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Heavenly Visions

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    HOW THE LORD INSTRUCTS HIS PEOPLE

    J. N. LOUGHBOROUGH.

    “GOD, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” Hebrews 1:1, 2.HEVI 60.2

    This scripture plainly states that the Lord had various ways of imparting instruction to his people. This is clearly seen in tracing Bible history from the beginning. In earliest time the Lord “spake” to man. He taught him with an audible voice, as is seen in the record concerning Adam. In Genesis 1:28, 29 we are told what the Lord said to Adam and Eve. In Genesis 3:8, 9, after they had partaken of the forbidden fruit, “they heard the voice of the Lord God.... And the Lord called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” In Genesis 4:6-15 is found the account of the Lord talking with Cain, both before and after his killing his brother Abel. Then in the record of the flood, both before it came and after, we have the account of the Lord talking with Noah. Genesis 6:13-22; 9:1, 8, 12, 17. In later time, in the days of Moses, the Lord spoke to him “mouth to mouth.” This is recorded as something different from the Lord’s mode of communicating with his prophets at that time. Numbers 12:6-8.HEVI 60.3

    The second special manner of the Lord’s revelations to man was by the ministration of angels. These angels were not (as some claim) “the spirits of dead men,” but a race of created beings of a higher order than men. By the mouth of David, the Lord said of man’s creation, “Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels.” Psalm 8:5. Angels appeared unto Abraham, telling him that Isaac should be born, and also that Sodom should be destroyed. Genesis 18:1-33. These angels also visited Lot in Sodom, to warn him of impending judgment, and to hasten him away from the danger. Genesis 19:1. An angel appeared of Joshua, just before the overthrow of Jericho, as “Captain of the host of the Lord.” Joshua 5:13-15. An angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, informing him that the Lord by him would deliver Israel from their oppressors. This angel gave him instruction in the preparation and execution of the Lord’s plan for the defeat of that mighty host by the three hundred men with no visible weapons except lamps, pitchers, and trumpets. Judges 6:11-22. Again we read of an angel that appeared to Manoah and his wife, informing them that Samson should be born, and giving instruction as to how they should care for him. After receiving the instruction from the angel, as they were offering a kid with a meat offering as a burnt sacrifice to the Lord, “it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar.” Judges 13:3-20.HEVI 61.1

    Satan counterfeited the work of good angels by sending evil angels to communicate with men. They sought to hide their own identity, telling the people that these communications were from their dead friends who had become as gods. The Lord told the people plainly that this mode of communication was from an evil source, and he pronounced severe penalties against this consulting with familiar spirits. Deuteronomy 18:10-12.HEVI 61.2

    As we came farther down in earth’s history, we find instead of angels appearing visibly to men, that other methods were used. Of this we read in the words of Elihu, “God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction.” Job 33:14-16. Those thus instructed the Lord called “prophets.” He said of them, “If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.” Numbers 12:6. Still later, referring to this class, he said, “I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.” Hosea 12:10.HEVI 61.3

    When reading of prophets in Old Testament times, one is apt to think simply of the sixteen, from Isaiah to Malachi, whose writings are in that part of the Scriptures. There are many prophets referred to in the Bible besides these. There are more than one hundred and fifty mentioned in the Old Testament, besides the sixteen already referred to.HEVI 61.4

    A seer and a prophet are the same. In Samuel’s time it was said, “He that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer.” 1 Samuel 9:9. It may be of interest to note cases where these prophets are mentioned. When Obadiah met Elijah in the time that Jezebel was destroying the Lord’s prophets, he told Elijah that he had hid one hundred of them by fifty in a cave, and “fed them with bread and water.” 1 Kings 18:13. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, was a prophet. Jude 14, 15. The Lord appeared to Abraham in a vision, so that it can be said of him that he was both patriarch and prophet. Genesis 15:1. Jacob had night visions, in which the Lord spoke to him. Genesis 46:2. He prophesied of what should befall his posterity, and uttered that wonderful prediction of the scepter in the hands of Judah till Shiloh should come. Genesis 49:2, 10. Joseph in Egypt prophesied of the seven years of great plenty to be followed by the seven years of famine. Genesis, chapters 40, 41. The Lord, when speaking to Moses of Aaron, said, “Thy brother shall be thy prophet.” Exodus 7:1.HEVI 61.5

