While at Battle Creek in August, 1868, I dreamed of being with a large body of people. A portion of this assembly started out prepared to journey. We had heavily loaded wagons. As we journeyed, the road seemed to ascend. On one side of this road was a deep precipice; on the other was a high, smooth, white wall…As we journeyed on, the road grew narrower and steeper. In some places it seemed so very narrow that we concluded that we could no longer travel with the loaded wagons. We then loosed them from the horses, took a portion of the luggage from the wagons and placed it upon the horses, and journeyed on horseback.
As we progressed, the path still continued to grow narrow. We were obliged to press close to the wall, to save ourselves from falling off the narrow road down the steep precipice. As we did this, the luggage on the horses pressed against the wall and caused us to sway toward the precipice. We feared that we should fall and be dashed in pieces on the rocks. We then cut the luggage from the horses, and it fell over the precipice. We continued on horseback, greatly fearing, as we came to the narrower places in the road, that we should lose our balance and fall. At such times a hand seemed to take the bridle and guide us over the perilous way.
As the path grew more narrow, we decided that we could no longer go with safety on horseback, and we left the horses and went on foot, in single file, one following in the footsteps of another. At this point small cords were let down from the top of the pure white wall; these we eagerly grasped, to aid us in keeping our balance upon the path. As we traveled, the cord moved along with us. The path finally became so narrow that we concluded that we could travel more safely without our shoes, so we slipped them from our feet and went on some distance without them. Soon it was decided that we could travel more safely without our stockings; these were removed, and we journeyed on with bare feet.
We then thought of those who had not accustomed themselves to privations and hardships. Where were such now? They were not in the company. At every change some were left behind, and those only remained who had accustomed themselves to endure hardships. The privations of the way only made these more eager to press on to the end… – Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2; pg. 594, 595
“Read the entire dream, it’s very interesting… But notice, in what [we] have read, the different changes. Starting out with what? Loaded wagons. Wagons, and loaded wagons. Then finally reaching the place where the wagons had to be left. What did some people say? “This is as far as we’re going. We have to leave the loaded wagons? No more for us…” But many went right on, on horseback, with the horses carrying luggage. But finally what did they have to do with the luggage? Cut it off and let it fall over the precipice. Some said, “No luggage, we don’t go.” They stayed there (least they didn’t go up the trail any farther).”
“And so at each step, when the horses were left because of the narrowness of the road (the trail) some said, “We can’t go on foot”; they stopped. And so with the leaving of the shoes, and the stockings. As they looked at the barefoot pilgrims going up; and as you read on you’ll find there’s blood on the trail. As it goes further. Some said, “no we can’t take this.” Only those, it says, who had accustomed themselves to privation and hardship went on.”
“In studying the problem of economic survival, in the crisis that awaits the people of God; during the great time of trouble, when the wicked have cut off all our resources and we cannot buy or sell; and the death decree is hanging over our heads… angels will feed us. Bread will be given us; our waters will be sure… But this does not mean, my dear friends, that we will have all of the comforts and conveniences; and the great variety of foods that we have now. Oh no. What is promised? Bread and water – just the bare necessities.”
“Will you be there? Will you be among the people of God, when they’re out in the mountains, or in the deserts, in the swamp, or in the dungeons; awaiting the coming of the Redeemer. Will your children be there? Are we preparing for this? Will a life of ease and… comfort best prepare us for that time? Is that a fair question? It’s a very important question, dear friends; very important question.”
“You know, when Uncle Sam calls men into the army (and is preparing those men for combat in Korea, or Vietnam, or some other theatre of war), the government puts those men through a program of training that is designed to harden them. They’re put out into jungles, and deserts, and difficult situations. [Quite a number of you reading this may have been through this training]. The government doesn’t say, “Well, poor fellas, they’re soon to meet so many difficulties. We’d better get them the best hotel in town. And give them the very nicest meals, because when they go over there they are going to have such a hard time.” Is that the program? No. Real mercy and compassion means that the man who is going into a hard situation will have some preparation for it. Is that reasonable?”
