HISTORY and TIMES of THE KINGDOM
How I know that Frank W. Sandford was a genuine prophet,
In this year of 1997, when much turmoil and confusion has arisen in the fellowship called "The Kingdom," founded and led by the Rev. Frank W. Sandford, I feel strongly moved to put into words my heart-felt convictions about this man of God and his present significance in the ongoing Divine plan for the Gospel Age
I am well aware that these convictions are not shared by a large fraction of the Kingdom membership, but I know that there is a substantial remnant for whom this man's ministry contains great spiritual energy, and also provides the clearest explanation of the final showdown between God and the devil in the closing years of the Gospel Age.
It is for this remnant that I write, praying as I go. Very few are left who knew him and interacted with him as I have. My heart has been grieved as I see a growing groundswell of disaffection toward, and even rejection of, this modern prophet among those at present leading this fellowship.
Much of this negativism is due, I know, to failure to understand the role of a prophet; but I fear it is due also to a desire to escape the reproach that always surrounds the followers of a prophet. I have borne this reproach (as have my parents and numerous associates) literally all my life, yet I see no reason to push aside and disown what has brought me (and them) to reality with Christ on a higher and deeper level than I have observed anywhere else today.
I am not attempting to rewrite his biography. I did that years go and The Kingdom Press published it in 1981 under the title: "The Sublimity of Faith." But I am reviewing as best I can what it meant to him to be called into the circle of prophets and apostles, whose influence never ceases, no matter when they die.
So here is my testimony about a man and a mission that I firmly believe affects now, and will continue to affect this whole globe of needy human beings until Jesus comes. In doing this I am responding to the unmistakable directions of the Holy Spirit, given to me this past Memorial Day week end, May 2, 1997
THE "EIGHT" DATES
In order to begin to understand this man and his mission I recommend three important dates: 1888, 1908, and 1948.
The first of these found him at Northfield, Massachusetts, attending the "College of Colleges" promoted by D. L. Moody and featuring the new-born "Student Volunteer Movement." On July 14 of that year, after an address in Stone Hall by Dr. McKenzie of Cambridge University on the text: "No Man Cared for My Soul," young Frank Sandford, twenty-six years old, went forward and signed the Student Volunteer pledge: "I am willing and desirous, God permitting, to be a foreign missionary." He also subscribed to the S.V.M. motto: "This world for Christ during my lifetime."
That pledge and that motto moved and controlled Frank W. Sandford without deviation for the rest of his 85 years. I hope those who read my words will do me the honor of believing me. Through a world of strange and unexplainable experiences he never swerved from this early vow by a hair's breadth.
In the fall of 1888 (the exact date is lost) he sat alone by Whirlpool Rapids below Niagara Falls, viewed at length the violent maelstrom--to him a picture of hell--and wrote this prayer in his Bible:
"Oh God, help me to do my part in keeping a poor lost world from the terrible rapids of sin, and that terrible fall that breaks over the edge of time and plunges the sinner into eternity. To this end I solemnly consecrate my every voluntary thought, word I - and deed. This one thing will I do, subject everything to one all-absorbing purpose--this world for Christ during my lifetime."
This extended vow, taken that time in solitude, was merely an expansion of the one at Northfield. Let me reiterate here, as strongly as I know how, that Frank Sandford meant every word of it, and never forgot it or strayed from it as long as he lived. My adult personal contacts with him, extending for more than eighteen years, found him strictly confined, in "every voluntary word, thought, and deed," to this one over-arching life role. It did indeed color everything he did, said, and wrote. So far I have never met or heard of any other man who so completely rejected every personal distraction for Christ's sake.
Now for 1908. That date found him, with his family and a crew of devout sailors, meeting the horrors of Cape Horn storms, as they were making their way on a prayer journey around the world in behalf of the entire human race. For seven fearful days they assembled in the main cabin of the Yacht Coronet at midnight to partake of the Lord's Supper for the human race. They were doing what had never been done before in foreign missions: sailing alone through the world's most dangerous seas without the up-to-date charts and electronic instruments that safeguard modern cruises.
-3-This three-year journey was saturated with prayer--night and day--sometimes seventy-two hours at a stretch without food or sleep--for the purpose of breaking Satan's chains on every last man, woman, and child then living on earth or yet to be born before the Lord's return.
It is impossible to over-state the towering faith and courage that animated the twenty-five adults and five children of that ship's company. In later years I knew personally almost every one of that group, and can bear witness that the light of God's Spirit was on each face.
Moving on to 1948, the year of Mr. Sandford's death, I was there--and had been with him intermittently through the last decade of his life. And what was he doing through those final years--this octogenarian, with his snow-white hair and shining face? He was praying for the seven continents, as he called them: North America, South America, Europe, Asia. Africa, Australia, and Oceanica (his name for the population of the island world).
Day after day, week after week, month after month, for hours at a time he would walk back and forth out of doors, weather permitting, and talk to God about the needy condition of the human race. And they were not idle prayers. Mr. Sandford had spent his adult life in vigorous intercession, and had come to know the mind of the Spirit as few others ever have. He could sense Heaven's approval and told us with sparkling eyes that he was doing "the best work of my life."
More of this later, but what I wish to present to the reader is this tri-fold picture of supreme and heart-felt love for the whole human race. 1888, 1908, 1948--Mr. Frank W. Sandford did indeed, from 1888 on, subordinate every voluntary word, thought and deed to "this world for Christ in my lifetime."
