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Eugene W. Prewitt

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Authority and the Draft

A Study of Heaven’s Order And its Relation to Believers in the Present Truth With an Application of the Principles to the Issue of Military Service.


“The principles that you present to others, you should first know are faultless because sustained by a ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ How careful we should be in giving advice, lest our counsel result in great evil and suffering. How much better for the families to go out into some other cities or some other country, but never encourage the spirit of defiance and resistance, even if they are placed in the chain-gang. The bigotry that exists, the prejudice against truth to sustain religious error, is firm. . . . Pray, our Savior says, for those who entreat you evil, and resist not evil.” Review and Herald, April 13, 1911.

Perhaps I have given too much advice in this paper. Let the reader make sure for himself that the principles are well sustained.

To those looking for someone to tell them what to do and when, the study may seem unnecessarily circuitous. But ideas that are explained quickly and accepted as fast as they are explained have little foundation. They are as rapidly uprooted by arguments that seem opposing. This paper takes pains to establish a number of principles that would give the reader a basis for answering objections to the paper’s conclusions. Many of these objections are not dealt with directly, and their absence is purposeful. Objections to the truth may be created with great alacrity. Answers to objections must be developed slowly. If an objection/answer-to-objection controversy arises over truth, the opposers will soon have the upper hand in the bulk of material they have to work with.

The best policy is to present truth from its roots up with enough earth besides to hold the tree against fierce winds. If it was a lumberyard rather than a tree that you hoped to find here, now is a good time to re-adjust. Read for depth. Think through the thoughts. Read the footnotes. Gems of truth have been hidden in them just to coax you into looking them all up.

The dedication of one book, written incidentally to attack the doctrine of the investigative judgment, is to “those that…value truth above reputation, honor, and life.”

Once a fruit so advertised

Was destruction well disguised

This work is dedicated to the same class.

The Draft as Viewed from the Doctrine of Authority

For Christians, the issue of forced military service, or compulsory service of any type, brings up questions of divided loyalties. We ought to obey God rather than men, all agree. But what does God command? And how much latitude does He give His servants in their daily life? The second question we will pose first by a brief study of God’s authority in heaven, a place where there were once, and where there are now, no divided loyalties.

Jesus specifically appropriated to Himself all authority in heaven and in earth. His right to rule heaven may be proved by two facts.

The first is that He is the Creator. As the Author of all, He is the only legitimate authority on the purpose and meaning of the creation. Either He made us for a reason or for no reason at all. If the latter, then there is no reason or meaning for the creation. If the former, then whatever reason He made us for is our reason for being.

More than that, the method used in the Creation gives Him certain rights. An ex nihilo creation (creation of something out of nothing) makes the creation the personal property of the Creator. If you build a home with my lumber and with my money, you could not in justice say it is completely yours. “Creation” by fashioning a thing does not bring with it the same rights as creation from nothing. So by creation Jesus is the rightful owner of all and the only One that can assign purpose and meaning. Purpose and meaning carry with them inherent duties. By creation He has the authority to assign these duties and to explain our meaning and purpose. To search for meaning and purpose from some other source is to side-step His right and authority as our Creator.

The second fact is easy to state. God is right. Some things are true, not because God commanded them. On the contrary, God commanded them because they were true. It was no arbitrary decision on God’s part that made unselfishness right and that gave love its power. Nor was it the result of Divine taste that falsehood was forbidden. For the sake of exploring this thought, we might call things that must be true essential truths. Essential truths are not truths of history, they are truths of principle. They do not describe what choices a man has made. Rather, they describe the invariable effects of those choices.

When the universe existed as a perfect system of created beings blissfully serving a loving Creator, the idea of essential truth would have been easier to illustrate. The reason that a thing ought to be done a certain way is that it works best that way. The way that something works best is the way that it ought to be done. A command to do something that way is enforced by natural law. If natural law says that to do it different will bring death, then natural law enforces the command with just and lethal force.

Love works best in the Universe. Only selfless love by every member of the heavenly kingdom could preserve the system there, the Divine order. That is because the system is nothing more or less than a perfect application of the love principle. The order of heaven promised life on the basis of the continual practice of selfless love.

God is love. The evidence of that assertion has always been found in the way that God works. When God presented to the heavenly intelligences that He was love, they had no way of knowing that it was certainly true. The fact that a house exists today does not prove that it will exist tomorrow or that it existed a thousand years ago. The fact that God has been loving since my creation is no proof that He was loving before, or that He will be loving in the future. From the beginning the creation had to accept the statements of God about reality, even the most basic realities, by faith. They had to take Him at His word. There was no other way and there could not be any other way for a created being to know something to be certainly and eternally true but by faith.


The beings had no way of demonstrating, by comparison or contrast, whether or not God’s system was the one that worked best. This is not to say that they believed God blindly. They had the strongest evidence that God loved them. Their experience established that His ways were perfect. They had no need or want that He had not lovingly supplied. Creation had been adapted to their happiness and they had been created with the capacity for enjoyment. That law, possibly unstated in its negative sense, [1] said that there was no other system that worked. The law demanded an evidence-based faith in God. It promised that leaving the established system would produce death.

There was only one sure way to establish this principle as essential truth. One might violate the law and by an unholy experiment discover whether the laws of nature would enforce it. But even if one experiment proved that violation leads to death, it would not prove that a different violation might not be an alternate path to life. Experiment could never lead to a certain knowledge of the truth of God’s Word and of the sacredness of His law. And the first experiment would bring darkness—and worse—into the universe.

The only way to know the essential truth of God’s law would be by faith. Only by faith could angels establish the rightful authority of the law without breaking it. And only by an eternal faith could the law be eternally established. In other words, if ever a being would cease his natural testing of the law by his faithful obedience, he would break the law while demonstrating the justice of its claims. “Do we then make void the law of God by faith? Not all. We establish the law.” [2] This principle has always been true, not only for fallen men, but also for all beings in all ages.

The authority of God in heaven was based on willing and loving obedience born of faith. The reason to obey God was that it was right. What made obedience right? Natural laws. What are natural laws? They are the dictates arising from knowledge of cause and effect relationships. Natural law gives birth to the idea of righteousness. Righteousness is right doing. [3] It is taking the only course that tends to life. Sin is a violation of the law. Sin is a violation of the principles that tend to life. By definition, then, it is the course that tends to an end of life. As created beings are not omniscient, they can only have righteousness by faith. Only by taking God at His Word can they discern and practice the course that tends to life. They cannot see into the future, neither can they perceive the eventual impact of their decisions, except by faith.

So these principles, “we establish the law by faith” and “what ever is not of faith is sin” [4] and “righteousness is by faith,” have always been true. They are not products created for this terrible experiment of sin. They are eternal truths and ought to be understood.

Authority of God on Earth


Natural law is enforced by nature. Sin, left to itself, will degrade endlessly. There is a limit to degradation that once passed, would remove a being from the class of responsible moral agents. [5] Satan, while greater in knowledge then when he fell (for he has retained the power to learn) is yet decreasing in mental vigor. [6]

There is a difference between natural law and naturalism. When you toss a coin into the air and then catch it while it plummets earthward, you have interfered with the natural course of things. Without your intelligent intervention, the coin would have fallen to the earth. Your will determines the nature of your intelligent intervention. You may throw the coin, pocket it, or spend it. But not one of these things is a violation of natural law. Natural law says that if you catch it, it will stop falling. If you don’t, it will continue.

Naturalism is philosophy that would make Divine intervention a violation of natural law. [7] It perceives, as it were, in the argument that the coin was caught thousands of years ago an attack on the eternal influence of gravity.

In that respect, naturalism is naïve. Intervention gives evidence of thought, and thought of order. There are many ways that one may choose to intervene. Discipline is a tool that is used by rational beings, both Creator and created, to intervene in the natural course of otherwise ungoverned events. It is an effort to catch in mid-fall a man addicted to tobacco or to violence. Discipline is a type of government, a method of administration. And it is the first example given of God’s active authority, compulsion, on earth. [8] When the unholy pair was expelled from Eden and kept out by a sword-bearing angel, it was the first time they had felt the compelling power of an unwelcome command.

The doctrine of wrath forces itself into a Biblical discussion of authority. We recognize that we do or do not have a “right” to be angry. Moses questioned God regarding the fierceness of His wrath. “Why does your anger wax hot,” he asked, “against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?” Exodus 32:11. God reminded Israel emphatically that they had called down wrath on themselves. See Deuteronomy 9:7.

