. The seasons of prosperity that followed gave ample evidence of God's willingness to accept and forgive, and yet with fatal shortsightedness they turned again and again from their glorious destiny and selfishly appropriated to themselves that which would have brought healing and spiritual life. ..." (Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, 1917, p. 705).
[5] "We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history" (Ellen G. White,Life's Sketches, p. 196).
[6] Ibid.
[7] "Satan had succeeded in preparing the hearts of the people to reject the Saviour when He should appear. Their own pride of heart, and their false conceptions of His character and mission, would prevent them from honestly weighing the evidences of His Messiahship" (Ibid., pp. 709-710).
[8] "The last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love" (Christ's Object Lessons, p. 415).
[9] The Great Controversy, p. 424.
[10] The Great Controversy (1888), pp. 242-425.
[11] Selected Messages, vol. 1 (Nov. 22, 1892), p. 363. "The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety. ... This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure" (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 91).
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"Heaven's Best Gift (Zechariah)"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic 
Major Lessons From Minor Prophets
Lesson 12: "Heaven's Best Gift (Zechariah)"
The last half of Zechariah's book deals with the concepts of war and peace on this earth and Who is going to end war and usher in peace. When Christ died and was resurrected, He won the war with Satan in that He met the law's demand that the soul that sins, it must die. But He accomplished more than that by living a sinless life in sinful flesh, He obtained a righteousness that He gives to us if we consent. This is what gives us peace even though the world remains in chaos.
The elderly exiles who remembered the glory of Solomon's temple complained that the new one being built would not be as wonderful. God gave Zechariah a new definition of glory. The new temple would see the true Immanuel. God incarnate in human flesh would walk the courts of this structure. This should have thrilled the exiles if they understood the implications.
True peace comes from God and can only be established in hearts that are in harmony with God. Harmony with God is achieved only when human hearts are not at enmity with God and His law. In human strength, this is impossible, but when we yield our hearts to Him, He has promised that if we do not resist, our lives will become lives of continual obedience as if carrying out our own impulses. [1] Why did Christ have to come "in the likeness of sinful flesh"? Why couldn't He simply have worked a miracle to fix everything? By assuming our fallen, sinful nature, carried us in Him to the cross and thereby the entire human race obtained a verdict of acquittal. But that wasn't enough. Christ lived a sinless life which produced a righteousness in sinful flesh which He is ready to give us if we are willing. No wonder Ellen White said, "The humanity of the Son of God is everything to us. It is the golden chain that binds our souls to Christ, and through Christ to God. This is to be our study." [2]
Until the 1940s Seventh-day Adventist scholars and leaders were united regarding the nature of Christ. In the Preface of Jean Zurcher's book,Touched With Our FeelingsA Historical Survey of Adventist Thought on the Human Nature of Christ, Kenneth H. Wood wrote in 1996:
"Because Adventists from the beginning have held that Jesus took human nature as He found it after more than 4,000 years of sin, ministers and theologians of other churches have distorted this belief and used it to turn people away from the Sabbath truth and the three angels' messages. ... In the early 1930s an article challenging three Adventist teachings, including the nature of Christ, appeared in Moody Monthly. Francis D. Nichol, editor of theReview and Herald (now Adventist Review), responded to the charges by writing a letter to the editor. Regarding the teaching that Christ 'inherited a sinful, fallen nature,' he said: 'The belief of the Seventh-day Adventists upon this subject is definitely set forth in Hebrews 2:14-18. To the extent that such a Bible passage as this teaches the actual participation of Christ in our nature, we teach it.'"
"The position set forth by Elder Nichol was precisely the belief that the church, as well as many respected non-Adventist Bible students, had held throughout the decades. It certainly was the view held by Ellen White, who wrote: 'In taking upon Himself man's nature in its fallen condition, Christ did not in the least participate in its sin. ... He was touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and was in all points tempted like as we are. And yet He knew no sin. ... We should have no misgivings in regard to the perfect sinlessness of the human nature of Christ.' (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 256)" [3]
Wood went on to say that in the 1950s when he was editor of the Review he "heard some church leaders say this was not the correct view--that it was the view of only the 'lunatic fringe' in the church."