Needless to say, the long gaps of years between these dates contained many activities and sufferings, but NEVER did they make him deviate from his youthful vows. Satan visited on him the most awful oppositions and persecutions that this 20th century has known (by comparison martyrdom would have been mild, he said) but he never lost either the sweetness or the steely determination that combined to make him eligible for the company of all the apostles and prophets through the ages.
----------------------TWO SURRENDERS OF WILL
Vows are good; kept vows are better. But in the life of every true child of God there come times when the inborn human will is called to unconditional surrender. Two such occasions marked the final decade of the 19th century in Frank Sandford's experience
The first had to do with submission to the Holy Spirit. For months in early 1894 he had prayed and prayed and prayed for the filling of the Holy Ghost without any apparent answer. He could see from Scripture that such a filling could be and often was quite distinct from conversion.
it is probably needless to recount the long months of waiting--fully covered in "The Sublimity of Faith," chapter 8--but if we wish to understand his later authority in God we need to review the events of August 2, 1894, and the weeks that followed. On that day he did at last receive in simple faith the indwelling and control of the Holy Spirit, but the understanding that came with it is not shared by many Christians. Listen to his words, written some time later .
"The Guest [his name for the Holy Spirit] told me that He was in all the experiences of life, making them work together for my good if I would only love Him, have confidence in Him, and let Him mold me. He said I need have no responsibility whatever, but simply respond to His movings, to His providences, and to His written word. He would open the Scriptures to me, by fiery trials write them in the very fibre of my life, and be my endurance while in the furnace."
These sentences require study. "Let Him mold me." "I need have no responsibility whatever, but simply respond..." "Be my endurance while in the furnace."
Another paragraph preceded this one--and no one can comprehend this man's future life on land and sea without taking it into account:
"As never before I saw I was to make no attempt to control God's providences, or my states and conditions, but to be simply clay in the hands of the potter--a helpless [railroad] car to be connected or disconnected with the power, as the Manager might decide; a temple for the Holy Ghost to fill with suffering as with the Man of Sorrows in Gethsemane, or with joy, as when Jesus, "anointed with the oil of gladness," "rejoiced in the Holy Spirit."
"No attempt to control..." "Clay in the hands of the potter..." "A helpless car, to be connected or disconnected with the power, as the Manager might decide." This is pious language, easily skimmed over by the thoughtless, but Mr. Sandford was not thoughtless. From the soles of his feet to the crown of his head he meant every word. He surrendered his personal freedom of will from that time on--and no man had a fiercer love of personal freedom than this fiery son of Maine with his Mayflower Company background.
Anyone who wishes to understand the sometimes strange experiences of his subsequent life will have to reckon with that event which took place under the tall pines of Old Orchard, Maine, on August 2, 1894.
Now we have to move ahead to 1899 and across the Atlantic to Liverpool, England, where another, even deeper, immolation of the will took place. The circumstances leading up to it are too lengthy to recapitulate now, but it had a focus in a spiritual disagreement with one of his best workers, Mrs. Moses Leger. Each of them respected the other, both of them were strong-minded State of Mainers, each felt the other was in the wrong, and neither could conscientiously give in. it was not a quarrel, it was an honest difference of opinion between two good people.
In this extremity Mr. Sandford, who had been quite sick, and burdened with dark news from his work in America, reached a profound low point, impossible to reconstruct in these few words. But he was nevertheless called on to speak in Selbourne Hall, Liverpool, on the evening of September 25, and appealed-to the Holy Spirit for a text. Now hear his own report:
"In the horror of that awful blackness ... God showed me as by a flash of light that I had the power to bind myself in prayer as a living sacrifice, even as the priests at the temple used to bind the little lamb with cords to the horns of the altar. I knew this meant entire conformity to the will of God in all the minute parts of the Scripture, to the experiencing of the sufferings, as well as the glory, and that if I prayed I should be a helpless, inert mass, utterly unable to extricate myself from the answer to my own prayers. ... It is beyond human power to make known to the reader all that God showed me this important step would mean. ... Kneeling, I then and there bound myself in Spirit inspired prayer to entire conformity to God's will as revealed in His Word, by the leadings of the Spirit, and through His providences."
Such words will be only words to the average religious critic, but as one who heard his personal report in later years, I gradually came to see in these two signal events, five years apart and on two Atlantic shores, a key that would unlock and explain the subsequent life of a God-sent man. Much as Isaiah, just freed of "unclean lips," had cried to God, "Here am I. Send me!" in spite of the martyrdom sure to follow, this modern servant had bound himself to an unknown, even a tragic future of submission to God's utmost will.
----------------------Right here I entreat the reader, if he wishes to be informed on Mr. Frank Sandford's further mission, to stop and ask himself if he is qualified to sit in judgment on such a man.
Here was a potential prophet-apostle, about to launch out onto unknown seas for God Almighty, binding himself in the most irrevocable fashion to misunderstanding, loss of reputation, public reviling, terrible persecution, even bonds and imprisonment. Let me state here and now that no one who has drawn back from such extreme consecration is in any position to comprehend, much less criticize such a person.
On the other hand, those who hunger for the ultimate in knowledge of God may take courage that someone dared to blaze such a trail through the spiritual wilderness. For those who are truly open-minded, here is the beginning of the explanation of what it means to be a twentieth-century prophet, and to be led of God, like John the Baptist, into the desert.
To summarize so far: first he took on the evangelization of the whole world as his life-long personal responsibility. Second, he bound himself to helpless submission to God's word, God's Voice, and God's providences. Show me, you who read, anyone else in the last hundred years who went this far and this deep.
