The Paramount Lesson of Israel

The Paramount Lesson of Israel—No. 1

From a study of the conditions existing just before Christ's first advent—having first placed them in the proper setting of the previous centuries—we may gain a glimpse of some of the pitfalls that are before us, and of God's method of saving to Himself those who specially desire to keep covenant rela­tionship with Him.

By LYNN H. WOOD, Professor, S.D.A. Theological Seminary

We are living in a machine age which is so filled with the whirlwinds of conflicting philosophies that all sense of serenity is lost. Amid all the confusion and evil in which we find ourselves, concern­ing which there is no need to speak in detail, there comes to us the wonderful promise, like a star in the night, that the heavens are open to those who in humility will keep the covenant relationship with God.

"The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the be­half of them whose heart is perfect toward Him." 2 Chron. 16 :9.

Doctor Driver, in his Hebrew lexicon, de­fines the words translated "them whose heart is perfect," as meaning "those who keep the covenant relationship" with God. It is a con­struction indicating a state of action as con­tinuing, enduring, permanent. It denotes free moral agency and the omnipotent power of God in behalf of those who choose Him.

From a study of the conditions existing just before Christ's first advent—having first placed them in the proper setting of the previous centuries—we may gain a glimpse of some of the pitfalls that are before us, and of God's method of saving to Himself those who specially desire to keep covenant rela­tionship with Him. There is a divine King! The whole world is in His keeping. Here is a message of courage to those storm-tossed souls who are in the.midst of the conflict, and who are battling against all kinds of opposi­tion, trial, and persecution. Lift up your eyes, for there is a God in heaven who keep­eth faith with His children.

Dr. W. C. Graham says in "The Prophets and Israel's Culture :" "The supreme Reality in the universe is personal, and whoever sets himself in alignment with the antipersonal and unmoral forces against that personal and personality-producing Power, will break him­self against the universe itself."—Page 54. God is not only personal, but His is a per­sonality-producing power, and it is His desire to come to this last generation, amid all the evil found here, and develop a personality in your life and in mine that will perfectly re­flect the Saviour. Never has there been such an opportunity for leaders as at this present time. It is in times such as these that real leadership is born.

Archeology is showing that, contrary to the statements of critics for decades, man was monotheistic for at least a short period after the flood. In 1929, Langdon, one of the most famous English archeologists, said: "I have become convinced that totemism and demonol­ogy have nothing to do with the origin of Sumerian or Semitic religions.... Monotheism preceded polytheism and belief in good and evil spirits."—"Mythology of All Races," Vol. V, p. 18. Henry Field, of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, agrees with Langdon by stating: "In his [Langdon's] opinion, the history of the oldest religion of man is a rapid decline from monotheism to extreme polytheism, and to widely spread be­lief in evil spirits. It is in a very true sense the history of the fall of man."—Museum Leaflet 28, pp. 13, 14.

After the dispersion from the tower of Babel, man fell into the extremes of demon­ism, totemism, magic, polytheism, and various so-called fertility cults, by which he hoped to influence the various gods to accede to his will. The economic growth of civilization soon caused the various independent city-states to group themselves into monarchies. These in turn developed into theocratic mon­archies, in which the king declared himself to be the incarnation of the god, and thus his vicegerent and head of the temple.

Feeling his dependence on the fertility of his orchard, field, and flock, he introduced the licentious worship of the virgin mother goddess and her divine son-consort, establish­ing death and resurrection feasts with in­creased ritualism. Then followed imperialism and expansion, then universal kingdoms with the exploiting of the people by the king and priests, through religious sanctions. Based upon satisfaction of appetite and personal ag­grandizement, shrines of the mother goddess, with the grossest forms of licentious worship, were held before the exploited as centers of fellowship, where, by parting with more and more of their wealth, the masses could hope for material satisfaction.

Four centuries after the flood, God took from the midst of a polytheistic people one family, and through the leadership of Abra­ham, established His covenant with individ­uals. He spoke of Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But as this fam­ily grew into a nation, amid the rigors and hardships of Egyptian bondage, selfishness crept into men's heart's together with a long­ing for a less austere life. Selfish trends were evident all during the period of the judges. Israel refused to drive out the nations about them, and a large portion adopted the ways of the world. Like the worm in the tree, covet­ousness and a desire for conformity soon left nothing but a shell.

—To be concluded in September

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By LYNN H. WOOD, Professor, S.D.A. Theological Seminary

August 1938

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