Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty Sabbath 2015

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: C.A. Murray (Host), Lincoln Steed


Series Code: RLIB

Program Code: RLIB000001

00:19 We welcome you to a very special presentation
00:22 on Liberty Sabbath.
00:24 And we wish you happy Sabbath.
00:26 And as we think about religious liberty
00:30 and the work of the Liberty Department,
00:32 it is an integral part of the work
00:34 of the Seventh-day Adventist Church
00:36 and has always been an important part of our work.
00:40 Religious liberty is one of those things that we say
00:43 that you don't think about until you need it,
00:46 but when you need it, you really need it.
00:49 And so it is a good thing that religious liberty is there
00:54 that the magazine is produced,
00:56 but more than that, the church has,
00:58 throughout its long history, fought for religious liberty
01:02 not only for Seventh-day Adventists,
01:04 but for all people because when the liberties of one group
01:07 are infringed upon, then you can be next.
01:11 So what affects one affects them all.
01:14 And so the Liberty campaign is one of the very first campaigns
01:17 that the church has throughout the year
01:20 because of its important part in the life of the church
01:24 and in the work of the church.
01:26 The editor of Liberty magazine is Lincoln steed.
01:29 And if you have ever had a chance to look
01:31 at Liberty magazine, you realize
01:32 that it is one of the really best magazines that we have.
01:35 It is well written, it is a beautiful magazine,
01:38 it is produced well, put together well,
01:40 and designed not necessarily to speak
01:44 to the Adventist community, it does do that,
01:47 but it is also designed to inform the wider community.
01:52 And so when Liberty magazine is put out...
01:55 We like to put it in the offices of doctors,
01:59 and lawyers, and people of influence
02:01 because they will be affected by
02:04 and many times affect the religious liberty
02:07 of those people here in these United States
02:09 and around the world.
02:11 And so we are very, very pleased
02:12 to have the editor of Liberty magazine
02:14 to be with us today, that is Lincoln Steed.
02:16 He has a message for us and we will all be
02:18 very, very glad to hear it.
02:21 One of the songs that to my mind sort
02:23 of bespeaks religious liberty is
02:25 "I'll tell the world that I'm a Christian."
02:28 We are blessed to be in a country
02:30 where we are allowed to do that.
02:32 There are many countries where that is not permitted,
02:36 and we must pray for those countries.
02:38 But we are allowed to tell the world
02:41 who we are and what we believe, but more than that,
02:44 we have an obligation to do that as given to us by God.
02:48 We are in a country that God has ordained
02:51 to be a herald of the good news of Jesus Christ,
02:54 and Liberty magazine, and the Liberty campaign,
02:57 and Religious Liberty as an entity
02:59 helps us to do precisely that.
03:01 So we're going to pray now and then we will sing
03:04 "I'll tell the world that I'm a Christian."
03:06 After that, the next voice that you will hear will be
03:07 that of Lincoln Steed
03:09 who is the editor of Liberty magazine
03:12 and a great friend of this ministry.
03:14 Shall we pray?
03:15 Gracious Father, we praise You and thank You
03:17 for another opportunity to lift up the name of Jesus.
03:22 We think about those who have suffered
03:24 for their faith
03:25 and who even now suffer for their faith,
03:29 who are not allowed to praise Your name openly,
03:32 who must keep in secret their love for Jesus.
03:35 And we ask that those of us who have been given the freedom
03:39 to talk about Jesus, will do precisely that,
03:43 that will carry the name of Jesus everywhere
03:46 that we are caused to go.
03:49 Bless the sermon this day,
03:51 bless the religious liberty work
03:53 of the Seventh-day Adventist Church,
03:55 bless the magazine, may it go to the desks of those
03:59 who are in positions of influence
04:02 and may the work of Religious Liberty
04:04 go on just as long
04:05 and just as far as heaven has need of it.
04:09 Bless our speaker this day.
04:11 We praise You and thank You. In Jesus' name, amen.
04:30 I'll tell the world that I'm a Christian
04:37 I'm not ashamed
04:41 His name to bear
04:44 I'll tell the world
04:48 That I'm a Christian
04:51 I'll take Him with me everywhere
04:58 I'll tell the world
05:03 How Jesus saved me
05:06 And how He gave me
05:09 A life brand new
05:14 And I know
05:16 That if you trust Him
05:20 That all He gave me,
05:23 He'll give to you
05:31 I'll tell the world
05:34 That He's my Savior
05:38 No other one
05:41 Could love me so
05:45 My life, my all is His forever
05:52 And where He leads me,
05:56 I will go
06:04 I'll tell the world
06:07 Jesus is coming
06:10 And it may be near
06:14 Or far, far away
06:17 But we've got to live
06:21 As if that coming
06:25 Could be tomorrow
06:28 Or today
06:31 For when He comes
06:35 And life is over
06:39 For those who love Him,
06:42 There's more to be
06:47 Eyes have never seen
06:51 The wonders
06:54 That He's preparing
06:57 For you and me
07:04 Go tell the world
07:07 That you're a Christian
07:11 Don't be ashamed,
07:15 His name to bear
07:18 Just tell the world
07:22 That you are a Christian
07:25 And take Him with you
07:29 Everywhere
07:35 I'll tell the world
07:40 How Jesus saved me
07:43 And how He gave me
07:47 A life brand new
07:52 And I know
07:54 That if you trust Him
07:57 That all He gave to me,
08:01 He'll give to you
08:09 I'll tell the world
08:12 That I'm a Christian
08:15 And I'm not ashamed
08:19 His name to bear
08:22 I'll tell the world
08:26 That I'm a Christian
08:30 I'll take Him with me
08:33 Anywhere
08:37 I'll take Him with me
08:40 Anywhere
09:05 Religious Liberty Sabbath again.
09:09 It seems to me they come around distressingly often only
09:12 because so many things are happening in our world
09:15 that a year is just a blink of the eye now.
09:18 But every day something happens
09:20 that's important for religious liberty.
09:24 I often do the program for 3ABN and on a couple of occasions
09:29 just to choose topics,
09:30 we've taken the day's newspaper,
09:32 and it's easy.
