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Wednesday: Those Who Follow the Lamb — 25 Comments

  1. We have a tendency to think of the great tribulation as a future event and it may well be the case but there are some issues we need to consider.
    1. The second coming is portrayed as a sudden unexpected event. The message from Matt 24 is that people ignore the signs and lived their lives in a state of unpreparedness. If Jesus came tomorrow, we would probably look back on our current lives and comment, “So that was the tribulation!”
    2. We are living now in the middle of a battle, but we are often anesthetized into thinking that it is not happening. You do not need to hear the guns firing and the bombs dropping to be involved in a war. Belshazzar’s feast is an example of where the people distracted by a great party, while the enemy was sneaking in and capturing the city. That is probably a relevant description of our current state of battle. The question we need to ask is; how are we faring in the tribulation of stealth?
    3. The takeaway message of all the references to the 144,000 is not about how many or indeed their placement in the timeline, but about their endurance, persistence, faith and obedience. These are the characteristics of an enduring love relationship, not the hallmarks of working for a reward.

    And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Rev 7:14

    Amen!(41)
    • I find little solace in trying to figure out how I could be unwittingly deluded into spiritual fornication – I have enough problems with the witting realities of my human condition. However, the thought of following the Lamb wherever he leads gives me great comfort. A singular focus on the One who personifies the Love of God is a vision of the stark truth against which weapons of the Deceiver have no power.

      Amen!(6)
  2. Comparison of the 12 apostles and the 144000

    1. The 12 came from real Israelites while the 144000 came from spiritual Israelites. Gal 3:29.

    2. Jesus used the 12 to preach during his first coming while he will use the 144000 to preach during the second coming.

    3. The 12 worked during the first rain of the Holy Spirit acts 2:17 while the 144000 will work during the latter rain. Joel 2:28.

    4. The 12 were the first fruits of the first coming James 1:18 while the 144000 are the first fruits of the second coming. Rev 14:4.

    5. The 12 had the name of Jesus acts 3:16 while the 144000 have the name of the father. Rev 14:1.

    6. The 12 had no guile John 1:47 and so are the 144000. Rev 14:5.

    7. Both groups proclaim Jesus is the king. Mat 21:1-9, rev 7:9-10.

    8. The 12 work before Jerusalem tribulation acts 8:1 while the 144000 work before the great tribulation. Dan 12:1.

    9. The 12 did not mix themselves with the yeast of the Pharisees Mark 7:1-15 while the 144000 don't mix with the doctrines of the Babylon. Rev 14:4.

    10. Both groups keep the Sabbath, they are sealed, are promised thrones, they sing a song and a great multitude is saved after their preaching.

    Amen!(23)
  3. As some may have picked up I am intrigued by concept of the Everlasting Covenant that I see spread throughout the Bible. I believe it is the center of the Gospel, the Triune God's desire for a personal relationship with each one individually and as a group. The Covenant is summarized as follows:
    I will be your God
    and you will be My people
    and I will dwell with you
    We see it in Rev 7's description of the Great Multitude:
    Rev 7:15  Therefore they are before the throne of God, and they serve Him day and night in His temple. And He sitting on the throne will dwell among them. 
    And an echo in Rev 14 in the 144,000:
    Rev 14:4 These are those who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.

    The Everlasting Covenant is a close relationship with the Triune God.

    Amen!(4)
  4. Dear Maurice,
    Again you have astonished me with your insight with different aspects of church and personal life. I particularly have taken some of your thoughts to apply to my own life. Your ‘spiritual application’ ideas have perked up my interest in another way of thinking and Christian relationship. It started with your second coming of Christ as ‘into our hearts’ that was a revelation to me. Then there was the timeline historical idea of the physical changing more to the spiritual conditions of church and self, - expansion. Followed by how the symbols in the book of Revelation can be interpreted as a means of communication to us in our era. I particularly agree with you and had personal application and experience where instead of the church telling me what to believe which I found discouraging, but apparently acceptable, to one where a difference of opinion should be to encouraged; and to seek a ‘dynamic relationship with Jesus’ (the second coming idea).
    I would like to be involved in more active discussion here to encourage among the folk I am in contact with, to realise that differing points of view are acceptable and to be taken with grace and to encourage returning to the bible for more deep personal and group study. Today’s comment though, where you state ‘1. The second coming is portrayed as a sudden unexpected event. The message from Matt 24 is that people ignore the signs and lived their lives in a state of unpreparedness.’ Is such a ‘truism’ I find devastating to my previous way of thinking so that I have been jolted into re-evaluating my expectations of what Religion and ‘church’ has taught me in the past, that it is time I rethink everything I have been comfortable with. Thank you so much.
    Isn’t it about time you revisited Norfolk Island again?
    Godbless today, Mrs A Stolz.

