Here is a plain testimony in regards to the things of Old Jerusalem. What should we do about doing tours there, making videos there, believing Ron Wyatt’s supposed findings there, and the replicating of the earthly sanctuary that was there? Shouldn’t we direct peoples’ minds to the Scriptures, since the Holy Spirit is in the Word? Could the excitement of man-made relics and replicas be replacing the Holy Spirit?
The Bible is designed of God to be the book by which the understanding may be disciplined, the soul guided and directed. To live in the world and yet to be not of the world, is a problem that many professed Christians have never worked out in their practical life. Enlargement of mind will come to a nation only as men return to their allegiance to God. The world is flooded with books on general information, and men apply their minds in searching uninspired histories; but they neglect the most wonderful book that can give them the most correct ideas and ample understanding.
How hard men work to obtain knowledge! They expend time and money in seeking to find out things that are not essential to a life of purity, that will not aid them in building up a character that will fit them to become members of the royal family, children of the Heavenly King. Some make long journeys to Jerusalem to see the place where Christ lived and taught. They listen to traditions and tales that men have invented. They spend money for that which is not bread. Christ says: “Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you; for him hath God the Father sealed.” To expend time and labor in finding the places where Jesus worked in Jerusalem, cannot bring any real benefit to soul or body. The money would better be expended in helping those who are perishing out of Christ. In doing this work, we may be assured that we are working in Christ’s lines. Human guides may point to this spot or that one as a place where Jesus made his abode, and travelers may cultivate feelings of awe and reverence in looking upon various localities, and yet they have no certain knowledge that Christ ever taught there, or that his feet ever trod the soil. The only advantage that we can gain is an advantage that comes by faith in knowing and understanding the work of Christ for our soul’s salvation, in knowing the will of God in our individual cases.
Men and women may study the will of God with profit. Let young men and young women, while the dew of youth is upon them, begin to study the word of God, which expresses his will. The steps of Christ are certainly marked out in the word. Go where they can be found today. Do not seek to go back to the land where Christ’s feet trod ages ago. Christ says: “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” We can know far more of Christ by following him step by step in the work of redemption, seeking the lost and the perishing, than by journeying to old Jerusalem. Christ has taken his people into his church. He has swept away every ceremony of the ancient type. He has given no liberty to restore these rites, or to substitute anything that will recall the old literal sacrifices. The Lord requires of his people spiritual sacrifices alone. Everything pertaining to his worship is placed under the superintendence of his Holy Spirit. Jesus said that the Father would send the Holy Spirit in his name to teach his disciples all things, and to bring all things unto their remembrance that he had said unto them. The curse rests upon Jerusalem. The Lord has obliterated those things which men would worship in and about Jerusalem, yet many hold in reverence literal objects in Palestine, while they neglect to behold Jesus as their advocate in the heaven of heavens.
Where is Christ? We would see Jesus, not the places where he used to make his abode. Christ is the bread of life, and we must feed upon his word, and be a doer of his commands. What is Christ to me? How am I related to Christ? He is in the heavens above, and as our high priest, is offering up the incense of his own merit. His holiness mingles with our prayers of repentance and faith. Through conversion we are brought into close relationship with God, and the Father loves those for whom Christ has died as he loves his own Son. Through the almighty ransom he has made, we become sons and daughters of God. We should earnestly inquire, not in regard to old Jerusalem and concerning the fables that are repeated for truth, but we should turn our eyes to the loving Saviour, who ever liveth to make intercession for us. We should prostrate the soul before the incarnate God. We are not to trust in fables, and worship places that God has cursed, and foster idolatry in so doing. Jesus said to the Samaritan woman: “Ye worship ye know not what; we know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Many visit Jerusalem, and go away cherishing ideas which they suppose represent the truth, while in fact they have only come in contact with fables. They publish these falsehoods as truth.
Peter declares: “We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
Let the mind be educated to look to Jesus. Let an effort be made to become doers of his word. The curse of God is upon Jerusalem and its surroundings, and the land is defiled under the inhabitants thereof. There is no real foundation for feelings of awe in looking upon the land of Palestine. In revering these earthly things, men clothe them with a false glory. He who came to save the world could not be endured by those he came to rescue, and they killed the Lord of life and glory, thinking to extinguish his divine light from the world. But it was impossible for the grave to hold him. He burst the fetters of the tomb, and proclaimed in triumph over the rent sepulcher, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Thus Christ became a present Saviour, a divine presence, in every place. All who believe may obtain clear views of Christ’s true glory. When they behold him, all these minor things sink into insignificance, just as the lesser lights vanish when the sun appears. He who catches a glimpse of the matchless love of Christ, counts all other things as loss, and looks upon him as the chiefest among ten thousand, and as the one altogether lovely. As seraphim and cherubim look upon Christ, they cover their faces with their wings. Their own perfection and beauty are not displayed in the presence and glory of their Lord. Then how improper it is for men to exalt themselves! Let them rather be clothed with humility, cease all strife for supremacy, and learn what it means to be meek and lowly of heart. He who contemplates God’s glory and infinite love, will have humble views of himself; but by beholding the character of God, he will be changed into his divine image.