09:34 There are three or four things in any newspaper
09:36 that relates to religious liberty.
09:38 CA Murray gave a good introduction
09:41 to Liberty magazine, and our Religious Liberty work,
09:45 the Seventh-day Adventist religious liberty work.
09:47 It's more than just for our church.
09:50 But I'm privileged to work
09:51 for the Seventh-day Adventist church
09:53 producing a magazine that is distributed widely
09:57 to politicians, to public officials,
09:59 to lawyers, mayors, public officials,
10:02 those thinking men and women.
10:04 Ellen White once called them who are watching these events,
10:08 and we want them to know the importance
10:10 of religious liberty, its basis, and history,
10:12 its basis in theology, and its basis in prophecy.
10:19 I've thought a lot lately on why
10:20 we publish liberty magazine.
10:22 It was begun as Liberty magazine in 1906.
10:27 That's a long time ago.
10:29 But really it goes even further back than that.
10:31 Under the Sentinel of Liberty,
10:32 it was published for many years.
10:34 But more than that,
10:36 the Seventh-day Adventist Church
10:37 began really by publishing and distributing materials
10:42 to the general public talking about the need
10:45 for religious reform
10:47 and religious liberty in difficult times.
10:50 Before the church was founded
10:52 in the mid 1860s, 1863,
10:57 our church was founded.
10:59 But it was done in the context of the Civil War.
11:01 I myself didn't quite realize until recently that
11:05 it was smack dab in the middle of it,
11:07 1861 to 1865 was the civil war.
11:10 Right in the middle of that, a small group of people
11:13 in the United States formed this church.
11:16 But already, since 1849,
11:20 they had been publishing materials.
11:23 It was so important to them to get the word out,
11:26 the importance of religious freedom.
11:30 I have been speaking on this topic for a long time.
11:32 I've been editing the magazine for about 15 plus years now.
11:37 But even way beyond that, religious liberty was important
11:40 to me as a Seventh-day Adventist.
11:41 It's integral to our understanding
11:44 of the nearness of Christ's return
11:47 and the events that would precede it.
11:50 And I can remember, when I first began my ministry,
11:53 I was an editor,
11:54 but not editing Liberty back then.
11:56 I started to preach.
11:58 And I was in Australia, my homeland, at that point.
12:01 And I started to do the circuit.
12:03 Every week, I'd be at a different church.
12:06 And they were interesting times.
12:09 I remember, on one occasion, I had my notes
12:12 and they fell off the table, and I was in great disarray.
12:17 I couldn't get my thoughts together.
12:18 It seemed like maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought.
12:21 On another occasion, I couldn't find them
12:23 and I saw my wife running out the street to the car,
12:25 desperate to find them.
12:27 And in the meantime, I found them in my pocket.
12:29 But one of the more unusual points of learning for me
12:34 in preaching was the lessons
12:36 that I got from a well-established editor,
12:39 preacher that I worked with.
12:41 He differed a little bit on theology
12:43 which is another story.
12:44 But he was the best editor that I've ever worked with
12:47 and a good preacher.
12:49 And I came to him once and I said,
12:50 "How do I get a sermon together?
12:53 You know, what's the best way to learn my material?"
12:55 And he said,
12:57 "Well, I write my sermons out word for word."
12:59 He said, "And I go over it, and over it, and over it."
13:02 And by the time I am ready to deliver it,
13:05 I sort of know it.
13:06 But he says, "I have the typescript there
13:09 and I do it word for word."
13:12 I tried that.
13:13 And that was a disgrace
13:15 because I lost my place a few times
13:17 and that was the end of it.
13:18 And I saw him preaching once.
13:20 And he was one of the best preachers
13:21 in that part of the world, in Australia, in the Pacific.
13:25 And he was preaching the word.
13:26 But he and I and a few others at the publishing house
13:29 often used to read the articles to each other to catch typos.
13:34 We would be looking at the proof
13:36 and you would read it aloud.
13:37 When we did that, we would read all the punctuation,
13:39 and the capitalizations, and so on.
13:42 And he was holding forth on his sermon powerfully.
13:44 And in the middle of it, he said something like point,
13:47 quote, comma, and he stopped
13:50 and the green hue spread over him.
13:52 Well, with all of that, I'm going to,
13:54 with viewers' allowance,
13:58 semi read something that I've prepared
14:00 for our liberty Sabbath.
14:02 I've called it the bones of Joseph.
14:05 And I know my material but I want to stick
14:09 to some of these words
14:10 because I think they're very important.
14:13 The bones of Joseph, you know, standing for principle usually
14:19 carries a cost, but faithfulness
14:22 can pay dividends beyond our imagining.
14:26 Religious liberty is not just a principle of course,
14:29 it's integrally tied to our allegiance
14:32 to the Creator and Lord of all things.
14:35 Religious liberty is proven in actions.
14:39 It is proven by the actions of those
14:42 who honor the great gospel of liberty,
14:44 as the Apostle Paul puts it, and are willing to stand up,
14:48 speak out, and remain faithful, though the heaven's fold
14:53 as one author put it.
14:55 Seventh-day Adventist, Kim Kreider,
14:57 who is featured in our campaign this year,
14:59 is a young woman with an eight-year-old son
15:02 and a bright confident manner that accompanies
15:05 her professional training and prior experience
15:08 with the p score.
15:10 When she applied for a position at the University of Tennessee
15:14 with their student's abroad program,
15:16 it seemed a perfect fit.
15:18 And she was quickly accepted for employment.
15:22 Then just a week later, she was told that
15:24 she must carry her cell phone on the weekends
15:27 and be available to respond.
15:30 This created an immediate conflict for Kim with her
15:33 deeply held convictions on honoring the Lord's Sabbath.
15:37 It was a big thing for Kim, but it might have been
15:40 easily accommodated by her employers.
15:43 In fact, fellow workers even often offered to help
15:47 and cover the phones on the weekend,
15:49 but it wasn't allowed.
15:51 In short order, Kim was fired.
15:55 She appealed through legal means
15:57 and lost the court case, perhaps,
16:00 because she was still a probationary employee.
