May 20 - 26
The Witness of the Remnant and the Second Coming
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Exod. 20:11; 31:17; Dan. 7:9, 10; Isa. 13:19-22; 2 Thess. 2:1-17; Rev. 12:17; 14:6-14.
MEMORY TEXT: "Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earthto every nation, tribe, tongue, and peoplesaying with a loud voice, 'Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water"' (Revelation 14:6, 7, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHT: God has promised that just before the Second Coming a remnant people will proclaim the everlasting gospel in order to prepare humankind for His Son's soon return.
THE PROCLAMATION OF GOD'S WORD BRINGS REVIVAL AND RECONCILIATION TO GOD. As we noted last week, throughout history, God has sent messengers to prepare His people for major events. At the end of the age, He speaks through His remnant. His message emphasizes the "everlasting gospel." The context, however, is unprecedented: the imminent return of Jesus for His persecuted people.
Long has God waited for restoration of the fellowship ruptured in Eden. Now, with the Second Coming, comes face-to-face communion with Him. His faithful remnant people have not only preached His Word, they have lived it, and by so doing have shown the world what God is really like. In harmony with the last warning message, they have given Him glory in proclaiming His gospel to the people of the world.
What do we understand by "the hour of His judgment has come"? Rev. 14:7, NKJV. Why is this urgent message to be preached so intently just prior to the Second Coming?
"Seventh-day Adventist expositors understand the judgment here mentioned as that which began in 1844, represented in type by the cleansing of the earthly sanctuary. . .That the reference here is not to the executive judgment at the coming of Christ when all receive their rewards, is seen by the fact that the messages of the three angels (Rev. 14:6-12) precede the second coming of Christ (v. 14). Furthermore, the message concerning the judgment is accompanied by an appeal and a warning that reveal that the day of salvation has not passed. Men may still turn to God and escape the wrath to come."-SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 828.
A neighbor has told me of attending his first worship service in an Adventist college. Just out of high school and not a professing Christian, he knew little about the Bible. To this day, decades later, he remembers the minister opening his Bible and, in a quiet voice, reading the words of Daniel 7:9, 10: "I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened" (NKJV).
My neighbor said: "I, who knew nothing of judgment, sat among the Adventist saints, petrified. So intense was the conviction that I would stand in judgment, so powerful the ministry of the Holy Spirit, that whenever I recall that evening, the same emotion seizes me."
Perhaps many Adventists have shared my neighbor's fear of judgment. Just as he does now, however, many look to the judgment as a time of vindication and rejoicing. Among the graphic words of Revelation 14:5 is the wondrous assurance that God's remnant people will be found "without fault before the throne," not because they had lived sinless lives, but because they have confessed and repented of their sins, and through faith in Jesus they were found hid in Him and thus covered with His perfect robe of righteousness.
|What relevance does the coming of His judgment have to the nearness of the Second Coming and to my daily life and witness? Do I think of judgment with fear or rejoicing? Why?|
Why is the call to worship Him who made heaven and earth so important in the last days? Rev. 14:7.
Our modern age, to a great extent, does not accept what God's Word has to say about Creation. Many think human wisdom has "taught" them better where faith is squeezed out. They think that they must base belief on "independent" evidence, such as the "evidence" of evolution, a concept that almost totally dominates the thinking of our age.
What evidence can the Christian produce for Creation? The book of Hebrews provides the answer: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Furthermore, "by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible" (Heb. 11:l, 3, NKJV).
If we are to accept the biblical concept of a literal, visible second coming of Christ, we must also accept the biblical concept of Creation. For in the Second Coming, Christ will recreate "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," just as He did in the beginning (1 Cor. 15:52). The dead in Christ will be resurrected (1 Cor. 15:20-22), and those who are alive will be re-created (1 Cor. 15:51, 52). If God does not create, as it is reported in the Bible, there would be no Second Coming as such, or one is led to devise an alternate, unbiblical explanation.
Why does it matter what we believe about Creation and the Second Coming? It is because God wants us to know the truth about Himself and His relation to humanity. We must be careful not to exchange the truth about God for a lie, for then we would worship the creature instead of the Creator (Rom. 1:24, 25).
