The Prevailing Winds

By John Thiel

If you were to travel along the southern coast in the south island of New Zealand you will know which direction the prevailing winds blow. All along from the South Pole you see all the trees bend north. They are called Macrocarpa trees. Trees and winds, are they symbols of something? They are symbols of the Christian and the influence that surround them.


Isaiah 55:10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it.

55:12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap [their] hands.

55:13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign [that] shall not be cut off.

The result of Gods word produces not only the physical trees around us but it produces trees of righteousness, the trees shall clap their hands. Who are these?

Isaiah 7:2 And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.

The people in their hearts as wood are moved. The people are trees.

Psalms 1:1 Blessed [is] the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

1:2 But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

1:3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Trees are people. Trees planted by the rivers of water are Gods people.

Isaiah 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.


Then comes the winds. The hearts of the people are affected by the wind.

John 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

The wind blowing the trees tells you that the wind is there and so in the life of the believer it shows that the Holy Spirit is there. What also is the wind?

Ephesians 4:14 That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

The wind can be the Holy Spirit but it can also be every wind of doctrine.

Jude 12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds [they are] without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;

Winds affecting the people are doctrines and concepts that blow upon us. We are compared to trees and the various influences that affect the trees as they grow. Do the influences that affect us as a people determine how we grow? As the twig is bent, the tree is inclined. As you think carefully about this as we grow up from childhood to adulthood, as things affect us, we grow in that direction. Wind blowing constantly in one direction is a prevailing wind causing a tree to grow in a certain direction.

A grove of evergreens was presented before me. Several, including myself, were laboring among them. I was bidden to closely inspect the trees and see if they were in a flourishing condition. I observed that some were being bent and deformed by the wind, and needed to be supported by stakes. I was carefully removing the dirt from the feeble and dying trees to ascertain the cause of their condition. I discovered worms at the roots of some. Others had not been watered properly and were dying from drought. The roots of others had been crowded together to their injury. My work was to explain to the workmen the different reasons why these trees did not prosper. This was necessary from the fact that trees in other grounds were liable to be affected as these had been, and the cause of their not flourishing and how they should be cultivated and treated must be made known.  {1T 632.1}

Trees growing where prevailing winds are bend the people. We hear of peoples bent of mind. We live on this sinful planet and what happens?  The whole world wanders after the beast, the whole world is bending.

We are living in an age of peril, where ungodliness is common. Even professed Christians do not believe their Bibles. The truth of the Word of God is too plain and pointed for them. . . . Antichristian ideas, customs, and practices prevail, and they are even construed to be Christian; but that which is of most value, that which God esteems most highly, is treated with contempt. Well may the God-fearing inquire, What shall the end of these things be? Love for Christ and love for one another is fast dying out of the hearts of men…. {OHC 354.2}

When was this written? 100 years ago. In that time anti-Christian customs prevailed. What is it today? It’s storming today. As the enemy comes in like a flood, it’s a storm.

Wickedness prevails on every hand; for Satan has come down having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time. He is a persevering, diligent, untiring worker, and if ever there was a time when men needed the presence of Christ at their right hand, it is now. . . . We need the Captain of our salvation continually by our side. There is, and will continue to be, agitation all around us; for the kingdoms of the world will not be at rest. Never was there a time when the temptation to deny Christ in spirit and in deportment, was stronger, and this temptation will increase in power as we near the end. Strong and overpowering temptations will come upon men. False doctrines and fables will be presented as Bible truth, for men’s acceptance; and if it were possible, they will deceive the very elect. But is it a time for our love to grow cold, when iniquity abounds? Is this a time to be at ease? Is this the time to separate from God, our Counselor? {OHC 354.4}

There are prevailing influences and prevailing winds. To be trees that are affected by these prevailing winds and to be Gods people under these prevailing influences causes us the need to know what it means to not bend under those influences. They are around us more now than Ellen Whites time. We want to learn about the trees that God plants that can stand erect and upright under severe circumstances.

The Fir Tree

Of all the trees, the Scotch fir tree is one of the best from which Christians may draw inspiring lessons. The Scotch fir requires less soil for its roots than any other tree. In a dry soil and amidst barren rocks it finds sufficient nourishment to keep it as green in the winter as in the summer. With the least amount of earth about its roots, it towers above all the other trees of the wood, reaching the highest toward heaven. The church members who are standing in their lot and place are trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord. Although their surrounding circumstances may be adverse, yet, like the fir tree with little soil about its roots, they constantly reach heavenward, drawing nourishment from above. Like the fragrant boughs of the fir tree, they impart grace for grace received. The hidden nourishment that comes from God is returned to Him in purest service. God calls for every man’s best energies. No man can find in any human being the strength that will enable him to serve God with all his powers. He must be a partaker of the divine nature.–Manuscript 145, Sept. 2, 1902,  Diary.  {UL 259.6}

The fir tree can stand all the adverse circumstances and can grow up to heaven straight and tall.

