Who was Victor T. Houteff? (Part 1 of 3)

victor_houteff_1_             Victor Houteff   How many of us have ever uttered the words, “I love Jesus”? No doubt quite a few. But how many of us have ever backed up those words by devoting the majority of our life devoted exclusively for –Jesus? In all our actions, eating, dressing, worshiping, arising, working almost non-stop for Him? Not many. Let us look at one of those rare individuals that lived and breathed the spreading of the gospel of the King.

As we have posted many posts pertaining to the Elijah message, we thought it helpful to explore some details of this man’s life. Because there is growing interest in this man of God, we are inspired to delve a little more into his life. Who was he? What did he stand for? Did he live as he taught or was he your typical –“Do as I say, not as I do” professed leader of God? Did he teach “to the law and to the testimony” (Isaiah 8:20) ?

We’ll breakdown different sections of his life. Each section will explore the important aspects of his development. As some in the Seventh Day Adventist church and nearly all within the church known as Davidian Seventh Day Adventist believe, this was no ordinary man. There are just too many pieces of the puzzle that come together for his life to be your run of the mill “Christian life”. Let us provide the helpful information in knowing who this man was that many call the prophesied–Elijah.

introduction  He was born in Bulgaria on March 2, 1885,  he and his brothers migrated to the US in 1907. Of an interesting note, just as Ellen White had a 3rd grade education, Victor Houteff had a 4th grade education.  Victor explains how he came to America–

I came to America, not because I wanted to, but because God wanted me to.  And since I knew not my future work, and as God could then no more make me understand than He could at first make Joseph understand his trip to Egypt, I was therefore driven out of the country at the point of a gun as was Moses driven out of Egypt, although I had done nothing to bring trouble upon myself.  And who do you suppose led the rebels to storm me out of the country? 

None other but the Greek Orthodox bishop of the province!  And where do you suppose he sponsored his pursuing campaign?  In the church on Sunday morning while in his full regalia and about twenty feet from where I stood!

   At that time I knew not what my going away from home to such a distant land was about, but now I know as well as Joseph knew that his brethren’s hope to defeat God’s plan for him was but God’s plan to get him down into Egypt.  And so rather than to thwart the plan, they really caused the plan to be carried out!

   When things go contrary to one’s will and way today, most Christians give credit to the Devil.  Only when things go according to their liking do they give credit to God!  Balaam, too, was happy when the way opened for him to go to Balak, but when the angel of the Lord blocked the road he was traveling on, then Balaam, became as mad as a dog and smote the ass.

   No, nothing but you yourself can defeat God’s plans for you.  Be it your friends or your enemies, be it beasts or kings, you will find them all unwittingly or wittingly working for your good rather than for your harm if you are doing God’s bidding.  What a rich resource Heaven is!  And who knows it!

   Remember now, that whatever may stand in your way, be it the Red Sea or the River Jordan, be it a mountain or be it a desert, it shall become your very stepping stone.

   Such as this is the righteousness of the Lord, and you can have it at the cost of your own righteousness.  Then you will find the Lord’s ways as much higher than yours as the Heaven is higher than the earth.  When this happens, then only you will understandingly say, “The Lord our Righteousness.”Timely Greetings, Vol. 2, No. 35 page 29-31)

For more on his early life in Bulgaria see this link http://www.shepherds-rod-message.org/vth.html

Early years in America –   Arriving penniless, he sound found work as hotelier and grocer in the state of Illinois . While in the hotel business in 1919, he became “intensely interested in religion”.This led him to become a member of the Seventh Day Adventist church.

Soon he left for California but when he got there he became sick, an illness which required medical attention. His savings was not well either. The stay at the local sanitarium drained his account even more, so much so that the thought of “going broke and staying poor grew larger and larger.” But thankfully his health was restored.

But during his California stay, he remembered that he had not paid his tithes or offerings to his church in the mid west, which he was still a part of. The amount  he reasoned was 75.00 due in back tithes. He was quoted as saying  “I thought then that if I should fail to pay this debt now while I had enough to pay it, I could never again get that much money together and it would have to stay unpaid forever. Better get broke now, and be free of debt, than to get broke later and be a debtor forever.”

” My account, I figured, was just a little over my debt. When I wrote a check for the whole balance, and sent it to the church in the middle west, I was left with 3.50 in my pocket.”(Timely Greetings , volume 2, no. 35, p.15)

Shortly after paying almost all he had, he received a check from his bank that he had ordered closed. To his amazement a check for 350.00 was made out to him, as his final balance! God was looking out for his young fledgling servant.