Of course I have the benefit of hindsight, for I saw the working out, in amazing fashion, of such a beginning, and I was persuaded (at first against my inclination) that I was face to face with an authentic prophet. From here on I shall write from that assumption. It is something I know, not only with my mind, but in the depths of my heart. God sent prophets are scarce, they are precious, they have to suffer excruciating refinement, and their works and influence do not cease with their physical deaths. But first we must read about his official call.
It did not happen in 1888 nor in 1898, but a premonition did take place in the latter year that cast its shadow over the future. Again it had to do with what Mr. Sandford used to call "The Big Job"--This World for Christ.
He had started a Bible School, at the Holy Spirit's direction, on October 3, 1895, and the student population had grown steadily. On Thursday, April 14, 1898, he and the school were observing a six hour period of fasting and prayer. World evangelism was not in the air at the moment, for war with Spain over Cuba was imminent, but the Spirit of God had a larger conflict in view. While all were in silence on their knees after hours of prayer, He spoke to His servant these words: "Remove the covering cast over the face of all the earth." A moment later: "Oversee it."
Mr. Sandford was staggered. Here was a prophetic commission; Jesus' Great Commission (of Matthew 28) brought up to date. He knew the Voice was genuine, but what a task! He had always been eager to do what he had called at Whirlpool Rapids "My Part" in the great harvest, but here was a command to do it all! Though the same Voice added later: "Each of you" (presumably each student in the Bible School), the overseership was personal with him and he knew it.
So how would it be done? He didn't know how--none of them knew--but he knew it was up to him as "overseer" to find out. Probably his mind went back to his missionary trip around the world in 1891-2 which had showed him that human effort was not going to do it. He had written his conclusion after that journey:
"I saw that the difficulties in effecting the evangelization of this world were simply insuperable. It was God, and God alone, with mighty signs and wonders, as in the days of the apostles, that must arise, lay bare His arm, and cause the ends of the earth to see His salvation."
And now that same God had come down on him with this latest command: "You do it." "Each of you." "You oversee it." Either his whole calling was a mistake or else God was holding him responsible for a clearly superhuman task. Frank Sandford knew that his leadings so far had not been mistaken. The Spirit was real to him; he had been directed into the supernatural over and over. Victories of all kinds--for money, for healing, for sea voyages, for thousands led to Christ--had come piling in. Now this staggering assignment.
He did not blench; he did not second-guess his leadings. He accepted the task--which was really his original pledge with new muscle added. With responsibility had come authority. He was entering the goodly fellowship of the apostles and prophets, like Isaiah, who had been told, "I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles [all the non-Israelite nations], that thou mayest be my salvation to the ends of the earth."
- 8 -
Did Isaiah live to see that literally fulfilled? No. Was he then a false prophet? NO! Did he take it seriously the rest of his life? Indeed he did; and so did this son of New England take his commission seriously. It was on his mind on his final automobile journey four weeks before his death; and he told his friends in Pennsylvania that God had made him know that the job was done. As a prophet he foresaw that his life work of faith had not been in vain.
When he said the job would be done by "God, and God alone," he knew the corollary: God would do nothing but in answer to prayer, as John Wesley had stated. From then on if he and his people were to "Remove the covering" they must PRAY, and pray without ceasing.
Talk is cheap, but Spirit-led prayer "with groanings that cannot be uttered" is not cheap. You who have never heard Mr. Sandford lead a prayer meeting can have little idea of what it was like. It simply moved mountains. Bound as with cords to the altar, he cried out to the Great High Priest with sacrificial power. So did many if not most of his associates. Words fail me, but memory does not fail. When that voice arose in prayer, the very stones and trees seemed moved to respond.
Thirty-two months later the new century dawned, at the moment of midnight December 31, 1900-January 1, 1901. At that very second he heard the heavenly Director saying to him with a voice of thunder: "Go!" (See Revelation 6:1,2 Rotherham version.)
It was the start of a new era. House-bound Bible teaching was over. Going was now the order of the day. Very soon, in spite of winter cold, 140 student evangelists were starting on foot from Durham, Maine, to compass the entire State, house by house. They completed that job in fourteen weeks, with 1000 conversions and as many healings.
From then on it was an exciting year, with both teacher and students going from strength to strength. But the climax came in November. A convention was about to commence in Auburn, Maine, on the 24th. Mr. Sandford spent the whole previous night in prayer, feeling something momentous in the air. He had intended to speak on "The Kingdom" and he did, but followed it up with the startling fact that God had said to him the day before: "Elijah is here. Testify."
This is not the place for a full exegesis on Elijah who comes to "restore all things." To those who will read this writing it will come as no surprise. I merely give the fact and the date to refresh minds, but I might add that after seventy years to weigh this matter I have no slightest doubt that Mr. Sandford heard correctly, and thatat the Judgment Day witnesses to this calling will have to give account as to their attitude toward it.
My purpose now is to mention facts that occur to me as demonstrations of this prophetic assignment. Jesus stated plainly about prophets: "By their fruits ye shall know them"*; and we have an abundance of Scripture prophets to refer to as sounding boards. There are such persons as false prophets and such persons as true prophets, right down to the "Two Witnesses" and "the false prophet" of Revelation. Such characters are to be expected as part of the divine scenario at the end of the Age. Jesus Himself said near the last, "Behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes" (Matt. 23:34) so we must not be surprised if prophets appear in all times of this dispensation.(* What Jesus said was that by the false prophet's fruits ye shall know them.
The Kingdom has twisted this verse to apply in a manner for which it was never intended.
We are to evaluate one's claim to prophethood, and by
the false prophet's fruits we will know them. Ed.)
