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What the Revelation
Means to Us
Ellen G White
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Reviw & Herald 1897-08-31.001
"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those sayings which are written therein; for the time is at hand." [Revelation 1:1-3].
Many have entertained the idea that the book of Revelation is a sealed book, and they will not devote time and study to its mysteries. They say that they are to keep looking to the glories of salvation, and that the mysteries revealed to John on the Isle of Patmos are worthy of less consideration than these.
But God does not so regard this book. He declares: "I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly." [Revelation 22:18-20].
The book of Revelation opens to the world what has been, what is, and what is to come; it is for our instruction upon whom the ends of the world are come. It should be studied with reverential awe. We are privileged in knowing what is for our learning. But do we treat the word of God with the reverence which is his due, and with the gratitude which God would be pleased to see? "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." [2 Timothy 3:16-17].
The Lord himself revealed to his servant John the mysteries of the book of Revelation, and he designs that they shall be open to the study of all. In this book are depicted scenes that are now in the past, and some of eternal interest that are taking place around us; other of its prophecies will not receive their complete fulfilment until the close of time, when the last great conflict between the powers of darkness and the Prince of heaven will take place.
The final struggle will be waged between those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus and that apostate power which will deceive all who dwell upon the earth [the image of the beast].
"And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." [Revelation 13:13-17].
We are standing on the threshold of great and solemn events. Many of the prophecies are about to be fulfilled in quick succession. Every element of power is about to be set to work. Past history will be repeated; old controversies will arouse to new life, and peril will beset God's people on every side. Intensity is taking possession of the human family. It is permeating everything upon the earth. And for what? -- Games, plays, amusements; men are rushing and crowding, and contending for the mastery. That which is common and perishable is absorbing their attention, so that things of eternal interest are scarcely thought of. Human beings, possessed with energy, zeal, and perseverance, will place all their God-given powers in co-operation with Satan's despotism to make void the law of God. Impostors of every caste and grade will claim to be worthy and true, and there will be a magnifying of the common and impure against the true and the holy. Thus the spurious is accepted, and the true standard of holiness is discarded, as the word of God was discarded by Adam and Eve for the lie of Satan.
Many have so long chosen their own standard, rejecting the infallible standard that will judge them at the last day, that they are themselves deluded. They misconstrue the teaching of the word of God; and steadfastly setting their face against his commandments, they exalt the precepts of men. The expressions from many professed ministers of the gospel indicate a more than common bitterness against, and contempt for, the law of God. As in David's day, that law is despised. It is treated as an innovation, and rejected as the rule of life.
Those who have once been convicted of the truth, but have resisted the Holy Spirit's influence, walk and work in co-partnership with Satan, the first apostate. Blinded by the sophistry of him who was once found in the heavenly courts, they join his ranks. The apostle Paul, speaking of this says, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron." [1 Timothy 4:1]. Those who have turned away from a plain, "Thus saith the Lord," will be blinded in a superstitious faith in every kind of apostasy, and will be led into that terrible iniquity which God's word represents as being drunken with the blood of the saints.
When this enmity against the law of God becomes so intense, we may know that Satan is imbuing human minds with the same hatred of truth and of the precepts of God as turned the heart of Cain against his brother Abel. In this time of prevailing iniquity it is essential that we individually draw nigh unto God. His voice is heard, saying: "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain." [Isaiah 26:20-21]. It is possible for men to go so far in disobedience that it will be necessary for God to arise and let them know that he is God, and that he will interpose, and punish the world for its iniquity.
The time is now approaching when God will vindicate his honor, and bring this unrighteousness to an end. Of this time the apostle Paul speaks when he says: "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape." [1 Thessalonians 5:1-3]. When the attractions of the horse-race are all-absorbing; when the excitement of the cricket-match runs high; when the fascination of the gambling hall is strong; when parties are indulging in luxurious feasts, and revelry is at its height; when all are forgetful of God and of eternity, and "Peace and safety" is the cry that is heard, "then sudden destruction" will come upon men, "and they shall not escape." [1 Thessalonians 5:3].
And will the true child of God be carried away by the prevailing iniquity? Will the chosen of God be tempted by the universal scorn which he sees put upon the law? Will he think less of that law, and give it less honor and obedience? -- No; the prevailing apostasy will fill his soul with zeal for the honor of God. He sees that the heavenly universe is stirred with indignation because of the ingratitude of man, for whom the Lord has done so much, and God's law becomes more precious as it is trampled upon by unholy feet. In proportion as it is ignored and brought into contempt by one class, it will be valued and honored by the other. Those who co-operate with God by obedience will exclaim, with the psalmist: "They have made void thy law. Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold." [Psalm 119:126-127].
Jesus, who knew no sin, and in whose mouth no guile was found, came to sow the world with truth. When charged with evil by the Pharisees, he stood up boldly before his accusers, and said, "Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?" [John 8:46]. The convicting power of God had deeply stirred the hearts of these teachers, but they turned their faces persistently from the light. They resisted the work of the Holy Spirit of God. Sufficient evidence of the divinity of Christ had been given them. More evidence would not have changed the current of their feelings, but would only have hardened them in unbelief.
Christ declared, "If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth." [John 9:41]. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. To his disciples he said, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." [John 15:10]. "If ye love me, keep my commandments." [John 14:15]. "He that hateth me hateth my Father also." [John 15:23]. "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." [1 John 2:4].
We know that the world, sensual and corrupt, love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. Error and false prophets are chosen before the gospel of Christ. But shall we discard the standard of character which the God of heaven has given to our world, and venture to erect a standard of human invention? God desires that his commandment-keeping people shall arise to the emergency, and co-operate with the heavenly agencies in uplifting the standard of righteousness, setting forth to the world the message of heaven.
Each should feel that it is required of him to consecrate every hour to the service of Christ. The Son of God was given that we might be renewed, refined, elevated, ennobled, that God might see his image restored in the heart of man. But the Lord cannot take away our sin unless we shall co-operate with him in the work. The inquiry of each should be, "Am I cleansed from sin? Do I hate sin, and love righteousness? Am I prepared to make any and every sacrifice for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord?" Professed Christians who have a divided heart will not be in the Lord's army; for the Lord accepts no such enlistments. This is not a sentimental and spasmodic service. In these times we need an assurance from heaven to enable us to stand firmly for the faith once delivered to the saints. [Return to "Science of Redemption"].
The benediction pronounced upon those who keep God's law is, "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." [Revelation 22:14]. "And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Zion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. . . . Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." [Revelation 14:1-12].
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