Soon things started to rebound, he found a good paying  job at a young up and coming company called Maytag. Additionally, an old stock investment, that he thought was worthless, doubled in price from his purchase price. The Lord was fulfilling His part of the promise –Mal. 3:10.

All the while during this time he faithfully did not work on the Sabbath. His manager at Maytag told him one day ” it must be wonderful to believe as you do, but you know I could never be a Seventh Day Adventist.” Victor responded back, “why not? “Because if I begin to keep the Sabbath as you do, I will lose my job” the man responded.

Victor added,  “Better to lose your job than to lose your life.” The sales manager should have taken the advice, he died shortly after this conversation. Around that same time,  the bookkeeper discussed religion with Victor, and also said that he could not keep the Sabbath and keep his job also. Then Victor  again said “Better to lose your job than to lose your life.” (Ibid, p.16-17) Again ,just as the sales manager did before,  the bookkeeper died shortly thereafter this warning also.

Could it be that this was divine signs from the Lord, letting us know that His servant Victor T. Houteff was to be heard and that we take the real chance of losing our life if we ignore the message the Lord speaks through him? Regardless, Victor was right–no job is worth us dis-honoring Him and serving another God (their job) instead of Him on His holy day. He commented on the two back to back deaths from the same instructions, “Believe it or not, but this is what happened with both men after they sold their convictions for the price of a job!” (Ibid, p.17)

Now we come to a miracle that the Lord’s hand definitely had a part in. How many of us get hit head on from a swift running automobile on a busy road and walk away?

Victor was walking in a business section of Los Angeles and happened to be crossing the middle of the road, when all of a sudden a woman came straight at him and hit him square on. Did he get run over? Splattered on the front end?  He explains ” No, this did not happen because something greater took place. An unseen hand carried me on ahead of the car, lightly sliding my feet on the pavement with my right side ahead, and my left side against the car’s radiator! After having made about half the distance before the car stopped, something seated me on the bumper of the car, and I put my left arm around the car’s left headlight….when she stopped, I put my feet on the ground and stepped away from the car.”

“.. by that time the car and I were surrounded by people, and three policemen looking for the man who got run over. But as they found no one lying on the street, or pinned under the car, I told them it was I who had been run over! They wanted to take me to the hospital, and when I told them I wasn’t hurt, I heard one say, “He must be hurt but is too excited and does not know his condition.”

Then they made me raise my legs and arms up and down, several times, after which one shouted , “He is made out of rubber!” (Timely Greeting vol. 2 no. 35, p.21)

So miraculously the “rubber” man walked away from the head on impact, and proceeded 3 blocks to his car that day, and then drove  to a prayer  meeting and spoke about the incident to the amazement of the crowd.

Next we get a look into some personal witnessing to a brother, to show him the way of the Lord, but sadly again, it fell in deaf ears and again the results were a curse.

“Not long after I had gone to work for this company and while canvassing, I met a woman whose husband was of Jewish descent, but she was Scandinavian, and a Seventh-day Adventist.  She told me that her husband was terribly opposed to her religion and at one time he threw her Bible into the stove.  She wished I could in some way help her husband change his attitude.  I asked her to tell him that I would like to see him in his home the following night.  She promised to try it and then to let me know.

   He sat down to several studies with me in his home with the family present.  I was surprised, though, to find him very agreeable to what was presented, altogether contrary to what his wife had told me!  After I had given him three studies he called me aside, pulled his pants-pockets inside out and said to me, “You see, I have a big family to feed and only three cents in my pocket. 

Before you came to me,” he explained, “I did everything to get a job but failed.  In my distress,” he continued, “I prayed for the first time in my life.  I asked the Lord to send someone to show me what to do.  When I heard you were coming,” he added, “I thought it was in answer to my prayer, and I was anxious to meet you.  And that is why you found me so open-minded to your religion.  But now,” he said, “I know that God sent you.”

   I asked him if he would like to sell washing machines, and he replied, “I am ready to do anything you suggest.”  I took him to the company I was working for, and he went to work immediately, trucking with his own pickup.  His wages, and a few sales occasionally brought him over $200 monthly.

   He owned the house he was living in, and as living was not so high in those days, he was able to save a good share of his wages.  After a time he sold his house, bought a five-acre plot and built a new house and a good poultry shed on the plot.   Then he told me that he intended to work for the company about 18 months longer, and by that time he would have his house and land all clear, or somewhat clear, and then he could make a good living on his five-acre plot.

