In today’s class, we will conclude our survey of the educational work among us as Seventh-day Adventist. To understand more about this crisis that took place in Battle Creek (1881 – 1882), we encourage you to read through our past studies (-click here-). Maranatha!
Let’s go back to the last statement we read, at the end of our previous study, there is something that I want you to see.
God commanded Elijah to anoint the cruel and deceitful Hazael king over Syria, that he might be a scourge to idolatrous Israel. Who knows whether God will not give you up to the deceptions you love? – Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, pg. 77
–The Spirit of Hazael vs. Elisha–
Elijah was down in the cave at Horeb. He finally got back in gear with God, and God told him to go back and anoint three men: “Anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. Anoint Jehu to be king over Israel. And anoint Elisha to be prophet in your stead.” (see 1 Kings 19:15, 16)
It is easy to see why the Lord would have another young man training in as prophet when Elijah would be called away. We may even be able to understand why the Lord would call in Jehu. While he was far from being a loving, kind, Godlike man, nevertheless he was used to root Ahab and Baal worship out of Israel. But what did Hazael have to do with it? Why did God send His prophet to anoint a cruel, deceitful man to be king over Syria? This says it was so that he might be a scourge to idolatrous Israel. Did God use heathen Nebuchadnezzar to scourge Jerusalem? Yes. It’s amazing all the instruments God uses; He has quite a few in his tool kit. Hazael was one back there who certainly whipped and lashed and scourged idolatrous Israel.
What is the application today?
God has shown me that these men are Hazaels to prove a scourge to our people. They are wise above what is written. – Ibid., pg. 79
She doesn’t leave us in doubt as to who she means by the “Hazaels.” She puts the finger of the vision right on the point. And in 1882, there were certain conditions in our educational work that she said were fulfilling this prediction. But remember, this is in the setting of carrying it right on down to the time of the loud cry. Let’s see who Hazael is:
The prevailing spirit of our time is that of infidelity and apostasy – a spirit of pretended illumination because of a knowledge of the truth, but in reality of the blindest presumption. There is a spirit of opposition to the plain word of God and to the testimony of His Spirit. – Ibid
Is that what the issue was there in Battle Creek at that time in the college? Yes. McLaren and his group were exalting human science, human education. Those who were supporting him were choosing to ignore or reject the testimonies of the Spirit of God that cut across that pathway of worldly education. She puts the label on that as Hazael.
There is a spirit of idolatrous exaltation of mere human reason above the revealed wisdom of God. There are men among us in responsible positions who hold that the opinions of a few conceited philosophers, so called, are more to be trusted than the truth of the Bible, or the testimonies of the Holy Spirit. Such a faith as that of Paul, Peter, or John is considered old-fashioned and insufferable to the present day. It is pronounced absurd, mystical, and unworthy of an intelligent mind. God has shown me that these men are Hazaels to prove a scourge to our people. – Ibid
Is it clear who Hazael is? Hazael is any man among us who dares to exalt human reason above the Bible and the Testimonies. And if he’s in a responsible position as some were back there, that gives him an opportunity to scourge.
Had Bell gotten a good scourging? Yes. In fact, he had been scourged so much that he finally had to resign and leave. And as we read, peace came because the students had their own way. The worldly element had driven away those who were standing for the Testimonies of the Spirit of God. But the prophet of God came into that area of seeming peace and disturbed the whole thing with these burning denunciations from the throne of God.
Hazaels – wise above what is written, exalting human science, human reason, human philosophy, human opinions above the Bible and above the testimonies of the Spirit of God – that’s the issue.
That was the issue back in 1882. Let’s see how that same issue, on a far wider stage, is pictured in the closing work in Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, pages 80-81.
The chronology is not difficult to determine. Page 81 plainly states that it’s the time when the mark of the beast is urged upon us. What is the mark of the beast? The National Sunday Law. It was future in 1882; it is still future.
The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The mark of the beast will be urged upon us. – Ibid., pg. 81
With that chronology established, let’s take the preceding page:
But the days of purification of the church are hastening on apace. God will have a people pure and true. In the mighty sifting soon to take place we shall be better able to measure the strength Israel. – Ibid., pg. 80
A mighty sifting was ahead of the church back then. Is it still ahead?
The signs reveal that the time is near when the Lord will manifest that His fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor. – Ibid
Now watch, and get the implications of the educational angle of this as we read the next paragraph.
