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.
TEXT FOR PRAYER Why Jesus Taught In Parables
I shall read from "Christ's Object Lessons," p. 22, the first paragraph:
"And He had another reason for teaching in parables. Among the multitudes that gathered about Him, there were priests and rabbis, scribes and elders, Herodians and rulers, world-loving, bigoted, ambitious men, who desired above all things to find some accusation against Him. Their spies followed His steps day after day, to catch from His lips something that would cause His condemnation, and forever silence the One who seemed to draw the world after Him. The Saviour understood the character of these men, and He presented truth in such a way that they could find nothing by which to bring His case before the Sanhedrin. In parables He rebuked the hypocrisy and wicked works of those who occupied high positions, and in figurative language clothed truth of so cutting a character that had it been spoken in direct denunciation, they would not have listened to His words, and would speedily have put an end to His ministry. But while He evaded the spies, He made truth so clear that error was manifested, and the honest in heart were profited by His lessons...."
Let us kneel and pray that we might be on guard against becoming impervious to the Truth as were the Pharisees, that we might be honest hearted and profit by the Truth that comes to us.
ONE SHEPHERD TO ACCOMPLISH WHAT A MULTITUDE OF THEM FAILED TO ACCOMPLISH
TEXT OF ADDRESS BY V.T. HOUTEFF, MINISTER OF DAVIDIAN 7TH-DAY ADVENTISTS SABBATH, AUGUST 16, 1947 MT. CARMEL CHAPEL WACO, TEXAS
Let us turn to Ezekiel 34, the chapter we are to study today.
Ezek. 34:1, 2 -- "And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?"
Ezekiel, we read, was given a vision of selfish, greedy, and unworthy shepherds. Now the first thing of importance is to ascertain whether these selfish shepherds lived in Ezekiel's day, before his day, or after his day. To find this information, let us read--
Ezek. 34:23, 24 -- "And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even My servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it."
The self-centered shepherds against whom the prophet is told to write, are to be replaced by one shepherd, David. When this takes place God's people
will then have but one shepherd. This, of course, cannot be Christ Himself, for Inspiration never calls Him David, but rather It calls Him the Son of David. Since God's people have always had, and still do have many shepherds, the truth stands out as clear as crystal that the David of verses 23 and 24 is yet to come, and that the shepherds whom Inspiration addresses are in particular those whom David is to succeed.
Ezekiel, then, was not given a vision of the shepherds in his day, nor of those before his day, but of the shepherds after his day -- the day in which God raises up this antitypical David to feed His hungry and neglected flock. God's people shall then no longer serve strangers, "But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them." Jer. 30:9. Here we see that not only Ezekiel, but Jeremiah also was given a vision of this same truth. Yes, all the prophets.
Ezek. 37:24, 25 -- "And David My servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in My judgments, and observe My statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob My servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and My servant David shall be their prince for ever."
Since this is the addition to the "Third Angel's Message" ("Early Writings," p. 277) and since it is the message of the hour, consequently the day of the Davidian Kingdom is at hand. Let us turn to--
Hos. 3:4, 5 -- "For the children of Israel shall abide many
days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days."
The many days are now almost over and the time for the fulfillment of God's promises is certainly at the threshold of our time.
Ezek. 34:3 -- "Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock."
The shepherds in the day the Kingdom is to be set up are accused of taking all they can possibly take from the sheep, and of not giving any care to the sheep. This must not become our practice.
Ezek. 34:4, 5 -- "The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered."
This careless attitude on the part of the shepherds is causing the laity to wander from one ism to another in search of spiritual food and physical care. Yes, they wander, so to speak, from one hill to another, many of whom have figuratively become meat for beasts (isms) because there is no shepherd to care for the sheep, but there are shearers to take the wool
from their backs, and the fat from under their ribs. Shameful, indeed! And who dare refuse to declare what God says?
Ezek. 34:6-10 -- "My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, My flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the Word of the Lord; As I live, saith the Lord God, surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not My flock; therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the Word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require My flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them."
Let us not fool ourselves any longer. God cannot be mocked. He will not for ever forsake His sheep, neither will He for ever retain untrustworthy shepherds herding His sheep. He will soon discharge them, and will demand that they give an account for their unfaithfulness. So it is that what a multitude of shepherds have failed to do, one shepherd, even David, will, in God's hands, get done.
Ezek. 34:13 -- "And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country."
In the days of this antitypical David God gathers
His flock from all the countries where they have been scattered, and brings them into their own land. God will no longer leave them in the mountains and the hills of the Gentiles. "Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel. Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days." Hos. 1:11; 3:5.
Ezek. 34:11-16 -- "For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search My sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out My sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment."
