In this quarter we will continue studying “The Plan of Salvation and the Remnant of the Woman’s Seed,” including the third angel’s message and the unique experiences of the 144,000, “which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth,” “redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.” Revelation 14:4.
In addition, the sealing of the 144,000 is a truth that was shown to Sister Ellen G. White in the first vision after the disappointment in 1844 and is a teaching that cannot be taken lightly. In fact, many people today are concerned that it is being deliberately neglected.
The Lord points out that one reason why precious souls today are dying of spiritual famine is because the present truth of the sealing message is not being taught. We should not forget that the third angel is “to select the wheat from the tares, and seal, or bind, the wheat for the heavenly garner. These things should engross the whole mind, the whole attention.” –Early Writings, p. 118.
Today many teach that the 144,000, presented in Revelation chapters 7 and 14, are a symbolic group and actually the same people as the great multitude. They claim that to teach that the 144,000 are a literal number is to limit God’s limitless love. One hears questions such as, “Why is the doctrine of the 144,000 so important?” “Do we have to be part of the 144,000? Why not just be saved?” “Why will so few people be saved?” In examining this subject it is not our intention to limit God’s love but to understand the plan of redemption from the Scriptures and be prepared for the events that are just ahead.
We will also study the position and importance of the 144,000 in connection with the plan of salvation. If anyone is saved, it will be in the way appointed by God, in accordance with the plan of redemption, as the Spirit of prophecy affirms: “The Lord works in His own way, and according to His own devising. Let men pray that they may be divested of self, and may be in harmony with heaven. Let them pray, ‘Not my will, but Thine, O God, be done.’ Let men bear in mind that God’s ways are not their ways, nor His thoughts their thoughts; for He says, ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’ ” –(Review and Herald, May 5, 1896) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, p. 1004.
“Thus the plan of redemption is laid open to us so that every soul may see the steps he is to take in repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, in order to be saved in God’s appointed way; yet beneath these truths, so easily understood, lie mysteries which are the hiding of His glory–mysteries which overpower the mind in its research, yet inspire the sincere seeker for truth with reverence and faith.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 700.
Cain did not want to be saved according to God’s way and plan, and we know what the consequences were. We see that this was not just his problem. “I have stated before them that, from what was shown me, but a small number of those now professing to believe the truth would eventually be saved-not because they could not be saved, but because they would not be saved in God’s own appointed way.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 445.
“We are God’s servants, and we are to be workers together with Him, doing His work in His way, that all for whom we labor may see that our desire is to reach a higher standard of holiness.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 96.
Dear brothers and sisters, as the generation which is preparing to see the glorious coming of our Lord, we should study God’s plan of redemption earnestly. The 144,000 are called the first fruit of the redeemed from this earth. The Lord sowed the seed of the gospel and watered it with His own blood; He also sent the Holy Spirit to take care of the plant so it will bear fruit. When the fruit is ripe and the number is complete, the Lord will come to harvest it. O, what a glorious truth is the plan of redemption!
We may become familiar with this doctrine, and through these lessons we want to understand the plan of salvation more clearly so we will receive heavenly power to be part of the 144,000. The Spirit of prophecy states: “Those whom the Lamb shall lead by the fountains of living waters, and from whose eyes He shall wipe away all tears, will be those now receiving the knowledge and understanding revealed in the Bible, the Word of God.” Continuing the message, the call is given: “Let us strive with all the power that God has given us to be among the hundred and forty-four thousand.” –(Review and Herald, March 9, 1905) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 970.
May all who study these lessons receive the blessings and privileges of the 144,000.
–The brothers and sisters of the General Conference
Sabbath, October 6, 2012
“Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” Daniel 12:10.
The cause of the disappointment
1. Why did William Miller and his followers have to face two great disappointments? What was the generally accepted but erroneous idea that William Miller had accepted?
Revelation 10:8-10 And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
“Miller accepted the generally received view that in the Christian age the earth is the sanctuary, and he therefore understood that the cleansing of the sanctuary foretold in Daniel 8:14 represented the purification of the earth by fire at the second coming of Christ….
“In explaining Daniel 8:14, ‘Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed,’ Miller, as has been stated, adopted the generally received view that the earth is the sanctuary, and he believed that the cleansing of the sanctuary represented the purification of the earth by fire at the coming of the Lord. When, therefore, he found that the close of the 2300 days was definitely foretold, he concluded that this revealed the time of the second advent. His error resulted from accepting the popular view as to what constitutes the sanctuary.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 324, 325, 352.
“I have seen that the 1843 chart was directed by the hand of the Lord, and that it should not be altered; that the figures were as He wanted them; that His hand was over and hid a mistake in some of the figures, so that none could see it, until His hand was removed.” –Early Writings, p. 74.
2. Why did the Lord permit the mistake to remain hidden for a while?
Isaiah 52:11 Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
Proverbs 17:3 The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the Lord trieth the hearts.