“Now will God, Who sees the end from the beginning, leave His people without a plan of preparation today? No, He won’t. And before we reach the great time of trouble, we’re going into the little (or short) time of trouble. That’s when the boycott begins; we can’t buy or sell. And in that intermediate time, between now and the great time of trouble, we won’t be under a death decree, but we will be under the squeeze of economic pressure. The angels feed us, during the falling of the plagues. But I have found no promise that the angels are going to feed us during those early stages of economic pressure.”
Turn to Revelation 13, where we read more concerning this boycott, through which the mark of the beast is to be enforced. Then I want to raise the question – how are we going to live through that time?
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark… – Revelation 13:16
What will you do? Oh, somebody says, “the angels will take care of you”. The way the angels are going to take care of us is to give us some good sense to get ready for that time.
The time is fast coming when the controlling power of the labor unions will be very oppressive. Again and again the Lord has instructed that our people are to take their families away from the cities, into the country, where they can raise their own provisions; for in the future the problem of buying and selling will be a very serious one… – Selected Messages, book 2; pg. 141
“Are the labor unions among the agencies, along with church and state that are going to bring this Sunday law? Oh yes. Now here’s some very clear instructions; plain as the English language can make it. Ahead if us, it says, is a very serious problem, concerned with buying and selling. Did we read that in the Bible? Yes. And in anticipation of that time, the Lord’s messenger says that the counsel from Heaven is that our people are to do what? Move out of the cities and get in the country, where they can do what? Raise their own provisions. “For in the future the problem of buying and selling will be a very serious one.”
“I could close the study right now and we’d have enough to think about for a while. In fact, if we would take it seriously, some of us would make some changes in our plans. But let’s go a little further, read some more references and meditate on this…”
“This is very practical, isn’t it friends? God’s message is very practical. Back in the Days of Noah, the Lord sent a message – “There’s a flood coming. Water’s going to cover the whole earth.” Did He say “just preach and wait, and when the time comes the angels will carry you on their wings, up above the rain. And you can be us there on the clouds until the flood is over” – Did He? No; there was something very practical to do about it. And Noah not only preached, he practiced. And in doing it, he did what God told him to. God told him to do what? Build an ark. And the ark of course was to float upon the water. And thus, those who entered it would be saved. Now we’re told that that storm was so terrible, that the ark would not have been able to withstand its fury; except by the miracle working power of God.”
“Well if God had to work a miracle to preserve the ark and those in it, why go through all that trouble of working 120 years to build it? Why not devote all the time just to preaching and save the time that was used in building the ark? Couldn’t God have preserved them some other way? Why sure; but God delights to give His people a plan in which there’s something for them to do to show their faith, by their works! And faith is believing God. Faith is not inventing some method that we think will take care of the problem. Faith is in humbly kneeling at the feet of Jesus and saying, “Lord, You see the future. What do you want us to do?” And as we study the Bible and the Testimonies, here’s the blueprint. And all that faith asks is “what does God say?” If God has told us to do it, this we will do.”
The time is fast coming when the controlling power of the labor unions will be very oppressive. Again and again the Lord has instructed that our people are to take their families away from the cities, into the country, where they can raise their own provisions; for in the future the problem of buying and selling will be a very serious one. – Selected Messages, book 2; pg. 141
Now, let’s read another quotation:
I saw that if the saints had food laid up by them or in the field in the time of trouble… it would be taken from them by violent hands and strangers would reap their fields… Houses and lands will be of no use to the saints in the time of trouble, for they will then have to flee before infuriated mobs… – Early Writings, pg. 56
“How do you put all this together? This says there won’t be any use to have houses and lands, or crops, because they’ll be taken away from you. While the other quotation says, “get out and get the place in the country where you can raise your own provision for in the future the problem of buying and selling will be a very serious one.” Is this a contradiction? No, it’s no contradiction at all. It’s just a question of the timing of things. When the national Sunday law is passed, then begins the short time of trouble. Inspiration speaks of it as a time of trouble, we read that also in Early Writings”
“The commencement of that time of trouble,” here mentioned does not refer to the time when the plagues shall begin to be poured out, but to a short period just before they are poured out, while Christ is in the sanctuary… trouble will be coming on the earth, and the nations will be angry… At that time the “latter rain,” or refreshing from the presence of the Lord, will come, to give power to the loud voice of the third angel, and prepare the saints to stand in the period when the seven last plagues shall be poured out. – Early Writings, pg. 85
“So there are two times of trouble; one merging into the other, of course. And, during this preliminary time of trouble, as the boycott is enforced the saints will not be able to do what? Buy or sell. Are they going to survive? Yes. “Our people are to take their families away from the cities, into the country, where they can raise their own provisions; for in the future the problem of buying and selling will be a very serious one.” Now you can see, according to this, that it’s going to last more than a few days. Because it takes time to grow some food, doesn’t it? Yes. It’s going to be long enough, my dear friends, to demonstrate that God has a way to preserve His people. Just as Noah’s flood lasted long enough to demonstrate that those who obey God survived, and all the rest perished.”
