“It is in a crisis that character is revealed” COL 412.
A crisis has emerged. The dispute is between two women. One woman has the truth. The other woman is full of lies and deceit. The woman telling the truth wants unity. The woman telling lies wants division. Both women are no strangers to each other. They are of the same household. Each woman is claiming to be telling the truth, while accusing the other of a false representation.
So what is the argument about? A son.
The story is found in 1 Kings 3:16-28. Each woman is claiming to be the mother of a living child. The king’s judgment is amazing. The story is short:
“Now two women who were harlots came to the king, and stood before him. And one woman said, “O my lord, this woman and I dwell in the same house; and I gave birth while she was in the house. Then it happened, the third day after I had given birth, that this woman also gave birth. And we were together; no one was with us in the house, except the two of us in the house. And this woman’s son died in the night, because she lay on him. So she arose in the middle of the night and took my son from my side, while your maidservant slept, and laid him in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. And when I rose in the morning to nurse my son, there he was, dead. But when I had examined him in the morning, indeed, he was not my son whom I had borne.” Then the other woman said, “No! But the living one is my son, and the dead one is your son.” And the first woman said, “No! But the dead one is your son, and the living one is my son.”
“Thus they spoke before the king.
“And the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son, who lives, and your son is the dead one; and the other says, ‘No! But your son is the dead one, and my son is the living one.’” Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword before the king. And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to one, and half to the other.”
“Then the woman whose son was living spoke to the king, for she yearned with compassion for her son; and she said, “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!”
“But the other said, “Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.”
“So the king answered and said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him; she is his mother.”
“And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had rendered; and they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice.”
Allow me to share my personal thoughts on the two women in 1 Kings 3 and relating the story to the current situation in our church regarding unity and division.
A woman in Bible prophecy is often used as a symbol for a church. A pure woman, as described in Revelation 12, represents a church with pure biblical doctrines or teachings. It represents a church shining with the pure light of the everlasting gospel. This woman gives birth to a male child, who is represented by Christ. There is another woman, an impure woman, described in Revelation 17 as “The Mother of Harlots.” This other woman represents a church with false doctrines or teachings. There is also depicted a dragon, representing Satan, who stands before the woman to attack the male child as soon at it was born. As a pure woman symbolizes a pure church preaching truth, so an impure woman symbolizes a church preaching false teachings.
Although these two women in 1 Kings 3 are harlots, one of them is represented as having the truth, who also happens to be the rightful mother of the child. Revelation 12 also describes a woman who gave birth to a male child. This woman represents God’s remnant church who has the truth of the everlasting gospel. The male child born is Christ, whose seed was through the harlot Rahab, who accepted and proclaimed the truth.
The other woman in 1 Kings 3 is represented as telling lies, deceiving herself, and attempting to deceive the truth-telling woman. Revelation’s other woman is called “The Mother of Harlots” who makes the inhabitants of the earth drunk with the wine of her fornication, meaning that this is a church who is deceiving people with her false teachings (vs 5, 2). Seventh-day Adventists believe this woman of Revelation 17 to represent the Roman Catholic Church.
If we were to compare the current crisis the Seventh-day Adventist Church is facing regarding women’s ordination, I would compare it to the story of the two women in 1 Kings 3. The women’s ordination “dispute” isn’t between the teachings of the Adventist Church and the teachings of the Catholic Church or any other church. No. It’s between members of the same church. In other words, the dispute is from within—in-house. Likewise, the dispute between the two women in 1 Kings 3 is also in-house: “this woman and I dwell in the same house… And we were together; no one was with us in the house, except the two of us in the house” (vs. 17,18).
Two Women in the Same House
Within the Seventh-day Adventist house, or church, are two types of Adventists: Those who are bible-based believers yearning for God’s Holy Spirit in their lives, and those who are culturally-based believers who have a regard for the truth but have not yielded themselves to the Holy Spirit’s working. Christ speaks of these two types or classes of people in the parable known as the wise and foolish virgins found in Matthew 25. In the parable all went out to meet the bridegroom, who represents Christ the King. All of them had their lamps and vessels for oil. For a while, there was no apparent difference between them, until it was revealed that the foolish virgins lacked enough oil to be ready for the bridegroom. Likewise, the church that lives just before the coming of Christ will have two classes of people. Though we will not be able to distinguish these two groups, the bridegroom, Christ the King, will read the hearts of all men.