    Amen!(10)
  5. We are mortal humans. By itself, this condition limits us! An exercise to practice is the counsciousness that we have Jesus by our side, always. Learning to listen to His voice and acting positively upon His suggestions may help us to change, to become better beings, not necessarily perfect, but perfected by His blood.

    Amen!(4)
  6. The lesson states that the 144,000 will be translated without seeing death. Where does the Revelation state this? I'm still looking for this reference as Paul was quoted instead of John.

    Amen!(2)
  7. Isaiah 4:1
    1 On that day seven women will take hold of one man and say, “We will eat our own bread and provide our own clothes. Just let us be called by your name. Take away our disgrace!”

    We just want to be called Christians.
    We don't need your law.
    We don't want your day of worship.
    We don't want to be sanctified.

    We just want to be called Christians.

    God is saying, I have sealed people, who have not defiled themselves.

    Praise God for the purity of the faithful.

    I kings 19:18
    18 Nevertheless, I have reserved seven thousand in Israel— all whose knees have not bowed to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”

    God does have his faithful sealed in him.

    Amen!(1)
  8. First fruits: the best of the crop, first to be fully ripe(mature) for harvest. What does this mean in this passage concerning the 144,000? They have overcome as Jesus overcame while on this earth being tempted to sin, but sinning not. This is what those who are alive when Jesus appears the 2nd time must be. The standard of righteousness for the last generation is Christ. This is what it means when we read “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.” They have become clothed with His righteousness through being sanctified by the truth, as He prayed(John 17:17). This is the result of being SAVED. Anything less than this for the last generation is not being saved. We either choose to be saved or choose not to be by being conformed to the world and the things of this world.

    Some would say we must exhibit self-renouncing love, and this is correct, but how does one define this without the Example set before us? Many in that day will say “Lord, Lord”, but they remain conformed to the world. Some will list their merits and accomplishments in the Lord's name(Matt 7:22), but they will have missed the mark of our high calling in Christ by failing to be sanctified by the Truth, but have trampled upon it(Ps 119:142) While self-renouncing love is the result, it cannot be the focus. Our focus is the Standard raised for the people of God in the Law and the Lamb. Notice the “song” the redeemed will sing(Rev 15:3).

    It is the same people revealed in Rev 14:12. To have Jesus' faith, is to exhibit His righteousness. This is why He came to earth as the “son of man”, to show the Way, the Truth and the Life that we may have ourselves. We may be complete in Him if we choose it above all else. These choices are made daily, hourly in all that we think, do or say. How often we must be in the scriptures, and in the attitude of prayer, abiding in the Vine!

    Amen!(7)
    • Robert, you write:

      The standard of righteousness for the last generation is Christ.

      And I wonder if you believe there was ever any other standard.

      Is the standard for salvation different for the last generation than for previous generations? Is it any different than it was for the Philippian jailer? (See Acts 16:31)

      Amen!(1)
      • We are studying the last generation, those living when Jesus appears. If you read the letters to the 7 churches, some were not held to the same standard as will those to be translated when Jesus comes. Martin Luther was not convicted over the 7th day Sabbath. You have heard of "present truth"? If so, that should explain it.

        When I say the standard, I mean the Example to be followed. Those translated will have gained the victory over "every besetment...every wrong word and action"(EW 71). The text tells us they are "without spot or wrinkle", "virgins", wearing "white robes", and will be sanctified while on this earth at it's darkest hour. This is a group like no other in earth's history, though there have been individuals in every age who have attained a holy character by faith.

        I cannot answer concerning the jailer, who was given present truth for his day. He knew nothing about the prophecies we are studying since they were written for our day. We are only told that they were baptized by the apostles who were faithful to teach them to "observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you".