    Deborah was a prophetess. Judges 4:4. Samuel was a prophet as well as judge in Israel. 1 Samuel 3:20. “A man of God” (a prophet) came with a sad message to Eli, telling him of the fate of himself and his sons. 1 Samuel 2:27, 36. Saul met a “company of prophets.” There must have been as many as four in the company, for four instruments are mentioned that they carried before them. As Saul met them, he prophesied. 1 Samuel 10:5, 6. David was a prophet. Acts 2:30. There was a company of prophets, with “Samuel standing ... over them,” and when Saul’s company whom he had sent to bring David, saw this company of prophets, the Spirit of God came upon them, and they prophesied. 1 Samuel 19:20.HEVI 61.6

    The prophet Gad gave instruction to David. 1 Samuel 22:5. Ahijah met Jeroboam and predicted the division of the kingdom. 1 Kings 11:29-30. A man of God came to Bethal and prophesied that Josiah should burn men’s bones on the altar. 1 Kings 13:1, 2. Jehu prophesied against Baasha. 1 Kings 16:1-7. Then there are the cases of Elijah and Elisha, under whose ministrations so many wonderful things occurred. 1 Kings, chapters 17, 18, 19,etc. There was a prophet that notified Ahab of the deliverance Israel should have from the Syrians, and another came and told him that the Syrians would return again the next year. 1 Kings 20:13, 22. Besides these, two other prophets are mentioned in the same chapter. Verses 28, 37, 41. Micaiah testified to the overthrow of Ahab, against the testimony of four hundred Baal prophets. 1 Kings 22:8-28. There were prophets at Bethel at the time of Elijah’s translation. 2 Kings 2:3, 5. In 2 Kings 9:4 there is mention of the young prophet that anointed Jehu as king over Israel. We read of a prophet that was sent to Manasseh. 2 Kings 21:10; 2 Chronicles 33:18. Huldah was a prophetess who dwelt in the college at Jerusalem, her husband being keeper of the wardrobe. 2 Kings 22:14. There were four sons of Asaph who prophesied. 1 Chronicles 25:2. In the same chapter we have mention of six sons of Jeduthun, who were prophets, and of Heman, “the king’s seer in the words of God.” Verses 3, 5. “Shemaiah the prophet” is mentioned in 2 Chronicles 12:15. And Iddo, who wrote of “the acts of Abijah,” is mentioned in 2 Chronicles 13:22. The testimony of Azariah the prophet which he gave to Asa the king, is found in 2 Chronicles 15:1-8. Mention is made of Jahaziel, who said to Jehoshaphat, “The battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 28:14-20. In the same chapter is recorded the words of the prophet Eliezer to Jehoshaphat, “Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the Lord hath broken thy works.” Verse 37. A little further on in our reading is found the record of a prophet who came to Ahaziah, but his testimony was met with the words, “Art thou made of the king’s counsel? forbear; why shouldest thou be smitten?” 2 Chronicles 25:16. Then there was the prophet Oded who reproved Ahaz the king for his “rage that reacheth up unto heaven.” 2 Chronicles 28:8-10.HEVI 62.1

    Nathan the prophet, and Gad the king’s seer are mentioned in 2 Chronicles 29:25. Jeduthun, “the king’s seer,” in company with others, directed the singing at the time of the great Passover held by king Josiah. 2 Chronicles 35:15. Urijah prophesied against Jerusalem “according to all the words of Jeremiah.” Jeremiah 26:20. Azur the prophet it seems had a son who prophesied against Jeremiah’s predictions. Jeremiah 28:1-9.HEVI 62.2

    With this array of prophets before our mind, we can say, indeed, The Lord “multiplied visions ... by the ministry of the prophets.” When the people followed in the way of the Lord, he was ever ready to instruct them. At such times it could indeed be said of them “For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for?” Deuteronomy 4:7. When thus favored, Israel rejoiced: but when such instruction was withheld, they mourned and said, “We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long.” Psalm 74:9. Again, “The land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence... Then shall they seek a vision of the prophet; but the law shall perish from the priest, and counsel from the ancients.” Ezekiel 7:23-26. This prediction was 594 B.C. A few years later (588 B.C.) they mourned in captivity. “The law is no more; her prophets also find no vision from the Lord.” Lamentations 2:9. The Review and Herald, June 23, 1903.HEVI 62.3

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