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If there is one statement from the Spirit of Prophecy which has contributed to misinterpreting the character of God it is this one: "The work of destruction is a strange work to Him who is infinite in love." Patriarchs and Prophets, p.139.

Many have read this statement and thought it said something that it did not say at all. It does not say that the work of destruction is the work of God but that the work of destruction which is the work of Satan is a strange work for Him who is infinite in love.

"Satan is the destroyer." Testimonies, Vol.6, p.388,89.

On the other hand, "God's great and strange work is to redeem and save and thus repair the ruin that sin has made." E.G. White, Review and Herald, Vol.3, p.583.

God is continually at work counteracting the works of the devil. This is His great and strange work, not the work of destroying which is the work of Satan who is the destroyer.

sky

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rush4hire, you quoted: "

A single angel destroyed all the first-born of the Egyptians and filled the land with mourning. When David offended against God by numbering the people, one angel caused that terrible destruction by which his sin was punished. The same destructive power exercised by holy angels when God commands, will be exercised by evil angels when He permits. There are forces now ready, and only waiting the divine permission, to spread desolation everywhere. {GC 614.2}
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When God commands? yes absolutely, when God commands... but let us not forget to compare statement with statement in order to understand what these words mean; otherwise we are prone to put our own constructions upon the words of inspiration.

"God will say to the angels, 'No longer combat Satan in his efforts to destroy. Let him work out his malignity upon the children of disobedience; for the cup of iniquity is full. They have advanced from one degree of wickedness to another, adding daily to their lawlessness. I will no longer interfere to prevent the destroyer from doing his work.'" E.W. White, Review and Herald, Vol.4, 335.

What is God's command to the angels? "No longer combat Satan in his efforts to destroy." And what does God say after that? "I will no longer interfere to prevent the destroyer from doing his work."

Who is the destroyer? Satan. How do the holy angels destroy? God bids them stop interfering with the destroyer! Thus we see that "My ways are not your ways." Isaiah 55:11.

"God destroys no man." Christ's Object Lessons,84.

So many of us are quick to tell non-adventists how the angels of God are holding back the winds of strife and how some day they will receive the command to let the winds of strife loose.

"I was shown that the judgments of God would NOT come DIRECTLY out from the Lord upon the wicked but in this way: They place themselves beyond His protection... If they choose their own way, then He does not commission His angels to prevent Satan's decided attacks upon them." E.G. White, Manuscripts Releases, Vol.14,3.1.

This is how we have been counseled to study the testimonies.

"The Testimonies will be the key that will explain the messages given, as Scripture is explained by Scripture." Selected Messages, Vol.1, 42.

sky
There is a decided contrast between the role of the holy angels and the evil ones. It is the heaven-appointed work of the righteous angels to hold back the four winds of strife as long as possible. They only release them when God judges that any further remaining on station will impose their presence where it is not desired. There are many Scriptures which teach this. Revelation 7:1. "There is a work yet to be done, and then the angels will be bidden to let go, that the four winds may blow upon the earth." Testimonieis, 5:152. "We are today under divine forbearance; but how long will the angels of God continue to hold the winds, that they should not blow?" Testimonies, 6:426.

"Angels are now restraining the winds of strife, that they may not blow until the world shall be warned of its coming doom; but a storm is gathering, ready to burst upon the earth; and when God shall bid His angels loose the winds, there will be such a scene of strife as no pen can picture." Education, 179,180.
rush4hire: To be "destroyed by the brightness of His coming" is not what we have supposed it to mean. Mrs. White, in the Desire of Ages, stated that the Jews in A.D.70 were destroyed by the brightness of His coming! What does that mean exactly? Good question, isn't it? We are so quick to put our own constructions upon the word of God. We forget that at the school of Christ it is the Holy Spirit who is the Teacher, not the students. We forget what the Lord has said to us, that we have more to unlearn than to learn. And what did the Lord say about Laodicea? That we are a people who claim to know and possess everything, who think they are all right when they are all wrong in their understanding of the Scriptures and the Testimonies. Was it not the same with the Jews? Jesus said to them, "Ye know not the Scriptures nor the power of God." These words Jesus spoke more for us than for them. We are definitely repeating their history. We certainly are, and to the very letter! "There is nothing new under the sun. That which has been will be." Ecc.1:9.

sky
Sky said: "Mrs. White, in the Desire of Ages, stated that the Jews in A.D.70 were destroyed by the brightness of His coming!"

