One of the outstanding blessings of my en tire life has been the God-fearing mother the Lord gave me. Before I was old enough to appreciate it fully, my mother, busy as she was with six children, read to us the whole Bible several times.
At an early age I learned the invaluable lesson that anyone who reads the Old Testament thoughtfully must discover: God has for centuries contacted and guided His people through chosen men called prophets.
To obey the voice of God's prophets meant happiness and prosperity. Disobedience brought misery and disaster. This, to-me, is the outstanding lesson of the Old Testament. Practically all the stories led sooner or later to this one all-important lesson. To me, one story of the Old Testament has always stood out in bold relief. It is the stupendous scene enacted in the Promised Land just after the expectant and happy millions of Israel had set foot on the soil of Canaan.
The defeat at Ai had cleansed the camp of self-confidence. An unforgettable lesson in dealing with sin had taken place and Joshua was well established as the divinely authorized leader. With enemies on all sides, the Israelites not just the men of war, but men, women, girls and boys, and infants in arms proceeded to a historic spot of great fertility and beauty in central Canaan to celebrate a prearranged religious service of great significance. Moses had twice given the detailed instructions for this great convocation.
Joshua, their new leader, so respected Moses, the prophet of God, that he followed his instructions to the letter. All the children of Israel were there, six tribes on the mount of blessings and six on the mount of cursings. The priests, with the ark of God, stood in the valley between. A long blast of the trumpet brought a solemn stillness to the tremendous throng. Joshua stood beside the ark containing God's law and read all the blessings that would come to Israel if obedient. Over a million voices responded simultaneously in a solemn "Amen." Next, the fearful curses were read, all of which Israel could expect to come upon them as a result of disobedience, and once again more than a million voices answered, "Amen."
Following this the law of God was read, together with the statutes and judgments that had been given them by God through Moses. No camp meeting or modern gathering of any kind has approached the solemnity of this impressive scene. Moses said, contemplating it, "Take heed, and hearken, O Israel; this day thou art become the people of the Lord thy God" (Deut. 27:9). Upon Mount Ebal two monuments had been erected, an altar of unhewn stones and a pillar of stone plastered over so that all the laws of Israel might be engraved upon it. Israel was without excuse. All had heard God's laws and might go to the pillar to refresh their minds. Every seven years this reading of the law was to be re-enacted, and God gave the reason: "And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it" (Deut. 31:13).
We believe that we are contemporary Israel. As Israel anciently was the earthly custodian of God's commands, so we in this last generation are the keepers of God's law. Besides God's Ten Commandments we have been given many "statutes and judgments" in the writings of the Spirit of prophecy. In these writings are held forth blessings of health, happiness, and personal success as well as a place of esteem among the nations of earth upon conditions of obedience. On the other hand, we are repeatedly warned that ignoring or refusing these instructions will bring misery, failure, and sickness in our personal lives, and, before the world, con fusion and contempt.
It falls upon each of us to make absolutely certain that the messenger is sent of God and that theinstruction is Heaven-inspired. As in the Old Testament God used indisputable miracles to establish the genuineness of His proph ets, so in our day He has done the same. When Israel in discomfiture or disaster pleaded that they did not believe the prophet was of God, they were not excused. Neither can we be excused today if we refuse to investigate God's miracles in connection with the Spirit of prophecy, and as a result treat its messages as of little consequence.
Believing in the inspiration of the Spirit of prophecy takes a great weight of responsibility off the individual Christian. I will explain this statement by the illustration of the architect. The architect makes the blueprint. He is responsible for the finished building. The carpenters may have ever so many misgivings, but their job is to painstakingly follow the blueprint. Through the Spirit of prophecy God has given to us a flawless blueprint for Christian homes. Israel of old was a nation apart, and they were repeatedly warned to remain so. Israel today is not so well integrated, but consists of individual homes or communities scattered throughout the world. If ancient Israel's danger of contamination was great, ours is a thou sandfold greater. If they needed detailed instruction from God as to how to order godly homes in a theocracy, how much more do we in the isolation of our scattered homes today!