A most amazing thing that has confounded Satan since the promise that the serpent’s head would be bruised is that fact that wrath may be turned away. Yet there could be a point of no return at which the wrath would never and could never be withdrawn. [9] It is interesting also that wrath may be treasured up by nations or by individuals while they live in apparent peace and prosperity. [10] [11] But God’s servants recognized and preached that it would not be delayed forever. Fear of the Divine wrath was a motive that led kings instructed by Ezra to support the cause of God. [12]

God used other nations to inflict His wrath on the condemned, [13] and Satan worked to diffuse the power of these judgements by causing meaningless and random destruction. Acts of random terror become false consolations to those afflicted from above. They permit a man to entertain the thought that his sufferrings are as unrelated to his wrong-doing as those of the man who suffered wrongly. Random suffering dilutes the force of God’s chastening by blinding men to the fact that their consequences are following hard on a cause.

God uses governments and authority figures to punish evil doers even today. [14] In this context war is a tool sometimes used of God for His purposes of justice. This truth should be kept in mind when studying military action and its relation to the Christian.

The wrath of God figures prominently in the closing scenes of this earth’s history. The seven last plagues fill up the wrath of God. This is stated repeatedly in Revelation. [15] Issues of authority have come to the head, and in the face of the clearest revelation of God’s rightful rulership, men have indulged their habits of despising authority. The habit of relating wrongly to the authority of God and man will bring the Mark of the Beast. Our relation to authority now is a sowing process that portends a most significant harvest. War or no war, we have good reason to study the issue of human authority.

Jesus is especially qualified for His work of executing God’s wrath by His kinship to our race. “And [God] hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man.” [16] Jesus will use the authority given Him at the proper time. “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.” [17]

Justice eludes the best of human tribunals. Yet the ideas of equity in judgement are the basis of modern civilization. As we progress into a study of the authority that has been granted earthly governments and institutions, it is right that we should notice the part that justice plays in final events. The seven last plagues, dreadful as they are, call forth the praise of the heavenly beings. On what basis do plagues solicit praise? When an angel bearing the plagues is introduced in the 15th chapter of the Revelation, it is to the song of the victorious. Their anthem ends with the strain, “for thy judgements are made manifest.” Then as the third plague smites the earth an angel declares “Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.” Then a voice from the altar cries “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.” [18] Voices represented as coming from below the altar have been crying out to God for justice since God’s servants were slain ages ago. [19] Now a sentence is executed.

The sentence is executed on those that are “worthy.” Such a statement by one other than God implies a vindication of God’s arguments in the great controversy. Only God can judge character and weigh motives. He must determine a man’s worthiness of pain or power. When created beings have seen and known enough to ratify God’s judgements, the arguments are settled with them.

In summary, we can say that God’s authority on earth rests on the very same principles that it does in heaven. He has created us, and He alone can speak as to our purpose for existence. He created us from nothing, and so we are His. He commands what is right so that natural law enforces all He says. He has all power and exercises it over unwilling subjects when that is the right thing to do. That it is His right to do this on earth will be made manifest. He uses discipline and executes wrath on the wrong doer. No one has a right to resist His will, and, in the end, not one of the wicked will have power to resist it. His right to authority on earth is absolute; His use of authority on earth is wise. “There is no power but of God. He who resists the power resists the ordinance of God. And they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”

King of Kings and Lord of Lords

In the Revelation Jesus has received this appellation. The name is part of Himself. Written on His thigh are these words, “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” Kingdoms will rise up against the Lamb, and ‘the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords, and Kings of kings.” No monarch can resist His will, for He is “Ruler of the kings of the earth.” [20] To a remarkable extent God directs earthly affairs.

In the annals of human history the growth of nations, the rise and fall of empires, appear as dependent on the will and prowess of man. The shaping of events seems, to a great degree, to be determined by his power, ambition, or caprice. But in the Word of God the curtain is drawn aside, and we behold, behind, above, and through all the play and counterplay of human interests and power and passions, the agencies of the all-merciful One, silently, patiently working out the counsels of His own will. [21]

An Old Testament prophecy of the Messiah had predicted that the Christ would come “just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” [22] The same prophecy had crowned the Coming One with the words “Jerusalem! Behold, your King comes to you!”

It was Jesus that rode into the city triumphantly amid glad “Hosannas.” The Jews accused Him to the Romans as a threat to the crown. He had actively applied to Himself a prophecy of the coming king. When Pilate asked Jesus of His kingship, “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.’” [23]

Later that evening He replied to Pilate that “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above:” [24]

In what sense was Pilate given power from “above?” Does Heaven empower a man to condemn Jesus to death? To kill or pardon at will? Are men empowered to remove lesser authorities from their positions? Consider the case of Nebuchadnezzar as presented to the king of Babylon.

“O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne. . . . They fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet 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 . . . and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified: [25]

The kings that have ruled in the past ruled, and presidents that rule today govern, by the authority of God. The Jews in the time of Nebuchadnezzar were inclined to resist their attacks by a show of arms. They thought that God would aid them in national self-defense. But that vain imagination was no fault of the prophets. Jeremiah had testified to the contrary.

I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me. And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the very time of his land come. . . . And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith the LORD, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand. [26]

To whom does God give civil powers? To those that seem appropriate [27] to Him. When conquered, do the nations that have lost their sovereignty have a right to rebel? No, they are to accept their lot as God’s will. [28] Governing powers are removed when the nation is weighed in the scale and found wanting. How are they removed? By God’s chosen method, whether it is by temporary insanity of the leader, or by the rise of a rival power.

The Limited Authority of Satan

“And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard. . . . And the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.” [29] Where did Satan, the dragon, acquire this authority?

Satan has gathered to himself authority from two sources. Firstly, evil angels have pledged themselves to his service, as have some men. Secondly, evil men are, knowingly or unwittingly, under that authority until they are “translated” out of his kingdom. [30] Natural law adds no force to Satan’s commands and he is left to rule by arbitrary authority alone. So the subjects of his kingdom are in bondage, captives forced to do his will and led by him according to his fancy. Where his tyranny can not be imposed in the heart, Satan works through the civil governments of earth, delegated with authority from heaven, to force men into his ranks or to deprive them of life. [31] This use of civil powers is an abomination of desolation. [32]

God’s servants have been given “power and authority over all devils.” [33] And they have been given the mastery over themselves. “Of the kingdom within them God has made them rulers, and they are to exercise their Heaven-appointed kingship.”[34]

Only by working through the civil powers that God’s servants are enjoined to obey can Satan have a semblance of authority over their lives. This use of authority by Satan unmasks him. He, despite himself, is slowly working out God’s purpose for the universe by using it. “Nothing can be done against the truth, but for the truth.” [35]

Authority of the 5th Commandment

The scriptures allude to the order in heaven. Various angels have assignments and positions. Lucifer had an honored place, and aspired to a higher one yet. Man was made “a little lower” than the angels. Jesus, as the Lord of hosts, commands the armies of heaven. And while on earth, He doubted not that his Father could presently send Him “twelve legions of angels.”[36] Regiments of heavenly beings, numbered and ready for command, give us a glimpse into the truth that order is the first law of heaven. [37] Such order was commanded to men in the firth commandment.

Parents are entitled to a degree of love and respect which is due to no other person. God Himself, who has placed upon them a responsibility for the souls committed to their charge, has ordained that during the earlier years of life, parents shall stand in the place of God to their children. And he who rejects the rightful authority of his parents is rejecting the authority of God. The fifth commandment requires children not only to yield respect, submission, and obedience to their parents, but also to give them love and tenderness, to lighten their cares, to guard their reputation, and to succor and comfort them in old age. It also enjoins respect for ministers and rulers and for all others to whom God has delegated authority.[38]

The fifth commandment is “exceeding broad,”[39] far broader than many would have it to be. It establishes the basis for human authority and defines the bounds of its jurisdiction.

The basis of authority is responsibility. A parent will be judged for how he regulates his home. If he is to be judged for how it is regulated, he must be empowered to regulate it. He cannot be condemned for neglecting to do that which he has no power to do. The Bible explains elsewhere the responsibilities that God has delegated to the governments of men, to the organized body of His church, and to the teachers in that church. Their authority is drawn from their delegated charge. If they will be judged for how they handled the discipline of members, they will be given authority to discipline them. If they are accountable for how they punish evil doers, they will not be given the “sword in vain.”

The fifth commandment also teaches that at times the extent of legitimate government may vary with the maturity of the governed. While all are to honor their father and mother (Ex. 20) it is children that are to obey them (Ephesians 6:1). This natural change in authority follows the shift in accountability onto the shoulders of the child. Human authority mirrors human accountability. The Law of God enforces that principle by the fifth commandment. For the thousands of years directly preceding Sinai, human government on earth under God was always patriarchal. God became the Father of Israel, and until the rebellious crowning of king Saul, Israel continued as a patriarchal government under the Divine Parent. In this context the fifth commandment was adapted to the needs of both national and family government.

