Seventh-day Adventists are increasingly uncomfortable when the subject of the ninth chapter of Ezekiel comes up in a discussion. A frequent attempt to disconnect from the soon coming reality of this solemn event is often met with the following reply: “Ellen White says the Ezekiel nine will result in the general destruction of the wicked and this must occur during the seven last plagues, after probation closes.” The exact statement from the pen of inspiration reads as follows:
“Who are standing in the counsel of God at this time? Is it those who virtually excuse wrongs among the professed people of God and who murmur in their hearts, if not openly, against those who would reprove sin? Is it those who take their stand against them and sympathize with those who commit wrong? No, indeed! Unless they repent, and leave the work of Satan in oppressing those who have the burden of the work and in holding up the hands of sinners in Zion, they will never receive the mark of God’s sealing approval. They will fall in the general destruction of the wicked, represented by the work of the five men bearing slaughter weapons. Mark this point with care: Those who receive the pure mark of truth, wrought in them by the power of the Holy Ghost, represented by a mark by the man in linen, are those “that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done” in the church. Their love for purity and the honor and glory of God is such, and they have so clear a view of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, that they are represented as being in agony, even sighing and crying. Read the ninth chapter of Ezekiel.”–Testimonies Vol. 3, p. 267
The problem with this line of reasoning is that is plainly contradicts scripture and other statements from her writings on the subject of the purification of the church. The Shepherd’s Rod speaks for itself and clarifies the confusion that abounds regarding what Sis. White meant in using the phrase “general destruction of the wicked.” Did she use this same phase to describe another localized destruction that happened sometime in the past? In her use of the term “general” did she imply “universal” as in all of the wicked at the end of time? Let us step up to the table and reason together and hear what the Rod and the Spirit of Prophecy has to say that is in complete harmony with the Holy Bible.
Here follow questions for the opponents of “The Shepherd’s Rod” to consider.
In “Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. 9, pp. 267, 268, we find that Sr. White quotes Revelation 6:12-17 and 7:9-17 where it tells of the “great multitude” and how the wicked are to be frightened when Christ manifests His power prior to the commencement of the millennium. Then she adds: “In these Scriptures two parties are brought to view. One party permitted themselves to be deceived, and took sides with those with whom the Lord has a controversy. They misinterpreted the messages sent them, and clothed themselves in robes of self-righteousness.”
If the great multitude are the righteous dead of all ages how could they be living together with the wicked just before Christ’s coming, and how could they while dead accept the messages? Would not John have seen them arise if they were the resurrected ones? If the Bible does not say they are the dead then what right have “those who have betrayed their trust”? As our brethren have a perfect right to demand that “The Shepherd’s Rod” should prove its doctrines by Inspiration, we ask, Are not their doctrines subject to the same test? If there is only one close of probation, no purification of the church, and the slaughter of Ezekiel meets its fulfillment only after the close of the final probation, then how do they explain the following statements which are applicable at the time when the warning of Ezekiel Nine is proclaimed to the church. Says the Spirit of Prophecy:
“Here we see that the church — the Lord’s sanctuary — was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God. The ancient men, those to whom God has given great light, and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust. They had taken the position that we need not look for miracles and the marked manifestation of God’s power as in former days. Times have changed. These words strengthen their unbelief, and they say, The Lord will not do good, neither will He do evil. He is too merciful to visit His people in judgment. Thus peace and safety is the cry from men who will never again lift up their voice like a trumpet to show God’s people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins. These dumb dogs, that would not bark, are the ones who feel the just vengeance of an offended God. Men, maidens, and little children, all perish together.” (Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. 5, p. 211.)
Note that the slaughter took place in the church, and that because the ministry had betrayed their trust. They rejected the warning and contended against the fulfillment of Ezekiel Nine as a miracle. They said, “The Lord will not manifest His power as in former days” and Inspiration places the blame on them for the sins among God’s people.
If the slaughter comes after the close of probation, how could God finish His work with wicked ministers who have betrayed their trust? If the slaughter falls after the close of probation, and if they believed in its fulfillment, how could they say, “The Lord will not manifest His power as in former days….He is too merciful to visit His people in judgment”? For the ministry unanimously agrees that God will manifest His power after the close of probation. Therefore, the prophetic Word of God in the above reveals the fact that the ministers will reject the fearful warning as foretold by the prophet Ezekiel.