I find an interesting parallel in 1 Kings 3 and the two classes of people existing just prior to the Second Coming of Christ. Both women were of the same household, both proclaim to have the truth, both are brought before the king for judgment, both are separated by the king into two (the woman telling the truth; the woman being deceptive), and both receive a recompense (the woman receives the son; the woman is denied the son). Likewise, two classes of Adventists “dwell in the same house,” or worship together. Both groups are advocating the truth. Both groups will stand before the King of Kings for Judgment. The sheep are separated from the goats. And as a recompense, one class receives the Son. The other class will be denied the Son. So what separates the wise from the foolish? The oil in their lamps. That is, the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Both women in 1 Kings 3 are claiming to be telling the truth. One of them, however, is telling the truth, while the other one is stubbornly deceiving herself and attempting to deceive the truth-telling woman. When I think about this, I think of the Adventist church and its two groups of thinkers when it comes to the “dispute” of women’s ordination. Could it be that one group is biblically truthful while the other group is simply stubborn, deceiving themselves and attempting to deceive the other? The question is, “Who’s who?”
Essentially, that’s the question King Solomon asked: “Who’s who?” In order to discern which women is telling the truth and which woman is being deceptive, the wise king requests a tool to judge and discern the thoughts of the hearts of these two women: “Bring me a sword,” he says (vs. 24).
Hebrews 4:12 compares the Bible to a sword. It says, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword…and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Why is the word of God living and powerful? Because it is God’s manual book of instruction for us on how to discern between right and wrong--how we ought to live our lives. The Bible “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3: 16, 17). We must go to God’s Word for directions and instruction of His Will for us and His church. Just as the “sword” was used to discern truth from error, so will Seventh-day Adventist uphold the Bible as the only standard of measurement to discern true biblical teachings from false ones.
King Solomon proceeds to give the command: “Divide the living child in two, and give half to one, and half to the other.” (vs. 25). The judge seeks to unveil to everyone the love and loyalty of the true mother through a test of division. Here lies the deciding factor that identifies the real mother. Just think of the agony the true mother experienced upon hearing that her son would be divided. As the truth-telling woman and real mother, how could she let her son be split in two? I ask myself, could it be that God is testing His people by unveiling to the public the love and loyalty of those who truly want unity with His Son?
Then the woman whose son was living spoke to the king, for she yearned with compassion for her son; and she said, “O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!” 1 Kings 3:26.
The woman proclaiming the truth is also the woman yearning for unity. Moved with compassion, she pleads with the king not to partition but to maintain oneness with her son. Wasn’t the prayer of Christ for His church similar—“that they all may be one”? John 17:21.
But the other said, “Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.” 1 Kings 3:16.
When I read this, I can’t help but think of those in higher leadership positions that are not satisfied with “judgment” of the General Conference Sessions regarding the dispute of women’s ordination. Not only once, but three times has the GC voted down the proposal to ordain women to pastoral leadership. Yet, the dispute continues to arise to the point where some leaders are already causing division, and even others promote permanent separation from the world body of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The deceived woman was unsatisfied with the judge’s ruling, for she did not get her way. “Well then,” she says, “Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.” It’s almost like saying, “If it’s not my way, it’s not your way either. Let’s split.”
So the king answered and said, “Give the first woman the living child, and by no means kill him; she is his mother.”
The king and judge has ruled. There is no division. Oneness and unity wins. The true motives of the hearts have been discerned and revealed. The truth-telling woman receives the son. The deceived woman is denied the son. “It is in a crisis that character is revealed” COL 412.
Perhaps the Eternal Judge and King of Kings has allowed this crisis to happen in His church so that He unveils and reveals the true motives of the hearts men.
God is on His Throne.