2. Thus Saith the Lord and the Apparent Contradictions

By John Thiel, mp3

Confusion of Faces, Part 2

Scripture reading: Romans 3:3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? 4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies;
No sudden rending of the veil of clay;
No angel visitant, no opening skies;
But take the dimness of my soul away.

The angel visitants have caused the writing of the word. The angel visitants and the Holy Spirit in times past inspired the writings of the word. Today we are called upon to have a clear mind to receive what was revealed. We now want to appreciate the important message for this time – coming out of confusion.

Why were Israel in Babylonian captivity? Because they did not heed the words of God. And as a consequence of that the prayer of Daniel was, To us belongs confusion of faces. As for us today we appreciate that we are dwelling in Babylon, and we need to heed a “Thus saith the Lord.” What is God’s statement to us in Laodicea today? “Thus saith the Lord, Thou dost not know that thou art wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”

The Lord Appeals to Us Today

As with Israel of old,

Zechariah 1:2 The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers. 3 Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. 4 Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and [from] your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD.

“Thus saith the Lord” is our consideration now, and yet to find our way through the apparent contradictions is a difficult task, because those apparent contradictions are there in consequence of the condition of drunkenness, of confusion of faces. The appeal of our God here is, “Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you. Turn ye from your evil ways. Don’t be like the fathers who have heard the same message and have not turned.” Our only hope for salvation, for a life of meaning and comfort, is a “Thus saith the Lord.”

What is true happiness? Are you happy? We say, Oh yeah, I’ve been happy but I’ve been disappointed. So how can I be happy?

True happiness in this life and in the future life depends upon obedience to a “Thus saith the Lord.” {CG 80.3}

True happiness now and in the future life depends upon obedience to a “Thus saith the Lord.” Everyone who would be truly happy in the Lord can only gain it by a self-discipline, a discipline which is subject to a “Thus saith the Lord.”

It is discipline of spirit, cleanness of heart and thought that is needed. This is of more value than brilliant talent, tact, or knowledge. An ordinary mind, trained to obey a “Thus saith the Lord,” is better qualified for God’s work than are those who have capabilities, but do not employ them rightly.… Men may take pride of their knowledge of worldly things; but if they have not a knowledge of the true God, of Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, they are deplorably ignorant, and their knowledge will perish with them. Secular knowledge is power; but the knowledge of the Word, which has a transforming influence upon the human mind, is imperishable. {Mar 63.6}

So if you have an ordinary mind, do you feel that that you are not a very capable orator or a capable student of the Bible? You’ve just got an ordinary mind. Well, it says that the ordinary mind, trained to obey a “Thus saith the Lord,” is better qualified to be a worker for the Lord. Isn’t that something beautiful? What is your mind as we come before the Lord right now? Do you apologise in your mind for not being so knowledgeable as others? Don’t worry. Be willing to learn to submit to a “Thus saith the Lord.”

Let us go to the word of God for guidance. {GW 310.1}

For what? For guidance. Don’t guide yourself. Go to the word of God.

Let us seek for a “Thus saith the Lord.” We have had enough of human methods. {Ibid.}

Is that right? Have we had enough of human methods? Go to a “Thus saith the Lord.” Let us go to the word of God and gain that. We want to worship the Lord, to be guided by Him, not by human methods. And yet even those who claim, “Yes, yes, I believe in a ‘Thus saith the Lord,’” are still in confusion. They read, but what is their problem? They want to have the guidance of the Lord. And God says, I want to give you that beautiful rest, that beautiful assurance.

Isaiah 28:12 To whom he said, This [is] the rest [wherewith] ye may cause the weary to rest; and this [is] the refreshing:

But remember what they did every time?

Isaiah 28:12 yet they would not hear.

Strange. God gave them the word, but they would not hear. But what was the word of God like to them?

Isaiah 28:13 But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, [and] there a little;

Tell me, do people like studying the Bible like that today? It’s too laborious. “The word of the Lord is not straightforward to me. I just want to get it straight. Do I have to go from text to text, here a little, there a little?” That’s the word of the Lord to them, and they would not. They are prepared to take a “Thus saith the Lord,” but not this awkward way. It was to them something confusing, and what happened to them? What happens to people?