The days are fast approaching when there will be great perplexity and confusion. Satan, clothed in angel robes, will deceive, if possible, the very elect. There will be gods many and lords many. Every wind of doctrine will be blowing. Those who have rendered supreme homage to ‘science falsely so called’ will not be the leaders then. – Ibid
There are two or three things implied there that I want you to notice. What does “then” imply? That they might be leaders previous to that. This man, McLaren, was the president of Battle Creek College; but a few months after this was written, he was out working for another denomination and fighting our people and our message. He was one who was sifted out. I recall a few other cases. Think of Canright who, at one time, was a leading preacher among us; he went out and fought us. Think of Conradi, and others that could be mentioned. As I’ve said, all of that is a little prelude to what’s ahead.
The point is, there were men who had an influence who went out in a crisis. Sister White is putting her finger on the root cause of some of this apostasy. They are men who have learned to trust to science, falsely so called, human education, human wisdom, and human philosophy instead of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. That’s the issue. That’s why they go out when the crisis comes.
Those who have trusted to intellect, genius, or talent will not then stand at the head of rank and file. They did not keep pace with the light. Those who have proved themselves unfaithful will not then be entrusted with the flock. In the last solemn work few great men will be engaged. They are self-sufficient, independent of God, and He cannot use them. The Lord has faithful servants, who in the shaking, testing time will be disclosed to view. – Ibid
As we get into the shaking time, there will be some bright lights that will go out. Will there be others who have been unnoticed who will shine out? Yes. Let no one twist what is written here; let no one make a misapplication of it. There is nothing in this chapter to indicate that the church is going down and some new movement is going to appear. There is nothing to indicate that God is going to set aside the leadership of this church and bring in a new crop. That’s a misapplication.
But while it’s very clear that the church is going to triumph and this movement goes through, it’s also very clear, as we read here in plain language, the church is going to be sifted, purified, purged. All those who have trusted to science, falsely so called, instead of the Bible and the Testimonies are going to go out. What happened on the narrow stage at Battle Creek in 1882 is going to happen on the wide stage of this whole movement in the closing crisis hour.
On page 82, having called attention to Hazael and the parallel today, Sister White picks up the experience of Elijah and draws a lesson from the experience of Elisha. Where did Elijah find Elisha? He was plowing on his father’s farm. I want to ask you something. If you were looking for a prophet, would you go out to a farm to find one? Maybe Elijah wouldn’t have, if God hadn’t told him; but God told him right where to look.
It’s true that Elisha had much to learn, but God saw in him one who would be humble and willing to learn from the Spirit of Prophecy manifested through Elijah. Now watch as the lesson is made by the messenger of the Lord:
Elijah took Elisha from the plow and threw upon him his mantle of consecration. The call to this great and solemn work was presented to men of learning and position; had these been little in their own eyes and trusted fully in the Lord, He would have honored them with bearing His standard in triumph to the victory. But they separated from God, yielded to the influence of the world, and the Lord rejected them.
Many have exalted science and lost sight of the God of science. This was not the case with the church in the purest times.
God will work a work in our day that but few anticipate. He will raise up and exalt among us those who are taught rather by the unction of His Spirit than by the outward training of scientific institutions. These facilities are not to be despised or condemned; they are ordained of God, but they can furnish only the exterior qualifications. God will manifest that He is not dependent on learned, self-important mortals. – Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, pg. 82
There is the lesson. As we come to the crisis, God will have some people like Elisha. The only way that you and I can have a part in this closing work is to get the experience that Elisha got. First in being faithful in the little things of everyday life and having an experience with God in everyday life, and then following the prophet around from day to day. By that I mean taking the books of the Spirit of Prophecy along with the Bible, and studying them and letting those directions guide our lives hour by hour just as Elijah guided Elisha hour by hour as Elisha went around with him. That is what prepared Elisha to act his part.
God will use the men and women who do that in His closing loud cry work. Those who have received the mold of worldly education and have learned to exalt human science and human reason above the revealed wisdom of God will be sifted out when the crisis comes. That’s the issue. Oh, that God may help us to be warned in time and do something about it? What do you say?
–A Solemn Appeal–
I want to give you now some words that have been written in more recent years by some of the strong spiritual leaders in this denomination. I want you to see that God has had men all down through the years who have tried to help our people to turn away from worldly education and take what God has given us through the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. I want you to see that they recognized that it has been a battle, and still is. From many such statements, that I have in my files, I have picked just a few.
