Parallel No. 11. It was near the close of Israel's wanderings that the fiery serpents entered the camp. This was a time when the people were " much discouraged because of the way," and began to murmur against Moses and against God. The sting and poison of the fiery serpents were symbolic of the sting of " that old serpent, . . . the devil," and the poison of sin. The children of Israel were suffering and dying by thousands, and besought God for deliverance. Then the Lord instructed Moses to make a brazen serpent, put it upon a pole, and instruct the people that by looking at the serpent of brass the poison of the fiery serpent would be counteracted and they might live. This brazen serpent was symbolic of Christ on the cross of Calvary, through whose atoning blood is found the only antidote for sin.
The Israelites were not required to do any specific thing to save themselves from the serpents, only to look upon the brazen serpent, in faith believing the assurance given of healing and restoration. So it is in the parallel of today. When the advent people are discouraged because the way to the heavenly Canaan seems long and dreary and the ravages of sin are apparent on all sides, then a message from God comes to point to the cross of Calvary and bid all look and live. How cheering that such a message is now being given, and thousands are finding deliverance and new life by beholding the cross and accepting its glorious provision.
12. Near the banks of the Jordan, Moses gave final and explicit instruction to Israel. He reminded them that they were to enter into a land possessed by mighty nations, with walled cities and giants, and assured them that they would never be able to conquer those obstacles in their own strength, but only by faith in God. Note the strong language he uses: " Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land. . . . Understand therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiff-necked people." (See Deut. 9:1-6.) Here is a message of victory and righteousness by faith in Christ. This is the lesson the Israelites had failed to learn during the forty years in the wilderness. " God so arranged the plan that man could take no credit to himself for achieving the victory. God alone is to be glorified. So it shall be in the work in which we are engaged. The glory is not to be given to human agencies; the Lord alone is to be magnified."—" Testimonies to Ministers," p. 214.
13. Because of the rebellion at Kadesh-barnea, where Israel lost sight of Christ, their Leader, and of His atonement on Calvary, and of His righteousness and victory by faith, the Lord refused to permit them to practice circumcision or celebrate the Passover till their wilderness wanderings were over. (See " Patriarchs and Prophets," p. 406; also Joshua 5.) In Romans 4:1113, circumcision is declared to be the sign and seal of the righteousness which is by faith. By faith alone could sin be severed and the righteousness of Christ imputed to the sinner. The antitype is true to type.
Since the experience which came to the advent people in 1888, in their general attitude toward the message of righteousness by faith, many have largely lost sight of the great truth which is the very kernel and life of the gospel, and is divinely declared to be " the third angel's message in verity." God's people have to a great extent forgotten their deliverance from the world and the zeal of their first love, and the message of the hour is forcefully stated in Weymouth's translation of Revelation 2:4, 5: " Yet I have this against you — that you no longer love Me as you did at first. Be mindful, therefore, of the height from which you have fallen. Repent at once, and act like you did at first, or else I will surely come and remove your lamp stand out of its place — unless you repent."
During our wilderness wanderings since that epochal period we have also to a sad degree lost sight of Calvary, and through the Spirit of prophecy we are warned concerning this tendency: " There is too much bustle and stir about our religion, while Calvary and the cross are forgotten."—" Testimonies," Vol. V, p. 133. The present increasing emphasis upon righteousness by faith, and bringing to its rightful place as the center and circumference of all doctrine, the work of Christ and His atonement on Calvary, is a true sign that we are on the borders of the heavenly Canaan.
14. The book of Deuteronomy records the instruction which Moses gave to Israel just before his death, at the time when Israel stood on the banks of the Jordan, just ready to cross over into the Promised Land. Moses brought to their minds a review of all God's dealings with them during the forty years; he placed striking emphasis upon their rebellions and apostasies, and especially referred to the experience at Kadesh-barnea, advising them to profit by that serious mistake. He made clear to their comprehension just why they had been kept out of the Promised Land so long. Things that had puzzled them were now made plain, and with true repentance for past mistakes they turned with renewed hope and courage to enter upon their promised possessions.