16:03 But that was not the end of the story, according to Kim,
16:07 as she tells it, the whole process
16:10 gave her an opportunity no more than that,
16:14 it was an opportunity she believes
16:16 that she was placed in that position
16:17 to witness to her counsel, to the lawyers,
16:22 to the judge, to her employers, and fellow workers.
16:28 She saw God's leading in
16:31 getting the job only to lose it.
16:36 Several thousand years ago, Joseph said something similar
16:39 to his brothers, the very same brothers
16:42 who had sold him into slavery.
16:45 "As for you," he told them as they came fearfully
16:48 before him thinking he might exact revenge,
16:52 "You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good
16:56 in order to bring it about as it is this day
16:59 to save many people alive."
17:02 That's part of the story of in Genesis 50.
17:06 Joseph's realization of God's overruling providence
17:10 and Kim's take on her situation
17:12 are not as uncommon as you might expect.
17:17 In our religious liberty work, we are often able
17:20 to help an employee win an accommodation case.
17:23 And other times with others joining our voice,
17:27 we're able to block, delay, or even introduce legislation
17:31 that might have a negative or a positive impact
17:33 on religious freedoms.
17:34 We can influence these things.
17:36 We think, but it is worth keeping in mind
17:39 that the real issue at hand
17:41 for religious liberty is witnessing.
17:43 It's living out our freedom in Christ
17:45 before the world and at all costs.
17:49 Through the years, the tested ones have seen this,
17:53 and often gave glory to God for the experience
17:56 of persecution itself.
17:59 For almost two years,
18:01 our church's Religious Liberty Department
18:03 did all that it could to obtain the release
18:06 of Pastor Antonio Monteiro, a church worker in Togo,
18:11 imprisoned on charges of committing a heinous crime
18:15 of mass murder and trafficking in the blood of the victims.
18:19 The charge was bizarre and soon translated
18:23 into equally bizarre coverage of Adventist belief
18:26 and practice in Togo.
18:28 It became a real blood libel to Monteiro
18:31 and the faith that he held.
18:33 The months went by and lengthened into years
18:35 for our pastor as he languished in a jail
18:38 with no indication
18:40 of when a trial might even be held.
18:43 His jail conditions were worse
18:45 than hardened criminals in the West might experience.
18:49 Plumbing and sanitation were hardly up to code.
18:52 The prison was guarded on the outside, but inside,
18:56 the prisoners ruled themselves.
18:58 The only food inside was
19:00 what relatives were able to pass by the guards
19:03 who were always taking their cut,
19:04 passed by the guards and through the door.
19:08 We could imagine that Pastor Monteiro's life
19:10 was at risk during that imprisonment.
19:13 And with the failure of each attempt
19:15 to negotiate with different levels
19:17 of government, we began to wonder...
19:19 Those of us who were meeting and working on his behalf,
19:23 we began to wonder just how God was going
19:26 to show Himself in this desperate situation.
19:31 Well, only a few months ago, Pastor Monteiro was released.
19:37 Without much advanced notice, a trial was held.
19:41 The testimony against him was recanted
19:45 and he was declared innocent.
19:47 There was again much prayer, this time of Thanksgiving,
19:50 and there was much celebration on his release.
19:54 He returned with his family to his little homeland
19:56 of the Cape Verde Islands, which is about 400 miles
19:59 of the west coast of Africa.
20:02 He returned with his family to Cape Verde
20:04 to a tumultuous welcome
20:06 from almost the entire population,
20:08 official government welcomed him,
20:10 and just joy unbounded.
20:13 And to all and sundry, his story was the same.
20:19 God meant it for good.
20:22 He felt that he'd been chosen to witness
20:25 under trial in that prison.
20:28 For me, one of the most enduring images
20:30 of the whole story was the prison guard
20:33 and inmates bidding farewell to Pastor Monteiro on his release.
20:37 How else could such a powerful witness
20:40 have been given to them?
20:42 There is a shadow to the story though.
20:45 While Pastor Monteiro was acquitted,
20:48 a church layman imprisoned with him on the same
20:51 recanted accusation received a life sentence.
20:56 And it remains to be seen
20:58 how God's plan will reveal itself for him.
21:02 But it is sure, I believe.
21:04 It is sure that God's comforting presence
21:07 is just as available to him as it was to Daniel,
21:11 Paul, and Joseph, as available now
21:14 as it was then.
21:16 I have on my wall at home, an original painting
21:19 by Adventist artist Lars Justinen.
21:22 I used to work with him at Pacific Press.
21:25 The illustration of the painting
21:26 was used to illustrate a Pacific Press book
21:29 on the life of Joseph.
21:31 I often look at it and muse on the dynamic
21:35 of the story portrayed there.
21:37 Part of the illustration shows the pyramids of Egypt
21:41 with the silhouetted figures of camels in the foreground,
21:44 very much the mystic land of Egypt celebrated
21:48 in song and legend.
21:49 Center to the illustration in a circled cameo
21:53 is the artist's recreation of Joseph,
21:56 as the story begins, a 17-year-old boy
22:02 with a strong confident gaze and smooth youthful features.
22:06 On the right is Joseph of the later years.
22:09 His head is covered with
22:11 an Egyptian styled caped headdress
22:12 and his lined face shows the strength of character
22:16 which had taken him
22:18 to the pinnacle of political power.
22:20 According to the Bible account, Joseph was 30 when he went
22:24 into the service for Pharaoh.
22:27 And after 7 years of plenty and 2 of the 7 lean years,
22:31 he was 39, when his brothers appeared
22:34 before him seeking relief from the famine.
22:37 The artwork, I believe,
22:39 shows vividly the transformation
22:41 from a principled
22:46 but hardly experienced...
22:50 In fact, headstrong youth to the middle-aged man
22:54 of wisdom and proven faithfulness.
22:57 How had Joseph remained faithful all of those years?
23:01 How had he put aside hatred for the older brothers
23:05 who sought to kill him and instead sold him into
23:08 what they could have only expected
23:10 to have been a fate worse than death?
23:13 How had Joseph kept his integrity
23:16 in the household of Potiphar, the military officer?
23:19 How did he remain hopeful during the two years in prison?
