"In the Spirit and
Power of Elias"
long centuries that have passed since Elijah's time, the record of his
lifework has brought inspiration and courage to those who have been called
to stand for the right in the midst of apostasy. And for us, "upon
whom the ends of the world are come" (1 Corinthians 10:11), it has
special significance. History is being repeated. The world today has its
Ahabs and its Jezebels. The present age is one of idolatry, as verily as
was that in which Elijah lived. No outward shrine may be visible; there
may be no image for the eye to rest upon; yet thousands are following
after the gods of this world--after riches, fame, pleasure, and the
pleasing fables that permit man to follow the inclinations of the
unregenerate heart. Multitude have a wrong conception of God and His
attributes, and are as truly serving a false god as were the worshipers of
Baal. Many even of those who claim to be Christians have allied themselves
with influences that are unalterably opposed to God and
Thus they are led to turn away from the divine and to exalt the human.
prevailing spirit of our time is one of infidelity and apostasy--a spirit
of avowed illumination because of a knowledge of truth, but in reality of
the blindest presumption. Human theories are exalted and placed where God
and His law should be. Satan tempts men and women to disobey, with the
promise that in disobedience they will find liberty and freedom that will
make them as gods. There is seen a spirit of opposition to the plain word
of God, of idolatrous exaltation of human wisdom above divine revelation.
Men have allowed their minds to become so darkened and confused by
conformity to worldly customs and influences that they seem to have lost
all power to discriminate between light and darkness, truth and error. So
far have they departed from the right way that they hold the opinions of a
few philosophers, so-called, to be more trustworthy than the truths of the
Bible. The entreaties and promises of God's word, its threatenings against
disobedience and idolatry--these seem powerless to melt their hearts. A
faith such as actuated Paul, Peter, and John they regard as old-fashioned,
mystical, and unworthy of the intelligence of modern thinkers.
beginning, God gave His law to mankind as a means of attaining happiness
and eternal life. Satan's only hope of thwarting the purpose of God is to
lead men and women to disobey this law, and his constant effort has been
to misrepresent its teachings and belittle its importance. His master
stroke has been an attempt to change the law itself, so as to lead men to
violate its precepts while professing to obey it.
has likened the attempt to change the law of God to an ancient mischievous
practice of turning in a wrong direction a signpost erected at an
important junction where two roads met. The perplexity and hardship which
this practice often caused was great.
was erected by God for those journeying through this world. One arm of
this signpost pointed out willing obedience to the Creator as the road to
felicity and life, while the other arm indicated disobedience as the path
to misery and death. The way to happiness was as clearly defined as was
the way to the city of refuge under the Jewish dispensation. But in an
evil hour for our race, the great enemy of all good turned the signpost
around, and multitudes have mistaken the way.
the Lord instructed the Israelites: "Verily My Sabbaths ye shall
keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations;
that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep
the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: everyone that defileth it
shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work. . . in the
Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of
Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their
generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the
children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and
earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed." Exodus
words the Lord clearly defined obedience as the way to the City of God;
but the man of sin has changed the signpost, making it point in the wrong
has set up a
false sabbath and has caused men and women to think that by resting on it
they were obeying the command of the Creator.
declared that the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord. When "the
heavens and the earth were finished," He exalted this day as a
memorial of His creative work. Resting on the seventh day "from all
His work which He had made," "God blessed the seventh day, and
sanctified it." Genesis 2:1-3.
At the time
of the Exodus from Egypt, the Sabbath institution was brought prominently
before the people of God. While they were still in bondage, their
taskmasters had attempted to force them to labor on the Sabbath by
increasing the amount of
work required each week. Again and again the conditions of labor had been
made harder and more exacting. But the Israelites were delivered from
bondage and brought to a place where they might observe unmolested all the
precepts of Jehovah. At Sinai the law was spoken; and a copy of it, on two
tables of stone, "written with the finger of God" was delivered
to Moses. Exodus 31:18. And through nearly forty years of wandering the
Israelites were constantly reminded of God's appointed rest day, by the
withholding of the manna every seventh day and the miraculous preservation
of the double portion that fell on the preparation day.
entering the Promised Land, the Israelites were
Moses to "keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it." Deuteronomy
5:12. The Lord designed that by a faithful observance of the Sabbath
command, Israel should continually be reminded of their accountability to
Him as their Creator and their Redeemer. While they should keep the
Sabbath in the proper spirit, idolatry could not exist; but should the
claims of this precept of the Decalogue be set aside as no longer binding,
the Creator would be forgotten and men would worship other gods. "I
gave them My Sabbaths," God declared, "to be a sign between Me
and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify
them." Yet "they despised My judgments, and walked not in My
statutes, but polluted My Sabbaths: for their heart went after their
idols." And in His appeal to them to return to Him, He called their
attention anew to the importance of keeping the Sabbath holy. "I am
the Lord your God," He said; "walk in My statutes, and keep My
judgments, and do them; and hallow My Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign
between Me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God."
