What did the patriarchs Daniel, Noah, Enoch, Job, Joseph, Abraham, and others like them have in common? They had a purpose in life and a strength of character unequaled in their generation. They were men who chose the right because it was right and left consequences with God. They were men who would rather die than perform one act of disobedience toward God.
It is human to stand with the crowd; it is divine to stand alone.
It is manlike to follow the people, to drift with the tide; it is godlike to follow a principle, to stem the tide.
It is natural to compromise conscience and follow the social and religious fashion for the sake of gain or pleasure; it is divine to sacrifice both on the altar of truth and duty.
'No man stood with me, but all men forsook me,' wrote the battle-scarred apostle in describing his first appearance before Nero to answer for his life for believing and teaching contrary to the Roman world.
Noah built and voyaged alone. His neighbors laughed at his strangeness, and perished.
Abraham wandered and worshipped alone. The Sodomites smiled at the simple shepherd, followed the fashion, and fed the flames.
Daniel dined and prayed alone. Elijah sacrificed and witnessed alone. Jeremiah prophesied and wept alone. Jesus loved and died alone.
And of the lonely way his disciples should walk, He said, 'Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.'
Of their treatment by the many who walk in the broad way He said, 'If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world,...therefore the world hateth you.'
The church in the wilderness praised Abraham, and persecuted Moses. The church of the kings praised Moses, and persecuted the prophets. The church of Caiaphas praised the prophets, and persecuted Jesus. The church of the popes praised the Saviour, and persecuted the saints. And multitudes now, in both the church and the world, applaud the courage and fortitude of the patriarchs and prophets, the apostles and martyrs, but condemn as stubbornness or foolishness like faithfulness to truth today.
Wanted, today, men and women, young and old, who will obey their convictions of truth and duty at the cost of fortune and friends and life itself! --The Youth's Instructor, Volume 19, No. 24.
From the book Education, page 57, we find these words: The greatest want of the world is the want of men,--men who will not be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest; men who do not fear to call sin by its right name; men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.
Referring to the Prophet Daniel, here's what the book, The Sanctified Life, pages 19-20, has to say: "There are many among professed Christians today who would decide that Daniel was too particular, and would pronounce him narrow and bigoted. They consider the matter of eating and drinking of too little consequence to require such a decided stand,--one involving the probable sacrifice of every earthly advantage. But those who reason thus will find in the day of judgment that they turned from God's express requirements, and set up their own opinion as a standard of right and wrong. They will find that what seemed to them unimportant was not so regarded of God. His requirements should be sacredly obeyed. Those who accept and obey one of His precepts because it is convenient to do so, while they reject another because its observance would require a sacrifice, lower the standard of right, and by their example lead others to lightly regard the holy law of God. 'Thus saith the Lord' is to be our rule in all things..."
"'Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.' Matt. 5:8. For three hundred years Enoch had been seeking purity of heart, that he might be in harmony with heaven. For three centuries he had walked with God. Day by day he had longed for a closer union; nearer and nearer had grown the communion, until God took him to Himself. He had stood at the threshold of the eternal world, only a step between him and the land of the blest; and now the portals opened, the walk with God, so long pursued on earth, continued, and he passed through the gates of the holy city,--the first from among men to enter there. 'By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; . . . for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.' Heb. 11:5. To such communion God is calling us. As was Enoch's, so must be their holiness of character who shall be redeemed from among men at the Lord's second coming." --Gospel Workers, pages 53-54
Here we find an account of the testing of the Patriarch Job and the controversy between good and evil that waged from the earliest of time. "For those who love God, those who are 'the called according to His purpose' (Romans 8:28), Bible biography has a yet higher lesson of the ministry of sorrow. 'Ye are My witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God' (Isaiah 43:12)--witnesses that He is good, and that goodness is supreme. 'We are made a theater unto the world, both (R.V., margin) to angels, and to men.' 1 Cor 4:9, margin.
