THE SHEPHERD’S ROD -
LIFE IS BUT WHAT WE MAKE IT
TEXT FOR PRAYER
Reveal God; Do Not Conceal Him
I shall read from "Christ's Object Lessons," page 18, beginning with the first
"In His teaching from nature, Christ was speaking of the things which His own
hands had made, and which had qualities and powers that He Himself had imparted.
In their original perfection, all created things were an expression of the thought
of God.... The earth is now marred and defiled by sin.... God's object lessons are
not obliterated; rightly understood, nature speaks of her Creator. In the days of
Christ these lessons had been lost sight of.... The sinfulness of humanity had cast
a pall over the fair face of creation; and instead of manifesting God, His works
became a barrier that concealed Him.... So in Israel, man's teachings had been put
in the place of God's. Not only the things of nature, but the sacrificial service
and the Scriptures themselves, -
I wonder if the world is not about the same today as it was in Christ's day. The Jews were given a great opportunity to reveal God to humanity, but instead they concealed Him. Christians that are quarreling and bickering, bringing doctrines of man into the doctrines of God, are not revealing God to the heathen but are concealing Him, turning them against Him. Such are not making converts to Christ but are driving souls away from Him. We must pray that we do better; that we do not conceal Christ but reveal Him in all our works and through our lives.
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 50 14
LIFE IS BUT WHAT WE MAKE IT
TEXT OF ADDRESS BY V.T. HOUTEFF,
MINISTER OF DAVIDIAN 7TH-
SABBATH, JULY 19, 1947
MT. CARMEL CHAPEL
To find out that life is really what we make it, I shall bring to attention seven examples, beginning in Noah's day and ending in our day:
Example No. 1: Noah was commanded to build an ark, and to tell the world that a flood was to cover the earth, that only those who would get into the ark would escape alive. One hundred twenty years later the animals were strangely seen to march two and two into the ark! Noah and his family also went in, while the rest of the world laughed and ridiculed. But when the rain began to pour, the situation ceased to be "funny." Those outside the ark cried, mourned, pled. But all perished as fools only because they had failed to give heed to present Truth, had failed to feed on "meat in due season." What folly! What disaster!
One would think that after the deluge, the world would have had great respect
for religion and for the prophets of God. But that was not the case. The antediluvians
did not believe Noah's prediction that there was to be a flood, so they refused to
go into the ark! But the flood came and they perished. The postdiluvians did not
believe his prediction that there was not to be another flood so they set about to
build the tower of Babel! But when God saw the tower sky-
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 50 15
He blasted the top of it, and confounded the builders' language. That is, He blotted their own language from their minds and carved into them the languages of today. Thus he caused the birth of various races and languages which we today find even in the remotest parts of the earth.
It was not God's purpose that the people should stack themselves in the plains of Shinar, but that they should spread out and replenish the earth. And so when they refused to obey His command He gave them the next best He had for them, and that they had to obey.
Man's work independent of and contrary to God's, you see, is certain to meet with disaster. A house that is built on sand cannot survive a storm, and no man can possibly defeat God's purpose for men. Do not make a fool of yourself by trying.
It takes years in the schools of men to learn a language, but in the school of God, it takes but a moment. He can blot out one language from man's brains and carve in another, and at the same time change the features of his face and the color of his skin. Yes, God can do all this more quickly than a dentist can pull a tooth. But whether a change be made for better or for worse, all depends upon the individual.
Example No. 2: Nebuchadnezzar was given a dream. Being troubled with it he summoned the wise men of his realm to tell him the interpretation of it. They came but there was nothing that they could do. At last Daniel was brought before the king. After hearing the king's story of the dream, Daniel said:
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 50 16
upon my lord the king: that they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will. And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule....came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar."
The king heard the interpretation of it, and he understood the decree. Nevertheless
he was not willing to admit that there was One greater than he. Then it came to
Dan. 4:29, 30 -
What a statement to make after having heard God's decree! The king had yet to learn that God rules the nations, sets up kings and deposes kings. Let us now hear God's answer to the king's folly:
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 50 17
it to whomsoever He will. The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws."
