That everyone who thirsteth for the truth may obtain it, these publications are, as a Christian service, provided without charge. They levy but one exaction: the soul's obligation to itself to prove all things and hold fast to that which is good. The only strings attached to this free proffer are the golden strands of Eden and the crimson cords of Calvary - the ties that bind.
The following presentation concerns another aspect in the warfare against the Branch Davidian Seventh Day Adventists. It specifically addresses issues which directly pertain to why there are both Davidian, and Branch Davidian, Seventh Day Adventists. Though it involves some fairly contemporary publications by some professing to be leaders among the Davidians, the controversy dates back nearly fifty years. As the somewhat recent publications bring up many of the issues in the long-running controversy, a response to those articles, such as is contained herein, is a fitting forum to bring to the seeker of Truth an over-all view of the situation and the fundamentals of the controversy.
TAKING UP A REPROACH
Note: All emphases in quotations are added.
It is written,
"If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; And the judges shall make diligent inquisition; and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." Deuteronomy 19:16-21.
These verses constitute a part of the Lord of love's commandments, statutes, and judgements which are to be written on the hearts of the faithful remnant under the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 11:19-20, 36:26, 27). While the ninth Commandment prohibits the bearing of a "false witness against thy neighbour" (Exodus 20:16), these verses are the "statutes," and "judgments" which apply to a violation of that Commandment.
The Holy Scriptures have as an underlying theme the great controversy between truth and lies. Satan, himself, is described as being the "father" of lies (John 8:44). This controversy is especially illuminated in the book of Psalms where, in many places, the Psalmist prays for deliverance from those who have been heaping reproaches upon him – bearing false witness against him to stir up strife and war to his destruction. In the Psalmist's prayers he is not only asking for deliverance from the schemes of the wicked, but also for their destruction.
This may seem odd to many Christians – that the same Spirit of love which motivated Christ to exhort His hearers to forgive those who spitefully use them, also motivated others to pray for the destruction of their enemies. Christ, Himself, was well familiar with those Psalms, and was in many a situation Himself in which He was in need of deliverance from false witnesses who sought to destroy Him. Yet, while He called for repentance from evil deeds, and warned of the judgments which were due upon the transgressors, He also prayed for His enemies, and died to bear their sins and secure their salvation, if they would receive it.
This seeming inconsistency is eliminated when understood in the light of Ezekiel 33:11:
"Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
Therein is the sum of the matter. All rebukes and chastenings from the Lord, as unpleasant for the one reproved as they may be, are designed to bring to the transgressor grace sufficient to enable them to repent of their evil deeds so that the Lord may have pleasure in their deliverance from death, for He has no delight in their destruction. None of the Lord's purposes are arbitrary, and all of His judgments against transgressions are just. And to be fair, He brings before the transgressors the facts of their cases that they may have the opportunity to repent and make things right rather than face the penalties of their transgressions.
Such is the intention of this presentation. It is our contention that our beliefs, history, and motives have been grossly misrepresented by a great number of people; some intentionally, some unintentionally. Though this is to be expected from those who do not claim to hold with us common principles in the investigation of truth, when such comes from professed brethren the situation is more complicated.
Being professed brethren, the Lord would have us exercise divine grace and mercy towards the offenders, even to the extent of silently bearing the reproach. Yet there are circumstances where, in defense of the truth, the misrepresentations must be exposed for what they are – both for the sake of the truth, and for those who, wittingly, or unwittingly, are opposing it.
That all things be done properly, the Lord has given us counsel on how to go about righting wrongs which may occur among us. That instruction is contained in Matthew 18:15-17:
"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican."
Where it says that a matter which is difficult to resolve is to be told to the "church," what is meant by the word "church?" The elders only? The whole congregation (this is what the word "church" means)? What if the fault lies with one or more elders and some of the laity which are upholding them in their wrongdoing, and the controversy involves the very fabric of the church's structure and character?
Such a situation was addressed by the apostle Paul when writing to Titus on the selection of church elders. Paul described to him one of the main responsibilities of such leaders – that is, to take a right stance in the controversy between truth and lies. He states that an elder should be
"holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake." Titus 1:9-11
Thus also we see that Paul, by the Holy Spirit, called upon the church to take a stand against those who are teaching error, having unjust gain thereby, and who are subverting the people by those errors, even if they be from among the chosen people. He states that their "mouths must be stopped."
The question here arises as to how the lying tongues are to be "stopped." The simplest way is for those who are propagating the falsehoods to stop of their own accord. Another way is for those who are aiding the transgressors in the dissemination of the misrepresentations to cease from doing such, leaving the errant ones to their own devices and consequences. The last recourse is to treat the unrepentant "as an heathen man and a publican." But the only way for any of these ways to accomplish a righteous end is for there to be a candid presentation of the facts of the case, and for those involved in the matter to render a correct judgment, and then act accordingly.
"Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church." 1 Corinthians 6:2-4.
In this matter many are being called to be judges (even the whole church) due to the wide area of broadcast the falsehoods have received. As will be seen, in this controversy those who are being called to accountability for their actions have had ample opportunity to consider the complaints against them, but have failed to candidly address the issues.
"God has a work for His faithful servants to do. The attacks of the enemy must be met with the truth of His Word. Falsehood must be unmasked, its true character must be revealed, and the light of the law of Jehovah must shine forth into the moral darkness of the world. We are to present the claims of His Word. We shall not be held guiltless if we neglect this solemn duty." Evangelism, p. 625.
"Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure." Isaiah 33:14-16.
The circumstances in this controversy are these:
In 1993, much of the world became aware of someone called David Koresh and the "Branch Davidians" because of a shootout and standoff they were involved in near Waco, Texas with law enforcement officers who claimed that they were trying to arrest Koresh. During the over-50-day standoff, and for a while thereafter, there came forth many reports and publications which alleged to be relating the facts involving the history and doctrines of the "Branch Davidians." In many of the winds which have been blowing there has been an underlying question as to whether or not David Koresh and those with him really were what they professed to be – that is, followers of the teachings of the Branch Davidian Seventh Day Adventists (a.k.a., "the Branch"). Yet the correct answer to that question has not received the weight it properly deserves, nor the circulation which the wrong answers have.
Among the crowd of those who have been propagating the popular errors are some who call themselves Davidian Seventh Day Adventists. There has been an on-going controversy between those so-called "Davidians" and the Branch. This situation existed before Koresh (originally known as Vernon Howell) was even born. The history and issues in the controversy will be discussed herein only as are appropriate to the matter at hand. But to understand more of the matter see our presentation The Warfare of Vernon Howell (a.k.a. David Koresh) and others against the Branch Davidian Seventh Day Adventists.
Lamentable it is when those who have studied to be light bearers have instead turned to misrepresenting those who have borne a testimony against them in order to silence their witness. Such is the situation at hand.
In this case, we have a 1997 magazine of 48 pages entitled Conflict in Texas, A Report and Analysis of the Koresh Movement, published under the name, "The Universal Publishing Assn., Bashan Hill, Exeter, Missouri." Though its author(s) is (are) identified in a few places as "Ed.," (i.e., "Editor"), there are no names attributed to any of the numerous articles therein. So whoever actually wrote them, and particularly the ones of interest here, can only be, at this time, addressed as the "Editors."
It is clear from their testimony in the articles that these Editors want to be identified as "Davidian Seventh-day Adventists," and are presenting themselves as the true leadership of that church, though they are not alone in that profession. There are around half a dozen different major groups which purport to be the true representative of the Davidian doctrines. This is not counting a few others who claim a succession of some sort to the Branch Davidian Seventh Day Adventists, such as the author of this article. Time will tell who is who.
The people who wish to identify themselves under one of the two different names (or under what they believe to be a progressive manifestation of the true Church's name) have an integral, and, in some cases, even an intimate connection to each other and to each others' professed work of revival and reformation. Some may be aware that shortly after Victor T. Houteff, the author of the "Shepherd's Rod" series of publications (generally known as the "Rod" message) and the founder of the Davidian Seventh Day Adventists, died in 1955 that Benjamin L. Roden (a Davidian himself) came forth professing to have a message from heaven for the Church, and proceeded to announce that the time had come for the next step in the Reformation and the Rod-predicted, time-related change of the name of the Church to take place. He also began to reinstitute such Biblical ordinances as are applicable under the New Covenant, as likewise anticipated in the Rod message.
Along with the introduction of Christ's new name, The Branch, Ben Roden wrote on many different prophecies, both in their current fulfillment and in their future ones. As many of the issues he wrote about directly addressed the backslidings of those who professed to be the leadership of the Church after the death of Victor Houteff, and even some of those who were opposing that professed leadership, it is natural that those so addressed would attempt to silence the testimony against them in most any way possible. Such is the reason why certain articles like those in the magazine that is herein being considered have come forth – to attempt to silence the messenger and his message.
The reproach we are hereby taking up lies primarily in three articles which appear in Conflict, entitled, Historic Division Between the "Branch" and The Davidian Seventh Day Adventists; History: Roden to Koresh, From Rodenville to the Conflagration; and A Feminine Holy Spirit? – The Davidian Position. While it is understandable that pretty much everyone involved under any of the names Seventh Day Adventist, Davidian, or Branch, would want to put as great a distance possible between their image and that of the Koreshians by whatever means available, such is only of any value if it stands in honor and truth. Thus is not so with those articles.
A word of counsel regarding the high standard of the law of love before we proceed.
"'Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.'
"False speaking in any matter, every attempt or purpose to deceive our neighbor, is here included. An intention to deceive is what constitutes falsehood. By a glance of the eye, a motion of the hand, an expression of the countenance, a falsehood may be told as effectually as by words. All intentional overstatement, every hint or insinuation calculated to convey an erroneous or exaggerated impression, even the statement of facts in such a manner as to mislead, is falsehood. This precept forbids every effort to injure our neighbor's reputation by misrepresentation or evil surmising, by slander or tale bearing. Even the intentional suppression of truth, by which injury may result to others, is a violation of the ninth commandment." Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 309.
With the foregoing in mind, let us faithfully and prayerfully proceed with our duty to "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
TAKING UP A REPROACH
In their article beginning on page 16, Division, the Editors first state that
"Davidian Seventh-day Adventists and Branch Davidians are not the same."
Then, after stating that the Davidians "see themselves as loyal to the Shepherd's Rod message of Victor T. Houteff," they say that in spite of "unrelenting opposition from Adventism," they (the Editors) still believe "that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the remnant church of God on earth." This they say in order to wrongly introduce the idea that the Branch teaches contrary to this. And this they proceed to do, as follows:
" 'Branch Davidians,' on the other hand, have almost from their beginning seen Adventism as part of 'Babylon' and have tended to espouse a separationist viewpoint." id.
In order to know whether or not this is true we would first have to know who is being referred to as "Branch Davidians." The only people who have ever been identified by that specific name have been David Koresh and his followers since the tragic event in Waco in 1993. That specific designation first appeared in the Waco Tribune Herald, in their February 28, 1993 front page article entitled, The Sinful Messiah. Yet the Editors have chosen to use that term to refer to the whole Branch movement which is lawfully known as the Branch Davidian Seventh Day Adventists.
Regardless of whether or not David Koresh was teaching that the SDA church was "Babylon," such is not a published doctrine of Ben or Lois Roden (the founders of the Branch movement), as insinuated by the Editors. Though Ben Roden wrote extensively regarding the prophecies which relate to an antitypical "king of Babylon" (Ezekiel chapters 24-28), he never made an application that could be rightly understood to say that the Seventh Day Adventist church was the "Babylon" of the book of Revelation, which is the one the Editors are accusing him of applying to the Seventh Day Adventist church. The facts are exactly the opposite of what they have said. Following is what Ben actually said on the matter:
"The Seventh-day Adventist church is not Babylon. Let no one call God's commandment-keeping church Babylon in order to call her members out into another movement. They are not to be called out of the church that is God's only true witness to the world today. The church is to be called to reform and the sinners in Zion are to be thoroughly warned of God's swift approaching judgments upon them. All who truly love their brother will show their love by doing all they can to tell the people whom God loves above all others, that He is to judge them before He does the world. If you love the world more than you do your brother in the church, then your duty is to those of the world. Otherwise, do as Christ and the Apostles did. Tell them that although God will purify His church by slaying the sinners in Zion, (Eze. 9); and whereas the church militant will become the church triumphant for the Loud Cry to the world, we are not to call her Babylon. God will not tolerate anyone calling the church Babylon. Those who do so are placing themselves in position for greater delusions." The Remnant Church and Babylon, Ben L. Roden, p. 1.
In that study Ben proves from many angles that the Seventh Day Adventist church cannot ever be called "Babylon," even though she may have done worse (as far as the Lord is concerned) than those organizations (Sunday-keeping churches) which constitute "Babylon." For more on this, see the complete study, The Remnant Church and Babylon.
We must note that though the Editors presented the notion that the Branch message calls the Seventh Day Adventist church "Babylon," they did not bother to present any quotations nor references to said effect. That is because they cannot produce that which does not exist. They, evidently, want the reader to trust them in all of their words. Candid readers may want to verify what they say. Especially those who have come to accept the Truth expressed in the following:
"Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?" Isaiah 2:22.
"Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD." Jeremiah 17:5.
"Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies." Psalms 40:4.
So why would the Editors present the false idea that Ben saw "Adventism as part of 'Babylon' and [has] tended to espouse a separationist viewpoint?" There must be something else Ben was saying relative to the matter of "Babylon" that the Editors are opposed to.
Some of his studies concern the prophecies of Ezekiel (chapters 24-28) and the typical and antitypical "king of Babylon" who is called "a king of kings" (Ezekiel 26:7), and "my servant" (Jeremiah 25:9), and who is to bring judgment to "Jerusalem," and elsewhere. Some of these studies are Seven Letters to Florence Houteff; Eleventh Hour Extra # 1; Signs and Wonders in Modern Israel (parts 1 & 2); and, Davidians Questions and Answers. Victor Houteff told us that the truth is to get so deep that the wicked would not be able to understand it. From what the Editors have written, it appears that they have stumbled over what could be a hard point in the Branch message because, in reading the above referenced studies, one cannot come to the conclusion that the Branch teaches that the SDA church is any part of "Babylon."
The Editors' statement that the Branch has "tended to espouse a separationist viewpoint," is a gross distortion of Ben Roden's teachings. While he did teach that a separation (harvest) was occurring because they had reached the time when the Judgment of the Living had opened in the autumn of 1955, and the people were being judged on their reception or rejection of the work of "Elijah the prophet" (the ever-living Spirit of Prophecy in an earthly messenger and message), there was nothing in his teachings which could be called "separationist" in the sense of him calling people to separate themselves from the mother Seventh Day Adventist church any more than had Victor Houteff (who had condemned such a teaching).
Ben Roden's writings are replete with statements to the effect that he believed his work was, in one aspect, depicted in Ezekiel 37:15-28, wherein the "son of man" (an epithet of Christ in His servant – His prophet) is to take two sticks and write upon them identifying names, and then joining the two so-designated sticks into one stick in his hand (Seven Letters to Florence Houteff; The Man on the White Horse; etc.). So rather than his work being that of a "separationist viewpoint," it is actually that of a unifying nature.
Were it true that the Branch message teaches that the Seventh Day Adventist church is "Babylon" or that it encourages a separation in any manner other than that which God has specifically endorsed (a separation from sinful practices and erroneous doctrines), it would have been absolutely futile for Ben Roden to spend the last years of his life in an effort to get the Seventh Day Adventist church, and especially the General Conference thereof, to keep the Lord's Supper at the time of the Daily hours of worship, for the call in Revelation 18:4 (which Ben taught was the Branch message to the world) is heard to be calling people out of "Babylon," and not to be calling "Babylon" to repent and accept a present truth message. That is, why would Ben be trying to get the Seventh Day Adventists to accept the feast days and the hours of worship and the living Spirit of Prophecy within their congregations if the church is "Babylon," for "Babylon" is headed for complete destruction, not repentance.
Of course, the Editors did not bother to give any references or quotations whereby one may evaluate what the Branch message actually says in this regard, but rather are again acting as the judge, jury, heart, mind, and God of their hearers, for their purpose is to sustain the illusion that they are the true representative of the Rod message, and that there has been no further prophetic light revealed since the death of Victor Houteff in 1955.
The article continues,
"Branch adherents believed founders Ben and Lois Roden were prophets, and used very little of V.T. Houteff's writings or message."
This sentence, though somewhat ambiguous (that is, is it the "adherents" or "Ben and Lois Roden" who "used very little of V.T. Houteff's writings or message?"), is both untrue and inappropriate considering the subject under discussion – the presentation of purported new light by Ben and Lois Roden. It is untrue because Ben consistently quoted Victor Houteff on subjects which he had commented on, and did not quote him on subjects which he had no testimony on. The "Branch adherents," therefore, did the same.
It is inappropriate in the sense that as Ben Roden was claiming to be bringing forth new light on various subjects, that new light would not be found in, and, therefore, could not be quoted from, any former writer (though it could be sustained thereby).The Davidians with Victor Houteff could not have presented the Rod message without focusing on teaching what he was writing. Such it is in the presentation of new light. It appears that the Editors are opposed to the phenomena of the unrolling of the scroll, and the requirements it imposes upon its hearers.
It is not whether or not Ben Roden taught a particular subject only as far as the matter had been revealed in the Rod, but whether or not his teachings were in harmony with it and worked to uplift the people by calling them to true repentance. Moreover, it is a matter of whether or not the doctrine is in harmony with the Bible, no matter what any man or woman has said on the matter in the past. Such was the position of Ellen White and Victor Houteff, and should be the position of any one claiming to believe their teachings.
The Editors seek to sustain their position that the Branch message "used very little" of the Rod message by quoting one "Ernest Farrell" (who is said to be "a former Branch Davidian") as saying,
"'90 percent of it [the Branch message] was their own [Ben and Lois Roden's] teachings.'"
As the exact same thing can be honestly said of Victor Houteff's writings in comparison with those of Ellen G. White, they are condemning in Ben and Lois Roden's work that which they approve in Victor Houteff's. How is "every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven" to bring "forth out of his treasure things new and old" (Matthew 13:52) if he (or she) only brings forth "familiar, oft-repeated teachings."
