And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?
The Lord has a controversy with his professed people in these last days. In this controversy men in responsible positions will take a course directly opposite to that pursued by Nehemiah. They will not only ignore and despise the Sabbath themselves, but they will try to keep it from others by burying it beneath the rubbish of custom and tradition. In churches and in large gatherings in the open air, ministers will urge upon the people the necessity of keeping the first day of the week. There are calamities on sea and land: and these calamities will increase, one disaster following close upon another; and the little band of conscientious Sabbath-keepers will be pointed out as the ones who are bringing the wrath of God upon the world by their disregard of Sunday.
Satan urges this falsehood that he may take the world captive. It is his plan to compel men to accept errors. He takes an active part in the promulgation of all false religions, and will stop at nothing in his efforts to enforce erroneous doctrines. Under a cloak of religious zeal, men, influenced by his spirit, have invented the most cruel tortures for their fellow-men, and have inflicted the most awful sufferings upon them. Satan and his agents have the same spirit still; and the history of the past will be repeated in our day.
There are men who have set their minds and will to accomplish evil; in the dark recesses of their hearts they have resolved what crimes they will commit. These men are self-deceived. They have rejected God’s great rule of right, and in its stead have erected a standard of their own, and comparing themselves with this standard they pronounce themselves holy. The Lord will permit them to reveal what is in their hearts, to act out the spirit of the master that controls them. He will let them show their hatred of his law in their treatment of those who are loyal to its requirements. They will be actuated by the same spirit of religious frenzy that goaded on the mob that crucified Christ; church and State will be united in the same corrupt harmony.
The church of today has followed in the steps of the Jews of old, who set aside the commandments of God for their own traditions. She has changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant, and now, as then, pride, unbelief, and infidelity are the result. Her true condition is set forth in these words from the song of Moses: “They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children; they are a perverse and crooked generation. Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?”
When Nehemiah moved out as a reformer and deliverer in Israel, he was actuated by love to God and anxiety for the prosperity of his people. His heart was in the work he had undertaken; his hope, his energy his enthusiasm, his determination of character, were contagious, and inspired others with the same courage and lofty purpose. Each man became a Nehemiah in his own sphere, and helped to make stronger the hand and heart of his neighbor; and soon feebleness was succeeded by strength and courage.
Here is a lesson for ministers and others who are laboring for the salvation of souls. Those who believe that we have the truth, that God has made us the depositaries of his law, should manifest the same earnestness and zeal that characterized Nehemiah.
If ministers are inactive and irresolute, destitute of godly zeal, what can be expected of those to whom they minister? In some instances they may rise above the moral level of their teachers, but not often. But when ministers broaden their plans, and show that they are in earnest, the people will respond to their efforts; and disunited, dispirited workers will become united, strong, hopeful, and eager.
It is a sin to be heedless, purposeless, and indifferent in any work in which we may engage, but especially in the work of God. Every enterprise connected with his cause should be carried forward with order, forethought, and earnest prayer. Faithful standard-bearers for God and his truth are wanted, and many are ready to respond to the call. As these see the iniquity and violence that exist in consequence of making void the law of God, they will see greater reason than ever to reverence that law, and will greatly prize its righteous, restraining influences. Contempt and reviling increases their love for the precepts of Jehovah. With David they will say, “It is time for thee, Lord, to work; for they have made void thy law. Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.” RH March 18, 1884, par. 8 – RH March 18, 1884, par. 14
And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: