The Reformation Herald Online Edition

At the Brink of Eternity

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Friday, December 13, 2019
The Last Act of the Drama
Marian Sirbu

With regard to the present age, the apostle Paul bids us to be “redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).

The word “redeeming” in Greek means “to buy up, ransom, or rescue from loss.” We need to rescue from loss the time that remains in our life. We can only redeem today and plan to redeem tomorrow, for yesterday is gone! We alone are responsible for using what God has given to each of us—time—to prepare for our spiritual vocation.

Building a holy, righteous character is becoming ever more difficult as we live in the last days. Many paths of wrongdoing and wrong thinking can cause us to lose focus on God’s way of life.

Most people do not meditate on the temporary state of human existence or the fact that our days are numbered.

The days are evil. This simply means that we live in a sinful world where sinful choices are made each day, and each of those choices defile God’s good gift of time. Because the days are evil, God urges you to be careful how you live your life.

The American poet and biographer Carl Sandburg observed: “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”

So, how do you redeem your time? How do you make sure that you are spending the coin of your life wisely?

Every day, every hour, and every moment should be used to serve God. As much time as possible should be used to better ourselves by learning from the Word of God, and this in turn will benefit us in knowing how to serve Him. By not making this a priority, much of our time will be wasted.

As we already noticed, the apostle Paul describes the necessity of making the most of our time. However, the process primarily depends on us and our perspective on the matter. Considering King Solomon’s words: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Therefore, we should examine our lives, and upon closer inspection see whether we really apply this principle or not.

The world we live in has seen many more changes in a very short period of time than in ages past. It is a great mistake to believe that we will only be standing on the sidelines, watching the last events unfold before our eyes.

“We are standing on the threshold of great and solemn events. Prophecies are fulfilling. The last great conflict will be short, but terrible. Old controversies will be revived. New controversies will arise.”1

What are our expectations?

The Bible teaches us that the great controversy between good and evil will continue to the end, after which the kingdom of heaven will be established. Based on this, many Christians have created their own replicas of how this world will come to an end.

We cannot claim to know when the world will come to an end and how God will take action in the final days. We must rely on His wisdom and trust His leading hand.

The end will be sudden and unexpected, and most people will be unprepared. Just as in the days of Noah’s flood, a catastrophe will suddenly overtake the earth, and by then it will be too late to repent and turn to God.

Let us ponder on this amazing thought:

“The world is a theater; the actors, its inhabitants, are preparing to act their part in the last great drama.”2

Considering the significance of this statement, a question appears: Do people know what their role is? Are they aware that this is not fiction but real life?

At the present, for modern society, the media has become a part of daily life. Statistics show that even though people are all aware that television and films are not real, a lot of their TV and film heroes and heroines have become the majority of their role models.

On the other hand, the Bible teaches us that we have one role model, the Lord Jesus Christ as the Author and Finisher of our faith—and to follow His example is the most important thing. Therefore, we should be more careful about knowing for sure who is the designer of our role and who is our role model. The enemy of God has been preparing for over 6,000 years especially for these last moments in history.

How is it with our preparation for these last events?

The facts that call our attention

“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

In present-day standards, the vital truths of God’s word are set aside for human theories, speculations and tradition. It is remarkable that many church people and many professed ministers of the gospel don’t recognize the entire Bible as the inspired Word of God. Starting from a standpoint of rejection of one portion or to question another statement, they too often end up considering their judgment superior to the Word of God. In that case, the authority of the Scripture is destroyed.

Do we remember who first started to question the word of God? What were the results?

Recognizing the tactics of the enemy

It was Satan who was the one who started the great controversy in heaven, because he hated the law of God.

We know that his rebellion against the Creator caused him to be cast out of heaven. But he has continued his diabolic plan to destroy God’s law upon the earth. In order to deceive men, and drive them to transgress God’s law, he is not losing any opportunities. Satan’s ways to fulfill his plan are by casting aside the law altogether, or by rejecting one of its precepts.

Satan’s policy in this final conflict with God’s people is the same that he employed in the opening of the great controversy in heaven. He professed to be seeking to promote the stability of the divine government, while secretly bending every effort to secure its overthrow.”3

There is a universal concept that God never forces the will or the conscience; but Satan’s untiring effort is to gain control of those whom he cannot otherwise deceive.

“To accomplish this, [Satan] works through both religious and secular authorities, moving them to the enforcement of human laws in defiance of the law of God.” 4

Perilous times shall come . . .

We are living in the fulfillment of the perilous times written about in 2 Timothy 3:1–5. Moreover, the apostle Paul has stated that many people will not have any pleasure or disposition to hear sound doctrine: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3, 4).

One day, I had a Bible study with a man from another religious denomination—and at that Bible study, he agreed with the teachings of the Bible about the Sabbath day. Not long after, he came back and said to me: “If what you are saying about the Sabbath is true, then why have I never heard this from one of my leaders before? And why are there so many Christians who can’t understand it?” He concluded by saying: “I think that if the majority of people believe that Saturday isn’t the day of worship, then they are probably right.”

What we should call that: sincerity or ignorance? (Or neither?)

People in responsible positions will not only ignore and despise the Sabbath themselves, but from their pulpits will urge upon the people the observance of the first day of the week, pleading tradition and custom in behalf of this manmade institution.

The substitution of the laws of men for the law of God, the exaltation, by merely human authority, of Sunday in place of the Bible Sabbath, is the last act in the drama. When this substitution becomes universal, God will reveal Himself.”5

God’s Eternal Law

It has often been said that if you want to know the truth you have to search for its origins. How was it in the beginning? Where can we find the answer?

John Wycliffe declared: “Holy Scripture is the highest authority for every believer, the standard of faith and the foundation for reform in religious, political and social life.”

“The law of God existed before man was created. The angels were governed by it. Satan fell because he transgressed the principles of God’s government. After Adam and Eve were created, God made known to them His law. It was not then written, but was rehearsed to them by Jehovah.

“The Sabbath of the fourth commandment was instituted in Eden. After God had made the world, and created man upon the earth, he made the Sabbath for man. After Adam’s sin and fall, nothing was taken from the law of God. The principles of the ten commandments existed before the fall, and were of a character suited to the condition of a holy order of beings. After the fall, the principles of those precepts were not changed, but additional precepts were given to meet man in his fallen state.”6

“Had the Sabbath always been sacredly observed, there could never have been an atheist or an idolater.

“The Sabbath institution, which originated in Eden, is as old as the world itself. It was observed by all the patriarchs, from creation down. During the bondage in Egypt, the Israelites were forced by their taskmasters to violate the Sabbath, and to a great extent they lost the knowledge of its sacredness. When the law was proclaimed at Sinai the very first words of the fourth commandment were, ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy’—showing that the Sabbath was not then instituted; we are pointed back for its origin to creation. In order to obliterate God from the minds of men, Satan aimed to tear down this great memorial. If men could be led to forget their Creator, they would make no effort to resist the power of evil, and Satan would be sure of his prey.”7

“ ‘Till heaven and earth pass,’ said Jesus, ‘one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.’ The sun shining in the heavens, the solid earth upon which you dwell, are God’s witnesses that His law is changeless and eternal. Though they may pass away, the divine precepts shall endure. ‘It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail’ (Luke 16:17). The system of types that pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God was to be abolished at His death; but the precepts of the Decalogue are as immutable as the throne of God.”8

History will repeat itself

Daniel and his companions loved God with all their heart and they preferred even death rather than to commit an offense toward God. But this kind of devotion is not preserved without a struggle. It is well known that a test was brought on the three friends of Daniel when they were required to worship the great image set up by King Nebuchadnezzar on the plain of Dura! They knew from the scriptures that only God is worthy of adoration and worship. Their faith and trust in God was so strong that it presented a great lesson to all the inhabitants of the Babylonian empire.

Daniel and his friends let the word of God develop their faith in God. Nebuchadnezzar previously heard the word of God in the explanation of the image in his dream. How different would the history of the world be if Nebuchadnezzar, under the divine instructions, understood his role in the plan of God! Sadly, however, Nebuchadnezzar turned the divine plan from its purpose, letting his knowledge nourish his pride and vanity instead of learning the lessons of truth.

“By the height and beauty of his image, by the material of which it was formed, the king sought to make error and false doctrine magnificent and attractive, more powerful, seemingly, than anything God had given.”9

All false religion has its origin in a corruption of the truth.

