Jezreel Letter # 3
Dear Elders and Laity:
Because the hour is late, and because you Elders continue to spurn God's urgent plea that you fill your empty vessels with the golden oil (Matt. 25:1-13) now flowing from the golden bowl (Zech. 4) so that your path be lightened; and that you anoint your eyes with "eyesalve" so that you be no longer blind, Inspiration has this concluding counsel for you:
Now is your final chance to obtain the badly needed oil for your lamps, and the badly needed salve for your eyes, Elders, (Rev. 3:18). If you fail now, you fail forever. I am sorry that in this, as in previous letters to you, the Spirit of Truth has no alternative but to continue to uncover your shame (Rev. 3:18). You can yet save the day if you turn away from the "Abominations" that are being fostered and cherished in your midst, even in the house of God. Here we shall mention but a few:
Truth challenges you, Elders, to point out wherein the Bible teaches either by word or by example that the Sabbath and the church were made for raising goals, for auctioning, for selling literature and for taking subscriptions. The Bible does not teach or recommend even a plate collection (a custom which Rome originated) in Sabbath services, much less merchandising in the presence of God. All the Bible recommends is a container for free will offering placed somewhere in the church premises. It was into such "a treasury" that the widow, while entering the temple, placed her two mites.
Your answer that the things which you merchandise "are in the interest of the Lord's work, is no excuse at all. In fact, you condemn yourself the more by making it appear that the Lord Himself transgresses the Sabbath which He hallowed and Himself set the example of observing it by resting from all His works (Gen. 2:2). The wares which you Elders display and dispose of on the Sabbath in the house of God are not, you must know, more sacred or more important than were the sacrifices (lambs, oxen, and pigeons, etc. ) which the Jews sold in the temple, and for which purchase the money changers were there.
Can you not see that as the Lord angrily drove them out with the whip, He will with even greater fury drive out not only you Elders but also the laity who continue to participate in your "unholy feasts. " Yes, He will deal with you even more severely than He dealt with the Jews, because you are desecrating both the temple of God and the holy Sabbath.
Elders, do not longer presume that the Lord has "forsaken the earth," His people, or His church. He died to save them and He has not given them up. Nor will He let you run away with them. Forsake your wicked works, Elders, for why should you perish for filthy lucre? The Spirit of Prophecy long ago condemned your unholy practice but you continue on and on. Since you have now reached your limits, and since God's patience is exhausted, this is the Spirit's last call for you to give heed to His instruction:
"A great mistake has been made by some who profess present truth, by introducing merchandise in the course of a series of meetings, and by their traffic diverting minds from the object of the meetings. If Christ were now upon earth, He would drive out these peddlers and traffickers, whether they be ministers or people, with a scourge of small cords, as when he entered the temple anciently, 'and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves. And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer but ye have made it a den of thieves. ' These traffickers might have pleaded as an excuse that the articles they held for sale were for sacrificial offerings. But their object was to get gain, to obtain means, to accumulate. " -- Testimonies, Vol. 1, pp. 471, 472.
As to your boast about the multiple millions of dollars raised annually by the Denomination, Inspiration has this to say: The patience and generosity of the laity (not their blindness) does deserve praise, but what about your works, Elders? Since the Bible does not teach any plate gatherings, but only freewill offerings (and not for your own use either), then by high pressuring the laity with your speeches, your pleas, and plate-passing all in the name of Christ, you make Him an extortioner of the worst kind. And by your harvest ingathering and other such campaigns to get money from the Gentiles, you make Him also a begger of the worst kind. Your repeated plate collection, which in some instances number as many as ten or more in one Sabbath morning, is blasphemy and robbery, not a blessing and freewill offering.
You sell the Sabbath School quarterlies at a profit and then after studying the lessons you put the pressure upon the school members by which to squeeze every penny they may have with them. Following this they are again pressured into subscribing for magazines, periodicals, and then called upon to pay for church and school upkeep. Your high pressure and the laity's willingness to give, finally puts them in debt and makes them unable to pay their current bills! Thus you cause them to lose all the credit which a Christian, for Christ's sake, deserves to have in the business world!