Furthermore, these prophets will not be popular, even among the religious, for Jesus added, to the pious Jews, "Some of them Shall ye kill and crucify ... and scourge from city to city." (Ibid.) So popular evangelists who attract great crowds are not likely to be included in the prophetic roster, though evangelists have their place.
Prophets are hated. The record is almost unbroken on that. They are answerable to God, not men, and men are irked by them. Prophets are almost universally rejected, especially among their own people and relatives. Prophets are slandered, as Jeremiah and ancient Elijah were. Their close followers are likewise ridiculed and despised--and persecuted, as we learn from the final Beatitude: "So persecuted they the prophets that were before you." So the fact thatMr. Sandford was sent to prison for six years and eight months for "acts of God"* in 1911 wrought out by four hurricanes that beset the Coronet and resulted in six deaths in no way sullies his prophethood. (* We suppose Capt. Murray understands scurvey to be an act of God. Ed.)
If having "a good name" is one's chief measure of worth, it will not be found among prophets. They have a better and more permanent renown where it counts the most.
Neither do prophets get out of date. Lately I have heard the curious doctrine that because the Bible says that "David, after he had in his own generation served the counsel of God, fell asleep..." then after Mr. Sandford's death his usefulness ceased because it was limited to his own generation! What a strange exegesis! The very context had just mentioned "the sure mercies of David" as lasting on through the centuries, making up a part of Jesus' inheritance. Neither David nor any other of the prophets have ceased to affect all succeeding generations.
It is my settled
conviction that what the modern Elijah did and said and wrote will be brought into court
in the Judgment as one of the deciding factors for innocence or guilt on the part of those
who knew of him--or could have known. I am sure that such will be my judgment. I do not
dare--much less wish--to dishonor or discredit his life work. Jesus warned us concerning all His apostles and prophets*:
"He that rejecteth you rejecteth Me." It is plain enough in the Bible that
few people see God, but their attitude toward God is measured by their attitude toward
those whom God sends.
To be quite explicit: I believe that Frank W. Sandford was a God-sent prophet, and that his mission is still alive. If not he deserves to be completely forgotten and all his works laughed out of court; but if so, then nothing he contributed to the religious scene can be deliberately ignored or suppressed without a penalty. We cannot have it both ways. Our God who trained and sent him is watching.* I don't imagine this: I know it. My seventy-five years of living under his ministry have taught me something. (* Is this a threat? The God I serve loves me enough to have died for my eternal soul. Will this same God damn me eternally for even questioning the veracity of one who claims prophet-hood but tortures children, manipulates marriages, separates families and dodges or ignores the responsibility of the lives of those under his "Shepherd's" care? Ed.)
Furthermore, it is not our province to select what we like and reject what we don't like of his ministry.He alone restored the Sabbath Day--in 1901. What folly to observe that day yet criticize the one who restored it! He under Godly authority restored the three annual Feasts of Israel to be kept under the Gospel. If we turn away from the restorer we are hypocrites to keep those Feasts, (unless we become Jews and keep them under the Law of Moses.)
He recognized and honored the hour of morning sacrifice from nine to ten. (And how wonderfully God has honored our prayerful keeping of it!) But if it was not restored its observance has become dead works. He discovered that Christ was crucified on Thursday, not Friday, and we have learned to reverence the Thursday six hours when Jesus hung on the cross. But if this fact was not restored let's be frank and join the Catholic tradition of Good Friday.
He was alone among Protestants to perceive that what Jesus said about Holy Communion was true: "This is My body"; "this is my blood." How can we claim this precious truth and wave Goodbye to the discoverer of it?
In short, we cannot accept a dismembered and out-of-date prophet and keep our honesty.
There were some in Mr. Sandford's experience. He fully expected to die a martyr's death in Jerusalem, and said so many times. He expected Christ's return in his own lifetime (as have unnumbered men of God for centuries).
He fully expected to live through the "six seals" of Revelation 6; (and probably the seven trumpets and the seven vials and the charge of The White Cavalry in Revelation 19). The chronology of these events has never been clear, yet he sought to live in the future and the times of the end as much as possible.
NOW--does the fact that his expectation and even declaration outran the facts undo all the heroic record of his Godly devotion? His critics, both within and without his fellowship, eagerly try to say so.
But wait! How about other and undoubted prophets? Did they too affirm and expect events that did not take place? Again and again. Starting with Enoch: "Behold the Lord came with ten thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all..." (Jude 14,15) Nearly six thousand years have passed and what Enoch said was already done is still unfulfilled. Yet we read: "Enoch walked with God." "Enoch prophesied."
Think of King David affirming to God (and men) in Psalm 36:10--"Thou wilt. not leave my soul to Sheol; neither wilt Thou suffer Thy holy one to see corruption." of course we know now it was a prophecy of Jesus, a thousand years later, but what did David know? What did his hearers make of it? Perhaps they said, "Poor David is addled. He has gone over the deep end. He should leave prophesying to Nathan and Gad. "
Right? Wrong! David simply wrote as God moved him, and at the last of his life testified: "The Spirit of Jehovah spake by me."
We have already noted Isaiah's "exaggerated" outburst about being God's salvation to the ends of the earth. what did he know about the ends of the earth?
Then look at his further prophetic "folly" in 52:10-"Jehovah hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God." A true statement? Not apparently Yet Isaiah was utterly true to his prophetic call and spoke as the Holy Spirit moved him to.
We believers today pass over these puzzlers with careless eyes, but how did they sound to Isaiah's associates? How did it sound when he addressed Jerusalem in the Spirit and cried: "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of Jehovah is risen upon thee." we call it the "prophetic present," but what did Isaiah's critics call it?
