They shall not teach every man his neighbor - Under the old covenant, properly speaking, there was no public instruction; before the erection of synagogues all worship was confined at first to the tabernacle, afterwards to the temple. When synagogues were established they were used principally for the bare reading of the law and the prophets; and scarcely any such thing as a public ministry for the continual instruction of the common people was found in the land till the time of John the Baptist, our Lord, and his apostles. It is true there were prophets who were a sort of general teachers, but neither was their ministry extended through all the people; and there were schools of the prophets and schools of the rabbins, but these were for the instruction of select persons. Hence it was necessary that every man should do what he could, under that dispensation, to instruct his neighbor and brother. But the prophecy here indicates that there should be, under the Gospel dispensation, a profusion of Divine light; and this we find to be the case by the plentiful diffusion of the sacred writings, and by an abundant Gospel ministry: and these blessings are not confined to temples or palaces, but are found in every corner of the land; so that, literally, all the people, from the least to the greatest, know and acknowledge the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent. Almost every man, at least in this land, has a Bible, and can read it; and there is not a family that has not the opportunity of hearing the Gospel preached, explained, and enforced.
Some have thought that from the least to the greatest is intended to signify the order in which God proceeds with a work of grace; he generally begins with the poor, and through these the great and the high often hear the Gospel of Christ.
And they shall not teach every man his neighbor - That is, no one shall be under a necessity of imparting instruction to another, or of exhorting him to become acquainted with the Lord. This is designed to set forth another of the advantages which would attend the new dispensation. In the previous verse it had been said that one advantage of that economy would be, that the Law would be written on the heart, and that they who were thus blessed would be regarded as the people of God. Another advantage over the “old” arrangement or covenant is here stated. It is, that the knowledge of the Lord and of the true religion would be deeply engraved on the minds of all, and that there would be no necessity for mutual exhortation and counsel. “They shall have a much more certain and effectual teaching than they can derive from another.” “Doddridge.” This passage does not refer to the fact that the true religion will be universally diffused, but that among those who are interested in the blessings of the new covenant there would be an accurate and just knowledge of the Lord. In some way they would be so taught respecting his character that they would not need the aid to be derived from others. All under that dispensation, or sustaining to him the relation of “a people,” would in fact have a correct knowledge of the Lord. This could not be said of the old dispensation, for.
(1)their religion consisted much in outward observances.
(2)it was not to such an extent as the new system a dispensation of the Holy Spirit.
(3)there were not as many means as now for learning the true character of God.
(4)the fullest revelations had not been made to them of that character. That was reserved for the coming of the Saviour, and under him it was intended that there should be communicated the full knowledge of the character of God.
Many mss., and those among the best, here have πολίτην politēn- “citizen;” “fellow-citizen,” instead of πλησίον plēsion“neighbor,” and this is adopted by Griesbach, Tittman, Rosenmuller, Knapp, Stuart, and by many of the fathers. It is also in the version of the Septuagint in the place quoted from Jeremiah. It is not easy to determine the true reading, but the word “neighbor” better agrees with the meaning of the Hebrew - רץ rēà- and there is strong authority from the mss. and the versions for this reading.
And every man his brother - Another form of expression, meaning that there would be no necessity that one should teach another.
Saying, Know the Lord - That is, become acquainted with God; learn his character and his will. The idea is, that the true knowledge of Yahweh would prevail as a characteristic of those times.
For all shall know me - That is, all those referred to; all who are interested in the new covenant, and who are partakers of its blessings. It does not mean that all persons, in all lands, would then know the Lord - though the time will come when that will be true; but the expression is to be limited by the point under discussion. That point is not that the knowledge of the Lord will fill the whole world, but that all who are interested in the new dispensation will have a much more full and clear knowledge of God than was possessed under the old. Of the truth of this no one can doubt. Christians have a much more perfect knowledge of God and of his government than could have been learned merely from the revelations of the Old Testament.