“I saw the people of God joyful in expectation, looking for their Lord. But God designed to prove them. His hand covered a mistake in the reckoning of the prophetic periods. Those who were looking for their Lord did not discover this mistake, and the most learned men who opposed the time also failed to see it. God designed that His people should meet with a disappointment. The time passed, and those who had looked with joyful expectation for their Saviour were sad and disheartened, while those who had not loved the appearing of Jesus, but embraced the message through fear, were pleased that He did not come at the time of expectation. Their profession had not affected the heart and purified the life. The passing of the time was well calculated to reveal such hearts. They were the first to turn and ridicule the sorrowful, disappointed ones who really loved the appearing of their Saviour. I saw the wisdom of God in proving His people and giving them a searching test to discover those who would shrink and turn back in the hour of trial.” –Early Writings, pp. 235, 236.
Message and preparation
3. In His providence, how did God work through Miller’s preaching of the prophecy? Are we always ready and eager to understand God’s dealings with us?
Isaiah 55:8, 9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
John 13:7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
“I saw the disappointment of the trusting ones, as they did not see their Lord at the expected time. It had been God’s purpose to conceal the future and to bring His people to a point of decision. Without the preaching of definite time for the coming of Christ, the work designed of God would not have been accomplished…. It was necessary that the people be brought to seek earnestly for a present preparation.” –Early Writings, p. 246.
4. What serious preparation was required of the high priest before he could enter the most holy place for the yearly service? What is known about the experience of the advent believers in their preparation for the coming of the Lord?
Leviticus 16:3, 4 Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.
Leviticus 16:6 And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house.
Leviticus 16:11 And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself.
“Said Miller in describing that work: ‘There is no great expression of joy: that is, as it were, suppressed for a future occasion, when all heaven and earth will rejoice together with joy unspeakable and full of glory. There is no shouting: that, too, is reserved for the shout from heaven. The singers are silent: they are waiting to join the angelic hosts, the choir from heaven…. There is no clashing of sentiments: all are of one heart and of one mind.’ –Bliss, pp. 270, 271….
“Of all the great religious movements since the days of the apostles, none have been more free from human imperfection and the wiles of Satan than was that of the autumn of 1844. Even now, after the lapse of many years, all who shared in that movement and who have stood firm upon the platform of truth still feel the holy influence of that blessed work and bear witness that it was of God.” –The Great Controversy, p. 401.
The day of atonement
5. What was required of ancient Israel on the day of atonement to receive the blessing of the sanctuary’s cleansing? How sacred and solemn was that day to the people?
Leviticus 23:27, 28 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the Lord your God.
“God commanded that an atonement be made for each of the sacred apartments. ‘He shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.’ An atonement was also to be made for the altar, to ‘cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.’ Leviticus 16:16, 19….
“Every man was required to afflict his soul while this work of atonement was going forward…, and the whole congregation of Israel were to spend the day in solemn humiliation before God, with prayer, fasting, and deep searching of heart.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 418-420.
“In the typical service, when the work of atonement was performed by the high priest in the most holy place of the earthly sanctuary, the people were required to afflict their souls before God, and confess their sins, that they might be atoned for and blotted out.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 125.
6. Which compartment of the heavenly sanctuary does the third angel point out? Where the attention of God’s people directed today?
Leviticus 23:29 For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.
Leviticus 10:1, 2 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.
Philippians 2:12, last part … Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
“I saw the third angel pointing upward, showing the disappointed ones the way to the holiest of the heavenly sanctuary. As they by faith enter the most holy, they find Jesus, and hope and joy spring up anew….
“Many who embraced the third message had not had an experience in the two former messages. Satan understood this, and his evil eye was upon them to overthrow them; but the third angel was pointing them to the most holy place, and those who had had an experience in the past messages were pointing them the way to the heavenly sanctuary. Many saw the perfect chain of truth in the angels’ messages, and gladly received them in their order, and followed Jesus by faith into the heavenly sanctuary.” –Early Writings, pp. 254, 256.
7. What preparation is required today, in the real day of atonement when Jesus is in the heavenly most holy place?
Leviticus 16:29 And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you.
Leviticus 20:7 Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the Lord your God.
Numbers 19:20 But the man that shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from among the congregation, because he hath defiled the sanctuary of the Lord: the water of separation hath not been sprinkled upon him; he is unclean.
“Thorough conversion is necessary among those who profess to believe the truth, in order for them to follow Jesus and obey the will of God–not a submission born of circumstances, as was that of the terrified Israelites when the power of the Infinite was revealed to them, but a deep and heartfelt repentance and renunciation of sin.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 155.
For review and meditation
• How has the sanctuary message in Adventist teaching developed into a call for thorough, heartfelt repentance and devotion?
• Why were the experiences made under the first and second angels’ messages necessary to understand the day of atonement and Jesus’ work in the most holy place?
• Personal question: Am I ready to meet Jesus in the most holy place by faith?