        Amen!(0)
        • Ah, thank you for clarifying. Just to be sure I understand you correctly, this is what I see you saying:

            There is a different standard of salvation for the last generation than for any previous generation.
            "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved" is no longer sufficient for salvation.
          Amen!(0)
          • I believe that if you read books like the Great Controversy, you will understand better what I have stated. I find no agreement with your conclusion.

            You familiar with Prov 4:18? Look at the knowledge and understanding available today that was not understood at the beginning of the Advent movement. What does that tell you?

            Amen!(0)
          • Robert, I don't see a "reply" to my comment and am not sure what "conclusion" you refer to.

            Please consider that reading the same passages and the same books (I am quite familiar with the Great Controversy) doesn't always lead to the same conclusions. That's because of "confirmation bias." We tend to remember/see what confirms our own views.

            For instance, you see Christ's core message as one of "repentance," as you stated in another comment. That took me a bit by surprise, because I see Christ's core message as demonstrating the loving character of God - not only by His teachings, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the parables, but also by His daily life in which He healed so many people that, after He passed through, entire villages were left with everyone in good health. That's not saying He didn't preach repentance (a turning around). He did, but it would have not have had the same power without the demonstration of the character of God in His life.

            I do see that God will have a special people at the end of time: There will be an identifiable group of people who will reflect the character of Jesus, rather than just individuals scattered throughout the earth, as has been the case in the rest of history. But this will not happen because God has a different standard for salvation and people bring themselves up to that standard. It will happen because God Himself will "shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi" (Mal 3:3). It is God who will bring about this purified group of people. And the four horsemen detail some of His methods: He will allow severe trials to come upon His people, so that only those who truly trust Him will remain. And He will sustain them when every earthly support has vanished. And through this special group, described as the 144,000, the earth will be lightened by the glory of God, so that all may see and accept or reject His offer of salvation. That will be the "last message of mercy."

            That's the way I see it, both through the Bible, the Great Controversy, and Christ's Object Lessons.

            Amen!(0)
          • Inge, it seems you misread my reply. The "standard" has advancing as knowledge increases. What you understand about the character of God today will be increased as you come to know Him better in your daily walk. Remember that there was no written Bible for anyone prior to Moses, when the scriptures we enjoy today were just beginning to be written. The scriptures available to king David were much less than we enjoy today. He had multiple wives, which fell short of God's ideal, though he was never called to repent of this. Would God "wink" at this practice today? Even Jesus did not have the wealth of knowledge available as we have(please don't misread the meaning here) which includes the New Testament and the inspired counsel of the Holy Spirit from the last 175 years, which all originates from Him.

            The knowledge available today exceeds that of the later reformers, who often faced great opposition for what they did know. The standard of righteousness today is equal to the knowledge available. Does that seem reasonable? For example; many believers have died trusting in the knowledge of Jesus they had while eating unclean meats and drinking unhealthy beverages. We are told that those preparing for translation will follow the original diet given to man in Eden. Since the late 1860's God has given the light of health reform that was not available to many who were just learning of faith and obtaining the scriptures after centuries of them being not available.

            So perhaps you might answer your own question in the light of these considerations. As the darkness has increased, so has the light. The only reason one would fall short today is not for lack of knowledge, but the love of sin(2 Thess 2:10-12).

            What does the term "first fruits" mean to you?

            Amen!(0)
          • Again, I'm asking, in light of your reply: Has the standard of salvation increased in light of "advancing knowledge"?

            (By the way, I'm not at all convinced that we have more "knowledge" of God today than did Abraham or Moses or Paul.)

            You mention details re health reform. Do you believe that those who do not practice health reform as we know it from Ellen White will not be saved?

            You conclude with "The only reason one would fall short today is not for lack of knowledge, but the love of sin(2 Thess 2:10-12)." How does that fit in with an increasing standard of salvation in light of "advancing knowledge"?

            Amen!(0)
    • “While self-renouncing love is the result, it cannot be the focus. Our focus is the Standard raised for the people of God in the Law and the Lamb.”

      How do I reconcile the above statement with Matt 22:37-40 where verse 40 tells me that the whole law hangs/depends upon self-renouncing love to God and to others?

      Is there any law that is not based upon - and therefore an expression of - the principle of self-renouncing love/giving?

      And I would propose that salvation is based upon adoption of a principle (as the core motivational principle for every aspect of our being/living) rather than it being a standard to be reached. If it were based on a standard, then Jesus is the only human who has reached it. David, a man after God’s own heart, did not reach it. Neither did the other faith giants of Heb 11.