Creating an Unreal World—You may create an unreal world in your own mind and picture an ideal church where the temptations of Satan no longer prompt to evil, but perfection exists only in your imagination. The world is a fallen world, and the church is a place represented by a field in which grow tares and wheat. They are to grow together until the harvest. It is not our place to uproot the tares, according to human wisdom, lest under the suggestions of Satan, the wheat may be rooted up under the supposition that it is tares. The wisdom that is from above will come to him who is meek and lowly in heart, and that wisdom will not lead him to destroy but to build up the people of God.—Letter 63, 1893. 2MCP 636.1Read in context »
Another compact—called in Scripture the “old” covenant—was formed between God and Israel at Sinai, and was then ratified by the blood of a sacrifice. The Abrahamic covenant was ratified by the blood of Christ, and it is called the “second,” or “new,” covenant, because the blood by which it was sealed was shed after the blood of the first covenant. That the new covenant was valid in the days of Abraham is evident from the fact that it was then confirmed both by the promise and by the oath of God—the “two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie.” Hebrews 6:18. PP 371.1
But if the Abrahamic covenant contained the promise of redemption, why was another covenant formed at Sinai? In their bondage the people had to a great extent lost the knowledge of God and of the principles of the Abrahamic covenant. In delivering them from Egypt, God sought to reveal to them His power and His mercy, that they might be led to love and trust Him. He brought them down to the Red Sea—where, pursued by the Egyptians, escape seemed impossible—that they might realize their utter helplessness, their need of divine aid; and then He wrought deliverance for them. Thus they were filled with love and gratitude to God and with confidence in His power to help them. He had bound them to Himself as their deliverer from temporal bondage. PP 371.2
But there was a still greater truth to be impressed upon their minds. Living in the midst of idolatry and corruption, they had no true conception of the holiness of God, of the exceeding sinfulness of their own hearts, their utter inability, in themselves, to render obedience to God's law, and their need of a Saviour. All this they must be taught. PP 371.3
God brought them to Sinai; He manifested His glory; He gave them His law, with the promise of great blessings on condition of obedience: “If ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ... ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Exodus 19:5, 6. The people did not realize the sinfulness of their own hearts, and that without Christ it was impossible for them to keep God's law; and they readily entered into covenant with God. Feeling that they were able to establish their own righteousness, they declared, “All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.” Exodus 24:7. They had witnessed the proclamation of the law in awful majesty, and had trembled with terror before the mount; and yet only a few weeks passed before they broke their covenant with God, and bowed down to worship a graven image. They could not hope for the favor of God through a covenant which they had broken; and now, seeing their sinfulness and their need of pardon, they were brought to feel their need of the Saviour revealed in the Abrahamic covenant and shadowed forth in the sacrificial offerings. Now by faith and love they were bound to God as their deliverer from the bondage of sin. Now they were prepared to appreciate the blessings of the new covenant. PP 371.4Read in context »
25 (see EGW on Malachi 3:16). Seeking the Assembly of the Saints—Those who do not feel the necessity of seeking the assembly of the saints, with the precious assurance that the Lord will meet with them, show how lightly they value the help that God has provided for them. Satan is constantly at work to wound and poison the soul; in order to withstand his efforts we must breathe the atmosphere of heaven. We must individually get hold and keep hold of Christ (Manuscript 16, 1890). 7BC 934.2Read in context »
Just as long as you allow pride to dwell in your hearts, so long will you lack power in your work. For years a wrong spirit has been cherished, a spirit of pride, a desire for preeminence. In this Satan is served, and God is dishonored. The Lord calls for a decided reformation.... Let [a truly reconverted soul] renew his covenant with God, and God will renew His covenant with him.... Let angels and men see that there is forgiveness of sin with God. Extraordinary power from God must take hold of Seventh-day Adventist churches. Reconversion must take place among the members, that as God's witnesses they may testify to the authoritative power of the truth that sanctifies the soul. Renewed, purified, sanctified, the church must be, else the wrath of God will fall upon them with much greater power than upon those who have never professed to be saints. LHU 301.2Read in context »