It is easy to observe the similarities between how Satan worked in the past and how he works to deceive people in the same way in the present. Satan sought to make God-given light serve his own purposes, by leading the king to work for his own glory instead of working for the glory of God.

“History will repeat itself. In this age the great test will be upon the point of Sabbath observance. . . . A rival sabbath is exalted, as was the great golden image in the plain of Dura. Leaders claiming to be Christians will call upon the world to observe the spurious sabbath that they have made. All who refuse will be put under oppressive laws. This is the mystery of iniquity, the devising of satanic agencies, carried into effect by the man of sin.”10

There is a universal principle made known that God will honor those who honor Him. Through the way that God has delivered His faithful servants in the past, He demonstrates how He will be with all of His people in their trials for His glory—and rebukes all earthly powers that rebel against the authority of Heaven.

Examples for our learning

“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).

There’s no way to overestimate the importance of learning from the people around us. Learning from others is not a passive process, but one that requires work and commitment on our part. Observing others’ life experiences and understanding God’s ways from Holy Scripture will be of great benefit to us.

The lessons to be learned from the experience of the Hebrew youth on the plain of Dura are very important. In the future, many of God’s servants, though innocent of wrongdoing, will be fortified to endure humiliation and abuse at the hands of those who, inspired by Satan, are filled with envy and religious bigotry. The wrath of men will be especially aroused against those who hallow the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, and at last a universal decree will denounce these as deserving of death.

We ought to obey God rather than men

In the 20th century, as a part of atheistic education, communist states published and widely disseminated counter-Christian literature. This was particularly true for Romania, even before the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceauș?escu. Soon after the communist system collapsed, I remember that in Bucharest, I had the chance to meet a very faithful brother from our church. His name was Stefan Ungureanu. It was a privilege to hear the real life experiences that the believers went through during the communist era. As a Union president of the church, one day this brother was called by the authorities and interrogated as to why the religious books used by our church did not have a portrait of the leader of the country. It was mandatory for all books to have a picture of him on the front page. Then our brother’s answer was: “Please, don’t misunderstand us; we respect the Government and recognize it as an ordinance of divine appointment, but to show reverence and adoration to a human being would not be right in the sight of God. We do not change our principles according to a different government party, but rather we have always prayed for all of them. We have been the same in the past as we are today and will be the same for the future. We love God and love our neighbors.” After many years it has been proven that the people of God have upheld these principles.

“The people of God will recognize human government as an ordinance of divine appointment and will teach obedience to it as a sacred duty within its legitimate sphere. But when its claims conflict with the claims of God, the word of God must be recognized as above all human legislation. ‘Thus saith the Lord’ is not to be set aside for Thus saith the church or the state. The crown of Christ is to be uplifted above the diadems of earthly potentates.”11

Testing time

“The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul.The observance of the false sabbath will be urged upon us. The contest will be between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. Those who have yielded step by step to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will then yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death. At that time the gold will be separated from the dross. True godliness will be clearly distinguished from the appearance and tinsel of it. Many a star that we have admired for its brilliance will then go out in darkness. Those who have assumed the ornaments of the sanctuary, but are not clothed with Christ’s righteousness, will then appear in the shame of their own nakedness.”12

“The powers of darkness must be met by every soul. The young, as well as the old, will be assailed, and all should understand the nature of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, and should realize that it concerns themselves. All are actors in the scene, sharers in the conflict.”13

Dear reader, God desires to use you in His service. There is a place for you to fill in this world. Every one of us will have a role in the last act of the drama. If you are faithful in filling the place the Lord desires you to fill, He will work in your behalf, and you will see of the salvation of God.

References
1 Selected Messages, bk. 3, p. 419.
2 Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 27.
3 The Great Controversy, p. 591. [Emphasis added.]
4 Ibid. [Emphasis added.]
5 Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 141. [Emphasis added.]
6 The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, p. 261.
7 Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 336.
8 The Desire of Ages, p. 308.
9 The Signs of the Times, April 29, 1897.
10 Christ Triumphant, p. 178.
11 Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 402. [Emphasis added.]
12 Prophets and Kings, p. 188. [Emphasis added.]
13 The Review and Herald, September 25, 1883.