"Unselfishness, the principle of God's kingdom, is the principle that Satan hates; its very existence he denies. From the beginning of the great controversy he has endeavored to prove God's principles of action to be selfish, and he deals in the same way with all who serve God. To disprove Satan's claim is the work of Christ and of all who bear His name.
"It was to give in His own life an illustration of unselfishness that Jesus came in the form of humanity. And all who accept this principle are to be workers together with Him in demonstrating it in practical life. To choose the right because it is right; to stand for truth at the cost of suffering and sacrifice--'this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord.' Isaiah 54:17.
"Very early in the history of the world is given the life record of one over whom this controversy of Satan's was waged.
"Of Job, the patriarch of Uz, the testimony of the Searcher of hearts was, 'There is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil.'
"Against this man, Satan brought scornful charge: 'Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast Thou not made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? . . . Put forth Thine hand now, and touch all that he hath;' 'touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse Thee to Thy face.'
"The Lord said unto Satan, 'All that he hath is in thy power.' 'Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.'
"Thus permitted, Satan swept away all that Job possessed--flocks and herds, menservants and maidens, sons and daughters; and he 'smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.' Job 1:8-12; 2:5-7.
"Still another element of bitterness was added to his cup. His friends, seeing in adversity but the retribution of sin, pressed on his bruised and burdened spirit their accusations of wrongdoing.
"Seemingly forsaken of heaven and earth, yet holding fast his faith in God and his consciousness of integrity, in anguish and perplexity he cried:
O that Thou wouldest hide me in the grave,
That Thou wouldest keep me secret,
until Thy wrath be past,
That Thou wouldest appoint me a set time,
and remember me! Job 10:1; 14:13.
Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard:
I cry for help, but there is no judgment. . .
He hath stripped me of my glory,
And taken the crown from my head. . .
My kinsfolk have failed,
And my familiar friends have forgotten me. . .
They whom I loved are turned against me. . .
Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends;
For the hand of God hath touched me.
Oh that I knew where I might find Him,
That I might come even to His seat! . . .
Behold, I go forward, but He is not there;
And backward, but I cannot perceive Him:
On the left hand, where He doth work,
but I cannot behold Him:
He hideth Himself on the right hand,
that I cannot see Him.
But He knoweth the way that I take;
When He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.
I know that my Redeemer liveth,
And that He shall stand up at the last upon the earth:
And after my skin hath been destroyed, this shall be,
Even from my flesh shall I see God:
Whom I shall see for myself,
And mine eyes shall behold, and not as a stranger.'
Job 19:7-21, R.V.; 23:3-10, R.V.; 13:15; 19:25-27,
"According to his faith, so was it unto Job. 'When He hath tried me,' he said, 'I shall come forth as gold.' Job 23:10. So it came to pass. By his patient endurance he vindicated his own character, and thus the character of Him whose representative he was. And 'the Lord turned the captivity of Job: . . . also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. . . So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning.'" Job 42:10-12. Education, pages 154-156.
"No one can stand upon a lofty height without danger. As the tempest that leaves unharmed the flower of the valley uproots the tree upon the mountaintop, so do fierce temptations that leave untouched the lowly in life assail those who stand in the world's high places of success and honor. But Joseph bore alike the test of adversity and of prosperity. The same fidelity was manifest in the palace of the Pharaohs as in the prisoner's cell.
"In his childhood, Joseph had been taught the love and fear of God. Often in his father's tent, under the Syrian stars, he had been told the story of the night vision at Bethel, of the ladder from heaven to earth, and the descending and ascending angels, and of Him who from the throne above revealed Himself to Jacob. He had been told the story of the conflict beside the Jabbok, when, renouncing cherished sins, Jacob stood conqueror, and received the title of a prince with God.
"A shepherd boy, tending his father's flocks, Joseph's pure and simple life had favored the development of both physical and mental power. By communion with God through nature and the study of the great truths handed down as a sacred trust from father to son, he had gained strength of mind and firmness of principle.
