Sabbath, December 23, 2017

“The Lord is soon to come, and I must be prepared to meet Him in peace. I am sure that the world is ripening for the last great conflict. I am determined to do all in my power to impart light to those around me. I am not to be sad, but cheerful, and I am to keep the Lord Jesus ever before me. He is coming soon, and we must be ready and waiting for His appearing. O how glorious it will be to see Him and be saved through His merits…. The end is near and we are to put all our energies into the work of preparing to move from this lower school to the school above.” –Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, p. 279.

What we do not know

1. Although the Lord gave specific signs that will precede His return, did He give an exact date for that glorious event? What is the importance of this? 

Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 

Mark 13:32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

“The times and seasons God has put in His own power. And why has not God given us this knowledge? Because we would not make a right use of it if He did. A condition of things would result from this knowledge among our people that would greatly retard the work of God in preparing a people to stand in the great day that is to come. We are not to be engrossed with speculations in regard to the times and the seasons which God has not revealed. Jesus has told His disciples to ‘watch,’ but not for definite time. His followers … are to watch, wait, pray, and work, as they approach the time for the coming of the Lord; but no one will be able to predict just when that time will come; for ‘of that day and hour knoweth no man.’ You will not be able to say that He will come in one, two, or five years, neither are you to put off His coming by stating that it may not be for ten or twenty years….” –(Review and Herald, March 22, 1892) Evangelism, p. 221.

Prevailing conditions

2. What conditions will prevail at the end of time? As in the time of Noah, how aware will people be of what is coming upon them?

Matthew 24:37-39 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 

Luke 21:34, 35 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 35For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 

“How was it in Noah’s day? ‘God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.’ Genesis 6:5. The inhabitants of the antediluvian world turned from Jehovah, refusing to do His holy will. They followed their own unholy imagination and perverted ideas. It was because of their wickedness that they were destroyed; and today the world is following the same way. It presents no flattering signs of millennial glory. The transgressors of God’s law are filling the earth with wickedness. Their betting, their horse racing, their gambling, their dissipation, their lustful practices, their untamable passions, are fast filling the world with violence.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 633.

Divinity decides destiny

3. What will happen then, even within the same family?

Matthew 24:40-41 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Luke 17:34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.

“Still there is room. The command is then given: ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that My house may be filled. For I say unto you, that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of My supper.’ Here is a class rejected of God because they despised the invitation of the Master. The Lord declared to Eli: ‘Them that honor Me I will honor, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.’ Says Christ: ‘If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be: if any man serve Me, him will My Father honor.’ God will not be trifled with. If those who have the light reject it, or neglect to follow it out, it will become darkness to them.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 40.

Alert, prepared, and ready

4. In view of the fact that the day and hour of Jesus’ coming are unknown and that spiritual darkness and materialism will be dominant in the world, what should God’s children constantly do?

Matthew 24:42-44 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. 

Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

 “Be assured that God gives no one authority to say that Christ delays His coming five years, ten years, or twenty years. ‘Be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.’ Matthew 24:44. This is our message, the very message that the three angels flying in the midst of heaven are proclaiming. The work to be done now is that of sounding this last message of mercy to a fallen world. A new life is coming from heaven and taking possession of all God’s people. But divisions will come in the church. Two parties will be developed. The wheat and tares grow up together for the harvest.” –Selected Messages, book 2, pp. 113, 114.

“It is now the duty of God’s commandment-keeping people to watch and pray….” –Conflict and Courage, p. 115. 

Active and faithful

5. Instead of being distracted or impacted by prevailing circumstances, what will the good and faithful servant do to the very end? What thought should be foremost in every mind?

Matthew 24:45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 

Mark 13:34 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.

“My heart is filled with anguish…. The ministers are asleep; the lay members are asleep; and a world is perishing in sin. May God help His people to arouse and walk and work as men and women on the borders of the eternal world. Soon an awful surprise is coming upon the inhabitants of the world. Suddenly, with power and great glory, Christ will come. Then there will be no time to prepare to meet Him. Now is the time for us to give the warning message. 

“We are stewards, entrusted by our absent Lord with the care of His household and His interests, which He came to this world to serve. He has returned to heaven, leaving us in charge, and He expects us to watch and wait for His appearing. Let us be faithful to our trust, lest coming suddenly He find us sleeping.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 37.

Abuse, mistreatment, and consequences

6. What evil tendencies tend to arise in man’s heart when his expectations are not met? What terrible fate awaits all who use circumstances to justify inflicting pain on their fellow man?

Matthew 24:48-51 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, 51And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

“I have been shown that the greatest reason why the people of God are now found in this state of spiritual blindness is that they will not receive correction. Many have despised the reproofs and warnings given them. The True Witness condemns the lukewarm condition of the people of God, which gives Satan great power over them in this waiting, watching time. The selfish, the proud, and the lovers of sin are ever assailed with doubts. Satan has ability to suggest doubts and to devise objections to the pointed testimony that God sends, and many think it a virtue, a mark of intelligence in them, to be unbelieving and to question and quibble. Those who desire to doubt will have plenty of room. God … gives evidence, which must be carefully investigated with a humble mind and a teachable spirit, and all should decide from the weight of evidence.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 255.

The reward of faithfulness

7. What grace and honor will be bestowed on God’s faithful children? What reward will the Lord grant them?

Matthew 24:46, 47 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 

John 12:26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. 

“By communicating to others the grace we receive, we shall be made partakers of the rich blessings of God. Obedience to His will will keep the soul in the love of Christ. Bind yourselves up with Christ and with God, and reflect His glory to the souls ready to perish. Let there be a reconversion of soul on the part of those who have allowed themselves to grow careless and indifferent. If we would look upon suffering humanity with eyes that see their need, and would heed the command of Christ, ‘Go work today in My vineyard;’…

“We become overcomers by helping others to overcome. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of our testimony. The keeping of the commandments of God will yield in us an obedient spirit, and the service that is the offspring of such a spirit, God can accept. O that we all in the day of final award might hear the words spoken to us individually, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant’! How many in our churches will seek to set such an example as will reflect to mankind the Light of the world?” –Review and Herald, February 25, 1909.

For additional study

“The righteous and the wicked will still be living upon the earth in their mortal state–men will be planting and building, eating and drinking, all unconscious that the final, irrevocable decision has been pronounced in the sanctuary above. Before the flood, after Noah entered the ark, God shut him in, and shut the ungodly out; but for seven days the people, knowing not that their doom was fixed, continued their careless, pleasure-loving life, and mocked the warnings of impending judgment. ‘So,’ says the Saviour, ‘shall also the coming of the Son of man be.’ Silently, unnoticed as the midnight thief, will come the decisive hour which marks the fixing of every man’s destiny, the final withdrawal of mercy’s offer to guilty men.

“The people are fast being lulled to a fatal security, to be awakened only by the outpouring of the wrath of God.” –Maranatha, p. 264.