Will it make any difference, when the crisis comes, whether or not we have done what God tells us to do? Will it? Well it’ll make a lot of difference. Well, somebody says, “I thought that when the Sunday law was passed was the time to move out.” Well,
It is no time now for God’s people to be fixing their affections or laying up their treasure in the world. The time is not far distant, when, like the early disciples, we shall be forced to seek a refuge in desolate and solitary places. As the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman armies was the signal for flight to the Judean Christians, so the assumption of power on the part of our nation in the decree enforcing the papal sabbath will be a warning to us. It will then be time to leave the large cities, preparatory to leaving the smaller ones for retired homes in secluded places among the mountains. And now, instead of seeking expensive dwellings here, we should be preparing to move to a better country, even a heavenly. Instead of spending our means in self-gratification, we should be studying to economize. – Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5; pg. 464
“Now let’s look at this: When the national Sunday law is passed, this will be a sign to us. It’ll be time to do what? Leave the large cities “preparatory to leaving the smaller ones for retired homes in secluded places among the mountains”. You know when an army is retreating… it’s a planned, orderly retreat. There are stages of retreat. And the people of God are going to retreat, now it isn’t a defeat, it’s a strategic retreat. And the Mighty General has arranged it. And He says that when the national Sunday law is passed, that’s a sign to us to leave what? The large cities preparatory to leaving the smaller ones for retired homes in secluded places among the mountains. There are at least three stages of the retreat spoken of here, you can see that. In other words, this is a gradual thing. Well says one, “then there is nothing for us to do until the national Sunday law comes”. Oh no, these other references say
We should now begin to heed the instruction given us over and over again: Get out of the cities into rural districts, where the houses are not crowded closely together, and where you will be free from the interference of enemies. – Selected Messages, book 2; pg. 141
“Now, how does this fit together? Perhaps I can illustrate it a very simple way. If any of you have ever crossed the country, and ridden in one of these long trains, where they have the… the coaches and the dining carts. Have you ever heard the waiter come through and say, “First call to dinner”. What can you do? Well, you can go and eat or you can sit there. You know you can go later if you want to. By and by he comes through, again what does he say? “Second call to dinner.” And again, you can wait or you can go eat. But finally he comes through and he says what? “Last call to dinner.” That means what? If you’re going, you go now. And so in this call to get out of the cities, for over 100* years, the message of God has been sounding to our people – “Get out of the large cities as fast as possible. Get into country locations, where you can learn to grow your food.” But the last call is this sign of the national Sunday law. And oh, my dear friends, as I think of the many, many families of our people in these great cities. Many of them in debt; many of them paying, not only for their homes, but for furniture and cars and all kinds of things. I wonder… I wonder… How will they leave all of that when the Sunday law is passed?”
“Do you see the mercy of God in sending us these preparatory messages; to as fast as possible get out now? There’s another reason for it friends. Noah built an ark to save as many as possible of other people. It finally ended up at only his family; his sons and their family were in there with him. But others could’ve. If you and I understand what we’ve just been reading, would it be an act of love (as well as an act of faith) to get out ahead of the great swarm of refugees, and prepare some places for dear people who are fleeing from the Sunday law and the labor unions, and the violence, and the crime, and the terrible difficulties in these cities, could come and find a place of refuge – would it be friends? And if you and I are acting under Divine direction might not God lead us to do exactly that?”