23:24 And how could he be so sure that it was a dream fulfilled
23:28 and not happenstance that brought
23:31 the would-be murderers into his power after many years?
23:34 And how could he have been so certain it was the God
23:38 of his forefathers giving dreams
23:39 and directions when his own wife's family
23:42 was of the priestly cast of Egypt?
23:46 The answer to these questions is complex, but ultimately,
23:50 expressed in Joseph's reaction
23:52 when the wife of Potiphar attempted to seduce him.
23:55 As one way or another, the world will always attempt
24:00 to seduce those who aspire to obedience to God.
24:03 Joseph recounted why he must return
24:07 the trust his master had placed in him.
24:09 In the same way today, a Christian has an obligation
24:12 toward the employer, toward the community,
24:15 and toward family.
24:16 But it went further,
24:18 "How can I do this great wickedness,"
24:21 he asked rhetorically, "and sin against God?"
24:26 Here was the key to a young man's character.
24:29 Years earlier, he had alienated his brothers
24:33 and startled his parents by self-consciously
24:37 repeating two divine dreams that had sheaves,
24:41 representing his brothers, and the sun,
24:44 moon, and stars representing his parents
24:46 and descendants bowing down to him.
24:49 He had self-consciously worn the multi-colored coat
24:54 of a father's favor in front of jealous brothers.
24:58 Just as way of the remnant...
25:00 And I'm speaking to Seventh-day Adventists
25:02 particularly here even though there are many listening.
25:04 Just as we of the remnant can sometimes wave
25:07 our spiritual privilege ahead of the obligation
25:10 that comes with their calling, so Joseph had to learn
25:14 that the focus was not on him but on God.
25:18 He had to learn to reign in his dreams to serve God.
25:23 When in prison for the two years,
25:25 he discovered the God behind the dreams.
25:28 When asked by the butler and the baker to interpret
25:30 their dream, he answered,
25:32 "Do not interpretations belong to God?"
25:36 Very interesting deflection.
25:38 Like Pastor Monteiro and others through the years,
25:41 Joseph had come to realize that God was the center
25:45 of the dream, not himself.
25:48 This realization is revealed nine years later
25:52 when the guilty brothers
25:54 bowed before him and at the table,
25:56 that must have evoked the original dream for Joseph.
26:00 But he held his peace and cried behind the curtains
26:03 where no one could see him.
26:05 For by that time, he sensed that he was
26:07 but part of a bigger story of working out God's purposes
26:11 to save a whole people.
26:14 I see this holy boldness and diminished ego on display
26:18 when Joseph is summoned before the Pharaoh
26:21 to answer the Pharaoh's dreams of the fat cows
26:24 and the fat corn and the lean cows
26:26 and the lean corn.
26:28 The reinstated butler,
26:30 as you remember from the Bible story,
26:32 belatedly remembered his hasty promise
26:35 to remember Joseph when he got out of the prison.
26:38 It was a promise somewhat easily forgotten
26:41 if you read the story because Joseph made
26:43 the request almost offhandedly,
26:46 perhaps, trusting more to God's memory
26:48 than the butler's.
26:51 Joseph answered the Pharaoh with confidence,
26:54 but he only tangentially includes himself.
26:58 His answer makes it clear he is privy to the ways of God
27:03 but only inferentially.
27:06 Instead, he says this, "God has revealed to Pharaoh
27:10 and God has shown to Pharaoh.
27:13 And the thing is fixed by God
27:15 and He will shortly bring it to pass."
27:19 To me, this shift from the brushed youth
27:23 to the confident messenger of God is clear
27:26 and has everything to do with his time in prison
27:30 and the waiting for God to reveal Himself there.
27:34 To me, the parallel to the modern political miracle
27:38 of Nelson Mandela imprisoned by hate
27:41 and released 27 years later
27:43 to teach love and forgiveness is clear.
27:45 In standing for religious liberty,
27:49 we must not fall for the fallacy
27:52 and thinking that it's about us
27:55 and that we can escape the obligation to witness
27:58 to the spirits in prison as the Bible says
28:01 and even refine our own characters
28:03 through adversity.
28:05 In the book Testimonies, volume 5,
28:08 from the pen of an inspired Seventh-day Adventist writer,
28:12 Ellen White, I find this, she says,
28:15 "The time is not far distant
28:18 when the test will come to every soul.
28:22 The mark of the beast will be urged upon us."
28:26 I cruise the Internet a lot and I know there is
28:29 a lot of discussion on some Adventists
28:31 and many other websites
28:33 and YouTube sites or YouTube features,
28:38 the mark of the beast, what is it?
28:40 But the mark of the beast while it's outlines
28:43 are not quite as clear now as when it will appear,
28:46 but we know already what it's likely to be.
28:49 In this time of oppression
28:51 and this time of terror security,
28:54 the mark of the beast will be an imposition by force
28:58 of a type of worship that exposes itself
29:01 as coming not from God, but from man inspired by Satan.
29:06 And Ellen White says, "The mark of the beast,
29:08 a religious observance,
29:09 that defies God will be urged upon us."
29:14 You know, urged is an interesting word.
29:18 It's not necessarily compulsion at first,
29:21 it's encouraged, "Do this.
29:23 This is about...
29:24 You know, society expects it, your employer expects it,
29:28 your family expects it.
29:30 Do this. Show that you are with us."
29:33 She says, "It will be urged upon us."
29:35 And continuing the reading, she says,
29:37 "Those who have step by step yielded to worldly demands
29:42 and conformed to worldly customs
29:45 will not find it a hard matter to yield to the powers
29:49 that be rather than subject themselves to derision."
29:54 If we're lucky, we have derision.
29:57 Now most of us don't even have that.
29:58 But here's the succession,
30:01 to subject themselves to derision,
30:04 insult, threatened, imprisonment, and death.
30:08 The contest is between the commandments of God
30:12 and the commandments of men.
30:14 In this time, the gold will be separated
30:17 from the dross in the church.
30:20 Where did Joseph learned to trust in God alone?
30:23 He'd had the advantage of a godly upbringing.
30:27 He was loved by his father, perhaps,
30:29 too much on a certain level of undisguised favoritism.
30:33 Doubtless Joseph knew by wrought,
30:36 the story of God's dealings with his forebears.
