A Solemn Covenant: Statutes and Judgments

The following are twenty original statements, in chronological order, from the writings of Ellen G. White in regards to the statutes and judgments that God gave to Moses for the people of Israel as the terms of His covenant with them. As she herself stated, their purpose was to further explain the broad principles of the Ten Commandments. I specifically selected quotes where she says that we are still to observe them today. All emphases are mine.

The title of this article is based on Statement #3, where Sister White specifically calls us collectively to make a “solemn covenant”. It’s a statement that seems very applicable for today as God revives and reorganizes us. Please read them all very carefully and with prayer.

Statement #1 (1868)

That God who reads the hearts of everyone, will bring to light hidden things of darkness where they are often least suspected, that stumbling blocks which have hindered the progress of truth may be removed, and God have a clean and holy people to declare His statutes and judgments.

The Captain of our salvation leads His people on step by step, purifying and fitting them for translation, and leaving in the rear those who are disposed to draw off from the body, who are not willing to be led, and are satisfied with their own righteousness.

1 Testimonies, pp. 332-33

Statement #2 (1875)

The statutes and judgments specifying the duty of man to his fellow-men, were full of important instruction, defining and simplifying the principles of the moral law, for the purpose of increasing religious knowledge, and of preserving God’s chosen people distinct and separate from idolatrous nations.

The statutes concerning marriage, inheritance, and strict justice in deal with one another, were peculiar and contrary to the customs and manners of other nations, and were designed of God to keep his people separate from other nations. The necessity of this to preserve the people of God from becoming like the nations who had not the love and fear of God, is the same in this corrupt age, when the transgression of God’s law prevails and idolatry exists to a fearful extent.

If ancient Israel needed such security, we need it more, to keep us from being utterly confounded with the transgressors of God’s law. The hearts of men are so prone to depart from God that there is a necessity for restraint and discipline…

In consequence of continual transgression, the moral law was repeated in awful grandeur from Sinai. Christ gave to Moses religious precepts which were to govern the everyday life.

These statutes were explicitly given to guard the ten commandments. They were not shadowy types to pass away with the death of Christ. They were to be binding upon man in every age as long as time should last. These commands were enforced by the power of the moral law, and they clearly and definitely explained that law.

Review and Herald, 5/6/1875

Statement #3 (1884)

The whole congregation entered into a covenant to keep all the commandments of God; and that the transaction might be as effectual as possible, this covenant was written out, and those who were thoroughly in earnest in the work of reformation, affixed their names and seals. They wished to preserve for future reference a memorial of the obligation they had just taken upon themselves, as a reminder of duty and a barrier against temptation. Thus it was that the people took a solemn oath to “walk in God’s Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and His judgments and His statutes”….

The efforts of Nehemiah to restore the worship of the true God had been crowned with success. If Israel would be true to the oath they had taken, a bright future was before them; for the Lord has always magnified his law before his people, pouring rich blessings upon them so long as they have been obedient. The history of God’s ancient people is full of instruction for the church of today. While the Bible faithfully presents the result of their apostasy as a warning to all future generations, it portrays, as a worthy example, the deep humiliation and repentance, the earnest devotion and generous sacrifice, that marked their seasons of returning to the Lord. There is encouragement, too, in the record of God’s willingness to receive his backsliding but repentant people.

It would be a scene well-pleasing to God and angels, would his professed followers in this generation unite, as did Israel of old, in

a solemn covenant

to “observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes.”

Signs of the Times, 1/10/1884

Statement #4 (1887)

The great God of Heaven, our supreme Ruler, has rules, Statutes, and laws. These laws govern not only the intelligences of Heaven, but they govern every member of the human family; and we read in my text: “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city”…

If we are not obedient to God in this life, keeping his commandments, how can we expect to have a right to eternal life? God will not take into his kingdom and give eternal life to those who will not come under His laws and statutes in this life.

Signs of the Times, 9/8/1887

Statement #5 (1891)

There must be humbling of spirit; the heart must be changed. Why, with their Bibles to read, do they not understand the “It is written”?

The directions so plainly given in Deuteronomy are sacred truth. They are to be acted out in principle in all our religious service toward God and toward one another.