And still worse, though the Denomination takes away from the laity everything possible, she does nothing for them in time of need! But for you Elders she does everything that is to be done, although it is the laity who by hardship and sacrifice provide the means! Yes, you spend your last days in respect comfort, and luxury, but when the laity get old and sick, or die empty-handed, you commit their cases to the world's charity institutions! What selfishness! What hardness of heart! What inequality and reproach against Christ! By taking their living away from them, and by doing nothing for them in time of need, you have thus forced them to take life insurance and thus to sin against God!
It is high time, Elders, for you to know that there is to be a stop to this robbery and that there is to be a reckoning, too, that there is a just God that taketh vengeance upon the unjust. Let us now turn to the more sure word of prophecy and see what it has to say on the subject:
"Son of man, prophecy against the shepherds of Israel, prophecy, 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? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. 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. 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 Davld; 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. Ezek. 34:2-4, 22-24.
Here you note, Elders, that this scripture is not condemning your wicked deeds by way of example. It directly condemns the deeds of the shepherds of the Israel of today. This fact you find in verse 22 to 24, which declare that after the unfaithful and selfish shepherds are done away with, then it is that the one shepherd, antitypical David, takes over and he alone thereafter very carefully prepares and distributes the feed to the flock of God. Clothing yourselves with the wool, and feeding on the fat from God's sheep, but doing nothing for them in time of need is the awful charge against you Elders, and who can in truth deny your guilt?
Moreover, since this scripture promises peace and security such as have never been since sin came in, and since it predicts the reformation now taking place among the laity throughout Laodicea, these are sure signs that this scriptures is now being fulfilled right before your eyes; that God has dismissed you Elders as much as He dismissed king Saul of old for taking what he had plainly been told not to take; that antitypical David and the perfect peace are at hand, that "those who have proved themselves unfaithful will not then be entrusted with the flock" (Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 80); that now "in the shaking testing time" the hidden faithful servants (the faithful laity) are being "disclosed to view"; that "few great men will be engaged" in this solemn work; that now "the gold will be separated from the dross. " -- Testimonies, Vol. 5, pp. 80, 81.
Inspiration thus plainly reveals that Ezekiel 34 points to this very time, and that it is a Heaven-sent message especially for you, Elders. God forbid that you should overtook this freshly revealed truth, or neglect to take heed to it and to reform.
It is only because God yearns to save you that He in Isaiah's latter-day prophecies again expose your incredible wickedness:
"O My people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths. The Lord standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people. The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of His people, and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What mean ye that ye beat My people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts. " Isa. 3:1215.
This scripture itself, you note, points out that it is speaking to the people at the commencement of the judgment of the living. The charge is that ye have misled the people, that ye have "eaten up the vineyard," that "the spoil of the poor is in your houses. " The rest of the chapter goes on to say that in some instances you have taken the living of the poor and have bestowed it upon your daughters, the which they lavish and wickedly display upon themselves. Since it is obvious that you will not much longer be allowed to "grind the faces of the poor," why not repent now? Why keep on with your wickedness, and why perish in it?
There are thousands of cases such as Brother A. L. Friis' from whom the conference took thousands of dollars for their annuity fund, but did nothing for his care and for his medical bills in his old age. And when a suggestion was sent to them by mail, pleading that they should at least pay part of his funeral expenses, they denied him this, too, by complete silence.
God has ordained that the ministry be supported by the tithe, but you elders are consuming everything -- tithe, freewill offerings, plate collections, harvest ingathering, legacies and what not! And though the Spirit of Prophecy instructed you years ago to pay the ministerial college teachers from the tithe (Testimonies, Vol. 6, p. 215), you still continue to pay them by collecting tuition and entrance fees from the students! You thus cheat the students in order to use on yourselves their rightful part of the tithe! The Sabbath and the church you have turned Into institutions of gain instead of rest, prayer, praise, and study. All this you do to feed yourselves and still you do not have enough. What a bottomless pit your stomachs must be! Do you still deny that you have eaten up the vineyard?