      Yes, Jesus is our example of self-renouncing love (see Phil 2:3-11) - but how to apply that example is outlined by Paul in Phil 3:8-15.

      Amen!(3)
      • Phil, you answered the question you ask didn't you? Read Matt 22:40 closely. What is it saying in that verse? Doesn't this confirm my comment?

        Amen!(0)
        • My close reading of Matt 22:40 is that self-renouncing love is the focus (cause) and that alignment with the law and the prophets will be the result (effect). This appears to be the opposite of your comment "while self-renouncing love is the result, it cannot be the focus". Or am I missing something?

          Amen!(1)
          • Phil, have you considered exactly what was "once delivered to the saints" on Sinai? What was spoken in that terrifying voice, and carved into stone?

            Consider also the true condition of those this "faith" was delivered to. Consider also the "path" found in the Beatitudes, and what they teach us about justification/sanctification, and don't forget what Paul writes(by the Spirit) in Rom 7:7-13; 8:7.

            What conclusion does all this lead you to? Can you see why God gave what He did on Sinai, and how it leads to the understanding of Matt 22:40, Rom 13:10? Sinners cannot focus on "self-renouncing love" because they are unable to comprehend it until they are made "pure in heart"(Matt 5:8). Does this make sense? Can you see why Jesus' core message was "repent ye, and believe the gospel"? (e.g. Laodicea is "blind" and "knowest not" their true condition, and cannot "buy of [Christ]" without first being zealous to "repent". Repent of what? How does one repent when they "knowest not" they even need to?)

            We are sinners, and the only "love" we understand is self-centered. We NEED to have our sin revealed to us as Paul describes in Rom 7. Why else would God have spoken and written in stone the 10? Why not just the 2(Matt 22:40)?
            Does Prov 4:18 make sense now in light of this? (YES, the 2 WERE carved into stone by a wise Creator...as the 10 which sinners could comprehend. Focus on the 10 will lead to the fulfilling of the 2[Ro 13:10] as we "find the knowledge of God"[Prov 2:1-5] contained in the 10.)

            The path of the 10(Ps 119:35) leads to the fulfilling of the 2. Isn't this how God has worked from the beginning? God didn't tell Adam and Eve "Love Me more than yourself", but told them "don't eat of this tree or you will die". The only way they could obey was if they "loved"(trusted/preferred) God more than themselves. Do you see why the 10 were carved in stone and given to sinners as "a lamp for our feet and light for our path", which is the Wise Man's "conclusion of the whole matter"(Eccl 12:13,14)?

            Amen!(0)
          • "Phil, have you considered exactly what was "once delivered to the saints" on Sinai? What was spoken in that terrifying voice, and carved into stone?"

            Thanks for your response Robert.

            If I consider the history of the Bible, I note a developmental trend. I note the fall and, under God's redemptive restraint of the full natural consequences of sin, the unfortunate dramatic escalation of sin (Gen 6:5) to the point where righteousness was almost wiped out (Gen 6:9). So God released the 4 winds of strife so that the natural consequences of sin were manifest, resulting in the destruction of all who had chosen the way of sin/lawlessness in order to halt the tide of evil and enable the avenue for Messiah to not be extinguished.

            Under this fresh start, sin and righteousness both grew side by side with sin becoming numerically dominant once again. Amid this, the nation of Israel was established by God as the second intervention to maintain the avenue of Messiah and redemption. However, Israel was 'birthed' amid 400 years of slavery such that the initial Israelites only knew life under rules. So God had to relate to the Israelites at that point in humanity's history in the way that they could understand - he gave them rules to follow at Sinai which they agreed to do (Ex 24:3,7).

            However, humanity was meant to grow and develop beyond following rules, but unfortunately it didn't happen and eventually Israel experienced the natural consequences of their lawlessness and turning their backs to the abundant life God was offering them - captivity. This was the end of the old covenant which was a law-based covenant (Ex 24:7). Why did the old covenant fail? Isa 29:13 - rule keeping didn't translate into heart motivation.

            So God initiated a new covenant whereby He would instead write the laws upon people's hearts - a continuation of what the old covenant was supposed to have progressed to but didn't (Exe 11:19; Eze 36:26; Jer 31:33).

