Our brothers and sisters have been working hard together with one mind in faith. As a result, over 7,000 Zions have now been established all over the world. Looking at this amazing work of salvation, some may think that it has been possible because a department of the Head Office excels at planning, and others may think that we have achieved such great results because we have pastors and missionaries with excellent leadership.
However, if we look at it through the Bible, we can realize that the gospel of the kingdom is supposed to be preached throughout the world no matter what kind of people God appoints, and that the work of salvation can be accomplished through God’s help. We are merely the fallen angels who have been cast down to this earth as a result of committing sin in the angelic world. None of us must be arrogant or boastful. Rather, we should give thanks to God and repent all the more like a tax collector who said, “Lord, I am a sinner!” With this kind of faith, we should press ahead toward the eternal kingdom of heaven, always thinking about where the power to accomplish the work of salvation comes from.
There was war between the Israelites and the Amalekites during Israel’s 40-year desert journey. Joshua led the Israelite army into battle, and the Israelites were victorious. However, Israel’s victory over Amalek did not depend on Joshua who led the army or on the soldiers who followed him.
The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. Ex 17:8–13
The war was in full swing as they were fighting against each other. At that time, Moses was on the top of the hill. When he held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, and when he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. The outcome of the battle depended on whether Moses raised his hands or lowered them. Moses kept his hands up, and eventually Israel won.
What happened to the Israelites in the desert shows us well what serves as the driving force in victory for us who are walking the desert journey of faith today. Moses represents Jesus—God Himself. Just as Israel was able to win when Moses held up his hands, the gospel work in this last age—the age of the Holy Spirit—can be accomplished when God is with us and helps us. In regard to the work of building the temple, God said, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zec 4:6). Without God’s help, it is impossible to accomplish the work of saving the world, no matter how wise and intelligent the leaders are and how many churches and members we have. It’s just as the Israelite army wouldn’t have been able to win the battle if Moses had not raised his hands, no matter how resourceful and excellent Joshua might be as a leader and no matter how many brave soldiers and powerful weapons he might have.
We absolutely need God’s support. Heavenly Mother is holding up Her hands behind the scenes, longing for our victory and praying for us. As our holy Mother supports us like that, the amazing work of salvation is now being carried out. Keeping this fact in mind, let us think about where all power comes from and participate in the gospel. Of course, Joshua and the army of Israel had to fight the battle while Moses was holding up his hands. Like Joshua, we are fighting the good fight of the faith, but our victory depends on Heavenly Mother who prays for us and gives us spiritual strength. We must not forget this fact.
The parting of the Red Sea also shows us that we can never accomplish the gospel work by our own strength or power. When the Israelites came out of Egypt and proceeded towards Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey, the first obstacle they encountered was the Red Sea. Most people think that the Red Sea is a shallow sea, but it is quite deep. The heads or leaders of Israel must have been worried about how to cross the Red Sea with roughly 3,000,000 people plus their flocks. However, as God helped them, the deep and broad Red Sea immediately opened up and made a path for them.
As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. . . Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground . . .” Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided . . . Ex 14:10–21
The Red Sea was an insurmountable obstacle to the Israelites. However, as God helped them, the obstacle became a shortcut to Canaan—the land of promise—and a tool of salvation to protect the Israelites from their enemies by destroying them. Likewise, if God is with us, obstacles are no longer obstacles, but they can become tools to protect and help us.
It was neither Moses nor his staff that divided the Red Sea. Those who believe only what they see may think that the power to divide the Red Sea came from the staff of Moses, but the staff did not actually have any supernatural power. Who imbued the staff with his power? Moses just stretched out his staff as God said, “Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea.” Then God took care of everything else for him.
The gospel work cannot help but be slow in progress if we think that we are doing it ourselves. Only when we realize God’s almightiness and ask God for help can the gospel work progress. I am sure that since our members realized and believed it, God did something miraculous like the parting of the Red Sea—He allowed over 7,000 Zions to be established all over the world until last year. This year, too, let us keep this realization deep in our minds. The gospel is not something that can be accomplished with human abilities. Even an unattractive rod of a shepherd can be imbued with power great enough to divide the Red Sea. Let us believe this and carry out the gospel work. All power comes from God, and we just have to go and do God’s errand—our God-given mission to preach His word. Then God will take care of the rest.
Without God’s help, we cannot make any progress in the work of salvation. This is proven through what happened in the past and what is happening to us in this age. Let us not forget God in any circumstances, but always think about where the power of salvation comes from. It is not our own method or strength that enables salvation. God has endowed us with power, and through God’s power we are able to lead all people in the world to salvation.
