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Friday: Further Thought – The Sealed People of God — 27 Comments

  1. There has been a fair bit of focus on the “time of trouble”, and persecution in the last two week’s lessons. Let me tell you a story about a cemetery on Norfolk Island. Between about 1790 and 1860 criminals in England were transported to Australia. The worst criminals were sent on to Norfolk Island where they were treated inhumanely. They were flogged with the cat-o-nine-tails, often kept in solitary confinement for long periods of time, fed substandard food, sent to church for lessons on Christian reform, chained together and forced to labour. Many of them were driven insane. Their guards can only be described as psychopaths. This photograph shows the cemetery on Norfolk Island in 2007 where many of the prisoners were buried. There are hundreds of prisoners buried here, many of them in unmarked and often mass graves. Norfolk Island Cemetery
    I visited early in the morning because I wanted a dramatic photograph and as I saw the light shining through the tombstones. I reflected on how the light of Christianity was shut off from these prisoners by and oppressive and misguided idea of how to redeem these prisoners. I visited the church where they listened to sermons on hellfire and wondered how hell could be any worse than what these prisoners were experiencing.
    My most poignant moment came when I walked to the east of the cemetery and stood beside a mound where hundreds of unnamed prisoners remain buried. The gate was open and had fallen off its hinges and the sun was shining through to where the prisoners were buried.Open Gate
    I do not know how God is going to sort out the mess of the penal transport system, or the slave trade or any of the other grave injustices that Christians have practiced on the weak and vulnerable. I saw the artifacts of extreme persecution close up and in the warm Norfolk Island sunshine, I reflected on the Holocaust, the Cambodian killing, the Rwanda ethnic cleansing (Our own Adventist dark participation), the Baltic ethnic cleansing, and ISIS, nearly all based on religion and in our own era. I found myself quoting Rev 6:9,10:

    And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

    And I was reminded of the promise in Rev 7:17

    For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

    Amen!(36)
  2. This week's lesson has been very insightful. As I read through the comments, it became more clear of what the whole topic concentrates on "that we are to live faithful lives and that even though our questions now seemed not to be clearly answered the task still remains and the promise still stands. We are to portray His character and show love living every day keeping in mind that He is soon to return".

    Amen!(16)
  3. I want to be sealed, do you?
    Why do I want to be sealed?
    1) because I want to belong to someone who loves me unconditionally forever and ever no matter what
    2) because I want to be protected when going through trouble
    3) because I want to be kind and loving like Jesus Christ

    What are your reasons?

    Amen!(13)
    • A pertinent question!

      I'll answer in a short parable 🙂

      ---

      There was a little girl who really really wanted a lovely and cute fluffy white kitten with blue eyes, just like her friend had received as a gift.

      So she went of to find Daddy who was busy shaving before heading off to work to ask for one telling him how much she would love and care for the little kitten. Daddy thought about it for a moment, then commented to her that it would be impossible for her to have a little kitten because her bedroom was *so* untidy that it would just become lost in there.

      A little while later she returned, and dragging Daddy by the hand she showed him her now spotless and tidy bedroom.

      Once again Daddy thought for a moment, and then asked her, "Did you tidy your bedroom because you want a fluffy white little kitten with blue eyes, or did you tidy your bedroom because you love me?"

      "Because I want a... Because I love you Daddy!" said the little girl.

      ----

      May it be that the reason we want to be in heaven one day is because we love Jesus. No other motive brought Jesus to this earth to live and die for us other than His deep and enduring love for His children, and no other motive than a deep and enduring love for Him is an acceptable response.

      Look around in the world today and find that person you or I love the least. However much we love that person, is how much we love Jesus. That person is what Jesus called "the least of these". How we help, visit, feed and clothe the least of these, is how we are treating Jesus himself. They, regardless of their status, are His sons and daughters, even if they have squandered their lives and talents on the pleasures of this world, and are now eating from the trough with the pigs, still they have a Father who is earnestly waiting to welcome them home, watching for them day after day and who will run to greet them while they are still far away and to throw His arms around them in love.

      It is no wonder that Jesus said to Nicodemus, no one can *see* the kingdom of God unless they are born again, and then repeated it similarly: no one can *enter* the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

      To measure up to the impossibly high standard that Jesus has set us, we need the impossibly great power of The Spirit.