For the youth a time may come when the desire of even a godly parent must be denied on the basis of a higher call. “Know you not that I must be about my father’s business?” Jesus asked. For those that accept the call, their duty to both family and friends becomes “a secondary matter.” [40]

Higher Authority

Our study will bring us several times to the thirteenth chapter of the epistle to the Romans. The introduction of this chapter makes several sweeping statements that have been used by theocrats in all ages to justify persecution. Paul writes,

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. [41]

The delegation of God’s authority to civil servants is one of several charges given to men to rule over their fellow men. Authority has been given to kings, governors, and masters. Kings reign as “supreme” while governors are manifestly under them.[42] Not only are there various levels of authority, but there are two distinct types of human authority. The authority given to the church contrasts sharply with that given to the state. Jesus said, “Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you.” [43] While civil leaders exercised authority by compelling their subjects, the church leaders were to guide by precept and example. [44]

Man was created free. On what ground did it ever come about that one man could, with Heaven’s support, require tax from another? Man’s authority, when used justly, has always been a “government of the people by the people for the people.” In other words, men have been granted freedom to work together for their mutual benefit and to organize themselves accordingly. In an as-yet-ungoverned society men may say, “We do not want to live each man with the responsibility of defending his own home from thief and foe. We will each willingly give up some of our freedom to each other to secure greater benefit. We will pledge money and time and chose representatives who will oversee the use of that time and money. We will submit to their authority over that time and money, and they will be responsible to protect and help us.”

It is with this concept of government in mind that the United States Constitution makes provision for its own annulment by the people at what time they should chose another form of government.

This benefactor principle of authority is found in Luke’s record of the church/state authority lecture. “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.” [45] Jesus gave recognition to this truth again when challenged over the lawfulness of paying Roman taxes. Some have mistakenly thought that He skirted the question, “Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not?” by a cunning half-answer.

Christ’s reply was no evasion, but a candid answer to the question. Holding in His hand the Roman coin, upon which were stamped the name and image of Caesar, He declared that since they were living under the protection of the Roman power, they should render to that power the support it claimed, so long as this did not conflict with a higher duty. But while peaceably subject to the laws of the land, they should at all times give their first allegiance to God. [46]

Heaven recognizes the binding nature of man’s civil arrangements and the binding nature they must have on all those that benefit from the system if law and order are to be maintained. And it is not in this respect alone that “the powers that be are ordained of God.” God has more than a passive relationship to the civil powers on earth and to the choosing of their heads of state.

In summary, there are pluralities of legitimate authorities that we ought to recognize. These authorities rule with power enforced by God. These authorities may contradict each other in their requirements. The state, a spouse, a pastor or church official, or a passage of Scripture may oppose each other’s injunctions. Then what rule are we to follow? “Be subject to the higher power.” Order is the first law of heaven. It prevents dissention from generating into anarchy by specifying rules to govern who submits to who. These rules have been established for every earthly relationship. The master and the slave, the general and his king, the husband and his wife, the elder and the church board; in every case of disagreement, the lower power is to willingly submit. This is not to say that a slave is always to submit to a master, or a wife to her husband. In every controversy over moral issues, God is party to the discussion and His Words trumps all other “powers,” whatever their relation to each other. [47]

Which Authority is “Higher”?

In some cases, the order of specific powers in the hierarchy of authority may not be apparent. What do I do when my mother forbids me to register for the draft, and the laws of my state require it? Understanding the sources of human authority will be of the greatest value in determining its limits. Why does mother have authority over me while I am a child? Because she is responsible for the development of my moral character. Why does she have authority over me while I, a young man, am living in her house? Because she is responsible for the influence and order of her home.

Why is she entitled to love and respect? Because she, like no other, has loved and cared for me. Her knowledge of her own weaknesses and tendencies as likely inherited by me and of the details of my earliest years qualifies her more than any other to be my truest counselor. Those qualifications justify God’s commission to her. She is held accountable for how she counsels and guides me. And her commission regulates the extent and nature of her authority in my life. I am under bounden obligation to listen to her words, to cherish her approval and to respect her opinion.

Why does the state have authority to call me to war? Because I benefit from the peace and stability that the military provides to the nation. I benefit from the money spent to protect me from crime and to provide for my just defense in the face of an accusation. Then for the young man asked by the state to register for the draft and forbidden by his mother to do so, he must render unto mom what is mom’s and unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. It is Caesar’s to protect the country and mom’s to guard the influence of the home. The limit of the authority determines which authority is higher in which circumstance.

The Relation of War to Citizenship

Pilate asked Jesus if He was indeed, as He was accused, a king.

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. [48]

Jesus, speaking to a Roman ruler, justified war as a national defense. He taught that the servants even of His kingdom would take up the sword were that kingdom an earthly monarchy. But it was not, and so Pilate had nothing to fear in the way of a national rebellion led by Jesus.

The right of kings to wage war in the defense of their homelands is established not only by this precept, but also by numerous examples. This right was exercised shortly after the introduction of sin when Michael and “His angels” fought the dragon’s host. The rival kingdom was expelled with a warning to the earth that “the devil is come down to you having great wrath.” It is manifestly true that there were no conscientious objectors in this bloodless, deathless, yet desperate, war.

If God abhors one sin above another, of which His people are guilty, it is doing nothing in case of an emergency. Indifference and neutrality in a religious crisis is regarded of God as a grievous crime and equal to the very worst type of hostility against God. [49]

Since that time all beings have been enlisted either “under the blood-stained banner of Prince Emmanuel,” or arrayed under the “black banner of the powers of Darkness.” [50] The fact that all men are under one of these banners proves that every national citizen has a duel citizenship.

The first is a citizenship in a spiritual kingdom and warrants, nay, demands that he participate in a spiritual battle. This conflict is ongoing and “there is no discharge in that war.” [51] Each man since the flood is also a citizen in an earthly kingdom. No higher power forbidding that citizenship warrants participation in national battles. Whether the “higher power” of God’s Word forbids it for a particular individual is the question under consideration.

Ministers and Vessels of Wrath

A kindred question to the proverbial “why do good people suffer?” is the question, “why do wicked people prosper? [52]” These questions are, often, unwitting attacks on God’s justice. Paul partially answers the latter question with a reference to God’s “much longsuffering.”

Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory . . . ?” “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself . . . he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” [53]

A home has china for honored guests and waste bins for refuse. These vessels are both essential and valued, but are reserved for their honorable or dishonorable tasks. In God’s great house, there are a variety of services to be performed and a variety of servants or ministers. Christians are most familiar with ministers of the Word. These Elders are not to be cumbered with the work of the ministers of business. [54] And the deacons, caring for the church’s possessions, are by their consecration poorly fitted for carrying out acts of vengeance. For this work God has ministers of wrath.

For [the civil ruler] is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. [55]

The offices of elder, deacon, and law enforcement are each ordained to particular work. The church is that body of men called to full-time ministry in the present truth. From its members are drawn the holders of spiritual gifts and trusts. Every Christian that has “purged” himself has been made a vessel to honor. Other Christians are so only in name; they are double minded and receive no spiritual gifts from the Lord. The arms of the military or of civil justice are drawn from the rest of society, from vessels unconsecrated, and so unfitted, for the more honorable tasks.

A sniper in a police SWAT team that gives his heart to Jesus must face this truth. He has been a minister of God for as long as he has been commissioned to protect society with lethal force. As a minister of wrath his position commanded the respect and love of his fellow citizens. As a vessel of “dishonor” he might have been used by God to slay the murderous father of two innocent children. In the course of his work he might have lied, cursed and been drunk. But God still owns these men as His. They do His work of repressing evil. And He who delegated to them their authority aids them. But now the convert has purified himself from these things. Does society still need the protection provided by lethal force? Yes, but from those fitted for the dirty job. The convert has been called to obey the Ten Commandments and to visit those in prison rather than to put them there. This is not to say that Christians may not serve as civil servants, whether as judges or clerks or men of state. But their covenant to keep the commandments of God precludes activities that might obligate them to take the life of their fellow men.

The question arises, “but what if everyone were a Christian? What would we do then?” We would go to heaven. And honestly, we would hear again the familiar phrase “you shall not need to fight in this battle.” [56] Our enemies would flee from the wasp and the hornet. Those that would lie to the Holy Ghost might meet their immediate doom at the hands of the Searcher of Hearts. We do not know the answer to what might come, but the Bible gives plain counsel as to what we are to do. “To obey is better than to sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of lambs.”

The Doctrines of Order and Rebellion

Pregnant with meaning were the words of Samuel.

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. [57]

Order is the first law of heaven. By first we do not mean in point of time, but in order of derivation. This is what Christ taught when He explained that on the laws of love to God and love to men “hang all the law and the prophets.” From the laws of love one can show by logic that each of the Ten Commandments can be forcibly derived. The Ten Commandments are “briefly comprehended in” these two sayings. [58] And these two laws and the motifs of faith and love themselves are briefly comprehended in this one word, Order. The establishment of order in heaven was the only manifest mechanism of law before sin. The angels did not feel the force of the law against idolatry or against murder. They had never conceived such thoughts. But they were well aware of their place in society and the role that they were to carry in the heavenly government. That role was a product of God’s law, and they most cheerfully accepted their positions and found their greatest happiness in performing their appointed service.