They continue their misrepresentations in these matters by saying,
"The Branch advocated a separationist position, teaching that Adventism was a 'fallen movement' from which people should separate."
Again, no references are given to support the context of their accusations, nor a reference for the quotation. What is truly odd about their thinking is that at the very heart of the Rod message is the teaching that "Adventism" is truly a "fallen movement" in need of revival and reformation, and is depicted as such, being, according to the Rod, one of the seven heads on the leopard-like beast of Revelation 13 which have "blasphemy" over their heads. The Branch, in harmony with the Rod, simply teaches that just because the Seventh Day Adventist church in her fallen state is depicted as a "head" on the leopard-like "beast" (along with those "heads" which constitute "Babylon) because of her (Seventh Day Adventists) blasphemies, that doesn't make her (the Seventh Day Adventist church) "Babylon" any more than ancient Israel, in any of her apostasies and punishments, ever became "Babylon." The Editors could have simply produced specific quotations from the Branch writings which call people out of the Seventh Day Adventist fellowship if any existed. As taught in the Rod, one's acceptance of a message of revival and reformation from the Lord does not constitute one leaving His church.
To further emphasize the contrast between the Branch and Davidians they say,
"The Branch required observance of the ancient Hebrew feasts while Davidians do not observe them."
What the Editors have failed to present to the reader is that Victor Houteff taught the "ancient Hebrew feasts" were taken away from the early church because of the falling away they were experiencing (The Latest News for "Mother," p. 25.), and that those same feasts will be restored in the time of the end in their antitypical manner (Symbolic Code, Vol. 12, Nos. 6, 7, p. 12), and that such is exactly what Ben and Lois Roden were professing to do by the Lord's guidance.
It is of note that regarding the restored feasts, Victor Houteff included the Lord's Supper as one of those feasts which were taken away by the "man of sin" and which was to be restored in its primitive nature. As the Rod message teaches that the Davidians in Victor Houteff's day were not to ordain the Lord's Supper among themselves because it may prove to be a curse to them rather than a blessing because of their undone condition (id., p. 14), those, such as the Editors, who profess to strictly adhere to the teachings of the Rod, do not now appropriate the blessing of this ordinance among themselves, and will not receive it before it is too late – for they are waiting for the resurrection of Victor Houteff in order to obtain more light from him on the matter; and that resurrection won't occur until after the saints will have been investigated to see whether or not they have on the wedding garment, and have been judged worthy of the kingdom, or worthy of having their names taken out of the Lamb's Book of Life.
While the statements made by the Editors regarding the Branch calling the Seventh Day Adventists Babylon, being separationists, and not making correct use of the Rod, are simply not true, and their statements regarding the feasts come from a misapplication of the Rod, their following statement reveals their attitude towards true new light, and their willingness to decide for others what is truth and to speak for them. They say:
"During Lois Roden's leadership of the Branch, it adopted the teaching of a feminine Holy Spirit, while Davidians strongly reject this teaching."
As the Editors do not believe that any true new light on the Scriptures has been revealed since the death of Victor Houteff in 1955, and that God has not, and will not send any other messenger with a message before the special resurrection, they have not only closed the door to anything which may purport to be new light, but have also provided themselves with a conscience-easing excuse for refusing to investigate a message which comes in the name of the Lord. As the words for Spirit in both Hebrew and Aramaic (the languages Jesus spoke) are feminine, and as the Hebrew Old Testament is replete with the feminine imagery in the Godhead, the Editors, evidently, "strongly reject" the Bible and its Author.
During Lois Roden's leadership, and since her death, the Branch has published numerous articles from many reputable sources which provide the historical, linguistical, Scriptural, and prophetical facts regarding the femininity of the Holy Spirit. The Editors have had ample opportunity to simply dispute the facts themselves, yet they have not used their forum to produce any valid weight of evidence against the doctrine that the Holy Spirit is Jesus' heavenly Mother. This, even in light of the facts that Victor Houteff, himself, wrote of Christ’s heavenly birth (Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 49, pgs. 6, 7), and that he also said that his message was part of the message of Revelation 18:1, which in its earlier revelations also contains direct statements regarding the pre-creation birth of Christ (more on this follows). Even Catholic priests will acknowledge the fact that the word for Spirit in Hebrew (Ruach) is feminine. Yet the Editors stubbornly refuse to address the facts or to allow their followers and hearers to make an honest investigation of the true facts of the matter.
The article continues,
"The Branch Davidians were the result of a split caused by one-time Davidian, Benjamin L. Roden, who taught that V.T. Houteff;s Rod was dead, and that his Branch was alive. He even coined a slogan: 'Get off a dead rod onto a living branch'."
Naturally, as the unconverted heart expresses itself in unbridled emotion, the Editors are shooting themselves in the foot as they are drawing their gun, so to speak. That is, the Rod message emphatically teaches that the very life of the church is a living person with the living Spirit of Prophecy in a present truth message (Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, 10:21:1; 27:2; 3 Answer Book, 58:2; Timely Greetings, Vol. 2, 26-23:1, 3; Timely Greetings, Vol. 2, unrevised, 14:17). All Ben Roden was doing was reminding the Davidians of this life-principle (see Inspiration's Cure for The Davidian Dilemma), and especially so due to the fact of Victor Houteff's death. So for them to condemn him for calling them to task on their inconsistent stand against new light is, in effect, blowing a hole in the very foundation upon which they, as purported Davidians, stand.
Ben was providing Scriptural support and light from the "Golden Bowl" (the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy) for his teaching that the Rod could not be green and living without a living prophet at its head, and that thus the leadership of the Davidians who would not accept (or at least give an honest ear to) a message coming in the name of the Lord after Victor's death were prophesied to dry up and "wither" (Amos 1:2: Amos 4:7: Ezekiel 17:9; The Family Tree: JH Jezreel Letter Number 1, Ezekiel 17). Such is exactly what happened to the Davidian leadership after Victor Houteff died.
The issue is who, and/or what, is "Elijah the Prophet," (Malachi 4:5) the "Messenger of the Covenant." (Malachi 3:1). Also at issue is Victor Houteff's meaning of the phrase, "the last message." Both Ellen White and Victor Houteff said that their work which was inspired by the Holy Spirit was fulfilling the work of "Elijah" in preparing the people for the coming of the Lord. They both, likewise, said the same thing of William Miller and his work.
Victor Houteff quite thoroughly cleared up the confusion over who or what "Elijah the Prophet" was by saying,
"As God had made both spoken and written covenants with His ancient people that He would send them Moses, John, and Christ, they came in fulfillment of those covenants. And each having brought a message, each in his own time was the Messenger of the Covenant. Nevertheless, the words of Malachi make plain that the Messenger of the Covenant is, in the strictest sense Elijah the prophet (Mal. 3:1-5; 4:5), the last messenger who prepares the way of the Lord. (See Testimonies to Ministers, p. 475.)
"In the last analysis, however, the title Messenger of the Covenant belongs to the Holy Spirit. For example, 1 Peter 3:18-20 states that Christ preached to the antediluvians by the same "Spirit" Who "quickened" Him. But as He preached by the Spirit in the person of Noah, not of Himself, He thereby unfolded the truth that the Holy Spirit is in all His messengers alike.
"Thus 'holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.' 2 Pet. 1:21. Briefly summarized, the term Messenger of the Covenant means the Holy Spirit (the invisible Christ) in Heaven's visible representative -- be it Moses, John, Christ, Elijah, or some other." Answerer Book 1, pp. 78, 79,
"Furthermore, though the title, "messenger of the covenant," is applied to more than one messenger, it rightfully belongs to the Holy Spirit, and only for the reason that the Spirit of God is in them are they designated by that title." Symbolic Code, Vol. 1, No. 4, pg. 5.
Ellen White and Victor Houteff both also said that the "last message" was the "Loud Cry," and that that message and work was not taking place in their respective times (though Ellen White said that the message came in 1888 but did not do the intended work at that time, and Victor Houteff said the same thing regarding the 1888 message, and that the message which he was bringing included much of the contents of the message of Rev. 18:1 prepared for the "Loud Cry"). He also said, though, that the "Loud Cry" message (Revelation 18:1) was to first come to the church in order to purify her for the Loud Cry to the world. See the Rod references in The Branch – Revelation 18:1.
Along with concealing the fact that Ben Roden was only teaching and doing that which was in complete harmony with the Rod message, the Editors again falsely represent a specific teaching of the Branch. They say,
"Roden also held that V.T. Houteff had misnamed his movement. According to Roden, it should have been 'The Branch' instead of 'The Shepherd's Rod.' "
What Ben actually taught was that if Victor Houteff had brought the Loud Cry, Judgment of the Living message of Rev. 18:1, then he would have permanently changed the name of the church rather than just setting up a "provisional" name (Leviticus, Preface, p. 3-4, Seven Letters to Florence Houteff, p. 18). What Ben’s message really teaches on the matter is that Victor Houteff was absolutely correct in naming the Rod message and church as he did, and preparing the way for its providential change. So what other reason would the Editors have for so blatantly misrepresenting this teaching but than to defame his name and work, and, more specifically, the Branch message which reproves their wayward course.
Now after presenting their tainted offerings, the Editors attempt to exalt themselves and justify their accusations. In speaking highly favorably of their own history, the Editors say,
"Roden began his career as a religious leader in October 1955. For a time, he made a stir among Davidians, but soon encountered adamant opposition from a group of pioneer Davidians dedicated to preserving the purity of V.T. Houteff's message. Their voice was The Timely-Truth Educator."
The author and publisher of said "voice" was the late M.J. Bingham, who was among Victor Houteff's closest workers (most of whom later abandoned the message and denounced the messenger in one way or another). Therefore, the Editors may be of M.J. Bingham’s remaining relatives and/or followers. Yet they still chose to keep hidden exactly who they, as individuals, are. As to the work of that "voice" they relate,
"Launched in 1957, The Timely Truth Educator began its mission refuting the speculative teachings of the Branch, Florence Houteff, et al."
What is missing from this description of the "mission" of this "voice" is a sound explanation of how its own work was fulfilling Bible prophecy (as had the Rod message), and how it was acting in the antitypical fulfillment of a typical event, in a timely manner. Those fundamental things are missing because they do not exist.
On the other hand, Ben Roden did present both types and prophecies to sustain his claims. Time has proven that what he published from 1955 through 1959 regarding the fall of Davidia was anything but "speculative teachings," for, step by step, the whole matter unfolded, to the shame of those who trusted in men and self. The Editors freely mention Florence Houteff's presumptive sins, but do not consider that those in their own organization who set themselves up as a true successor to Victor Houteff's work have done similarly.
Of particular note in this matter is the fact that M. J. Bingham had set up an organization which he named, The Davidian Seventh-day Adventists, and of which he was vice-president. According to the Leviticus and its Constitution and By-laws of the Church, the president is appointed by God, as was Moses, and he alone appoints the other officers of the Association (Leviticus, p. 6). M. J. Bingham never received such an appointment. Since he was not appointed to the position of vice-president by Victor Houteff, and has not acknowledged that any one after Victor Houteff has been appointed by God to the position of president, then he had no true and just foundation for his claims and actions. Furthermore, though the Leviticus provides that the Executive Council may fill the office of vice-president (p. 9), M. J. Bingham did not receive any such appointment.
M. J. Bingham and his followers were then, and are now by the articles under discussion, doing nothing other than fighting the "unrolling of the scroll" in "present truth," and profiting thereby. It was easy for the Editors to disprove Florence Houteff's teachings in light of the Rod, but it is another matter to be able to point out the whole matter and show the outcome in the light of Biblical prophecy as did Ben Roden.
The Editors continue their unwarranted boasting thus:
"It [The Educator] held the Davidian movement together."
These people must have been asleep and dreaming for the past nearly fifty years. Not only did the leadership of the Davidians, and many others with them, apostatize from the message and movement, but it was noted in the court records during the trials over the dissolution of the association and the division of its property that there were some "half dozen" different factions professing to be the rightful leadership and/or representatives of the Davidians, one of which was the Editors' faction. The only thing which The Educator managed to hold "together" was a bundle of like-minded individuals who were opposed to the unrolling of the scroll, and the exposure of their presumptions.
In order to bolster their own image, the Editors first malign the work of Ben Roden by saying,
"For the next 17 years, The Educator consistently warned of the dangers of Rodenism and its literalistic, often fanatic, misinterpretations."
The very fact that the Editors chose to portray the teachings of Ben Roden as "Rodenism," thereby creating an "ism" in place of a brother Davidian, shows their readiness to strengthen their position by dehumanizing and depersonalizing those whom they consider their enemies. They certainly would never find it likeable to hear some refer to the teachings of Victor Houteff as "Houteffism," or of Ellen White as "Whiteism," or their own work as "Binghamism," yet they have failed to "do unto others, as you would have them do unto you."
Of course, they did not provide any examples of any in-context quotations from Ben Roden which could rightly be termed "literalistic, often fanatic, misinterpretations." What is also notable here is that the Seventh Day Adventist leaders would provide their people with very similar depictions of the Rod teachings in order to fight that message – often relying on a mere assertion of a questionable foundation, rather than on a fair presentation and evaluation of the issues.
They follow their denigration of the Rodens with a glowing portrayal of their own "voice," to wit,
"Consisting of 17 volumes, The Educators were polemical and apologetic masterpieces that took on all opponents of The Shepherd's Rod, served as pastoral letters to encourage a far-flung flock, and vigorously defended the Davidian movement and The Shepherd's Rod."
This statement calls for some candid evaluation. Aside from the obvious prideful depiction of their work as "masterpieces," they say that their publication "... vigorously defended the Davidian movement..," yet they don't say which "Davidian movement" they are referring to – the one following Heaven's leadership through a living prophet (as the message teaches they should) before Victor Houteff died, or the one since he died which claims the same name but rejects the need for the living Spirit of Prophecy active in her midst (which the message teaches is an imperative). While there are many merit-laden defenses for the Davidian movement before Victor Houteff died, there is no defense for the apostasies which have occurred since then, nor for the divided state of the "far-flung flock."
Though the Editors say that their "voice" served to "encourage a far-flung flock," time has shown precisely what they have been encouraging others to do – that is, they have encouraged others to set their stakes and not move them. It certainly cannot be honestly said that they have encouraged any to seek present truth from the Lord who has promised to "continue to speak" to His people until their righteousness shall go forth as a burning lamp (Isaiah 62:1; Symbolic Code, Vol. 12, No. 3, p. 3; 1 Timely Greetings, No. 42, p. 4).
The odd thing about this is that they admit that the "Davidians" after Victor Houteff died are a "far-flung flock," but they fail to present to the reader that which the Rod teaches is the cause of such divisions – that being the people's failure to allow "this man" (Christ in His living servant, prophet – Luke 19:14; Mt. Sion at the 11th Hour, p. 71) to rule over them. If there is one point which is most prominent in the Rod message it is,
"...without the living Spirit of Prophecy in our midst there can be no success in any revival and reformation, and the sooner we know it the quicker we shall achieve our goal. " Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 10, p. 27.
In this light, what can be said of the Editors nearly fifty years "without the living Spirit of Prophecy in [their] midst?" Their "goal" (a pure church – one without self-exalters) may not be as important to them as they are dreaming it is.
So, after patting themselves on the back for being such a comfort to their brethren in a time of crisis (that is, after they display their pride that have they stood in the place of the Holy Ghost to their brethren), they then relate some of the content of The Educators, which reveals its true character. They write,
"The Davidians and the Branch could not have been more opposed, as the following statements from The Educator show.
"The Rodens stated in their publications that Ezekiel 9 would occur this spring . And they twice stated... that 'if Ezekiel 9 does not come in the spring, it will prove the Rod false.' " [brackets belong to the quote]
As usual, they did not supply the reader with a reference to the document they are quoting so that they might evaluate the statement in its context. Reading Ben's statement in context one may see that he was speaking of a specific aspect of Ezekiel 9, of which there are many. One of the aspects of Ezekiel 9 which many of the Davidians were in confusion about after Victor Houteff died was the difference between putting the sickle to the grain and destroying the tares – both of which take place during the "harvest." Ben was simply teaching that since the wheat and the tares are both harvested by the "sickle" (message), and that neither the wheat nor the tares are destroyed by the action of the sickle, then the destruction of the tares is something different than the separation of the wheat and tares, which takes place immediately after the thrusting in of the sickle.
Therefore, what Ben was referring to was the separation, not the destruction, aspect of Ezekiel 9. And just such a separation did occur at the time indicated. Judgment began with the elders of the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). It was at that time that many of the tares in the Davidian leadership sealed their separation from the true movement, and shortly thereafter manifested that separation by denouncing Victor Houteff and disbanding their shadow association (that is, they had no lawful standing to represent the true Association).
What is as important to a correct understanding of what Ben Roden meant in saying that "Ezekiel 9" must occur on Passover, 1960 or it would prove the Rod wrong, is understanding why he came to the conclusion that such was the correct date. As this matter is a bit more complicated than can be briefly addressed herein, and to avoid diverging too much from our objective in this presentation, we refer the reader to Ezekiel 9 in the light of the 430 year prophecy Lesson 2-1, Revival & Reformation In The Light Of The 430 Years Of Abraham And Ezekiel 4, Lesson 2-2, and Details of the 430 Year Prophecy According to Abraham & Ezekiel 4 in Three Steps, Lesson 2-3 for the fullness of the matter. In searching out this matter one will find that Ben Roden proves that the Rod is absolutely correct in its presentation of the time element of Ezekiel 9, and that his application of such also stands on a firm foundation. More on this aspect later.
The article now under discussion, Division, ends with quotes from The Educator, in which the Editors again pat themselves on the back for having done some sort of an investigation of the Branch teachings, and with them quoting some quite verbose language from another one of those publications which denigrates the Branch message and messenger. It is as though they are relying on the weight of those unsupported statements from The Educator to convince the readers of their Division article of the validity of their position without having to prove it by concrete facts. From this it is also obvious that one of the primary target audiences of that publication are those who were already brought to a position that The Educators positions were unchallengeable and, therefore, authoritative. Ben has described such "Davidians" as "super Laodiceans" – in need of nothing but their own words and thoughts, which manifests itself in the type of circular thinking we see in the Editors' articles.