      We need to pray for The Spirit earnestly and deeply. Without Him we cannot please God. It is only He who can fill us with God's Love.

      Amen!(6)
      • “...His sons and daughters, even if they have squandered their lives and talents on the pleasures of this world, and are now eating from the trough with the pigs, still they have a Father who is earnestly waiting to welcome them home, watching for them day after day and who will run to greet them while they are still far away and to throw His arms around them in love.”

        You have portrayed this concept very well. Taking a fresh look at God and re-searching everything I previously was taught is showing me a depth of Compassion that God has towards all His created children that I couldn’t ‘see’ before to the extent I am now seeing more and more deeply.

        Sadly, not everyone will respond and desire to be saved from perishing in sin, but God’s love and compassion to all remains the same regardless: 2 Pet 3:9; 1 Cor 13:7.

        Amen!(4)
  4. How to keep my walk with the LORD fresh? Try and solve the puzzles Jesus hid in His Word like the symbols in Revelation.
    Consider time in the Word a Treasure Hunt finding new ways of thinking about and sharing the Good News.

    Amen!(7)
  5. DO NOT THINK
    "Who is to compose the hundred and forty-four thousand?"

    THINK
    “Let us strive with all the power that God has given us to be among the hundred and forty-four thousand”

    They seem to come from antagonic ideias, don't they?
    The first one does not consider work or effort, it is simply based on a fact! " Who is going to be there?"
    The second one involves strenght, (active) moviment, determination, attempt...
    Which one is right, based on the fact that salvation is free, although we may strive for, but at the end, nothing that we do can compare to what Christ has already done for us?

    Doing things for selfish reasons take us nowhere, but TRUE love is a motivation that can basically justify anything...
    Let us practice love in everything we do!

    Amen!(5)
  6. But God HAS revealed the identity of the 144,000 by describing their faith, experience, and character. Does He need to give their names as well, which will be revealed in due time? None of the 24 elders or angels are named(save one angel; Gabriel), yet we see their faith, experience and character revealed as well. What does this tell us about what is truly important to know?

    1. What Ellen wrote is what Jesus taught saying: “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”(Luke 13:24) The Beatitudes define this experience and the result.(see Matt 5:3-12, also Matt 11:28-30, etc)

    2. We need only to follow where Jesus leads, and “observe all things whatsoever [He has] commanded [us]”. (Matt 28:20)

    3. To truly know Jesus, we may:
    a. Contemplate Christ
    b. Exercise faith in Him(all He did as our example and
    all He taught us to observe)
    c. Experience His saving grace (through faith and
    obedience)

    To answer that last question, we might follow Jesus' example; “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”(Luke 24:27,44). Isn't this fulfilling the Gospel commission?

    Amen!(1)
    • Robert May I add d.?, To truly know Jesus: d. Share with others what He has done for you, be fruitful. Colossians 1:10. “Jesus continues: As you confess Me before men, so I will confess you before God and the holy angels. You are to be My witnesses upon earth, channels through which My grace can flow for the healing of the world. So I will be your representative in heaven. The Father beholds not your faulty character, but He sees you as clothed in My perfection. I am the medium through which Heaven's blessings shall come to you. And everyone who confesses Me by sharing My sacrifice for the lost shall be confessed as a sharer in the glory and joy of the redeemed .” DA 357.1

      Amen!(0)
  7. JC I cant speak for the author but what comes to my mind when I read that quote is 2 Peter 1:3-8 because she talks about the power God has given us. Peter says God's power gives us all we need to partake of the divine nature. He goes on to say that with all diligence we must add to our faith - virtue, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, love. Sounds like Mrs White and Peter are saying something similar to each other.
    I think the important point is they both say God GIVES us the power to become like Him.

    Amen!(4)
    • Amen Shirley. 'With all diligence' is another way of saying 'strive'.

      Jesus can stand at the door and knock, but we have to open the door. There is an active part to salvation from its inception when we open the door, to its continuation as we "work out our salvation with fear and trembling" as Paul said to the Philippians.

      How grateful we can be that Jesus promises us that the weaker we are, the greater the help we will receive.

      Amen!(3)
  8. A sobering thought is that the first time that God destroyed the wicked, within the world he found only 8 people that He could save.