The Cedar of Lebanon

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Ps. 92:12. {HP 240.1} As is the palm tree in the desert–a guide and consolation to the fainting traveler–so the Christian is to be in the world. He is to guide weary souls, full of unrest, and ready to perish in the desert of sin, to the living water. He is to point his fellow men to Him who gives to all the invitation,  If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.  {HP 240.3}

The sky may be as brass, the burning sand may beat about the palm tree’s roots and pile itself about its trunk; yet the tree lives on, fresh and vigorous. Remove the sand, and you discover the secret of its life; its roots strike down deep into waters hidden in the earth. {HP 240.4}

Thus it is with the Christian. His life is hid with Christ in God. Jesus is to him a well of water, springing up unto everlasting life. His faith, like the rootlets of the palm tree, penetrates beneath the things that are seen, drawing life from the Fountain of life. And amid all the corruption of the world he is true and loyal to God. The sweet influence of Christ’s righteousness surrounds him. . . . {HP 240.5}

The faces of men and women who walk and work with God express the peace of heaven. They are surrounded with the atmosphere of heaven. For these souls the kingdom of God has begun. They have Christ’s joy, the joy of being a blessing to humanity. They have the honor of being accepted for the Master’s use; they are trusted to do His work in His name. {HP 240.6}

As we search the Scriptures for such Christians who stood upright like the fir and palm tree in the desert, we note a precious example.

There was a great work appointed for the prophet John, but there was no school on the earth with which he could connect. His learning must be obtained away from the cities, in the wilderness. The Old Testament Scriptures, God, and the nature which God had created, were to be his study books. God was fitting John for his work of preparing the way of the Lord. His food was simply locusts and wild honey. The customs and practices of men were not to be the education of this man. Worldly engrossment was to act no part in the formation of his character. John did not feel strong enough to stand the great pressure of temptation he would meet in society. He feared his character would be molded according to the prevailing customs of the Jews, and he chose the wilderness as his school, in which his mind could be properly educated and disciplined from God’s great book of nature. In the wilderness, John could the more readily deny himself and bring his appetite under control, and dress in accordance to natural simplicity. And there was nothing in the wilderness that would take his mind from meditation and prayer. Satan had access to John, even after he had closed every avenue in his power through which he would enter. But his habits of life were so pure and natural that he could discern the foe, and had strength of spirit and decision of character to resist him. {5BC 1115.4}

The book of nature was open before John with its inexhaustible store of varied instruction. He sought the favor of God, and the Holy Spirit rested upon him, and kindled in his heart a glowing zeal to do the great work of calling the people to repentance, and to a higher and holier life. John was fitting himself, by the privations and hardships of his secluded life, to so control all his physical and mental powers that he could stand among the people as unmoved by surrounding circumstances as the rocks and mountains of the wilderness that had surrounded him for thirty years (2SP 47). {5BC 1115.5}

Satan Could Not Move John.–The childhood, youth, and manhood of John, who came in the spirit and power of Elijah to do a special work in preparing the way for the world’s Redeemer, was marked with firmness and moral power. Satan could not move him from his integrity (RH March 3, 1874). {5BC 1115.6}


He placed himself in such a way so the prevailing customs would not affect him. We live in a time like John the Baptist to call the people out of Babylon. We must break decidedly from the influences of Babylon.

In the time of John the Baptist, greed for riches, and the love of luxury and display had become widespread. Sensuous pleasures, feasting and drinking, were causing physical disease and degeneracy, benumbing the spiritual perceptions, and lessening the sensibility to sin. John was to stand as a reformer. By his abstemious life and plain dress he was to rebuke the excesses of his time. Hence the directions given to the parents of John,–a lesson of temperance by an angel from the throne of heaven. {DA 100.4}

In childhood and youth the character is most impressible. The power of self-control should then be acquired. By the fireside and at the family board influences are exerted whose results are as enduring as eternity. More than any natural endowment, the habits established in early years decide whether a man will be victorious or vanquished in the battle of life. Youth is the sowing time. It determines the character of the harvest, for this life and for the life to come. {DA 101.1}

As a prophet, John was  to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.  In preparing the way for Christ’s first advent, he was a representative of those who are to prepare a people for our Lord’s second coming. The world is given to self-indulgence. Errors and fables abound. Satan’s snares for destroying souls are multiplied. All who would perfect holiness in the fear of God must learn the lessons of temperance and self-control. The appetites and passions must be held in subjection to the higher powers of the mind. This self-discipline is essential to that mental strength and spiritual insight which will enable us to understand and to practice the sacred truths of God’s word. For this reason temperance finds its place in the work of preparation for Christ’s second coming. {DA 101.2}

