BEHOLD YOUR GOD
Isaiah’s Wonderful Prophecy
Revelation 18 clearly foretells the time when the glory of God’s character shall be revealed through His people as the final and finishing message to lost mankind. But the book of Revelation is not a book apart from the rest of the Bible. Rather, “In the Revelation all the books of the Bible meet and end.” The Acts of the Apostles, 585. Therefore, the message of Revelation 18, showing a people who reveal the character of God as the last work on the earth, must also be found in the Old Testament. One such place is Isaiah 60. The entire chapter is worthy of the closest and most spiritual study. Though here we will be concentrating mostly on the first three verses.
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
“For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.
“And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” Isaiah 50:1-3.
It is true that these verses do not have an initial application to the work and ministry of Christ. Some therefore tend to limit the application to Him, but when it is understood that the people of the last church on earth have to reveal the character of God exactly as He did, to accomplish thereby for fallen man what Christ accomplished for the unfallen, it will be seen that the texts do have an equal application to God’s last movement on earth.
God sent Jesus Christ to reveal His character and set the angels free. He gave Him the light of truth and the full glory of His character. Then He said “Arise, shine; for Thy light is come, and the glory [character] of the Lord is risen upon Thee.
In precisely the same way, God is calling for a people in these last days. To them He is giving the light of His truth and in them He is building the perfect reproduction of His character. As He said to Christ, so He will say to them, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory [character] of the Lord is risen upon thee.”
There in Christ’s Object Lessons, 415, it is written, “To His people He says, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.’ Isaiah 60:1.”
The picture of things prophesied here is one of greatest contrast. On one side it is the picture of gross darkness and on the other of glorious illumination. Darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people and then His glory—His character—shall be seen upon them.
It would be impossible for God’s character to be seen upon them if it was not already there to be seen. Therefore, this verse is repeating what has already been understood from Revelation 18:1 and Christ’s Object Lessons, 69. The character or righteousness of God is not something which is simply credited to the person but is his in fact. It is actually built into the person in reality. It becomes his own character, so that when others look upon him they will see the glory of God’s character just as if they were looking at the great original. There they will see the same love, justice, righteousness, peace, goodness, honesty; the same disposition to save and never to destroy.
In Christ’s Object Lessons where comment is made upon Isaiah 60:1, 2, the prophecy of the experience of the five wise virgins is drawn on as a further illustration of the truth revealed in Isaiah’s prophecy.
The parallel is immediately apparent. Both prophecies relate to the closing events, telling how things will be just before the coming of the Son of man. The same picture of darkness broken by clear light is presented, for the virgins are represented as sleeping until the midnight hour, which is the very darkest hour of the night. Then they arise with their lamps by which they light the way for the Bridegroom’s coming. Without the lighting of the path, the Bridegroom could not make His way. He is dependent upon that light to make His arrival possible.
In this book, emphasis has been placed on the concept that the righteousness of God must be formed within the human agent, as it was in the character of Christ, and nothing less than this will suffice to finish the work. Note how that thought is further strengthened in these comments on the parable of the ten virgins.
“In the parable the wise virgins had oil in their vessels with their lamps. Their light burned with undimmed flame through the night of watching. It helped to swell the illumination for the bridegroom’s honor. Shining out in the darkness, it helped to illuminate the way to the home of the bridegroom, to the marriage feast.
“So the followers of Christ are to shed light into the darkness of the world. Through the Holy Spirit, God’s word is a light as it becomes a transforming power in the life of the receiver. By implanting in their hearts the principles of His word, the Holy Spirit develops in men the attributes of God. The light of His glory—His character—is to shine forth in His followers. Thus they are to glorify God, to lighten the path to the Bridegroom’s home, to the city of God, to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 414.
There can be no mistaking the message contained in these lines. Here it is shown how the Word of God becomes a light capable of dispelling the darkness around. To be such requires much more than merely understanding the theory of the truth and then preaching it to others. God’s Word is a light as it becomes a transforming power in the life of the receiver. This
speaks of an inner working by the transforming agency of the Holy Spirit. This is the changing of the person’s inward nature so that he in himself becomes formed into the likeness of God.
This is not a false interpretation of these words, as the next sentence, by giving further explanation, clearly shows. “By implanting in their hearts the principles of His Word, the Hoy Spirit develops in men the attributes of God.”
The attributes of God are His characteristics, His glory, His dispositions, His qualities, though not His great dynamic powers. Let no one assume that the implantation of the life and character of God within the believer gives him the power to impart life, creative power. God is the Father. We are the children. Just as parents have the power to reproduce themselves, while the children they bear do not have this power until they are themselves adults, so we, as children of God forever, do not have the power to reproduce spiritual life or to create. That is the power of the Father—God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
The reproduction is in character, and these attributes which are in God are formed, in turn, in the believer himself so that he becomes like God in this sense. Pursuing this thought the pen of inspiration leaves no room for misunderstanding this important truth. Once the Holy Spirit has implanted the attributes of God in the person, then has come the time when those qualities can be seen. That is the message of the next sentence. “The light of His glory—His character—is to shine forth in His followers.” Firstly, it must be developed within. Then it shines forth.