Our early church fathers came from various churches, and brought their views with them. "Of those pastors who joined the Advent movement in 1844, 38 believed in the Trinity, while five were semi-Arian, including James White, Joseph Bates, Uriah Smith and, later, Joseph H. Waggoner," father of Ellet J. Waggoner, one of the 1888 "messengers." This belief was that Christ was the divine creator of heaven and earth, but he was a created being. White later changed his position. In 1872 the church produced 25 articles of faith which declares: "that there is one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, the One by whom God created all things, and by whom they do consist; that he took on him the nature of the seed of Abraham for the redemption of our fallen race; that he dwelt among men full of grace and truth." [4]
When he was appointed assistant editor of the Signs of the Times, E. J. Waggoner's first article published in 1884 states: "Christ was sinless; the law was in His heart. As the Son of God His life was worth more than those of all created beings, whether in heaven or earth."
Alonzo T. Jones (the other 1888 "messenger") agreed with Waggoner's Christology: "The figure is ... 'that garment that is woven in the loom of heaven, in which there is not a single thread of human making.' Brethren, that garment was woven in a human body. The human body--the flesh of Christ--was the loom, was it not? That garment was woven in Jesus; in the same flesh that you and I have, for He took part of the same flesh and blood that we have. That flesh that is yours and mine, that Christ bore in this world--that was the loom in which God wove that garment for you and me to wear in the flesh, and He wants us to wear it now, as well as when the flesh is made immortal in the end!" [5]
This gives some background not only on the views held by our pioneers, but also emphasizes the importance of an informed understanding of why the nature of Christ is so important to sinners. There was no need for Christ to work out a perfect character for Adam before he fell, so Christ took the nature of the fallen Adam who now needed redeeming.
Zechariah uses the metaphor of sheep, both lost sheep, because of worthless, uncaring shepherds and protected sheep, protected and cared for by The Good Shepherd, when the sheep cherish the protection. Then in Zechariah chapter 12 the reader's mind is directed forward to "that day." And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him. ..." (vss. 10-11).
There is much hope for us in these verses. The Good Shepherd will gather both the leadership of Israel and the inhabitants together at the end of time. A spirit of compassion is poured out of God's agape and a spirit of supplication which lightens the earth with a demonstration of God's glory and how it changes people. Because of the compassion they have been given, the message of supplication is given. What is the supplication? It is nothing less than the final Elijah message that pleads with mankind to make their decision. Do they want to remain in the protection of the Good Shepherd, or will they resist?
Why is this end-time demonstration dependent on a proper understanding of the nature Christ? The pre-fall nature Adam enjoyed before sin entered was defined by a bright line: On the day that you eat thereof (the tree) you shall surely die. As long as they did not "eat thereof" obedience came naturally. But that nature, if it didn't change, needed no redeeming. Jesus had laid the prerogatives of divinity aside, so He could not determine day by day that He had lived a pure life. But by the power of the Holy Spirit, He withstood the most severe temptation both in Gethsemane and on the cross in our fallen, sinful nature. This is the faith of Jesus. He was not using His divine nature to help Him, so He demonstrated to the watching universe that Satan was wrong. It is possible for God through His Spirit to produce a sinless character in sinful flesh. He gives this victorious righteousness to those willing to accept and begins to change our characters even before He comes.
"Before the end comes, and at the time of the coming of Christ, there must be a people on earth, not necessarily large in proportion to the number of inhabitants of earth, but large enough to be known in all the earth, in whom 'all the fullness of God' will be manifest even as it was in Jesus of Nazareth. God will demonstrate to the world that what He did with Jesus of Nazareth He can do with anyone who will yield to Him." [6]
This demonstration will finally end the war between Christ and Satan, who opposed Christ's plan to save mankind asserting it was impossible to keep God's law. As our characters become more like Christ's through the fire of suffering, we find peace in trusting that God will do what He says He will do, that is finish the work He started in us until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).
--Arlene Hill
Endnotes:[1] cf. Steps to Christ, p. 27, and The Desire of Ages, p. 668.
[2] Selected Messages, book 1, p. 244.
[3] Jean Zurcher, Touched With Our Feelings, pp. 16, 17.
[4] Ibid, p. 47, quoting from Review and Herald, Jan. 2, 1872 (italics supplied).
[5] General Conference Bulletin, 1893, p. 207.
[6] E. J. Waggoner, as quoted in Zurcher, p. 73.
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Friday, June 14, 2013