This brings us to another of the articles under discussion, History: Roden to Koresh, From Rodenville to the Conflagration. While this article starts out relating truthful facts about the history of the Roden family, it is not long before the Editors start introducing errors and bigoted statements. Their first obvious error is in regard to what they say occurred in the Association immediately after the death of Victor Houteff. That is,
"His [Houteff's] wife, Florence, became Vice President and, with the help of her mother and brother, attempted to consolidate her position as leader of the Association."
This statement, coming from ones who pose themselves as "100% Rod" adherents, and whose founder has posed himself as the true "Vice-President" of the Association, is most incredible. Over 30 years ago it came to light that Florence Houteff and those who claimed to be members of the Church's Executive Council were not so. It was revealed during the court proceedings involving the supposed dissolution of the Association that documents which could have given those persons (including Florence) who were formerly members of the Executive Council positions on such for the one-year term which would have included the time of Victor Houteff's death were not signed by him, as the previous appointment documents had been year by year. Thus it was clearly shown that neither Florence nor her collaborators were lawfully members of the Executive Council at the time of Victor Houteff's death, nor afterwards, and that she was thus not able to be the "Vice President." Her claim of a deathbed-appointment as Vice President did not stand the test of time.
So why would the Editors choose to portray her as such? Could it be because their claim of succession to the Davidian leadership is of the same character as was Florence's Executive Counsel after Victor Houteff's death? That is, do the Editors actually have any lawful standing to their claim of being the leaders of the true "Davidian" Association? Are they acknowledging Florence's presumptive and erroneous claims of succession because they want their similar claims which rest on similar presumption and errors to be likewise acknowledged to their benefit?
This whole issue of lawful membership in the Davidian association is one which the Editors have been avoiding since the truth of the matter was revealed in the 1960s. The facts are simple. The documents which would have acted to appoint the members of the Executive Council, and also one which would have appointed the Trustees of the Association's property for the period which included the time of Victor Houteff's death were not signed by him, as was necessary for them to be effective.
Along with this was the fact that most all of the Davidians held membership cards which also had to be renewed each year and signed by Victor Houteff. So those Davidians who professed to be the leadership, and most others (such as the Editors' original core group) actually ceased to be members of the true Association within a year after Victor Houteff's death for they had acknowledged no one as President after Victor's death, and up to that time only the President could issue membership cards. That is, except Ben and Lois Roden who held membership cards signed by Victor Houteff, and without any expiration date on them.
Though according to the Church's Constitution and By-Laws, the Executive Council is to have the ability to grant "credentials and licenses" (p. 9), the whole of that document it is not to "become fully operative" until after the association's name is "changed" (Preface). The then current practice of having Victor Houteff personally sign each membership card shows that this particular provision was not in operation prior to Victor Houteff's death. Therefore, neither the Editors who were Davidians at the time of Victor Houteff's death, nor any others whose membership cards were expiring were authorized to renew or grant membership cards, let alone appoint someone as vice-president. Only a president could authorize the change in policy regarding who issues membership cards, implementing either all or a part of the non-fully "operative" governing Constitution and By-Laws.
Yet we see today that most of the various so-called "Davidian" groups, such as the Editors, do not have a President of their group who they say has received said appointment in accordance with the prescriptions for the office of President as delineated in the Church's Constitution and By-Laws. Yet this has not stopped the leaders of the various "Davidian" groups from assuming offices of leadership, selecting others for similar offices, granting memberships, and collecting tithes and offerings in the name of an Association whose core teachings they reject – that is, they deny that anyone after Brother Houteff will be given the true gift of the living Spirit of Prophecy, and thus no one will be thus qualified to fill the office of President – that is, until the "special resurrection."
So the issues of membership, leadership, and the Editors' complaints against the Branch and its messengers all stem from the same controversy – the work of the living Spirit of Prophecy in a living person, i.e., the President of the Church.
In order to continue their unwarranted antagonism, the Editors proceed to present some factual evidence, yet put a spin on it, or strip it of its context, and even go so far as to contradict themselves as they go forward in their quest, as we shall see.
"The death of Victor Houteff provided the impetus for Ben Roden's claims to be a new prophet."
They certainly did not get that notion from Ben's own testimony on the matter which was widely published. As the Editors later admit, Ben stated that he had to be compelled by God to write the things which he eventually presented to the Davidian leadership after Victor Houteff died. They do not provide any evidence that Ben had any illusions of being the "new prophet" of the Church previous to the time of the experience he had after Houteff's death, and which he related to all who would hear, as insinuated by the language of their above quoted statement.
The Editors then somewhat truthfully relate that,
"Ben Roden, whose first publication, 'Seven Letters to Florence Houteff,' appeared in September, 1955, presented a challenge to Mrs. Houteff's regime by his claims to be the new voice of Inspiration, the legitimate leader."
One small error therein: The seven letters which were presented to Florence Houteff and the Executive Council were sent sequentially during that time period, and were only later bound into one publication and given the name which the Editors have noted. While the Editors' description of Ben's "challenge to Mrs. Houteff's regime" is quite benign in itself (and both factual and to be expected if God was to control the Church by the gift of prophecy as the message teaches), but when it is coupled with their following false statements, their attack on the "unrolling of the scroll" becomes obvious. They continue,
"Shrewdly, the Rodens saw that attacking the past movement and late leader was counterproductive."
Of course they have not produced any evidence that Ben Roden ever attacked "the past movement and late leader" – no quotations nor references. They freely admit that his "challenge" was directed to "Mrs. Houteff's regime." There is nothing in the Branch message which attacks either Victor Houteff (the "late leader") or the "past movement" under his leadership. Such would be ludicrous because the Branch message is based on the integrity of the Rod message under Victor Houteff. So rather than presenting any statement from Ben which clearly sustains their representation they have to create one by presenting a statement out of its context, which they later do. But first they backhandedly take a swipe at the phenomena of Inspiration in the unrolling of the scroll. To wit,
"It was much more productive, they realized, to claim to offer brand new 'truth' – a message that appeared to be both substantive and exciting to people wondering where they were going next."
Considering the history of the Advent Movement, and the timely work of the living Spirit of Prophecy therein, what else would the Editors expect to appear on the scene except just such a manifestation of God's presence within His Church in a present truth message at a time of crisis. After all, that is exactly what happened in 1844 after the disappointment, and in 1929 after the Seventh Day Adventist leadership rejected the message in their own Sabbath School Quarterly. It is not a matter of whether or not one claims "new light," but whether or not the message is true and in harmony with the testimony thus far revealed.
For new light to be "new" it, of course, would contain some amount of things which were previously not known, or were misunderstood. Yet the Editors condemn this principle in saying,
"The Rodens began to offer supposed certainty instead of confusion, new 'light' instead of familiar, oft-repeated teachings."
Again, how can the Editors profess to be "Davidians" while condemning the very principle which is the strength and foundation of the Davidian movement? The Rod offers its readers the very thing which they denounce in the Branch – "certainty instead of confusion, new 'light' instead of familiar, oft-repeated teachings." This also was a promise given to the Church through the testimony of Ellen White. So why do they condemn on one hand what they approve on the other? Because the testimony Ben eventually bore was not only directed to Florence Houteff and those of her "regime," but also to the Davidians in general, and even specifically against the Editors' group, who were in no better of a position in regards to new light than were the Seventh Day Adventists.
Then, after giving a biased, incomplete rehearsal of Ben Roden's testimony concerning his calling, the Editors proceed to contradict themselves. Earlier they had stated that,
"Shrewdly, the Rodens saw that attacking the past movement and late leader was counterproductive."
Now they say,
"At first, rather than attacking the Davidians, Roden warmly referred to the movement and its founder and heavily laced his writings with references from the writings of Victor Houteff."
So which is it? Did Ben start off by "attacking the past movement and late leader," and then later abandon that strategy (as the Editors first state), or "[a]t first, rather than attacking the Davidians, Roden warmly referred to the movement and its founder." It can't be both ways. That statement also contains another glaring contradiction.
It their previous article, Division, they had said,
"Branch adherents believed founders Ben and Lois Roden were prophets, and used very little of V.T. Houteff's writings or message."
Yet in this article they say that Ben,
"heavily laced his writings with references from the writings of Victor Houteff."
Again, which is it? The fact is that Ben's writings are full of references from the Rod message which are presented to sustain the "new light" which he was bringing. It is the same as when Victor Houteff "heavily laced his writings with references from the writings of" Ellen White.
In order to further cast the illusion that Ben was unrighteously attacking the Davidians, and even the very name of the message, itself, they continue by saying,
"Despite the surface goodwill for the Davidian Movement, Roden later routinely took aim at it: 'If the Scripture here quoted [1 John 3:9] were the burden of the message in 1929, we can easily see it was wrongly named Shepherd's Rod. It should have been called The Branch, "The Lord our Righteousness."' – Seven Letters to Florence Houteff, page 18."
First off, their quotation is not accurate. They write, "If the Scripture here quoted...," while the actual text reads, "If the Scriptures here quoted..." "Scriptures" is plural in the original (not singular, as the Editors have it), and refers to the preceding six verses he quoted, with explanations, building a foundation for the statement which the Editors quoted (almost).
But regardless of how much of a Scriptural foundation Ben had lain for his statement, it is not of the character which the Editors are trying to assign it. That is, he is not saying that Victor Houteff misnamed the literature (as the Editors are attempting to make it appear), but rather that if the texts which he was quoting had found their perfect fulfillment in 1929 when the message came, it should have been named differently. But Ben proceeded to prove that as said Scriptures did not meet their fulfillment in the message of 1929, and that the name given the literature then (The Shepherd's Rod) was the absolutely correct name, and that that situation also left the door open for the future fulfillment of those Scriptures and the new name which expresses their fulfillment. It is this point which they are trying to becloud by their misrepresentation.
Simply stated, Ben was saying that if the work of revival and reformation which the Rod message was to bring had already been accomplished in 1929, then the name of the message would have reflected that situation by being named "The Branch," "The Lord our Righteousness," which would have indicated the end of the reformation, rather than "The Shepherd's Rod," the instrument which was to bring the beginning of the reformation. But this simple fact seems to overwhelm the Editors. They continue,
"Although Ben Roden has been portrayed as a Davidian, his publications show that he absorbed some Davidian teachings without completely identifying with the movement."
Though what the Editors mean by "identifying with the movement" is quite vague, it is clear that they feel that they have been exalted to a seat of judgment which allows them to censure others with words which can be rightfully used against themselves. Their antagonism with the Branch message lies in the fact that it points out that the greater body of Davidians after Victor Houteff's death were doing the very thing that the Editors have been accusing Ben Roden of doing – accepting only a portion of the message.
But that which sadly portrays the Editors' love of sleep is that in the beginning of this article they state facts which relate that Ben had been a Davidian for nine years at the time of Victor Houteff's death, and had been so zealous for the work that he had even moved his family to Mt. Carmel to participate in the work there. Others might consider that that action was taken by someone who was in the process of "completely identifying with the movement."
Prior to becoming a Davidian, Ben Roden had become a Seventh Day Adventist in his search for truth and obedience to his Saviour. He was so "brimming with enthusiasm for his newfound beliefs" (to use the Editors' words regarding his accepting the Rod) that he, his wife, Lois, and another, set forth to raise up a congregation and build a meeting house for the Seventh Day Adventist church. At the time he accepted the Rod he was an elder in that church. He was no less zealous in his reaction when he accepted the new light of the Rod.
The Editors round off their current attempts to discredit the Branch message by saying
"Roden's strongest shot against the Davidian movement came when he termed it 'Sodom,' while the Seventh-day Adventist Church was termed, 'Samaria.'"
As usual, no reference, context, nor explanation of why Ben said those titles applied as the Editors indicated. They do not present those things to the reader so that he or she may evaluate the matter for themselves and see if those prophetical names (Ezekiel 16:44-63) are correctly applied, but rather are attempting to cause the reader to rely on their (the Editors') ability to decide things for other people. Moreover, had they supplied some of that information, the reader would be aware that the title "Sodom" was applied only to the Davidians who after Victor Houteff's death refused to progress with the unrolling of the scroll, and not to the "Davidian movement" as a whole, as the Editors make it appear. But as they, themselves, fall within the category depicted by the prophecies which reveals the identity of those so named, we should not expect anything different than what we have been seeing.
Another manifestation of the Editors' inclination to contradict themselves follows.
"The centerpiece of Rodenism was its insistent doctrine that the 'Branch' was not Christ but a movement. Great emphasis was placed upon the change of names, the 'Branch' being advocated as Christ's (and His people's) new name."
Again confusion and misrepresentation. They are completely accurate in saying that Ben Roden taught that "The Branch" was Jesus’ "new name." So how can they also truthfully say that Ben taught "that the 'Branch' was not Christ but a movement." What he plainly taught was that the Church was now to be called after the new name of the Bridegroom – Christ, the Branch. The references in his works to this point are so numerous that anyone who has approached the matter candidly could not stumble over the two aspects of the new name.
What the Editors appear to be doing here is attempting to askew an application made by Ben to certain prophecies which depict the Rod and the Branch (such as Isaiah 11:1), and others which have similar symbolical imagery regarding "the Branch."
The matter is not so complicated that the average person would not be able to understand it simply for what it is. Victor Houteff had been teaching that the Church was to have the experience of Christ coming invisibly (i.e., by the living Spirit of Prophecy) to the Church in a message whereby He would sit and purify her, and also judge her simultaneously. Ben Roden was simply showing that there were different prophecies that depicted "the Branch," some of which refer to Him, Christ, personally, and others of which refer to the message and movement which would be present truth at the time He was under His new name – that being the time of His invisible coming during the Judgment of the Living.
To reenforce their allegation they quote one Ernest Farrell, who is reported to have "studied the 'Branch' from 1965-1969," and who said,
" 'It was a house divided against itself. That opened my eyes. The Branch is Christ, not a movement.' "
Whatever reason he has for saying that does not make his statement true. It is hardly necessary to repeat the fact that the Editors are not really addressing any of the true issues the Branch message has brought forth, but are attempting only to discredit the message and the messengers through bald, untenable assertions. With all due respect to Ernest Farrell, it is most embarrassing to see purported "Davidians" attempting to assign to his opinion some sort of authority and weight in order to discredit those they cannot disprove in a candid manner. It is as though they do not even know what they are really doing here – they are walking and talking in their sleep.
The Editors then proceed to complain about the variety of names under which Ben and Lois published, as though Victor Houteff did not use any alternative pen names, nor publishing names. After this they speak out against the Branch's teaching regarding the Biblical feast days. In this regard they say,
"Ben Roden's insistence on ceremonialism was so strong he declared, 'The gospel of the Messiah in the Old Testament, called the law of Moses, is the key which unlocks the mysteries pertaining to the Son of God in the New Testament.' – Seven Letters, p. 94.
Though the Editors clearly intend to degrade the Branch teaching on the feasts by quoting this statement, its effect is null in that regard, for those who are aware of the contents of that publication know that what he said therein was only an accurate paraphrase of what Ellen White said on the matter. Those who have read the publication they quote from know that prior to making that statement Ben had quoted Ellen White in that very regard. To wit,
"Ellen G. White says: 'Memory will be awakened as Christ is seen portrayed in the pages of the Old Testament. Souls will be saved, from the Jewish nation, as the doors of the New Testament are unlocked with the key of the Old Testament.' – Evangelism, pp. 578,579." Seven Letters to Florence Houteff, p. 93.
So what do they mean by quoting that statement as they do? If it is true that Ben Roden's "insistence on ceremonialism was so strong" that he made the preceding comment, then the same can be said of Ellen White, for she said the exact same thing. As it adds nothing to their argument that Ben was teaching error, is it anything more than an example of their loud snoring in their death-like sleep? God help them all!
As the subject of this section is the Biblical feast days, the Editors have not been as careful as they might have been because they should know that the Rod teaches that the Biblical feasts which were kept in antitype after the cross, and which were taken away by the "man of sin," will be restored in the time of the Judgment for the Living. In their argument that the "Davidians" do not keep the "feasts" (including the Lord's Supper among themselves), and that the Branch does so, wrongly, they have presented some accurate representations of Branch teachings which tend to frustrate their effort to besmirch the Rodens’ teachings on the feasts because what they quote is in perfect harmony with what is taught in the Rod. For example,
"Rodenism's Crusade Against Catholicism
"The Roden's were strongly opposed to the Catholic Church....The Roden's emphasis upon Catholicism caused them to conclude that since the Pope had historically changed the day of Christian worship from Saturday to Sunday, he had also replaced sacred feast days with paganized holidays. Thus, the Rodens saw their zealous advocacy of the Hebrew feasts and ceremonies as the restoration of the true religion that the Pope had destroyed."
One might ask, Where did Ben Roden get such an idea? Here is what a good Davidian, like Ben, would have learned about the matter from the Rod.
"'Therefore will I return, and take away My corn in the time thereof, and My wine in the season thereof, and will recover My wool and My flax given to cover her nakedness. And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of Mine hand. I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.' Hosea. 2:9-11.
"Just as God chastened her in olden time by permitting Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, to abolish the ceremonial system by destroying ancient Jerusalem and its temple, just so did He chasten her in the Christian era by permitting Rome to gain control over her and to supplant her true religious system by a counterfeit -- a pagan priesthood and a pagan sabbath. Then was His word fulfilled: 'I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.'
"Since these ordinances (her feast days, her sabbaths, etc.) were part of 'a compacted prophecy of the gospel, a presentation in which were bound up the promises of redemption' (The Acts of the Apostles, p. 14), and since Hosea's symbolization has brought us into the Christian era, the ceasing of the ordinances therefore typifies Rome's supplanting the Truth. Daniel, also, was shown that this was to be accomplished through Rome, the 'exceeding great' horn, which 'cast down...to the ground' the Truth 'and the place of His [Christ's] sanctuary.' Dan. 8:12, 11.
"Note that the 'Truth' and the 'place,' not the sanctuary itself were 'cast down;' that is, both Christ's Truth and His place in the earthly sanctuary were set aside, so that the knowledge as to His mediatorial work became obscured. (For a detailed explanation of Daniel 8 and 9, see The Shepherd's Rod, Vol. 2, pp. 126-147; Tract No. 3, pp. 27-32.)." The Latest News for "Mother" (Tract 4), p. 25.
