The Patience of the Saints
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” ().
In order to recover humanity from the loss suffered through sin, God in His love gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. There are “waymarks” along the path leading to eternity, as God says, “Set thee up waymarks, make thee high heaps: set thine heart toward the highway, even the way which thou wentest” ().
The way in which Jesus leads us has signs that point, warn, and prohibit for our best good—not only in this life, but also in the life to come. And these signs or waymarks are established on God’s Ten Commandments which Jesus Christ did not destroy or change when on earth, but rather fulfilled and vindicated, thus giving us an example for daily life.
One of these commandments is, “Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (1; see also ). “To Israel, expecting soon to enter Canaan, it was a pledge to the obedient, of long life in that good land.”
But this commandment has a wider meaning and applies to all the Israel of God, and it promises to those who keep it everlasting life on the new earth cleansed from the curse of sin.
With loving care God crowned the formation of our planet with the creation of a truly unique being—man. As the Creator breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, “man became a living soul” (). God Himself is the Father of humanity ( ). In His desire that this creature would live harmoniously with others of his kind in loving obedience to his Creator and Father, “the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.... And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” ( ). Thus, God established the first family, laying that foundation to promote the satisfaction of all our individual and social needs.
There is a special place for every member of the family—for father and mother, son and daughter, and other relatives.
“Society is composed of families, and is what the heads of families make it. Out of the heart are ‘the issues of life’ (2); and the heart of the community, of the church, and of the nation is the household. The well-being of society, the success of the church, the prosperity of the nation, depend upon home influences.”
God’s beautiful plan for the family given to man in paradise was further expressed in the fifth commandment. But sadly, this beautiful plan is being destroyed. Through disobedience to this commandment, Satan has deceitfully done his destructive work and has crushed the heart of the human family. The dreadful results include: 1. the loss of eternal life, and 2. the shortening of the temporal life ().
The first human family shrank with horror when struck with the terrible crime of fratricide. Yet the problem did not stop there—it has grown worse over the past 6,000 years, and the enemy of souls is ever escalating his plot to ruin every home possible.
“While men are ignorant of [Satan’s] devices, this vigilant foe is upon their track every moment. He is intruding his presence in every department of the household, in every street of our cities, in the churches, in the national councils, in the courts of justice, perplexing, deceiving, seducing, everywhere ruining the souls and bodies of men, women, and children, breaking up families, sowing hatred, emulation, strife, sedition, murder.”3
Today we see the rampant estrangement of families, an increase of the spirit of jealousy and unforgiveness that sows discord among the very brothers, sisters, parents, and children whom God designed to be a blessing for us. Today we can see many children forsaken by parents and many aged parents forgotten and virtually abandoned by their children. Today we can see the fulfillment of the words of Jesus that the world is reverting to the condition of the antediluvians. And it is happening everywhere. Describing the condition of our days, the apostle Paul says, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy” ().
The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement has a special privilege of bearing to the world a message which not only speaks of the dreadful judgments that are soon to come to our rebellious planet, but also to reveal to the people a Saviour full of love, ready to save His children. In our church and in life’s practical acts we should show how God can protect and preserve our families from the corrupting influences which are in this world. And God reveals this to us in the fifth commandment. The behavior of children depends on their education.
Great is the honor and responsibility placed upon fathers and mothers. “‘Take this son, this daughter,’ God says; ‘train it for Me; give it a character polished after the similitude of a palace, that it may shine in the courts of the Lord forever.’”4 Parents have a task of great importance before them. The future of the church and society in this generation depends to a great extent upon what we are doing during the few years that our children are with us. Therefore, it is very important for us to fully understand that God expects us to render a faithful influence on our children to help them reach the heavenly ideal. And God Himself “has ordained that during the earlier years of life, parents shall stand in the place of God to their children.”5 In order to fulfill this work of education, we should be looking for counsel and help from God. (See .)
“Too much importance cannot be placed upon the early training of children. The lessons learned, the habits formed, during the years of infancy and childhood, have more to do with the formation of the character and the direction of the life than have all the instruction and training of after years.”6
“Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing.... She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe” ().
“The effect of prenatal influences is by many parents looked upon as a matter of little moment; but heaven does not so regard it. The message sent by an angel of God, and twice given in the most solemn manner, shows it to be deserving of our most careful thought.”7
Parents can lay the foundation of a healthy, happy life for their children. They can let them go forth from home with rich supplies of moral firmness and be able to withstand all the world’s temptations with courage and strength, and successfully face all the problems in their lives.