Isaiah 28:13 …that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

While we claim to stand by a “Thus saith the Lord,” there is still confusion and people are still snared and taken. That is the sad case.

2 Peter 3:15 And account [that] the longsuffering of our Lord [is] salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all [his] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as [they do] also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Is this the reality of today’s Babylonish experience in doctrine of the word and in a “Thus saith the Lord”? People read Apostle Paul’s writings, people believe, Yes, this is right! But what do they do? What is the danger that they fall into according to Peter’s words? They find that some things are hard to be understood, so what do they do? They will twist, wrest, the Scriptures to their own understanding. And what happens? Like we read in Isaiah, there is confusion and destruction, in consequence of reading a “Thus saith the Lord.” This is serious.

Sister White writes very clearly that much reading of the Bible, unless it is correctly received, is actually dangerous. That is what makes some people run away from reading the Bible.

There are many things apparently difficult or obscure, which God will make plain and simple to those who thus seek an understanding of them. {SC 110.1}

God will make it clear, plain and simple, to those who seek an understanding of the Scriptures.

But without the guidance of the Holy Spirit we shall be continually liable to wrest the Scriptures or to misinterpret them. {Ibid.}

Continually we will be in that danger.

There is much reading of the Bible that is without profit and in many cases a positive injury. When the word of God is opened without reverence and without prayer; when the thoughts and affections are not fixed upon God, or in harmony with His will, the mind is cloudedness with doubts; {Ibid.}

Confusion. The mind is clouded, there is drunkenness, because the word of God is not studied aright. Some people say, Yes, we must pray. But just a moment, is that all that it says? When I come to pray that the Lord would lead me, it says that there must be reverence in the reading of the word. How many times do we come flippantly to the word? “Alright, let’s just find something to read here… Ah, hmm, yeah, hmm, yeah Lord, please help me here;” and we just go flippantly to the word. But there must be reverence, because the God of heaven wants to communicate with me. My thoughts and affections must be fixed upon God if I am going to read it right, and I must be in harmony with His will. As I read the Bible I must have a disposition of willing submission. That is what Jesus said to the Pharisees, If you will to do His will, then you will know of the doctrine.

The enemy takes control of the thoughts, and he suggests interpretations that are not correct. {Ibid.}

As you are reading you will get a thought of a particular reading and it is actually not correct.

Whenever men are not in word and deed seeking to be in harmony with God, then, however learned they may be, they are liable to err in their understanding of Scripture, and it is not safe to trust to their explanations. Those who look to the Scriptures to find discrepancies, have not spiritual insight. With distorted vision they will see many causes for doubt and unbelief in things that are really plain and simple. Disguise it as they may, the real cause of doubt and skepticism, in most cases, is the love of sin. {Ibid.}

I just had a very interesting exercise of that as I was trying to help a young man who was in trouble. He said to me, “I know that smoking dope is wrong, but I love it. And I know that I’m going to have to give it up by force if I’m going to come out of the tangle of the law that I’m in, but I love it. And I know I shouldn’t have it, but I love it.” Is this person going to have great success? We have to be willing and love the will of God and the law of God if we are going to get it straight. As in Alcoholics Anonymous, they have to go and drink some more, they say, before they realise how extra terrible this is, so that they don’t like to drink anymore. And so it is with all of us. Unless we hate the sin we will confuse our minds.

Because it prophesies evil against the sinner, they claim that they find objections and contradictions in God’s word. While professing to be open to conviction, they allow prejudice to hold sway, and refuse to see the truth which that word reveals. {YI, June 10, 1897 par. 3}

We want to examine very closely how the word of God in its apparent contradictions is really not contradictory, if we read it aright.

The Ten Virgins

Remember the parable of Jesus, At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins, the five wise, and the five foolish.

Proverbs 15:2 The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.