I haven't found any reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in The Desire of Ages. As you did not give a reference for this I am assuming that you have made a mistake and that you were referring to the following:

"But in that day, as in the time of Jerusalem's destruction, God's people will be delivered, everyone that shall be found written among the living. Isaiah 4:3. Christ has declared that He will come the second time to gather His faithful ones to Himself: "Then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Matthew 24:30, 31. Then shall they that obey not the gospel be consumed with the spirit of His mouth and be destroyed with the brightness of His coming. 2 Thessalonians 2:8. Like Israel of old the wicked destroy themselves; they fall by their iniquity. By a life of sin, they have placed themselves so out of harmony with God, their natures have become so debased with evil, that the manifestation of His glory is to them a consuming fire." (The Great Controversy, p.37)

If it was this quote (and I have seen no other) then it does not say that the Jews in 70AD "were destroyed by the brightness of His coming". She is specifically referring to people at the end of time being destroyed by the brightness of His coming.

Read correctly she makes two points about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD:

(i) That, at the end of time, the righteous will be delivered before the destruction takes place as the righteous were delivered prior to the destruction of Jerusalem;

(ii) That, like Israel of old, the wicked have placed themselves outside of God's mercy and suffer the results of their choice.

However, she states very plainly that it is God's glory that is, for them, a consuming fire. If Christ did not come in the glory of His Father then they would not be destroyed.

This is repeated at the end of that book where she writes, "At the coming of Christ the wicked are blotted from the face of the whole earth--consumed with the spirit of His mouth and destroyed by the brightness of His glory." (The Great Controversy, p.657)

In The Desire of Ages she states the following:

"But wherever men came before God while willfully cherishing evil, they were destroyed. At the second advent of Christ the wicked shall be consumed "with the Spirit of His mouth," and destroyed "with the brightness of His coming." 2 Thess. 2:8. The light of the glory of God, which imparts life to the righteous, will slay the wicked." (Desire of Ages, p.107)

This is in perfect harmony with 2 Thess.2:8 "And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:"

Again I will remind you of your own words, that we should take the plain meaning of the words written and not try to twist them to fit our own beliefs.

The plain and obvious meaning of the words quoted above is that the wicked are destroyed by the brightness of His glory.

What is interesting about this thread is that the more one examines the question, the more evidence is found that God does, indeed, destroy. For example,

"Here we see the matchless mercy of Jesus Christ displayed. Instead of commanding Moses to lift up his rod and call down some terrible plague upon the wicked leaders in this murmuring, as he had done upon the Egyptian leaders, he was simply told to take some of the leading men of Israel to be eye-witnesses of a miracle which Christ himself would perform for their deliverance." (Signs of the Times, April 15, 1880 par.9)

sky, I will state again, whilst God allows us to make our own choices and choose evil instead of good and whilst you are correct that many times people die as a result of placing themselves outside the restraining power of God, when it comes to the end destruction of the wicked it is done by God. There are so many plain texts of scripture that it is an inescapable conclusion.

You have built your own theory based on one sentence from the writings of Ellen White which is not repeated anywhere else. You have taken that sentence out of context and you are trying to force the Bible to fit in with your interpretation of her writings. You are doing exactly what Mrs White counselled us not to do with her writings. You are attempting to raise her writings (and your theories) above the Bible and plain "thus sayeth the Lord". You have also ignored many scriptures (and SoP quotes) that plainly refute your theory.

sky, this is neither solid exegesis nor sound reasoning. The end result of your theory will eventually be the denial of the plan of salvation and the relevance of God's commandments. I urge you to study impartially and, as hard as it may be, put your own theories to one side and allow God's Word to speak directly to you without wrestling it to your own destruction.
I apologize for saying that Mrs. White, in the Desire of Ages stated that the Jews were destroyed by the brightness of His coming. I meant to say The Great Controversy, p.37.

And then shall that wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming." 2 Thess.2:8.

This Scripture has been usually understood to portray the picture of Christ descending the advent skies, while before Him precede great flowing sheets of devouring flame which reach out to consume whoever of the impenitent have somehow manage to survive the plagues.