We may note from this that Victor Houteff taught the same thing regarding the Old Testament types and symbols that were contained in the law being "a compacted prophecy of the gospel, a presentation in which were bound up the promises of redemption" which Ellen White and Ben Roden did. That is, that not only does the Sabbath both prefigure the complete work of Christ and is a part of the outworking of the salvation of the Gospel, but that all of the law, and especially the feast days and the rites they contained, also hold a similar place in the plan of redemption. Elsewhere he speaks further of the taking away of the "feasts," to wit,
"[Hosea. 2:8-12 quoted] ...
"From these verses we see that it was just such a departure from God that caused the church in her early Christian era to lose her path and all her possessions, including her feast days, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.
"This is exactly what happened when the "Dark Ages" of religion began. The Pagans in whose clutches the church fell were no more to blame for the church's going into darkness than were the Chaldeans of destroying Judah and her temple. The real blame falls on the church herself. And this should be a lasting lesson to each of us, that we should never again have illicit connection with the world, should never depart from the Lord." Timely Greetings, Vol. 2, No. 6, p. 20.
Regarding Hosea 2:11, he also said,
"In fulfillment of the prophecy contained in verse eleven, God permitted the little horn of Daniel seven to change times and laws, and permitted the saints of the Most High to be in his hand until "a time and times and the dividing of time." Dan. 7:25." Timely Greetings, Vol. 2, No. 21, p. 11.
While Victor Houteff spoke more of the prophetical (typical and antitypical) aspects of the "feasts" and the fact that they were taken away from ancient Israel, and also from the early Church, because of sin, he also spoke of the restoration of the keeping of the feasts in their antitypical manner.
"Nahum. 1:15 -- 'Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.'
"In our study of this prophecy we learned that this happens when the Assyrian falls, but the Lord's call to the church in Isaiah 52 to awake comes first. After she awakes she is to behold something and she is to do something. What is she to do? -- She is to keep her solemn feasts. She is to perform her vows. From this we understand that at the close of the Assyrian period and in the time when the wicked no longer will be in the church, God's people in it are to keep their solemn feasts and perform their vows. The Lord's Supper being one of the solemn feasts, it will be celebrated next in the time when the wicked are no more to pass through the church. Do you not see that we are now closer to it than when we first believed ? Symbolic Code, Vol. 12, Nos. 6, 7, p. 12. (emphasis added)
From what we have just seen, the Editors should be well aware that the Rod teaches that the feasts which were taken away from the Church are to be restored to her. They should also be aware that the Rod teaches that along with "a pagan priesthood and a pagan sabbath" (The Latest News for "Mother", p. 25), which supplanted the Lord's Sabbath and Priesthood, there were other "times and laws' (Daniel 7:25) which were supplanted by pagan rituals. We read,
"And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?" (Rev. 13:4.)
"How can professed Christians worship the dragon? The answer is easy, and the worship of the dragon can be clearly seen. The present system of worship by so-called Christian institutions is unquestionably pagan. Sunday, Christmas, and Easter keeping, etc., originated in ancient Babylon, from the old pagan religion in honor of the sun god. Christians, in modern times, assume to honor the most High God with pagan customs calling them "Christian Doctrines." Protestantism has taken a grip on these pagan festivals as a leech on a human body. As the sluggard sucks the blood unaware that his satisfaction brings him to destruction, just so with protestants and their pagan commemoratives, even daring to call them by the name of Christ. Blasphemy indeed! Every student of ancient history knows this to be true; likewise every Bible student knows these so-called Christian festivals are unbiblical as well as unchristian. If these institutions were Christian, or Biblical, they would certainly have been spoken of in the Bible. But since they are not found in the Word of God, Christians had better leave them alone lest they be found worshiping the dragon." The Shepherd's Rod, Vol. 2, p. 98.
"We call this message the "Third Angel's Message" which is a combination of the first, second, and third angel's messages of Rev. 14:6-12. The substance of the message we bear may be classified into five subjects: (1) the time of the end; (2) the judgment (day of atonement, since 1844); (3) the second coming of Christ in this generation; (4) the restoration of the true Sabbath; (5) calling God's people out from Babylon (idolatry) which we define to be Sunday, Easter, and Christmas keeping, etc." The Shepherd's Rod, Vol. 1, p. 186.
Clearly, when the saints are called out of something polluted they will be called into something clean. How can the Davidians be ready to call the people "out from Babylon (idolatry) which we define to be Sunday, Easter, and Christmas keeping, etc.," and into the kingdom where the lost feasts have been restored in their true antitypical settings, if they have no true knowledge of how they should be kept before the call is made?
The question is, When will the knowledge of how to keep the feasts come, and how? Victor Houteff never reinstituted any of them, nor does the Rod message give any specifics as to how they are to be kept in antitype. But he does say some very relevant things concerning what may be understood to be the most significant "feasts" of them all – the Lord's Supper. Says the Rod,
"We cannot lead the Lord. He is to lead us. We of ourselves never know what is right and what is wrong unless we are told. Easy enough, if we do whatever we are told to do, no more and no less, we shall be accounted worthy. So far, our God-sent message has not brought to our attention the ordination of the Lord's Supper...
"Furthermore, no one seems to know when and how to observe the sacrament. Some observe it every Sunday or every Sabbath, some occasionally, some every quarter and so on. It seems logical to say that when God commands us to ordain it anew He will tell us also how and when to observe it properly." Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 3, p. 6.
Therefore, the Editors have themselves in a bit of a pickle, so to speak. The Rod teaches that it is "God" who is to "command... us" to keep the Lord's Supper "properly." It is also clear that it designates the means by which God is to command us when and how to keep the feasts – by "our God-sent message." This thus leads to the ultimate conclusion that "our God-sent message" must be "ever-increasing," "ever-unfolding," "progressive truth." Says the Rod,
"Nahum. 1:15 -- 'Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.'
"Here you see that the announcement of this long-expected event is to be made by someone's publications. Moreover, he publishes peace and thus announces the restoration of the Kingdom. This is the only peace that the world can have. There is to be no other. Those who keep God's solemn "feasts" and perform their vows shall have this peace. None others shall." Timely Greetings, Vol. 2, No. 42, p. 41.
From Symbolic Code, Vol. 12, previously quoted, we know that the church will awake and "behold something and... do something." – "keep their solemn feasts and perform their vows" – before "Assyria" falls ("at the close of the Assyrian period"). But, as the special resurrection in which Ellen White and Victor Houteff come forth from the grave to take up again their work in the kingdom of God does not take place until after the fall of "Assyria" and the liberation of the saints (the 144,00, and those with them), and as the Editors (and most of the rest of the so-called "Davidians" today) do not believe that there are to be any more prophets before that time, they are in quite a predicament when trying to explain how they will awake and learn to keep the feasts in antitype and the Lord's Supper properly before that time. This is especially troublesome for them due to the fact that the special resurrection does not take place until the first deliverance of the saints (the first fruits) which occurs at the time when "the voice of God" announces the day and hour of Christ's literal coming (Early Writings, pgs. 15, 34, 37, 41, 272, 285, 290), which deliverance does not take place until after the separation of the wheat and the tares.
What is most interesting about the "Davidians" being temporarily prohibited from having the Lord's Supper among themselves is that they also abstain from having the accompanying footwashing service, of which Ellen White says,
"Soon we heard the voice of God ... which gave the day and hour of Jesus' coming. The 144,000 were all sealed and perfectly united. On their foreheads was written, God, New Jerusalem, and a glorious star containing Jesus' new name.... Then it was that the synagogue of satan knew that God had loved us who could wash one another's feet..." Early Writings, p. 15.
It is evident that the saints will be keeping the footwashing before the time they are "all sealed and perfectly united" (the condition they are in when they are delivered at the voice of God), for it is the benefits received from correctly observing the ordinance which bring them into that condition (Early Writings, p. 116; The Desire of Ages, p. 642-661). But if the "Davidians" do not receive true new light on the keeping of the feasts (and especially the Lord's Supper), and also receive a direct command from the Lord to now disregard the Rod prohibition against having the ordinance among themselves, before the time of the special resurrection (i.e., before Ellen White or Victor Houteff are resurrected), they will not be among those described above – all sealed and perfectly united – ones "who could wash one another's feet..."
In other words, in order to have the effects of the remedy – perfect unity and the complete seal of God – said remedy must be available before it is can produce its effect. As said remedy is urged upon the church through the entreaty, "O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows," it would be remiss of God to fail to provide the Church with the knowledge of how to properly keep the "feasts" (including, most importantly, the Lord's Supper). Yet such is exactly what the so-called Davidians have charged God with (whether they realize it or not) when they say that the Rod is all the light that God intends on giving His people on the keeping of the feasts. This is especially true considering that Victor Houteff was called to issue a temporary restriction against keeping the Lord's Supper (one of the "feasts"), and the so-called Davidians have closed their doors to any new messenger the Lord may, in His great mercies, send to instruct us in the proper way of keeping said feast, and to lift that temporary restriction.
Moreover, if the "Davidians" are not to learn how to keep the feasts (and especially the Lord's Supper) correctly before the deliverance (which happens after the fall of Assyria), then how are they ever to appropriate the benefits of the feasts (and especially the Lord's Supper) which they need to be sanctified, sealed, and marked for deliverance before Assyria falls? Assyria falls only when the saints have cast away all of their idols, and because they have done so (Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 33, p. 4). Furthermore, if the saints are not to be required to keep the feasts (including the Lord's Supper) before the special resurrection, then that would also mean that they would not be required to "perform their vows" before that resurrection either, for the two are inseparable as to the time of their fulfillment – that being when they give heed to the call, "Awake, Awake."
Thus, the Editors (and those like-minded) have a real dilemma before them. To take the stand that the message, "Awake. Awake" has already come, yet has not brought with it the knowledge of the keeping of the feasts and the call to keep them (which occurs after the saints are awaken by the two-fold call, "Awake. Awake," and before the fall of Assyria [which only occurs because the saints have cast away their own idols]) is to admit that they must be in a deep sleep as we have been saying because the Rod message, in and of itself, does not contain the light sufficient to awaken the saints and declare unto them that the time has come to keep the feasts, or else they would be keeping them now. That is, since the message declares that when they are awake the saints will keep their solemn feasts, and the "Davidians" do not now keep the feasts (including the Lord's Supper among themselves), then that must mean that they are not awake yet. Which means that they are asleep still. One and one still equals two.
Regarding the possible time for the institution of the Lord's Supper, Victor Houteff says that that time may be
"...perhaps not before the hour comes for the penitent to be separated from the impenitent, as taught by the types -- by the Passover in Egypt, and by the Passover on the night when Judas was to go out, never again to walk with the twelve." Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 3, p 5, 6.
The Editors, being students of the Rod, and the Bible should know that the parables and types show that the wheat and tares are marked and separated before the wheat is put into the barn, and before the tares are burned (destroyed). Accordingly, the tares must be first marked and separated from the wheat at harvest time (when the sickle is thrust in) so that they can be bound into bundles to be later burned. This separation must occur even before the wheat is threshed and winnowed to separate it from the chaff, and before the chaff is blown away. That is, the tares are not threshed with the wheat, but have been separated from the wheat and bound into bundles at the time the wheat is receiving its final cleansing before it is put into the barn.
What is significant here is that in order for that separation to take place, a sickle has to be put to the dried grain, and an investigative judgment regarding the nature of that which is being harvested must take place – that is, a determination must be made as to whether it is wheat, or whether it is a tare. This investigative judgment is actually made during the time when the sickle is being put to the field. Note also that neither the wheat nor the tares are destroyed (burned) by the harvest action of the sickle.
One more point regarding the Harvest. It is well established that the Rod purports to be the "Latter Rain." One thing the Rodens reminded people of was the fact that "you can't harvest during a rain storm." The harvest illustration in Revelation 14:14-16 bears this out. Verse 15 reads "... for the time has come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is dried (margin)." The latter rain prepares (ripens) the field for harvest, then the rain stops a short while before the sickle is put to the grain in order for it to dry properly. They also reminded the brethren that the Rod teaches that the grain would spoil in the field if it stood in the field too long after the latter rain had ceased and before being harvested. Thus the need for a timely harvest after the "latter rain" ceases.
Earlier we mentioned certain aspects of the 430 year prophecy and types as they relate to Ezekiel 9. One question is, How does that time prophecy relate to the "latter rain?" That is, Does the 430 year prophecy apply to the time the "latter rain" begins, or to the time the "harvest" begins?
Those who have a basic knowledge of the Rod know that Victor Houteff showed that the 430 year prophecy applied to the revival and reformation – to the time when the Lord comes suddenly to his temple. From the fact that the "harvest" is to take place at the end of the 430 years, it is obvious that that time period applies in its fullness to a time after the "latter rain" has ceased, and the grain had "dried." If the harvest was to commence before the latter rain had fallen, at the time the latter rain began, or during the time while the latter rain was falling, there would be nothing to harvest because nothing would be mature. Therefore, the 430 year time prophecy which applies to the harvest must apply to a time shortly after the latter rain has ceased, for only then would the grain be "ripe" ("dried"), and not yet rotten.
Thus, though Victor Houteff made what he termed a "not exact" application of the 430 years which ended in 1930, the events which he said were to transpire at the perfect fulfillment of the prophecy (the opening of the Judgment of the Living), did not transpire in 1930, nor before he died in 1955. Therefore, the truth of the matter is that Victor declared that the 430 year prophecy applied to the time of Ezekiel 9 (the Harvest) which was to come after the end of the falling of the "latter rain" (not at the beginning of it), and after the wheat was mature and dried (ripe) – which perfectly fulfills the description of the Rod's message as revealed in Revelation 14:15, which chapter is a delineation of the messages (angels) which are to come before Christ's second coming in the clouds, and thus must include the Rod.
"And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe [dried – margin]." Revelation 14:15.
This is the only other "angel" in this chapter whose message contains a "time" element – the other being verse 7,
"Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come."
This we should expect to see for verses 6 & 7 are the First Angel's message announcing the Lord's coming to His temple for the Judgment of the Dead, and verse 15 is the "... the final phase of the First Angel's message ... announcing the stealthy approach of judgment upon the living [the Lord's coming to His temple for the Judgment of the Living, in "the perfect fulfillment of Malachi Three" [Symbolic Code, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp. 5, 6]." White House Recruiter, p. 37.
The Editors' real dilemma arises from the fact that they do not believe that a living voice will come forth actually awakening the saints and simultaneously bringing them the ability and knowledge to keep their solemn feasts and perform their vows. Moreover, some may even believe that they are now wide awake, and that the Rod message, alone, has accomplished that. Yet that they have no need to keep the feasts, nor a need for a true voice to call for and define their proper keeping.
So here is another pivotal issue the Editors have with the Branch message – Has that call come, or is it yet future? If the call, "Awake, Awake," has come, then why is it not time also to keep the feasts and perform our vows? The Branch says, Yes, the call had to come (and has come) in order for Revelation 14:15 to reach its fulfillment and announce that the first fruit harvest is "ripe" and that the "time" to harvest (thrust in the sickle – judge the living) had arrived. The Branch further says that the Scriptures declare that the call to "Awake" is two-fold ("Awake. Awake") and that the Rod correctly applies the time of this call to the time of the Judgment of the Living, not to the time of the Judgment of the Dead (the time of Ellen White and Victor Houteff). The Editors, evidently, do not believe that the call "Awake, Awake" has come, or maybe that it just has not yet borne its fruit in producing a vow-performing, feast-keeping group of "Davidians." The latter is the general consensus among the Editors and other "Davidians" which they seek to excuse by quoting the following:
"Now we are ready to reread
"Isa. 4:1 -- "And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by Thy name, to take away our reproach."
"If these scriptures have brought us to the time of the purification of the church, then today there must be seven women taking hold of one man and wanting nothing but His name. The seven women in the spiritual realm are symbolical of the seven churches -- all the churches -- just as the seven heads on the leopard-like beast are symbolical of all the churches. And what does this say they want? -- They want only to be called Christians, but they do not want either His bread (Truth) or His clothing (righteousness). They want just His name. Then in the time when the purification is due there is to be a complete apostasy among all the churches. And that is the very condition that now exists. The very fact, moreover, that we are not yet observing the Lord's ordinance [the Lord's Supper] privately among ourselves shows that some of us as individuals may yet be in the very apostasy described in these verses, and perhaps even asleep. It is possible that some of us as individuals may want to be associated with the Davidian organization but refuse to fully imbibe its Truth or live its principles." Symbolic Codes, Vol. 12, Nos. 6, 7, p. 14. (emphasis added)
Victor Houteff made this observation over 60 years ago! He never said anything to the contrary, nor that conditions had changed for the better before he died (as time has well proven). Note that he says that it is possible that some of those who wished to be called Davidians in his day, because of their "apostasy" and being "asleep," were only embracing a general form of the message, and "refuse to fully imbibe its Truth or live its principles."
Which part of the Rod message is it that is being refused, and which rejection is preventing the so-called "Davidians" from coming to such a standing in Christ where they could partake of the Lord's Supper among themselves in truth and righteousness, and thus, in safety? That part of the message may be described by the phrase, "Let Heaven Guide."
Victor Houteff expressed this fundamental truth and principle in many similar ways, all of which describe the message of "Elijah" as
This is the life of the Church, and is the most prominent point of the Rod message. It is very well expressed in the following.
"Isa. 62:1 -- 'For Zion's sake will I not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.'
"Here we are told that the Lord will continue thus to speak, not for the sake of the world, but for the sake of the church so that she may eventually stand on Mount Zion with the Lamb; that He will thus continue "until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth." Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 42, p. 3
On this matter he also says,
"This verse [Isa. 62:1] denotes that it will take much speaking and effort on God's part before righteousness and salvation will go forth out of Zion and Jerusalem. It is because God's people need a work to be done for them that will cause Him to continue speaking and working until righteousness and salvation are accomplished. We may be certain also that in this process we as a body will win; but some as individuals will lose out because they, like rebellious Israel of old, will not submit themselves to the necessary requirements that God lays before them. They refuse to exchange their ways for His ways and their thoughts for His thoughts." Symbolic Code, Vol. 12, No. 3, p. 3.