The tongue of the wise does what? Uses knowledge aright. The five wise virgins had oil in their lamps as much as the foolish ones did. What is the lamp? The Bible. “Thy word is a light unto my path.” What is the problem with the foolish virgins? The wise virgins had oil in their vessels, the foolish had none. The vessel is my body, my heart. And the foolish will not use the word aright. The knowledge of God’s word will not be used aright, and therefore they were in a state of confusion as the bridal party came past. But the wise had the Spirit, the oil, in their vessels; they had sacred respect for every word that proceeds out of God’s mouth and did not misuse it. The wise use knowledge aright. There is much knowledge in God’s word, but the use of it is the source of confusion in the world today. What do these foolish virgins do? They may have their Bible, but prejudice that they hold causes them to refuse to see the truth that that word reveals. They find objections and contradictions.

So let us examine some apparent contradictions and seek a “Thus means the Lord in what He saith.” It will be very valuable for us as we worship the Lord at this moment to approach the word with an open mind and see whether I may have had false understandings thinking there was a contradiction there, when there is none at all, although it certainly looks like it.

Some Apparent Contradictions

Is the statement of the following scripture a “Thus saith the Lord”?

Exodus 20:13 Thou shalt not kill.

Is that a “Thus saith the Lord”? No question, of course. He wrote it with His own finger; He spoke it from the Mount Sinai.

And are the words in Exodus 32 a “Thus saith the Lord”?

Exodus 32:26 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who [is] on the LORD’s side? [let him come] unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. 27 And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, [and] go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.

Was that a “Thus saith the Lord”? Is there a contradiction here? The Lord said, Thou shalt not kill; and now the Lord said, Go and kill your neighbour, etc. This is the kind of thing that confuses the reader.

There is another such illustration where God commanded the killing, when God had said, Thou shalt not kill. We see in 1 Samuel something very interesting.

1 Samuel 15:1 Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee [to be] king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD. 2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember [that] which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid [wait] for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

What is this called in modern terms? Genocide. God said, Go and commit genocide. Kill children, babies, everybody of the Amalekites.

1 Samuel 15:7 And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah [until] thou comest to Shur, that [is] over against Egypt.

And what did he do?

1 Samuel 15:8 And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. 9 But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all [that was] good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing [that was] vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

What happened? God had instructed Saul to kill everything and everybody. Nobody and nothing was to be left. Did he do it? According to that he didn’t.

1 Samuel 15:10 Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying, 11 It repenteth me that I have set up Saul [to be] king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night. … 17 And Samuel said, When thou [wast] little in thine own sight, [wast] thou not [made] the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?

He is reminding him now, “When you were little in your own sight, when you were feeling that you were not capable, you followed what I said. But now that you are where you are, what are you doing?” Remember what we read before? If you feel that you are just of an ordinary mind – little in your own eyes – then you can follow a “Thus saith the Lord.”

1 Samuel 15:18 And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. 19 Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD?

Don’t we assess that the genocide was evil? But Saul keeping some of the good sheep was doing evil in the sight of the Lord. Does this seem like a contradiction?

1 Samuel 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD [as great] delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey [is] better than sacrifice, [and] to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [is as] iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from [being] king.

So according to what we read here, when God commanded the Levites to slay their neighbour, as He commanded Saul to slay these people, if they would not have done so, what would they have been doing? They would have been in rebellion; they would have been in insubordination to a “Thus saith the Lord.”

As we read this contradiction, where God said, Thou shalt not kill, and yet told them to kill; is it left to us to work out this contradiction? Can you work it out? Neither can you work it out and neither is it to us to work out this contradiction. In both cases a “Thus saith the Lord” was to be heeded. And to understand a “Thus saith the Lord,” it is a necessity to find a “Thus saith the Lord” to describe that contradiction. I must not rely upon my own observation to explain that “Thus saith the Lord” that looks like it’s a contradiction.

A. G. Daniells

There was a person who worked it out himself, and that was A. G. Daniells, a General Conference president of the Seventh-day Adventist church. In the book Protokkol, which was written by the Adventists, you can hear the words that he personally uttered. He was here talking to the disfellowshipped company who wouldn’t go to war in the First World War.