How careful we need to be in appraising prophets! They are only men, after all--but men indwelt and controlled by the Holy Ghost, no matter how foolish they sound.
Need we mention Jonah, who announced to Nineveh what God had termed "The preaching that I bid thee"? What was it? A clear unequivocal prophecy of doom: "Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be destroyed." Period. No allowance for repentance; Nineveh's fate was sealed--by a prophet of Jehovah.
Yet we know the rest. Nineveh repented; it was not destroyed; and Jonah felt like a fool. "Preach the preaching that I bid thee" is the bridle that all prophets have to assume, regardless of whether their words make sense or seem to be unfulfilled.
For that matter., think of what Jesus Himself predicted: "Verily I say unto you, There are some of them that stand here, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the son of man coming in his kingdom." (Matt. 16:28) 1 know the usual explanation- -that Peter, James and John witnessed Jesus' transfiguration six days later. But was that His it coming in His kingdom"?
Look back to 16:27, just before that breathtaking promise. "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he render unto every man according to his deeds." That was clearly the "coming in his kingdom'' that He was referring to, for it matches exactly Matthew 25 where He is to sit on His throne and separate -!,sheep from goats. Verse 34--"Then shall the King say unto "them on his right hand, come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
Did any of those then living taste of death before this grand event? According to the records, all of them. So was Jesus a false prophet? How careful and reverent we need to be when sizing up prophets with our reasoning minds!
Mr. Sandford spoke as God's Spirit moved him to speak. if his whole life had been a sham, filled with mistakes and skulduggery, we might find room for cavil, but it wasn't.
The same measuring rod must be applied to the written statements of the apostles, who with one breath predicted the return of Jesus in their lifetimes. "At hand" was the word, over and over. "We that are alive, that remain unto the coming of the Lord..." wrote Paul to the Thessalonians. "The end of all things is at hand," wrote Peter., "The time is at hand" wrote John, quoting Christ, in Revelation 1. "The Judge standeth at the doors" wrote James.
False prophets? False apostles? No, of course not. Peter described the whole prophetic brotherhood when he wrote about them, that they "searched diligently .... searching what time or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ that was in them did point unto..." Often their search was unrewarded. They realized that God's measure of time was different from man's. They were all clothed in flesh. They were not magicians or fortune tellers. They were humble men given flashes of another dimension, so to speak, and they talked and wrote blindly, as the Spirit dictated.
Frank W. Sandford was numbered among them. Jesus said, "A prophet is not without honor save in his own country..." and this man of God found that out. In England, in Palestine (as it was called then), and in Australia, as well as other lands, he was often respected and appreciated, but not in the United States. Even Canada paid him far more respect than "his own country." My Canadian grandmother, Mrs. Harriet McRobert Murray, was a noble and discerning woman of God long before she ever discovered this work, but when she first heard Mr. Sandford speak in Calais, Maine, she went to him after the service and told him point blank that he was "Elijah the prophet." She had this revelation before he did, and maintained it all the rest of her life.
----------------------WHAT ABOUT HIS MISTAKES?
There are those armchair critics who concede Mr. Sandford's prophetic call, but quickly add that he was "a human being like the rest of us," and made mistakes that undercut his authority. The inference is that since he was now and then 11 mistaken" we can say a friendly farewell and seek our own leadings from the Holy Spirit, even if involving wide departures from his teaching.
This is swampy ground. of course he was human, and subject to human weaknesses. He had to use a reading glass in his old age. His teeth were poor and had to be replaced by dental plates. His hearing was not good in his late years. He did not always remember events clearly, and had to be reminded by others--though this was rare.
But only once in the many years I lived near him did he commit an error of judgment about a fellow-Christian. When he discovered it he assembled us all, confessed his error, asked the man's forgiveness, then fell on his knees and besouqht God to save him. I never forgot that touching scene! - the noble man of God humbly confessing and apologizing before us younger folk.
There were times when he was sharp in discipline, especially toward us young people in training; but we needed correction
most sorely from time to time. When I was the object, I remember feeling amazement that the Holy Spirit could let me off as easily as He did. once or twice when it seemed to me the discipline was mistaken I concluded that God was just catching up on me for other errors that had never come to light.
"Better than I deserved" was my conclusion; and so it was with others.
"Mistakes?" No doubt there were some, and God had to deal with him. But God did, without any help from equally fallible associates (to say nothing of enemies). One thing we learned by experience: that it was not our business to correct or straighten out a man of God. I heard a bold and audacious young man try to do that once with Mr. Sandford, and though the prophet listened humbly, and responded quietly, the young man never really recovered spiritually.
Not for nothing did the Holy Spirit warn in the Bible: "Touch not Mine anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm." (Psalm 205:15)
Mistakes of a God-appointed leader give his followers no license to criticize. Moses made some bad ones; so did Joshua; so did David. in each case God exerted discipline, but He did not appreciate human meddling added to it.
Let me add here that all prophets and apostles have to undergo extreme suffering of one kind or another. Even Jesus, we read, "learned obedience through the things- that He suffered." Carnal life is carnal life in all children of Adam, and at its best is utterly useless to God. Usually it has to be burned out of us, as Isaiah had to have the live coal touch his lips.