They have made the term “general destruction” of “The Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. 3, p. 267 to mean the destruction of the wicked in the church and in the world all at the same time. But let us allow Sr. White to interpret her own meaning of the word “general destruction.” It will be noticed in “The Great Controversy,” p. 26, while speaking of the destruction of ancient Jerusalem, says those who did not desert the city were “involved in the general destruction of the wicked.” Therefore, if the words “general destruction of the wicked” at the time Jerusalem was destroyed did not mean all the wicked; both in the church and in the world, why should the same words mean now the destruction of the wicked in the church and in the world?”
If the present corrupt ministry is to remain in the church until after the close of probation, then what about the following quotation which comes from the pen of inspiration and was published in “The Review and Herald,” of Nov. 19, 1908? “Only those who have withstood and overcome temptation in the strength of the Mighty One will be permitted to act a part in proclaiming this message when it shall have swelled into the Loud Cry.”
The above quotation clearly states that no impure ministers will have a part in the work of the Loud Cry of the Third Angel’s Message! If the church is to remain in her present condition till the close of probation, how could the above quotation be correct which is just as authoritative as “Early Writings,” p. 15, and how could it be said of the church:
“Clad in the armor of Christ’s righteousness, the church is to enter upon her final conflict. ‘Fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners,’ she is to go forth into all the world, conquering and to conquer” (“Prophets and Kings,” 725), if the church is to be defiled and demoralized until her work is finished and probation closed?
If the purification of the church is to take place after the close of probation and if the present church leadership is to complete the work, then how can our brethren explain the following quotation which is found in “The Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. 5, p. 80, from which we quote?
“But the days of purification of the church are hastening on apace. God will have a people pure and true….Those who have trusted to intellect, genius, or talent, will not then stand at the head of rank and file….They are self-sufficient, independent of God, and He can not use them…The Lord has faithful servants, who in the shaking, testing time will be disclosed to view….But, it may be under a rough and uninviting exterior the pure brightness of a genuine Christian character will be revealed.”
If the purification takes place after the gospel work is finished, then why should He disclose another set of servants, and why say, After the purification He cannot use those who are self-sufficient and independent of God?
If the living saints are only 144,000, why are they called the “firstfruits”? If there are no second fruits (the great multitude) how could the 144,000 be called the “firstfruits,” seeing that where there is no second there can be no first? Grant that their interpretation of the “firstfruits” is correct and that “firstfruits” means the best and not first in time, it, too, calls for second fruits; that is, even though the 144,000 be the best instead of the first, there still must be second fruits in quality if not in time, which does not only mean another company of living saints, but also greater in number, than 144,000, as nature reveals by the fact that seconds always in quantity exceed the firsts.
If there is no slaughter before the close of probation, then how do our brethren explain Isaiah 66:16, 19, 20 where it says those who escape from the slain of the Lord were sent “unto the nations” to declare God’s “glory among the Gentiles” and that those who escape from the slaughter “shall bring all your brethren…unto the Lord out of all nations “?
If those who escape from the slaughter were sent to all nations and brought all the brethren are not the 144,000 in the time when the message shall go to all the world then who are they? If they escape from a slaughter after the close of probation, why should they declare God’s “glory among the Gentiles” if He cannot save them at that time? Moreover, if the “general destruction” takes all the Gentiles (the wicked) there would be none left to whom the escaped ones could declare God’s glory.
If the brethren can harmonize the above quotations with their interpretation of the 144,000 and of the great multitude, we will be glad to know it, and if not we hope that they will take their stand on the side of present truth.
We are sorry that some of our brethren strain at a gnat and swallow a camel by stressing the statement in “Early Writings,” p. 15, and by ignoring hundreds of pages from the same author. Their question, Why “Early Writings,” p. 15, speaks of the 144,000 only and says nothing of the great multitude, may also be asked of Daniel for he, in like manner, foretold only of the rise of the papacy and said nothing of its deadly wound. Hence, as they contend with “The Shepherd’s Rod” by taking a position which compels them to go no further than Sr. White’s first vision and first publication, then they might as well take issue with John the Revelator who adds the deadly wound to Daniel’s vision!”—Symbolic Code, Vol. 1, No. 18, pp. 8-10
The 144,000 Sealed While In The Church
To make this clear we must comment on the typical day of atonement. That notable day in the ceremonial system was a day of cleansing, judgment, and covering. The command was given that in the seventh month and on the tenth day of the month (day of atonement) every Israelite was to afflict his soul, confess his sin, and bring a sacrifice. He who failed to respond to the divine call was cut off (perished) from among God’s people. Therefore, it was a day of judgment and purification of the camp of Israel. While the sinner perished, the godly were preserved. This living example was set forth for our benefit at this present time, upon whom the anti-typical day of atonement is come. This picture in the earthly tabernacle is intended to point out the work in the heavenly.
