This selection is abridged from Wilson’s sermon “Remembering God’s Plan,” given during Annual Council on October 8, 2016. It came at the conclusion […]
This selection is abridged from Wilson’s sermon “Remembering God’s Plan,” given during Annual Council on October 8, 2016. It came at the conclusion of a conference focusing on the importance of Seventh-day Adventist education.—Editors.
Memory is a wonderful thing. Even the best of us, however, forget now and then. God knew that we would forget, so He admonished us in His Word to “remember.” The most notable instance is the fourth commandment to remember to keep the Sabbath holy. A close second is “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth” (Eccl. 12:1). God wants us to remember that He is in charge, and that in our youth He is able to take charge of our lives.
The Israelites kept forgetting God’s leading and blessing. After crossing the Red Sea and heading into the Sinai Desert, they became embroiled in a case of amnesia. They complained about the lack of food and uttered the strange words “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full!” (Ex. 16:3).
They forgot how God led them through the Red Sea; how He turned bitter water to sweet at Marah. Our memories are very short.
Describing this experience, Ellen White wrote: “Had they possessed faith in Him, in view of all that He had wrought for them, they would cheerfully have borne inconvenience, privation, and even real suffering; but they were unwilling to trust the Lord any further than they could witness the continual evidences of His power. They forgot their bitter service in Egypt. They forgot the goodness and power of God displayed in their behalf in their deliverance from bondage. They forgot how their children had been spared when the destroying angel slew all the first-born of Egypt. They forgot the grand exhibition of divine power at the Red Sea. They forgot that while they had crossed safely in the path that had been opened for them, the armies of the enemies, attempting to Follow them, had been overwhelmed by the waters of the sea.”1
They forgot, they forgot, they forgot. Let’s never forget God’s merciful hand moving in His Advent movement, and in giving us His precious educational model. Let’s never forget to lean completely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our work for Adventist education. We are told, “The history of the wilderness life of Israel was chronicled for the benefit of the Israel of God to the close of time.”2
Forgetting God and His leading seems to be a constant problem for us at times, if we look to ourselves and the world instead of leaning completely on Jesus. We lean on our own understanding too much. We begin to think we are advanced enough in our own wisdom that we don’t need to remember God’s model.
Uzziah was only 16 when he became king of Judah. He reigned for 52 years. Second Chronicles 26 records a strange case of amnesia: “He did what was right in the sight of the Lord. . . . As long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper” (verses 4, 5). What a lesson for us leaders in Seventh-day Adventist education and in the church in general today. If we seek the Lord in all we do, He will prosper His church with the great mission task of proclaiming the three angels’ messages.
Uzziah had victory over the Philistines, Arabians, Meunites, and Ammonites, and that his fame spread far. Subsequent verses detail his strength—towers built, wells dug, farmers employed, an army of 375,000 that fought with “mighty power” with efficient battle gear and war machines that shot arrows and large stones (verses 13, 14). “So his fame spread far and wide, for he was marvelously helped till he became strong” (verse 15).
“As long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper.”
Our Seventh-day Adventist educational system has grown from a small beginning in Battle Creek to a worldwide system of 5,705 elementary schools, 2,336 secondary schools, 54 worker training schools, 114 colleges and universities, six medical schools, and legions of well-trained, bright, dedicated teachers and professors.
We’ve become the largest Protestant educational system in the world. Our consecrated educators have become proficient in many different disciplines. The world has taken notice. Our schools have produced thousands of professionals in many areas of study. We’ve become strong. God has blessed us as long as we’ve sought Him and His educational model.
Heart Lifted Up
But what happened to Uzziah? The Bible conains a warning for each of us to stay humble and rely on God for all things. “But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the Lord his God by entering the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense” (verse 16).
Azariah, the priest, went into the Temple, reminding Uzziah that it wasn’t his duty to burn incense, but only that of the priests. “Get out of the sanctuary,” Azariah said, “for you have trespassed! You shall have no honor from the Lord God” (verse 18). King Uzziah had forgotten who gave him the power to become strong. He’d taken the glory to himself, and even had the ungodly boldness to take on a role he wasn’t authorized to perform. He forgot God’s rules and regulations. He forgot to give God the glory, and took upon himself the power to create his own rules. He forgot God’s model.