Ezekiel 20:12, 16, 19, 20.
the attention of Judah to the sins that finally brought upon them the
Babylonian Captivity, the Lord declared: "Thou hast. . . profaned My
Sabbaths." "Therefore have I poured out Mine indignation upon
them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath: their own way have I
recompensed upon their heads." Ezekiel 22:8, 31.
restoration of Jerusalem, in the days of Nehemiah, Sabbathbreaking was met
with the stern inquiry, "Did not your fathers thus, and did not our
God bring all this evil
upon us, and
upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the
Sabbath." Nehemiah 13:18.
during His earthly ministry, emphasized the binding claims of the Sabbath;
in all His teaching He showed reverence for the institution He Himself had
given. In His days the Sabbath had become so perverted that its observance
reflected the character of selfish and arbitrary men rather than the
character of God. Christ set aside the false teaching by which those who
claimed to know God had misrepresented Him. Although followed with
merciless hostility by the rabbis, He did not even appear to conform to
their requirements, but went straight forward keeping the Sabbath
according to the law of God.
unmistakable language He testified to His regard for the law of Jehovah.
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets,"
He said; "I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say
unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no
wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall
break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be
called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and
teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
Christian dispensation, the great enemy of man's happiness has made the
Sabbath of the fourth commandment an object of special attack. Satan says,
"I will work at cross purposes with God. I will empower my followers
to set aside God's memorial, the seventh-day Sabbath. Thus I will show the
world that the day sanctified
by God has been changed. That day shall not live in the minds of the
people. I will obliterate the memory of it. I will place in its stead a
day that does not bear the credentials of God, a day that cannot be a sign
between God and His people. I will lead those who accept this day to place
upon it the sanctity that God placed upon the seventh day.
my vicegerent, I will exalt myself. The first day will be extolled, and
the Protestant world will receive this spurious sabbath as genuine.
Through the nonobservance of the Sabbath that God instituted, I will bring
His law into contempt. The words, 'A sign between Me and you throughout
your generations,' I will make to serve on the side of my sabbath.
the world will become mine. I will be the ruler of the earth, the prince
of the world. I will so control the minds under my power that God's
Sabbath shall be a special object of contempt. A sign? I will make the
observance of the seventh day a sign of disloyalty to the authorities of
earth. Human laws will be made so stringent that men and women will not
dare to observe the seventh-day Sabbath. For fear of wanting food and
clothing, they will join with the world in transgressing God's law. The
earth will be wholly under my dominion."
setting up of a false sabbath, the enemy thought to change times and laws.
But has he really succeeded in changing God's law? The words of the
thirty-first chapter of Exodus are the answer. He who is the same
yesterday, today, and forever, has declared of the seventh-day Sabbath:
"It is a sign between Me and you throughout your
"It is a sign . . . forever." Exodus 31:13, 17. The changed
signpost is pointing the wrong way, but God has not changed. He is still
the mighty God of Israel. "Behold, the nations are as a drop of a
bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, He
taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient
to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. All
nations before Him are as nothing; and they are counted to Him less than
nothing, and vanity." Isaiah 40:15-17. And He is just as jealous for
His law now as He was in the days of Ahab and Elijah.
But how is
that law disregarded! Behold the world today in open rebellion against
God. This is in truth a froward generation, filled with ingratitude,
formalism, insincerity, pride, and apostasy. Men neglect the Bible and
hate truth. Jesus sees His law rejected, His love despised, His
ambassadors treated with indifference. He has spoken by His mercies, but
these have been unacknowledged; He has spoken by warnings, but these have
been unheeded. The temple courts of the human soul have been turned into
places of unholy traffic. Selfishness, envy, pride, malice-- all are
Many do not
hesitate to sneer at the word of God. Those who believe that word just as
it reads are held up to ridicule. There is a growing contempt for law and
order, directly traceable to a violation of the plain commands of Jehovah.