Compare these three expressions to see how they all speak the same message in the clearest terms.
“. . . . I saw another angel [movement of people] come down . . . and the earth was lightened with his [the people’s] glory.” Revelation 18:1.
“. . . the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.” Isaiah 60:2.
“The light of His glory—His character—is to shine forth in His followers.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 414.
“When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.” ibid., 69.
The thought being developed and emphasized in the last chapter and this one is that it will be by the manifestation of God’s character through the human instrumentalities in the last phase of the great conflict which will bring the end. It is strongly stated that the purpose of the great controversy cannot be fulfilled unless that demonstration of God’s character is given. Any delay in this revelation of God will likewise delay the return of Jesus.
The paragraph under consideration from Christ’s Object Lessons, 414, develops this same concept. Let the development of the argument in this paragraph be quickly traced through again.
“Through the Holy Spirit, God’s word is a light as it becomes a transforming power in the life of the receiver.
“By implanting in their hearts the principles of His Word, the Holy Spirit develops in men the attributes of God.
“The light of His glory—His character—is to shine forth in His followers.
“Thus they are to glorify God, to lighten the path to the Bridegroom’s home, to the city of God, to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”
Could any teaching be plainer than this? Do you desire to know the way in which you can glorify God, to lighten the way to the Bridegroom’s home, to the city of God, to the marriage supper of the Lamb?
Then here is the answer.
It is not by becoming acquainted only with the theory of the truth, nor by attempting to wrap around yourself the cloak of Christ’s covering righteousness, nor by ceremonies or forms, nor loyalty to a code of religion. It is by none of these things, though some parts of all this may have a place.
It is by having the Holy Spirit form the very character of God, His attributes, His righteousness within the believer. This is the way in which He will hasten and then bring about the ending of the great controversy and will prepare the way for the coming of the Bridegroom. By exactly the same means through which the Saviour accomplished His mission, must the followers of Christ in the final conflict likewise fulfill their commission.
It was not the possession of mere theory that gave His work and teaching, power. It was because He was the living embodiment of that truth.
“What He taught, He lived. ‘I have given you an example,’ He said to His disciples; ‘that ye should do as I have done.’ ‘I have kept My Father’s commandments.’ John 13:15; 15:10. Thus in His life, Christ’s words had perfect illustration and support. And more than this; what He taught, He was. His words were the expression, not only of His own life experience, but of His own character. Not only did He teach the truth, but He was the truth. It was this that gave His teaching, power.” Education, 78, 79.
It will be this which will give our teaching power as well. “It was on the earth that the love of God was revealed through Christ. It is on the earth that His children are to reflect this love through blameless lives. Thus sinners will be led to the cross, to behold the Lamb of God.” The Acts of the Apostles, 334.
True and necessary as these principles have been in past history, they will be even more so in the coming darkest hour of all. “The coming of the bridegroom was at midnight—the darkest hour. So the coming of Christ will take place in the darkest period of this earth’s history.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 414.
Though it may seem an unnecessary question, it is well worth the time to ask what the nature of this last-day darkness will be. The answer likely to come most quickly is that it will be a moral darkness wherein men and women will practice every iniquity imaginable. Such an answer is correct,
though it will fail to give the full picture of that darkness. That it will be a time of the worst kind of moral darkness is stated in the next sentence, from the paragraph above. “The days of Noah and Lot pictured the condition of the world just before the coming of the Son of man.”
But what men do is only the result of what they are. Therefore, this iniquity is the outworking of deeper problems. The next sentences in the same paragraph trace this further back still, toward the source of the trouble. Here it is revealed that there will be the darkness of Satan’s delusions, heresies and false teachings such as there never has been in the past unto the great apostasy develops into darkness deep as midnight.
“The Scriptures pointing forward to this time declare that Satan will work with all power and ‘with all deceivableness of unrighteousness.’ 2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10. His working is plainly revealed by the rapidly increasing darkness, the multitudinous errors, heresies, and delusions of these last days. Not only is Satan leading the world captive, but his deceptions are leavening the professed churches of our Lord Jesus Christ. The great apostasy will develop into darkness deep as midnight, impenetrable as sackcloth and hair.”
It is because, firstly, there is the proliferation of the multitudinous errors of the devil and their acceptance by the vast majority, that the iniquity will abound. The darkness of deception is the root cause of the darkness of behavior.