Some even to this day do not realize that God rules, that men are not independent of Him although they are permitted to choose whether or not to serve Him. It was not necessary for the Chaldean king to live with the beasts of the field, but as he could not learn his lesson by words, in the easy way, he was removed from his palace and put into a corral, there to learn by experience, in the hard way. In the end of seven years, after he had graduated, so to speak, from God's school of hard knocks, the king walked back into his palace, and said:
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 50 18
pride He is able to abase."
Through pride and disloyalty to God Nebuchadnezzar made life miserable for himself, but at last he did awake.
Example No. 3: Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom continued until the reign of his grandson, Belshazzar. Belshazzar knew his grandfather's history and his experience with God, but he failed to profit by it. He made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and commanded that the vessels which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, be brought to the feast, so that the king himself, and his princes, wives, and concubines might drink therefrom.
As soon as this revelry took place there came forth fingers of a man's hand, which wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace. Belshazzar was greatly troubled, and his countenance was changed in him, and his lords were astonished. Then was Daniel brought before the king. And Daniel emphatically declared:
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 50 19
with the dew of heaven; till he knew that the Most High God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that He appointeth over it whomsoever He will. And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; but hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in Whose hand thy breath is, and Whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified: Then was the part of the hand sent from Him; and this writing was written. And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old."
What a difference there would have been in the scroll of history if Belshazzar had profited by the priceless lesson which his grandfather had learned. Yes, what a difference it would have made! This is the needful lesson for us all, kings and peasants alike.
Example No. 4: The Chaldean empire became a Medo-
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 50 20
God had so decreed. Let us see:
Isa. 45:1 -
Cyrus, under whose command the Medo-
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 50 21
they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered. Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods; even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah. And this is the number of them: thirty chargers of gold, a thousand chargers of silver, nine and twenty knives, thirty basons of gold, silver basons of a second sort four hundred and ten, and other vessels a thousand. All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem."
It is not difficult to see that if the rulers of the Medo-
Their growing more and more independent of God will sooner or later bring the end of them too, for looking down the stream of time, down to the kingdoms of today which are depicted by the feet and toes of the great image, the Spirit of Truth wrote: "And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong,
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 50 22
and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall
mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another,
even as iron is not mixed with clay. And in the days of these kings shall the God
of heaven set up a Kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the Kingdom shall
not be left to other people, but It shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms,
and It shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out
of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the
clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall
come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof
sure." Dan. 2:41-
Example No. 5: Now let us see what benefit the kingdoms and nations reaped from
coming in contact with the church. Babylon, Medo-
Look at the nations and peoples (the heathen in the somewhat isolated places of the earth) who were not so fortunate as to meet the church as early as the other nations.
Still further, look at those who are still more isolated in the remotest parts of the earth who have had no contact with the church, not until just recently. Most of them are but little better than animals not only in intelligence but even in progress.
The people who were fortunate enough to be the closest to the religion of Christ, are, you will find,
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 50 23
the most intelligent, the most prosperous. England, for example, who translated the Bible and published and scattered It throughout the world to all peoples and languages, became the greatest of the nations in its time. Then the United States (but a sister nation to the English Empire), who less than two centuries ago founded its government upon the principles of the Bible and inscribed on its dollar, IN GOD WE TRUST, and who also established the American Bible Societies, in but a comparatively few years became the greatest of nations, as did the Hebrews in their day.
On the other hand those who turned against the religion of the Bible, were left
And what is true with the nations is, of course, just as true with individuals, homes, families, and communities.
If you will take a little time to observe, you will see this law of blessings and cursings in demonstration everywhere without exception.
The world was founded upon religion, and you can rest assured that when religion disappears from the earth, the world will disappear with it. Those who fall in love with the Truth will find that blessings will, reciprocally, fall in love with them. Let us read:
2 Thess. 2:8-
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 50 24
of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the Truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the Truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
We see that if we do not fall in love with the Truth, deception is inevitable. No, none are deceived by coming in contact with error (for we are in contact with it anyway from the time we are born to the time we die), but everyone who does not love the Truth is sure to be deceived, regardless what he may do to avoid It.