Rebellion is the annulment of order. By overturning the first law, it destroys the entire system built upon that law. In this truest sense, rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. Witchcraft[59], divination of all sorts, is a willful act to overturn natural law. Rebellion and witchcraft are identical in nature.[60]

Unjust Authority

When it comes to our relation to human authorities, Peter makes a sweeping injunction.

Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. [61]

Since each man has been made in the image of God, and has a soul of infinite worth, he cannot be both rightly and lightly esteemed. The weak, the young, the old, the wise, the weak-minded, each is entitled to the special honor due his station and likewise to that honor due to the noble race of man.

“Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.” “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine.” “Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words . . . from such withdraw thyself.” [62]

Peter’s statement about unkind slave masters rests in tension with a Testimony given soon before the American Civil War. The northern states passed a law that run-away slaves must be returned to their masters in the south. Returned slaves would face terrible treatment—possibly even a tortuous death. But the law was the law of the land. How were Seventh-day Adventists to relate?

“The law of our land requiring us to deliver a slave to his master, we are not to obey; and we must abide the consequences of violating this law.” “The fugitive slave law was calculated to crush out of man every noble, generous feeling of sympathy that should arise in his heart for the oppressed and suffering slave. It was in direct opposition to the teaching of Christ.” [63]

The question of whether or not to obey an authority can not be answered merely on the basis of whether or not that authority has only just laws. There has never yet been a national authority that had only just and good laws. We are to “submit to every ordinance of man,” as a child is to obey his parents “in the Lord.” [64] Order does not permit us to evade the inconvenient ordinances on account of a few “bad” ones. [65] This is manifest in the command a few verses later “Slaves, obey your lords according to the flesh with fear and trembling . . . as to Christ.”

Jesus, Peter and Paul, the primary agents of the Godhead in explaining our relation to gentile rulers, wrote what they wrote while under a most unjust regime. The Roman power that they taught us to obey put not one, but all three of them, to death; two of them by torture. That power imprisoned often and long the one that wrote “he that resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God.” The taxes they all three said we should pay enabled that power to enslave and oppress the masses. In short, the historical context of the “submit” passages enforces obedience specifically to unjust “ministers of wrath.”

The Draft as Viewed from the Doctrine of Responsibility

When I was in school I heard the sobering news that Procter and Gamble was owned by men that used the profits from the company to fund satanic rituals and worship. A host of innocent commodities, from dental floss to tissues, were being used to raise money for these purposes. And even Seventh-day Adventists had been supporting these practices by their ignorant buying habits! This charge has since become the subject of several lawsuits. [66]

While it appears that the rumor is false, the experience did bring up a good set of questions. Where is the limit of our responsibility? Consider these questions. Ham’s son, Canaan, who lived more than 3,000 years ago, was vile. His children were vile. His grandchildren partook of the same spirit. His descendants built Babel. Language was confused and arguments broke out. Cultural differences since that time have resulted in millions of deaths and untold pain. Canaan’s influence is still felt in the world today. A young man born today in Chicago might have a lineage directly traceable to Canaan. When he dies while attempting to rob a convenience store, he will be lost. The young man caused a little trouble in his life, and he did so at the end of the world’s history. Will Canaan, guilty perhaps of neither murder nor theft, be held responsible for the 80 million murders that have resulted to a greater or lessor degree from his choices while the young Chicago boy is only held responsible for his 17 years of impropriety?

What about secondary causes? When we pay a man to mow our lawns knowing full well that he is a smoker, are we responsible for enabling him to buy his cigarettes? If we help to manufacture ammunition and artillery, are we responsible for its use on the battlefield? What if we help make the boxes for the ammunition? If the answer to these questions is “no,” then are we responsible when we fly the bomber to a place someone else has chosen while yet someone else releases the bombs?

The Bible answers clearly, and perhaps in a surprising way, questions of this nature. Consider the following passages.

And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all. [67]

For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. [68]

The money given by the poor widow helped support the very priests that raised the cry “crucify Him!” But she was unaware of their malice and was not responsible for the actions that she unwittingly funded. [69] But the second passage goes further. It exhorts to tax paying. Not only for fear of wrath, but “for conscience sake”! But which tax-requiring system in earth’s history has been free of scandal and waste? Paul taught that we are morally obligated to support our civil power, and by that teaching he taught just as plainly that we are not responsible for the use made of that tax money. To Jews that hated Romans and the Roman rule, Jesus bore witness to the same. [70] He strikingly addressed the question of our responsibility in secondary effects in the Sermon on the Mount.

But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. [71]

On this passage commentators point to the ordinance, originating with Cyrus in Persia, that authorized civil authorities to draft, if you will, any citizen anywhere at anytime to help transport a civil burden a short distance. The Romans adopted this custom along with the Persian word for it. The custom was particularly hated in Judea. [72] What Jesus taught is remarkable in this connection. When required to carry the burden one mile, one might comply out of fear. But what could possess the Jew to go a second mile? As he was not required to do it, it could not be the threatened force of the civil servant. Only a freely offered and generous act of support for the civil power by the citizen could motivate the second mile. This freely offered support for Roman power, the power that was used by Satan to execute the babes of Bethlehem, proves that we are not responsible for the acts of the civil government that we conscientiously support.

Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. [73]

Christ provides here the clearest evidence that we can not be held accountable for the evil that is enabled by our kind and generous acts. If responsibility can be thrown back on those that enabled the wrong-doer, then God would become responsible for the work of the “evil” and the “unjust” that He warms and waters. Satan has a vested interest in the civil cause that would make it a crime to pay taxes, serve military hospitals, or to register for the draft. The arguments used to accuse faithful citizens also attack the goodness of God, the Giver of breath and food to the impenitent.

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. [74]

The loud protests against war and the defiant spirit that boasts that it will accept a martyr’s fate before cooperating with the national government in its war efforts contrast sharply with Christ’s advice to “resist not evil” and to “turn the other cheek” and with Paul’s to “as much as lies with you, live peaceably with all men.” [75] When the American Civil War was approaching the point that a draft was rumored, some Seventh-day Adventists with their conference leadership formed a public movement to announce that they would not comply with the expected law.

In Iowa they carried things to quite a length, and ran into fanaticism. They mistook zeal and fanaticism for conscientiousness. Instead of being guided by reason and sound judgment, they allowed their feelings to take the lead. They were ready to become martyrs for their faith. Did all this feeling lead them to God? to greater humility before Him? . . . I saw that those who have been forward to talk so decidedly about refusing to obey a draft do not understand what they are talking about. Should they really be drafted and, refusing to obey, be threatened with imprisonment, torture, or death, they would shrink and then find that they had not prepared themselves for such an emergency . . . .Those who would be best prepared to sacrifice even life, if required, rather than place themselves in a position where they could not obey God, would have the least to say. They would make no boast. They would feel deeply and meditate much, and their earnest prayers would go up to heaven for wisdom to act and grace to endure. Those who feel that in the fear of God they cannot conscientiously engage in this war will be very quiet, and when interrogated will simply state what they are obliged to say in order to answer the inquirer, and then let it be understood that they have no sympathy with the Rebellion. [76]

Before we go too far into the depths of our freedom from responsibility, we might well study the other side. John, on the isle of Patmos, saw the coming of Christ. “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him:” The reference here is to particularly wicked men, including, but not limited to, the soldiers that put the nails through Christ’s body. These soldiers were fulfilling orders against a man that in all likelihood they personally knew little about. Pilate had washed his hands from Christ’s blood and the Jews had offered to take full responsibility for the death of the Messiah. But neither the hand washing nor the claiming of blame freed the soldiers at the cross from their willful complicity. They did not understand the significance of what they were doing and Christ prayed that the Father would wink at their ignorance. But that sin, unrepented of and unforsaken, will follow them to that dreadful day when they are called from their graves by the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

And the Jewish leaders, though they did not touch Jesus personally, will meet their decision to kill him again on that same day. [77] Pilate, the soldiers, the Jewish followers and their leaders represent nearly every class of accomplices in an evil work. And they all share the guilt. Those that planned, those that allowed themselves to be used against their conscience, he that wavered and let the crowd have their way, and they that justified their cruelty on the basis of their orders from their superiors—all are held accountable at the bar of God.

Men are even responsible for the accidents that occur during their fighting. [78] But there are limits to the spreading of responsibility. On one hand, the curses on Adam, on Ham, and on Caiaphas and the Jews still operate in the world. [79] On the other, the blessings of God operate with greater endurance than his judgments. Consider the Second Commandment.