Therein is given the reason why the Church needs the work of the living Spirit of Prophecy in her midst – "It is because God's people need a work to be done for them." Evidently the Editors and other "Davidians" think so highly of their standing with the Lord that they do not need a living "voice" from heaven among them to fulfill that need. Yet that is the very thing the Rod prescribes:
"Ever have your ears open to any claimant of Inspiration if you are not to repeat the history of the Jews. God will not let you be deceived if you really hunger and thirst after righteousness, if you really want to know the Truth, for He is anxious that you keep up with His progressively revealed Truth. There is therefore no danger for one to be deceived by coming in contact with error, but there is a great danger for staying in darkness by not coming in contact with fresh Truth. Inspiration's counsel is thus:
"'Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.' 1 John 4:1. To keep this commandment is just as important as to keep any other." Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 12, p. 18.
In light of the fact that the message to "Awake, Awake" is a part of the "Truth ... ever timely, ever unfolding as time goes on," it would be only natural for one who professes to believe the Rod message to be looking for new, "unfolding" light on the feasts and the Lord's Supper (as such is to be a part of the awakening calls). Yet for the Editors to accept any true new light on these would be, in effect, admitting that their teaching that Victor Houteff is the last prophet to the church before the deliverance is in error. This because, according to the Rod, it is God who is going to "continue to speak" to His people until they are purified and made white, and, therefore, whoever brings the true new light must be one of His appointed agents, a messenger of the Covenant – a prophet. The Rod makes it clear that "Elijah" is the last messenger to church, but also that the title "Elijah" is not restricted to one person, but rather to the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Prophecy) in a living, human agent (Answerer Book 1, pp. 78, 79; Symbolic Code, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp. 4-6).
"Furthermore, though the title, 'messenger of the covenant,' is applied to more than one messenger, it rightfully belongs to the Holy Spirit, and only for the reason that the Spirit of God is in them are they designated by that title." Symbolic Code, Vol. 1, No. 4, p. 6.
In considering this matter we must ask a couple of questions regarding the work of "Elijah," the "Messenger of the Covenant" – which work is to prepare for the coming of the Lord to His temple. The questions are, In what manner is the "coming" to be?, and, When?
"The fact that Malachi Three is again applied to two different periods, -- the one of 1844 and also to the one in which the church is to be purified -- proves that Malachi's prophecy apprehends both the judgment of the dead and the judgment of the living. Consequently, there are two such comings of the Lord "to His temple" and two purifications, -- first, the cleansing of the temple (sanctuary) from the wicked dead (the investigative judgment), and second, the purification of the church (temple) from the living wicked, at which time Malachi 3:1-3 will meet its perfect fulfillment. The parable of the ten virgins is applicable to the latter." Symbolic Code, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp. 5, 6.
In the first fulfillment of Malachi's prophecy for the judgment of the dead a forerunner (William Miller) came announcing the imminent coming (future) of the Lord to His temple, and was followed shortly thereafter by another instrument of the Spirit of Prophecy (Ellen White) announcing that the Lord had now come (present tense) to His temple for the cleansing of the sanctuary – first to judge (investigate) the dead. Such is an illustration of what is to be expected with its fulfillment for the judgment of the living. There is nothing which indicates that the process will be different.
"Any fair Bible student will, without difficulty, perceive at a glance that the perfect fulfillment of Malachi Three is yet future, and is directly applicable to the imminent 'purification of the church,' -- 'temple' -- for saith the Lord, 'Who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' sope.' (Mal. 3:2.)" Symbolic Code, Vol. 1, No. 4, pg. 5 (1934).
Thus in the "future" (from 1934), "perfect fulfillment of Malachi Three" for the judgment of the living, we should expect to see one inspired messenger announcing the coming of the Lord to His temple, and then that one being followed by another in the mantle of Elijah, a messenger of the Covenant, announcing that the Lord has come to His temple for the judgment and cleansing of the living.
None can dispute the fact that the whole of Victor Houteff's message is an announcement of something to come ("yet future") – that being the coming of the Lord to His temple for the judgment of the living. As we have seen, the announcement of the coming of the Lord to His temple by one prophet is to be followed by an announcement by another prophet that the Lord is come to His temple, and is currently sitting as a refiner and purifier. This is so simple that
"... the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein." Isaiah 35:8.
"The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly." Isaiah 32:4.
Given the actions of the Editors and most others who wished to be called Davidians since Victor Houteff died, and giving them every benefit of the doubt, it cannot be honestly said that they really believe this part of the Rod message and teach it as it simply reads. So then the question naturally arises, How can they be called "Davidians" if they don't "fully imbibe its Truth or live its principles."
The very fact that there are numerous groups claiming to be the true representatives of the "Davidian" association, and, more importantly, the Rod message, while disavowing the others' similar claims is proof, in and of itself, that they have not really accepted the Rod message, for it is a message which is to unite those who abide by its teachings, not divide them. Their situation is more deplorable due to the fact that none of them have a President which they say is endowed with the Spirit of Prophecy. They are in effect saying that God no longer needs to send any true prophets because there is nothing more which needs to be revealed since the Rod has come, and they no longer need to have the important cleansing work done for them by the Holy Spirit – especially that which attends the true keeping of the footwashing and Lord's Supper.
The real controversy people have with the living testimony in the Church is not the unrolling of the scroll which reveals new light on the prophecies or other hidden mysteries, but rather that at the same time the Spirit reproves and rebukes the sins of the people. Ellen White's experience in this regards is the perfect example. If her testimonies consisted only of visions and dreams of hidden truths and of events in heaven and of the unfolding of future events, then she would not have received such opposition as she did at times. But because much of what she was called to speak and write about were the sins of individuals and groups of people, the Spirit of Prophecy was not appreciated by the majority.
The early Adventists were graced with many manifestations of the Spirit of Prophecy without, at first, really expecting such a work of intercession on God's behalf towards His people. That is, but few of the early Adventists were open to the idea of there being any true manifestations of the Spirit of Prophecy, or were expecting that such a direct work as that manifest in the Testimonies was going to be done within the church to purify her for the second coming of Christ. But after a while the Lord cleared up the matter and declared through the Spirit of Prophecy that the testimonies which Ellen White was bearing were the "voice of God" to the people. She also said that God wanted to continue to work with His people in such a manner. Yet in spite of all this, the testimonies were generally ignored or rejected.
The situation is a bit different with the Davidians, though. The Rod decries the abuse of the Testimonies, and clearly sets forth the true position of the living Spirit of Prophecy in the church – that it is her very life. Therefore, they, of all people on earth, should be found looking for the Lord in new light through the living Spirit of Prophecy. Yet there is practically no one harder to reach with anything beyond that part of the Rod they choose to accept.
Victor Houteff said that there will be only one church which will be distinguished by the present truth-unfolding message during the Judgment of the Living (Shepherd's Rod, Vol. 2, p. 125). So what is one to think when the professed reformers have become deformers? The way that they teach the message has served more to divide them than to unite them, as seen by their fruits. The Rod has described those who cause these problems as "position seekers" and "usurpers." It says that they are more interested in teaching their own words and interpretations than those of heaven. Heaven says that God is going to "continue to speak" to His people through the Spirit of Prophecy in a living person to cleanse and sanctify them because they need it. The "Davidians" say that He has spoken enough up to 1955 to sustain them for quite a while – though they don't say how long said condition will last, nor provide a type where such condition ever proved a blessing to those who lived without God's living voice among them.
Though God did not give Victor Houteff multitudes of dreams and visions concerning the specific sins of various people and/or groups, and have him write them up and publish them (as He had done through Ellen White), Victor never said that such a direct intercession in the church was no longer necessary, and was not to be expected. How would these "Davidians" react to such a manifestation which specifically points out their individual sins? Would they attribute such a manifestation to the Devil?
Another point of contention in the Editors' conflict with the Branch and Ben's claim that his work was part of the continuing "unrolling of the scroll" is that he said that he was shown that the Judgment for the Living had begun on October 20, 1955 with an investigation of the Davidian's reaction to the present truth message he was bearing – that that message was the harvesting sickle. Victor Houteff had been teaching the Davidians that the Lord was going to let His people know by means of the Spirit of Prophecy when the Judgment for the Living opens (2 Shepherd's Rod page 220; Timely Greetings, Vol. 2, unrevised, 11:13:1.). If Victor Houteff had announced that the Judgment for the Living was open, and that feasts were to now be kept, the Davidians after he died would have had no test to see if they as individuals were willing to get their marching orders from heaven or from uninspired men. The question was, Were they really believing the Rod message which proclaimed that God was going to "continue to speak" unto His people until they are a pure body, or were they not?
In the type, Christ's message came and judged (proved – investigated) those who professed to believe John the Baptist's preparatory message. Many had been baptized by John, but not all brought forth fruits meet for repentance. Even during Christ's ministry many who had been following Him left Him when He said some hard things – either hard in the sense of being a sharp rebuke, or hard in the sense that it portrays deep truths, not easy for a proud heart or mind dulled by sins and trespasses to readily grasp.
The message Ben Roden bore in Christ's new name pointed out from the Bible prophecies and types the very things which were transpiring then among the Davidians, and particularly among the leadership (antitypical Jerusalem) – the apostasies of Florence Houteff and the other Davidian leaders; the rebellion of those who profess to believe the Rod but refused to progress with the unrolling of the scroll; the marking of the tares, and their being bound into "bundles."
The Davidians, in general, have been saying, in effect, that the Rod message has not been able to bring them to the point where they are ready to keep the Lord's Supper and the other feasts, but they will not admit to the Lord that they need more light and power to bring them to that point. They try to justify their stubborn stand by quoting statements such as,
"In warfare you know that each side tries to confuse its enemy and break their morale with the end in view of weakening the enemy and thus making its own victory easier. And when they plan their attacks and invasions they attempt to make them in the places they think their enemy would least suspect.
"In the spiritual warfare the Christians' Adversary does not nap. He, too, seeks his opportunity to break down their courage and morale and thus make sure to accomplish their defeat as we saw demonstrated in the examples we have cited today. And do not think for a moment that he is not looking for the vulnerable point in us, too, that he might strike and cause our defeat. We could expect his assault upon us to come from the place we least expect it. So, unless we know what our weakest spot is how could we know where the Devil is going to attack us?
"The Enemy made Laodiceans believe they have no need of more Truth, that they have all Truth that is necessary to get them through Heaven's portals, although God has declared that they are in need of everything, and are about to be "spued out" (Rev. 3:16).
"Now we really are enriched with Truth if we have studied and assimilated what has been given us, for we have had made available to us the "gold that is tried in the fire" that we might be rich, the "eyesalve" that we "might see," and the "raiment" with which we may be covered (Rev. 3), and the "extra oil" that our way might be lighted (Matt. 25). Therefore the Devil is not going to attack us where he attacked Laodiceans, but he will tell us that we are poor in Truth. He will do this in almost any way." Symbolic Code, Vol. 11, No. 2, p. 11.
The problem with the "Davidians" today using this truth is that the context has changed for them. At the time those statements were made (1944) the Davidians were periodically receiving fresh truth from the Scriptures, elucidated by the Spirit of Prophecy (i.e., the writings of Ellen White, and others). The Davidians who were then assimilating what was being given them as it was unfolding were truly, as Victor Houteff said, "enriched with Truth" (if they were truly, in word and deed, studying and assimilating what they were being given).
Victor Houteff's statement above was made in the context of rebuking some of the Davidians who were bringing discouraging sentiments into the testimonial meetings. He was seeking to encourage his hearers to rejoice in the fact that their table was continually being supplied with fresh food (present truth), that they were not "poor in Truth" as were the Laodiceans. Such is not the case for them today. Their maintaining that statements such as the one quoted above apply to them in today's context (that is, that their table does not have any fresh food on it – no very present truth, for today, not yesterday) is just a vain attempt to hide their nakedness. It is fig leaves sown together to cover them. Though the truth has not lost any of its luster, time has shown that those who try to get the Rod message to stand alone as the last light which will be revealed to the church before the deliverance and the special resurrection are like a ship without a rudder, a house without a window, and a body without eyes – just as Victor Houteff described anybody which was without the direct light of heaven on their path.
The very character of the articles under discussion, with their distortions, omissions, fabrications, and dramatizations sadly reveal the faulty characters of the Editors. If that is all that the Rod message has been able to do for them character-wise, then they are in a sad state of affairs, for they are determined to accept no other remedy, and they are rejecting the very remedy which it provides – knowledge of the continuing work of the living Spirit of Prophecy in the church. They are as those followers of John the Baptist who chose not to follow Jesus, even after he had pointed Him out as the Messiah.
As they believe that the Rod message is all that is to be revealed, and it hasn't been able to finish the good work upon them (for some of them it has been over forty or fifty years), then what else have they? They should know that the Rod teaches that "Joshua" (the highest official in the church) receives the garment change first, and then his helpers (Zechariah 3; Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 8, p. 23). But, as Victor Houteff never professed to have fully received the garment change while he was alive, that pretty much rules out the possibility of any of those who cling to the idea that the Rod message is the last message before the special resurrection receiving the garment change before that resurrection, for their mind-set will not allow for the possibility that anyone other than Victor Houteff will fulfill the position of "Joshua" and have a present truth message.
Moreover, what they do not clearly see is that the very garment which is to be changed includes the erroneous doctrines and practices which led to the sins and trespasses which made filthy Joshua's covering. So to receive the garment change is to receive the message change. Though the Rod message contains much of the message depicted by the new, clean raiment, it does not comprise a complete message for it only gives light on matters concerning the Judgment of the Living in a future setting ("imminent," "about to begin," Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 40, p. 16) rather than in a present truth setting – that is, it is not saying, The Judgment of the Living is now open in an investigation of those who are coming on contact with the invisible Christ (the Holy Spirit) in a present truth message which is the robe of Christ's Righteousness imparted to the receiver.
But the problem really lies in that fact that they do not know what shape their characters are in because they do not believe that what the Rod says against them actually applies to them (which is exactly what the Rod said would happen). They are, in effect, saying that they do not need another unrolling of the scroll, nor an unveiling of fresh Truth – that they do not really need to know if the judgment has past from the dead to the living, or not. Victor Houteff speaks of this matter thus:
"Can we honestly assume," they asked, "that the Lord can possibly finish His work on earth with us Laodiceans as long as we stay blind? And who shall open our eyes if not the Lord by fresh 'eyesalve' (Rev. 3:18)? Has the Lord no fresh Truth -- no 'meat in due season' -- to meet the needs of His people at this particular time? Has He forsaken the earth? And how will He judge the living without a message declaring that their cases are now to appear before God? Since we have a message for the Judgment of the dead, is it not logical and even more essential that we should have a message for the Judgment of the living? Is not the latter more important than the former? And how will we know when it comes if we keep our eyes and ears closed? If we do not change our present state of mind, how shall we believe even if we should accidentally hear that the message is come?" Reporting Un-Adventist Activities, p. 14.
Evidently the "Davidians" do not wish to see the difference between a message (such as the Rod message) which, as very present truth, was announcing that the Judgment of the Living is "about to begin," and that our cases will be coming before the throne when the Judgment of the Living begins, and another message announcing that now our cases are coming before the throne, now the Judgment of the Living has opened. They cannot explain how any living person can go down in the slaughter of Ezekiel 9 if their case had not been first decided during (not before) the investigative Judgment of the Living. Take careful notice of this point friends.
"As John was their last prophet, his message was their final means to fit them for the Messiah's appearing, for which cause said the Master, "If ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. (Matt. 11:14) Likewise, Elijah's message of today must be to the professed people of God, and is to be their last means to fit them for Christ's appearing at this time." Symbolic Code, Vol. 1, No. 4, pg. 5.
Though John the Baptist came announcing the coming of the Lamb of God in the flesh, his message could not perform the work for the people which Christ's own personal message could, and did. The message announcing the coming Judgment of the Living cannot perform the work of the message in the Judgment of the Living, because it was not intended to do so by the Master Designer. The announcement that Christ will be coming invisibly in a present truth message which will judge the living is different than the proclamation that the Christ is now here in a very present truth message to sit as a refiner and purifier of His people that they may be fitted to survive and be blessed during the judgment.
In the above quoted Code lies the answer to what Elijah's message is to be the "last" – "Christ's appearing at this time." Though all of those whose work has borne, or will bear the title "messenger of the covenant" and "Elijah" (in that said work is to prepare for Christ's second coming in the clouds of heaven), the "appearing" which he is speaking of therein is His "appearing" invisibly in a present truth message – His "appearing" when he comes to His temple to purify it. In other words, his message was to be the "last" one warning the people that they were going to be held accountable for how they react to Christ's personal testimonies and direct work in His church through the living Spirit of Prophecy, so they, for lack of better words, had better get used to it.
The Editors know that the Rod teaches that in Victor Houteff's day the Judgment for the Living had not yet been declared to have opened, and he even specifically stated that it was definitely not. What is of note here is, if we do not know that the Judgment of the Living is in progress, and what the requirements are during its investigation, then we will not know how and when to appear in court. According to V.T. Houteff, such a secretive judgment would not be fair, and God is always fair. Hallelujah.
The Editors should know that the Rod teaches that the only reason the Lord allows the rod of the "Assyrian" to come upon His people is because they are not in the state of purity and unity they should be in at the time when that rod comes. They should also be aware that the thing which causes the Assyrian to fall is His people casting away their idols of their own creation. Yet if they truly believed what the purpose and effect of the Lord's Supper is (as illuminated in the writings of Ellen White), they would know that they need to partake of the Lord's Supper in truth and righteousness, among themselves, in order to receive the sanctifying influence of this memorial service which is a necessary element in the peoples' work of separating themselves from their idols. Ellen White summed up the blessings of the Lord's Supper thus,
"Duties are laid down in God's Word, the performance of which will keep the people of God humble and separate from the world, and from backsliding, like the nominal churches. The washing of feet and partaking of the Lord's Supper should be more frequently practiced." Early Writings, p. 116.
Note that the Spirit does not say that a "more frequently practiced" "washing of feet and partaking of the Lord's Supper" will merely heal our backslidings, (confession of sin at any time or in any true manner does this), but rather that they "will keep" us from backsliding by keeping us "humble and separate from the world." That is really good news for those who are weary of the effects of repeated cycles of sinning and repenting, and who want to truly experience the new life in Christ, which Jude, the servant of Christ, rejoicingly proclaimed in his benediction:
"Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." Jude 1:24, 25.
