Friday, December 2, 2016

Lesson 10. The Wrath of Elihu

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
The Book of Job
Lesson 10. The Wrath of Elihu

Have you ever felt a "righteous indignation" about the 1888 message? Why doesn't the church recognize the latter rain message that ripens the harvest for Jesus to come? Have you ever been "angry" about that?
It's not fair is common and deeply felt. We are hard-wired with a sense of justice that ought to be done. We overturn governments because they are unjust or corrupt. We expose corruption and injustice in high places and expect it to be put right.
Job has made the accusation, "God is not fair!" He is not merely speaking of corruption in high places but of corruption in the Most High Place. If there is not justice in the universe, what hope is there for us? On a personal level, if I feel that God has not treated me right, in my health, my upbringing, my abilities, my relationships, my work, or in a failed relationship, a bereavement, a sickness, or a psychiatric disorder, then my faith will be harmed, my obedience will become reluctant, my hope will be destroyed, and my joy will be poisoned. The very first temptation in the garden in Eden was to believe that God is not fair. We are reminded as we meet Elihu that the justice or fairness of God lies at the heart of the book of Job.
When the three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes, then Elihu burned with anger. He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God. He burned with anger also at Job's three friends because they had found no answer, although they had declared Job to be in the wrong (Job 32:1-5).
Elihu is angry first with Job "because he was righteous in his own eyes" (vs.1) and "because he justified himself rather than God" (vs. 2). He is angry that a mortal man should claim to be in the right in a way that suggested that God must be in the wrong for causing him to suffer.
Was Elihu's anger justified? Was it what we would call "righteous indignation"? Jesus displayed righteous indignation over the misrepresentation of His Father's house (see Luke 19:46). And here we have a rare example of seeing Jesus when He was "with anger." He heals somebody when He was angry! We would naturally think He would want to cool off before He heals someone; but no, His "anger" was justified, holy, and righteous.
We should think carefully before we display our anger. Time and place and choice of words are always things we need to think about when we speak critically. Should we express some "righteous indignation" over Laodicea's refusal to receive the latter rain of the 1888 message?
Could Jesus sometimes be angry when He is present by the Holy Spirit at our own worship services? If we preach, sing hymns or gospel songs, pray public prayers, while we have "hard hearts," we run the risk of angering Him. His patience is never said to be infinite, and we are getting down close to the end. If someone has wronged us in an unjust way, we have a right to some "righteous indignation," but never should we permit our hearts to become "hard." We can be "angry" with a soft heart that still loves our opponent!
Suppose the Holy Spirit has responded to the pastor's earnest prayer for His blessing in leading the worship service and bringing us a message from heaven, and we sit there nursing a hard heart and then go home utterly impervious to the ministry of the Holy Spirit—don't ever let more than one Sabbath pass like that. When Jesus gets angry (He still does!), He doesn't throw a temper tantrum and break dishes or scream at us. He simply walks away sad, and leaves us alone. When that happens to us, we are most miserable and we have lost the consciousness of our misery. It's hardly a step from hell.
These people Jesus was ministering to in Mark 2 and 3 thought they were the "true church" which kept the commandments of God. Their parallel with us was uncomfortably close. Times almost without number Ellen White compared the church to them. In respect of "1888" alone, she said many times that we acted "just like the Jews."
Dr. Arnold Wallenkampf, formerly of the Biblical Research Institute of the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference, frankly acknowledges that our forefathers' sin in the 1888 era was a repetition of that sin of the Jews:
"It staggers one's imagination that delegates to a Seventh-day Adventist General Conference session could treat the Holy Spirit shamefully, insult and injure Him, and even figuratively crucify Jesus in the Person of the Holy Spirit. ... It was but natural for the majority of the ministers to follow their revered leaders. ... Many of the delegates ... became accomplices in the sin of rejecting the message of righteousness by faith, through action according to the laws of group dynamics." [1]
The sin of blindly following leaders, of drifting with the tide, of being afraid to stand alone for truth, is what Wallenkampf means by his term "group-dynamics." It is simply a synonym for corporate guilt.
What poses a unique problem is Ellen White's statements that "we" repeated the sin of the Jews in rejecting Christ in the person of His "special messengers." They are long since dead. How do we go about making that right?
Can Jesus be satisfied with an apology voted by our official committees? Or can the Holy Spirit accept a mere invitation to overlook "our" "insult"?
God is too big to be satisfied with such a veneer confession. We can't drag Him down to our judicial judgment levels. He is not concerned about His personal feelings (although He certainly has them!). He wants no financial indemnity or public convention-apology. His anger is not selfish; it is white-hot righteous indignation because a world has been deprived of "a most precious messagethat He "commandedshould be proclaimed. And He still "so loves" that world for which He gave His only begotten Son! He forgets Himself in His concern that this message be proclaimed, that people dying for want of it may hear it.
In our 1888 era "we" as church leadership brought upon ourselves a solemn indictment in full sight of the watching universe. It is inevitable that the world also must know the truth:
"An unwillingness to yield up preconceived opinions, and to accept this truth [the moral law in Galatians], 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 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." [2]
There is something we can do to make matters right with Heaven and with the world: Accept the message that we "in a great degree" rejected. That is still possible, but it involves humbling our souls. Give it to the church, clearly, powerfully, unequivocally. Allow the "Lord's delegated messengers," His "special messengers" in the 1888 era, to speak to the world church.
Let this "most precious message" vitalize our "29 doctrines," let it saturate our every radio and TV presentation, our public evangelistic campaigns, and all our magazines and publications. Proclaim it to the world without a trace of old covenant legalism mixed in. Only then could the Lord say of us what He said of Mary Magdalene's offering at Bethany: "She hath done what she could."
It will prepare God's people for translation. Don't kid yourself: Satan will oppose that message hell-bound. But "the grace of God" will be much more abounding. God's people will respond to their High Priest.
Paul E. Penno
[1] Arnold V. Wallenkampf, What Every Adventist Should Know About 1888, Review and Herald, 1988, pp. 43-45.
[2] Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 234, 235.
Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson is on the Internet at:
"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at:

Raul Diaz