And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. – Revelation 14:1
Who do we see on Mt. Zion? A Lamb. Who is with Him? A hundred and forty-four thousand. They are with the Lamb and they are like the Lamb. The fourth verse says, “They follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth”; The fifth verse says: “They are without fault before the throne of God”. With the Lamb and like the Lamb. Beginning with the sixth verse down to the twelfth, we have the great three-fold message that prepares those people, don’t we? Is that the purpose of the three angels’ messages, to prepare those people? That’s right.”
I would like to notice especially the first angel’s message. We’re told that the hour of God’s judgment is come, and therefore we are to fear God and give glory to Him. That points, of course, to the closing work of Jesus in the most holy place, to prepare a people for translation. Then the latter part of the verse says:
… And worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. – Revelation 14:7
When we wish to speak of God as the one who made us, what do we call Him? The Creator. So this message is a call to worship the Creator, the One that made us. Now, if we worship Him as the one that made us, will we want to break down what He made? No. You can see that, really, to worship Him as Creator must include cooperating with Him in maintaining what He’s created. Is that right?
–Maintaining God’s Creation–
If somebody were to, at great cost of time and money, make us a beautiful painting and give it to us to hang here on the wall, if we had any regard either for the painting or the man that gave it to us, we wouldn’t be up there smearing things on it, or cutting holes in it, or putting it out here in the weather to ruin, would we? We’d be taking good care of it, if we appreciated either the painter or his painting.
So, to worship the Creator, the one that made us, must include recognizing Him as the Creator of our bodies, and working with Him to maintain in the best condition that which He made. So, this great message of Revelation 14:6, 7, by implication, includes all that we speak of as health reform – the study of physiology, because, of course, in order to know how to take care of our bodies, we must do what? Understand them, and to understand them we must study. That’s right.
Now, in harmony with this is the twelfth verse. As the result of the three-fold message a company is brought to view who are called the saints, and it says they do what? They keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. They keep the ten commandments, but has God written laws in the body as well as on tables of stone? Yes. And those who perfectly keep a perfect law must include obedience to those natural laws which the Creator is the author of.
So, as the first angel’s message, by implication, suggests the study of physiology and obedience to health reform, so the third angel’s message closes with the picture of a group of people who are in full harmony with all of God’s laws, physical and spiritual. All this is, dear friends, in embryo, the midnight cry, “Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet Him.” If we are going to be with Him, we will need to meet Him, won’t we? And so that great announcement of 1844 is the light, as we saw in our first lesson, that shines all the way how far? To the city of God.
–The Bible & Its Message of Health–
Our lesson [today] is on the rise and development of the health message among us, and really, it’s a wonderful story, friends, a wonderful story. You can see in the light of these points which we have briefly noted that the health message has a Bible foundation, a Bible background. The Spirit of Prophecy in this, as in other points, has magnified and amplified the Bible truth.
In our earlier lessons in this series, we have noted the development of the great truths of the sanctuary and the Sabbath. We have seen how the Spirit of Prophecy was instrumental in helping our pioneers as they studied the Bible, to recognize truth and reject error, and to unify on a platform of truth… In our last lesson, we’ve noted how the Lord welded that group of Sabbath-keeping Adventists into an organized body. This culminated in the organization of the General Conference, which convened in Battle Creek, May 21, 1863. There a constitution was adopted and officers were selected and plans laid. The General Conference was established. What a wonderful [one hundred and fifty plus] years it’s been since then. And as we noted in our last lesson, the great principles of organization which God established back then have carried us through from that time to the present, and God wants to lead this people right on through to the end.
–Health Reform: The Better Way–
Now, it seems most interesting, and more than a coincidence, that immediately after the organization of the General Conference this great light on health reform was given to this people. Less than two weeks after the adjournment of the General Conference, as the Sabbath weekend of June 6, 1863 drew near, James and Ellen White, with several others at Battle Creek, decided to drive out to Otsego where two of our ministers were holding a tent effort. Now, they didn’t drive out in automobiles. They went with horse and buggy… to the little farmhouse at which they stopped that evening, the house of Aaron Hilliard, a little southwest of the town of Otsego. There, James and Ellen White with others, met for the sundown worship at the beginning of the Sabbath. It’s just a little farmhouse. I mean of all the rooms put together – just a humble little place.
The manger at Bethlehem wasn’t anything you and I would pick out, was it? And that little farmhouse, just like many other Michigan farmhouses by the roadside, God selected as the place where the angel Gabriel would come with a wonderful message to His people on the great subject of health reform, as Sister White spoke of it. The occasion was this. During the evening worship Sister White was asked to lead in prayer. And on her knees she came over to where her husband was kneeling and placed her hands upon him and prayed especially for him. Elder White was much worn, much worn. He had been under many, many heavy burdens physically and mentally. He was in great need of health and strength and life. So she prayed earnestly for his restoration and for his blessing. Little did she dream of how God was going to answer that prayer, for heaven answered not by a sudden, miraculous healing of Elder White, as those pioneers had seen again and again during those first twenty years of the message, but this time it was to be in a different way, a better way, shall we say. For God answered by giving to them personally, and His entire people, great light on how to get well and how to keep well.