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image . . . . Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”

“In prohibiting the worship of false gods, the second commandment by implication enjoins the worship of the true God. And to those who are faithful in His service, mercy is promised, not merely to the third and fourth generation as is the wrath threatened against those who hate Him, but to thousands of generations.” [80]

Faith, love and obedience are that much stronger than guilt and sin. But more than that, each generation bears the lion’s share of responsibility for its own decisions. The generation before bears the responsibility to a only slightly less degree. But the law of God limits the responsibility resting on Shem’s son Canaan by limiting his direct influence. His wicked decisions played direct roles in the moral makeup of only three or four generations.

There are other limits to responsibility. Many people, in an effort to defend their views on Christian participation in a righteous war, offer the example of the nation of Israel. God commanded them not only to fight, but often to commit most thorough acts of genocide. The commands of God would be viewed today as outrages against humanity. Moses would be arranged before the international community as a villain without a peer. How could God command men to carry out deeds of slaughter?

Imagine that I loaned a vehicle to you for a few days and let you know that I might need it back without much notice. If, while it was in your possession, you were pulled from the driver’s seat and a thief drove away, you would consider that stealing. It would be a wrong done to you, though it was not your car, and a greater wrong done to me.

Now if I came and took the car, it would be different. The car is mine and I may take it if I care to. And if I decided that you were being irresponsible with the car and asked my shop manager to take the spare key and bring the car back, that would also be my prerogative. Neither my faithful manager nor I could be charged with wrongdoing. I took what was mine; he did what I asked him with my goods.

When people charge God with wrong doing in the work of death that he has assigned men and angels to do, they forget that God is the life-giver and the sustainer of life. “In Him we live and move and exist . . . for we are His offspring.” “All souls are mine.” [81] Life is His, and He has the right to withdraw it from those to whom it has been lent. [82] God enlists even godless governments in this work of life-taking, [83] but only in a nation under the immediate Divine Direction, whether by Urim and Thumim or prophet could a man of God be enlisted in this work. Without the unequivocal directions of the Life-giver to take life, a godly man could not be suited to the work. To take life that the Heart-reader has not specifically appointed for destruction is to steal from that soul what God has leant him. It is a crime against him and a greater crime against God.

Even king David was unsuited by his life of war for the work of building the Temple of God. How much less could those that are part of the temple’s cleansing be qualified for their work while taking blood on their hands. The punishment of evil doers is here and now entrusted to gentile governments and they “bare not the sword in vain.” [84]

Military service does not mean, intrinsically, participation in murder. But the willful joining of the military, in America at least, is a resigning of your personal freedoms. This Christians are not at liberty to do. But when they have, or when they come to know Jesus in their military capacity, the Law of God does not require them to desert their post. When people asked John the Baptist what they were to do, he answered with practical suggestions. Then the publicans asked. Finally the soldiers “demanded” in typical soldierly fashion. John did not bid them to refuse obedience to their commanding officer. But neither did he permit them to fight. He bade them “Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.” [85] The military was, in the time of Jesus, the home of the greatest man of faith Jesus had met in the nation of Israel. [86] One must assume that the greatest faith was not the possession of a man whose job made him a hypocrite. But he with his great authority was, like all men, to “be no brawler, gentle to all men.” [87]

God has delegated to men the execution of murderers. This ordinance was the first of all civil ordinances, and is enunciated in the 13th chapter of Revelation. [88] “Whoever sheds man’s blood, his blood shall be shed by man. For He made man in the image of God.” Here it is the sacredness of life that is urged in defense of the death penalty contrary to the way the argument is heard most often today. “If anyone will kill by the sword, he must be killed by the sword” is the language of the last living apostle. Let those considering military careers consider this last point. The reformer Zwingli, neglecting this article of faith, fell on the field of battle while in the prime of his life. [89]

The discussion of the death penalty leads naturally to the discussion of self-defense. Consider the following passages in connection.

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:” “If a man shall steal an ox . . . and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox. . . . If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him. If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.” [90]

The laws of Israel like those of civilized nations today, made allowance for the use of lethal force in self-protection and in the protection of others. Jesus, just before His betrayal and death, reiterated the principle by instructing His disciples to sell what was necessary to get the funds to buy a sword.

Jesus had sent out the twelve without a purse or a scrip. They had returned with joy for their evangelistic success. Then Jesus had sent out the seventy with a similar lack of provisions. The seventy had the report of the twelve to sustain their faith and went out boldly. They too returned victorious. [91] But now, after warning of Peter’s soon coming fall, Jesus changed His directives.

“And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.” [92]

While the disciples had been doing the work of God, they had been under Divine protection. No harm could come to them without their God’s approval. While in His employ, they were provided with food and shelter and guardianship. But tonight that would change. They would leave His service, and Jesus warned them that they would need now to watch out for themselves. While in the service of the evil one they would need sword and money to ensure their survival. It was the prophecy of Peter’s fall that called forth this saying. Christian’s must understand that a loving Savior gives men that have placed themselves where He can not protect them the right to protect their own lives. [93]

But when, that very evening, Peter tried to defend Jesus with one of the two swords, Jesus denied him the privilege. “Then said Jesus to Peter, ‘Put your sword into the sheath: the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?” [94] Peter was still claiming to serve Jesus and the sword was unwarranted. Jesus rested in the thought that heaven could and would protect Him if it was right. But the time had come to drink the cup of persecution.

That was to be swallowed without resistance. Jesus is not the only sheep that is to be led silently to the place of execution. [95] He is not the only one to drink the cup without resistance. [96] He was not the only one. If we are to resist to the point of shedding blood, it is to be our own blood shed by the agony of the struggle against sin. [97]

“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.” [98]

God is our defense and we are not to undermine the truth by our efforts. We are to commit the keeping of even our temporal souls to Christ. Vengeance is not ours. [99] David considered that it would have been a sin not only against God but against Saul personally to have killed him in self-defense. [100] In the case of war the practice of national defense exposes the Christian to further woes. “Do not kill the innocent and the righteous; for I will not justify the wicked.” [101] If a man can not be righteous and fight in a war, then the issue is settled. If a man may be righteous and fight in a war, then the enemy may be a righteous man. And the target may house innocent men. We will be responsible if we assume that we know either the future or the hearts of our fellow men.

For the believer, the fear of death is just that type of assumption. It is a virtual rejection of God’s promises for protection here and a happy life in the hereafter. As a guiding motive in forced military service cowardice is most to be despised in the Christian. To “risk” our life in efforts to save dying men we do not show the same bravery as the atheist who has no thought of afterlife. The world has a right to expect us to be nobler. But alas, the family of believers, including its fathers Abraham (twice) and Isaac, has shown too often its heart’s unbelief by its failure in the face of death. [102] The faithful servant of Solomon was turned by an unfounded fear of death into a most dreadful apostasy that led to the ruin of his kingdom. [103]

Satan has gambled on man’s fear of death. “Skin for skin” he retorted when challenged by God to think about Job. [104] The Jews misjudged Jesus on the same point. The Pharisees “came saying ‘Go out and go on from here, for Herod desires to kill you.’ ” Jesus replied confessing that He was ready for his fate and that He was unafraid of the power of men. But he said that he would travel on to the capital, “for it is not possible for a prophet to perish outside Jerusalem.” [105]

The fear of death has, ironically, often led directly to death. Founded as fear of death is on an unbelief in God’s promises of protection and on a supposed ability to see the outcome of events, it is often little helped by correction from God’s prophets. It was fear of death that led the Jews to seek counsel from Jeremiah and to promise to comply. But when that counsel seemed very very dangerous, it was fear of death that led them to disobey. Their disobedience led to their death. [106]

Sabbath Observance and Oath Taking

When an officer commands a Seventh-day Adventist cadet to take aim at an enemy encampment and to fire his weapon, the cadet may see forcefully that his conscience forbids obedience to his superior. The law includes a prohibition of murder. But when asked to swear allegiance and unconditional obedience to his commanders, he may not find clear Bible passages coming to his mind to forbid or permit compliance.

And military persons are often little inclined to respect Sabbath’s sacred obligations. Nor are they inclined to grant their men the Sabbath privileges they request or demand. In our own denominational history the issues of Sabbath observance during time of war and under oppressive regimes have led to significant divisions.

Jesus taught that “it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath day.” That example he was referring to was the healing of a person. With this in mind Adventists have thought and taught that medical ministry on Sabbath would not be a violation of the commandment. This understanding led to a petition to the American military that Adventists, as far as possible, be placed in medical units to avoid unnecessary hassles over the Sabbath issue.

At this point it would be right to discuss the role of conscience in the decisions made by a Christian. Of special interest are the answers to the following questions.

What should an SDA do who is not “convicted” regarding bearing arms?