Mistakes of one kind or another are often used of God to reduce the flesh in us. "Happy is the man whom God correcteth," says the Book of Job. Even a brief survey of Mr. Sandford's life shows a continual pattern of divine discipline. His state was happy, but far from pain-free. Seeing that day after day, I learned to love him--and trust him. He took God's disciplinary dealings with a good heart
This is the critical question. Mr. Sandford has been dead for almost fifty years. He would hardly recognize the debased society we live in as the America he used to know. What possible hold-over could-his ministry have on this degenerate age? This is what his critics repeat over and over. He is gone. His day is done. Now we have to get fresh leadings from the Holy Spirit.
Let us examine this thesis. Jesus said that whoever "receives a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward." Does that reward disappear when the prophet dies?
Look at history--profane history. Does it do any good to study it? Is such study a waste of time? Well, hardly. Thoughtful scholars agree that we cannot understand the present, much less prepare for the future, if we are not conversant with the past.
Now turn to sacred history. Where do we look to get our bearings? To the Bible, of course. And what is the Bible? It is a record set down by "holy men of God as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." But that record ceased two thousand years ago. It is "hopelessly out of date."
No, you say? But aren't those men all dead? What do they know of our problems?
What of the two-millennial interval since John finished Revelation? Has anything happened in all that time that can possibly help us today? of course. Common sense tells us that Longfellow got it right when he wrote:
Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime.
I don't have to labor the point any more. The life of a man of God, especially one called a prophet, is bound to be useful today. What Enoch did as he walked with God is still inspiring young people to do likewise. What Adam and Eve did still stands as a warning.
And we don't have to deal in theory. I have lost track of the individuals in my own limited experience who have taken heart and turned to God after reading about Frank W. Sandford's life. Just his book called "Seven Years with God" has affected countless young people God-ward.
In fact, his amazing courage in the things of God outshines most of our present-day contemporaries and stimulates person after person who has become disillusioned with religion.
Just his Kingdom vision--looking ahead to the Millennium and adjusting his life! to it--makes a bridge of faith for anyone to walk over.
The fact is that he was the "restorer of all things whereof God spake by the mouth of his holy prophets that have been of old." Others may doubt that, but I don't. Some restorations are plain to be seen, like the Sabbath and the Feasts, but they are only the advance guard. Piles, so to speak, of wrapped restoration packages are still to be opened in their respective orders. This prophet did a good job.
A few hints. On January 23rd, 1906, at the direction of the Holy Spirit, he restored the Land of Canaan and made it "Beulah," as Isaiah 62 said would happen. Satan has fought that act hard, but gradually and irreversibly the fulfillment is appearing in that future Capital of the world.
On October 2, 1902, the Kingdom was restored to Israel on a housetop in Jerusalem. By that act of faith the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah were reunited under the King of kings, and nothing contrived in hell can undo that unity.
Basic to that latter act was the previous binding together by faith of the two "sticks" of Ezekiel 37 into one stick in Jehovah's hand. Many devout Bible students have longed to see these acts consummated, not knowing what God has already authorized and put through.
Critics may ask for demonstration, but God asks for prayers of faith to fill out the roster. "For this will I be inquired of by the children of Israel," said Ezekiel's God of such restorations.
In the meantime the Scriptural and authoritative baptism of Jesus Christ has been restored, as of October 1, 1901. For that restoration God Himself spoke, saying, "Wash My lambs. Wash them thoroughly." Mr. Sandford obeyed, as he was in the habit of doing. The Voice of the Lord is powerful. Such acts cannot be undone or reversed. If they are ignored, so much the worse for the ignorer, but if they are honored they have world-wide consequences.
A few years later Holy Communion was restored as indeed the Body and Blood of the Lord Himself, transforming that ritual into a living source of blessing.
I do not know the date, but early in this century the directions of God through Malachi about tithe paying were restored, based on the recognition that ours is the Kingdom of Israel. So since then we have brought "the whole tithe into the storehouse" instead of sending it where we pleased.
MINISTRY OF THE RESTORER THAT NEEDS TO BE RENEWED
It was written of Abel in Hebrews 11 that "He being dead yet speaketh." Every true hero of faith introduces into this world some quality or qualities that are unique and cannot be set aside or forgotten without injury to the unfolding plan of God.
Certainly this is so when it comes to the one called of God to "restore all things." He may die--as all the prophets have--but his work can never die. To the degree that it was done in God it lasts and grows.
We who were his spiritual sons and daughters have a responsibility, as we "honor our father," to receive and retain and reproduce the "spiritual genes," as it were, that made his ministry indispensable.
What do I mean? I have sought to Spirit of God to quicken my memory on this, and here are some of those unique ministries that this "father of many" bequeathed to us. I think first of "The Golden Oil"
This expression, found in Zechariah 4:12, plainly refers to the unique ministry of the Holy Spirit to the "Church all of Gold" that comes from the Two Olive Trees or (in Revelation 11) the "Two Witnesses" who "stand by the Lord of the whole earth. "
Mr. Sandford was used of God increasingly as his life went on to supply a Golden Anointing to those around him that defies comparison or even description. Yet it was so real that we who were on the receiving end found ourselves affected forever .
It was the "unction" that John's first epistle declares we "have" (2:20 KJV), yet which is all too rare nowadays. Under its influence cares fled away, carnal appetites shriveled, the Bible shone sweetly, Heaven seemed near, the ministry of angels almost palpable.
I have looked that sentence over and almost despair of making it any clearer. All I can add is that the man himself seemed almost unconscious of supplying anything. But he did love the Holy Spirit, and was never happier than communing with Him; and we got the overflow. I am in tears now as I write, for it was that "golden" atmosphere in Mr. Sandford's meetings that first swept away all my doubts as to his credentials. I am homesick for it, though still at rare intervals I am visited by it again.