It is always safe to be Christian gentlemen, to love as brethren, to do no injustice, and to always show liberality, tenderness, compassion, and true courtesy.

The very same principles expressed in James 3 were spoken by the voice of God from the pillar of cloud. God spoke to the people the acts they should do and the actions they should not do. Deuteronomy chapter 4.

The specifications are never to lose their force, for they are the expression of the mind of the infinite God. Every word is to be cherished.

This truth is to be preached. It has been made a thing of naught by many, but the infinite God will not be trifled with. He would be represented by His people by correct principles in everything. All who depart from His word in their actions misrepresent the character of God. “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.” Psalm 97:11.

Why, I have asked, are not these principles that have been expressed seen and acted out, for they are the principles of the law of God.

Manuscript 40, 1891

Statement #6 (1894)

The Lord Jesus gave these commandments from the pillar of cloud, and Moses repeated them to the children of Israel and wrote them in a book, that they might not depart from righteousness.

We are under obligation to fulfill these specifications; for in so doing we fulfill the specifications of the law of God.

Manuscript 87, 1894 (published twice the same year and again the next year)

Statement #7 (1895)

Fathers and mothers who claim to be Christians, and who have not been doers of the words of Christ, who have not educated and trained their children in correct habits, have not brought them up to love and fear God, as God has directed them to. The words of Moses to Israel, concerning the statutes and judgments of the Lord, are also the word of God to us.

Signs of the Times, 3/21/1895

Statement #8 (1895)

The gospel is given in precept in Leviticus. Implicit obedience is required now, as then. How important it is that we understand the meaning of this word.

Letter 119, 1895 (later published in 6 Testimonies, 1901)

Statement #9 (1896)

No science is equal to the science that reveals the character of God. Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, yet he said: “Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life; but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.”

Where shall we find laws more noble, pure, and just, than are exhibited on the statute books wherein is recorded the instruction given to Moses for the children of Israel? Through all time these laws are to be perpetuated, that the character of God’s people may be formed after the divine similitude. The law is a wall of protection to those who are obedient to God’s precepts. From what other source can we gather such strength, or learn such noble science?

Review and Herald, 2/25/1896

Statement #10 (1896)

The Old Testament needs to become our study book more than it has been. We need to learn and obey the directions there, given by the Lord when speaking to Moses in the pillar of cloud…

From the light which God has given me it would be for our advantage to study the directions given to Israel. Read Malachi four. Verse four especially has a meaning which all have not comprehended. Let it be carefully considered.

Manuscript 37, 1896

Statement #11 (1899)

I have things to send to you in writing that I deem very important, and I think it will be prepared in a form so that many may be benefited by it. I should oft be so pleased to have talks with you upon matters that are intensely interesting to me, that I am trying to write out, in reference to the specifications in Scriptural injunctions in regard to the duties one to another in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. We must just call to our minds those precepts on actual, practical missionary work, and work intelligently, and do the very principles of Christianity, the gospel of the Old Testament.

And this some call the Dark Ages. If so, it is not because they had no communication from heaven. See Leviticus 25. The Lord was over the whole earth. Every seventh year was a sabbatical year. This would be a wonderful arrangement down in this age of great light. Not only the agricultural processes were to be intermitted, but the cultivation of the soil was not permitted. It lay in its spontaneous growth for the benefit of the poor. All had free access to it—the strangers and the flocks and the herds. This was to invigorate the productive, worn-out soil, and to teach the Hebrew nation that God was the Householder, and the people were His tenants. The land had a sabbath, or yearly sabbath.

Then the jubilee, the fiftieth. The lessons given were to encourage liberality and overcome all stinginess, and to give lessons to all that it was the Lord’s land. He was to be regarded as its owner, that He would make it productive, if they were obedient, by giving them His blessing upon their lands. The lesson given was that the Lord was taking care of the poor, and that He had made provision for them; and every seventh year the spontaneous crops were for them. This is the principle of liberality; a provision was made by special interposition of God. The sixth year, under God’s supervision, the land yielded provision for three years; and it was a constant lesson that God was the Householder, and the land was His.

I cannot write out all that is contained in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. But I think our people in this enlightened age of 1899, if they would go back to the period they call the “Dark Ages” and bring into their practical life the lessons that Christ gave to the Hebrews, they would act out the obedience God required of them.