It was a lonely region where he found his home, in the midst of barren hills, wild ravines, and rocky caves. But it was his choice to forgo the enjoyments and luxuries of life for the stern discipline of the wilderness. Here his surroundings were favorable to habits of simplicity and self-denial. Uninterrupted by the clamor of the world, he could here study the lessons of nature, of revelation, and of Providence. The words of the angel to Zacharias had been often repeated to John by his God-fearing parents. From childhood his mission had been kept before him, and he had accepted the holy trust. To him the solitude of the desert was a welcome escape from society in which suspicion, unbelief, and impurity had become well-nigh all-pervading. He distrusted his own power to withstand temptation, and shrank from constant contact with sin, lest he should lose the sense of its exceeding sinfulness. {DA 101.4}

For this reason we have the messages of the Spirit of Prophecy to show us the higher powers of the mind that are to be exercised. He wore the clothing of the old prophets and so like John we have a work to do as he did.

All combinations with unbelievers that bind as a yoke must be broken. These words apply not only to making a marriage covenant with an unbeliever, but to the making of all unions where the worldly element can have a prevailing influence over believers. For  What concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.  . . . {8MR 108.1}

We must break the yokes that will influence us.

2 Corinthians 6:15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you,

6:18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

How can we act harmoniously with those that are blowing the influences in the wrong direction?

Is it not time for us to live so fully in the light of God’s countenance, we who receive so many favors from Him, that we may know how to treat those less favored, not working from the world’s standpoint, but from the Bible standpoint? Is it not right in this line that Christian effort is most needed? Is it not here that our influence should be brought to bear against the prevailing customs and practices of the world? Ms 7, 1896, pp. 1, 2. ( Colored Race,  February 3, 1896.) {4MR 9.1}

It was the time to do this when Sr White wrote this. Our influence will go against the prevailing customs. What are the details of the prevailing influences we have become accustomed to and as Christians go along with?  The influences that the faithful of God throughout the ages would repel? Those who have been before us and the things that they would repel as horrifying, where are they today that we have become accustomed to?

Deuteronomy 32:7 Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will show thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.

I have lived by this for many years as I woke up to the terrible developments in my own life. I wanted to know and as I heard the old ministers preaching, they were rebuking everything I was doing. I went to investigate and I determined to build my life upon that which was of old.

Jeremiah 6:13 For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one [is] given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.

6:14 They have healed also the hurt [of the daughter] of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when [there is] no peace.

6:15 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time [that] I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.

6:16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where [is] the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk [therein].

The contest is self evident. A people that he was writing to were a people that had become accustomed to the customs of the time. They didn’t blush whereas they should have. They had become accustomed to the changes that came across so slowly. God has said go back and check out the old paths, ask the fathers and the ancients, they will tell you. Let us look about us and observe – what are the actual details that are surrounding us that are accustoming our minds?

Satan is using every means to make crime and debasing vice popular. We cannot walk the streets of our cities without encountering flaring notices of crime presented in some novel, or to be acted at some theater. The mind is educated to familiarity with sin. The course pursued by the base and vile is kept before the people in the periodicals of the day, and everything that can excite passion is brought before them in exciting stories. They hear and read so much of debasing crime that the once tender conscience, which would have recoiled with horror from such scenes, becomes hardened, and they dwell upon these things with greedy interest. {PP 459.2}

Many of the amusements popular in the world today, even with those who claim to be Christians, tend to the same end as did those of the heathen. {PP 459.3}

A statement written before the turn of the twentieth century. Is it any worse today? What you and I have grown up in, is it like this? As you walk down the street today you see the billboards, you hear the music, you see how the people dress and you become accustomed to this as normal.  Also vice and bloodshed when you watch TV it’s there. We hear and read news about how people are exchanging husbands and wives. There are multiple marriages. In the SDA church there is a high percentage of divorce and marriage. There is a constant flow of social demise that is around us and also the lack of children submitting to their parents. The submission of children to parents, of Christians to the father in heaven is undermined systematically. Children are ruling the world and we regard it as normal. We don’t get shocked anymore. The free and open fornication practises today – normal. It’s just normal. The display of nakedness causes you to not blink anymore when you see the midriffs anymore when once you blushed if people showing their ankles. It’s around us and we’ve grown up in it. Everything is regarded as that is the way it is. Even the church has accepted this as women go to the beach in their bikinis thinking it’s quite normal whereas in Sr Whites time there was a law against mixed bathing.  We have a glaring example in a most wonderful man of the bible.

David afterward married Abigail. He was already the husband of one wife, but the custom of the nations of his time had perverted his judgment and influenced his actions. Even great and good men have erred in following the practices of the world. The bitter result of marrying many wives was sorely felt throughout all the life of David. {PP 668.1}

How do you compare with King David? This man who was born again, a man after Gods own heart, who could not see what sin is. We can fall into this today no matter how high we are in the Christian world. John the Baptist had to deliberately avoid the prevailing sins of his time and in this time of prevailing winds we no longer blush at the common details around us. What is our specific task right now?

