Cannot Come Down
By Mrs. E. G. White
"I am doing a great work," says Nehemiah, "so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease whilst I leave it, and come down to you?"
God's people, in this important time for the church, should not relax their watchfulness or vigilance for one moment. Satan is upon our track. He is determined to overcome God's commandment-keeping people, with his temptations. If we give no place to the devil, but resist his devices steadfast in the faith, we shall have strength to depart from all iniquity. Those who keep the commandments of God will be a power in the land, if they live up to their light and their privileges. They may be patterns of piety, holy in heart and in conversation. We shall not have ease, that we may cease watchfulness and prayer. As the time draws near for Christ to be revealed in the clouds of Heaven, Satan's temptations will be brought to bear with greater power upon those who keep God's commandments, for he knows that his time is short.
The work of Satan will be carried on through agents. Ministers who hate the law of God will employ any means to lead souls from their loyalty. Our bitterest foes will be among this class of persons. Their hearts are fully determined to make war against those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus. This class feel that it is a virtue to talk, to write, and act out, the most bitter hatred against us. We need not look for fair dealing, or for justice, at their hands. Many of them are inspired by Satan with insane madness against those who are keeping the commandments of God. We will be maligned and misrepresented, all our motives and actions will be misjudged, and our characters will be attacked. The wrath of the dragon will be manifested in this manner. But I saw that we should not be in the least discouraged. Our strength is in Jesus, our advocate. If we, in humility and humble trust, hold fast to God, he will give us grace and heavenly wisdom to withstand all the wiles of Satan, and to come off victors.
It will not increase our influence, or bring us into favor with God, to come down from our great work to their level in meeting their slanders. There are those who will resort to any species of deception and gross falsehood, to gain their object and deceive souls, and to cast stigma upon the law of God and those who love to obey his commandments. They will repeat the most inconsistent and vile falsehoods, over and over, until they make themselves believe that they are truth. These are the strongest arguments they have to use against the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. We should not allow our feelings to control us, and divert us from the work of warning the world.
The case of Nehemiah is a forcible illustration. He was engaged in building the walls of Jerusalem, and the enemies of God were determined that the walls should not be built. "But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, and conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it."
In this case, a spirit of hatred and opposition to the Hebrews formed the bond of union, and created the mutual sympathy among different bodies of men, who otherwise might war against each other. This will illustrate what we frequently witness in our day in the existing union of men of different denominations to oppose the present truth, whose only bond seems to be that which is dragonic in its nature, manifesting hatred and bitterness against the remnant who keep the commandments of God. This is especially seen among those who seem to be famous in hating and slandering each other, when they can spare time from their efforts to misrepresent, slander, and in every way abuse Seventh-day Adventists. "Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them."
We are in constant danger of becoming self-sufficient, relying upon our own wisdom, and not making God our strength. Nothing disturbs Satan so much as our not being ignorant of his devices. If we feel our dangers, we shall feel the need of prayer as did Nehemiah, and, like him, we shall obtain that sure defense that will give us security in peril. If we are careless and indifferent, we shall surely be overcome by Satan's devices. We must be vigilant. While, like Nehemiah, we resort to prayer, taking all our perplexities and burdens to God, we should not feel that we have nothing to do. We are to watch as well as pray. We should watch the work of our adversaries, lest they gain advantage in deceiving souls. We should, in the wisdom of Christ, make efforts to defeat their purposes, while, at the same time, we do not suffer them to call us from our great work. Truth is stronger than error. Righteousness will prevail over wrong.
The Lord's people are seeking to heal the breach which has been made in the law of God. "And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places; thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in. If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."
This disturbs the enemies of our faith, and every means is employed to hinder us in our work. And yet the broken-down wall is going steadily up. The world is being warned, and many are turning away from trampling under their feet the Sabbath of Jehovah. God is in this work, and man cannot stop it. The angels of God are working with the efforts of God's faithful servants, and steadily the work advances.
We shall meet with opposition of every description, as did the builders of the walls of Jerusalem; but if we watch and pray, and work as they did, God will fight our battles for us and give us precious victories. Nehemiah "clave unto the Lord and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments which the Lord commanded Moses, and the Lord was with him."
Messengers were sent repeatedly, soliciting a conference with Nehemiah, but he refused to meet them. Bold threats were made of what they proposed to do, and messengers were sent to harangue the people engaged in their work of building. They presented flattering inducements, and promised them a freedom from restraint, and wonderful privileges, if they would unite their interest with them, and cease their work of building the walls of Jerusalem.
But the people were commanded not to engage in controversy with their enemies, and to answer them not a word, that no advantage of words might be given them. Threatenings and ridicule were resorted to. They said, "Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he will even break down their stone wall." Sanballat "was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews." Nehemiah prays, "Hear, O our God; for we are despised; and turn their reproach upon their own head."
"And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you? Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner. Then sent Sanballet his servant unto me in like manner the fifth time with an open letter in his hand."
We shall receive the most fierce opposition from that class who oppose the law of God. But like the builders of the walls of Jerusalem, we should not be diverted and hindered from our work by reports, by messengers desiring discussion or controversy, or by intimidating threats, the publication of falsehoods, or any of the devices Satan may instigate. Our answer should be, We are engaged in a great work, and we cannot come down. We shall sometimes be perplexed to know what course we should pursue, to preserve the honor of the cause of God, and to vindicate his truth.
The course of Nehemiah should have a strong bearing upon our minds, as to the manner of meeting this kind of opponents. We should take all these things to the Lord in prayer, as Nehemiah made his supplication to God while his own spirit was humbled. He clung to God with unwavering faith. This is the course we should pursue. Time is too precious for the servants of God to devote to vindicating their character blackened by those who hate the Sabbath of the Lord. We should move forward with unwavering confidence, believing that God will give to his truth great and precious victories. In humility, meekness, and purity of life, relying upon Jesus, we shall carry a convincing power with us that we have the truth.
We do not understand the faith and confidence we may have in God, the great blessings which faith will give us, as is our privilege. An important work is before us. We are to obtain a moral fitness for Heaven. Our words and our example are to tell upon the world. Angels of God are actively engaged in ministering to the children of God. Precious promises are upon record on condition of our obedience to God's requirements. Heaven is full of the richest of blessings, all waiting to be communicated to us. If we feel our need, and come to God in sincerity and in earnest faith, we shall be brought into close connection with Heaven, and shall be channels of light to the world.
The warning needs to be often sounded, "Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."