And those who are satisfied with the Truth of yesterday, who are not looking for
fresh Truth for today from the throne of God, not looking for "meat in due season,"
Deut. 30:15, 19 -
Example No. 6: If we fail to profit by what God tells us we shall fail as badly as, if not worse, as any who have failed before us. I think some of you who have had personal contact with God, know these things through experiences of your own. Doubtless you have found that you cannot long prevent explosion
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 50 25
while keeping fire and gunpowder in the same room; that you cannot serve the Devil and yet have peace and security. Let me illustrate this by an actual incident:
A certain man dreamed that a horse killed him by kicking him. To safeguard his life he ever after kept his distance from all horses. Nevertheless one windy day as he was walking down a street, he passed a blacksmith's establishment in front of which was hanging a sign with a horseshoe painted on it. The sign suddenly fell on his head and he died from the impact.
We can no more avoid the consequences of sin and of isolation from God, than could the dreamer avoid death by dodging it. We never know what the day will bring forth, and we cannot afford to isolate ourselves from God even for a moment. Neither can we say definitely that we will or will not do this, that, or the other.
Example No. 7: Some years ago while in Europe, I heard that one of my cousins had left for America. I then said to myself, "Poor cousin, I will never leave home and go to live anywhere as far away as America for any reason." But about that time, I, along with others, was falsely accused of conspiracy. It was in the season when the nights were long, and as we put on the lights in our store one morning before daylight, a mob gathered with guns and stones, and stormed the windows. So it was that just a few months after I took pity on my poor cousin's estrangement from his homeland I found myself in America in the same house with him. It was a great disappointment at first, no not lesser than Joseph's of old, but what a favor at last! God bless the mob!
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 50 26
Only God knows the future, and we should place our hopes and ambitions in His mighty hand. Then, and then only, will we come to the "top." And if we are tempted to say we will or will not do this or that, then let us remember Jonah: He said he would not bear a message to Nineveh, and straightway took a boat for Tarshish. But the boatmen threw him overboard and the great fish picked him up and brought him right back to the place whence he was trying to run away.
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, thought to perpetuate his kingdom by ordering all his subjects to bow down to his golden image. The three Hebrews, though, defied his purpose and changed the course of history. The men who threw the Hebrews into the fiery furnace were themselves burned to death, but not a hair of the Hebrews' heads was singed all the time they remained inside the fiery furnace. Let us with the Psalmist lift up our voices and say:
The prophet Malachi was instructed to write for the people that were to live in the time of the end.
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 50 27
Let us read from chapter four:
Is it not better to be a human being in God's order, a beautiful ever-
Are you waiting, watching, praying and hoping that when this antitypical Elijah the prophet appears and calls on you, your heart be turned toward your children and their hearts toward you, or are you crawling under your shell, as it were, for fear that you be deceived if you should meet him?
Life, you see, is what you make it. Most people do not know how to make it better, but "if you know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 50 28
To summarize this study: We have learned that we have been put in this world for
a purpose, that if we want salvation and blessings we must cooperate with God. This
we can do by following the examples of God's Truth-
If we compare our works with Noah's works we will see whether we measure up with him in obeying present Truth. Neither the antediluvians nor the postdiluvians did profit from Noah's preaching. The former did not believe it possible to flood the earth and perished; the latter did not believe it possible for the earth not to be flooded again. They built the tower of Babel because they feared another flood although they were plainly told that there will be such a flood no more. God, though, not only destroyed their work, but also confounded their language, and in exchange gave them all different languages so that few could understand one another. If we work to fulfill God's plans for us we shall never be confused or confounded.
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon at last saw these things as God sees them, but
the hard way -
Then Belshazzar, the king who failed to profit by the experience of Nebuchadnezzar, over night lost himself, his kingdom and his all.
Ruler followed ruler and finally the kingdom passed to the Medo-
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 50 29
nations, you see, belong to God, and He lets them be ruled by whomsoever He will.
The nations who came nearest to God and His teachings became great and respectable nations, and those who kept themselves away from Him are not much better than animals.
It is best to learn what God wants you to do, then do just that. Life truly is
just what we make it -
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 50 30
The Gifts of God
His gifts are greater than my dreams,
The gifts of God to me;
As countless as the sunset's golden beams,
As boundless as the sea.
I ask a part, He gives the whole-
Himself, and all beside;
Inrushing as the tide.
Within my heart He shall have place
To rule and reign supreme;
My voice will ever praise Him for the grace
Of which I ne'er could dream.
His gifts are greater than my dreams,
The gifts of Him who set me free;
And more and more abundant daily seems
The grace of God to me.
Timely Greetings, Vol. 1, No. 50 31