Our Divine Blueprint
Let us examine the blueprint God has sent from heaven for Christian homes in this distraught world in which we live today. I'm sure no one would question the need of a blueprint to bring out of this world of self-indulgence, crime, perplexity, and insanity a perfect character. "The well-being of society, the success of the church, the prosperity of the nation, depend upon home influences. "The elevation or deterioration of the future of society will be determined by the manners and morals of the youth growing up around us." The Adventist Home, p. 15. This brief quotation should deeply impress us with the tremendous importance of the homemaker's position. Our blueprint is down-to-earth and practical. It begins by asserting that "the lessons of Jesus Christ are to be carried into every phase of practical life." Ibid., p. 381. One basic and ever-present problem in every family is the family budget. The blueprint is specific:
"Economy is to be practiced in all things. Gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost." Ibid. "They are to educate their children that there is need of living in accordance with simple habits in their daily life, and to avoid expensive dress, expensive diet, expensive houses, and expensive furniture." Ibid., p. 386. "We should pay up squarely as we go; gather up the dropped stitches; bind off your raveling edges, and know just what you can call your own." Ibid., p. 379. "All should learn how to keep accounts. Some neglect this work as nonessential, but this is wrong. All expenses should be accurately stated." Ibid., p. 374. We are also instructed how to apportion the family budget.
"To care for the body by providing for it food that is relishable and strengthening is one of the first duties of the householder. It is far better to have less expensive clothing and furniture than to stint the supply of food." Ibid., p. 377. The blueprint gives very practical instruction concerning the problem of family health. It especially stresses guarding the health and strength of the mother so she may be able to perform her important duties. While we are admonished to be liberal with the cause of God, we are not to neglect our homes. "Be sure to provide the facilities that will lighten labor and promote health." Ibid., p. 24. This counsel is given for the young woman contemplating marriage: "It is her right to understand the mechanism of the human body and the principles of hygiene, the matters of diet and dress, labor and recreation, and countless others that intimately concern the well-being of her household.
It is her right to obtain such a knowledge of the best methods of treating disease that she can care for her children in sickness instead of leaving her precious treasures in the hands of stranger nurses and physicians. . . . "The principles of hygiene as applied to diet, exercise, the care of children, the treatment of the sick, and many like matters should be given much more attention than they ordinarily receive." Ibid., p. 87-90. Healthful foods and their preparation are dealt with in the blueprint in great detail.
Principles of Child Training
For the past few years magazines have given considerable space to articles on child training and psychology. Theories held ten years ago are wholly repudiated today. Christian parents following God's blueprint need not be carried away with erroneous ideas of modern psychology. Our blueprint says, "Every Christian home should have rules; . . . teach them [the children] to respect and obey the law of God." Ibid., p. 16. The matter of child training and discipline in the home are clearly outlined in the plan.
"As they become parents, a sacred trust is committed to them. Upon them depends in a great measure the well-being of their children in this world, and their happiness in the world to come." —Ibid., p. 44. "Much depends on the father and mother. They are to be firm and kind in their discipline, and they are to work most earnestly to have an orderly, correct household, that the heavenly angels may be attracted to it to impart peace and a fragrant influence." Ibid., p. 17. "By gentle discipline, in loving words and acts, mothers may bind their children to their hearts." Ibid., p. 21. "It is no small matter for a family to stand as representatives of Jesus, keeping God's law in an unbelieving community. . . . "One well-ordered, well-disciplined family tells more in behalf of Christianity than all the sermons that can be preached." Ibid., pp. 31, 32. "The minister should instruct the people upon the government of children, and his own children should be examples of proper subjection. . . . As the minister and his wife faithfully do their duty in the home, restraining, correcting, advising, counseling, guiding, they are becoming better fitted to labor in the church." Ibid., p. 359. Speaking of the mother the blueprint indicates: "She may, for want of time, neglect many things about her house, with no serious evil results; but she cannot with impunity neglect the proper discipline of her children." Ibid., pp. 267, 268.
"When parents permit a child to show them disrespect in childhood, allowing them to speak pettishly and even harshly, there will be a dreadful harvest to be reaped in after years. When parents fail to require prompt and perfect obedience in their children, they fail to lay the right foundation of character in their little ones." Ibid., p. 361. "Administer the rules of the home in wisdom and love, not with a rod of iron. Children will respond with willing obedience to the rule of love. Commend your children whenever you can. Make their lives as happy as possible." Ibid., p. 18.
We have explained only briefly three phases of Christian homemaking: the budget, health, and discipline. Is it going too far to say we shall be blessed if we heed this instruction and cursed if we disobey? What does the blueprint outline for us in regard to our housekeeping, our leisure time, our religious training in the home, the education of our children, and our duty to our husbands? We do not have to go to some engraved pillar on a distant mountain to read God's statutes. Far more accessible to us are the books of the Spirit of prophecy in our own libraries. We do not need to be called together every seven years in holy convocation so that the very young may learn. We have the books daily at our finger tips.
God will surely hold us responsible. If we closely follow the blueprint we can confidently leave the results to the Master Architect.