Sister White was taken in vision while she was praying for her husband, and for forty-five minutes the vision continued. We have today many, many pages written in the inspired writings of the things that God revealed at that particular time. In your book, The Story of Our Health Message, by Elder Dores Robinson, on page 76, you will find Sr. White’s statement concerning what we have just spoken of:
It was at the house of Brother A. Hilliard at Otsego, Michigan, June 6, 1863, that the great subject of health reform was opened before me in vision. – The Story of Our Health Message, page 76, third edition (Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, October 8, 1867)
Now, let us get the setting of this. Let’s think of how things were in the world and in the church previous to, and about the time of this vision. As far as the world at large is concerned, prevailing ideas and practices in diet, in medical practice, and general living were both by the standards of divine revelation, as we know them today, and by the standards of scientific medicine, as we know them today, very poor. In diet: the popular American diet included large amounts of meat; pork and other kinds of meat. Tea and coffee were used freely, and a good deal of rich food, rich gravies, pastries, cake and pie, mince pies – heavy rich foods.
Then there was in the popular mind, and with a large majority of the medical profession, a prejudice against water and also against night air. In cases of fever, for example, sometimes patients weren’t allowed to have the water they craved. And night air was studiously excluded both for the well and sick. Night air was bad. You’d be interested in an expression Sr. White used once after these revelations. She was on a train one night and she wanted to get some air, and so she had the window up. Another passenger in the train complained and said that night air was injurious. Sister White explained, she said “Well, now it’s night and all there is, is night air”. She said, “It’s just a question of whether we are going to have pure night air or impure night air.”
Along with these popular errors in diet, and with the fear of the use of water and ventilation in disease – the fear of those things – there was also a great deal of drugging. Heavy, poisonous drugs were used: nox vomica or strychnine, mercury, calomel, and opium and its derivatives and arsenic and other poisons, and used, as the medical profession today would say, without any scientific reason. Also, many of the doctors in the early part of the nineteenth century were using bleeding. George Washington, for instance, when he came to his last sickness, was bled several times, ounce after ounce of blood taken from his body. His physicians thought they were helping him. I suppose they were just as sincere as anyone could be. But that was the accepted way.
So you can see that there was, as we view it today, a great amount of ignorance. I often think as I read these things, friends, if time should last, I wonder how some of the popular theories that are considered so ultra-scientific today would look in another twenty-five or fifty years, if time should go on. One wonders. But that’s not our subject right now. The point is, that there was a great need for reform.
Now it is interesting to note that there had been, in the providence of God, various efforts toward reform. We think of the work of men like Graham from whom we still have the word graham flour or graham bread. Graham was a Presbyterian minister who somewhat earlier than the time of this vision was very active in health reform, seeking to teach the people the advantages of graham flour, graham bread as it came to be called and in other ways seeking
to promote some features of health reform. Then there was Dr. Trall and also Dr. Jackson. Dr. Jackson is to be remembered especially as the one who for a number of years conducted a fine health institution in Dansville, New York, which was called Our Home on the Hillside. You can read the stories of these men in this fine book, The Story of Our Health Message, by Elder Robinson. I hope that you will read these early chapters, for they are fascinating and give one a very good background in understanding conditions at the time these early Testimonies were written.
Now, while there were such men as Graham, and Trall, and Jackson, we must remember this: they were as voices crying in the wilderness. They did not represent the majority opinion at all. By many they were looked upon as extremists, innovators, and while they had a following, in a way it was a small following. Also, I don’t suppose that any of us, as we look at what they advocated, would agree they had all the truth, nor that they were entirely free from error. As we shall see, there were some points in which the light from heaven agreed with what they were teaching, some points in which it did not.
–Health Reform & The Advent Pioneers–
Among our own pioneers, Joseph Bates is outstanding, because of his interest in health. Before he had ever heard William Miller and accepted the advent message, as a seaman, as a sea captain, he had turned from liquor of all kinds, from tobacco, from tea and coffee. Later on he gave up the use of meat and even butter and rich pies and cake and all that. He did that, every one of those steps, without somebody else teaching him and prodding him and working with him on it. The Lord, indeed, must have been leading him. Also, it is interesting to note that while he became a champion of such reforms as abstinence from liquor and tobacco, as far as his dietetic practices, he was willing to go ahead and be very simple and plain in his own diet without in any way urging those views upon others. And thus, for the better part of twenty years, he mingled with his Adventist brethren and sisters, moving in and out among them, keeping right to the line as far as his own practice is concerned, and not making himself a thorn in their flesh as far as reproving them. I think that’s a wonderful record, friends.