Such an interpretation of this Scripture, obvious as it may appear, is out of harmony with the character of God and Christ. If fire emanating from Him kills the wicked, then there is a direct, destructive work associated with His presence and Person. Therefore, He would be an executioner after all. But He is not, nor ever will be. When He came the first time to this earth He testified that He had not come to destroy man's lives but to save them. The purpose of His advent does not change with His second coming. Once again, His intention is to deliver His people from an earth which has been so reduced b the final disasters as to be incapable of supporting life any longer. Certainly, He would save every individual who has ever been born if this were possible, but tragically, so few are prepared to accept His saving grace. He does nothing to them. He has not come for them. They have taken themselves out of the circle of His responsibility and their fate is entirely a matter of their own appointment.

There are statements which explain this text and which harmonize with this principle:

"Then shall they that obey not the gospel be consumed with the spirit of His mouth, and be destroyed with the brightness of His coming. Like Israel of old, the wicked destroy themselves; they fall by their iniquity. By a life of sin, they have placed themselves so out of harmony with God, their natures have become so debased with evil, that the manifestation of His glory is to them a consuming fire." The Great Controversy,37.

That this statement is a direct explanation of the verse under study is clear from the fact that firstly the text is quoted, and then comment is made upon it. Therein, it is affirmed that the wicked destroy themselves. It is not the work of God but their own. They have sown the seed and they must reap the harvest.

Most significant, is the parallel drawn between the way in which Israel perished and the destruction in the last days. As the one perished, so will the other. This is to indicate that the Israelites were likewise destroyed with the brightness of His coming. This is true, for that is exactly how they did come to their end. It may be immediately objected that Jesus did not come with outshining glory at His first coming. Furthermore, He was far away in the distant heavens when the Jews met their fate, so there is no visible evidence of their having been consumed with the brightness of His glory. Such an interpretation depends on the understanding of what the brightness of His coming is and how humans are consumed by it. Defining that expression is the key to solving the problem.

The factor which above all others brought the Jews to their untimely end, was the manifestation of the brightness of God's character-glory in Christ. Before Christ came, the Jews were in a serious state of apostasy, but, even so, were not totally separated from God, for they had not taken the final steps in rebellion. But, as the light of Christ's glorious character shone on them, they were driven to desperate lengths of resistance until they were pushed to the extremes of apostasy. God did not intend that such be the result of this revelation, but once they determined on rejecting the light, it became the only possible outworking of that decision. They were destroyed, and it was by the brightness of His coming.

The sequence then was as follows:

The Jews were in a state of apostasy.
Christ shone on them the brightness of His coming, the glory of His character.
They rejected the heavenly influence and thus separated themselves from His protection.
The actual destruction was accomplished in A.D.70 by the unleashing of the Roman armies under the direction of the wicked one. See The Great Controversy,28,35.

In like manner, in the final overthrow of mankind,

They will be in a state of deep apostasy.
The brightness of His coming will be revealed to them during the latter rain and loud cry.
Their rejection of this influence will drive them to separate themselves fully from God's protection.
The actual destruction to befall them will be accomplished by the unleashing of the wild passions within them and by the unrestrained forces of nature and of Satan.

Basically then, it is the brightness of His coming which destroys them but not in the sense that they are struck down by it. That is left to the unrestrained forces in man, in nature, and in Satan, the destruction from which the brightness of His coming (during the latter rain and loud cry) would have saved them if they had related to it correctly.

To be continued
The brightness of Christ's coming begins to shine long before he actually appears in the clouds of heaven. As the message of the loud cry goes forward, the brightness of that coming shines with increasing intensity, pressing upon the hearers throughout the length and breadth of the earth, to surrender their ways and accept the perfection of God's righteousness.

Very few will respond to this powerful, drawing love. The balance will resist it with all the determination they can muster. The more effectively the truth of God, which shines with the Spirit of His mouth and the brightness of His coming, is offered to the people, the more rapidly and deeply will they enter into apostasy if they do not yield to it. This will separate them from God to the point where He will be forced to leave them entirely. Thene will come upon them the full fury of the seven last plagues by which they will be destroyed. Thus they are destroyed by the spirit of His mouth and the brightness of His coming. They have no protection from the wicked one.