As the "Davidians" practice of keeping of the Lord's Supper among the Seventh Day Adventists has not brought either of them, as bodies, to a place were they are "humble and separate from the world," and as "Davidians" only partake of the memorial with them, how can the "Davidians" ever expect to rise any higher than them and be delivered from the same condemnation they are under? That is, if the Seventh Day Adventists were truly examining themselves during the footwashing (which should be more frequent), allowing the Holy Spirit to truly bring to their hearts and minds the worst of their cases so that they may be cleansed, they would be in such a condition of heart and mind that they would readily accept the Rod message, with its heaven-sent rebukes and chastenings.
As the "Davidians" are aware that some of them may even be in such a condition as to receive a curse from partaking of the Lord's Supper among themselves, they should therefore seek even more diligently to get themselves immediately ready to partake of it, and do so. They need the benefits of what is to take place at a true footwashing, but they, seemingly, will not do it among themselves to save their very lives. The reason that they do not discern their own condition is that they do not truly examine themselves with each other, holding up among them the standard which the present truth they already profess to believe has set. Instead, they are sitting upon a self-exalted judgment seat, condemning that which they refuse to try to understand. Their profession of believing "100%" of the Rod stands on no more solid ground than does the Adventist leadership which professes to believe all of Ellen White's testimony. Mystery of mysteries!
If the Davidians won't partake of the Lord's Supper among themselves because it may prove a curse to them because of the undone condition of some of them, and some of the Adventists are in the self same described condition, how can partaking with them be any less of a curse upon someone, or all? Please consider this well brothers and sisters. Paul said that one receives condemnation from partaking in the ordinance without properly examining himself (1 Corinthians 11:28, 29). Such was the situation at the Last Supper. That type shows that the Lord's Supper was instituted while the disciples were not a pure body – Judas was among them – but it proved to be a curse to only one of them. Thus it was the very means separating the bad from among the good. The point here being that the time had come for the institution of the memorial, and it could not wait, even though Judas was almost so set in his rebellion that nothing could recover him. Almost because the footwashing was the last effort of the Lord to recover him. His fate was not sealed until after he left the memorial table. Why should we not expect the antitypical fulfillment to have any less of an investigative, cleansing, separating, judgment nature?
Let us return to their publication. After denouncing the Branch teaching on the keeping of the feasts, the Editors provide a fair, basic overview of a couple of other Branch teachings, then proceed to do the same with the situation of Florence Houteff's false prophecy, the dissolution of her organization, and the sale of much of the New Mt. Carmel property. From there they descend again to assigning nefarious intentions to Ben Roden for attempting to maintain the Church's assets in a time of crisis. They state:
"Roden recognized the opportunity presented by New Mt. Carmel. Here was a complete religious complex, perfect for his headquarters since it contained buildings, a printing plant, and even farm land. After making a sizeable down payment, Roden and his family moved onto the land, claiming it as their own."
Considering the purpose of Mt. Carmel Center – that being a training center for ministerial recruits, and a place to publish present truth – how can any professed Davidian who knows the situation of those times chastise Ben for doing what he did, or branding him an opportunist? As the Editors have previously noted, Ben had been a Davidian for nine years at the time of Victor Houteff's death, and had been so zealous for the work that he had even moved his family to Mt. Carmel to participate in the work there. It certainly would be understandable for one so dedicated to seek to prevent the work from being torn apart as it was being. And especially so if that one was under a strong conviction that God had him there for that very purpose.
One important fact which the Editors have omitted is that Ben was not sitting around in the background waiting for the "opportunity" to launch his supposed scheme (as they wily imply). He had been actively working to alert the Davidians of the prophetical inevitability that the "top [leadership] of Carmel" would "wither" (Amos 1:2, 4:7; Ezekiel 17:9, 10) because they would not humbly seek God for divine leadership, and for the grace to receive it when it comes.
The Rodens, along with all other faithful Davidians, had given their time and moneys to upbuild the second tithe fund and work. It was from the court recognizing the second tithe rights of the Davidians that had been invested in the property (both the original and the "New" Mt. Carmel), and by allowing them to apply their previously paid second tithe funds to the repurchase of New Mt. Carmel Center, that the Rodens and the other Davidians who were with them were able to make "a sizeable down payment" on the property and preserve their second tithe investments therein. But the Editors chastise them for this. This writer cannot testify as to what those among the Editors who were Davidians at that time chose to do with their own second tithe interests which were invested in the various Association properties and works.
Another statement which reveals the unfairness of the Editors' presentations is this:
"Wherever Adventists met, the Branch was sure to be there, sticking to Adventists like burrs on wool socks. Since the Church viewed them as pesky offshoots, most Adventists were happy to follow their leaders' directions and trash the Branch literature. Many refused to accept it at all" (emphasis added).
What is wrong with this is that it is the exact same things the Adventists have said of the Davidians, and have done to their literature since the beginning of their work, yet the Editors boast of their own righteousness in aggressively pursuing those whom they believe to be their lost brethren, while repeating the same kind of slander against the Branch. It seems like there is an underlying seed of jealousy in the Editors' presentation of the Branch's zealousness and success in reaching the people with the message.
Evidence of their bitterness is also easily seen in their portrayal of Lois Roden, and especially the message she bore. Here the Editors really let loose their unfounded indignation in a misrepresentative condemnation of something for which they have no valid reply. They continue:
"During the last year of Ben's Roden's life, Lois had essentially taken over the group. In 1977, she began publicly to promote her feminine Holy Spirit doctrine. It did not set well with Ben."
They follow this with a quote from George Roden (Ben and Lois' son), who they note later, "was known to be in failing mental health but was undeterred from battling his mother for leadership of the group." They then follow this with other quotes from him which are used to paint a picture of what they would like the Branch to really be. This is especially true in regard to Lois' distinct message. While it is true that Ben was hesitant at first when Lois presented him with her message, it is equally true that he shortly thereafter not only accepted her message, but published jointly with her (Branch Field Letters, 11/9/77; 2/3/78; 5/5/78, etc.). Even George eventually accepted the truth regarding the femininity of the Holy Spirit (but not Lois' leadership).
If Lois "had essentially taken over the group," it was not because she was scheming to do so, but rather that the message she bore was putting her in that position, and Ben, and others, recognized this fact. The unrolling of the scroll in present truth was just as much a test for him as for anyone else. His initial reaction to her message (it not sitting well with him) which the Editors have stated as noted above, is not really surprising at all, for the Lord says, "No man also having drunk old wine straightway [without delay or hesitation] desireth new: for he saith, The old is better." Luke 5:39. But he, unlike the Editors, did not allow self and pride of opinion to harden his heart against the influences of the Holy Spirit in a present truth message after he had first tasted it and thought that the "old is better," for he kept tasting it and found it to be truly delightful.
The Editors expand their specific opposition to Lois' message in an accompanying article in the same publication entitled, A Feminine Holy Spirit? – The Davidian Position. In their strong opposition to Lois' teaching the Editors note that they, under the guise of the "Davidian Seventh-day Adventist Association," had, in 1979, "published a 16-page tract, 'The He and She Branch House of Heretical Horrors.' " The antagonistic spirit which prompted the dramatical attempt to vilify the Rodens and the messages they bore, as displayed in that title, exudes from nearly every expression they make about the subject of the femininity of the Holy Spirit. They state,
"As its title indicates, the tract took an uncompromising stand against the feminine Holy Spirit doctrine, noting that Christ could not have been the product of a female Holy Spirit since this would have meant that He could not have been the pre-existent, second member of the Godhead. Said the tract, 'The Lois Roden bait [is] the heterodoxy that the Holy Spirit is not masculine but, rather, feminine, and the Mother in the Godhead....'"
While it is apparent that the author of the Editors' quotation, in effect, sets himself forth as one fully able to define what is or is not "heterodoxy" (meaning: differing, or opposed to, what most think), the Editors do not bring forth to the current reader any of Lois Roden's basic foundations for her teachings (such as the fundamental one of the Hebrew and Aramaic words which Christ spoke to his hearers are feminine, and not masculine as the Editors have stated), and then simply present to the reader their own supposed facts which counter her position with a significant weight of evidence. Though they do present a deviant form of this further on, their statement clearly reveals that not only do they reject as of any weight the inspired writings on this subject from those who were before Victor Houteff, but they do the same with his teachings relevant to this matter. This is revealed by their statement,
"...Christ could not have been the product of a female Holy Spirit since this would have meant that He could not have been the pre-existent, second member of the Godhead."
They, in essence, are saying that Christ could not have been born ("... the product [offspring] of a female Holy Spirit ...") because He could not thus be "pre-existent." Evidently Victor Houteff did not share the Editors' belief, for he said,
"For Jesus to become one with us He had to be born again; He had to become an earthly man. And for us to be one with Him, we have to be born again, born of the Spirit. The difference is that Jesus was first born a spiritual, a Divine being, and second a human being; whereas we are first born human beings, and second spiritual beings." Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 49, pgs. 6, 7.
He also made another similar comment on the subject of Christ's birth and pre-existence:
“Having been pre-existent with His Father (Heb. 1:1, 2; John 1:1, 2), and then having been re-born in Bethlehem, Immanuel manifestly represents the "born again" Christians (John 3:3); whereas never having been pre-existent, Maher-shalal-hash-baz can only symbolize those not "born again" – that part of the church membership which cannot be represented by Immanuel. A parallel is found in the allegory of Ishmael and Isaac, typifying the "born after the flesh" and the "born after the Spirit" – the non-Christian Jew and the Christian Jew. (See Galatians 4:22-31.)” War News Forecast (Tract 14), pg. 35.
So we see that Victor Houteff, unlike the Editors, clearly believed that Christ could have both been, and actually was, "born" before he came to earth to become a man, and that He did so, "[h]aving been pre-existent with His Father." The question arises, pre-existent of what? The answer to this is found in the Church's own inspired writings which were available to the Editors, as well as to Victor Houteff. As in his writings he acknowledges that a message from heaven came to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1888, but was rejected, we will look at what was presented then to see what light was available on the subject at hand to Victor Houteff and the Davidians who followed on afterwards.
The "new light" which was coming in 1888 concerned Christ's righteousness, and His "inherited" nature. Ellen White was not the only one who was receiving new light on this subject. E.J. Waggonner was another. The back cover of Christ and His Righteousness, by E.J. Waggonner, says "Following this conference [Minneapolis, 1888], Dr. Waggonner [co-editor of the Signs of the Times, and a speaker at the conference] edited his messages which he had presented and published them in three books: Christ and His Righteousness (1890), which also appeared under the titles Christ Our Righteousness, and The Righteousness of Christ; The Gospel In Creation (1894); and The Glad Tidings (1900)." He began –
"The word was 'IN THE BEGINNING.' The mind of man cannot grasp the ages that are spanned in this phrase. It is not given to men to know when or how the Son was BEGOTTEN; but we know that He was the Divine Word, not simply before He came to this earth to die, but even before the world was created." Christ and His Righteousness, p. 9.
Therein we have an indication of what Christ pre-existed – "the beginning" of the creation of the world. Since God is eternal, He has no beginning, therefore "the beginning" must refer to the beginning of the creation. But Waggonner also seems to be including in the phrase the time before any creation.
"We know that Christ 'proceeded forth and came from God' (John 8:42), but it was so far back in the ages of eternity as to be far beyond the grasp of the mind of man." ibid.
"It is true that there are many sons of God; but Christ is 'the ONLY BEGOTTEN Son of God,' and therefore the Son of God in a sense in which no other being ever was, or ever can be. The angels are sons of God, as was Adam (Job 38:7, Luke 3:38), by creation; Christians are the sons of God by adoption (Rom. 8:14,15); but Christ is the Son of God BY BIRTH." ibid. p. 12.
"The Scriptures declare that Christ is the 'only BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD'. He is BEGOTTEN, not created... As to when He was BEGOTTEN, it is not for us to inquire, nor could our minds grasp it if we were told... THERE WAS A TIME when Christ proceeded forth and came from God, from the bosom of the Father (John 3:42, 1:18), but THAT TIME was so far back in the days of eternity that to finite comprehension it is practically without beginning." ibid. pgs. 21 & 22.
"... the point is that Christ is a BEGOTTEN SON, and not a created subject. HE HAS 'BY INHERITANCE' a more excellent Name than the angels; He is a Son over His own house.' Heb. 1:4, 3:6." ibid. p. 22. (emphasis added)
Regardless of who said it, or when it was said, that is the truth! As Victor Houteff and others (aside from the self-dubbed "Davidians") taught, Christ could fully exist in the days of eternity as the "only begotten" and "born" Son of God, and at the same time (eternal) pre-exist "the beginning" of the creation spoken of in Genesis. What is notable in the statements of E. J. Waggonner and Victor Houteff is that they both equate the work of the rebirthing experience and the unity between the Father and the Son as being that of the Holy Spirit.
"Finally, we know the DIVINE UNITY of the Father and the Son from the fact that they both have the same SPIRIT [as earthly fathers and sons have the same woman in common – the wife of the father, the mother of the son].... Christ 'is in the bosom of the Father;' being by [inherited ] nature the very substance of God, and having life in Himself, He is properly called Jehovah, the self-existent One, and is thus styled in Jer. 23:5,6, where it is said that the righteous Branch [of God], who shall execute judgment and justice in the earth, shall be known by the name of Jehovah-tsidekenu-- THE LORD, OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." ibid. pgs. 23, 24.
The fact of Christ's pre-creation birth is well borne out in the Scriptures. Though we find the phrase "Eternal God" in the Scriptures, we never find the phrase "Eternal Father." For the Father, who truly is the Eternal God, was not always a Father. This is seen in the fact that Adam (who was created as an image and likeness of God) was first alone, not yet a father (Genesis 2:7, 8, 20-25; Romans 1:20). There was a time when the Son was begotten. Christ is called the "Everlasting Father" (Isaiah 9:6). Eternal means forever past and present. Everlasting means having a beginning and continuing on forever. Christ was first the only-begotten Son of the Father, before He is called the "Everlasting Father " – sons are sons before they are fathers.
It is certainly reasonable for one to conclude that there is a good probability that Victor Houteff had read or heard of Waggoner's teachings which we have just reviewed. So while the Editors may disagree with the idea that Christ was born in heaven before He created this earth, they must accept the fact that they are disagreeing with Victor Houteff (at a minimum) on the subject, and thus cannot be truly designated as "100% Rods," as they wish to be known. To accept only 99% of the Rod is not to "fully imbibe [drink] its Truth." While many may have not liked the taste of this "new wine straightway," such is no excuse for refusing this heavenly thirst quencher and joy giver.
When one considers that he taught that for a man to become a "spiritual" being he must be "born of the Spirit," and as Jesus was first born a "spiritual" Being, the conclusion is apparent that Jesus was first "born of the Spirit." And when taking into account that Jesus likened the birth of the Spirit to the birth one experiences with his earthly mother (John 3:1-6), the idea that there is a heavenly Mother is not as far fetched as the Editors attempt to make it appear.
In spite of evidence such as the foregoing, and much more from the Scriptures, the Editors chose to depict Lois' message as follows:
"Her message can be viewed as an amazing blend of Christianity, Judaism, and ancient paganism. In a throwback to the ancient female fertility goddesses, Lois proposed that the Holy Spirit was female. In her view, God was male, and Christ, the Son, was the offspring of the male God and female Holy Spirit. Finding no support for this view in the Bible, Lois began to dredge up ancient heresies, hoping to support her un-Biblical position. She appealed to the Gnostic gospels, various esoteric Bible translations, ancient mythology, and a motley assortment of past and present religious and secular feminists."
Anyone who has made a candid perusal of Lois' teachings knows that she taught that the goddesses worshipped by the ancient (and modern) pagans are counterfeits of the truth of the Hebrew Goddess, the Holy Spirit. Among the so-designated "motley assortment" of writers are many sound Biblical studies which bring forth many significant facts regarding the femininity of the Holy Spirit which an honest investigator could simply search out and come to the same conclusions as have Lois and others who have done that very thing and who have, therefore, accepted this truth. But the Editors will not properly address the facts. Instead of this, they refer the reader to their own denunciatory 1979 article,
"What position do Davidians take concerning the Holy Spirit's nature? The tract noted a number of statements from the Bible and Ellen White's writings referring to the Holy Spirit in the masculine. Among these: 'The Holy Spirit has a personality, else He could not bear witness to our spirits....He must also be a Divine Person, else He could not search out the secrets which lie hidden in the mind of God.'"
The Editors are trying to assign to that and other similar statements from the Spirit of Prophecy and the Bible an authority which does not exist. That is, Ellen White was telling the people that the Holy Spirit was a "Person," and not just and influence (an "it"). The topic of her discourse did not include the gender of the Holy Spirit, only the personality. She used the masculine, He, only because it was the only personality pronoun (he or she) in common use among the English Bible-reading world for the Holy Spirit. It is easy to see that God was first, through Sister White, reestablishing the truth of the personality of the Holy Spirit, before addressing the issue of gender. The Editors are trying to ascribe an import to that statement and similar ones from the Bible which the facts do not bear out.
If they want to show their understanding of the matter, let them explain who the "Angel of Mercy" is whom Ellen White gave such a prominent place in the work of salvation, and who is about to fold "her wings" and depart. Ellen White quite clearly equates the work of this feminine being with that of the Holy Spirit, to wit:
"There is not a second probation for anyone. Now is probationary time, before the ANGEL shall fold HER GOLDEN WINGS, THE ANGEL OF MERCY, and shall step down from the THRONE, and MERCY, MERCY is gone forever. (Ms. 49, 1894)" SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 7-a, p. 433
Evidently this Angel does a work at the Throne which ends at the close of probation. It is not a created angel that stands before the throne.
"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself [Herself] maketh intercession for us..." Romans 8:26.
"When Jesus leaves the most holy, His restraining Spirit is withdrawn from rulers and people. They are left to the control of evil angels. Then such laws will be made by the counsel and direction of Satan, that unless time should be very short, no flesh could be saved." Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 204.