They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died . . . So Moses prayed for the people. The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. Nu 21:4–9
The people who had been bitten by venomous snakes in the wilderness were able to live when they looked at the bronze snake. It was a miracle wrought by God’s power. However, the people of Israel foolishly worshiped the bronze snake for about 800 years, until the time of King Hezekiah. Forgetting God, they only looked at the visible phenomena. This caused them to fall into the illusion that the bronze snake saved them, and they ended up worshiping idols.
The source of power was neither the bronze snake nor Moses who served as a mediator between God and the people, but God’s words—“Anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” Those who obeyed the words of God lived by their faith. The victory of Joshua’s army at the battle against the Amalekites, the parting of the Red Sea with the staff of Moses, the bronze snake incident . . . Through all these historical events, we can find out God always works behind the scenes to accomplish the work of salvation with His power.
Whom must we trust in for our salvation? Numerous things are happening in our gospel environments. Sometimes we are lacking in many things, and sometimes there are a lot of obstacles. Whenever these happen, we should avoid depending on somebody around us or focusing on our external surroundings and conditions. Otherwise, we will keep grumbling until the end of our journey of faith through the spiritual desert, just as the Israelites did.
We must always think of God instead of trying to solve our problems by means of visible, physical things. God is the source of all power to accomplish the work of salvation. When we believe this and obey God, our obstacles can turn into tools to help us.
Satan does not easily give up but continues to hinder us from establishing the realms of the gospel of God. Despite so many difficulties, our church is being established all over the world because God is with us. Only when God holds up His hands can the work of salvation be accomplished. We must always keep this in mind and never forget to give glory and thanks to God.
Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth . . . Dt 8:11–18
One of the key points of the lesson from the Israelites’ journey through the desert is that we must not forget God. None of us should forget God who is the source of power to achieve salvation. If we keep in mind that all power comes from God and always ask God for help, we can make progress in the gospel work. However, if we have these wrong thoughts, ‘I did it myself,’ and, ‘I can do it better than anyone else,’ even things that have been achieved until now can turn out to be a sand castle. God knows us very well because He created us. So, He tells us not to forget Him even when our silver and gold increase and our circumstances are favorable.
If we forget God, our life of faith is totally meaningless. God protects us and keeps us safe from any dangerous obstacles. Nevertheless, if we proudly think we have done it ourselves, we can no longer expect God’s help and there will be problems everywhere.
Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Dt 8:1–3
During the Israelites’ 40-year journey through the desert, God tested them to see whether or not they would keep His commands. God did so with a strong desire to help them attain complete faith and to bless them in the end. Since God knew they would easily forget Him in comfortable circumstances, He led them through the barren wilderness and put them in various situations; sometimes He caused them to hunger, and He also made the Egyptian army chase after them. If God had opened up the Red Sea earlier, there would have been no need for the people of Israel to flee fretfully from Egypt. In front of the Red Sea, those who were faithless poured out their complaints; they fell into temptation. Throughout the 40 years in the desert, God tested their faith like that.
We must not fall into temptation. God dwells in Zion. Not only God the Father but also God the Mother are with us and guide us, giving us courage and strength, so that we can carry out the mission of preaching the gospel. The gospel work is to be accomplished by God’s power, not our own. So, let us always rely on God and ask for God’s help through prayer when we carry out the gospel work. To the person who proudly thinks, ‘I’ve done it with my own abilities,’ God says:
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? 1 Co 4:7
Everything we have is from God. During the forty years in the desert, God did everything for His people; when they found it hard to do something, He helped them do it; He made a path for them; He even turned obstacles into tools to help them, so that they could safely pass through the difficult process. Taking a lesson from this history, we must never forget God.
God is now opening the doors for the gospel, so that the water of life from the Most Holy Place can flow further and deeper into the world. The gospel is being preached to Alaska—a frozen land of ice and snow, the Amazonian forest, and even remote alpine regions in the Himalayas and the Andes. Last year, many Zions were established through God’s blessing. We must not forget who did it, so that we can lead many souls to the way of salvation this year, too.
God, who is the source of power to accomplish the work of salvation, is with us and guides us. Only when God holds up His hands can we be victorious. Keeping this in mind, let us ask Heavenly Father and Mother for help and preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. Then we can accomplish the work of salvation without fail. I earnestly ask you all to follow the guidance of Heavenly Father and Mother with joy and obedience and proclaim the glory of Jerusalem throughout the world, so that you can enter the kingdom of heaven—the eternal heavenly Canaan.