The presentation of the gospel is the key factor in finishing the work. If the advent people had accepted and preached the gospel in its full power, the work would have been finished more than a hundred years ago. Much further back, if would likewise have ended if the apostolic church had lived true to all the light they had received. The only reason the earth has escaped destruction so long is because it has not been subjected to the spirit of His mouth and the brightness of His coming (latter rain and loud cry). When it finally is, those things will either save or destroy it.
sky said, "Such an interpretation of this Scripture, obvious as it may appear, is out of harmony with the character of God and Christ. If fire emanating from Him kills the wicked, then there is a direct, destructive work associated with His presence and Person."

sky, this statement from you concerns me greatly. You have stated many times in this thread that we should accept the plain word of scripture and not try to make it fit our theories yet here you are doing exactly that!

You refer to it as an "interpretation of scripture" but plainly it isn't. The scripture says, "shall destroy with the brightness of His coming". That is not an interpretation, it is what the scripture plainly says.

You say that this same plain meaning is "obvious" yet instead of accepting the obvious you then reject the plain meaning because it doesn't fit in with your theory. This is a very dangerous way to proceed.

You suggest that it is "out of harmony with the character of God" yet you fail to demonstrate what you propose. So, we are left with 'because I say so' rather than 'thus sayeth the Lord'.

In your explanation of the GC quote you suggest, "Therein, it is affirmed that the wicked destroy themselves." But this is not the case. It is confirmed that the wicked have no-one to blame for their own destruction but themselves but it is also confirmed twice in that paragraph that their destruction occurs at that time due to the return of Christ. Therefore, the return of Christ is the agency which triggers their destruction and His brightness the direct cause of that destruction.

"destroyed with the brightness of His coming" and "His glory is to them a consuming fire" cannot be understood any other way than that the direct cause of their destruction is the brightness of Christ's coming.

Let me put it another way, if Christ did not come at that time would the wicked still die at that time?

If God does not destroy then why does Christ draw close to the wicked if He knows that they will die in His presence?

Now, as to the parallels with Israel of old: certainly there is a parallel drawn with the salvation of the righteous and then she goes on to explain how the wicked are responsible for their own destruction, another obvious parallel.

However, what she does not do is draw a parallel with way that they perish. History tells us that they perished at the hands of the Romans. The Bible tells us that the wicked will perish by God's presence drawing close to them.

Your interpretation is built on nothing. You have decided that whatever you read must be forced to fit your theory. I cannot state in clear enough terms how such reasoning goes against every principle of allowing the plain meaning of the words to explain themselves.

By your words you suggest that the plain meaning of the Bible must be wrestled with to reveal hidden things. Similarly, you do the same with SoP - to be able to explain your theory you have to wrestle the "hidden truth" behind the plain words that she wrote.

You state, "Christ shone on them the brightness of His coming, the glory of His character."

But this is not true.

"Christ came to reveal to a fallen race the love of God. He, the Light of the world, veiled the dazzling splendor of the brightness of His divinity, and came to live on this earth as a man among men, that they might, without being consumed, become acquainted with their Creator." (Letter 250, 16th Nov. 1903)

You are allegorising something and once again taking away from it the plain meaning of the words.

I would rather see scripture laid upon scripture rather than attempting to allegorise SoP to fit your theory.
Honestly I am a bit concerned about the manner in which persons are handling views they oppose.

As JohnB reminded and, to which I agree wholeheartedly, we need to take heed lest Satan wreak havoc on this forum. Let us pray for more patience brethren. Remember we are not each other's enemies. We are brothers in Christ.
Amen Bobby! We too are concerned with the way opposing views are handled. We have written Forum Rules to help with this. Please read these guidelines and post appropriately. Especially when you think you are right. :-)

http://www.adventistonline.com/notes/Forum_Posting_Guidelines

We ARE brothers and sisters in Christ.
I've always been taught that if something doesn't concern you, you should stay out of it. And as it turns out, this is what the Bible teaches, too:

Prov. 26:17 He that passeth by, [and] meddleth with strife [belonging] not to him, [is like] one that taketh a dog by the ears.
LOL...and they have the gaul to say the bible is boring heh!

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