God answers to Job from God's account of creation. For Job, who we assume knew much less of science than we do, with all our advancement, the answer sufficed. But, today, the study if nature and science have helped to lead many away from God. Our lesson uses a quote to address this issue. Let us read it,
"Alfred North Whitehead, an influential mathematician and author who lived in the previous century, said the following: "Fifty-seven years ago it was when I was a young man in the University of Cambridge. I was taught science and mathematics by brilliant men and I did well in them; since the turn of the century I have lived to see every one of the basic assumptions of both set aside. . . . And yet, in the face of that, the discoverers of the new hypotheses in science are declaring, 'Now at last, we have certitude.' "—A. N. Whitehead, Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead. What should this tell us about how careful we need to be in accepting what the world's "great men" teach us, especially when what they teach blatantly contradicts God's Word?"
Ellen White warns of the grave danger of abandoning basic biblical beliefs about creation,
"God has permitted a flood of light to be poured upon the world in both science and art; but when professedly scientific men treat upon these subjects from a merely human point of view, they will assuredly come to wrong conclusions. It may be innocent to speculate beyond what God's word has revealed, if our theories do not contradict facts found in the Scriptures; but those who leave the word of God, and seek to account for His created works upon scientific principles, are drifting without chart or compass upon an unknown ocean. The greatest minds, if not guided by the word of God in their research, become bewildered in their attempts to trace the relations of science and revelation. Because the Creator and His works are so far beyond their comprehension that they are unable to explain them by natural laws, they regard Bible history as unreliable. Those who doubt the reliability of the records of the Old and New Testaments, will be led to go a step further, and doubt the existence of God; and then, having lost their anchor, they are left to beat about upon the rocks of infidelity." — Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 113.
The following commentary addresses how subtle it is to forsake Biblical facts. And, how far from truth will this departure take us.
A Degree Off the Path
If you are 1 degree off the route to your intended destination how far off would you be if the destination is 1000 miles away? For a precise answer, we would have to use mathematics, but a rough rule of thumb is "the rule of 1 in 60" which says that each degree of variance in heading will result in being one mile off for each 60 miles out. That would be about 92 feet for every mile; which is not a lot considering. However, the farther you go the distance away from your destination is greater.
For instance, if you were 2 degrees off heading (assuming no wind conditions), you would be 2 miles off at 60 miles out, or 4 miles off at 120 miles out, and so forth. For the question above, if you divide 1000 by 60, you find yourself 16.7 miles off at 1000 miles out for each degree you were off.
For a more accurate result, use the formula for the circumference of a circle (Pi times the diameter). So, if your "circle" has a radius of 1000 miles, it has a diameter of 2000 miles. Multiply that by 3.14 and divide the result (6280) by 360 degrees and you find that each degree at that distance would equal approximately 17.4 miles off. Our "rule of 1 in 60" gave us 16.7. However, there is a difference between 92 feet for a mile and 17 miles for 1,000 miles.
A flight from Tokyo to Chicago is a 6, 313 miles. Following the math, if you're off 1 degree off the flight path, you would be off approximately 113 miles. That is you would probably end up in further south in Illinois or further north in Wisconsin. All this while still thinking you are headed to Chicago. Of course, the more degrees you're off, the farther you are from the intended destination.
This can be applied spiritually. Very rarely those who apostatize reject God outright. What they go through is a gradual process of syncretism. They mix beliefs and practices of other religions with their own. At first, it is something subtle and seemingly innocent. This subtle mix opens the door to more heresy and falsehood. It may take months or years to realize how far you are from the truth. Ellen White speaks of this works,
"What astonishing deception and fearful blindness had, like a dark cloud, covered Israel! This blindness and apostasy had not closed about them suddenly; it had come upon them gradually as they had not heeded the word of reproof and warning which the Lord had sent to them because of their pride and their sins. " (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, pg. 280).
Israel had been blind to this perversion of truth, so compromise came easily. Content to allow an "alternative" worship style, Israel saw nothing wrong with the worship of God and the worship of Baal co-existing. The people of Israel still thought they were worshipping God. This confusion would explain why Elijah asked the people,
1Ki18:21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
The people could not discern the difference. And, it took Elijah to point it out. He came to weed out truth from error. John the Baptist had a similar mission. The spiritual darkness in Jesus time was intense. People did not now truth from error, John the Baptist came to correct them; which is why Christ referred to John as the Elijah of His time (Matthew 17: 11 -13). Christ was referring to Malachi's prophecy,
Mal4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
Mal4:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
In our day we also suffer from the same maladies of the past. Ellen White says,
"The apostasy prevailing today is similar to that which in the prophet's day overspread Israel" (Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 170).
"Baal, Baal, is the choice. The religion of many among us will be the religion of apostate Israel, because they love their own way, and forsake the way of the Lord" (Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 467, 468).
Compromise is rampant. Again, it starts subtly, with seemingly innocent things. And, it is mostly attributed to styles of worship. How many conservative churches now have praise teams? How many conservative churches are removing their wooden lectern and replacing with the Plexiglas lecterns. All these are subtle compromises, seemingly innocent. But, they open the door to even more heresy. While it is true that God may not have a preference: 1. for how many people lead in the singing, and 2. whether the lectern is wood or Plexiglas, He does try to warn us to prevent us from going in a direction that leads us far away from Him. Discernment is much needed, for spiritual things are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14); this is something the Spirit of Elijah will bring.