30:40 In a way, Joseph was like many of us,
30:44 many Seventh-day Adventists, many who are under
30:47 a certain compulsion in these latter days.
30:50 He was like many of us, individuals,
30:53 born into one way or another, the remnant movement.
30:58 We know our history, we know God has spoken to us
31:01 in these latter days by dreams and visions.
31:05 We feel special and often communicate that to others.
31:09 But are we ready when our own turn on us and, perhaps,
31:13 betray us to the forces arrayed against truth?
31:16 Are we ready to sacrifice all to give up a livelihood
31:20 for our faith?
31:21 Are we ready to give our lives?
31:24 Are we ready for those
31:26 who would deprive us of liberty?
31:28 Are we ready to stand before authorities
31:31 and tell them what our faith means to them?
31:36 Can we give a reason for our faith
31:38 other than we once had a multi-colored coat
31:41 that somewhere far away in our experience
31:44 we knew the daily favor of a doting father.
31:47 Again, I read something pertinent
31:49 to this from the pen of Ellen White.
31:51 "It does not seem possible to us," she wrote,
31:53 "It does not seem possible to us now
31:55 that any should have to stand alone.
31:58 But if God has ever spoken by me,
32:00 the time will come when we shall be brought
32:02 before counsels and before thousands for His name's sake.
32:06 And each one will have to give the reason for his faith.
32:09 Then will come the severest criticism upon every position
32:14 that has been taken for the truth.
32:16 We need then," she says, "to study the Word of God
32:19 that we may know why we believe the doctrines we advocate."
32:24 Where did Joseph learn his faith?
32:26 Was it those desperate moments in the pit before he was sold
32:30 to those traders descended
32:31 from the estranged Ishmael?
32:33 Perhaps, not quite then, but he clearly made
32:36 a resolution upon entering his captivity
32:39 that he would remain true.
32:42 His years in prison confirmed that choice of faithfulness.
32:46 He was the model prisoner who ministered
32:48 to the needs of fellow prisoners.
32:50 In those years, he changed from brush
32:54 to confident in the Lord.
32:58 We come at the story from the Bible outline
33:00 of the descendants of Abraham who was promised God's favor.
33:04 But think for a moment on the dynamic
33:06 from the point of the Egyptians.
33:08 And I'll lead you a bit on this.
33:10 Think...
33:12 Since we're drawing a parallel of the dynamic of those
33:14 who don't make professions of faith,
33:16 those who are not of our faith,
33:18 or perhaps not either of any faith looking on,
33:23 according to the Bible, Joseph grew up
33:25 as a sheepherder in the desolate places
33:27 of Canaan, out of the great points of influence.
33:30 To the Egyptians, he was the lowest of the low,
33:33 almost an untouchable.
33:35 The Bible says that it was an abomination,
33:37 that's the word it's used,
33:39 an abomination for the Egyptians
33:41 to even eat with such people.
33:43 It was not likely that Joseph came to Egypt well educated
33:47 or even speaking their tongue fluently.
33:50 Joseph for all his facility for dreams was to them
33:54 what he was, a convicted attacker
33:57 of his master's wife, a moral offense
34:00 but more serious to the times, a usurper of place
34:03 and an attacker of the social order.
34:05 But once before Pharaoh, he spoke truth to power
34:10 and transcended self by speaking authoritatively.
34:14 You know, the Bible says
34:15 that the people heard Jesus gladly
34:16 because he spoke as one who had authority.
34:19 And Joseph spoke authoritatively of God
34:22 and His ways.
34:25 We too can do that.
34:27 We too are called to prepare ourselves for this challenge,
34:31 for just such a challenge.
34:33 Joseph was great not because he once wore
34:36 a desert coat of many colors,
34:38 not because he had risen to be a steward
34:41 of a wealthy man's household,
34:42 or not because he had in himself the power
34:45 to divine dreams.
34:47 Joseph was great because he was faithful to God
34:51 no matter the circumstances.
34:54 This I read about great men
34:56 in the last days from Testimonies,
34:59 volume 5, page 80, written by Ellen White.
35:01 She says, "In the last solemn work,
35:03 few great men will be engaged.
35:06 God will work a work in our day that but few anticipate.
35:10 He will rise up or raise up and exalt among us those
35:14 who were taught rather by the unction of His spirit
35:17 than by the outward training of scientific institutions.
35:21 These facilities are not to be despised or condemn," she says.
35:24 Obviously, we live in an age of education and knowledge.
35:29 "They're not to be condemned, they're ordained of God,
35:32 but they can furnish only the exterior qualifications.
35:36 God will manifest that He is not dependent on learned,
35:40 self-important mortals."
35:44 The story of Joseph is a saga one could scarcely imagine.
35:48 Second ruler in the kingdom after Pharaoh!
35:55 But other than his faint haughtiness
35:57 to test the broken brothers,
35:59 Joseph seems not too focused much
36:02 on the prerogatives of power.
36:05 He implores the Pharaoh to let him go meet his aged father
36:08 and then later to go to Canaan to bury the Patriarch
36:11 in the tomb at Machpelah.
36:13 The image of Joseph in those later days is one of kindness
36:17 and solicitude to his family.
36:19 The young man is gone.
36:22 Now that middle-aged man weeps with joy to see his brothers,
36:26 weeps on the neck of his aged father,
36:28 and does all he can to secure favor for his clan
36:31 as they settle in Egypt.
36:32 The days of pit and prison are gone.
36:35 And not remembered by the one once alone
36:38 in a strange land.
36:40 Seventy years or so after their reunion in Egypt,
36:43 Joseph died and was embalmed
36:46 after the manner of the Pharaohs.
36:48 Over the years, I've read that.
36:49 And I've noticed, most people don't notice that.
36:51 He was a mummy, pretty much like the ones
36:55 that we still find in pyramids from time to time.
36:59 He was not buried though,
37:01 he lay in waiting for the deliverance.
37:04 "God will visit you," he told his family on his deathbed.
37:08 "He will bring you out of this land
37:10 to the land which He swore to Abraham,
37:12 to Isaac, and Jacob.
37:14 And you shall carry my bones from here."