We believe that you are completely in error in the views which you represent. We believe in the fourth commandment just as much as we have always done, but we are not in the position to agree with your interpretation of it. What would you have said about Moses, if, after the law had been given from Sinai, he had commanded you a few days later to kill the king of Bashan and all the men and women and children. Would you have accused him of murder? But God commanded him to transgress the sixth commandment. You see that there are many things to be found in the interpretation of the commandments, and we must have liberty to read and understand the commandments and not to be bound to the way some small body may interpret them. {Protokkol 46.2}

What did this great leader of the Adventist church do? He just laid out a confusion to the minds of the people. What is a “Thus saith the Lord” in reference to this apparent contradiction? It is very simple. It is a “Thus saith the Lord” which we find in Exodus 20. Here are the Ten Commandments again, and what were the first of the Ten Commandments?

Exodus 20:2 I [am] the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. … Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me; 6 And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

When God said to Saul and to the Levites, Go and kill, what is the right interpretation here? God said, “You are to have no other gods but Me; and what am I? I am a jealous God, and I visit the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.” There is a “Thus saith the Lord” in the very commandments of God. And when the God of the Ten Commandments, who is the one whom we worship, says, I am now going to visit the iniquities of the wicked who do not love me, I am going to visit upon them their iniquity, and I want you to go and visit that; are they breaking any of the commandments? Can you see the right interpretation from God himself? To fulfill this commandment that God gave them, Saul was commissioned to do what God had said. And the first four commandments are the first responsibility of those commandments. God is the one whom we worship, who is destroying wickedness and sin.

If you read the story of how God spoke to Abraham, he said that the Amorites and the wicked people of Canaan had not yet filled the cup of their iniquity, so for four hundred years the children of Israel would remain in Egypt. And after the four hundred years, when their cup of iniquity was full, they would go to the Canaan land and there the wicked people would be completely taken out of the land. And there was the king of Bashan, who was to be slaughtered with all his nation, because they had fulfilled the cup of their iniquity; and that was God’s prerogative because iniquity had to be wiped out of that land.

When the Lord brought His people a second time to the borders of Canaan, additional evidence of His power was granted to those heathen nations. They saw that God was with Israel in the victory gained over King Arad and the Canaanites, and in the miracle wrought to save those who were perishing from the sting of the serpents. Although the Israelites had been refused a passage through the land of Edom, thus being compelled to take the long and difficult route by the Red Sea, yet in all their journeyings and encampments, past the land of Edom, of Moab and Ammon, they had shown no hostility, and had done no injury to the people or their possessions. On reaching the border of the Amorites, Israel had asked permission only to travel directly through the country, promising to observe the same rules that had governed their intercourse with other nations. When the Amorite king refused this courteous solicitation, and defiantly gathered his hosts for battle, their cup of iniquity was full, and God would now exercise His power for their overthrow. {PP 434.3}

The story goes on how these feeble, nonviolent Israelites gained the victory over these warlike Amorites. It was because God was among them giving them victory. Many miraculous interventions took place. It was God who visited their cup of iniquity on them. That happened with the king of Bashan.

But the Lord sent His servant with another message to Saul. … That the monarch might realize the importance of heeding the command, Samuel expressly declared that he spoke by divine direction, by the same authority that had called Saul to the throne. … The Amalekites had been the first to make war upon Israel in the wilderness; and for this sin, together with their defiance of God and their debasing idolatry, the Lord, through Moses, had pronounced sentence upon them. By divine direction the history of their cruelty toward Israel had been recorded, with the command, “Thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.” Deuteronomy 25:19. For four hundred years the execution of this sentence had been deferred; but the Amalekites had not turned from their sins. The Lord knew that this wicked people would, if it were possible, blot out His people and His worship from the earth. {PP 627.3}

If they were left they would blot out God’s people and His worship from the earth.

Now the time had come for the sentence, so long delayed, to be executed. {Ibid.}

The forbearance that God has exercised toward the wicked, emboldens men in transgression; but their punishment will be none the less certain… {PP 628.1}

God takes His time. He wants people to come around, but as they harden and harden and become more intense, finally He will visit the iniquity. That is what He commissioned Saul to do. God commanded Saul to do what He had the right to do. So there is no contradiction. What has God commanded by His word today? When the angels were singing at the birth of Jesus, what were they singing? “Peace and goodwill toward all men.”