The present is the time for the advent people to review their past history and profit by the mistakes which have been made. The instruction given through the Bible and the Spirit of prophecy to guide us to the Promised Land should be reviewed and appreciated as never before. Such investigation will clear up many puzzling statements and experiences, and give us confidence and courage to persevere to the end of our pilgrimage.
15. It was at the last stage of the journey, while Israel stood on the banks of Jordan, that the great apostasy, known as the Baal-peor crisis, occurred. A spirit of worldliness and licentiousness swept through the camp, like poison through the human system. A number of Israel's leaders fell a prey to the wiles of the Midianitish women, and immorality became so common that its blighting curse was looked upon lightly. When the loyal leaders sensed the situation, they were filled with indignation. The wrath of God was manifested, and guilty leaders and people, to the number of twenty-four thousand, perished by a terrible plague. It was this situation which caused the priests and leaders to weep " between the porch and the altar," imploring God to spare His people.
In attempts to keep the advent movement out of the heavenly Canaan, by attacks from without and apostasies within, Satan will make his last attempt, as in the Baal-peor experience, through bringing about a spirit of worldliness and immorality which will pollute the ranks of both leaders and laity. This will take place when God's people stand on the borders of the heavenly Canaan. When those who are true and loyal realize the situation, they will " weep between the porch and the altar," crying to God to spare His people. They will " sigh and cry " for all the abominations that are done " in the midst" of the church. The revival of true godliness will make manifest the terribleness of this sin, and it will be severely dealt with, first of all touching any leaders who have departed from the path of integrity and uprightness.
The loyal leaders in the advent movement at the present time share the profound conviction that we are entering upon the great apostasy which has been designated as the " shaking time." Many ministers are now weeping between the porch and the altar, and many more will sense the need and join the petition to God to spare His people from the ravages of licentiousness. (See "Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers," pp. 427, 428, 450.) What more explicit information could be called for than that which is given in the following paragraph:
" Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come.' . . . As we approach the close of time, as the people of God stand upon the borders of the heavenly Canaan, Satan will, as of old, redouble his efforts to prevent them from entering the goodly land. He lays his snares for every soul. It is not the ignorant and uncultured merely that need to be guarded; he will prepare his temptations for those in the highest positions, in the most holy office; if he can lead them to pollute their souls, he can through them destroy many. And he employs the same agents now as he employed three thousand years ago. By worldly friendships, by the charms of beauty, by pleasure seeking, mirth, feasting, or the wine cup, he tempts to the violation of the seventh commandment."—" Patriarchs and Prophets," pp. 457, 458.
But even though the final shaking near the end of the journey will sift out the " mixed multitude " and purge the church so that it will be " holy and without blemish," the advent movement will sweep triumphantly into the heavenly Canaan.
Then will take place the antitype of the Feast of Tabernacles which was instituted to commemorate Israel's wilderness wanderings. It was a festival of great rejoicing, because of God's mercy and long-suffering toward them during their wilderness pilgrimage. It was also called the " Ingathering " or " Home Coming."
" The Feast of Tabernacles was not only commemorative, but typical. It not only pointed back to the wilderness sojourn, but, as the feast of harvest, it celebrated the ingathering of the fruit of the earth, and pointed forward to the great day of final ingathering, when the Lord of the harvest shall send forth His reapers to gather the tares together in bundles for the fire, and to gather the wheat into His garner. . . . And every voice in the whole universe will unite in joyful praise to God. . . . The people of Israel praised God at the Feast of Tabernacles as they called to mind His mercy and their deliverance from the bondage of Egypt and His tender care for them during their pilgrim life in the wilderness. They rejoiced also in the consciousness of pardon and acceptance, through the service of the day of atonement, just ended. But when the ransomed of the Lord shall have been safely gathered into the heavenly Canaan,— forever delivered from the bondage of the curse, under which ' the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now,'— they will rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Christ's great work of atonement for men will then have been completed, and their sins will have been forever blotted out."—" Patriarchs and Prophets," pp. 541, 542.
There on the sea of glass before the throne of God the redeemed of the advent movement will sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. There they will join in the great Hallelujah Chorus of redemption that will resound throughout the universe and will never grow old. The song of Christ and Calvary will make it impossible for the tragedy of sin ever to be repeated. " Affliction shall not rise up the second time."
Loma Linda, Calif.