“And remember, (may I make it very clear) this is not a matter of storing up food to take us through the great time of trouble when the plagues are being poured out. I read from Early Writings that this will be of no use to the saints. It’ll be a miraculous provision that takes us through the time of trouble. But friends, would it be a good thing to follow this practical counsel and make provision for getting through the first time of trouble? Would it? You see, there are two different ways here: The angels are going to feed us during the great time of trouble. But if you find a reference that says the angels are going to feed us merely because we can’t buy or sell, bring me the reference for it. That would be the easy way to just keep on doing what we’re doing and say, “Well when we can’t buy or sell anymore, the angels will feed us.” But this says the way to get ready for that time is to get out of the cities, into the country, learn to raise our own provisions – for in the future the problem of buying and selling will be a very serious one.”
“Now don’t misunderstand me friends, this doesn’t say that we’re to start next week and never buy anything anymore. Oh no. We doubtless need a weaning period. But in the light of this counsel would it be sensible to be learning how to depend less and less on the commercial channels, and more and more on what God and man can do on the soil? Would this be a part of faith?”
“Now in this book (2SM) there is some very practical counsel on not making foolish, and half-hazard, and rash moves. I suggest that you study very carefully this chapter, if you are contemplating a change, in Selected Messages, book 2; beginning on page 360 – “Guided by God’s Providences”. There are some things, friends, that we ought to act immediately on. If a rattlesnake is in the path, we’d better get out of his way right now. But this particular subject we’re studying calls for calm counsel and careful planning. Read what it says here. Sometimes people have read something about getting out of the cities and they’ve hastily (without knowing what they were going to do) rushed out of the city into the country, and they’ve come back with their heads hanging (weeks, or months, or years later), and said – “We’ve tried it, and we nearly starved to death; and so we’re back where we were.” Have you heard of anything like that? It happens every now and then. If we would read the whole counsel of God, friends, we won’t need to do foolish things. Read them.”
“But now back to what we were studying in the beginning of our lesson. Do you remember that dream of the trip? The people of God in this dream started out with what? Loaded wagons. My, that wouldn’t be enough today, would it? We’d have to have a station wagon and a trailer, loaded. But the road finally got so narrow that the wagons were what? Left behind. And finally the luggage, and finally the horses; and finally, traveling barefoot on the blood stained path (with bleeding feet). Oh friends, let us ask God to give us such a love for Jesus that we will choose the path of sacrifice.”
Do not misunderstand: I do not mean to leave the impression that we should get off our comfortable beds tonight and sleep on the floor, just to show that we can take it. But I do mean friends, that we should be willing to follow the opening providences of God and not turn down His leading merely because it calls for more sacrificial life. What do you say? If God is leading you, will He be leading you to an ever richer, more expensive standard of living? If God is leading you, when you move (from one home into another; and then from that to another) will the home cost more and the furniture cost more? And it’ll be a “step-up” in the equipment, automobiles, and all that? Or is the picture that we had read from inspiration one in which the people of God learned to do more and more, with less and less? Do you see what I mean, dear friends?
But do you know we are in a society where your status depends upon how much you spend. And even among the professed people of God there’s far too much of this. If you can buy a new car every year, and get a classier one, a ritzier one, with more equipment on it every year – well, you must be doing pretty well. Even if you’re paying interest on the debt. And so with all the other things, that go to make up the thing call life today, concerning it all it is written
There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. – Proverbs 14:12
“Oh friends, soon these cities will be destroyed. Whether it be by atom bomb, or by internal violence. Whether it be by mobs and riots; or whether it be by earthquakes or tidal waves. Whatever the method, whichever one of the judgements of God, these cities are marked for destruction. They are citadels of sin, modern Sodom. This world is an awful place my friends… but He has given us the blueprint. Now, it’s not to judge others, it’s not to reproach or criticize them on the way they spend their money. That’s a personal matter between them and God… but dear friends, God has organized Heaven to give you help in these matters. All the angels are enlisted. They are ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14). Of course, I’ll tell you frankly, their main desire is to help you walk that upward, narrow, ever narrowing trail. They’ll help you to keep from falling off the precipice, as the way gets more narrow. But shall we go, or shall we stay? What do you say? Do you want to stay with the wagons, or shall we go on up the trail? Do you want to stay with the horses, or shall we go on foot? Shall we? Wonderful things are ahead, for those who have the faith and the love to venture out with Jesus. Up, up, up the rugged, narrow trail.”
Until our next study…
* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.