"In the crisis of his life, when making that terrible journey from his childhood home in Canaan to the bondage which awaited him in Egypt, looking for the last time on the hills that hid the tents of his kindred, Joseph remembered his father's God. He remembered the lessons of his childhood, and his soul thrilled with the resolve to prove himself true--ever to act as became a subject of the King of heaven.
"In the bitter life of a stranger and a slave, amidst the sights and sounds of vice and the allurements of heathen worship, a worship surrounded with all the attractions of wealth and culture and the pomp of royalty, Joseph was steadfast. He had learned the lesson of obedience to duty. Faithfulness in every station, from the most lowly to the most exalted, trained every power for highest service.
"At the time when he was called to the court of Pharaoh, Egypt was the greatest of nations. In civilization, art, learning, she was unequaled. Through a period of utmost difficulty and danger, Joseph administered the affairs of the kingdom; and this he did in a manner that won the confidence of the king and the people. Pharaoh 'made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance: to bind his princes at his pleasure; and teach his senators wisdom.' Psalm 105:21, 22.
"The secret of Joseph's life inspiration has set before us. In words of divine power and beauty, Jacob, in the blessing pronounced upon his children, spoke thus of his best-loved son:
Even a fruitful bough by a well;
Whose branches run over the wall:
The archers have sorely grieved him,
And shot at him, and hated him:
But his bow abode in strength,
And the arms of his hands were made strong
By the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; . . .
Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee;
And by the Almighty, who shall bless thee
With blessings of heaven above,
Blessings of the deep that lieth under: . . .
The blessings of thy father have prevailed
Above the blessings of my progenitors
Unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills:
They shall be on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of him that was separate
from his brethren.' Genesis 49:22-26.
"Loyalty to God, faith in the Unseen, was Joseph's anchor. In this lay the hiding of his power. The arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob." --Education, pages 51-54.
"After the dispersion from Babel idolatry again became well-nigh universal, and the Lord finally left the hardened transgressors to follow their evil ways, while He chose Abraham, of the line of Shem, and made him the keeper of His law for future generations. Abraham had grown up in the midst of superstition and heathenism. Even his father's household, by whom the knowledge of God had been preserved, were yielding to the seductive influences surrounding them, and they 'served other gods' than Jehovah. But the true faith was not to become extinct. God has ever preserved a remnant to serve Him. Adam, Seth, Enoch, Methuselah, Noah, Shem, in unbroken line, had preserved from age to age the precious revealings of His will. The son of Terah became the inheritor of this holy trust. Idolatry invited him on every side, but in vain. Faithful among the faithless, uncorrupted by the prevailing apostasy, he steadfastly adhered to the worship of the one true God. 'The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth.' Psalm 145:18. He communicated His will to Abraham, and gave him a distinct knowledge of the requirements of His law and of the salvation that would be accomplished through Christ." Patriarchs and Prophets, page 125.
"Christ has made his people the depositaries of rare blessings. He has given them gems and treasures richer than gold; and every faithful co-laborer with God is to work the mine of truth and bring the treasures to view. The great Master-worker has an oversight of the whole. He notes those who toil with patience. He sees their faith, their forbearance, their love, their untiring zeal; and it is registered of them in the book of heaven, 'Well done, good and faithful servants.' They are commended because they have toiled early and late, and because they cannot bear them which are evil. They have carried out the injunction of the apostle to 'reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.' They have administered impartial discipline, laying their hand upon all false teaching, upon false brethren whose works have denied the faith. Amid the scorn of men, suffering worldly loss, they have manifested steadfast integrity. While temptations to worldliness and licentiousness cause the love of many to wax cold, they stand true as the needle to the pole, as faithful workers, as standard-bearers for God, in principle firm as a rock." --The Review and Herald, Jan. 21, 1890 paragraph 3.