With my mind I know that the golden flow did not stop with his death. It is part of our rightful heritage as followers of Jesus, yet it is ordained to proceed from two men chosen of God to "stand by" Him in the last days of this age. We who received this "gold" were fortunate indeed, and I firmly believe that if we trace it back to the man of God who discovered it and supplied it, God will visit us again. That unique ministry cannot die if we won't let it. Warrior Song number 276 spells it out in choice language.
No one I have ever heard or read of in modern times knew how to care for the sheep the way this man did.He had studied Ezekiel 34 and John 10 and Acts 20 and I Peter 5 and Jude 12 about good and bad shepherds, and the Holy Spirit had taught him beyond that, until he brought the living ministry of the Chief Shepherd to all who would have it.
I was one of myriad beneficiaries of this shepherd care, and can testify that it brought me in vital touch with Jesus, the "Light of the world." It didn't cease with conversion or even with Bible teaching. It extended into all departments of our lives. For example, when called to pray for the sick, Mr. Sandford dropped everything else and took the load on himself. When young mothers were faced with child-birth he often abstained from food and drink for hours or even days until he knew they were safely through the ordeal.
Appeals for wisdom in business affairs by the sheep of his flock always got sage advice as well as prayer if circumstances permitted, and the advice was uniformly good. In other words, he cared about his sheep, and taught us young leaders to care in the same way. When we fasted over our own needs he often fasted with us.
His people loved him--with good cause. This aspect of his ministry far outshone all other aspects in my two decades with him. In what seemed to me miraculous ways he discerned our cares and carried our burdens. And he would not think of getting paid for it. Usually what financial motion there was went the other way. He was a prodigious giver--but invariably in hidden transactions.
Isaiah 32:2 well described him: "And a man shall be as a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, as streams of water in a dry place, as the shade of a great rock in a weary land." of course those words got their ultimate fulfillment in the Great Chief Shepherd, but when a human being comes into the right relationship with Christ, he too becomes a good shepherd. Mr. Sandford fulfilled that Scripture through the Spirit of Christ. that. was in him, and such ministry needs to be preserved.
Happily, those men and women who were closest to him did indeed provide comparable shepherd care. Those who cling to his Davidic patrimony can still do so, but to the extent that he is forgotten the sheep become less protected. There
are great evangelists today, and powerful intercessors, but very few good shepherds. Christ-like shepherding is an art, and careful study of this man's life and letters is a splendid text. I know of none better for modern days.
Hearing God's Voice
There exists today no greater lack in all organized Christianity than failure to hear the Voice of God. Satan has frightened our modern world by scary warnings against "hearing voices" until one of the sweetest comforts of all has been shut off. Anyone who testifies to such a visitation is immediately written off as crazy. (This is not new. Note Hosea 9:7--"The prophet is a fool, the man that hath the Spirit is mad.")
Hearing God's voice is our right. Isaiah 30:21 is our first encouragement. "Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it; when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left." But Jesus really broke open this path before us as He heard His Father's words again and again, and encouraged us to expect to do likewise.
"Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth is come, He shall guide you into all the truth..." How? By speaking. "He shall not speak from Himself, but what things soever He shall hear, these shall He speak." (John 16:13) If language means anything then we ought to hear spoken words from the Guide Jesus sent from Heaven to direct His children.
Mr. Sandford was child-like enough to believe that and expect it, and God honored him with a life-time of clearspoken directions, year after year. People roll their eyes and cluck wisely when they hear such claims, but why should we of the 20th century think we are so far superior to past ages that we don't need spoken instructions?
The fact is that the Voice of the Lord is still "powerful' and those who lack it are being deprived of power. The Early Church were taught to hear the voice, and in the early years of the restored Kingdom its members were taught the same. of course we have to be wary. Satan knows how to take up the telephone; but careful application of the blood of Jesus and careful checking with the Scripture makes us safe.
This aspect of the Restoration is sadly missing in the last years of this century. We need to unite in prayer to get the Voice of the Good Shepherd. "My sheep," said Jesus, "hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow-Me." Before that He had reassured us: "They know not the voice of strangers."
This is just one more reason why Mr. Sandford's example and experience should be studied and revived. Hearing the voice of the Spirit is critically important if we are to evangelize the world and contend with the antichrist. Without it we run the risk of wasting money and talent, to say nothing of being taken in by false teaching.
"The Blood and the Oil for the Harvest"
No man but the restorer, from all I can find, ever saw and taught the spiritual background of Israel's three annual Feasts. The Spirit of God drew his attention, after they were restored, to the pattern they formed.
The first was Passover, when the Lamb of God shed His blood for the whole dying race of mankind. This was God's method of showing His love for sinful humanity, and on the cross "the Lamb of God" did indeed "take away the sin of the world."
We in the Kingdom were continually reminded that our keeping the Feast of Passover was a powerful way of winning the world for God, but as far as I can find, no other Christian group on earth put two and two thus together.
The second was Pentecost, fifty days later, when the Mighty Holy Spirit was sent to lead the Church and carry on the world-wide campaign of the Gospel. The oft-repeated symbol of the Spirit's presence and blessing was the "oil" that fed the lamps of our ministry. "Ye have an anointing," wrote -John, "from the Holy One, ... and ye know all things."
Only the Holy Spirit, living in us, would enable us to convict and convert the human race. Only He could enable us to "pray as we ought," with "groanings that cannot be uttered."
So the "Blood" of Calvary, and the "Oil" of Pentecost, working cumulatively, as it were, would lead us on to the Feast of Ingathering "at the end of the year," when the Harvest of the Earth would be consummated.