What should he do if he is “convicted” that he should obey his commander’s orders even when those conflict with the plain wording of the Commandments?

Which oaths, and under which circumstances, violate the command to “swear not at all”?

What kind of work is prohibited by the fourth commandment? Does work in a medical facility exempt the worker from the prohibition against doing “any work”? What about worker remuneration for Sabbath labor?

A few statements from the pen of Inspiration would be of service. A man under authority is not released from his moral obligations. The most difficult pressure to bear is often not that which arises from persecution by the enemy. Rather, it is the little jab, the disgusted look, of a respected friend. The soldier, whether in the medical corps or in basic training, must hold as his motto, “Death before dishonor or the transgression of God’s law.”[107]

[This man] will do anything and everything to be a servant of the cause, but he will not do the very thing that the Lord has signified is right to be done . . . . This pretense of conscientiousness has been pretty thoroughly tested and proved. I speak understandingly when I tell you that I have very little confidence in his conscientiousness. There is a good conscience and a bad conscience, and the man is most thoroughly deceived in himself.”[108]

How can you plead that you are conscientious in the work? Know ye not that there is a good conscience and a bad conscience? Which is pure and elevating and ennobling? When one takes a course that is in harmony with his own perverted, hereditary and cultivated taste, in indulgence of appetite, shall his claims of conscientiousness be respected as of heavenly birth.[109]

Jesus condemned their practices, declaring that their custom in oath taking was a transgression of the commandment of God. Our Savior did not, however, forbid the use of the judicial oath, in which God is solemnly called to witness that what is said is truth and nothing but the truth. Jesus Himself, at His trial before the Sanhedrin, did not refuse to testify under oath . . . . Had Christ in the Sermon on the Mount condemned the judicial oath, He would at His trial have reproved the high priest and thus, for the benefit of His followers, have enforced His own teaching . . . . There are very many who do not fear to deceive their fellow men, but they have been taught, and have been impressed by the Spirit of God, that it is a fearful thing to lie to their Maker. When put under oath they are made to feel that they are not testifying merely before men, but before God; that if they bear false witness, it is to Him who reads the heart and who knows the exact truth. The knowledge of the fearful judgments that have followed this sin has a restraining influence upon them.[110]

You may say, “But I have given my promise [in regard to marriage], and shall I now retract it?” I answer, If you have made a promise contrary to the Scriptures, by all means retract it without delay, and in humility before God repent of the infatuation that led you to make so rash a pledge. Far better take back such a promise, in the fear of God, than keep it, and thereby dishonor your Maker.[111]

“Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved. Psalms 15

Physicians need to cultivate a spirit of self-denial and self-sacrifice. It may be necessary to devote even the hours of the holy Sabbath to the relief of suffering humanity. But the fee for such labor should be put into the treasury of the Lord, to be used for the worthy poor, who need medical skill but cannot afford to pay for it.[112]

A spirit of irreverence and carelessness in the observance of the Sabbath is liable to come into our sanitariums . . . . Especially should every physician endeavor to set a right example. The nature of his duties naturally leads him to feel justified in doing on the Sabbath many things that he should refrain from doing. So far as possible, he should so plan his work that he can lay aside his ordinary duties . . . . Often physicians and nurses are called upon during the Sabbath to minister to the sick, and sometimes it is impossible for them to take time for rest and for attending devotional services. The needs of suffering humanity are never to be neglected. The Savior by His example has shown us that it is right to relieve suffering on the Sabbath. But unnecessary work, such as ordinary treatments and operations that can be postponed, should be deferred. Let the patients understand that physicians and helpers should have one day for rest. Let them understand that the workers fear God and desire to keep holy the day that He has set apart for His followers to observe as a sign between Him and them.[113]



Order and chaos are at war. God is on the side of order and has given to men the right to order themselves and to enforce laws and discipline. The maintenance of this order depends as much on the support of citizens as did the order in heaven. For that reason Christians, more than all others, are obligated to support order in the form of national and civil institutions at all levels. National governments are not the only gifts of order given to men. Order has been placed in the family and in the church. And the order that regulates heaven, the Law of God, binds all men under the strictest obligation. Christians are to support all these forms of organization by cheerful submission. When these forms conflict, the Christian must evaluate which authority is the higher and submit to that one. When the higher authority is not the state, the Christian will recognize that it is most unfortunate that he is not able to support the lower form of order and will be not at all inclined to boast of his defiance of national law.

But fanaticism and feelings are often mistaken for conscience. Men are not held responsible for the actions of the nations they support, nor are they released from supporting them by the wicked acts of those nations. Whether that support is financial or physical, when demanded it is to be cheerfully given. And as a symbol of our belief in national order, we ought to “go the extra mile” to show that support.

But our support for our nation does not detract an iota of authority from the sacred Law of God. Christians are not authorized to use lethal force nor to take positions requiring the use of lethal force. If they are found in those positions they are commanded to “do violence to no man.” Their Christianity has unfitted them to be ministers of wrath. They may display the greatest faith and courage in their military duties. They ought not to fear death and ought to obey authority even at the peril of their lives from enemy fire. But they must under no case disobey the Holy Law of Jehovah.

They may relieve the sick and suffering, but the needs of wounded humanity do not remove from the Sabbath its sacred character. Things that can be done the next day should be. Things that can be done on Friday should be. The voice of a commanding officer does not make wrong into right. A man must, like Daniel, purpose in his heart that he will not defile himself. Then he should, like Daniel, make humble and consistent efforts to have his rights to worship respected. But his humility will not excuse treachery against the government of heaven. While doing the duties he must do to relieve suffering, he must yet keep the Sabbath as the Sabbath “of the Lord” his God. He can accept no assignments, permit no forced labor. If paid for what he must do as a missionary, he will return that pay into a fund for doing further mission work.

When he is sworn into service, he will not be at liberty to barter away his will. He must recognize in his promise that the one nation he pledges his allegiance to is “under God.” If he has made a promise to do whatever he is told to do regardless of all else, he should be all means retract this promise. He is Christ’s free man, though he be a slave of the government.

These last paragraphs are advice. We are to be very careful in the advice we give. And more so in the advice received. That truth may shine brighter and duty more clear is my prayer.

Appendix A

RH 01-19-64; also in 1T 427

RH 11-27-83

RH 3-6-88; also in TMKH 115

2SAT 57, 68; 2-1-90

14MR 294; also in TE 110 (1896)

RH 2-1-99

RH 7-30-00

RH 11-29-98

4T 200 (1875)

14MR 161

1SAT p. 313 (2-2-00)

RH 4-19-98

EV 204 (1894)

RH 5-5-91

6BC 1120

ST 7-6-88

SpTB07, 11-27-1903; p. 17

YI 01-01-03

2T 285 (ca. 1968)

RH 3-15-06; also in HP 361

RH 1-15-84

RH 2-14-88

Appendix B

Oath Taking and the Fugitive Slave Law

I saw that some of God’s children have made a mistake in regard to oath taking, and Satan has taken advantage of this to oppress them, and take from them their Lord’s money. I saw that the words of our Lord, “Swear not at all,” do not touch the judicial oath. “Let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” This refers to common conversation. Some exaggerate in their language. Some swear by their own life; others swear by their head–as sure as they live; as sure as they have a head. Some take heaven and earth to witness that such things are so. Some hope that God will strike them out of existence if what they are saying is not true. It is this kind of common swearing against which Jesus warns His disciples.

We have men placed over us for rulers, and laws to govern the people. Were it not for these laws, the condition of the world would be worse than it is now. Some of these laws are good, others are bad. The bad have been increasing, and we are yet to be brought into strait places. But God will sustain His people in being firm and living up to the principles of His word. When the laws of men conflict with the word and law of God, we are to obey the latter, whatever the consequences may be. The law of our land requiring us to deliver a slave to his master, we are not to obey; and we must abide the consequences of violating this law. The slave is not the property of any man. God is his rightful master, and man has no right to take God’s workmanship into his hands, and claim him as his own.