1888 Message National Conference

1888 Message National Conference

July 9-13, 2013

Washington Adventist University

Takoma Park, MD

Theme:  Grace Invasion

Each room is $36/night/double occupancy no linen.
 $5.00 is a onetime fee per person. Linen includes: 1-pillow, top and bottom sheet, towel and face cloth.(blankets and pillows are limited).
A list (in MSExcel) of those individuals who plan to come 2 weeks prior to arrival. List should include: full name, gender, single or double occupancy needed, arrival and departure date, and linen needs.
Payment can be made by cash, check, or credit card upon arrival.
Food: Washington Adventist Hospital - Phone: 301-891-5010.

EMAIL to make room reservations.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

SST # 11| "Visions of Hope (Zechariah)" Pastor Paul Penno

"Visions of Hope (Zechariah)"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic 
Major Lessons From Minor Prophets
Lesson 11: "Visions of Hope (Zechariah)"
Zechariah and Haggai were contemporaries in Jerusalem and both were concerned with the rebuilding of the ruined Temple. By Zechariah's first recorded sermon, building was already underway, so his first message concerned the symbolism of the temple services.
Zechariah starts bluntly: "The Lord was very angry with your fathers ..." (Zech. 1:2*). Prophets had always been used by God as the conscience of Israel. When they repeatedly turned away from Him, He patiently sent messengers to remind the people of their special calling. It was largely the failure of previous generations that had culminated in the captivity and destruction of Jerusalem. Unless past failures are remedied, it is inevitable they will be repeated. When our church was given the message of righteousness through faith in Christ, our "fathers" resisted and suppressed it:
"An unwillingness to yield up preconceived opinions, and to accept this truth, lay at the foundation of a large share of the opposition manifested at Minneapolis against the Lord's message through Brethren [E. J.] Waggoner and [A. T.] Jones. By exciting that opposition Satan succeeded in shutting away from our people, in a great measure, the special power of the Holy Spirit that God longed to impart to them. The enemy prevented them from obtaining that efficiency which might have been theirs in carrying the truth to the world, as the apostles proclaimed it after the day of Pentecost. The light that is to lighten the whole earth with its glory was resisted, and by the action of our own brethren has been in a great degree kept away from the world." [1]
The confusion continues today. Many are sincerely teaching what they think is the message of righteousness by faith, but they misunderstand it and without realizing, insert Old Covenant concepts of works-based righteousness. Others fear to study it because of mixed messages from church leaders, who, if not openly hostile, are indifferent. Until the church's leadership acknowledges the error so the genuine message can be studied, the church corporately repeats the errors of the fathers in resisting the light that is to lighten the whole earth with glory.
"The sin committed in what took place at Minneapolis remains on the record books of heaven, registered against the names of those who resisted light, and it will remain upon the record until full confession is made ..." [2]
Some have become so frustrated with the church they have pulled away thinking things have deteriorated so much that God can no longer bless the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. There must have been some in Zechariah's Israel who suffered from a version of that. In the dark days at the end of 70 years in exile it would be tempting to wonder if God had abandoned His promises to Israel. But God reassures them in Zechariah 1:3: "Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'Return to Me,' declares the Lord of hosts, 'that I may return to you,' says the Lord of hosts." The repetition of the name "Lord of hosts" reminds Israel that though they were a small group of refugees trying to rebuild their lives, God identifies them with the hosts of the redeemed who have gone before and will come after their time in history. The vision of the four horsemen reassures that even during times of correction, God is still in control of earth's events. The vision of a city without walls is reassurance that God will rebuild a city that needs no protective walls.