Mr. Sandford firmly believed that intelligent keeping of those three Feasts by us spiritual descendants of Israel would be more effectual in reaping the harvest than any amount of natural energy and expense on the mission field. when I rather diffidently proposed this three-fold truth to a group of InterVarsity intercessors at Urbana '96 it was greeted with astonishment--and instant acceptance.
This restored ministry needs to be spread through the Christian world.
Nowhere on earth, as far as my study goes, was this battle for private sexual purity fought out so well as at Shiloh Bible School and the subsequent Elijah ministry Kingdom wide. Even our persecutors had to acknowledge it. When Shiloh's meanest enemy was questioned by Maine's Governor Cobb as to the morals of the Bible School community, the renegade had to testify: "There isn't a cleaner place on earth."
After the place closed (for a time) in 1920, the Editor of the Lewiston Journal in nearby Lewiston (Maine) wrote about Mr. Sandford as follows:
"His personal life was that of blamelessness. In all of the Shiloh revelations there was never the touch of defilement on sexual or degenerate grounds. No enemy of Mr. Sandford, even the bitterest, ever said that Shiloh was other than morally clean."
Just meditate on those words for a moment. Remember that most of the Bible students were relatively young and unmarried. Adding the staff and support families gathered with them and you have the perfect opportunity for uncleanness to creep in.
It did not. How was this done? It. was done because the prophet of God in charge was victorious himself, contrary to his natural make-up, and had the grace and skill to minister victory to all the rest.
And not only to the Bible School. He had the same results everywhere. He taught that "He that is born of God keepeth himself, and the evil one toucheth him not." He taught that "Every one that hath this hope set on him [the hope of Jesus' coming], purifieth himself, even as He is pure."
He did more than preach in public, he helped in private. No weak young man within his ministry stayed weak very long. He demonstrated that the Gospel is not only comfort for the fallen, but "the Power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth."
This power was with him his whole life long. Right down to his last months he was helping people of any and all generations to live pure, victorious lives.
Why should that priceless ministry be squelched? Why should that clean face and shining eye be forgotten? For I testify that such teaching can be revived if newcomers will be humble enough to accept the source of it, no matter how vilified.
Why do we in the Kingdom no longer hear this subject mentioned from the platform any more? We need a revival of the Elijah ministry that makes the atmosphere too hot for the devil.
The Marriage of the Lamb
With all the recent world-wide rise of prayer and rush of evangelism that rightly wins our approval and co-operation, why do we hear almost nothing about preparing for the Wedding? Why this great void in modern evangelical teaching?
It was anything but a void in the early years of the Restoration. The Bible School building at Shiloh was dedicated in 1897 for two aims: "The speedy evangelization of the globe, and the preparation of the Bride for the Bridegroom." The two were considered inseparable.
They are still inseparable, but even in The Kingdom we hear almost no mention today of "bridal religion." Yet evangelist that he was--and superb at it--Mr. Sandford could never lose sight of the Great Object: Jesus is after a Bride. This was His reason in coming to earth. In His flesh He never married, but that doesn't obscure the fact that the "Second Adam" wants a "second Eve."
Actually Jesus wasn't excluding anybody--He like His Father "loved the world" of human beings. But He knew that out of Adam's race there would be those who would so love Him back that they couldn't endure separation from Him. This happy conclusion was foreseen from the Creation.
It was also clearly seen by the Restorer, and in his capacity as Jesus' forerunner and as "friend of the Bridegroom" he devoted immense amounts of time and teaching to Bridal Religion--"fine linen," "white garments," "the Marriage Feast," a bride who "looks forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, terrible as an army with banners."
This teaching has practically vanished from our assemblies. Why? Because it was Mr. Sandford's one great specialty, and either his ministry has become unpopular or else no one feels any desire to revive it.
Of all the backslidings that I groan over, this is the worst. I have been publicly (though indirectly) rebuked for mentioning "fine linen," for example. Doubtless my efforts have been thought wide of the mark, and I can believe it, but that doesn't prevent our earnest attempt to go back over Mr. Sandford's early teaching, and the songs he introduced into our hymnbook, that are calculated to encourage bridal qualities.
Revelation 19:7 tells us that at last "the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife hath made herself ready." That word "made" implies careful and lengthy preparation. it implies also minute teaching from a qualified teacher. Mr. Frank Sandford was thus qualified, and there is much of that teaching in print. For Heaven's sake--and I use that expression advisedly--why not resume our study of it?
-------------------These are but a few of the reasons why I believe an urgent review and revival of that anointed ministry is in order: Many other reasons could be mentioned, such as: how to live the life of faith; forsaking all to follow Jesus, spiritual warfare of the best order; the Melchizedek priesthood; the real significance of Anglo-Israel; Ezekiel's millennial Temple; the Judgment of the living (Matthew 25) and the Last Judgment (Revelation 20); the veracity of both predestination and freewill--and much more.
----------------------To conclude: Mr. Sandford has indeed died, but his ministry is not dead, not by any measure. It still lives among us, and is available to any conscientious student.
God plainly said that the sending of Elijah the prophet was designed to save the earth from a curse. (Malachi 4:6) That fact is very real to me, and to many others in our midst.We deserve a chance to dwell on it, proclaim it, and share its length and breadth without being frowned on or prohibited from assembling.
Finally, let me again remind the reader that our attitude toward God is invariably measured by our attitude toward those sent by God.All who have had access to the Elijah ministry are on trial.
Rev. Frank S. Murray
A. B. Simpson