"...God has promised that where the shepherds are not true he will take charge of the flock himself. God has never made the flock wholly dependent upon human instrumentalities. But the days of purification of the church are hastening on apace. God will
have a people pure and true. In the mighty sifting soon to take place, we shall be better able to measure the strength of Israel. The signs reveal that the time is near when the Lord will manifest that his fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor." -- "Testimonies", Vol. 5, pg. 80.
Ezek. 34:17 -- "And as for you, O My flock, thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats."
Inspiration now turns from the shepherds and speaks to the flock, to the laity, and warns that there are two kinds of cattle (two classes of laity), rams and he-goats. This is therefore a warning to them, and we must not fail to declare it, and they must not fail to hear and to act. For this very cause are the Timely Greetings published and scattered as the leaves of autumn.
Ezek. 34:18 -- "Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet?"
Part of the cattle are accused of being selective, of eating and drinking only that which is to their liking, and of tramping the residue. They accept whatever Truth is agreeable to them, but reject the rest. Here we shall cite an example:
"My labor has been most discouraging, as I have seen that what God designed has not been accomplished.... These brethren took this position: We believe the visions, but Sister White, in writing them, put in her own words, and we will believe that portion which we
think is of God, and will not heed the other." -- "Testimonies," Vol. 1, pg. 234.
The rebuke, O ye "slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken," that rested upon the two disciples, is a challenge to each of us. None of us is as great as the Lord, yet He believed all the prophets wrote. Entire belief in the prophets is what makes God's people great. Here is seen that "whosoever...humbleth himself shall be exalted," and "whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased." Luke 14:11.
Well, I for one do not question anything God has spoken through His prophets. I know that He does not lie; that He is well able to direct the writings of His prophets; that He makes no vain promises; that He is able to fulfill all He says; that His prophecies never fail. I take the promises of rebuke as readily as the promises of commendation. I study my duties as laid down by Him with as great pleasure as I study the promises of glory.
Ezek. 34:19 -- "And as for My flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet."
God's true people, the truly great, accept that which the so-called wise tread down with their feet.
Ezek. 34:20, 21 -- Therefore thus saith the Lord God unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad."
There is a class of church members who thrust
with side and shoulder those whom they dislike, usually those who are not of the same haughty type as themselves. These shall have their punishment. And those who are thus mistreated should never feel hurt, should never become discouraged, for their's is the Kingdom, so long as they do not "thrust" and "push" others. The doubters and "scatterers" will have their reward.
Ezek. 34:22-25 -- "Therefore will I save My flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even My servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it. And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods."
The present state of affairs among both ministry and laity will soon have to cease. No longer are the transgressors to commingle with the obedient. No longer are the hypocrite and the sincere to walk together. No longer are God's people to be obliged to listen to every wind of doctrine. No longer are they to be neglected, or left to suffer and fear.
Since we are now face to face with Inspiration, and are told the difference between right and wrong, we are left without a cloak to hide under. We can now intelligently choose either to serve God or to serve self and man, either to trust in God, to study His Word for ourselves or to trust in men, to have others study It for us and tell us what is Truth and what is error. We can now decide to let prejudice control us,
or to open our hearts so that Truth can find lodgment there. We can now be as dark objects in the corner, or as bright lights on the top of the mountains. "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." Dan. 12:3.
Ezek. 34:26 -- "And I will make them and the places round about My hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing."
We often sing the song, "There Shall Be Showers of Blessing," but now it is up to us -- we can have them or we can run away from them. Those who accept all God gives, all the prophets have written, upon them will the showers fall. "Only those who have withstood temptation in the strength of the Mighty One will be permitted to act a part in proclaiming it [Third Angel's Message] when it shall have swelled into the Loud Cry." -- "The Review and Herald," Nov. 19, 1908.
Ezek. 34:27 -- "And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them."
There shall be showers of blessing, and there shall be a great harvest, too. This shall be when the bands of our yoke are broken, when we are delivered from the hands of those who serve themselves instead of the flock.
Ezek. 34:28, 29 -- "And they shall no more be a prey to
the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid. And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen anymore."
Not only will God deliver His people from the hands of unfaithful and cruel brethren, but He will also protect them from being a prey to the heathen, and to isms.
Ezek. 34:30, 31 -- "Thus shall they know that I the Lord their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are My people, saith the Lord God. And ye My flock, the flock of My pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God."
God does not forsake His flock. He tenderly calls them "My flock," and reassures them that He is their God. He will, without fail set one shepherd to accomplish what a multitude of shepherds have failed to do. Now is your opportunity to feast on "meat in due season," at the hand of God's chosen shepherd, or starve on husks at the hand of a multitude of shepherds.