Letter 221, 1899

Statement #12 (1900)

“This day the Lord thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thy heart, and with all thy soul” (Deuteronomy 26:16).

In duty and expressed gratitude we are to obey God, for this is keeping His commandments and obeying His laws. In obeying God we express His character. The purpose of all God’s commandments is to reveal the duty of man, not only to God, but to his fellow men.

In this late age of the world … we are not to question or dispute these requirements because of the selfishness of our hearts. We are not by our carelessness and hypocrisy to deceive and rob our own souls of the richest blessings of the grace of God; but our whole heart and mind and soul are to be melted into God’s heart and mind and soul. Then the binding force of God’s covenant, framed by the dictates of infinite wisdom, and made binding by the power and authority of the King of kings and Lord of lords, will be to us a pleasure.

God will have no controversy with us in regard to these binding precepts. It is enough to understand that obedience to His statutes and laws is the life and prosperity of all who obey them.

The covenant is mutual. By being obedient to His Word, we testify before angels and men that we live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. We have avouched and solemnly owned and confessed that the Lord Jehovah is our God, our Prince and Ruler. This is by human choice. We render implicit obedience by eating the Word which is spirit and life.

At the baptismal ceremony we virtually take a most solemn oath in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, that henceforth our lives will be merged into the life of these three great individual Agencies; that the life we now live in the flesh we will live in faithful obedience to God’s sacred and holy law, keeping all His statutes and His commandments; that we will live in newness of life as men and women having a new birth unto God. We, as new born souls – born to live in newness of life – acknowledge God’s covenant, that we are in reality pledging ourselves by a solemn oath to seek henceforth those things which are above where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. By our profession of faith we acknowledge the Lord as our God, and pledge ourselves to obey His commandments.

Manuscript 68, 1900

Statement #13 (1900)

“This day the Lord thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments; thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in His ways, and to keep His statutes, and His commandments, and His judgments, and to hearken unto His voice.” This is not the voice of man; it is the voice of Christ from the infolding pillar of cloud. Read carefully all of Deuteronomy 26, also chapters 27 and 28; for here are stated plainly the blessings of obedience.

These directions, which the Lord gave to His people, express the principles of the law of the kingdom of God, and they are made specific, so that the minds of the people may not be left in ignorance and uncertainty.

These scriptures present the never-ceasing obligation of all whom God has blessed with life and health and advantages in temporal and spiritual things. The message has not grown weak because of age. God’s claims are just as binding now, just as fresh in their importance, as God’s gifts are fresh and continual.

Review and Herald, 12/25/1900 (repeated in Manuscript 67, 1907)

Statement #14 (1903)

The light given me is that we are to study more than we do the instruction given to Moses by God after He had proclaimed the law from Sinai. The ten commandments were spoken by God Himself, and were then written on tables of stone, to be preserved till the judgment should take place. After the giving of the law, God gave Moses specifications regarding the law. These specifications are plain and explicit. No one need make a mistake. The directions are as plain as A B C.

In the day of judgment we shall be asked whether we have lived in harmony with these specifications.

It is because we do not carry out these specifications in all our dealings, in our institutions, our families, and in our individual lives, at all times, and in all places, that we do not make greater advancement.

It is by the directions that God has given that we shall be judged at the last day. Have we studied these specifications? I heard them one night some weeks ago. It seemed as if they were being given to Israel, and there was the same solemnity that there was when they were given. I thought, This is given to me that I may tell our people that we must study these specifications.

When the directions that God has given are followed, our institutions will be pure and clean, free from all selfishness and covetousness. The tenderness of Christ will come in. His love will fill our hearts. A sense of God’s goodness will make us weep, and sing, and praise God. Then we shall be living channels of light, prepared to do His will.

Manuscript 11, 1903 (published in Australasian Union Conference Record, 3/25/1907)

Statement #15 (1903)

In the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign, God chose him to superintend the repairing of the temple. It was as this work was being done that the book of the law was found. Through some mismanagement it had been lost, and the people had been deprived of its instruction. Brethren, have any of you lost the book of the law? Have not many of us lost sight of the precepts that are in the holy Book?