Great as that darkness will be, it will not extinguish the light which instead will shine brighter. “To God’s people it will be a night of trial, a night of weeping, a night of persecution for the truth’s sake. But out of that night of darkness God’s light will shine.” ibid. 414, 415.
But we are not left to think of the nature of the darkness of those false teachings in merely general terms. Instead, we are told specifically what they are. It is as the exact nature of those delusions are unfolded, that we understand the real cause for the moral darkness in the world at the end.
“Behold,’ says the Scripture, ‘the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.’” Isaiah 60:2
“It is the darkness of misapprehension of God that is enshrouding the world. Men are losing their knowledge of His character. It has been misunderstood and misinterpreted.” ibid., 415.
This then is the darkness which shall cover the entire world in the last days. It is the misunderstanding of God’s character. Satan will still be using the same means in the end that he has used right through past history. He knows that rebellion against God is begun, developed and sustained by ignorance of God’s character, while the dispelling of that error will return men to allegiance to God. He knows that the great conflict can never be terminated until men are set free from erroneous ideas in respect to what God really is, so he puts forth superhuman efforts to lock man in the gross darkness of misapprehension of God.
There is no such thing as the great controversies, only the one great controversy. The nature of the battle does not change from age to age. Satan uses the same methods from generation to generation, and God’s answer to it is likewise ever the same. His answer in every age and dispensation is to reveal the truth in regard to His character and His righteousness.
We are now living in the very time when these prophecies of Isaiah 60, Revelation 18 and the parable of the ten virgins are to be fulfilled. Around us, darkness does cover the earth and gross darkness the people. The earth is filled with the most terrible ignorance of the true nature of God’s character and men are behaving in harmony with those misconceptions.
As surely as we are living in this time of human history, so surely can we expect to see the Lord providing His answer to Satan’s deceptions. The time has come for the clearing away of the misconceptions in regard to God’s character so that He might be revealed as He is. The time has come for the proclamation of a message on the character of God and His righteousness.
It is not an idle expectation to anticipate this, for “At this time a message from God is to be proclaimed, a message illuminating in its influence and saving in its power. His character is to be made known. Into the darkness of the world is to be shed the light of His glory, the light of His goodness, mercy and truth.
“This is the work outlined by the prophet Isaiah in the words, ‘O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.’ Isaiah 40:9, 10.
“Those who wait for the Bridegroom’s coming are to say to the people, ‘Behold your God.’ The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love. The children of God are to manifest His glory. In their own life and character they are to reveal what the grace of God has done for them.” ibid., 415, 416.
Could we but comprehend the magnitude and glory of the promise here given to us in the inspired Word, our hearts would burst with unlimited praise to God for His unspeakable provisions when they are most needed. “At this time,” the very time when the darkness of satanic delusion is overspreading the world, a message from God is to come.
Let us be so grateful that the message does not come from man or from the devil, but from God Himself. Thereby, it can only be the truth—saving, illuminating, uplifting, and delivering truth.
Nor is it a message to be argued, debated or contested. It is a message to be proclaimed, not only by the lips but by the witness of the life itself; a witness made effective by the forming of the very character of God within so that when men look upon the messenger they see the character of God
revealed. Then they come to know God as God is, as they see Him for themselves, reflected from the transformed hearts of the believers.
This message is the very last ever to be given to mortals. As the last warning and entreating words are given, they will be words proclaiming the character of God. “Behold your God,” will be the keynote and the entire orchestration. Thus and only thus, will the work be finished with the ultimate conquest of Satan and his hordes.
The coming of this message from God is no longer a prophetic expectation but a present reality. The truth has come bearing the divine credentials. It has been found to do just what God said it would do. “It is illuminating in its influence and saving in its power.”
This book is the presentation of this light on the character of God. The unfolding of the great evidences and truths herein has not come to light in a moment, but has been years in formation. With greater care than with any other theme, every concept has been carefully checked with the correct principles of Bible interpretation until a beautiful harmony has developed.
No knowledge of the prediction that such a message would come was possessed by us when the first light of this truth opened into a fuller understanding. Otherwise we might well have gone seeking a message of our own upon the character of God and sought to fulfill the prophecy out of our own inventions. Rather, first the light on the message came, and then we discovered that it had come in fulfillment of Bible and Spirit of Prophecy predictions. How warmed and encouraged we were to find that the very things we had been taught, the Lord had foretold would be taught.
The message is from God. It is illuminating in its influence and saving in its power. It is the same light which alone can dispel the darkness with which the devil is filling the world. It is the one means whereby the work of the gospel can be finished, men be delivered from Satan’s sophistries, and the purpose of the great controversy be fulfilled so far as man is now concerned.
It is hoped prayerfully that each reader by this time will have gained some concept of the unutterable importance of this theme to the point where each will be inspired to search with great earnestness and intensity to understand and to possess that wonderful character.