In a little over a week, thousands of Seventh-day Adventists—among whom will be nearly three thousand voting delegates—will gather in San Antonio, Texas, to conduct the business of the Church. Many eyes, both within and without Adventism, will be on that gathering in anticipation of a vote that will decide whether the executive committee of each division can decide whether or not to ordain women to gospel ministry.
A lot of opinions have been volleyed back and forth about the subject. Many people are anxious about which way the vote will go; others are bracing for the vote’s aftermath fearing it may cause irreparable damage either way.
But, while I’ve certainly kept abreast of the developments, my thoughts and prayers about San Antonio have been along completely different lines. In fact, for a few months now I have been daily praying a very specific prayer that has nothing to do with ordination.
The prayer has simply been this: I have been claiming Zechariah 12:10 on behalf of the Church, its delegates, and leadership:
And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.
Though a lot could be brought out from this powerful verse—which, for my money, is one of the greatest, and perhaps most unexpected, promises in Scripture—the overall gist of it is that God will someday, hopefully soon, bring us to the place of supplication and intercession for Him; that we will look upon Christ, whom we have “pierced,” and we will feel a deep sorrow, pain, and sympathy for Him; that we will recognize our true condition and need—issues which cannot be resolved through simple majority vote.
In short, my prayer is that we will recognize our Laodicean condition and how we’ve kept Christ waiting from claiming His reward, which He purchased with His blood.
Indeed, think about this: even if we perfectly resolve the question of women’s ordination, we will still not have resolved our greatest problem—that of our Laodicean condition.
I would hate to be the one who says the emperor has no clothes, but I’d simply be quoting what the “Faithful and True Witness” of Revelation 3 has said. In fact, He goes even further than this, saying that we are not only naked, but that we are “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked”—problems that ordaining or not ordaining women would not resolve. I say this with all due respect.
Such a reality is confirmed by Ellen White, in Early Writings, when she pointed out the one issue upon which the Church’s destiny hangs. Writing over 150 years ago, she shared this sobering thought:
I saw that the testimony of the True Witness has not been half heeded. The solemn testimony upon which the destiny of the church hangs has been lightly esteemed, if not entirely disregarded. This testimony must work deep repentance; all who truly receive it will obey it and be purified” (p. 270)
Notice this bombshell! Ellen White fingers the issue upon which the “destiny of the church hangs,” and it’s not women’s ordination—as important a subject as that might be. It’s in heeding the testimony of the “Truth Witness” and experiencing deep repentance over what the True Witness reveals to us.
Sadly, tragically, this message has been “lightly esteemed, if not entirely disregarded.”
Those are some sobering words!
Such a rejection is seen in our history as a people, especially thinking of the “most precious message” that God sent through Elders A.T. Jones and E.J. Waggoner, and Ellen White. Indeed, Ellen White plainly stated in 1892 that “the message given us by A. T. Jones, and E. J. Waggoner is the message of God to the Laodicean church” (1888 Materials, p. 1052).
Yet that same message which, according to Ellen White, was the “light that is to lighten the whole earth with its glory,” was “resisted and by the action of our own brethren has been in a great degree kept away from the world” (Ibid., p. 1575).
And how heaven weeps!
So this has been my prayer for San Antonio: I am praying that we, as a people—and especially we as leaders, since the message of the True Witness is to the “angel of the church of Laodicea,” which Ellen White identifies as us as leaders (see Gospel Workers, pp. 13, 14)—would allow the “Spirit of grace and supplication” to run its full course on our hearts and that, with hearts broken from piercing our Savior through continued resistance, would experience “deep repentance.”
Imagine if such a thing happened! I mean, wouldn’t it be amazing if the Holy Spirit outfoxed the Devil and, instead of showing up to San Antonio to fight over women’s ordination, as the Devil thinks he’s set us up to do, we arrived to discover that heaven was poured out and that that “most precious message” was uplifted mightily, leading us to a place of denominational repentance over the way we have “wounded” Christ “in the house of His friends” (Ellen White’s words, quoting Zechariah 13:6, of what happened at the Minneapolis General Conference of 1888 and its aftermath—cf. 1888 Materials, p. 296).
It would, perhaps, be the greatest upset the universe had ever witnessed—and, of course, with our hearts humbled by the beautiful Gospel, the question about women’s ordination—and all others—would be easily clarified.
I do believe we are on the verge of witnessing this very thing happening. No, I know it!
One reason I think this is because the amazing video the General Conference produced (viewable below), which they will be showing at the GC session in a few weeks. It’s a beautiful acknowledgment of our collective failure to accept Christ’s assessment of our condition, and His solution to our problem: His righteousness.
With Mrs. Nancy Wilson I, too, believe that this GC session will be the launching point for eternity—and result in incredible good, reaching far, far beyond what may be decided about women’s ordination.
And along with Elder Ted Wilson, I not only say that “what might have been . . . can be”; I say, what might have been . . . will be.
Will you join me in claiming that promise and prayer?