When probation closes, Jesus leaves the most holy – the Angel of Mercy steps down from the Throne – the Holy Spirit is withdrawn. Both Christ's and the Holy Ghost intercession will cease (be withdrawn) simultaneously. The Scriptures testify to the dual intercession of Christ and the Holy Ghost, but not that of another "angel" along with them. Ellen White, writing by the Spirit, expressed a hidden mystery – that the Angel of Mercy (the Angel of the Lord) is the other intercessor, the Holy Ghost.
This Angel of Mercy stepped down from the Throne at least once in the past –
"While the procession was halting on the brow of Olivet, it was not yet too late for Jerusalem to repent. THE ANGEL OF MERCY was then folding HER WINGS to step down from the GOLDEN THRONE to give place to justice and swift-coming judgment." The Desire of Ages, p. 578.
There were other times when the Holy Spirit was withdrawn and Mercy ceased to plead:
"A message was sent from heaven to the world in Noah's day, and the salvation of men depended upon the manner in which they treated that message. Because they rejected the warning, the Spirit of God was withdrawn from the sinful race, and they perished in the waters of the flood. In the time of Abraham, mercy ceased to plead with the guilty inhabitants of Sodom, and all but Lot with his wife and two daughters were consumed by the fire sent down from heaven." Early Writings, p. 45.
Note that the dates given for the foregoing quotations which mention "the Angel of Mercy" and use the feminine gender "her" are after 1888, when "messages came to this people with increasing frequency, fullness, and clarity on the PERSONALITY of the Spirit...." The Coming of the Comforter, LeRoy Froom, pg. 63. Note also the dates of the following:
"The SPIRIT OF GOD is being withdrawn from the earth. When the ANGEL OF MERCY folds HER WINGS and departs..." Review & Herald, Sept. 17, 1901.
"I was shown that a terrible condition of things exists in our world. The ANGEL OF MERCY is folding HER WINGS, ready to depart." Testimonies to the Church, Vol. 8 (1894), p. 49.
"We are standing on the threshold of the crises of the ages. In quick succession the judgments of God will follow one another – fire, and flood, and earthquake, with war and bloodshed. We are not to be surprised at this time by events both great and decisive; for the ANGEL OF MERCY cannot remain much longer to shelter the impenitent." Prophets and Kings, (1917) p. 278.
"As the approach of the Roman armies was a sign to the disciples of the impending destruction of Jerusalem, so may this apostasy [Sunday Laws] be a sign to us that the limit of God's forbearance is reached, that the measure of our nation's iniquity is full, and that the ANGEL OF MERCY [the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth] is about to take HER FLIGHT, never to return." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, (1885) p. 451.
"In every age there is given man their day of light and privilege, a probationary time in which they may become reconciled to God. But there is a limit to this grace. MERCY may plead for years and be slighted and rejected; but there comes a time when MERCY makes HER last plea. The heart becomes so hardened that it ceases to respond to the SPIRIT OF GOD. Then the SWEET, WINNING VOICE [of the Spirit] entreats the sinner no longer, and reproofs and warnings cease." The Desire of Ages, (1898) p. 587
Though we cannot say for how long Ellen White held the belief that there is a feminine "Angel of Mercy" whose mighty work she equates with the Holy Spirit, but there can be no doubt that she felt freer to express the thought after 1888. But in our current context, what explanation do the Editors have for these things? The "Angel of Mercy," who is SHE? The Holy Spirit inspired those statements, and is the only one who can reveal the mystery, and has done so!
Though Victor Houteff correctly stated that no new light on the prophecies came to the church after 1888 because of their rejection of the message which came then (which included Christ's pre-creation birth), matters were revealed which were not to be understood then, but whose substance was for later. A good example of this is her statement regarding the fact that "someone is to come in the spirit and power of Elijah." Review and Herald (1890). The light was there then, but was not accepted then. If it was, the church would have been humbly looking for this manifestation, and would not have rejected the Rod. Also, if this statement had been understood before the Rod came, why did Victor Houteff write so much explaining what this meant, and demonstrating its fulfillment? Such it has been with the revelation of the personality and gender of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 28:13).
The Editors are building whole theories regarding the gender of Holy Spirit based on the English translations of the Greek New Testament manuscripts which cannot be accurate to the gender of the words which Jesus actually used when He spoke of the Holy Spirit due to the difference of the gender of the words for Spirit in Hebrew (and Aramaic) and Greek (and Latin) – in Hebrew and Aramaic it is feminine (She), while in Greek it is neuter (it), and masculine (he) in Latin.
When Ellen White used the word "He" when referring to the Holy Spirit to indicate that He was a Person and not just an influence (an it), she was doing so because the Lord was in the process of restoring Bible truths "precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little." Isaiah 28:13 (Testimonies to Ministers, 418, 419; 12 Symbolic Code, 8:8) The time had not yet come for the truth of the matter to be fully revealed. Says a student of those times:
"It was AFTER the Minneapolis Conference , and especially as Mrs. White was preparing the chapters for The Desire of Ages  concerning the promise of the bestowal of the Holy Spirit, that messages came to this people with increasing frequency, fullness, and clarity on the PERSONALITY of the Spirit, and His crucial place in the plan of redemption. In earlier statements the neuter form ‘it’ was more often used when referring to the Holy Spirit. THE HOUR HAD COME FOR CLARIFICATION AND EMPHASIS upon this supreme provision in the salvation and enabling of man." The Coming of the Comforter, LeRoy Froom, pg. 63.
Note that he is not saying that the "clarification and emphasis" was being made upon the fact that the Holy Spirit is masculine, but rather only that He (She) is an intercessory Person, and that that fact is a "supreme provision in the salvation and enabling of man." Also keep in mind that during the time when "messages" regarding "the personality of the Spirit" were coming "with increasing frequency, fullness, and clarity," the leadership of the Church was in the process of rejecting the whole of the new light, and were even ridiculing it. Can any honest Adventist or Davidian say that they have ever heard a sermon on the feminine Angel of Mercy, though there is light on the subject in the Golden Bowl?
So also are the Editors rejecting and ridiculing the same truth (that being of Christ's "inherited" Nature and the Person of the Holy Spirit) when it has returned – which is what the Spirit of Prophecy said would happen when it returned. For those who have read and understand E.J. Waggonner's referenced study, Christ and His Righteousness, know that he showed that Christ's pre-beginning birth was so tied to the Christians' rebirth by the Spirit that one misses the full import of the truth of the born again experience without it. Yet he is not alone in seeing and proclaiming the tremendous magnitude of this wonderful truth.
As already noted, Victor Houteff also both saw and voiced the pivotal importance of correctly understanding Christ's heavenly birth and its relevance to our rebirth. To repeat it for emphasis, he stated,
"For Jesus to become one with us He had to be born again; He had to become an earthly man. And for us to be one with Him, we have to be born again, born of the Spirit. The difference is that Jesus was first born a spiritual, a Divine being, and second a human being; whereas we are first born human beings, and second spiritual beings." Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 49, pgs. 6, 7.
In light of this, one might conclude that the prophecy, "For the time will [has] come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." 2 Timothy 4:3, 4, is being fulfilled by the Editors and those like-minded ones they purport to speak for.
How can they explain the fact that "a spiritual, a Divine Being," "the Father," somehow caused Jesus, "the Son," to literally be "born a spiritual, a Divine being" before They created the "heaven and the earth" with the aid of the Holy Spirit (also "a spiritual, a Divine being," a Person), without them either accepting the fact that there has to be an intercessory feminine Being (a Mother) in order for there to be a "Father" and "Son" relationship; or by them destroying the definitions of the very words God has given to us whereby we may learn of Them, and then them turning unto "fables" (stories of instruction in the Mysteries). This is even more so due to the fact that the whole re-birth experience by the Holy Spirit is compared by Jesus to the natural birth one experiences by his earthly mother, as understood by Nicodemus in his conversation with Jesus on this matter (John 3:1-6).
Moreover, Lois showed that the worship of Mary supplanted the Hebrew thinking of the Holy Spirit being the heavenly Mother of Jesus. What is so mysterious about the Editors' stance is that had we English-speaking people learned the gender of the Holy Spirit through a direct translation of the Hebrew and Aramaic Holy Scriptures (and the only languages Jesus is recorded to have spoken in), rather than through predominantly Greek and Latin translations, we would have always been referring to the Holy Spirit as She, in harmony with the revelation God chose to give in what the Spirit of Prophecy calls "the most sacred language on earth" – Hebrew (Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 97).
Though Victor has said such things as,
"Let this counsel warn God's people away from the precarious practice of hanging their doctrines and their faith on the gilded hooks of perverted interpretations and of renderings from tongues unknown to them (the Hebrew, the Greek, and this, that, or the other) and of interpretative translations that bolster up and serve the interests of theological preconceptions and predilections better than does the authorized version -- the version which God, in his providence and in his foreknowledge of finishing his work by the English-speaking world, has given to his people to lead them into his kingdom. Beware, therefore, of the pretensions of pseudo-scholarship, which assume to be more dependable than that which God, Himself, has chosen and wrought in simplicity. "Behold, I Make All Things New" (Tract 9), p. 75, 76,
"Therefore, we must consider the use of the Biblical past and present tense This grammatical rule is followed in the Scriptures, and it is one way to recognize present truth. Let not the enemy trip you on this point by vain philosophy or theology. The Scriptures are perfect in themselves. The King James version is as dependable as any 'good' translation. Take heed of explanations by translations which you yourself do not understand. Trust no man." Shepherd's Rod book, Vol. 2, p. 117,
He also acknowledged that the King James version also contained some "interpretative translations that bolster up and serve the interests of theological preconceptions and predilections." That is, among other texts, he taught that the word "sacrifice" in Daniel chapters 8, 11, and 12, has been wrongly added to the word "daily" by the translators. In other instances, he, himself, referred to other translations (Bulgarian, Greek, Douay, etc.), or marginal renderings to establish a particular definition of a word. The limitations of the Greek and Latin translation of the ancient manuscripts which influenced the King James translation must also be considered.
The matter of Lois' teaching regarding the femininity of the Holy Spirit is different, though. It is not based on any particular "interpretative translations," but rather on the irrefutable linguistical facts of the Hebrew and Aramaic Scriptures, and the linguistical restrictions of translating those facts into Greek, Latin, or English, among many other things.
In commenting on the conclusions he presented regarding the timing of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection Victor said,
"... all these conclusions are firmly founded on the solid facts established herein in simplicity; not, dear reader, on fables or on translations unknown to you, or on so-called "original manuscripts," which you yourself cannot read, and which are not accessible to you, and some of which do not even exist!" The Sign of Jonah (Tract 10), p. 15, 16.
The Editors, along with anyone else, can simply investigate some credible Hebrew language sources as to whether or not the Hebrew word for Spirit (ruach) is feminine or not. There are many neutral sources, such as language teachers, which can verify the femininity of the word. Even some ministers or rabbis who are not prejudiced by the interpretations they have come to accept will acknowledge the feminine representation of the Holy Spirit in the Hebrew Scriptures. For a basic outline of the facts available on this subject see our study What the People Are Saying – Babylon, Babylon, Where Did They Get All of Those Crazy (?) Ideas?, and, The Only Safe Sex is Holy Sex.
"What a lesson to take the Lord's advice, to trust His Word even to 'one jot or one tittle.' (Matt. 5:18), and if necessary to distrust every mortal being (Isa. 2:22)!
"If those who have great light, and who profess to 'keep the commandments of God, and have the faith of Jesus,' dare thus deal with the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, is it any wonder, then, that there is so much doubting of the inspiration of the Scriptures and that there are almost innumerable interpretations of them?" Final Warning (Tract 5), p. 17, 18.
Another thing which the Editors fail to mention about Lois' work was that she won awards for her Shekinah magazine and the related work. They also fail to mention that about one month after she won an award from Religion in the Media, our Administration building which contained our publishing equipment and in-print literature was burned down, and that Vernon Howell (David Koresh) later admitted that he had started the fire because, he said, the Lord had told him that Lois was no longer to publish her message (they were to only learn and publish his message [sic]). Ellen White stated that the world would honor the church in recognition of her work in the uplifting of humanity, male and female. The Editors also fail to mention Lois' work in restoring women's rightful place in the ministry of the church.
The question arises as to whether or not the Editors, and those like-minded ones who profess to be "Davidians," have really accepted the following teaching of the Rod by putting it into practice.
"Consequently, the greatest danger of the people has not been their listening to error but rather their rejecting present truth. 'If a message comes,' saith the Lord, 'that you do not understand, take pains that you may hear the reasons the messenger may give,...then produce your strong reasons; for your position will not be shaken by coming in contact with error.' -- Testimonies on Sabbath School Work, pp. 65, 66. "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." 1 Cor. 10:12.
"Clearly, therefore, any attitude which disposes one not to make a candid investigation of any message that purports to be additional truth, must inevitably bring ruin upon oneself." The Judgment and the Harvest (Tract 3), p. 10, 11. (emphasis added)
Rather than taking "pains" to hear the reasons the messenger may give, the Editors' organization, admittedly, came out with their so-called refutation of Lois' teaching not long (1979) after she began to teach her message (1977). The same is true with their Timely Truth Educator series. It was begun shortly after Ben began teaching what was shown to him. The case was similar when the Rod came. A few Seventh Day Adventist leaders had done some kind of superficial evaluation of the message, rejected it, and immediately launched an assault against it. In the case at hand, the opposition may not have at first been so much from the doctrine taught, but rather from whom it came – Lois Roden, Ben's wife. Had the message come through possibly any other person their investigation may have been different.
The author of the Timely Truth Educator, M. J. Bingham, and his wife were among Victor Houteff's earliest and closest workers in the publishing of the message. Ben Roden had only been a Davidian for 9 years when Victor died, and worked in the garden. It was one thing for Ben to come forward purporting to have a message from the Lord, but then comes Lois, his wife, years later also claiming to have received the Spirit of Prophecy. Victor taught that the Biblical record shows that never has the leadership in any age accepted a new message, but that that record may come to an end. It was some of Ellen White's closest workers who were at times her strongest opponents. So it has been with those in the leadership with Victor Houteff.
Elsewhere Victor Houteff also has the following to say after quoting the same statement from TSSW noted above:
"It is these so-called venial sins of becoming prejudiced and self-satisfied, and of leaning upon others, that have ever led God's people away from Him. Then too, the fear of coming in contact with error has all too often kept them from coming in contact with advancing Truth. These pet fears and sins condoned by most Christians and even defended by many, have, at the introduction of each advancing Truth, robbed multitudes of eternal glory." The Latest News for "Mother" (Tract 4), p. 8.
In explaining the Church's constant need for the Spirit of Prophecy to be active in her midst, he also emphasized the equal importance of the individuals' need for the Holy Spirit's presence in their own lives so that they may be enabled to understand the truth.The notable thing about those who refuse to make an honest investigation of purported truth, or those who refuse to acknowledge and give proper weight to indisputable facts which they have been presented with, is that they are trusting in self or others, rather than in the movings of the Holy Spirit. It is because they have done these very things that the Editors' articles have the sickly character they do.
Whether in giving a backhanded compliment, or in an attempt to belittle Ben Roden's work, they say that his
It would seem that one must be living a fairly mundane life to be arrested by most of those titles. But one must admit that the title of the Editors' own publication, "The He and She Branch House of Heretical Horrors," certainly falls within the definition of "arresting." One would expect that someone who was wanting people to read his publications would use interesting titles for them, but it appears that in bringing out these things the Editors have revealed their own condition – that is, they are relying on dramatics instead of truth to accomplish their purpose. Considering some of the thought-provoking titles of the Rod literature (The Great Paradox Of The Ages, Final Warning, Why Perish?, The White House Recruiter, etc.), and comparing them with the above noted list of some of the titles of the Branch literature, one would have a hard time saying that one is more "arresting" than the other. But comparing any of either of them to their "... House of Heretical Horrors" title we see more of their tendency to misjudge or overlook their own deeds – evidence of their dream-like condition. It is written,
"Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things." Romans 2:1.
It is somewhat understandable that the Editors may have been taken aback when first presented with the truth of the femininity of the Holy Spirit due to the principle which Jesus expressed,
"No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better." Luke 5:39.
Such may explain their ...Horrors publication. Yet in the passing of time since they published that "rash" speech there has been provided such a weight of evidence to the reality of the femininity of the Holy Spirit that their referring to their former publication which denounced the doctrine is nothing more than setting a stake, and refusing to move it. It is exhibiting the same spirit which ran riot in Minneapolis in 1888 when the matter of Christ's inherited nature was first presented in the power of the Spirit, and is the very type of conservatism which the Spirit of Prophecy condemned then, and which is further condemned in the Rod. The real question is whether or not the Editors have really taken the matter to the Lord, as many others have.
Those who have studied the Spirit-filled Rod message know that it urges its hearers to seek to know the "worst" of their cases that they may fully repent. Let us hope that this is the worst of the Editors' cases.
Following their attack on Lois Roden and her message in their History... article, the Editors continue to mix truth with error, facts with presumptions. Speaking of George Roden they say,
"In 1984, he secured enough votes from the older Branch members to install himself as president of the Branch operation."
While it is true that George attempted to do what the Editors' said he did, the whole thing was meaningless. Not only did it come out that he attempted to supply the court with fictitious votes, but following that incident, Lois returned to court in 1984 in her office of president to have George held under contempt of court for having violated the 1979 injunction against him which prohibited him from claiming to be, and acting as, the president of the Church. She had to do the same thing in 1985. But rather than mentioning these extremely relevant facts, the Editors quote George Roden on the matter. This, in spite the fact that they, themselves, say of George that he "was known to be in failing mental health," and that his "writings were at best barely coherent."
They then follow this with an attempt to make a transition from the Branch teachings under Ben and Lois to Howell's perversion and exploitation thereof. It is common public knowledge that Vernon Howell (a.k.a., David Koresh) led his followers away from many basic Seventh Day Adventist doctrines and practices. So why would the Editors seek to disparage the Branch message under Ben and Lois by linking them together with him? Howell/Koresh misused and misrepresented the Rod message as much as he did the writings of the Bible, Ellen White, and the Rodens, and most people seem to acknowledge this – except for the Editors. They want to distance the name they embrace, "Davidian," from Koresh's name, yet they do not seem to want to allow the Branch the same in respect to the truth of the matter. For the truth of this matter with Howell/Koresh see our publication The Warfare of Vernon Howell (a.k.a. David Koresh) and others against the Branch Davidian Seventh Day Adventists.