If your literature is any good at all, it should not be sold at such high prices, but instead it should be given away free of charge and thus be scattered everywhere as the leaves of autumn. On the contrary, though, books that should be sold for $1 per copy you are selling for $2 or $3. If the literature is given away free, and if it is convincing, it should bring added multitudes of souls and thus yield more in tithes and offerings than its purchase price now brings. Your love of money, though, makes you afraid to take that chance. If there is any literature ever given away, the laity are called upon to pay for it, too. All these plain facts taken together, Elders, prove that the sons of Eli had nothing on you. Did they?
Your hoarding the spoil of the poor, misinterpreting the Scriptures, undermining confidence in the prophets, and keeping God's people in darkness concerning the judgment for the living ("great and dreadful day of the Lord') are wickedness such as never was! If you are doing these wicked things blindly then why not now confess to the Lord that He is correct in saying that you are "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" -- in need of everything instead of in need of nothing (Rev. 3:17). Repent of your unbelief and be forgiven.
To back up what we have said about your boasting of Denominational prosperity, we present the following figures:
According to the Denomination's 1952 Year Book, the tithes and offerings for missionary work in the twelve-year period, from 1938 to 1950, amounted to $313,732,091. 49 and the gain in membership was 286,761. These figures show that the laity from 1938 to 1950 have paid to you Elders exactly $1,094. 05 for every member you have added to the church.
The picture becomes still worse when we take into consideration that the children that are raised in Seventh-day Adventist homes over the same period exceed the gain in church membership. It has been estimated by actual figures that a church of a hundred members in twelve years (the age at which a child may join the church) would raise at least 84 children to that age. According to this ratio 469,951 church members -- the membership in 1938 -- would have by 1950 yielded 394,758 church members raised in Seventh-day Adventist homes if all of them stayed in the church. Here you see that the children that were raised in Seventh-day Adventist homes in the past 12 years out number the gain of church members by 107,957 souls over the same period of time.
The actual facts stand out thus: If the entire increase in membership has come from the Gentiles, then the laity have lost all their own children, 394,758 strong, and for $313,732,091. 49 they have brought 394,758 Gentiles! And if they had saved all their own children, then the increase without even one Gentile would have been 394,758 instead of 286,761, and the laity's $313,732,091. 49 hard-earned money would have been in their own pockets instead of yours, Elders. Is this anything to boast about? Prosperity? What kind?
What has driven the S. D. A. children into the world instead of into the church? And what keeps the laity from bringing their neighbors and friends to the church? Also what drives out through the church's back door almost as many newly made converts as are brought in through the front door? -- The answer is obvious: your constant goal raising and plate passing all through the services, and your starving them by the absence of pure, wholesome spiritual food.
We hope you will never again accuse us of stepping off the "platform," but instead you yourselves, Elders, hastily get back on it.
Too, we would have you know that the laity is not so blind as you think they are to your falsely boasting of a soul-gathering prosperity which you never back up by absolute facts. Such success never takes place here in the homeland, but always in far-away lands, lands where no one of us has a way to check up on you. Why not do something here? Are the heathen closer to your hearts than we of the homeland?
Your constantly accusing us of saying that you practice "priest craft," is not doing away with this truth, Elders, and the sooner you know it the better for you. A system of priest craft is entirely different from a system of robbing the poor. Moreover, we are not accusing you of anything, we merely call your attention to what Inspiration Itself says; we merely comply with what It commands us to do. Here follows our commission:
"Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. . . . Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from shine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and shine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward." Isa. 58:1, 6-8.
Your gossip that you have squelched the Rod, that it is dying out, is another false statement. No, not the Rod. Do not forget that graft like yours is what nailed the thesis to the doors of the Wittenberg cathedral. The thesis you see are now being nailed on the doors of every one who sponsors and supports these outrageous crimes of robbing the laity and of keeping them in darkness of God's Truth for this time.