General Conference Bulletin, 4/1/1903

Statement #16 (1903)

The instructions given to Moses for ancient Israel, with their sharp, rigid outlines, are to be studied and obeyed by the people of God today.

Letter 259, 1903

Statement #17 (1904)

The fourteenth chapter of Revelation is a chapter of the deepest interest. This scripture will soon be understood in all its bearings, and the messages given to John the revelator will be repeated with distinct utterance.

The prophecies in the eighteenth of Revelation will soon be fulfilled. During the proclamation of the third angel’s message, “another angel” is to “come down from heaven, having great power,” and the earth is to be “lighted with his glory.” The Spirit of the Lord will so graciously bless consecrated human instrumentalities that men, women, and children will open their lips in praise and thanksgiving, filling the earth with the knowledge of God, and with his unsurpassed glory, as the waters cover the sea.

Those who have held the beginning of their confidence firm unto the end will be wide-awake during the time that the third angel’s message is proclaimed with great power. During the loud cry, the church, aided by the providential interpositions of her exalted Lord, will diffuse the knowledge of salvation so abundantly that light will be communicated to every city and town. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of salvation. So abundantly will the renewing Spirit of God have crowned with success the intensely active agencies, that the light of present truth will be seen flashing everywhere.

The saving knowledge of God will accomplish its purifying work on the mind and heart of every believer. The Word declares: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes.” This is the descent of the Holy Spirit, sent from God to do its office work. The house of Israel is to be imbued with the Holy Spirit, and baptized with the grace of salvation.

Amid the confusing cries, “Lo, here is Christ! Lo, there is Christ!” will be borne a special testimony, a special message of truth appropriate for this time, which message is to be received, believed, and acted upon.

It is the truth, not fanciful ideas, that is efficacious. The eternal truth of the Word will stand forth free from all seductive errors and spiritualistic interpretations, free from all fancifully drawn, alluring pictures. Falsehoods will be urged upon the attention of God’s people, but the truth is to stand clothed in its beautiful, pure garments. The Word, precious in its holy uplifting influence, is not to be degraded to a level with common, ordinary matters. It is always to remain uncontaminated by the fallacies by which Satan seeks to deceive, if possible, the very elect.

The proclamation of the gospel is the only means in which God can employ human beings as his instrumentalities for the salvation of souls.

As men, women, and children proclaim the gospel, the Lord will open the eyes of the blind to see His statutes, and will write upon the hearts of the truly penitent his law. The animating Spirit of God, working through human agencies, leads the believers to be of one mind, one soul, unitedly loving God and keeping his commandments,—preparing here below for translation.

Review and Herald, 10/13/1904

Statement #18 (1905)

We are to become familiar with the Levitical law in all its bearings; for it contains rules that must be obeyed;

it contains the instruction that if studied will enable us to understand better the rule of faith and practice that we are to follow in our dealings with one another. No soul has any excuse for being in darkness. Those who receive Christ by faith will receive also power to become the sons of God.

Letter 3, 1905

Statement #19 (1905)

The closing words of Malachi are a prophecy regarding the work that should be done preparatory to the first and the second advent of Christ. This prophecy is introduced with the admonition, “Remember the Law of Moses My servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments” …

In this time of well-nigh universal apostasy, God calls upon His messengers to proclaim His Law in the spirit and power of Elijah.

Southern Watchman, 3/21/1905

Statement #20 (1907)

The principles set forth in Deuteronomy for the instruction of Israel, are to be followed by God’s people to the end of time.

The principles set forth in Deuteronomy for the instruction of Israel, are to be followed by God’s people to the end of time. Our prosperity is dependent on the continuance of our covenant relationship with God.

Review and Herald, 4/25/1907 (later published in Prophets and Kings, 1917)

Ricky

Ricky loves to study and share what he learns, especially on the subjects of the Bible and the writings of Ellen White, as well as health. He really digs deep, so he often shares long messages, but they are well worth the time! His other love is music. In fact, he used to be more about music ministry than writing! He still loves to sing, but sadly is no longer able to play guitar due to a health issue. His greatest desire is to see Seventh-day Adventists (by profession, whether they are members of a denomination or not) properly organized and united as a great army, doing the work God raised us up to do.

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