37:18 That was his instructions. And so they did.
37:21 Hundreds of years later, when the promise was fulfilled,
37:24 the bones of Joseph, what were they really?
37:28 I hope you understand.
37:29 I've used them figuratively and yet they were real.
37:32 They went with the people out of Egypt.
37:34 For some of the mixed multitude who left Egypt,
37:37 they were just a talisman of another era.
37:41 But for me, the bones of Joseph have to be something more.
37:45 In exile from Canaan to Egypt,
37:47 the young captive had only his faith in God
37:50 to sustain him.
37:52 In prison, on trumped-up charges,
37:55 Joseph clung to the faith that God, as the Bible says,
37:58 is a rewarder of the faithful.
38:02 Before the Pharaoh himself,
38:03 Joseph could ignore his simple origins
38:06 and represent the God who had sustained him.
38:09 And in the later years, he could put aside malice
38:12 and seek not justice, but mercy.
38:15 Such bones we should all have.
38:18 Indeed, we must have as the years of plenty come
38:21 to an end and the times of test come upon us.
38:26 These are interesting times.
38:28 That's the end of those thoughts.
38:31 But allow me to continue.
38:33 I have to comment on these times.
38:36 These are without precedent at least in the modern era.
38:40 You know, to most of us, probably have spared ourselves,
38:44 but you can go on YouTube and you can see a succession
38:47 of events that have happened lately
38:49 where journalists and others in some desert...
38:52 But they're neighbors of people in our own countries
38:55 have put out in a desert,
38:56 they're surrounded by masked zealots
39:00 of a certain faith, and their head is cut off
39:02 and held up as a gory talisman of religious victory.
39:07 Religious liberty is not an abstraction in our age.
39:11 We are in a global religious conflict.
39:15 And it is not just, what in my youth,
39:17 was the case where the ministers
39:19 of different mission factions down
39:20 in the South Pacific would sometimes come to blow us
39:23 or incite the villages to pelt the opposition with stones.
39:27 No, this is playing for keeps now.
39:31 The forces of orthodoxy of one type
39:35 or another are on the march and they are violent.
39:39 And even in the West, the conclusion to this
39:41 is going to be an erosion of the liberties
39:44 that we've thought were so entrenched
39:46 in our psyche that they couldn't go,
39:48 but they're vanishing at the speed of light.
39:54 What are we going to do about that?
39:57 I'm writing all the time in Liberty, commenting on this,
40:01 and usually as in the introduction, we said,
40:04 Liberty magazine needs to tread a very careful path
40:07 because it is not a religious journal per se,
40:11 but it surely is meant to exemplify
40:14 the underlying spirituality, the calling,
40:17 and the history of Seventh-day Adventism,
40:19 but it's expressed on
40:21 the principles of religious liberty
40:23 that have a cultural, a legal, historic,
40:26 and even a theological base.
40:29 But every now and again,
40:30 I believe it just devolves to me,
40:35 and it's unavoidable.
40:37 Even in that context, we have to speak to that
40:40 larger audience from a biblical point of view
40:42 and give some meaning to what's happening.
40:45 And I want to share with you
40:47 what I just wrote the other day for an editorial.
40:51 And I don't think I'll get into trouble on it
40:52 because there are many people of good sensibility
40:56 that read even in state houses and legislative halls.
41:01 They know what's going on.
41:03 And I called it The Beginning of The End.
41:07 This is what I wrote then.
41:10 "Back around the age
41:11 of television programs like Laugh in,
41:14 that really dates me
41:15 because as I said at the beginning,
41:18 it's about 40 years since I started preaching
41:21 back in Australia.
41:22 And it's probably 40 years ago, I remember Laugh in,
41:24 and I remember watching a skit premised
41:27 on how a weather report from Egypt
41:29 at the time of the pharaohs
41:30 and the exodus might have sounded.
41:34 The announcer handed out plenty as he spoke of darkness
41:38 sweeping over the land from the north.
41:40 Then he said huge hail storms are coming from the south.
41:43 And then get this CNN's
41:45 with wide-eyed incredulity, from the West frogs.
41:51 Got a lot of laughs.
41:53 I'm not sure though
41:54 how such a show would work today.
41:56 It might be a little too real for comfort.
41:58 And the misapplied qualifier that some super storm
42:01 or flood is of biblical proportions
42:04 is a very common term nowadays.
42:08 The other day, a White House spokesman noted that
42:10 while they are always monitoring
42:12 several hotspots at once,
42:14 lately the whole board seems to be lighting up, they said.
42:19 Earthquakes, floods, drought, war, starvation,
42:22 and pestilence are endemic to the news cycle.
42:27 While Christians might point
42:28 to these things as end-time markers,
42:31 few seem to have noticed the fault context of Jesus
42:34 answers to His disciples when they asked about
42:37 the end of the world and His return.
42:40 In the book of Matthew in the New Testament,
42:42 you could read the sequence of events,
42:44 crowds had gathered in Jerusalem
42:46 to hear Jesus speak.
42:48 From other Bible accounts, we know that the crowd
42:52 honored Jesus as a king at that time.
42:55 That was misapplied, but there was, you know,
42:58 a huge political event.
43:00 They thought that He was rising to political power
43:02 and would relieve them of the earth,
43:04 you know, the burden of the Romans.
43:08 It must have been a highly charged atmosphere,
43:12 just as it was, not too many weeks ago,
43:15 in the midterm elections.
43:16 You could hardly turn on a news station
43:18 without hearing some usually an exultant news report
43:23 of political change and what was going to happen.
43:28 Surging enthusiastic crowds watched
43:31 by Roman authorities ready to call out the riot squad
43:34 and watched by the religious leaders
43:36 who fear that this man was taking away their power.
43:39 Their fears were realized as Jesus then launched
43:43 into an extended sermon of words
43:45 and condemnations of the misguided
43:48 religious practices of the day.
43:50 And the corrupt church leaders
43:51 who were encouraging the state of affairs.
43:55 He ended by saying,
43:57 "Your house is left to you desolate."
44:00 Then His disciples came to Him to show Him the buildings
44:03 of the great temple built by Herod.