Violence and crime are the result of turning aside from the path of
obedience. Behold the wretchedness and misery of multitudes who worship at
the shrine of idols and who seek in vain for happiness and peace.
well-nigh universal disregard of the Sabbath commandment. Behold also the
daring impiety of those who, while enacting laws to safeguard the supposed
sanctity of the first day of the week, at the same time are making laws
legalizing the liquor traffic. Wise above that which is written, they
attempt to coerce the consciences of men, while lending their sanction to
an evil that brutalizes and destroys the beings created in the image of
God. It is Satan himself who inspires such legislation. He well knows that
the curse of God will rest on those who exalt human enactments above the
divine, and he does all in his power to lead men into the broad road that
ends in destruction.
So long have
men worshiped human opinions and human institutions that almost the whole
world is following after idols. And he who has endeavored to change God's
law is using every deceptive artifice to induce men and women to array
themselves against God and against the sign by which the righteous are
known. But the Lord will not always suffer His law to be broken and
despised with impunity. There is a time coming when "the lofty looks
of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down,
and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day." Isaiah 2:11.
Skepticism may treat the claims of God's law with jest, scoffing, and
denial. The spirit of worldliness may contaminate the many and control the
few, the cause of God may hold its ground only by great exertion and
continual sacrifice, yet in the end the truth will triumph gloriously.
closing work of God in the earth, the standard of His law will be again
exalted. False religion may prevail,
abound, the love of many may wax cold, the cross of Calvary may be lost
sight of, and darkness, like the pall of death, may spread over the world;
the whole force of the popular current may be turned against the truth;
plot after plot may be formed to overthrow the people of God; but in the
hour of greatest peril the God of Elijah will raise up human
instrumentalities to bear a message that will not be silenced. In the
populous cities of the land, and in the places where men have gone to the
greatest lengths in speaking against the Most High, the voice of stern
rebuke will be heard. Boldly will men of God's appointment denounce the
union of the church with the world. Earnestly will they call upon men and
women to turn from the observance of a man-made institution to the
observance of the true Sabbath. "Fear God, and give glory to
Him," they will proclaim to every nation; "for the hour of His
judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the
sea, and the fountains of waters. . . . If any man worship the beast and
his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same
shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without
mixture into the cup of His indignation." Revelation 14:7-10.
God will not
break His covenant, nor alter the thing that has gone out of His lips. His
word will stand fast forever as unalterable as His throne. At the judgment
this covenant will be brought forth, plainly written with the finger of
God, and the world will be arraigned before the bar of Infinite Justice to
Today, as in
the days of Elijah, the line of demarcation
commandment-keeping people and the worshipers of false gods is clearly
drawn. "How long halt ye between two opinions?" Elijah cried;
"if the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him."
1 Kings 18:21. And the message for today is: "Babylon the great is
fallen, is fallen. . . . Come out of her, My people, that ye be not
partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her
sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her
iniquities." Revelation 18:2, 4, 5.
The time is
not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The observance of
the false sabbath will be urged upon us. The contest will be between the
commandments of God and the commandments of men. Those who have yielded
step by step to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will then
yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision,
insult, threatened imprisonment, and death. At that time the gold will be
separated from the dross. True godliness will be clearly distinguished
from the appearance and tinsel of it. Many a star that we have admired for
its brilliance will then go out in darkness. Those who have assumed the
ornaments of the sanctuary, but are not clothed with Christ's
righteousness, will then appear in the shame of their own nakedness.
inhabitants, scattered in every land, there are those who have not bowed
the knee to Baal. Like the stars of heaven, which appear only at night,
these faithful ones will shine forth when darkness covers the earth and
gross darkness the people. In heathen Africa, in the Catholic lands of
Europe and of South America, in China, in India,
islands of the sea, and in all the dark corners of the earth, God has in
reserve a firmament of chosen ones that will yet shine forth amidst the
darkness, revealing clearly to an apostate world the transforming power of
obedience to His law. Even now they are appearing in every nation, among
every tongue and people; and in the hour of deepest apostasy, when Satan's
supreme effort is made to cause "all, both small and great, rich and
poor, free and bond," to receive, under penalty of death, the sign of
allegiance to a false rest day, these faithful ones, "blameless and
harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke," will "shine as
lights in the world." Revelation 13:16; Philippians 2:15. The darker
the night, the more brilliantly will they shine.
work Elijah would have done in numbering Israel at the time when God's
judgments were falling upon the backsliding people! He could count only
one on the Lord's side. But when he said, "I, even I only, am left;
and they seek my life," the word of the Lord surprised him, "Yet
I have left Me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not
bowed unto Baal." 1 Kings 19:14, 18.
Then let no
man attempt to number Israel today, but let everyone have a heart of
flesh, a heart of tender sympathy, a heart that, like the heart of Christ,
reaches out for the salvation of a lost world.