1. A REFUGE
a. What invitation does God make to His people before the destruction of the earth? Isaiah 26:20, 21.
b. What promises will be a comfort in those turbulent days? Psalm 46:1–3; 91:1–10.
“The time of trouble is the crucible that is to bring out Christlike characters. It is designed to lead the people of God to renounce Satan and his temptations. The last conflict will reveal Satan to them in his true character, that of a cruel tyrant, and it will do for them what nothing else could do, uproot him entirely from their affections.”—The Review and Herald, August 12, 1884.
“[God’s people’s] faith does not fail because their prayers are not immediately answered. Though suffering the keenest anxiety, terror, and distress, they do not cease their intercessions. They lay hold of the strength of God as Jacob laid hold of the Angel; and the language of their souls is: ‘I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me’ (Genesis 32:26).”—The Great Controversy, pp. 619, 620.
2. SEALED OR SLAIN
a. Who is destroyed, and who is given shelter in Ezekiel’s vision? Ezekiel 9:3–6, 9, 10.
b. How is the work of the protecting angels cited in the Revelation similar to that of the man with the writer’s inkhorn in Ezekiel’s vision? Revelation 7:1–3.
c. How does the experience of the Jews in the time of Esther illustrate that of God’s people at the end of time? Esther 3:8, 9; 9:1–3.
“This sealing of the servants of God is the same that was shown to Ezekiel in vision.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 445.
“The trying experiences that came to God’s people in the days of Esther were not peculiar to that age alone. . . . The same spirit that in ages past led men to persecute the true church will in the future lead to the pursuance of a similar course toward those who maintain their loyalty to God. . . .
“The decree that will finally go forth against the remnant people of God will be very similar to that issued by Ahasuerus against the Jews. Today the enemies of the true church see in the little company keeping the Sabbath commandment, a Mordecai at the gate. The reverence of God’s people for His law is a constant rebuke to those who have cast off the fear of the Lord and are trampling on His Sabbath.
“Satan will arouse indignation against the minority who refuse to accept popular customs and traditions. Men of position and reputation will join with the lawless and the vile to take counsel against the people of God. Wealth, genius, education will combine to cover them with contempt. Persecuting rulers, ministers, and church members will conspire against them. With voice and pen, by boasts, threats, and ridicule, they will seek to overthrow their faith. By false representations and angry appeals, men will stir up the passions of the people. Not having a ‘Thus saith the Scriptures’ to bring against the advocates of the Bible Sabbath, they will resort to oppressive enactments to supply the lack. To secure popularity and patronage, legislators will yield to the demand for Sunday laws. . . . On this battlefield will be fought the last great conflict in the controversy between truth and error. And we are not left in doubt as to the issue. Today, as in the days of Esther and Mordecai, the Lord will vindicate His truth and His people.”—Prophets and Kings, pp. 605, 606.
3. PURIFICATION OF CHARACTER
a. What type of character will be developed in those who are preparing for the seal? Revelation 14:1, 5. What does having the Father’s name imply? Matthew 6:9; 1 Peter 3:15.
“Now is the time to prepare. The seal of God will never be placed upon the forehead of an impure man or woman. It will never be placed upon the forehead of the ambitious, world-loving man or woman. It will never be placed upon the forehead of men or women of false tongues or deceitful hearts. All who receive the seal must be without spot before God—candidates for heaven.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 216.
“It is not any seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so [God’s people] cannot be moved.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 4, p. 1161.
“Are we striving with all our power to attain to the stature of men and women in Christ? Are we seeking for His fullness, ever pressing toward the mark set before us—the perfection of His character? When the Lord’s people reach this mark, they will be sealed in their foreheads.”—Ibid., vol.6, p. 1118.
“I also saw that many do not realize what they must be in order to live in the sight of the Lord without a high priest in the sanctuary through the time of trouble. Those who receive the seal of the living God and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully.”—Early Writings, p. 71.
b. How will the Lord perform this sanctifying work in us? Hebrews 7:25; 13:20, 21; Philippians 1:6; 2:12, 13.
“I saw that the time for Jesus to be in the most holy place was nearly finished and that time can last but a very little longer. What leisure time we have should be spent in searching the Bible, which is to judge us in the last day. . . .
“Live and act wholly in reference to the coming of the Son of man. The sealing time is very short and will soon be over. Now is the time, while the four angels are holding the four winds, to make our calling and election sure.”—Early Writings, p. 58.
“Let us strive with all the power that God has given us to be among the hundred and forty-four thousand.”—The Review and Herald, March 9, 1905.
4. SIGHING AND CRYING
a. What is the work of God’s people in the last days? Isaiah 58:12.
“In the time of the end every divine institution is to be restored. The breach made in the law at the time the Sabbath was changed by man is to be repaired. God’s remnant people, standing before the world as reformers, are to show that the law of God is the foundation of all enduring reform and that the Sabbath of the fourth commandment is to stand as a memorial of creation, a constant reminder of the power of God.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 678.
b. What does it mean to sigh and cry? Ezekiel 9:4.
“The abominations for which the faithful ones were sighing and crying were all that could be discerned by finite eyes, but by far the worst sins, those which provoked the jealousy of the pure and holy God, were unrevealed.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 211.
“At the time when the danger and depression of the church are greatest, the little company who are standing in the light will be sighing and crying for the abominations that are done in the land. But more especially will their prayers arise in behalf of the church because its members are doing after the manner of the world. . . .
“They mourn before God to see religion despised in the very homes of those who have had great light. They lament and afflict their souls because pride, avarice, selfishness, and deception of almost every kind are in the church.”—Ibid., pp.209, 210.
c. Where does the judgment begin, and what does this mean for God’s professed people? Ezekiel 9:6.
“But the general slaughter of all those who do not thus see the wide contrast between sin and righteousness, and do not feel as those do who stand in the counsel of God and receive the mark, is described in the order to the five men with slaughter weapons: [Ezekiel 9:5, 6 quoted].”—Ibid., vol.3, p. 267.
a. How will God finally deliver His people in this time? Luke 18:7; Daniel 12:1, 2. Discuss the purification of the church prior to the close of probation.
“In the hour of the church’s greatest danger most fervent prayer will be offered in her behalf by the faithful remnant, and God will hear and answer at the very time when the guilt of the transgressor has reached its height.” Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 524.
“The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out—the chaff separated from the precious wheat.”—Selected Messages, bk. 2, p. 380.
“The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The mark of the beast will be urged upon us. . . . In this time the gold will be separated from the dross in the church. . . . Chaff like a cloud will be borne away on the wind, even from places where we see only floors of rich wheat. All who assume the ornaments of the sanctuary, but are not clothed with Christ’s righteousness, will appear in the shame of their own nakedness.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 81.
b. Who will survive the plagues and be translated at the second coming of Jesus? 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; Revelation 14:4.
“None but the hundred and forty-four thousand can learn that song; for it is the song of their experience . . . such as no other company have ever had. . . . These, having been translated from the earth, from among the living, are counted as ‘the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb’ (Revelation 14:4).”—The Great Controversy, p. 649.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What protection does God offer from the plagues, and how can you have it?
2. How are we to be brought to the condition of readiness for the seal?
3. How do the remnant relate to the sin around them, in and out of the church?
4. Have you felt the personal assurance of God’s promise to prepare you for the end?
5. How does God’s vision of the wheat and the chaff differ from ours?