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Heavenly Visions

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    ACCEPTING AND REJECTING GOD’S PROPHETS

    J. N. LOUGHBOROUGH.

    “THE wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them?” Jeremiah 8:9.HEVI 65.3

    The Scriptures contain a record of those “aforetime” who accepted, and those who rejected, the instruction which the Lord sent by his prophets. This, with the account of his dealing with them, is written for “our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”HEVI 65.4

    One general statement of this fact is found in these words: “They served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing, yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets. Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God...HEVI 65.5

    “They left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.... They feared the Lord, and served their own gods.... These nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images.” 2 Kings 17:12-41.HEVI 65.6

    Another record of their course, which was made after their being carried into captivity under Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, is found in 2 Chronicles 36:14-20: “Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the Lord which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes [“continually,” margin], and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy. Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword.... And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon.”HEVI 65.7

    After the people were scattered from Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah spoke of them on this wise: “They went to burn incense, and to serve other gods, whom they knew not, neither they, ye, nor your fathers. Howbeit I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods. Wherefore my fury and mine anger was poured forth, and was kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; and they are wasted and desolate, as at this day.” Jeremiah 44:3-6.HEVI 66.1

    The Israelites had become so blinded by the fascination of this idol worship that they were not prepared to acknowledge at once that their captivity was in consequence of their transgressions. Of this the Lord spoke by Jeremiah, as follows: “What thing shall I liken to thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? what shall I equal to thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion? for thy breach is great like the sea: who can heal thee? Thy prophets [false prophets] have seen vain and foolish things for thee; and they have not discovered thine iniquity, to turn away thy captivity; but have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment.” Lamentations 2:13, 14.HEVI 66.2

    The manner in which the people received the instruction sent through Jeremiah is shown in these words: “As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.” Jeremiah 44:16-18. Thus we see they had exactly reversed the matter in their explanation of the cause of their difficulty, claiming that it was because they had ceased to make offerings to the heavenly bodies that they lacked food, and were in bondage. The message sent to them from the Lord was, “Because ye have burned incense, and because ye have sinned against the Lord, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened unto you, as at this day.” Verse 23.HEVI 66.3

    A few instances are recorded in which the reproofs sent by the Lord were accepted, and favorable results followed. The case of King Uzziah is one of that character: “Sixteen years old was Uzziah when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Jecoliah of Jerusalem. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah did. And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper...And God helped him against the Philistines, and against the Arabians that dwelt in the Gur-baal, and the Mehunims. And the Amonites gave gifts to Uzziah: and his name spread abroad even to the entering in of Egypt; for he strengthened himself exceedingly.... And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong.”HEVI 66.4

    In this instance is a striking illustration of self-confidence, which always draws one away from the Lord and his leadings. We read still further: “But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense. And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the Lord, that were valiant men and they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the Lord, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honor from the Lord God. Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the Lord, from beside the incense altar.... And they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the Lord had smitten him. And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the Lord; and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land.” 2 Chronicles 26:3-21.HEVI 67.1

    Another striking instance of success attending the heeding of the Lord’s counsel by his prophets is found in the days of Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah. The Ammonites, Moabites, and the inhabitants of Mount Seir, “a great multitude,” came against the king. In the straitened circumstances in which he and the people found themselves, the king sought the Lord, and pleaded thus with him: “O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do; but our eyes are upon thee.... Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah.... came the Spirit of the Lord in the midst of the congregation; and he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.... Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you.”HEVI 67.2

    As they rose in the morning, and went forth, “Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.HEVI 67.3

    As the Lord’s people anciently regarded or disregarded prophetic instruction sent them by the Lord, and witnessed the result of obedience or disobedience, they could say with Solomon, “Where there is no vision, the people perish [“cast off restraint,” R. V.]: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Proverbs 29:18. The Review and Herald, July 14, 1903.HEVI 67.4

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