In another article in their magazine, entitled, Mt. Carmel at Lake Waco Not the Same as Koresh's Mt. Carmel, they say,
"While the old Carmelites were straight-laced and very strict, the Rodens, then Koresh, began to embrace a number of teachings and practices that would have disgusted the pioneer Old Carmelites. While David Koresh became attached to firearms as a means of self-defense, the Old Carmelites were strongly opposed to guns and violence of any kind. As dedicated Seventh-day Adventists, the Old Carmelites strictly prohibited meat eating, alcohol, tobacco, and coffee. Koresh and his followers, on the other hand, were known to copiously imbibe (Koresh gained fame as 'the beer drinking messiah') and were not the strict vegetarians the original Davidians of Old Mt. Carmel had been."
Though the Editors have correctly related "a number of" Koresh's "teachings and practices which would have disgusted the pioneer Old Carmelites," they do not mention any such or similar things being taught by the Rodens, even though they included them in their accusations. Why include their name with Koresh's and not give any examples of their disgusting "teachings and practices," unless the whole purpose was to simply disparage the Branch?
At the outset of this presentation we read in Deuteronomy 19,
"... if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you."
What then is to become of the Editors? Many "little ones" have come to them seeking fresh bread, only to be given wholesome food (the Rod) mixed with worthless chaff (their private opinions and theories). It is written,
"Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith." Luke 16:1-5.
What kind of repentance is meet for a situation such as this one? By their publications they have sought to defame Ben and Lois Roden; disparage their work by associating their doctrine and practices with David Koresh; discourage those who are seeking truth from making an honest investigation of the Branch teachings; steal men's minds and God's money; and denying the workings of the living Spirit of Prophecy.
According to the law of the Lord, whatever they thought to do to others in bearing a false witness should be done unto them. Also, the Lord has some pretty strong things to say against those who say "Aha" or rejoice at one's calamities. The Editors have taken advantage of many negative circumstances over the years, some of which came about through their influence. May the gracious Lords have mercy on their souls.
"Caviling, ridicule, and misrepresentation can be indulged in only at the expense of the debasement of your own souls. The use of such weapons does not gain precious victories for you, but rather cheapens the mind and separates the soul from God. Sacred things are brought down to the level of the common, and a condition of things is created that pleases the prince of darkness and grieves away the Spirit of God. Caviling and criticism leave the soul as devoid of the dew of grace as the hills of Gilboa were destitute of rain. Confidence cannot be placed in the judgment of those who indulge in ridicule and misrepresentation. No weight can be attached to their advice or resolutions. You must bear the divine credentials before you make decided movements to shape the working of God's cause.
"To accuse and criticize those whom God is using is to accuse and criticize the Lord who has sent them. " Testimonies to Ministers, p. 466.
Not only do the Editors come under rebuke here, but also those who are, as it were, hiding behind them to avoid coming into the daylight, and who are eating up the unclean publications such as those herein under review. Those idols of private opinions are going to have to be cast away before those who set them between themselves and the Lord are acceptable to the Lord, and able to stand in the judgment.
"Isa. 2:22 -- 'Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?'
"In this verse of Scripture God recommends that we cease from man. And the reason given is that man's breath is in his nostrils; because without breath he is but a lump of dirt, and therefore of no account. He is no God.
"The plea would not have been made if the people were not putting their trust in man rather than in God for their salvation; that is, rather than doing what the noble Bereans did, studying to know whether "these things be so," God's people are giving heed to what others think or say. They are today doing what hundreds of thousands were doing in Jesus' day: trusting in the opinions of their learned priests, scribes, and rabbis. The Jews' giving heed to hearsay instead of engaging in personal investigation and experience of their own with the source of truth is, therefore, the very thing that crucified the Lord." Timely Greetings, Vol. 2, No. 28, 12.
"We know him that hath said, 'Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will recompense, saith the Lord.' And again, 'The Lord shall judge His people.' It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Hebrews 10:30, 31.
The following counsel is worthy of consideration
"Man has long been exalting himself; so much so, in fact, that there are perhaps only a few Christians in the world that are really following 'the light of the Lord.' Most of them are following sparks of men, following uninspired interpretations of the Scriptures, -- devisings of men, men who scoff at the idea of Inspiration; they see no need of more Truth or of prophets, although they well know that the only Truth that has ever come has been through chosen servants of God [apostles and prophets – Amos 3:7]. Even PRESENT TRUTH believers have not as yet fully AWAKENED to this startling revelation, many of them are carried away with every wind of doctrine..." Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 5, p. 14.
"These facts are significant, and the force of the sorrowful admission that they allow of no conclusion than that there is an element of professed Present Truth believers not fully in step with the message. They profess to be, but they walk in the sparks of their own kindling. They are a reproach to the cause as long as they remain a part of it, and the main source of its limited power." Symbolic Code, Vol. 3, No. 3, 4, p. 4.
"Isa. 49:14 -- 'But Zion [David's mountain] said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.'
"Before they are sealed [with the multifold seal – Early Writings, p. 15], those who are to be the inhabitants of Zion (the 144,000) think God has forsaken them....
"From all natural appearances it seems that God has forgotten Zion, the place of His earthly throne [David's dwelling place]; that He has left His enemies to abuse His people and to deface Zion's exalted hill, but the Lord Himself assures that for Zion's sake and for her people's freedom, was He nailed on the cross." Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 46, p. 8.
"Jer. 30:17--'...This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after.'
"The adversaries will make sport of Zion [David's mountain – church] because apparently no one will be looking after them, and they will have no following or friends -- no one to plead their cause." Symbolic Code, Vol. 13, No. 1,2, p. 14.
"Do not, though, forget that the message which he [Elijah] proclaims will in itself bear the Divine credentials of Truth, and that no priest or prelate can decide for you who the Elijah may or may not be. No, not even the appearance of what his message is doing or not doing, or whether it is prospering or disintegrating, can be taken as evidence that God is in it. Neither can numbers of adherents, for such has never signified a right cause at any time, not even in the day Christ Himself preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. The message he brings is the only thing to go by.
"And since the enemy cannot get around the Truth, he does all he can to blacken character and to pick flaws in personalities. The prophet's message nevertheless cannot be judged by the behavior of its professors, for even the Apostles misconducted themselves before the ascension of Christ." 1950 General Conference Special, p. 8, 9.
"What a fearful responsibility rests upon those who carelessly handle the Word of God, who pose as soul guardians over the people! Both they and their abominations will fall in the ditch. Indeed, if any reform is needed in Christendom, this one is.
"Having now learned better, let us no longer make idols of men; let us no longer give place within us to unclean spirits. Let us rather GIVE THE SPIRIT OF GOD A CHANCE TO LEAD US INTO HIS EVER-ADVANCING TRUTH with personal understanding.
"Let us be followers of Christ, never again of Paul, of Appolos, or of Cephas." Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 18, p. 17.
"All need to cultivate their religious faculties, that they may have a right discernment of religious things. Some have failed to distinguish between pure gold and mere glitter, between the substance and the shadow." ibid.
"The intention of The Shepherd's Rod is to "cry aloud, spare not," show the sins and uncover the shame. It is to destroy the confidence of the sheep on the arm of flesh. By its human weakness it is to humble the lofty looks, and bow down the haughtiness of men. Its mission is to abase the proud, and to exalt the Lord alone. (Read Isa. 2; Rev. 3-5; Jer. 17:5-7)." Symbolic Code, Vol. 10, No. 7, p. 10.
"Cease from all Un-Adventist activities; return to God. Shun uninspired interpretations of the Scriptures lest you be led not by the Spirit of "all Truth," but by the spirit of the Devil that is working through everyone who engages in private interpretations of the Scriptures, heresy, falsehood, and character defamation -- in anything to keep himself and others in darkness and away from the Spirit of Truth for this very time.
"Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?" Isa. 2:22.
"In seeking out the truth of this or any other disputed question, the words of Elder Froom stand forth as a guidepost of wisdom:
"'The stifling of discussion is contrary to the very genius of both civil and religious liberty, for truth is a living, expanding principle. Repression of discussion is ever characteristic of autocracy, with its centralized power of the fear of disturbing the status quo. History marks it as notoriously the tool of tyranny and the instrument of error. Controversy occupied a large part of the formation of the New Testament canon. Debate sifts fallacy from fact and error from truth; but stagnating conservatism with its accompanying frown upon discussion, tends toward ultimate uncertainty and disaster; and repression of investigation often ends in upheaval.' – L.E. Froom." Reporting Un-Adventist Activities, p. 30-32.
"The shrewd enemy is too wise to oppose truths and doctrines already accepted to be true [such as the Rod], but he will lead men to neglect the principles upon which that truth was established, and step by step supply the lack with human wisdom, thus leading the church into spiritual darkness. Ministers in this state of spiritual condition cannot discern the importance of strict obedience to God's Word. Their congregation is made to feel that their Christian experience is excellent, and the people are led to trust in human wisdom (accept their decision), instead of searching truth for themselves, with faith in God. "Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord." Jer. 17:5.
"Membership is granted to most all who wish to join the church with but little investigation as to their faith and acceptance of the entire truth. Thus, the unconsecrated of heart creep into the church." The Shepherd's Rod, Vol. 1, 246.
"Brethren, we must not put our dependence in man. 'Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?' You must hang your helpless souls upon Jesus. It does not become us to drink from the fountain of the valley when there is a fountain in the mountain. Let us leave the lower streams; let us come to the higher springs. If there is a point of truth that you do not understand, upon which you do not agree, investigate, compare scripture with scripture, sink the shaft of truth down deep into the mine of God's word. You must lay yourselves and your opinions on the altar of God, put away your preconceived ideas, and let the Spirit of heaven guide into all truth." Review and Herald, Feb. 18, 1890. – Testimonies to Ministers, p. 476.
"If you expect any lasting success at all, you Elders had better begin to deal with the issues involved instead of with personalities and character assassination. I am sure you believe the Bible prophets not because of what they personally were, but because of what they wrote through inspiration. Why not do the same with the "Rod" [or the Branch]? Why do you try to judge it by gossip and hearsay? Why not tell the laity to quit following so-called good, and so-called great men? There are none good and none truly great. Why not start teaching the people of God to start following Truth Itself, emphasizing the fact that It alone is able to make them free. Hear what the Lord says about men:
"Cease ye from men, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?" Isa. 2:22.
"Brethren, start studying for yourselves, and if you are really a seeker of Truth, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, God will give you by His Spirit the right understanding of His Truth for this time. He will not leave you ignorant of It. His promises never fail and His enemies never win." Jezreel Letter, No. 7, 1-2.
"...they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.
"Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts." Isaiah 28:7-9.
Babes suckle from their mothers without really thinking or knowing much about who or what she is. Those who "are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts" are able to more fully appreciate both her womanhood and her motherhood. Such it is in the spiritual realm. "...wisdom is justified of all her children." Luke 7:35.
Thus only those who have been weaned from the food of "babes" – the "sincere milk of the Word" – are able to take strong meat and to behold their heavenly Mother, the Holy Spirit (John 3:1-12), heavenly Wisdom (Proverbs 3, 8, 9, and etc.).
"Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see. Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD'S servant? Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not." Isaiah 42:18-20.
Such can certainly be said of John the Baptist. He knew, by faith, for a certainty that he was "a voice in the wilderness" (John 1:23) called to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord to His temple, and acted on such with the fullness of his life. Yet after announcing that the Messiah had come, and directing his followers to Him who should increase while he decreased, John, himself, so doubted his own experience that he, through his followers, later had to inquire of Jesus if he was actually the Messiah, as he had so earnestly believed.
John's doubts and fears came about as a result of he, himself, being deaf and blind to the true nature of the mission of the Messiah at that coming due to his being called to preach the coming of the Messiah in terms which his hearers could understand and grasp with eagerness – that is, he proclaimed that part of the Messiah's work which was to be in the kingdom, when He breaks every outward yoke, and rules the nations with a rod of iron, rather than that part in which He dies to become their Redeemer from sin.
As a side note: Is it not true that the Jewish nation had sealed their fate when they rejected the mission of John the Baptist and Christ? Yet He took the penalty upon Himself (He took Ezekiel 9 for them) to the cross, and gave the nation a second chance after the resurrection for 3 1/2 years until the stoning of Stephen, even though some of the leaders and others had hardened their hearts beyond appreciation for the sacrifice of heaven. "Where there is a type, there is a truth."
As such was the case with what Victor Houteff calls the "type" of his work, a similar blindness and deafness could be attributed to him in the matters discussed herein without degrading his message nor impugning his sincerity. Thus saith the Lord of those who faithfully preach their message as far as the scroll unfolds for them, and who yet fail to see and hear the fullness of what the Scriptures really contain:
"The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable." Isaiah 42:21.
Therein is revealed the reason for the Lord's servants' blindness and deafness, His law is to be magnified and honored. The writers of the Bible, and the latter-day inspired writers all agree that the only reason that the Lord has been forced to leave His people in darkness at times is because of their breaking His commandments, and failing to uphold His statutes and judgments. One may correctly say that the Lord is dying to talk with us, and that by the Spirit of Prophecy, and that is exactly what He promised to do – "continue to speak."
"But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore." Isaiah 42:22.
The indictment against them is that none say, "Restore," oh Lord, the living Spirit of Prophecy that we may see and hear, that we may truly be your complete, living, spiritual body here on earth. What else does the Church need restored to it more than its very life – the presence of the Holy Ghost?
"Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come?" Isaiah 42:23.
This challenge of the Lord carries with it a warning of what has happened in the past when God's people rebelled against the living Spirit of Prophecy, so that those who were to go through a similar experience in "the time to come" could learn from their mistakes, to wit,
"Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law. Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart." Isaiah 42:24-25.
Even though "Jacob" was burned by the Lord's anger, he didn't lay it to heart – he didn't think that the troubles he was having were because he was not "obedient unto His law." Yet, then, as now, the Lord is magnifying his law and making it honorable according to His method:
"For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: For with stammering [repetitive] lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear." Isaiah 28:10-12.
That "rest" and "refreshing" is said in the Rod to be the very purpose and reward of keeping our solemn feasts, and performing our vows – "yet they [so-called Davidians and Adventists] would not hear."
"But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken." Isaiah 28:13.
Thus the rejecters of Truth stand today – and they lay it not to heart. What can honestly be said of the Editors' articles which have been under review here, except to say that they cannot be representative of those abiding in the Spirit of Truth. Their witness is false. May we again consider the counsel of the Spirit of Prophecy we have read earlier:
" 'Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.'
"False speaking in any matter, every attempt or purpose to deceive our neighbor, is here included. An intention to deceive is what constitutes falsehood. By a glance of the eye, a motion of the hand, an expression of the countenance, a falsehood may be told as effectually as by words. All intentional overstatement, every hint or insinuation calculated to convey an erroneous or exaggerated impression, even the statement of facts in such a manner as to mislead, is falsehood. This precept forbids every effort to injure our neighbor's reputation by misrepresentation or evil surmising, by slander or tale bearing. Even the intentional suppression of truth, by which injury may result to others, is a violation of the ninth commandment." Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 309.
"Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way." Romans 14:13.
Let it not be said of our congregations or ourselves that
"... judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter." Isaiah 59:14.
If you have candidly read the foregoing review, is there any other conclusion than that the Branch message and messengers have been getting a "bad rap" (to use the vernacular) from the Editors, and those who support their work. But when and where will justice and equity enter? This article, though written primarily for and to Davidians, is a note of warning as to what will happen to the characters of those who speak and act contrary to the "ever-increasing truth."
"He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God [and His work through the living Spirit of prophecy], and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Hebrews 10:28-31.
"...this simile of the dry bones [Ezekiel 37] appl[ies]...to those who have been blessed with great light; for they...are like the skeletons of the valley. They have the form of men, the framework of the body; but they have not spiritual life... The dead are often made to pass for the living; for those who are working out what they term salvation after their own ideas [without the living Spirit of Prophecy in their midst to guide them], have not God working in them to will and to do of His good pleasure. THIS CLASS IS WELL REPRESENTED BY THE VALLEY OF BONES EZEKIEL SAW IN VISION. Those who have had committed to them the TREASURES of TRUTH, and yet who are DEAD in trespasses and sins, need to be CREATED ANEW in Christ Jesus." Review and Herald Jan. 17, 1893, as found in the SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, p. 1165, 1166.
The Editors and other Davidians certainly are among those "who have had committed to them the TREASURES of TRUTH" (the Golden Bowl). But are they "dead in trespasses and sins?" "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" Matthew 7:16. Thorns prick and rip the skin of those who come into contact with them. Thistles, though they may not be as painful as thorns, are nonetheless pricking irritants which cling to those who come into contact with them. Is not such the character of the Editors publications reviewed herein as regarding the work of the Spirit of prophecy in the Branch message as given through Her servants, Ben and Lois Roden?
"In every age there is given man their day of light and privilege, a probationary time in which they may become reconciled to God. But there is a limit to this grace. MERCY may plead for years and be slighted and rejected; but there comes a time when MERCY makes HER last plea. The heart becomes so hardened that it ceases to respond to the SPIRIT OF GOD. Then the SWEET, WINNING VOICE [of the Spirit] entreats the sinner no longer, and reproofs and warnings cease." The Desire of Ages, p. 587
"There is not a second probation for anyone. Now is probationary time, before the ANGEL shall fold HER GOLDEN WINGS, THE ANGEL OF MERCY, and shall step down from the THRONE, and MERCY, MERCY is gone forever. (Ms. 49, 1894)" SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 7-a, p. 433. It is not a created angel that stands before the throne, it is the Holy Spirit, Herself.
"The class who do not feel grieved over THEIR OWN SPIRITUAL DECLENSION [the dryness of their bones] nor mourn over the sins of others [which divide the body of Christ – cut off parts] will be left without the seal of God." Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 211.
"OUR FAITH IS TO HAVE A RESURRECTION... We need the breath of the divine life BREATHED INTO US." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 8, p. 45, 46.
"Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest...
"So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was NO BREATH IN THEM.
"Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live."
For such, is my prayer,