    When He comes again and destroys those in the world that have rejected Him, I do pray that this time He will find a few more to save.

    The number 144,000 gives me great hope that He will. May the full number His spiritual Israel be ready, sealed and waiting for the return of their King.

    Amen!(1)
    • Out of interest, hypothetically, if you arrived at the end of the world and discovered that God didn’t destroy those who rejected Him but that it was sin itself that destroyed them, would that bother you? If so, how would it bother you?

      I am collecting people’s opinions on this topic and so I would be interested in yours.

      Thanks

      Amen!(1)
      • Phil, I am thinking that although it is true that we choose to be destroyed, and thus miss out on spending Eternity with the One "who loves us to death", Sin cannot execute the sentence of death on those who choose sin and death, only God can. The " fire comes down from God out of Heaven, and destroys those who have already chosen to be destroyed.
        What do you think?

        Amen!(2)
        • Realistically, God does not need to do anything at all for sinners to be destroyed. In fact, by doing nothing, sinners will self-destruct. All of us, you and me and all other sinners, are alive only by the moment-by-moment life-sustaining power of Almighty God. Should God cease to exert His life-sustaining power, we would cease to exist. That's what Paul was trying to teach on Mars Hill. See Acts 17:28. "In Him we live" literally means that "in Him we are alive." That's the only way we can be alive. That's also the premise of John 3:16. Jesus died that we might have life. Without Him, we have no life. God doesn't need to take life away because we have no life without a direct connection to Him. When sinners die the eternal death, God is giving them what they want - complete disconnection from the Lifegiver and Lifesustainer.

          It is one of Satan's lies that humans have inherent eternal life. That's what sustains the blasphemous doctrine of eternal punishment.

          By contrast, the Bible says that only God has immortality. All humans are mortal, subject to death. Remember when God said that "the day you eat of the tree, you shall die"? He was telling the truth, because by eating the forbidden fruit, our first parents were breaking their relationship with the Life-Sustainer. He could have just let them reap the consequences (death) right then and there, by allowing them to be separated from Him and His life-giving power. But, instead, Christ stepped into the gap, giving all humanity another probation so that we might choose intelligently whether or not to server our Creator God. That's why Christ is called "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." (Rev 13:8) By that first sin, the death of Christ became certain. If no one else had ever sinned, Christ would still have died for those two - just as He would have died for either one of us, if only one of us had sinned in all creation. That is the love of God!

          Amen!(2)
          • Why didn't God just let sinners "self destruct" rather than bring the deluge which He told Noah He was going to do(the 1st angel of Rev 14 reminds us of His action in the flood, as does Peter)?

            Amen!(2)
          • I know you have addressed your response to Inge.

            In the interim to her response, a key point of consideration in accurately interpreting the Old Testament language. Why does the Old Testament portray God as the source of both good and evil? (eg God hardening Pharaoh's heart; Saul being plagued by an evil spirit from the Lord; Job declaring that it is God who gives and who takes away).

            There appear to be two options: (1) that God actually is the source of good AND evil, life AND death, creation AND destruction on occasions, or (2) that God is not like this but that humanity at that time living within "pagan" religions whose gods were believed to be and seen as the dispensers of either good or evil and therefore that was the limit of humanity's understanding at that time. A bit like why quantum physics isn't taught to kindergarten children until the have developed to the point where they are able to comprehend something significantly more complex.

            There is also the issue of the array of meanings and conceptualisations that the original Hebrew words frequently can be referring to. Modern translators had to make a choice as to which ones they would choose. What were the factors that influenced which options they chose and therefore which picture of God they painted?

            Hence I would propose that Bible interpretation involves more than merely reading the words in the English translations we have available.

            What are your thoughts?

            Amen!(0)
          • Realistically, God does not need to do anything at all for sinners to be destroyed. In fact, by doing nothing, sinners will self-destruct. All of us, you and me and all other sinners, are alive only by the moment-by-moment life-sustaining power of Almighty God. Should God cease to exert His life-sustaining power, we would cease to exist.

            By doing nothing, God is doing something.
            We can only cease to be if He ceases his life-sustaining power!