The vision of Joshua, the high priest in Jerusalem at the time, is a beautiful image of character transformation, but can be misinterpreted. Notice that this is a courtroom scene with Satan as the accuser. When the first Adam sold out to Satan in the Garden of Eden, the entire human race was destined for destruction, as brands thrown into the fire. Christ reversed that when He became the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4 and Rev. 17:8).
Notice also that the clean garment was given to the High priest, Joshua, not Zechariah. The High priest was a type of Christ, representing the intermediary functions Christ provides between sinners and a holy God. But are we to believe that the garments of the spotless Lamb of God were filthy? It is true, Christ never sinned in any way, but He became sin for us (2 Cor.5:21). By assuming our fallen human nature, He took humanity into Himself and on the cross, obtained the verdict of acquittal for the entire human race.
Many believe the ceremony described in Zechariah 3 depicts individuals receiving their robes, and once received, they are invested with their own intrinsic righteousness, and that entitles them to heaven. Humbling as it is, we will be dependent on the righteousness of Christ for all eternity. Those who accept their total dependency on their position in Christ are covered with Hisgarment of righteousness.
The wickedness of Babylon still existed in the exiles' hearts, as represented by the wicked woman who is confined in a container which is dispatched to Shinar in Babylon. In spite of having the "flying scroll" described in Zechariah 5:2, sent to lighten the earth with the glory of the gospel to all the earth, the people had become indifferent to theft and dishonesty. The justice system (administered by the priests) tacitly encouraged this attitude by doing little to prevent or prosecute offenders.
The scroll's proportions (twice as long as wide) echo those of the sanctuary itself, suggesting the subject of the scroll's message. It was not enough that Israel rebuilt the physical temple. God wanted them to allow Him to dwell in the soul temple by allowing Him to cleanse their hearts. The message of the sanctuary cleansing is an essential part of the 1888 Message. Any church that knows the pure gospel of total dependence on Christ for His righteousness, but mixes old covenant works into their teaching joins ancient Israel's wickedness of theft and dishonesty.
Contented Laodiceans resist change, saying God's purposes know no haste or delay:
"It is the privilege of every Christian, not only to look for, but to hasten the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Were all who profess His name bearing fruit to His glory, how quickly the whole world would be sown with the seed of the gospel. Quickly the last harvest would be ripened, and Christ would come to gather the precious grain." [3]
Writing to the church in 1900, the servant of the Lord confirmed our role in the delay of Christ's return:
"Had the purpose of God been carried out by His people in giving to the world the message of mercy, Christ would, ere this, have come to the earth, and the saints would have received their welcome into the city of God." [4]
"We may have to remain here in this world because of insubordination many more years, as did the children of Israel; but for Christ's sake, His people should not add sin to sin by charging God with the consequence of their own wrong course of action." [5]
The responsibility of church leadership is so serious that Jesus said, "And whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea" (Mark 9:42). May God give us wisdom and gentleness to share this "most precious message."
--Arlene Hill
* Bible texts are from the New American Standard Bible.
Endnotes (Ellen G. White):
[1] Selected Messages, book 1, p. 234, 235.
[2] The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 1031; letter to O. A. Olsen, Sept. 1, 1892.
[3] Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, pp. 22, 23; 1904.
[4] Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 450.
[5] Letter 184, 1901; Evangelism, p. 696.
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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

