Marcus Lichtenstein was a Jewish man who joined the Seventh-day Adventist church and worked in the Review and Herald office in Battle Creek. Some of the other workers in the office treated him with “jest and amusement” because of issues with his “defective language”— “his words were received with contempt”. Was this language problem because Marcus Lichtenstein was not a native speaker of English? Did he speak Yiddish and perhaps some other European languages? Ellen white wrote about him in the Testimonies for the Church, Volume 3. Her language is especially stern. Was there some ethnic prejudice involved in this case? Was there some anti-Jewish sentiment among some of the workers at the Review office? We should not be surprised to find anti-Jewish prejudice in Americans at that time— it was not uncommon then. (Nor is it rare now.)
It is evident from what Ellen White wrote that she had high hopes for Marcus Lichtenstein. “His education in the Jewish religion would have qualified him to prepare publications. His knowledge of Hebrew would have been a help to the office in the preparation of publications through which access could be gained to a class that otherwise could not be reached.” Apparently Ellen White thought that a knowledge of the Jewish religion and of Hebrew would be valuable to the church.
Marcus Lichtenstein was a God-fearing youth; but he saw so little true religious principle in those in the church and those working in the office that he was perplexed, distressed, disgusted. He stumbled over the lack of conscientiousness in keeping the Sabbath manifested by some who yet professed to be commandment keepers. Marcus had an exalted regard for the work in the office; but the vanity, the trifling, and the lack of principle stumbled him. God had raised him up and in His providence connected him with His work in the office. But there is so little known of the mind and will of God by some who work in the office that they looked upon this great work of the conversion of Marcus from Judaism as of no great importance. His worth was not appreciated. He was frequently pained with the deportment of F [Byron] and of others in the office; and when he attempted to reprove them, his words were received with contempt that he should venture to instruct them. His defective language was an occasion of jest and amusement with some.
Marcus felt deeply over the case of F [Richard], but he could not see how he could help him. Marcus never would have left the office if the young men had been true to their profession. If he makes shipwreck of faith, his blood will surely be found on the skirts of the young who profess Christ, but who, by their works, their words, and their deportment, state plainly that they are not of Christ, but of the world. This deplorable state of neglect, of indifference and unfaithfulness, must cease; a thorough and permanent change must take place in the office, or those who have had so much light and so great privileges should be dismissed and others take their places, even if they be unbelievers. It is a fearful thing to be self-deceived. Said the angel, pointing to those in the office: “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” A profession is not enough. There must be a work inwrought in the soul and carried out in the life. —Testimonies for the Church 3:192, 193.
In a most remarkable manner the Lord wrought upon the heart of Marcus Lichtenstein and directed the course of this young man to Battle Creek, that he might there be brought under the influence of the truth and be converted; that he might obtain an experience and be united to the office of publication. His education in the Jewish religion would have qualified him to prepare publications. His knowledge of Hebrew would have been a help to the office in the preparation of publications through which access could be gained to a class that otherwise could not be reached. It was no inferior gift that God gave to the office in Marcus. His deportment and conscientiousness were in accordance with the principles of the wonderful truths he was beginning to see and appreciate.
But the influence of some in the office grieved and discouraged Marcus. Those young men who did not esteem him as he deserved, and whose Christian life was a contradiction to their profession, were the means that Satan used to separate from the office the gift which God had given to it. He went away perplexed, grieved, discouraged. Those who had had years of experience, and who should have had the love of Christ in their hearts, were so far separated from God by selfishness, pride, and their own folly that they could not discern the special work of God in connecting Marcus with the office. — Testimonies for the Church 3:205, 206.