            Amen!(2)
          • God is not good and evil. He is only good. In fact the definition of good is God. Therefore whatever God is and does is good. Some times this includes 'tough love' and includes discipline. It also includes removing certain humans for the benefit of the rest of the Universe.

            Amen!(1)
          • It's an open discussion Phil. Feel free to take part.

            First, did God look the other way when His word was being translated by men in order for you and I to have it in our language? What is the meaning of Ps 117? How sovereign is God actually? Does He want us to know "the certainty of the words of Truth"(Prov 22:20,21), or does He wish to see how confused we might be with inaccurate translations? (No, I don't believe all translations are equal.)

            Now imagine you are 9 years old, and the neighborhood bully, twice your size, is 11 years old. Your dad keeps you safe from the bully, until one day, the bully knocks on the door and tells your dad he wants to beat you up. So your dad says; "ok, but only this one time" and brings the bully up to your room where you are doing your homework, leaving the bully with you inside your room while dad goes back downstairs to read "Steps to Christ". Oh, the bully brought along his favorite baseball bat which your dad thought was a really nice one.

            Who would you blame for getting beat up, your room wrecked, and window broken? The bully, or your dad(who happens to be both the mayor and chief of police)? Why?

            Yes, God has made all things from nothing, and by Him, all things "consist"(hold together). So when God sees the wicked prevailing over the righteous, and about to destroy them, He just stops holding things together, and the wicked are destroyed(perhaps by drowning, or maybe burned up), and some say that God had nothing to do with it and is innocent of their deaths? Even after saying He would do it? Is God unjust for judging the world(Rom 3:5,6)?

            Let's imaging that there is a gas leak you know of and are responsible for fixing, but don't, and as a result, a whole building full of tenants are killed in the resulting fire. Are you innocent? How would the investigators and the judge view your claim to innocence given the facts?

            Is it possible that Job(among others) understands that God, who gives every good thing, is also responsible for allowing another(maybe the devil?) to take it away, always for the best interest of all involved? God created Lucifer, gave him free choice, and allows him to fill the earth with wickedness, moving his willing subjects to pillage and plunder the righteous. So where does the buck stop under these circumstances? Remember that God gives breath and pulse to every creature, good or evil.

            Is Job merely acknowledging the sovereignty of God, "who gives and takes away" by His actions or lack of actions?
            Could Satan have done anything to Job without God's permission?

            Back to your dad and the bully, what would social services think about your dad who let the bully in, led him to your room, and then left you alone with the bully who clearly stated his evil intentions because you got a higher score on the math test than he did?

            Amen!(1)
          • Is it possible that Job (among others) understands that God, who gives every good thing, is also responsible for allowing another(maybe the devil?) to take it away, always for the best interest of all involved? God created Lucifer, gave him free choice, and allows him to fill the earth with wickedness, moving his willing subjects to pillage and plunder the righteous.

            Yes, Robert, somewhat along those lines... except for the God being ultimately responsible part.

            And unfortunately the innocent get hurt/abused and even killed in the process - hence John 16:33.

            So where does the buck stop under these circumstances? Remember that God gives breath and pulse to every creature, good or evil.

            The concept of "the buck" stopping is not a match for the phenomena under consideration, neither is who is to blame or that God is ultimately responsible. It is more complex than that. There is no other possible way that Satan's accusation against God could play out - it had to run its course and that is what is causing the scenarios you reflected in your analogies above. Hence, it is reality that is driving and enabling the scenario because the scenario cannot be prevented without the destruction of God's Kingdom via the destruction of freedom of choice.

            Yes, God is Sovereign but not in the way most understand the concept of Sovereignty. God does not have complete control to the point that He can bypass the impacts of evil in the here and now. However, His Sovereignty is expressed in the way He works all things together for good (ultimately) Rom 8:28. This includes utilising sin's inherent tendency to self-destruction/self-annihilation (that is sin's inherent nature) to ensure that sin will never be chosen again while at the same time retaining the freedom of choice that His Kingdom is founded upon.

            With respect to the Bible, no God was not "looking the other way" - but He had to allow Satan to influence the process too. That inherently adds to the complexity of things. We are living in a world and a way that we were never designed to live in. In fact, we are living in a world and a way that is 180 degrees opposed to that which we were created for. That is going to have major negative impacts - and it has and it does. The message of Revelation is that one day this will all be over, so keep on keeping on regardless. And God/Jesus will be with us every step of the way.