What is an important biblical manner of worshiping the Creator? Exod. 20:11; 31:17. What is its significance?
The Sabbath of Creation is an integral part of the everlasting gospel and plays a vital role in the last days in its final proclamation. It uniquely demonstrates our love and allegiance to God and our willingness to live by faith alone in His Word. This is the kind of faith we need to prepare ourselves and others to meet Jesus when He returns.
|Why is the admonition to worship Him who made heaven and earth especially relevant to those who are living just prior to the Second Coming?|
Revelation 14 is packed with critical information about the final conflict. Verse 8 introduces the wrath of God against false religious systems. The armies of heaven "harvest" the earth, dealing once and for all with those who choose the wrong side in the conflict. For the saints, however, the chapter is good news. They are rescued and saved (see verses 12, 13).
When we come to the calm waters again, what description do we find of the people of God? Rev. 14:12; 12:17.
By contrast with those who think to change times and laws in Daniel 7:25, the people of God keep His commandments, including the fourth (Rev. 14:7). The people of God are ready for the Second Coming. "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor. 5:21). Through Christ's righteousness and the power of His indwelling Spirit, His people have come to reflect His character.
How does the book of Revelation define "the testimony of Jesus"? Rev. 12:17; 19:10.
God's end-time remnant also have the gift of prophecy given, in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, through His messenger Ellen G. White. Her ministry has been a tremendous blessing to the church. Only today are world scientists catching up with her nineteenth-century counsels on diet and health. Adventist health institutions, established in response to prophetic counsel, bring healing to many around the world. Her interest in the development of Christian education and institutions has also brought dignity and understanding to millions of students. Her guidance in the formation of church government has given the church strength.
But even more important than her contribution to the functioning of the church has been her emphasis upon the Bible. She always saw herself as a lesser light to lead to the greater light (see Colporteur Ministry, p. 125).
|The "patience" of the saints (Rev. 14:12) refers to their steadfast endurance in the face of opposition and persecution. How is this characteristic revealed in my daily life and witness as I await Christ's second coming?|
Compare and contrast the message carried by the second angel with the third. Rev. 14:8-11. What is God's main concern in each?
Second angel _________________________________________________________
Third angel __________________________________________________________
Sin breaks the law of God and separates us from Him. Idolatry separates us from Him, because it tempts us to worship other gods (Exod. 20:2-6). This includes creating a concept of God that comes from human reasoning and observation rather than from the Word of God. This attachment to other gods or idols separates us from Him. God wants us to be detached from such idolatrous practices in this sinful world and to be intimately attached to Him, so that we may be prepared to be with Him in the world to come.
What does it mean for God's people to come out of Babylon? Rev. 18:1-5. How do they do that, and how do they help others do the same?
The Lord warns us in the book of Revelation to come out of those systems that point us to the worship of anyone or anything other than Him, the only true God. He wants us to exhibit the patience of the saints, which characterizes those who worship the true God: those who accept Him as their Creator; those who acknowledge Him as sovereign by worshiping on His holy Sabbath; those who love Him and live faithfully for Him in the day of His judgment.
God's people will not value their own ideas more than God's, as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden. They will not philosophize about how a God of love must act, as did those who lived just prior to the Flood. They will not use human logic as their basis for judging the promises of God, as did Israel at Kadesh-barnea. Rather, they will stand as did Noah, Caleb and Joshua, and Christ Himself, and so many others throughout history--on the firm "Thus saith the Lord." They will accept God's self-revelation in the Bible, and in Christ the center of the Bible, as the basis for their understanding and acceptance of Him, the only true God. They will stand with the great Reformers, who urged their contemporaries to return to the undiluted Word of God.
|As you prepare yourself to meet the Lord when He comes again, what idols or gods hinder your progress toward your heavenly home? How can God help you get rid of them so that you may be fully committed to Him in these last days?|
What power will Satan exercise to deceive those who live on the earth? Rev. 13:13, 14; 2 Thess. 2:9, 10.