I saw that the Lord still has something to do with the laws of the land. While Jesus is in the sanctuary, God’s restraining Spirit is felt by rulers and people. But Satan controls to a great extent the mass of the world, and were it not for the laws of the land, we should experience much suffering. I was shown that when it is actually necessary, and they are called upon to testify in a lawful manner, it is no violation of God’s word for His children to solemnly take God to witness that what they say is the truth, and nothing but the truth. – Testimonies to the Church, vol. 1, pp. 201–202

Appendix C

The Saviour called His disciples to Him, and bade them mark the widow’s poverty. Then His words of commendation fell upon her ear: “Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all.” Tears of joy filled her eyes as she felt that her act was understood and appreciated. Many would have advised her to keep her pittance for her own use; given into the hands of the well-fed priests, it would be lost sight of among the many costly gifts brought to the treasury. But Jesus understood her motive. She believed the service of the temple to be of God’s appointment, and she was anxious to do her utmost to sustain it. She did what she could, and her act was to be a monument to her memory through all time, and her joy in eternity. Her heart went with her gift; its value was estimated, not by the worth of the coin, but by the love to God and the interest in His work that had prompted the deed. – Counsels on Stewardship, p. 175

[1] Consider the italicized words in the following statement. Notice the apparent lack of a concrete knowledge of what could or would come as a result of disobedience. It is nearly stated that disobedience was an unthinkable, yeah, an unthought of thought. “Satan refused to listen. And then he turned from the loyal and true angels, denouncing them as slaves. These angels, true to God, stood in amazement as they saw that Satan was successful in his effort to excite rebellion. He promised them a new and better government than they then had, in which all would be freedom. Great numbers signified their purpose to accept Satan as their leader and chief commander. As he saw his advances were met with success, he flattered himself that he should yet have all the angels on his side, and that he would be equal with God himself, and his voice of authority would be heard in commanding the entire host of Heaven. Again the loyal angels warned Satan, and assured him what must be the consequence if he persisted; that He who could create the angels, could by His power overturn all their authority, and in some signal manner punish their audacity and terrible rebellion. To think that an angel should resist the law of God which was as sacred as Himself! They warned the rebellious to close their ears to Satan’s deceptive reasonings, and advised Satan, and all who had been affected by him, to go to God and confess their wrong for even  admitting a thought of questioning his authority.”—Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, p. 20

[2] Romans 3:31

[3] “Righteousness is right-doing. It is obedience to the law of God; for in that law the principles of righteousness are set forth. The Bible says, ‘All Thy commandments are righteousness.’ Psalm 119:172.” – Story of Jesus, p. 61

[4] Romans 14:34

[5] “God cannot take to heaven the slave who has been kept in ignorance and degradation, knowing nothing of God or the Bible, fearing nothing but his master’s lash, and holding a lower position than the brutes. But He does the best thing for him that a compassionate God can do. He permits him to be as if he had not been, while the master must endure the seven last plagues and then come up in the second resurrection and suffer the second, most awful death. Then the justice of God will be satisfied.” Early Writings, p. 276. Emphasis in all quotations is supplied unless otherwise noted.

[6] “Satan was once an honored angel in heaven, next to Christ . . . His forehead was high and broad, showing great intelligence. His form was perfect; his bearing noble and majestic. [152] Then I was shown him as he now is . . . . That brow which was once so noble, I particularly noticed. His forehead commenced from his eyes to recede. I saw that he had so long bent himself to evil that every good quality was debased, and every evil trait was developed . . . . His frame was large, but the flesh hung loosely about his hands and face.” Early Writings, p. 145, 154.

[7] Here it might be appropriate to demonstrate the difference between magic and miracle. Consider for a minute the nature of miracles in scripture. They are acts of intelligent intervention in cooperation with the laws of nature. A creative word here, an angel to close a lion’s mouth there, a wind to dry the earth at one time, and to tear it at another–God works by and through the laws of the universe. Magic is capricious. It would as soon turn the lion into a mouse and turn the flood’s water into a flower-garden. It makes light of law and order in the universe. It rules by its power. In short, magic alone is arbitrary. By stories and media, Satan has thrown a blanket over the minds of those that have come to respect natural law. They confound magic and miracle and see in them both what is in magic alone—a threat to reason and the future.

[8] The first example of active authority in history was the war between Satan and Michael, with the angels arrayed under them fighting as well. See Revelation 12. The reason that Satan left heaven was unlike the motive of any obedience in the universe prior to that time. He obeyed because he had no power to disobey. He was not able to resist the power. This type of authority is itself war, and hence the use of the word in Reveltion 12. Satan contests God’s right to use this authority.

[9] “And they . . . served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass.” “ . . . make a covenant with the LORD God of Israel, that his fierce wrath may turn away from us.” “Now be ye not stiff-necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the LORD, . . . that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you.” “But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.” 2 Chronicles 24:18; 29:10; 30:8; 36:16.

[10] Many have thought that the curse pronounced on Adam and Eve, “on the day that you eat of the tree you will certainly die,” foretold instant destruction. On this basis some have argued that had not Jesus especially interposed as an Intercessor they would have died that very day. Is this true? It was on account of the fact that Adam and Eve could live forever while having access to the tree of life that they were expelled from the garden. See Genesis 3:22. Jesus stepped in immediately, not as a necessity to ward off lethal reprisal, but to offer hope and aid. Satan, living today thousands of years after his rebellion, stands without an intercessor, living by the power of God. What did the curse on man mean? “The warning given to our first parents—‘In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die’ (Genesis 2:17)—did not imply that they were to die on the very day when they partook of the forbidden fruit. But on the day the irrevocable sentence would be pronounced. Immortality was promised them on condition of obedience; by transgression they would forfeit eternal life. That very day they would be doomed to death.” Emphasis supplied. In this respect, Satan himself died the very day he first sinned.

[11] See Nehemiah 13:8; Nahum 1:2; Romans 2:5. John 3:36.

[12] See Ezra 7:23; 8:22

[13] See Ezra 5:12

[14] See Romans 13:4

[15] See Revelation 14:10; 14:19; 15:1; 15:7; 16:1; 16:19; 19:15

[16] John 5:27

[17] 1 Corinthians 15:24

[18] See Revelation 15:1–4; 16:4–6.

[19] Revelation 6:9–11. The plea for justice, though answered with an admonition to “rest a little season” until the final persecution could be followed by a final judgement, was not answered that way alone. First those slain were declared to truly be among the righteous. This allusion to putting on white robes is strong evidence in favor of a pre-advent investigative judgement. Notice that the white robe if given (A) after death, for it is a plurality of souls that cry out for justice; (B) before the final persecution; and (C) while they are yet “resting,” a simple reference to their unconscious sleep. See Hebrews 11:4; Genesis 4:10 where Abel’s “blood” cries for justice.

[20] Revelation 19:16; 17:14; 1:5

[21] Education, p. 173. The “counsels” being worked out are the objects of prophecy. All earthly order is tending towards the final end when the kingdoms shall be given into Christ’s hands. Even now “the government is on His shoulders,” and as time continues it will be seen that “There is no end to the increase of His government.” Isaiah 9:6–7, Literal Translation.

[22] Zechariah 9:9

[23] John 18:36

[24] John 19:11; Paul referred to this conversation in his letter to Timothy when he charged the young man “before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession” to “fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called.” 1 Timothy 6:12-16. Timothy was to fight spiritual battles in harmony with Christ’s confession to have only a spiritual kingdom. It is in this context that Paul affirms that Jesus is “the only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.” The letter also hints that an understanding of these principles will be important eschatologically. “Keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

[25] Daniel 5:18–23.

[26] Jeremiah 27:5.

[27] It may not fall into the scope of this survey to demonstrate on what basis God deems a man fit for an emperor’s crown. Suffice it here to say that God has often chosen cruel men, wicked men, to fill positions of trust.

[28] Perhaps a few more witnesses might be in order. See Daniel 4:32; 2:21. “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.” Psalms 62:11. It is not kings alone that rule by God’s power. “By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.” Proverbs 8:16.

[29] Revelation 13:1

[30] See Colossians 1:13

[31] See Luke 20:20; Acts 26:10

[32] You’ll find no proof in this endnote. But here are evidences that have appealed to my reason. The use of state power by a church, represented by a woman riding a beast, is called the “mother of abominations” of the earth. Her cup is full of her abominations. Revelation 17:4–5. She makes all nations drink of that cup, which is all called the “wine of the wrath of her fornications.” Revelation 14:8–9. Her fornications are the same as her abominations; they are her dependence on civil powers for help where she ought to depend on her Maker and her ex-Husband. Revelation 17:2, 18; 18:3, 9; Ezekiel 16:22–51; 33:24–26. “And they watched [Jesus] that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.” Luke 20:20. The desolation came as foretold by Daniel. The Roman power, being used by Satan to force His way and to crush the center of Christianity, surrounded the city. But as Jesus had fled the Roman dragon that threatened his nativity, Christians by His advice escaped the Roman abomination that threatened to destroy them there.

[33] Luke 9:1; Mark 1:27

[34] Education, pp. 203–204. Here is the context. “It is the beginnings of evil that should be guarded against. In the instruction of the youth the effect of apparently small deviations from the right should be made very plain. Let the student be taught the value of a simple, healthful diet in preventing the desire for unnatural stimulants. Let the habit of self-control be early established. Let the youth be impressed with the thought that they are to be masters, and not slaves. Of the kingdom within them God has made them rulers, and they are to exercise their Heaven-appointed kingship. When such instruction is faithfully given, the results will extend far beyond the youth themselves. Influences will reach out that will save thousands of men and women who are on the very brink of ruin.” See also Luke 17:21.