            The misinterpretation and mistranslation of the Bible is only one aspect. Another aspect is that Christian leaders/teachers have not done the depth of study and reflection they should and have not taught 'laity' how to do the same (Ellen White similarly talks of this issue specifically in Treasure Hidden Jly 12 1898 R&H).

            Though I would change some of the details regarding your analogy of the bully (such as the part about God letting the bully in - the bully is already in, and the part about God leaving the room - He stays there 'within' His son/daughter), there is unfortunately a lot about such a scenario that is true even though it is a challenging consideration. And I would add that the bully has infact alleged from the outset that it is the father who is the bully and that is the father who will beat you up if you don't do things His way...

            Amen!(0)
          • I believe "the buck stops here" is very relevant, yet it needs to be understood correctly. Nothing happens that God does not "allow", yet it will never prove guilt on His part.

            No human analogy will be perfect when speaking of God, but the point is accurate, IF understood correctly. The earthly example was to illustrate God's sovereign power, understood correctly or not, and the bully will never get in without "permission". If we get nothing else out of Job's story, this point is unequivocal. Jesus taught that those who follow Him will have tribulation. Why? a. Satan never takes a vacation, and b. our responsibility to choose for ourselves is constant. Therefore the battle rages. I only know that whatever happens is for ultimate good if I trust God completely. Job's friends completely missed the truth in Job's situation because they did not know God. Those who through faith become pure in heart will see God, and may be blessed by the account of Job's experience. Yet, how many "Christians" question God and blame Him for what He is not guilty of?

            I agree that while never the author of evil, God allows evil because man chooses evil, and must learn the consequences with the hope he will desire salvation in Christ. If trusting God, any may see the sinfulness of sin and be saved from it, because sin will be vanquished at last, which the churches, seals, and trumpets teach us.

            Amen!(1)
      • Hi Phil.

        I will assume that you mean the destruction of the wicked at the second coming, as that is what is commonly referred to as the end of the world.

        No, I would not be bothered.

        If I am to be attacked by a ravenous lion and that lion should suddenly die before he reaches me, I do not think the reason for his death would concern me.

        Likewise the wicked are caught in the act of attempting to murder those who choose to obey God above all else. We are to be rescued at that time by an angry God who has finally declared that that is enough, no more.

        Being bothered by the reason though, or the reason being correct, are two different things.

        Kind regards,

        Ian.

        Amen!(0)
        • Thanks for your reply Ian and helping me better understand your perspective.

          Hope the rain eases up for you and the flood waters die down soon so living can return to normal at some point. Quite a deal of mess and disaster especially amongst livestock of struggling framers and wildlife in general in addition to disruption to basic services and hygiene.

          Amen!(0)
  9. Revelation 7 has really talked to me this week and I feel so blessed in my entirety. So lovely things I have learnt.

    *God is holding back the time*, to give me more chance (Rev 1:1). That God's patience is to our benefit that we may come back to Him ( 2 Peter 3:9), and that is a lovely thought to start my day.

    God knows His people those who will walk with Him or Follow Him and Stand for Him. *"All the knees which have not bowed unto Baal"*. Am I they? God wants me to take up His side and represent His Character so that He could seal me to represent Him. (Rev 7:2)

    And he knows who we are and where we are. Acts 18:10 *for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.* Yes! He knows his people. They are many in here and everywhere; within church or without. And they represent everybody; The Jew even the Gentile; Abraham, Job, Noah, Enoch, Deborah and even Moses; Jael (the wife of Heber there Kenite), Rahab, or even Ruth; Daniel, Shadrach Meshach, Abednego, the eunuch from Abbysinia (Ethiopia) or even Newman's little slave girl; The Samaritan Woman at the Well; or even Mary of Magdalena; Nechadnezzar, Cornelius the Centurion or even Damaris from Athens; The thief at the cross, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea or even Saul of Tarsus. They represented lovely and potent character of God. Can I be in this number? Can I stand? Can I face the days of Great Tribulation?

    I have felt through this Chapter a conversation going on between my soul and God this week. Am I ready to unconditionally serve Him in hard times and in good times too? Can I stand with Him, by Him or for Him?

    Praise God.

    Amen!(5)

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