Satan will come with great miracle-working power. He will even bring "fire" down from heaven. The revelator here alludes to the experience at Mount Carmel, when Elijah's sacrifice was consumed by fire, revealing his God, rather than Baal, to be the true God. Now Satan will bring his "fire" from heaven. This time, however, it will fall on the wrong altar, and the world will accept him as the Messiah!
What concern did Christ have about deception just before His second coming? Matt: 24:4, 5. What would be the nature of Satan's deceptions? Matt. 24:6, 11, 23, 24.
Through his miracle-working powers, Satan intends to deceive the very elect. He knows this will be his final chance to deceive the saints, and he wants to make the most of it. He will also work through spiritualism to lead people away from the Word of God. He has been laying the groundwork for this deception by promoting the natural immortality of the soul. Leading people away from the biblical truth that the soul ceases to exist at death, he encourages so-called communication with the dead.
"But none need be deceived by the lying claims of spiritualism. God has given the world sufficient light to enable them to discover the snare. As already shown, the theory which forms the very foundation of spiritualism is at war with the plainest statements of Scripture. The Bible declares that the dead know not anything, that their thoughts have perished; they have no part in anything that is done under the sun; they know nothing of the joys or sorrows of those who were dearest to them on earth."-The Great Controversy, p. 556.
Regardless of Satan's work, Noah maintained His faith in God's word and remained in the ark for seven days before it began to rain. Abraham left city and family, relying by faith on the word of God. Caleb and Joshua urged Israel to take the land of Canaan. In the last days, God's remnant people also will step out by faith to proclaim "the everlasting gospel" and to prepare a people to meet Him.
FURTHER STUDY: Acts 17:31; Rom. 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10; Heb. 11:30; Gen. 1:1; 2:1-3; John 5:46, 47; Mark 13:5, 22.
Read The Great Controversy, "The First Great Deception," pp. 53 1-550; "Can Our Dead Speak to Us?" pp. 55 1-562; and "The Scriptures a Safeguard," pp. 593-602.
"God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms. The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority--not one nor all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain 'Thus saith the Lord' in its support."--The Great Controversy, p. 595.
SUMMARY: God has a special message to be given just prior to His second coming. It involves preaching the total message of Scripture and to prepare the way of the Lord. This message is to call special attention to the hour of God's judgment and to God's creative power. This message is a call to worship God as He truly is. It is a plea to live by faith in His Word rather than by faith in human capabilities to accept God's way of viewing things rather than ours. It is a call to repentance, conversion, and transformation a call that can be accepted only if we come out of all false systems of worship. It is His plea for us to be ready to meet Him, the only true God, when He comes.
Bogdan grew up in a communist home in Ukraine. His parents were engineers, and like most communists, they had no belief in God.
However, during perestroika, Bogdan's mother bought a Bible. Young Bogdan found it and began reading it. He discovered the book of Revelation with its fearsome beasts. Intrigued, he kept returning to it, trying to unlock the secrets he was sure it held. He memorized the Lord's Prayer and often prayed it 100 times in a day, including a request to understand the book of Revelation.
He continued reading the Bible when he was drafted into the army. During this time he learned about baptism and decided to be baptized as soon as his military service was over. A fellow soldier often talked about the Bible, but his friend believed that Revelation was a closed book. Bogdan could not accept this; he continued searching.
True to his commitment, when Bogdan left the military, he found an Orthodox priest and was baptized.
Bogdan returned home to look for work. But the economy of the Ukraine was in shambles, and few jobs were available. Finally he found work in a small brewery. The supervisor was a Hungarian woman who spoke fluent English. Bogdan began learning English as he studied the brewing business. When he was just 21 years old, he was offered a partnership in the brewery and a chance to study brewing in Hungary.
One day Bogdan learned that a Canadian evangelist was holding Bible lectures in town. Still interested in the Bible and eager to improve his English, he decided to go. After the meeting, Bogdan waited to talk to the evangelist. As they spoke, the evangelist asked if he could pray with Bogdan. The man placed his hand on Bogdan's shoulder and prayed that God would touch his heart. Suddenly Bogdan felt a surge of power flow through him, and his heart began to beat wildly. (Continued next week)
Bogdan Koshelev (left). Barbara Huff is an Administrative secretary in the Euro-Asia Division office in Moscow, Russia.
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