SST # 10| "First Things First! (Haggai)" Pastor Paul Penno

"First Things First! (Haggai)"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic 
Major Lessons From Minor Prophets
Lesson 10: "First Things First! (Haggai)"

"In the night season I was in my dreams in a large meeting, with ministers, their wives, and their children. I wondered that the company present was mostly made up of ministers and their families. The prophecy of Malachi was brought before them in connection with Daniel, Zephaniah, Haggai, and Zechariah. The teaching of these books was carefully investigated. The building of the temple, and the temple service, were considered. There was close searching of the Scriptures in regard to the sacred character of all that appertained to the temple service. Through the prophets, God has given a delineation of what will come to pass in the last days of this earth's history; and the Jewish economy is full of instruction for us" (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, Feb. 4, 1902).
Throughout this lesson, questions are asked, such as: "Do you see any warning here for us?" "How can we learn to better appreciate the importance of the sanctuary message in the plan of salvation?" "Why is [Old Testament prophecy] so relevant for Christians even today?" Ellen White's statement provides the answers. The Lord showed her the important relevance of the messages He gave to these Old Testament prophets for His last days' Laodicean church. Is God trying to wake us up?
There is no way, as a denomination or as individuals, we can ignore the message God gave to Haggai. Is the message about building literal "temples," church buildings, or could His message for us concern another "temple"--the heart, corporately and individually. Our author says that the "Lord used Haggai to stir the people's hearts toward God's concerns." In his book, "Made Like ... His Brethren", Elder Donald K. Short writes with keen perception: "Learning from Israel's experience will cause God's people to see their assignment to construct a temple of truth that withstands the final fires of purification. That 'temple' will not be destroyed as was the one in old Jerusalem." He goes on:
"In 457 B.C., construction finally began amidst delays and disappointments. As Nehemiah's workers swept back the rubble and debris, a group of ancient ones began to wail and lament. As they gazed upon the foundations of Solomon's temple, a terrible realization smote their hearts. The beauty and majesty of that first temple could never be matched. The wealth of Israel in its greatest glory had been lavished upon the former edifice. When Israel flourished at the economic crossroads of her peers, the temple was one of the notable structures of the ancient world. But while despair and heartache absorbed the ancient ones as they drew comparisons, an amazing message of hope came from the Lord through the prophet Haggai. 'The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts' (Haggai 2:9). ... for Christ will dwell in that body as surely as He walked in the temple at Jerusalem. The glory of that latter day 'temple' will amaze the universe as the earth is lightened by God's people who have experienced in their lives the practical work of cleansing the sanctuary. This will be a display of 'glory' never seen before.
"And so was the 'glory' in the days of ancient Israel. The prophecy of Haggai was lost upon them. They needed a radical change in the way they understood 'glory.' Their idea of 'glory' was connected with power and prestige among the nations. But 'glory' by God's definition could not be lowered to this carnal concept. The glory that would elevate the latter temple above the former would be in the realm of truth. The Word 'made flesh' would walk in the courts of this temple. The Seed of Abraham would show forth the 'glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth,' and from His lips would come words like no man ever spake before.
"That 'glory' was to foreshadow the early rain. But it is the latter rain that brings the harvest to fruition. All the types and shadows of the Hebrew nation were but a launching pad from which would rocket the revelation of Jesus Christ. Tragically, they saw only the launching pad and it became an end in itself. Because they were enamored with the routine of their organization they failed to see what it was ordained to accomplish. In their blindness they set about to crucify the truths that had in them the power to put the revelation into orbit.
"The countdown has begun. But everything depends upon correctly reading and understanding the launching directions. These directions are all contained in the message we have been given!" (pp. 112-114).
The "message we have been given" is the "most precious message" the Lord sent to the remnant church well over a century ago in 1888. The 1888 idea of the cleansing of the sanctuary is not that God's people do the work. The High Priest does it; and His people stop resisting Him "in His office work" (to borrow Ellen White's expression).
The Sanctuary truth leads directly to the Bride of Christ making herself ready. That "oneness" is something that has never happened in all past history--"the marriage of the Lamb is come, for His wife hath made herself ready." Something special is ready for those who are invited to "the marriage supper of the Lamb" (Rev. 19:6-9). As individuals, all (including those of the last days) are "guests at the wedding." But as a corporate body, the church of the great Day of Atonement becomes the Bride of Christ.
The relation between God and His people, in their perfect union, is typified by the relation of the bridegroom and the bride. These are one flesh, yet each can see the other as a separate person. In a perfect marriage there is perfect union so that both lives are merged in one. This was the truth which God spake to the Jews through Haggai, if they had had ears for it. "I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts: according to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remaineth among you" (Haggai 2:5).
Because God has formed every man for His own dwelling place, and implanted in every soul desires that can only be satisfied by the fullness of God dwelling within, Christ is truly "the Desire of all nations" (Haggai 2:7).
There are comparatively few of the people in the world who know Him, and who recognize Him as the object of their desire; but it is a fact that all the very longings of the human heart can be satisfied in Christ, and in Him alone. God has implanted desires in every soul, which can be satisfied only by the possession of Christ, in order that when He is lifted up before them, they may see in Him the object of their desires, and be drawn to Him. The devil's work is to deceive people with the thought that their desires may be satisfied in some other way than by the possession of Christ.
"And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts" (vs. 7). When the Holy Spirit outpouring of the latter rain comes, it will sweep like a tidal wave throughout the church.
The Sanctuary message that "the Lord in His great mercy sent" to us must yet lighten the earth with glory. Thank God, it will. And that, soon.
--Principle contributors: Mary Chun & Paul E. Penno

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