44:06 They were shocked when Jesus predicted
44:08 that it would be destroyed so utterly that not one stone
44:12 would be left standing upon another.
44:14 This was the sequence of events that led to the disciples
44:17 coming yet again to Jesus
44:19 as He sat on the nearby Mount of Olives.
44:22 They question, "When shall these things be
44:26 and what shall be the signs of that coming
44:29 and of the end of the world?"
44:30 This was in Matthew 24.
44:34 They were really asking two questions,
44:36 and Jesus essentially can find Himself
44:38 to the second which embraced the first.
44:41 Perhaps, He thought it better not to specify the destruction
44:44 of Jerusalem and the temple because in AD 70,
44:48 in their lifetimes, as Jesus indicated life later,
44:52 they saw this cataclysm.
44:55 And you know, we wouldn't be the only generation to think
44:58 that these things are going to happen in our lifetime.
45:02 But are we so naive, so indicative,
45:05 now I'm off text of my editorial...
45:08 Can we be so removed from the reality of our days
45:11 that we can say as the Bible said,
45:13 some in our day will say,
45:14 all things continue as they had from the beginning?
45:17 They are not continuing.
45:23 So far as the end of the world and His coming,
45:25 Jesus gave an array of signs, in some ways,
45:29 they describe our age.
45:31 He spoke of wars and rumors of wars.
45:35 But then He said, "The end is not yet."
45:37 He spoke of famines, and pestilences,
45:40 and many earthquakes.
45:41 "All these," Jesus said, "but the beginning of sorrows."
45:46 We seem to be well into the age of sorrows.
45:49 Famine in the Sahel, the Civil War in Darfur,
45:52 earthquakes in China and Haiti,
45:56 maybe HAARP has something to do with that.
45:58 You can let yourself free float on this.
46:02 Spring turn to winter in Arab countries,
46:04 Ebola spreading panic and death,
46:07 mega storms on the East Coast,
46:09 and over all, the growing reality of global warming
46:12 that promises rising seas, more turbulent weather,
46:15 more severe drought,
46:17 unleash natural pests like locust,
46:19 and intensified military conflict
46:21 over shifting water supplies in arable land.
46:24 How unfortunate that in the midst of all this
46:27 we should be fighting over religious solutions
46:32 to very complex social and geographic problems.
46:36 I saw in a recent cover of the Washington Post,
46:38 a rather Vietnam era type photo sequence
46:40 of a bombing of the ISIS group or the ISIL.
46:46 The west is just starting to get a handle on this group.
46:49 And it should be noted that main meaning of the...
46:53 or name of the group
46:54 was the Islamic State of the Levant.
46:58 That's a medieval term for what the Bible says
47:02 is the glorious land.
47:04 That's the land between Turkey and Egypt.
47:07 That's their aspiration to take over Israel
47:10 and some of the associated property.
47:13 But I saw the bombing of ISIS on this newspaper article.
47:17 The first photo showed a bare hill
47:19 with an ISIS flag in a nearby fighter.
47:21 The second photo showed the hill covered
47:23 in an immense explosion from the bomb attack.
47:27 The caption said something about ISIS destroyed.
47:30 It troubled me for several reasons.
47:32 Firstly, it smacked Vietnam in the assumption
47:34 that killing a soldier or two as an effect
47:37 or any effect on the engine driving the war.
47:40 Body counts turned out to be horribly misleading back then.
47:43 Second, I looked more closely and there was still
47:46 a figure standing amid the smoke.
47:48 Third, who really cares about a bare hill anyway?
47:53 ISIS in their advance has had the Japanese and the Americans
47:56 in World War II, typically just moved around
47:58 the opposition and bypassed them as ineffectual.
48:02 Lastly, the threat of ISIS is not
48:04 that it may take Baghdad,
48:07 but that it may threaten Washington, Sydney, or Toronto.
48:11 We are dealing with social dislocation
48:13 and the idealism of youth harnessed
48:15 to a radical religious agenda.
48:18 The solution is less military than a desperate need
48:22 to redirect religious vision toward uplifting ends.
48:26 Actually the outline of the end times
48:28 that Jesus gave places a lot of emphasis
48:31 on the religious conflict just before His appearing.
48:34 In fact, as He outlines it, it is the religious conflict,
48:38 a turmoil, and persecution that defines the end times.
48:42 He said that His followers would be hated
48:44 and persecuted as never before.
48:46 In fact, the persecution is to be so severe that
48:50 unless those times are shortened,
48:52 no one could survive.
48:56 In verses 10 or 11, it says,
48:58 "And then shall many be offended,
49:00 and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another,
49:03 and many false prophets shall arise,
49:05 and shall deceive many."
49:08 For me, this is fulfilled today by unprecedented persecution.
49:13 Christians are facing a final expulsion
49:16 from many countries in the Middle East.
49:18 Many minority sects of Islam are facing genocidal attacks
49:22 from majority forces.
49:24 In other countries, Hindus attack Buddhists.
49:28 And in others, Buddhists attack Muslims.
49:30 Many are offended at another's religion
49:33 or lack of religion and are prepared to harm
49:35 or kill to advance their view.
49:38 "How can we dream of the biblical promise
49:41 that they shall not hurt
49:42 nor destroy in My holy mountain?"
49:45 from Isaiah.
49:47 That day of course will come.
49:48 But it lies on the other side of the vows
49:51 that Jesus spoke of on the Mount of Olives.
49:54 It lies at the other side of the burning mountain
49:56 of global warming.
49:58 It lies at the other side
50:00 of religious intolerance and violence.
50:03 The only way past these was is a personal commitment
50:07 to use religion to discover God for ourselves.
50:11 We must not fall for the claim of the many false prophets
50:14 in the different radical forms of faith that violence
50:17 or force is any sort of answer.
50:20 Our community should teach religious fulfillment
50:23 and responsibility, not entitlement
50:26 or a sword to set things straight.
50:28 Only this way will the recruiting stop
50:32 and true religious freedom flourish
50:34 even in these wicked times.
50:38 And I feel comfortable that that's a message
50:40 that should be in Liberty magazine
50:42 even if it's read by senators, congressmen,
50:44 and presidents, one president at a time.