— Review and Herald, 2/25/1896
You need never feel that you are alone. Angels are your companions. The Comforter that Jesus Christ promised to send in his name, abides with you. Christ said of his followers, “Ye are the light of the world.” It is your part to let the light shine forth in clear, steady rays. Let your good works represent Christ. How many there are who feel that it would be a good thing to tread the soil of old Jerusalem, and that their faith would be greatly strengthened by visiting the scenes of the Saviour’s life and death! But old Jerusalem will never be a sacred place until it is cleansed by the refining fire from heaven. The darkest blot of guilt rests upon the city that refused the light of Christ. Do we want to walk in the footsteps of Jesus? We need not seek out the paths in Nazareth, Bethany, and Jerusalem. We shall find the footprints of Jesus by the sick-bed, by the side of suffering humanity, in the hovels of the poverty-stricken and distressed. We may walk in these footsteps, comforting the suffering, speaking words of hope and comfort to the despondent. Doing as Jesus did when he was upon earth, we shall walk in his blessed steps. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” When the sin-cursed earth is purified from every stain of sin; when the Mount of Olives is rent asunder, and becomes an immense plain; when the holy city of God descends upon it,–the land that is now called the Holy Land will indeed become holy. But God’s cause and work will not be advanced by making pilgrimages to Jerusalem. The curse of God is upon Jerusalem for the rejection and crucifixion of his only begotten Son. But God will cleanse away the vile blot. The prophet says, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away; and the sea is no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God: and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away. And he that sitteth on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.” Revelation 21:1-5, R. V.
— Review and Herald, 6/9/1896
Then I was pointed to some who are in the great error of believing that it is their duty to go to Old Jerusalem, and think they have a work to do there before the Lord comes. Such a view is calculated to take the mind and interest from the present work of the Lord, under the message of the third angel; for those who think that they are yet to go to Jerusalem will have their minds there, and their means will be withheld from the cause of present truth to get themselves and others there. I saw that such a mission would accomplish no real good, that it would take a long while to make a very few of the Jews believe even in the first advent of Christ, much more to believe in His second advent. I saw that Satan had greatly deceived some in this thing and that souls all around them in this land could be helped by them and led to keep the commandments of God, but they were leaving them to perish. I also saw that Old Jerusalem never would be built up; and that Satan was doing his utmost to lead the minds of the children of the Lord into these things now, in the gathering time, to keep them from throwing their whole interest into the present work of the Lord, and to cause them to neglect the necessary preparation for the day of the Lord.
— Early Writings, p. 75
I am told that before finishing The Life of Christ I ought to visit Jerusalem, the holy land. What made it holy? The Majesty of heaven clothed His divinity with humanity and dwelt upon our earth. He was despised and rejected of men; in Jerusalem He was crucified by wicked hands. I have not the slightest inclination to visit Jerusalem, to see where it is thought probable that Jesus trod, where He may have labored, and where He may have been crucified.
The means which might be expended thus I would prefer to treasure, that I may point souls to the Saviour risen from Joseph’s tomb, proclaiming, “I am the resurrection and the life.” I can trace His footprints in the sure word of prophecy, and can obtain a better idea of His works and of His ways than I could by visiting Jerusalem, defiled with unholy feet and unholy deeds. I could not expend money to visit these places when the living interests of Christ’s kingdom are to be presented to the people. We are to teach the Word of God and to be doers of that Word, which is represented as building on the rock; the structure thus built will withstand the storm and the tempest, because it is founded on the eternal Rock.
I wish to see Jerusalem when the fires of the last great day shall have cleansed it from all sinful defilement. Jerusalem is now no more sacred to me than any other place on the globe. Wherever by His Holy Spirit Jesus makes known His presence, wherever His righteousness shines forth in bright and glorious beams, wherever His divine love illuminates the humble places of the earth, wherever His honor dwells, there I am pleased to be. Christ looks with sadness upon the delusions that ensnare human minds who are so eager to behold the places where His feet are supposed once to have trodden, and yet who do not heed His command, “Follow me,” who do not walk in the light as He is in the light.
A shadow is resting over Jerusalem, a terrible shadow, which I have no desire to come under. Everywhere a curse is visible, which I have no desire to look upon. I can see marks of the curse everywhere. To be able to say I have visited Jerusalem would not shed a distinct ray of light upon one soul. It would not enable me better to tell men and women what they must do to be saved. I present the Word of God in truth. I listen to the precious lessons which Christ gave His disciples.
In my mind the scenes of His ministry, the places where He taught by the lake side, are clothed with the solemnity and beauty which nature and the Word of God have given them. I am content; I would not have darker pictures. I do not wish to look upon the desecrated shrines, with all the repulsive features that would meet my view. I would not be hired to behold the traces of the curse so evidently resting upon Jerusalem. I hope to see this spot when the earth shall be made new, when I shall behold Him whom my soul loveth, in His majesty, and glory crowned as King of kings and Lord of lords.
I have not one word of encouragement for any person, neither have I money to impart to any person, to visit Jerusalem. As it now is, it would be a picture I would never wish to hang in memory’s hall. Brethren, do you believe that you will soon see Jesus? Then do not needlessly expend means that is of so great value to save precious souls; they need never get a sight at Jerusalem under the curse, but with inspired words you can point them to the New Jerusalem, to Jesus the Mediator of the better covenant, who ever liveth to make intercession for us, and whose intercession is wholly efficacious in our behalf. I know that Christ looks with sadness upon those who are searching for the places He passed over while in the flesh, but who fail to recognize Him as a living Saviour, on any ground, in any place. He says, “Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.” Men may search in vain for the footprints of Christ in Jerusalem. I care more for where He is now, in heaven, and for what He is doing in my behalf.
Give to Jesus your devotion where He is in the heavenly sanctuary, seek for the Holy Spirit as His representative wherever his people bow to worship Him. It becomes us to know more of Jesus, by an experimental knowledge, as a personal Saviour. We should be gathering up every ray of divine light, not looking to old Jerusalem where Christ was once, but to the New Jerusalem where he now is. Let us be gathering from the tree of life, that God has planted, leaves that shall be for the healing of the nations, and fruit, precious, lifegiving fruit as food to the soul.
— Letter 44, 1894