This statement is from 1935 – 50 years after the Battle Creek crisis we have been studying – and is from Elder Watson who was the president of the General Conference at this time and a dearly beloved man, a great spiritual leader. Hear him as he speaks as the President of the General Conference:
“There is setting in on this people a tide of worldliness to which we are surrendering. I do not mean to imply that we are not resisting these influences at all, but I believe the measure of resistance we are putting forth is not holding us. We are gradually being swept backward and should be alarmed about it. Our resistance of worldly influences is seriously diminishing. I am troubled by the direction that our educational and training work is definitely taking. I am concerned by the more and more obvious fact that in the education and training of our workers we are inquiring more of the world and less of God than formerly.” – Review and Herald, November 21, 1935
Permit me to say humbly, I believe he spoke the truth. Anyone who believes it can’t help but sigh and cry. Since Elder Watson wrote these words, there has been a tremendous revival and reformation that has changed this worldly trend he is talking about, or else there is at least as much need for concern and heart burden today as there was then.
I bring another statement. This is from Elder J.L. McElhany, the president of the General Conference who followed Elder Watson, and who for 14 years was the world leader of this church. This is from a report of a sermon that Elder McElhany gave at the world educational convention at Blue Ridge, North Carolina. What subject do you suppose this servant of God choose as his subject for the Sabbath sermon at the meeting of all our college presidents, educational superintendents, academy principals, the leaders of our educational work? He chose as his subject the peril of worldly trends. I select just a few sentences from this sermon:
“I tell you solemnly that there are forces and influences at work which, if unchecked, will render us just as unprepared for the second coming of Christ as was Israel for His first coming. Make no mistake about it. I see those influences at work. I summon you all to engage in the battle against the spirit of Sadduceeism, the spirit of worldly conformity, the spirit which, if allowed to go unchecked, will subvert and change the whole spirit and purpose of this movement.
Is this movement today the same as it was when it passed from the hands of the pioneers over into our keeping, to our leadership and guidance? Do we have the same aims and objectives today that they had, or have we allowed worldly contacts and policies to subvert the movement?
This is no ordinary time. I want to stand here before you today as one who believes, and believes seriously and earnestly, that the whole purpose and objective of this movement today is in the balance. Do we believe in the Spirit of Prophecy? We say we do. Are we among those to whom Christ said, ‘Ye say, and do not’? I tell you, my friends, in all seriousness, that today many of our young people are confused, and their faith is broken down by what they see and hear. Oh, may God help us to come back to simplicity and faith, to obedience and right practice.
I do confess, my friends, to having a heart longing to see something come to us today that will change the whole drift of things, for I believe the time has come when there ought to be such a change.” – Review and Herald, October 14, 1937
Then he speaks of the need of bringing the Bible into the classrooms, not merely the Bible classes but the other classes in our schools. He speaks of the danger in worldly amusements and the social life.
“Too many of our young people today are being led into worldly conformity by some leaders who are themselves adhering to forms of worldly amusement and pleasure. My friends, I wish our young people could be kept away from all the beach parties and nudity parades and moving picture shows, and other questionable places where they ought not to go, but where they are sometimes led by their leaders. I believe it is the duty of every school board and every school faculty to take steps to change things. Just how far can we go in this matter of worldly conformity? Let us be done with the spirit of compromise.” – Ibid
Do you think the President of the General Conference had definite things in mind when he talked to our educational leaders? Do you think he had a right to be concerned? Should the things that concerned him that day concern you and me today?
“Would the pioneers know this movement today if they should awaken? Would they recognize the movement that they started in this world and handed over to their successors? Would they really recognize it? To me that is a very important question. Oh, some may say they were a lot of old fogies. They were out of date. They were entirely behind the times. Today’s standards have changed. That is a favorite expression with some, but I do not believe it.
My friends, really, I am concerned about the trends and the tendencies. I confess a great anxiety about them. I believe what we as a group of educators and leaders need today more than anything else is something that cannot come to us from any committee on resolutions – and that is a revival of primitive Godliness.” – Ibid
I leave you with this solemn appeal from Elder McElhany ringing in our ears. As we read these stirring things and the heart-burdening things in Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, let us thank God that in His church today He is continuing to echo that trumpet call to reform – revival, and reformation. Let us see to it that, in our own hearts, we enter into the experience of Elisha rather than that of Hazael.
Let us see to it that, in our own hearts, we enter into the experience of Elisha, rather than that of Hazael…
* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.