   Well, it all looked fine.  But one Sabbath morning he met me in church and told me that the company was to be taken over that day.  He wanted to know if I would go with him and listen to the speeches while the transfer was being made.  I reasoned with him that it was not the place to spend the Sabbath in, but he argued that if he were not present they might hire another man in his place, and he could not afford to lose his job. 

He therefore attended the business meeting.  Shortly after, though, the new company discharged him.  Consequently he could not keep the payments on the property and the trust company foreclosed on it!  Then his wife died! Anyone can see that all these sequential events of the day, closely tied one to another with nothing else in between, could not possibly have been accidental, but strictly Providential.” (Timely greetings, Vol.2, No.35, P- 18-20)

Sabbath School lessons –   His very first work of spreading and teaching the gospel occurred in the  Olympic Exposition Park SDA Church in 1929. His lessons attracted many members but due to the fact that his teachings were new and unique, some within the church objected. He explains–

“The enemies of the message then left nothing unturned in their search for something against me, rather than to make sure that they were not turning down Truth.  They tried every hook and crook to pin something on me and to stop my activities, but found nothing and as a rule about 30 members of the church stayed in my special meetings each Sabbath afternoon.  Then came the time that the elders of the church refused to let us use the church for our meetings, and they made us all get out.

  But one of the sisters who was living in a big house right across from the church offered her place for the meetings, and there was a great uproar among the people around the church premises.  Some were for us and some were against us.  So it was that the house across from the church was filled that afternoon and many listened from the outside through the windows.  The enemies failed to break up our meetings, and the victory was ours.

   Next they forbade us to attend their church services, and they began to disfellowship those who still wanted to attend our meetings.  They tried to deport me, too, but failed.  Then they endeavored to get a court order against any of us going to the church on Sabbath, but lost out.  Once they called the police to have me arrested on false charges that I was disturbing the meetings, but after the officers in the police station heard my story and the deacon’s charges against me, he commanded the two policemen who brought us to the station to put us in their car again, and to take us right back to the church where they picked me up!

   After this the elders endeavored to put me in an insane asylum.  The “city manager” of Glendale himself (a Seventh-day Adventist) had come to this church that Sabbath morning to lay down the charges and to see me carried away and locked in the asylum.  After talking with me for a few minutes, though, the officer did nothing but to tell me that he would not bother me again!  Then the 200 lb. city manager felt smaller than my 135 lb. weight.

   They did all these unbecoming things and many others; besides, they talked and preached against me.  And though I had no one but the Lord to defend me at any time, yet in all these the victory was mine!” (Timely Greetings, vol. 2, no.35, p.23)

So we see from the above that Victor’s Sabbath school teachings were arousing some quite fanatical responses. But we see also that some of the laity embraced the teachings. There was a new uproar building because the teachings made sense to some of the laity but to the “learned men” they balked. The few years after the lessons, the trouble still existed, with some for and some against.

From the end of 1929 to 1935, the message brought many converts through out the USA and then later many countries of the world(Africa, Indonesia, Dominican Republic, and more). As mentioned, nearly all the converts were exclusively (except for one general conference leader-E.T. Wilson) from the laity. It occurred this way because for the most part, these were the only ones who actually studied the message in depth.

Victor began publishing the “Symbolic Code News items”, a periodical,  in July of 1934. He provided the brethren updates and further messages through October of 1954. Here is a link to those news items. You’ll read many personal letters sent into his office. Preferring to be transparent, he published both the supportive letters and the opposed letters. http://shepherdsroddavidian.org/sc.html

Here’s an example of the letters he received, ”

FROM MONTANA

“Three years ago I received a book through the mail that was called  ‘The Shepherd’s Rod.’ I was then elder of the Big Timber church. Being much delighted with its contents, I undertook to read it to the church, but the opposition was so strong that I could not read more than two chapters.

“…but I think it is the most wonderful light that ever came to the church….I also read the four tracts with much delight. For years I have prayed for more light, and now my prayers are being answered.”
(Signed) P.S. Alen

In 1935 Victor felt it was time to go elsewhere to spread the “message”and leave California. In part 2 next week, we’ll look at his “Mt.Carmel” years in Waco, Texas. The message headquarters for close to 20 years. We’ll look at some of the experiences, signs and wonders that occurred there. In concluding our posts,  we’ll point out the main points of his teachings and their Scriptural or SOP basis.

As we continually pray, may the Lord guide us into all truth (John 16:13).

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2 Responses to “Who was Victor T. Houteff? (Part 1 of 3)”

  1. wilfred ragogi Says:

    thanks alot for the message!

  2. godsloveandlaw Says:

    May He continue to enlighten you brother Wilfred.

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