50:47 They need to know that there is a prophetic backdrop
50:50 to what's happening now.
50:52 They need to know that this agitation
50:54 in the religious world is indeed the last sign.
50:58 It's not a brawler, it's not the violence,
51:00 it's not the storms, and so on, those are harbingers.
51:03 But the last sign is religious warfare and persecution.
51:09 And I believe that
51:11 there is a very good chance that this is it.
51:14 We don't know the day or the hour
51:15 but we surely know the season.
51:18 And the season calls for a proclamation
51:21 of religious liberty.
51:24 I've got in my hand one of the recent issues
51:26 of Liberty magazine, in fact,
51:27 one of the most recent, September, October...
51:30 This time of the broadcast it's about three issues back
51:34 but not long since I did this.
51:37 And the front cover is reporting on a fabulous tour
51:42 that a number of us who are leading out
51:43 in religious liberty
51:44 for the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
51:47 For once, we all got together, about 25 of us
51:49 and took a tour bus from Rome through
51:54 Italy, and France, and ending up in Paris
51:58 recounting or retracing some of the steps
52:00 of the faithful of the ages.
52:05 I was going to say the Reformation
52:06 because it started a little earlier than that.
52:08 But then we got into the Reformation tour
52:11 and saw some of the places and read of some of the people
52:16 who stood for faith and for freedom,
52:20 and at times, gave their lives.
52:22 It was inspiring.
52:23 It was inspiring to go to Torre Pelice
52:26 where the Waldenses,
52:27 that I'd read about as a young fellow,
52:30 where they stood up
52:31 to the complicated political situation.
52:34 It's almost too complicated to explain,
52:37 but the political rivalries were influenced
52:41 by the dictates of Rome at that time
52:43 who would encourage the forces in that area
52:47 to liquidate these dissidents who were standing
52:52 for a more biblical faith.
52:53 And to see there, in Torre Pelice,
52:56 the caves where people regularly went aside
53:00 and worshipped.
53:01 Sometimes, hundreds of them at a time,
53:02 in deep caves because if they were discovered,
53:05 they would be killed, as they often were.
53:07 In one of the bigger caves,
53:09 high up, beyond the village itself,
53:12 several hundred of them were killed when the soldiers
53:14 discovered them and they just threw a fire
53:18 and sealed the opening and suffocated all of them.
53:22 To do that, you had to be convinced
53:25 of what you were standing for.
53:27 One of the more impressive moments on the tour
53:31 came in southern France
53:33 at the town of Aigues-Mortes.
53:38 And you probably don't know that, it was hard to pronounce.
53:40 And even when we were there,
53:42 it was very hard to divine the meaning of that town.
53:45 I think it was named after the sicknesses
53:50 that would come upon you in that mussy and boggy
53:54 sort of countryside where it was subject to floods,
53:56 which they had recently.
53:58 But you may have heard of
54:00 what we saw the Tower of Constance,
54:02 there in a walled city, medieval walled city,
54:06 there was this large tower.
54:08 And we entered there
54:09 and found the story of Marie Durand,
54:12 a Protestant who was imprisoned
54:16 by the authorities because her brother,
54:18 a preacher and a leader of the resistance was wanted.
54:24 And they figured if they imprisoned her,
54:25 they would entice him to come and give him up.
54:28 Well, they were wrong.
54:30 He didn't although he was killed
54:32 two years after imprisonment.
54:34 But she was kept there for 38 years, 38 years,
54:38 the young girl that when she was finally released
54:41 she was an old woman.
54:44 But Marie Durand remained faithful
54:46 during that whole time.
54:47 And the tale was very indicative
54:51 of what I've seen in other places
54:53 like Peru where they have a museum of the Inquisition.
54:57 The things that are done in the name of religion
54:59 are just mind boggling.
55:01 And here, hundreds of people were kept in the tower,
55:04 we're up on the higher level,
55:06 soldiers could look down on them
55:08 and throw the food down,
55:09 but on the main level, with bailey, in the light
55:13 the prisoners would cook their food in the middle
55:15 and sleep on the periphery.
55:17 But in the stone, they're near the fireplace.
55:22 Over those 38 years, with what implement
55:24 I could only imagine, perhaps, some knife or fork,
55:28 Marie Durand had inscribed so deeply in the stone
55:32 that it's visible to this day.
55:34 And in French, so it's build
55:35 a little different resist, resist.
55:40 But the resistance she was speaking
55:42 about was not decapitating your enemies,
55:45 it was not going and blowing up your religious opponents,
55:48 the resistance was resist the compromise,
55:51 resist those who would take away your freedom,
55:54 resist those who would redefine your faith into something
55:57 so generic that there would be no reason to differ on it.
56:01 Resist, resist, resist.
56:04 And I'm sure in this day, that's what's called upon us.
56:07 We're not all going to be imprisoned hopefully
56:12 but in one way or another, we're all imprisoned
56:14 in a societal restriction that will think for us,
56:19 that will demand, that will change ourselves
56:22 to accommodate.
56:23 And we must resist, we must keep freedom
56:26 before us always.
56:27 It's defined on biblical basis.
56:29 It's defined on the basis of a God who made us,
56:32 a God who as Joseph said...
56:35 Joseph said about Him, you know,
56:36 "How can I do this and betray God?"
56:40 We must resist to the last ounce of energy
56:44 that we have.
56:46 We must carve into the stonework of our lives.
56:49 The only record that we are told
56:51 in devotional thoughts to Seventh-day Adventist,
56:54 it says our character.
56:55 And we can carve that character as deep as eternity
56:59 for the cause of freedom, for religious freedom.
57:03 And in an age when people will kill, and decapitate,
57:05 and legislate our faith away, we can say that we know
57:09 what freedom is, we will serve God regardless,
57:12 and we will share with you what it is
57:14 because we will resist
57:17 to the very last moment of time.
57:18 And if it's imminent, if it's next week, fine,
57:22 if it happens to be a couple of years beyond that,
57:24 equally fine.
57:25 But we will resist to the last.
57:27 We will be faithful to the last because freedom
57:30 and God is transcendent.
57:32 Thank you.


Revised 2018-11-12