The Counsel of the Lord

When the soldiers came to John the Baptist and said, What must we do? What was his answer? What was the counsel of the Lord there? The very things that the angels had been singing.

Luke 3:14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse [any] falsely; and be content with your wages.

What? Do violence to no man… How can a soldier do violence to no man? What was a “Thus saith the Lord” to all the soldiers of the earthly kingdoms, who wanted to be followers of God’s kingdom, the kingdom of heaven? Jesus said, Do violence to no man. When war breaks out, sorry, the counsel of the Lord is, You are not to fight. This is what Jesus said to Pilate, My servants do not fight, because My kingdom is not of this world. That is the “Thus saith the Lord”!

Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Is this is a “Thus saith the Lord”? This is a “Thus saith the Lord” for us today. But in the days of national Israel God had commanded them to be used to deal with the destruction of sin and sinners back there. It was His vengeance and He used them.

This is just one example of a contradiction. You will see this principle of apparent contradictions throughout the Bible, which shows us something. What do we see after having contemplated this scenario? There is a “Thus saith the Lord” that is for specific situations, as directed by Him for that given situation, and there is a “Thus saith the Lord” given as a general principle, as we read it in the Scriptures, that I must heed. Don’t use specific time and place, circumstances, as a criterion of God’s word for unrelated situations. Did you notice that this is what A. G. Daniells did? He used an unrelated situation to interpret whether the reformers were right for not going to war. That is how confused the interpretation was. The instruction of the New Testament was that there should be no war from God’s nation upon the people. It is not to be. Jesus made that quite plain. No Amalekites exist today. Neither is the king of Israel part of a political nation today. God’s people are not to have a king over them. That is God’s word. There is only one who is the king, and that is the God of heaven. So we cannot enter into any war, because the King of heaven has instructed us not to; but back there He did.

Then there is another apparent contradiction that we want to look at in the Old Testament:

Proverbs 20:1 Wine [is] a mocker, strong drink [is] raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

Is that a “Thus saith the Lord”? Yes.

Proverbs 31:4 [It is] not for kings, O Lemuel, [it is] not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: 5 Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. 6 Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. 7 Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

Is this a “Thus saith the Lord”? Absolutely.

Instruction for the Hebrew People in Canaan

Deuteronomy 14:22 Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. 23 And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always. 24 And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; [or] if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: 25 Then shalt thou turn [it] into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: 26 And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,

Is there a contradiction here? Who did He say that the strong drink was for? For those who are of a heavy heart and who are ready to perish. But here He is saying, When you go to a place to eat before the Lord, go and buy everything that your heart desires, even wine and strong drink, and rejoice there before the Lord. A contradiction? Once again that contradiction must be met with a “Thus saith the Lord.”

Another Contradiction

There is another contradiction which is akin to that, in Ezekiel. We need to find a “Thus saith the Lord” in regards to the question of divorce and remarriage. This is another contradiction that appears to many people, and they have, very sadly, misinterpreted it.

Ezekiel 20:16 Because they despised my judgments, and walked not in my statutes, but polluted my sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols. 17 Nevertheless mine eye spared them from destroying them, neither did I make an end of them in the wilderness. 18 But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols: 19 I [am] the LORD your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; 20 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. 21 Notwithstanding the children rebelled against me: they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which [if] a man do, he shall even live in them; they polluted my sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness.

He wanted to punish them,

Ezekiel 20:22 Nevertheless I withdrew mine hand, and wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted in the sight of the heathen, in whose sight I brought them forth. 23 I lifted up mine hand unto them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries; 24 Because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had polluted my sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers’ idols.

They wanted the things of their idols. So what did He do?