            It was at this point in humanity's history that Messiah entered to attempt the most direct revelation of how to live abundant life. While Jesus was on earth He both demonstrated and taught the primacy of love that expresses itself in living in harmony with the laws/principles that alone promote abundant life. Hence verses such as Matt 16:24; Jn 14:15; Matt 22:37-40 etc that illustrate the necessity foundation of heart change to a foundation of self-renouncing love (eg Jn 3:3-6).

            I suspect you know me well enough to know that I am not advocating for a sentimental superficial love - but for a deep principle-based self-renouncing love that can only be birthed by God within us (via new or reborn hearts and spirits). And I am not saying there is no place for living in harmony with the laws/principles which alone can promote abundant life. There is a very important role for that to guide the expression of the motivation we have to live and share/promote abundant life that springs (Jn 4: 14) up from self-renouncing love.

            And I note that Paul refers to the role of the law to show him what he was doing wrong in Rom 7:7. But recall he was raised a Pharisee, so like Israel, rule-based living was what he was used to.

            But in the world we live in today (which appears to be more similar to the world of Jesus first coming than the world of the calling of the Israelites), most people are not convicted that they are doing something wrong in terms of sinning. Rather, people reach a point where life isn't working for them - their lives are a mess. That is what brings them to a point of potential readiness to consider another way. This was what brought the woman at the well to encounter Jesus and the multitudes who came to him seeking healing. And it we look at Jesus response to these people, it was to share and inspire self-renouncing love within them as the base that initially gave them hope. Upon the foundation laid by this love-inspired hope, Jesus then commenced to teach them how to live in a way that would lead to abundant life.

            I find this to be the same with the people I interact with. If I treat them with the love and compassion of God (as best I can), this helps awaken something in them that desires to live differently. When this foundation is there, then is the time to educate them on how to live differently in order to experience the different kind of life that they now have a desire to live.

            Perhaps the people you interact with are different and perhaps what you are advocating works better for them? I don't know. What is your experience?

            Amen!(0)
          • By your reckoning Phil, is Solomon's "conclusion of the whole matter" obsolete? If so, then is James' also? What about the focus in Revelation, including chapter 22? We would also need to discount Jesus' teachings which magnified the law to the very intentions of the heart. Yes, He demonstrated and advocated self-sacrificing love, but did so with the law of God as the foundation.

            Are sinners any closer to understanding the principle of self-renouncing love than at any other point in history, or is Paul's assessment in Rom 8:7 still accurate, along with Jesus' assessment of the Laodicean deception?

            Israel as slaves in Egypt and Paul being a pharisee has nothing to do with the purpose of the law for them. Like all of Adam's race, they were also born with a fallen nature and were overcome by the Adversary of Christ. Like you and me, they had a carnal nature, and all of us have no hope except through Christ, who magnified the Law, which leads sinners to Him and the grace offered through Him.

            As for my experience, I see a world around me where most "cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand".

            Amen!(1)
          • Thanks Robert. You will relate to better to some people, I will relate better to others. And together we will both join with God in being used of Him to reach out to others as per His desire expressed in 2 Pet 3:9. We will just go about it in different ways.

            Amen!(0)
    • I also have to question the emphasis. To me it represents a subtle focus on self. I think the Bible is quite clear that "by beholding we become changed". That "we love Him because he first loved us". It is very human to say love is not enough, and given the many things we mean by love (and sometimes even deceive ourselves with) I can understand.

      My perspective is that love is absolutely enough and nothing else is. I think that is why Paul introduces 1 Cor 13 by saying "let me show you a better way". If love isn't the motive for [fill in the blank], then {blank] is being done for the wrong reason.

      But as sinful human beings, born in a sinful world, we don't really know what love is. So God does two things. One is He gives us examples, descriptions of what love is, such as the ten commandments. The second is he sent Jesus to show us what love is. A person who truly loves as God intended doesn't need the ten commandments--they are the natural outcome of relating to others in love. That doesn't mean they are done away with, but rather as Paul says, they are a tutor to bring us to Christ.

      Incidentally, that addresses a lot of the difficult situations the ten commandments often pose, such is it wrong to kill an active shooter, thus saving many lives? There are many such cases, and love truly understood correctly answers them all. Of course, self serving stuff that pretends to be love could come to a wrong conclusion, but that is for each of us to determine ourselves and for the Holy Spirit to guide us.

      Amen!(0)

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