Anaheim SDA Church
Mid-week Pastor’s Update
May 18th, 2022
“What you intended for evil, God intended for good” Genesis 50:20
Have you ever encountered a detour? More than in your car trip to a destination, but in your life? My life had a ‘detour’ that wasn’t funny at the beginning, but which I can now look back on with a smile and a chuckle. I ended-up getting a job in 2011 which I had interviewed for 7 years earlier, in 2004! Though a slightly different job description, it was at the same place, with the same boss. After the fact, I joked with her that my kids owed their existence to her! Because it was in that intervening period that I became fluent in Spanish, went to South America, and met my wife. 🙂 So both professionally & romantically, that turned out okay. 🙂
But man: as I read the scriptures, and consider our world’s history, I see that humanity has been on a series of detours, delays, setbacks, fits and starts, and changes of direction that are on the one hand depressing, but on the other hand inspire me to consider how God hasn’t given up on us time after time, though we’ve deserved it.
Our quote above comes from Joseph’s 15-ish year span of detour from the journey he & his father had intended, but things turned out fine for him & his family (for a time). Then there’s Israel’s 40-year delay in the wilderness before entering the promised land, sparked by Israel’s rebellion after the spying out of the land of Canaan (Numbers 13-14). Still, that situation ended up ‘okay’, as God did lead them to their destination of the Promised land to dwell in (book of Joshua).
But then, though the Israelites should’ve learned the lesson from their previous deviation & delay, they departed from God’s plan again when they urged Samuel to give them a king to rule them (1 Samuel 8). Though Samuel urged them not to, they insisted & pressed him, and he conceded after God gave him permission.
But then, a few generations later, God’s original plan was again thwarted when Israel split into the northern & southern kingdoms over a disagreement of leadership. The northern kingdom tobogganed pretty quickly into rebellion and eventual loss of their kingdom, while the southern kingdom of Judah held on somewhat better and had spurts of faithfulness in its history.
But even so, they were not faithful in the long-run, and had to be subjected to 70 years’ exile in Babylon (I think it’s important to note that, through this series, though many of these things were prophesied ahead of time, it doesn’t mean they were God’s will. Had they been faithful, the journey could’ve been pretty quick from Egypt to Canaan, the 12 tribes staying together, and the Messiah eventually coming to it). They needed a generation-long ‘time out’ to consider what was important regarding countryhood, and daily faith-life, and being covenanted with God.
When Jesus came some hundreds of years later, the Jewish leadership of course rejected him, and Christianity, after the first century or so, had to grow exclusively in the Gentile world. God’s “plan A” of the nation of Israel being the means by which people were educated of Him & His salvation had to be jettisoned.
Over the next several centuries, Christianity became incredibly corrupted as it experienced political success, wealth, & power, to the point that the institutional church became a persecutor of those trying to live by a simple, Biblical faith. (Once again, though this was prophesied to happen, it doesn’t mean it was God’s will for it. It serves to show us, though, that God does know what choices will be made and what eventualities will result, even as He disagrees with them. It also hugely endears us to him for continuing on, despite the numerous frustrations.)
So God raised up the Protestant Reformation to bring people back to the centrality & primacy of pure faith, dictated by scripture, rather than by the institutional church (see chapters 4 through 15 of The Great Controversy for details on this). Bibles being available, services being held in the common language, and missionaries going forth were returns to pure, primitive faith, which stood out in marked contrast to the corruptions, bloating, and power-wielding that had occurred within Catholicism.
But even Protestantism has a checkered and blotched history. Infighting, dividing into factions, and not fully giving-up man-made doctrinal errors meant that the work of reform was left only partially done.
But, praise the Lord, the scripture twice in Revelation discusses an end time group (called the ‘remnant’), who exemplify purity: including keeping the commandments of God & holding to the faith & testimony of Jesus (Rev. 12:17 & 14:12). And we believe God called up Seventh-day Adventism to spark that final, worldwide message that is represented by the 3 angels’ messages of Revelation 14.
But now, after skipping stones through history & its many detours and divergences, now that we come to ourselves, the question us begged: will another bout of unfaithfulness and backsliding necessitate another ‘detour’ either of time (as we saw twice in the Pentateuch), or direction (as we saw with Christianity going to the Gentiles & later the Protestant Reformation)? Or will we be ‘onward to glory’ sooner than later, as we cooperate with God & He works through us?
I, for one, feel for God, having been let-down, frustrated, and disappointed time and time again through history. He has been so faithful & long-suffering despite our race’s infidelities! Praise the Lord for the truth communicated in 2nd Timothy 2:13: “if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”, for without it we surely would be without hope.
I for one want to be part of a generation and a movement that makes him proud. We have all received this faith and this narrative from the generations who’ve gone before, but it is up to us & our generation if we will treasure it & pass it on to the next.
You have likely, as I have, suffered losses of some beloved family members, who we hope to see at the glorious resurrection. But imagine how we’d feel at the resurrection if we rose to learn it took 500 more years and three more movements on the part of God to finish the work!
I really believe, and want, this to be the last movement, and indeed the last one or two generations that exist on earth before Jesus comes. I want everything & everyone to be renewed, restored, and recreated to glorious perfection! And I don’t want to be like 50 generations before me that have compromised in some fashion or other.
I pray that our response to this historical truth would be two-fold: firstly, that we would marvel at God for His enduring faithfulness through all our ficklenesses & frailties, and secondly, that we would resolve in our hearts to, with God’s help, stop the trend of sliding toward compromise & corruption. That we could be a generation God is truly proud to call his own. May He brag over us in the heavenly courts as he did over Job! But may we learn those lessons & character developments without the suffering & discipline so many have needed before us.
May God bless you and your families the remainder of this week and beyond.
Pr. Mark Tatum