We shall be brought into strait places; but we do not want to wait until then before we learn to trust and obey. Now, just now, is our day of opportunity and privilege. When the light of truth is shining upon us, we are to learn the lesson. Let us plead with God to give us a true conception of His character and a willingness to obey Him.
We are to stand in the strength and power of Israel’s God. Shall we do it, brethren? Or shall we murmur and complain, looking at the obstacles in the way, and making a mountain out of a mole-hill? Today God gives His people, to confirm their faith, evidences of His power such as He gave to Israel. Will they make these evidences of no effect? Will they act as if God had not wrought in their behalf? The Lord wants us to acknowledge His power and His grace and His great salvation which He has brought us at an infinite cost—in the death of His only-begotten Son.
We are living in a day of trial, a day of probation, a day of test. God is proving His people, to see whether He can work in their behalf. He cannot work for them if they open their hearts to the impulses of the enemy. He cannot cooperate with them if they trust in men in the place of looking to Jesus, and rejoicing in His goodness and His love. He wants to make of us a people through whom He can reveal His grace, and He will do this if we will only give Him opportunity, if we will open the windows of the soul heavenward and close them earthward, against human rabble, against murmuring, complaining, and fault-finding.
But just as surely as we fail to heed the messages that for the last fifty years the Lord has been giving, just as surely as we turn from these messages to human impulses and human science, framing laws that are directly opposed to God’s Word, so surely will we reap the consequence. . . .
Those who today murmur against God’s appointed agencies, weakening the confidence of the people in them, are doing the same work that the children of Israel did. The Lord hears every murmuring word. He hears every word that detracts from the influence of those whom He is using to proclaim the truth that is to prepare a people to stand in the last days. . . .
The Lord had prepared the way before His people. They were very near the promised land. A little while and they would have entered Canaan. They themselves delayed the entering. In the first place, it was they who requested that spies should be sent up to search the land. Rehearsing to them the history of the unbelief and the trouble that it brought to them, Moses said, “And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come” (Deut. 1:22, KJV).
The request that the spies be sent into Canaan showed a lack of faith: for God had told the people plainly that they were to take possession of the land. Why then did they need to send spies to search it? Had they put their trust in God, they could have gone straight in. God would have gone before them. He knew the best way in which to lead them through their difficulties. But they wanted to know what was before them, and when Moses took their request to the Lord, He told him to let them have their own way.
Brethren and sisters, from the light given me, I know that if the people of God had preserved a living connection with Him, if they had obeyed His Word, they would today be in the heavenly Canaan. Oh, how sad it makes me to see the way hedging up before us, and to know that it is becoming more and more difficult to carry the message to the people! We have not done a hundredth part of the evangelical work that God desires us to do among our neighbors and friends. In every city in this land there are those who know not the truth. There are many new fields in which we must plow the ground and sow the seed. God says to us: “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isa. 58:1, KJV). We are to make known to the men and women of the world what God’s test is, that if they will they may refuse to receive the seal of the Papacy.
God told the people that for forty years they were to wander in the wilderness. But they were determined to enter Canaan. “Lo, we be here,” they said, “and will go up unto the place which the Lord hath promised; for we have sinned” (see Deut. 1:41, KJV).
“And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the Lord? but it shall not prosper. Go not up, for the Lord is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies. For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword; because ye turned away from the Lord, therefore the Lord will not be with you. But they presumed to go up unto the hill top: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and Moses, departed not out of the camp. Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites, which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah” (Num. 14:41-45, KJV). When we see what God can and will do for us, when we know that His church is the supreme object of His regard in this world, why are we not willing to believe His Word? The powers of darkness will assail us, but we have a God who is above all. He can take care of His people. He can make a refuge for His people wherever they are. What He wants us to do is to stand where He can reveal His glory through us, that it may be known that there is a God in Israel, and that in behalf of His people He will manifest His power.
This article is excerpted from one first published in General Conference Bulletin, March 30, 1903. Ellen G. White, its author, was one of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Her life and work testified to the special guidance of the Holy Spirit.