Ezekiel 20:25 Wherefore I gave them also statutes [that were] not good, and judgments whereby they should not live;

That is what Jesus explained in the marriage question, in Matthew 19:7-8, when they asked, Why did Moses give us a letter of divorcement? He said, It was because of the hardness of your heart. You remember what we read before? To those who had a strong desire for something He said, You can buy whatever you desire and come and eat before the Lord; and God gave them that judgment and that statute; why? Just like with the marriage. Because of the idols in their hearts. If a person has a desire for alcohol or strong drink so badly, God says, “Alright then, there it is.” He gave them a king when they wanted a king. “You can have it.” And the king was directed to do the things that God never intended for His people to do. So we have the explanation of a “Thus saith the Lord” for every apparent contradiction.

The Testimony of Christ

A “Thus saith the Lord” comes only from the Bible? Does it only come from the writers of the Bible? In one story, in the Old Testament, there was a prophet who was never named as a prophet, and he came to Jeroboam at the altar, and he said, Thus saith the Lord, the altar on which you are now sacrificing is going to split into two, etc. And when the king turned around to say, Get him! his hand withered. Then he pleaded with the man, Please, pray to the Lord that He will restore my hand; and He did. This man never wrote a single thing in the Bible, but He said, Thus saith the Lord! There are people throughout the scriptural times and modern times who can speak a “Thus saith the Lord.”

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. Joel 2:28. {FLB 293.1}

In His Word, God has committed to men the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are to be accepted as an authoritative, infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the revealer of doctrines, and the test of experience. {FLB 293.2}

Yet the fact that God has revealed His will to men through His Word, has not rendered needless the continued presence and guiding of the Holy Spirit. . . . {FLB 293.3}

During the ages while the Scriptures of both the Old and the New Testament were being given, the Holy Spirit did not cease to communicate light to individual minds, apart from the revelations to be embodied in the Sacred Canon. . . . {FLB 293.4}

The Bible that we a collection of.

And mention is made of prophets in different ages, of whose utterances nothing is recorded. In like manner, after the close of the canon of Scripture, the Holy Spirit was still to continue its work, to enlighten, warn, and comfort the children of God. {Ibid.}

God has . . . promised to give visions in the “last days”; not for a new rule of faith, but for the comfort of His people, and to correct those who err from Bible truth. {FLB 293.5}

Written for our time is the scripture of 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 1:6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:

What is the testimony of Christ? What is the testimony of Jesus? The Spirit of Prophecy, Revelation chapter 19.

1 Corinthians 1:7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Is that our experience, waiting for the coming of the Lord?

1 Corinthians 1:8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, [that ye may be] blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We live today with circumstances and modern situations for which the Bible has no straight “Thus saith the Lord.” In principle it has, but not straight. And today, when the dress of humanity is so confused in the Babylonish style, there is a “Thus saith the Lord” that is written in the writings of another writer from the Bible.

Early in my youth I was asked several times, Are you a prophet? {1SM 32.2}

And she said, I am more than a prophet, I am a messenger of the Lord.

My Saviour declared me to be His messenger. “Your work,” He instructed me, “is to bear My word. {Ibid.}

“Be not afraid of man, for My shield shall protect you. It is not you that speaketh: it is the Lord that giveth the messages of warning and reproof. Never deviate from the truth under any circumstances. Give the light I shall give you. The messages for these last days shall be written in books, and shall stand immortalized, to testify against those who have once rejoiced in the light, but who have been led to give it up because of the seductive influences of evil.” {1SM 32.3}

So when you read what is in those books, question: Are the things written in those books a “Thus saith the Lord”? According to what is written here, God is saying to Sister White, “It is not you that speaketh: it is I, the Lord. And what is written in those books is what I have said, and it is to be recorded to stand and testify against those who have once rejoiced in the light, but have been led to give it up by the seductive influences of evil.” God in His mercy has sent the Spirit of Prophecy, the words of Jesus, the testimony of Jesus.

As the Spirit of God has opened to my mind the great truths of His Word, and the scenes of the past and the future, I have been bidden to make known to others that which has thus been revealed. {FLB 293.6}

How does Sister White always put it when she writes? “I was shown,” “I saw.”