We are sure that you now plainly see what caused the beast's deadly wound to be healed (Rev. 13:3). We are also sure that you are now aware of the fact that the Devil's taking the church captive is what made the whole world wonder after the beast (cannot be the whole world without the church).
It is certain that if you are to escape alive from the vengeance of God, these facts you Elders now dare not deny, neither dare you refuse to arise and as loud as you possibly can proclaim revival and reformation throughout the breadth and length of Laodicea. No, these are not vain words, Elders. Hear what the ensuing paragraphs say:
"What greater deception can come upon human minds than a confidence that they are right, when they are all wrong! The message of the True Witness finds the people of God in a sad deception, yet honest in that deception. They know not that their condition is deplorable in the sight of God. While those addressed are flattering themselves that they are in an exalted spiritual condition, the message of the True Witness breaks their security by the startling denunciation of their true condition of spiritual blindness, poverty, and wretchedness. The testimony, so cutting and severe, cannot be a mistake, for it is the True Witness who speaks, and his testimony must be correct." -- Testimonies, Vol. 3, pp. 252,
"God has not changed toward His faithful servants who are keeping their garments spotless. But many are crying, 'Peace and safety,' while sudden destruction is coming upon them. Unless there is thorough repentance, unless men humble their hearts by confession, and receive the truth as it is in Jesus, they will never enter heaven. When purifications shall take place in our ranks, we shall no longer rest at ease, boasting of being rich and increased with goods, in need of nothing.
"Who can truthfully say, 'Our gold is tried in the fire, our garments are unspotted by the world'? I saw our instructor pointing to the garments of so-called righteousness. Stripping them off, He laid bare the defilement beneath. Then He said to me: 'Can you not see how they have pretentiously covered up their defilement and rottenness of character? "How is the faithful city become an harlot?" My Father's house is made a house of merchandise, a place whence the divine presence and glory have departed! For this cause there is weakness, and strength is lacking. '" -- Testimonies, Vol. 8, p. 250.
What more "cutting and severe" testimony than this do you Elders expect?
This, Elders and laity, is indeed the voice of prophecy, and, therefore, now there is no question in your minds as to why we are working strictly within the church rather than for the world. Now is seen who uses the Testimonies out of their setting. Now there is no doubt of the laity's rising with one accord, and tearing off the shackles that bind the poor and that keep back the progress of the gospel.
Now to summarize the matter, we in Truth and in the name of Christ say to you Elders and laity: Shall you not praise God that for your lives' sake,Truth in three consecutive letters, including this one, has unveiled to all of you that in his blindness, self-deception and lukewarmness, the angel of the church of the Laodiceans has of the house of God made a den of thieves, by the gospel of Christ has he made merchandise of His people, and by twisting the Scriptures he has attempted to undermine confidence in the prophets. Review our former letters to you.
Your marvelous ingenuity to cover up all this rottenness of character and make it appear as a garden of roses under a clear sky, is something! And the cause of your stubbornly keeping the laity from coming in contact with the Rod literature and with its adherents is now to all perfectly understandable. There is now only one thing to do if you are to save face and regain favor and respect with God and men, and that is for you to take your stand on Truth's side, then put your wonderful ability into action throughout Laodicea for a complete return to God.
I hope that I have not become your enemy, Elders, for telling you the plain truth in the fear of God and for your own eternal good. Rather deal with the issues involved, and do what you can to escape the overflowing scourge that is now at your door, and at the door of every one who fails to sigh and cry for the abominations that are in your midst (Ezek. 9 and Testimonies, Vol. 5, pp. 80, 81).
This, you note, is not Brother Houteff but the layman's movement, imbued with the Spirit and at work. Sincerely yours for immediate action and for complete revival and reformation, V. H Jezreel, H. B. (Director of S. D. A. Layman's Movement) 5 T 80, 81