Fathers! Your responsibility in the education of your children (8 Fathers of today may learn from Abraham how to establish morning and evening worship in their homes, giving it a paramount attention. Even Ishmael it is written that “in his latter days he repented of his evil ways and returned to his father’s God.”9 Fathers! God has chosen you to “command (your) children and (your) household after (you), and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment” ( ). The father is the lawgiver in his family; he must bring the law of God into his home. But, he must also remember to “provoke not [his] children to wrath” ( ).) is not only to teach and instruct them. The greatest work is your PERSONAL EXAMPLE. In Abraham we can see an excellent example of a father who walked according to the will of God. Wherever Abraham went, he built an altar unto the Lord and called upon His name ( ). “Not until parents themselves walk in the law of the Lord with perfect hearts will they be prepared to command their children after them.”
Eli was a father who ignored his children. As high priest he made intercession for the people, but he did not educate or pray for his own sons. Careless in character, he did not train them in habits of order. This resulted in the destruction not only of himself and his generation, but also the demoralization of the whole nation. (Compare with.)
Moses’ mother knew that her son would be soon returned to Pharaoh’s palace, and amidst all the luxury and temptations that would surround him, he could be in great danger of leaving God. She spent twelve years raising Moses and, as a result of this solid training, he never forgot God, even though he was forced to live outside the home for the next twenty-eight years. While surrounded by Egyptian culture, idolatry, and many worldly temptations, Moses was ever faithful to the instruction of his mother. “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward” (10). And throughout the remainder of his life, Moses’ great mission as a leader of Israel testifies to the important work of the Christian mother. “To a very great extent the mother holds in her own hands the destiny of her children.”
“John Huss was of humble birth, and was early left an orphan by the death of his father. His pious mother, regarding education and the fear of God as the most valuable of possessions, sought to secure this heritage for her son.... He was accompanied on the journey to Prague by his mother; widowed and poor, she had no gifts of worldly wealth to bestow upon her son, but as they drew near to the great city, she kneeled down beside the fatherless youth and invoked for him the blessing of their Father in heaven.”11
The mother is the child’s first teacher in the time of his or her greatest potential and most active development. The main aspects of the education of the little one are, to a great extent, in her hands (first part). The home is the first school, and here the foundation for a profitable life should be laid.
1. Health. The realization that humans should be the temple of God and the place where His glory is revealed must be the best motive for the care and development of our physical powers.
2. Food. Our bodies are composed of what we eat. Every organ of the body needs proper food. We should always choose those foods that would provide us with all the necessary components in the most healthful manner. Wrong habits in eating cause perverted appetites. We also cannot rely on social customs. Disease and suffering everywhere is, to a great extent, caused by mistakes in eating. The One who created the human race and knew all of our needs ordained that Adam should eat proper food (). After falling into sin, humanity was to till the ground and eat “the herb of the field” ( ). Grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables are the food that God has ordained for our nutrition. And it is the best food for children.
3. Dress. Our dress must promote in every respect good health of body and soul. Fashion has a powerful and often detrimental influence on children and youth, and a true understanding of dress reform should play a significant role in their Christian education.
4. Reading and seeing. Satan has prepared many different snares for our children. Every kind of literature is offered today. The world abounds with sensational detective stories, novels, magazines full of obscene pictures, TV programs, video films, computer games; modern charismatic songs, dances, amusements, and different games. Can you recognize all this as Satan’s arsenal? These things destroy the morality of children and youth. We should never give our children and youth even the various so-called theological books that only pervert the truth by subtly mingling it with error. Christian parents should also control the influences exerted over their children by their FRIENDS. We must also teach them the benefits of physical labor, and be watchful over all that could sway their tender, pliable minds.
Children, does Jesus know about you? “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” (). Do you sometimes wonder whether He really loves you? “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” ( ).
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord” (). This commandment is in the center of the law, just as children are in the center of the family. The Bible gives us the example of Jesus’ childhood and youth. Remember where Jesus was brought up. “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” ( ). Yet there is an amazing description of His early life in that city. “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.... And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” ( ). Today, the sinfulness of Nazareth covers the whole world. Jesus is our Example, and His life in His parents’ house provides important lessons for us. He grew up in poverty to show us that we also can live in close communion with God when surrounded by such conditions. Consider deeply the texts written above.
Children! We are living even at the time of the second coming of our Saviour, who will change everything and return it to the beauty and splendor it had before the fall of man. Are you eager to see this great event? God calls on you today, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.”
The fifth commandment applies also to rulers and to all others to whom God has delegated authority. We should give them respect as long as their commands do not conflict with the requirements of God, as revealed in the Ten Commandments. With all respect to the authorities, they are not to interfere in our relationship with God. (.)
The highest honor, glory, and obedience belong to our heavenly Father. And above all, children and youth should learn to trust God and seek to understand His will. This is the work of John the Baptist “in the spirit and power of Elias” (), to turn our heart to the Lord so that we may not perish. And there will be a result: “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth” ( ).
Let us do our utmost to draw nearer to our heavenly Father and allow the guidance of His Word and His Spirit to strengthen our families. Amen.