"The grace of God has been freely offered to every soul. The message of the gospel has been heralded, 'Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.' Rev. 22:17. But character is not transferable. No man can believe for another. No man can receive the Spirit for another. No man can impart to another the character which is the fruit of the Spirit's working. 'Though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it the land, as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.' Eze. 14:20." --Christ's Object Lessons, Page 411.
"God has a standard of righteousness by which He measures character. This standard is His holy law, which is given to us as a rule of life. We are called upon to comply with its requirements, and when we do this we honor both God and Jesus Christ; for God gave the law, and Christ died to magnify it, and make it honorable. He declares: 'If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.' '...The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.'
"There are many hearers, but few doers, of the words of Christ. His words may be theoretically accepted, but if they are not stamped upon the soul, and woven into the life, they will have no sanctifying effect upon the character. It is one thing to accept the truth, and another thing to practice it in the daily life. From those who hear only, God's Word calls for no grateful response. The commandment, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength,' is acknowledged to be just, but its claims are not recognized; its principles are not carried out.
"We are all sinful, and of ourselves are unable to do the words of Christ. But God has made provision whereby the condemned sinner may be freed from spot and stain. 'If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.' 'If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.' But while Christ saves the sinner, He does not do away with the law which condemns the sinner... The law shows us our sins, as a mirror shows us that our face is not clean. The mirror has no power to cleanse the face; that is not its office.
"So it is with the law. It points out our defects, and condemns us, but it has no power to save us. We must come to Christ for pardon. He will take our guilt upon His own soul, and will justify us before God. And not only will He free us from sin, but He will give us power to render obedience to God's will...
"Today many erect a standard of their own, thinking to gain heaven, even though they neglect to do God's will. But all such are building upon the sand. They are hearers only....Our salvation cost the life of the Son of God, and God demands of us that we build our characters upon a foundation that will stand the test of the judgment.--Signs of the Times, Sept. 24, 1896. --Reflecting Christ, Page 55.
"The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul...The contest will be between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. Those who have yielded step by step to worldly demands, and conformed to worldly customs, will then yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death. At that time the gold will be separated from the dross...Many a star that we have admired for its brilliance will then go out in darkness. Those who have assumed the ornaments of the sanctuary, but are not clothed with Christ's righteousness, will then appear in the shame of their own nakedness." --Prophets and Kings, p. 188.
How shall we stand in the day of judgment? Shall we be clothed with the white robe of Christ's righteousness or shall we be found wanting? The patriarchs Daniel, Noah, Enoch, Job, Joseph, Abraham, and others like them passed the test of the judgment flawlessly. They lived godly lives. While the majority of the people around them were wicked, these patriarchs lived out the principles they loved and were not tainted one iota by the wickedness around them. Each had a purpose in life and fulfilled it. Each stood alone in principle firm as a granite rock, true to duty as the needle to the pole. The spirit that these godly patriarchs possessed, we, too, may have. We may draw from the same source of strength, and realize the same power of self-control; and the same graces may shine out in our lives. 'Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.' In this day and age of compromise--when God's unadulterated truth is not popular, when sin is no longer called by its right name--may we be found, by God's grace, amongst the few who will dare to stand alone!
He had to walk it by Himself;
O, nobody else could walk it for Him,
He had to walk it by Himself.
We must walk this lonesome valley,
We have to walk it by ourselves;
O, nobody else can walk it for us,
We have to walk it by ourselves.
You must go and stand your trial,
You have to stand it by yourself,
O, nobody else can stand it for you,
You have to stand it by yourself.
Heeding God's command,
Honor them, the faithful few!
All hail to Daniel's band!
Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone!
Dare to have a purpose firm!
Dare to make it known.
Many mighty men are lost
Daring not to stand,
Who for God had been a host
By joining Daniel's band.
Many giants, great and tall,
Stalking through the land,
Headlong to the earth would fall,
If met by Daniel's band.
Hold the temperance banner high!
On to vict'ry grand!
Satan and his hosts defy,
And shout for Daniel's band.
--P. P. Bliss