[35] 2 Corinthians 13:8

[36] Matthew 26:53

[37] Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 200; Mind Character and Personality, vol. 1, p. 177. Emphases supplied. These references admonish the school and home, respectively, to imitate the order of heaven.

[38] Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 308

[39] Psalms 119:165

[40] For an interesting statement on the relation of Jesus to His parents’ choices regarding education, see Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp. 439–440. For a brief treatment on the relation of the work of God to a person’s personal life and familial responsibilities, see Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, pp. 499–500.

[41] Romans 13:1–2

[42] I Peter 2:13–14

[43] Matthew 20:25

[44] “By precept and example” was a favorite phrase of Ellen White’s. A search on my edition of the EGW CD-ROM returns 706 paragraphs with the phrase. The idea is found expressly in scripture. Spiritual leaders reprimanded for their ruling “with force and with cruelty” in Ezekiel 34 are admonished rather to “feed the flock,” to strengthen the poor, to heal the wounded. The apostle Peter, adopting this maxim as his own wrote, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” 1 Peter 5:2–3. Emphasis Supplied. Jesus was challenged very directly to reveal who had authorized him to speak of truth and righteousness without permission form church authorities. Jesus never answered the question, but His willingness to answer it on condition gives us a hint at what His answer would have been. See Luke 20:2, 8. He was authorized by the Word of God to “speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority.” Titus 2:15. This authority is given to God’s workers (see Mark 13:34), says Paul, “for edification, and not for your destruction.” 2 Corinthians 10:8. But the authority did come with executive powers to keep order in the church. On this basis Paul wrote “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” 1 Timothy 2:12. The order established in the family was not to be confounded by a conflicting order in the church.

[45] Luke 22:25

[46] Desire of Ages, p. 602. See Testimonies to the Church, vol. 5, pp. 712–713. For an interesting homiletic application of this principle, see Signs of the Times, March 1, 1899.

[47] For Ellen White’s application of this principle to the case of the husband and the wife, see Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 476; Adventist Home, pp. 115–119.

[48] John 18:36. Emphasis supplied.

[49] Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 281

[50] These phrases were favorites of Ellen White. See Appendix A for a chronological list of sources where these terms are used. When read in their context, they are a fruitful field.

[51] Ecclesiastes 8:8; see also 2 Corinthians 10:4–6.

[52] These questions have plagued even prophets. Asaph, Jeremiah and Habakkuk among them approached God about their distress at the “prosperity of the wicked,” at the fact that “all they are happy that deal very treacherously.” They asked God “How can you hold your tongue when the wicked devours the man that is more righteous than he?” See Psalms 78, Jeremiah 12, Habakkuk 1:12–2:3. The answers given are references to a certain future judgement. Asaph went into the sanctuary, “then understood I their end.” God gave Jeremiah to understand that “I have left mine heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies.” Why? To test them and bring them to repentance. Habakkuk received a concise answer. “Write the vision, make it plain upon tables that he may run that reads it.” The vision was that of the sanctuary that Asaph had studied, the one that points to the time of judgement. To the pain of the righteous and the joy of the evil ones God answers alike that the judgment is coming, let all beware. Justice there will be most fair.

[53] Romans 9:21–23; 2 Timothy 2:20–21

[54] Acts 6:2

[55] Romans 13:4–6

[56] 2 Chronicles 20:17

[57] 1 Samuel 15:23

[58] cf. Romans 13:9;

[59] See footnote 7.

[60] It is a marked tendency of the unconsecrated in God’s church to think and speak lightly of authorities. See 2 Peter 2:10 and Jude 8 in their contexts.

[61] I Peter 2:17–18

[62] Leviticus 19:32; 1 Timothy 5:17; 6:1–5. Notice in these verses the idea of measured honor. Christians are to be “subject to one another in the fear of God” and to “rulers and authorities.” God causes “the poor . . . to sit with nobles; yea, he caused them to inherit a throne of honor” Ephesians 5:21; Titus 3:1; 1 Samuel 2:8.

[63] Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pp. 202, 264. The context of the first of these passages is very interesting in regard to God’s relation to the making of national laws. See Appendix B.

[64] Ephesians 6:1; compare Colossians 3:20.

[65] See Appendix B

[66] Proctor and Gamble has sued a number of persons while fighting this allegation. In 1995 they sued a high-level member of Amway Corporation with spreading this malicious rumor to draw away customers from the company. As of this writing the P&G side of the story could be read at:; The case was dismissed. There is a great deal on the Internet on this topic. The more serious sources don’t seem to credit the rumor at all, whether or not they defend Amway.

[67]Luke 21:2–3

[68] Romans 13:6–8

[69] Counsels on Stewardship, p. 175. See Appendix C

[70] Luke 20:25; In this context the Jews were a type of slave. Slaves, under unjust authority by the very nature of the relationship, are counseled to obey their masters. See Colossians 3:22.

[71] Mathew 5:39–41

[72] “Collisions between the people and the soldiers were frequent, and these inflamed the popular hatred. Often as some Roman official with his guard of soldiers hastened from point to point, he would seize upon the Jewish peasants who were laboring in the field and compel them to carry burdens up the mountainside or render any other service that might be needed. This was in accordance with the Roman law and custom, and resistance to such demands only called forth taunts and cruelty.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessings, pp. 69–70.

[73] Matthew 5:42–45

[74] Mathew 5:46–6:1

[75] Romans 12:18; this is the immediate context of Romans 13.

[76] Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pp. 356–357. Emphasis supplied. The article begins on p. 355. Ellen was shown some things regarding the article (written by her husband) on Adventists and military service. This article opined, in one paragraph, that when a government chooses to engage in battle, it takes on itself the responsibility for killing and that the soldier does not bear that responsibility. This was the paragraph that created the stir spoken of. The testimony does not defend the article as being true in this point, but as being the “best light” that the author had. This history receives treatment in chapter 4 of The Progressive Years, the second volume of the Ellen White Biography series.

[77] See Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 294

[78] See Exodus 21:22–24. Here a man may even be killed for an accidental death. No question is asked in the passage as to the propriety or justice of the quarrel. The accidental death implied by verse 23 is the death of a fetus.

[79] See Desire of Ages, pp. 739–740.

[80] Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 306

[81] Acts 17:28; Ezekiel 18:4

[82] See Numbers 25:5; Exodus 32:27; Deuteronomy 32:39

[83] See Ezekiel 30:24–25

[84] See Romans 13:4

[85] See Luke 3:10–14

[86] Matthew 8

[87] I Timothy 3:3

[88] Genesis 9:6; Revelation 13:10; prior to the flood, when there was no civil government, and even before a man had died from any other cause, a murder took place. Cain feared vigilantism. There was no government on earth and no judicial system to hear the arguments. God did not sanction the personal taking of vengeance against the wrong doer. Without due process of law life was not to be taken. See Genesis 4:9–15. “And Jehovah set a mark on Cain so that anyone that found him should not kill him.” v. 15. Murder is not to be revenged with murder.

[89] The Great Controversy, 1911 ed., p. 212

[90] John 10:10; Exodus 22:1–3. The idea here seems to be that if a thief breaks in during the day, his intentions were to steal only, not to kill. In that case he should make restitution, not be slaughtered. The passage does not teach that a man ought to kill a thief in self-defense, but only that a government should not punish a man if he does. This is an important distinction. The laws of the land were not written with the thought that every man would be an angel-protected Christian.

[91] See the first few verses of chapters nine and ten of Luke for these stories. Perhaps God is waiting today for a small group that will demonstrate their willingness to venture into His work equipped and supported by naught but His promises. And perhaps a veritable multitude will do the same work when the few return.

[92] Luke 22:34–38

[93] The book of Esther makes no distinct reference to God. But it gives a picture of circumstances that Providence seems to take credit for in the protection of the Jews. See Esther 8:11; 9:16

[94] See John 18:11

[95] Psalms 44:22; Romans 8:26

[96] Mark 10:38–39

[97] Hebrews 12:3

[98] See 1 Peter 2:21–23

[99] See Romans 12:19; I Corinthians 4:11–12; I Thessalonians 5:15; I Peter 3:9

[100] I Samuel 24:11

[101] Exodus 23:7

[102] See Genesis 12, 20, 26.

[103] I Kings 12:27; This prediction of the future, like many predictions do, neglected to reckon in the effect of God’s blessing on the obedient.

[104] Job 2:4

[105] Luke 13:31–33

[106] See Jeremiah 41; see also 1 Samuel 28

[107] Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 147

[108] Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, p. 725

[109] Spalding and Magan Collection, p. 209

[110] Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 66-67

[111] Adventist Home, pp. 48-49

[112] Medical Ministry, p. 216

[113] Counsels on Health, p. 236

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