There are those who will be glad to lull you to sleep in your carnal security, but I have a different work. My message is to alarm you, to bid you reform your lives and cease your rebellion against the God of the universe. Take the Word of God, and see if you are in harmony with it. Is your character such as will bear the search of the heavenly investigation? {FLB 293.7}

The Spirit of Prophecy, E. G. White’s writings, are also a “Thus saith the Lord.” But the problem is that what people do with the Bible is what they do with her writings also.

Human minds vary. {1SM 19.1}

Our brains vary. We don’t always see the same.

The minds of different education and thought receive different impressions of the same words, and it is difficult for one mind to give to one of a different temperament, education, and habits of thought by language exactly the same idea as that which is clear and distinct in his own mind. Yet to honest men, right-minded men, he can be so simple and plain as to convey his meaning for all practical purposes. If the man he communicates with is not honest and will not want to see and understand the truth, he will turn his words and language in everything to suit his own purposes. He will misconstrue his words, play upon his imagination, wrest them from their true meaning, and then entrench himself in unbelief, claiming that the sentiments are all wrong. {Ibid.}

This is the way my writings are treated by those who wish to misunderstand and pervert them. They turn the truth of God into a lie. In the very same way that they treat the writings in my published articles and in my books, so do skeptics and infidels treat the Bible. {1SM 19.2}

Sister White writes emphatically that, when you read her writings, the very principle that we have just found as a “Thus saith the Lord” in the Old Testament for specific situations, apply also to what she wrote. When she gives a “Thus saith the Lord” in reference to a particular situation at a certain time, it is not always to be taken for everyone; and yet other things are to be taken for everyone. We have examples, such as the statements that the Seventh-day Adventist church is not Babylon. She says, Remember, when you read my writings, bear in mind time and place, just as we saw in the principle. So when the Seventh-day Adventist church stood faithful to the law of God and proclaimed it in all its purity, was anybody claiming the Adventist church to be Babylon true? No; she said, Don’t call the church Babylon, because it is the only church on earth that can give the true message today, at the present time. But notice what else she says. There is a contradiction maybe here.

We are in danger of becoming a sister to fallen Babylon, of allowing our churches to become corrupted, and filled with every foul spirit, a cage for every unclean and hateful bird; and will we be clear unless we make decided movements to cure the existing evil? {TSB 188.3}

Is there a contradiction here? Not if you understand time and place. And anyone who reads this statement today has to acknowledge, Oh dear, has the Seventh-day Adventist church changed its spiral downhill? Therefore she is in danger of becoming a sister of fallen Babylon. And a sister of fallen Babylon makes her what?

Marriage

Then comes this age-old question as Sister White’s statements are being used in the marriage question. She says,

I saw that Sister _____, as yet, has no right to marry another man; but if she, or any other woman, should obtain a divorce legally on the ground that her husband was guilty of adultery, then she is free to be married to whom she chooses. {AH 344.3}

Yet in Testimonies Vol. 4, she says,

This [marriage] vow links the destinies of the two individuals with bonds which nought but the hand of death should sever. {4T 506.3}

A contradiction? It is the same as in the Bible. There must be a “Thus saith the Lord” for every apparent contradiction. We need to know that where there appears to be a contradiction, it is because our befogged minds draw conclusions which are not a “Thus saith the Lord.” Look for a “Thus saith the Lord” to deal with any apparent contradictions. Clearly you will find it. Let not these apparent contradictions be the source of the drunkenness of the church today, because it speaks interactively on specific cases, and yet on general principles. We thank God that our Lord Jesus Christ who has died for us on the cross, who has given His life for our salvation, changes not; and everything that is written is there for our study so that we may follow our Lord Jesus Christ as He meant us to follow Him.

Thank God for His word and for the assurance that we can trust it in its self-explanation. I rejoice to live in that word and to come to the Lord for the forgiveness of His grace, because He says that He is prepared to forgive iniquity, transgression and sin; but He will by no means clear the guilty. This is the God we worship. Let us worship Him continually in spirit and in truth.

Amen.

Posted on February 14, 2011, in Divine Service Sermons, Sermons by John Thiel. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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