The Love of God
But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!" "O sing unto the Lord a new song; for he hath done marvelous things; his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory."
The great plan of redemption was laid before the foundation of the world. And Christ, our Substitute and Surety, did not stand alone in the wondrous undertaking of the ransom of man. In the plan to save a lost world, the counsel was between them both; the covenant of peace was between the Father and the Son. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." The Majesty of heaven, the King of glory, would become a servant. The only-begotten Son, in whom the Father delighted, was given for the ransom of a fallen race.
Those who represent God the Father as unloving, ready to break forth on his sinful creatures in vindictive wrath, do not speak the truth. In his prayer to his Father, Christ said, "O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee." The world has measured God by their own finite measurement. They have misjudged and misinterpreted his truth and righteousness. But Christ could say, "I have known thee, for I have been in the secret chambers of the Most High." If the world had been admitted into the counsels of God, they would have one and only one testimony to bear, and that is, "God is love."
The Father gave himself to the world in the gift of his Son. It was the love of the Father for fallen man that devised in union with the Son the plan of redemption. And in this great gift the character of God is exemplified to all who shall receive the world's Redeemer by faith, as a God of holiness and a God of love. In the crucifixion of his dear Son upon the cross of Calvary, he gives to all the sons and daughters of Adam an expression of his justice and his love. This offering made manifest the immutability of the holiness of his law. In the cross of Calvary justice and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
The Lord God omnipotent is the God of his people. He is also a tender, loving Father, ready to hear their prayers; for God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. God sent forth his Son to be the propitiation for them through faith in his atoning blood.
What was the cause of the suffering of God's dear Son in the garden of Gethsemane—suffering so intense that it forced from his lips words that revealed the greatest mental distress: "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death?" Christ had often sought the Father in his trouble and anguish of Spirit, as he beheld with keen distress the situation of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Often in the lonely mountains he had prayed most earnestly, with strong crying and tears, because of all the people on the face of the earth, none were so filled with bitterness and hatred against him as were those who had been favored with every temporal and spiritual advantage. This was the people for whom the Son of God had done so much, in order that they might become a treasure-house of rich truth, to impart the same to the world. And this people, who claimed to know God, were opening their hearts to the attributes of Satan.
To Christ these things were a terrible trial. He had suffered insult from the hands of the men whom he came to bless and save, he had been charged with being linked with Beelzebub, that his miracles of healing were wrought through Satanic agencies, but these things did not cause him the intense agony of soul that he was now suffering. He was bearing the penalty of transgression for a guilty world. This proceeded not from Satan nor from man. It is best described in the words of the prophet, "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts; smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered; and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones."
The spirit that the Pharisees manifested toward Christ has been manifested through all ages by those who claim to believe present truth. They have watched for some word or action which they could use to the disadvantage of the messengers whom God has sent to reprove, rebuke, and reform them from their evil works. And when sin has been reproved, their hatred has become as deeply rooted as it was in the hearts of the Pharisees.
"And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord; peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out."
This demonstration on this occasion was answering to the prophetic past: "O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!" The priests and elders would fain have robbed Jesus of this adoration, but prophecy must be fulfilled. If the voice of his people were silent, Christ declared God would put a voice in the stones, and the proclamation would be made in his behalf, "Behold your God."
"And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes." At the time when the enthusiastic multitude were gazing upon Jerusalem, the metropolis of the world, the temple with its towers rising toward heaven, gilded with the rays of the fast westering sun, a strange note was brought in amid the general rejoicing, a cry of human agony, followed by the irrevocable sentence upon Jerusalem. Jerusalem's day will soon be ended.
Who now will hold their peace when the very work which God has foretold should be done is being accomplished? "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
The truth of the third angel's message has been proclaimed by some as a dry theory. But we must all place in that message Christ, as the first and the last, the I AM, the bright and morning Star. The message must be given, "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world." The second coming of Christ is near, even at the door. Who are prepared to look upon the bright and Morning-star? Who are ready to glorify God? Who will bring the bright and morning-star of hope, of mercy, of forgiveness, and of peace into their own hearts, and proclaim the last message of mercy to be given to the world? "O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!"
God's people must give to the world a representation of the character of God in Jesus Christ. The Christian churches are fast losing their knowledge of God. His character has been misunderstood and misinterpreted. But a message has come from God which must be proclaimed. The trumpet must give a certain sound. "I Jesus have sent mine angel to proclaim these things to the churches." The truth, the revelation which Jesus gave to John, must be sounded forth everywhere. "Lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young."
I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you that these things shall come unto this generation. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate."
Our work is now to rouse the people. Satan with all his angels has come down with great power, to work with every conceivable deception to counterwork the work of God. The Lord has a message for his people. This message will be borne, whether men will accept or reject it. As in the days of Christ, there will be the deep plottings of the powers of darkness, but the message must not be muffled with smooth words or fair speeches, crying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace, to those who are turning away from God. "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God; they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God."
This whole chapter [Isaiah 58] is applicable to those who are living in this period of the earth's history. Consider this chapter attentively; for it will be fulfilled. At this time the message is to come to the people to warn them against being one of the number represented by Jesus Christ as fulfilling the prophecy: "As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." "Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; [ecumenical drinking of the wine of Babylon and liaison with them] the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
The life of Christ, in its self-denial and self-sacrifice, is to be made manifest at this time. This is the time when there should be decided testimonies borne by all of God's commandment-keeping people. "Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh." This is our message to every family who claims to know the truth, "Be ye also ready." Self must die. The appetites and passions must be brought into strict conformity to the Word of God. Selfish indulgence is weakening physical, mental, and moral power, so that there is no distinction between the sacred and the common. "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another; and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not."
Mrs. E. G. White