Joseph Bates is one to be remembered and emulated as an example of the strongest loyalty to health reform, combined with a sweet and gentle courtesy and a tolerance of others. You will be interested in the chapter on his life as it relates to these matters of reform here in Robinson’s book on page 45. It’s very interesting… He is one of those that sleeps in Jesus, waiting the call of the Life-Giver.
Now, let us note some of the steps in leading our people toward reform. While the great vision on health reform was given, as we have noted, in 1863, God leads His people on step by step. For instance, in 1848 there came clear light through the visions pointing out the evils of tobacco and tea and coffee. You will find that mentioned in this little book, Robinson’s Story of our Health Message; in the chapter “Reforms Among Adventists,” beginning on page 53. That particular statement is on page 57. Tobacco, tea, and coffee, then, were pointed out as early as 1848. That is only four years after the passing of the time. But that gave our people something to work on for some time. In 1854, six years later, as Robinson mentions on page 71, there was also instruction given on some additional points in health reform:
I saw that the houses of the saints should be kept tidy and neat, free from dirt and filth and all uncleanness. – Story of our Health Message, page 71, third edition (Selected Messages, Book 3, page 274)
She saw, too, that they were to be clean in person. Cleanliness is one of the early points in health reform. Now, you remember when God led Israel out of Egypt, one of the first things He instructed them on, as they left Egypt and came there to Sinai, was to do what? Clean up. Much of the instruction that God gave Moses in what we call the law of Moses, dealt with the clean and the unclean. While some of that had to do with the ceremonial, some of it had definitely to do with the physical. That instruction is still of importance to us. God is interested in a clean people, clean inside and outside.
Also in this same vision this statement is found, it’s very interesting, the first statement on diet as far as I know, in the visions:
Deny the unhealthy appetite, eat less fine food, eat course food, free from grease. And then as you sit at the table to eat you can from the heart ask God’s blessing upon the food. – Story of Our Health Message, page 71, third edition (Selected Messages, Book 3, page 274)
So, you see, God was beginning to lead them into an appreciation of different features of health reform. Now turning to Volume 1, page 206, I want you to note a very interesting experience that took place just four years later, in 1858. Beginning on page 204 is a little chapter on “Errors in Diet”, written to a brother and sister who are identified here as Brother and Sister A. Now, as you can see from this chapter, these people had come out strong against swine’s flesh, against the eating of pork. They had some other views also, all of which are not stated here, but reference is made to them. At any rate, you will notice on page 205, that they were making a great point of being so strict in this matter of diet, and feeling that the rest of the church ought to come up where they were. But on page 207, Sister White told them that God was leading His people through angels, and that those that ran ahead would just have to meekly retrace their steps and come along with the church.
Then on the bottom of 206, you notice that the prophet said that their views concerning swine’s flesh would prove no injury, provided they had them to themselves. Isn’t that interesting? In other words, they were not reproved for giving up swine’s flesh, but they were reproved for doing what? Making an issue of it, and trying to crowd it on others in the church. This was in 1858, just five years before the great vision on health reform. When God’s time came, He brought light to His church in a way that the movement could swing together. Are there lessons in that for us, friends? Wonderful lessons.
You can see, then, these earlier years were taken up with bringing our people up on the doctrines, on organization, and in getting them away from liquor of all kinds, tobacco, tea, coffee, uncleanliness, and a few steps in diet. And by the way, friends, that is quite a program if you stop to think about it, quite a program.
So now in 1863 came this wonderful vision at Otsego, and God’s people were ready to take hold. Not all, of course, but many of them did. The next year Sister White brought out number three and four of Spiritual Gifts, and these last two are called Facts of Faith. Over the years these little books have been reprinted…
All right, now on page 120 begins this chapter on health. This is the first published presentation of the great vision of 1863, that’s comprehensive. Sister White had gotten out not long before this, a little booklet called Appeal to Mothers, dealing with purity for children (the mothers in the training of their children) indicating the importance she attached to that question of purity.
Robinson gives a good digest of this material as he writes here in “The Vision at Otsego” and the next chapter on “Early Health Literature.” I hope all of you will read those two chapters very carefully – “The Vision at Otsego” starting on page 65 in Robinson’s book, and “Early Health Literature,” the very next chapter. I would just like to call attention to some of the things in this chapter. Remember conditions as they were back then, and then think of how wonderful it was that so much was included in this great vision. The Lord’s messenger starts with conditions in Eden, and then she brings in how the fall was over the point of appetite. She comes down to the experience of the children of Israel in the desert, and shows how some of their problems were over the appetite question.
In other words, this great chapter starts up with the keynote of self-control of the appetites and passions. She shows the connection between victory over appetite and self-control in other matters. She shows the connection between indulgence of appetite and failures on other points. That’s the great fundamental lesson…
* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.