When the judgment opened in 1844, as previously explained, the investigation began with the dead, and when that part of the work is finished, then commences the judgment of the living. While the investigation for the congregation of the dead is in progress, there can be no separation among the congregation of the living. But when our High Priest shall begin the atonement for the living, there must be a message of present truth — sounding of the trumpet — urging every one to lay hold on the Lamb of God (Christ) by which only, can he in figure, come to the sanctuary, confess his sin and secure his life. Unless the close of the judgment for the dead and the commencement for the living be made known to us, we would have no present truth while the judgment for the living is in session. Neither would such judgment be legal or just. He who fails to respond to the heavenly summons, will be left without the seal or covering of God, and therefore must be cut off from among His people, as prefigured by the services in the typical day of atonement.
Says the apostle: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.” (1 Peter 4:17.) The fact that to the “Seventh-day Adventist” church alone has come just such a message as the one mentioned, presented to them in “The Shepherd’s Rod,” Vol. 1, is an additional proof that this particular church is the house of God. This time of judgment is also called the “time of harvest.” “Let both grow together until the harvest,” said Christ, “and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matt. 13:30.) The words of our Master are in perfect harmony with the typical day of atonement, foretelling that it is a day of separating the tares from the wheat, or cutting off of the unrepentant sinners from among God’s people (purification of the church). Therefore, the harvest commences with the closing work for the church. Said Christ: “Let both grow together until the harvest.” In Revelation 14:4, speaking of the 144,000 we read, “They are the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb.” Therefore, it is evident that in the purification or separation of the tares from the wheat in the church of God, there shall be 144,000 who have confessed their sins; and are thus made white and clean by the precious blood of Christ, for they are “the first fruits.” This is also proven by the “Spirit of Prophecy,” for we read: “This sealing of the servants of God is the same that was shown to Ezekiel in vision.” — “Testimonies to Ministers,” page 445. We quote from “Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. 3, p. 266: “The true people of God, who have the spirit of the work of the Lord, and the salvation of souls at heart, will ever view sin in its real, sinful character. They will always be on the side of faithful and plain dealing with sins which easily beset the people of God. Especially in the closing work for the church, in the sealing time of the 144,000.”
Again on page 267: “Mark this point with care: Those who receive the pure mark of truth, wrought in them by the power of the Holy Ghost, represented by a mark by the man in linen, are those ‘that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done’ in the church…. Read the ninth chapter of Ezekiel. But the general slaughter of all those who do not thus see the wide contrast between sin and righteousness, and do not feel as those do who stand in the counsel of God and receive the mark, is described in the order to the five men with the slaughter weapons: ‘Go ye after him through the city, and smite; let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity; slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary.’ ”
The definition of “general” is: “extensive but not universal.” Therefore it does not mean the destruction of the world at the appearance of the Lord; but it has reference to the wicked in the church. This slaughter is literal, it is to separate and release God’s people from sin and sinners, otherwise the marking would be of no value. The same subject is again brought to view in “Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. 5, page 211: “Here we see that the church — the Lord’s sanctuary — was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God.” The wrath of God cannot, and never has been spiritual. We are again reminded that the 144,000 are the remnant: “Now indeed are the remnant ‘men wondered at’… ‘In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, That he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem.’” — “Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. 5, page 476. Thus the 144,000 are those who are sealed in the judgment for the church, and with them the judgment for the living commenced. Therefore, they are the first fruits.
When this number is sealed, probation will close for the church, and the judgment for those who are in the world will commence. As the “tares” perish at the time when probation is closing for the church, just so at the close of the judgment for the world the sinners shall come to their end; the one is a figure of the other. It is said of the 144,000: “These are they which are not defiled with women for they are virgins.” (Rev. 14:4.) The “women” mentioned in this Scripture are symbols of impure churches. These “women” are brought to view in Revelation 17, under the figure of the woman sitting on the scarlet colored beast. We quote Rev. 17:5: “And upon her forehead was a name written, mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abomination of the earth.” This mother and her daughters are the “women” with whom the 144,000 are not defiled, for the message of the sealing found them in the church. Thus being in the church of God when sealed, they are “virgins” — “not defiled with women” (with fallen churches).”— Shepherd’s Rod, Vol. 2 , pp. 163-165.