32:16 Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
And righteousness remain in the fruitful field.
17 The work of righteousness will be peace,
And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.
18 My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation,
In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,
19 Though hail comes down on the forest,
And the city is brought low in humiliation.
20 Blessed are you who sow beside all waters,
Who send out freely the feet of the ox and the donkey.
Jesus was a true leader. He didn't lead as His followers would have had Him lead. He lead them where they needed to go. He stretched them. He challenged them, He confused them and at times angered and offended them. He did not do it for that purpose. He did it because it was right and because He loved them too much to leave them as they were.
Are you thinking at this point that there is a large disconnect between our reading in Isaiah and my intro? Isaiah talks of the glorious future awaiting those who love and trust God. A time of peace, of plenty, of quietness and rest. The chapter ends with these words: "Blessed are you who sow beside all waters, who send out freely the feet of the ox and the donkey."
Jesus sowed beside all waters. His disciples didn't think He should but He did. He worked (ox and donkey) everywhere. Samaria? Check. Tyre and Sidon? Check. Evil Decapolis? Check. Women? Check. Children? Check. Other races? Check.
When in Tyre and Sidon the disciples told Jesus to "send her away, she's bothering us" in response to a Canaanite woman asking for help. When He headed for Decapolis they were angry. When He talked to a woman of questionable character in Samaria they stood in stunned and confused silence.
"Blessed are you who sow beside all waters."
In the mid to late 1800's Ellen White plead with our church to intentionally reach out to the black people (she called them coloured) in the United States. We refused. So strongly did we refuse and so determined was she to "sow beside all waters" that eventually she diverted her tithe to a project that Edson White first headed. He built a boat called the Morning Star and he and others lived on it while traveling up and down the Mississippi River in the South, teaching young and old to read and teaching them the simple Story of Jesus.
God blessed their efforts and as time went on a larger and larger number of coloured people became part of "us". This created a new "problem". We did not allow their children in "our" schools. We did not allow their Spirit called and Spirit gifted preachers and teachers in "our" pulpits. In short they could be members but nothing more. This impasse came to a head and when it did instead of opening our hearts and arms to "them" in full fellowship, we gave "them" our blessing to start "their own" work. And so today in 2017 we still have black churches under black conferences separate from the "white" work.
Here's the problem. We have been called as Seventh-day Adventists to preach the three angels messages. The very first message is the everlasting, unchanging gospel and it is to be proclaimed to the entire world, to every kindred, every language, every nation, and every people. The purpose of sharing these messages is so that the whole world can be lighted up with the glory (character) of God. What does it say about His character when still we divide ourselves by superficial issues of language and colour?
As the race wars seem to be heating up more and more (Ellen White said they would) I can't help but wonder how different things might be if His people, who are called by His Name, would have humbled themselves and prayed, and worked until they found a way to truly become one under the banner of the cross. Maybe Martin Luther King Jr. would not have been assassinated. Maybe Rosa Parks wouldn't have had to "break the law" on that bus. Maybe NFL players could stand today side by side with their white teammates in perfect harmony. Maybe if we the church had been leaders like Jesus was a leader, things would be so different now.
And maybe not. What I do know is this: "Blessed are you who sow beside all waters."
As for me and my house, we will. I hope and pray you will also.