Upon hearing the reproof of the priest, “Uzziah became furious; and he had a censer in his hand to burn incense. And while he was angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead” (verse 19). The king who had done right in the sight of the Lord and prospered because of his connection with God became so sure of himself and so filled with self that he left God’s pathway and God’s model to exalt himself and in so doing received God’s penalty. He wasn’t supposed to be inside the Temple; he wasn’t a priest. And now with leprosy prominently visible on his forehead, the priests threw him out of the Temple. “Indeed he also hurried to get out, because the Lord had struck him” (verse 20).
If only Uzziah would have remembered where he had come from and how he had gotten there, and had given God the glory with humble respect. He could have continued to be described at the end of chapter 26 as he had been at the beginning of the chapter: “He did what was right in the sight of the Lord.”
Christ Is the Center
In the book Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students we are counseled, “Christ is the center of all true doctrine. All true religion is found in His Word and in nature. He’s the one in whom our hopes of eternal life are centered; and the teacher who learns from Him finds a safe anchorage.”3
Adventist education stands at the center of imparting urgency to students and faculty as we understand the weighty subjects to be shared through education, and then to the world. We praise the Lord for faithful teachers who have blessed us and brought us here today, and for those who currently teach thousands of young people in our global Adventist school system.
Never lose that humble dependence on God for His direction and His model. Never think you are better than God and His holy instructions. In our educational work according to God’s model, we are not to seek for self-willed independence, for academic freedom that pulls us away from the elevated and sacred responsibility to train students as part of God’s great final proclamation of biblical truth and prophetic understanding. We are to resist any efforts to employ higher criticism and the historical-critical method in our teaching and relation to the Bible that only alienates us from God and exalts self instead of Jesus.
The Bible Our Foundation
The world is in the process of neutralizing the Bible and biblical truth. Next year we will mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, when Bible-believing, God-fearing people said that the only rule of faith was the Bible alone, and that we believe in salvation by grace alone, our trust and faith in the righteousness of Christ He offers us.
Seventh-day Adventist pastors, teachers, administrators, and church members, let’s stand firmly for the heavenly principles that guided the Protestant Reformation for almost 500 years. These biblical principles will guide us into the last days of earth’s history and give us strength for the proclamation of Christ and His prophetic truths.
Don’t forget what God has done for His church and His people. As much of the religious world mixes truth and error and turns back to tradition, emotionalism, and ecumenism, stand firm for the powerful Word of God. Don’t allow the neutralization or deconstruction of truth to find any entrance into our schools, churches, or our personal lives.
God spoke through Ellen White to provide instruction to His Advent movement. The Spirit of Prophecy is one of God’s greatest gifts to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Unfortunately, there are those who would think they don’t need the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, that somehow we’ve now arrived at a higher level of understanding than what those heavenly instructors can give us. Let me tell you with all humility and conviction: the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy are as valid today as they were when they were written. God’s truth is never old-fashioned; it’s relevant today and will be relevant until Jesus comes.
One of these days very soon we will look up and see a small, dark cloud about half the size of a man’s hand. It will get larger and brighter as all of heaven is poured out for this climactic event. Right in the middle of that cloud will be the One we have waited for, our Savior and Lord, the Master Teacher, Jesus Christ. We’ll join Him in the air to be with Him forever—all through His grace and righteousness—as we head to the eternal classroom of heaven, learning throughout eternity from the Master Teacher Himself.
For a complete transcript of this message, go to adventistreview.org/church-news/story4450-remember-gods-education-model-dont-forget. n
1 Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1890), pp. 292, 293.
2 Ibid., p. 293.
3 Ellen G. White, Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1913), p. 453.
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. You may follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Follow Adventist Church president Ted N.C. Wilson on Twitter: @pastortedwilson and on Facebook: @PastorTedWilson