The great work is before us of leading the people away from worldly customs and practices, up higher and higher, to spirituality, piety, and earnest work for God. It is your work to proclaim the message of the third angel, to sound the last note of warning to the world. {5T 520.1}

We need constant study of details of what God regards as purity in contrast to what we have become accustomed to. We are in the great day of atonement and what are we to do? Study the details of what God regards as purity and contrast. The church that stands on the three angel’s messages must be active in doing this.

Many today have veils upon their faces. These veils are sympathy with the customs and practices of the world, which hide from them the glory of the Lord. God desires us to keep our eyes fixed upon Him, that we may lose sight of the things of this world. {6T 146.1}

As the truth is brought into practical life, the standard is to be elevated higher and higher to meet the requirements of the Bible. This will necessitate opposition to the fashions, customs, practices, and maxims of the world. Worldly influences, like the waves of the sea, beat against the followers of Christ to sweep them away from the true principles of His meekness and grace; but we are to stand as firm as a rock to principle. It will require moral courage to do this, and those whose souls are not riveted to the eternal Rock will be swept away by the worldly current. We can stand firm only as our life is hid with Christ in God. Moral independence is wholly in place when opposing the world. By conforming entirely to the will of God, we shall be placed upon vantage ground, and shall see the necessity of decided separation from the customs and practices of the world. {6T 146.2}

If you hear the people say don’t be so strict, you’re going to extremes, God desires us to keep our eyes fixed on him. As the truth is brought into the practical life, this will necessitate opposition. Souls not riveted will be swept away by worldly current. We are not to elevate our standard just a little above the world but to make the distinction decidedly apparent. It must be very apparent.

My dear sister, we are nearing the end of time; and we want now, not to meet the world’s tastes and practices, but to meet the mind of God, to see what saith the Scriptures, and then to walk according to the light which God has given us. Our inclinations, our customs and practices, are not to have the preference. God’s Word is our standard. {CG 330.2}

We are to meet the mind of God and what the Scriptures say.

We cannot serve God and the world at the same time. We must not center our affections on worldly relatives, who have no desire to learn the truth. We may seek in every way, while associated with them, to let our light shine; but our words, our deportment, our customs and practices, should not in any sense be molded by their ideas and customs. We are to show forth the truth in all our intercourse with them. If we cannot do this, the less association we have with them the better it will be for our spirituality. {AH 462.1}

How serious is this thought regarding the bending trees?

Israel have been asleep to the pride, and fashion, and conformity to the world, in the very midst of them. They advance every month in pride, covetousness, selfishness, and love of the world. When their hearts are affected by the truth, it will cause a death to the world, and they will lay aside the ribbons, laces, and collars; and, if they are dead, the laugh, the jeer, and scorn of unbelievers will not move them. They will feel an anxious desire to be separate from the world, like their Master. They will not imitate its pride, fashions, or customs. The noble object will be ever before them, to glorify God and gain the immortal inheritance. This prospect will swallow up all beside of an earthly nature. God will have a people separate and distinct from the world. And as soon as any have a desire to imitate the fashions of the world, that they do not immediately subdue, just so soon God ceases to acknowledge them as His children. They are the children of the world and of darkness. They lust for the leeks and onions of Egypt, that is, desire to be as much like the world as possible; by so doing, those that profess to have put on Christ virtually put Him off, and show that they are strangers to grace and strangers to the meek and lowly Jesus. If they had acquainted themselves with Him, they would walk worthy of Him. {1T 136.1}

The divine Teacher bears with the erring through all their perversity. His love does not grow cold; His efforts to win them do not cease. With outstretched arms He waits to welcome again and again the erring, the rebellious, and even the apostate. His heart is touched with the helplessness of the little child subject to rough usage. The cry of human suffering never reaches His ear in vain. Though all are precious in His sight, the rough, sullen, stubborn dispositions draw most heavily upon His sympathy and love; for He traces from cause to effect. The one who is most easily tempted, and is most inclined to err, is the special object of His solicitude. {Ed 294.2}

How is it with my tree? Is it growing and affected by the prevailing winds. Let the axe be laid at the root of the tree. What are we? A Scotch fir tree or a palm? Let us go forward with resistance to the prevailing winds.


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Posted on 19/09/2009, in Divine Service Sermons, Restoring Old Paths and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Amen. We need the Lord to help us be deeply rooted in Him, so that we are not moved by these strong winds that will seek to shake us up….

  2. thanks for the inspiring message, am touched and i should share the same with others

  3. Melvina, I could not approve your previous comments as they were scathing attacks on my editing skills. You really think I would want something like that public?

  4. Wonderful lesson, enjoy very much, C cech

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