1. LIVING IN THE END OF TIME
a. What significance is there to the times in which we are now living? Malachi 4:1, 5.
“[John the Baptist] was a representative of those living in these last days, to whom God has entrusted sacred truths to present before the people, to prepare the way for the second appearing of Christ. John was a reformer.”—Ibid., p. 71.
b. What kind of service is called for as we face the end of time? 2 Peter 3:11; Luke 16:13; 10:27.
“He who would build up a strong, symmetrical character, he who would be a well-balanced Christian, must give all and do all for Christ; for the Redeemer will not accept divided service.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 483.
“We must work with one spirit, even with the mind of Christ; and if we do this, new life will come into the church.”—The Review and Herald, November 29, 1898.
2. BEING A WATCHMAN
a. What is the responsibility of a watchman? Ezekiel 33:6–9.
“The watchmen anciently placed upon the walls of Jerusalem and other cities occupied a most responsible position. Upon their faithfulness depended the safety of all within those cities. When danger was apprehended, they were not to keep silent day nor night. Every few moments they were required to call to one another to see if all were awake and no harm had come to any. Sentinels were stationed upon some eminence overlooking the important posts to be guarded, and the cry of warning or of good cheer was sounded from them. This was borne from one to another, each repeating the words, till it went the entire rounds of the city.
“These watchmen represent the ministry, upon whose fidelity depends the salvation of souls.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, pp, 402, 403.
“It is now no time to relax our efforts, to become tame and spiritless; no time to hide our light under a bushel, to speak smooth things, to prophesy deceit. No, no; there is no place for sleepy watchmen on the walls of Zion. Every power is to be employed wholly and entirely for God.”—The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 720.
b. What should we consider as we view the times in which we live today? 1 Corinthians 15:34; Romans 13:11, 12.
“My brethren, we are living in a most solemn period of this earth’s history. There is never time to sin; it is always perilous to continue in transgression; but in a special sense is this true at the present time. We are now upon the very borders of the eternal world and stand in a more solemn relation to time and to eternity than ever before.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 147.
“Enoch had temptations as well as we. . . . He was unsullied with the prevailing sins of the age in which he lived. So may we remain pure and uncorrupted. He was a representative of the saints who live amid the perils and corruptions of the last days. For his faithful obedience to God he was translated. So, also, the faithful, who are alive and remain, will be translated. They will be removed from a sinful and corrupt world to the pure joys of heaven.”—Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 122.
3. COMMISSIONED TO PREPARE THE WAY
a. Who is to proclaim the final gospel messages? 2 Timothy 4:2; Revelation 14:6, 7; Malachi 3:1.
“[Revelation 14:6, 7 quoted.] This message is declared to be a part of ‘the everlasting gospel.’ The work of preaching the gospel has not been committed to angels but has been entrusted to men. Holy angels have been employed in directing this work, they have in charge the great movements for the salvation of men; but the actual proclamation of the gospel is performed by the servants of Christ upon the earth.”—The Great Controversy, p. 312.
b. What shows that we are to prepare the way for Christ’s second advent, as John the Baptist did for His first advent? Isaiah 40:3; John 1:23; Hebrews 12:13.
“The work of John the Baptist represents the work for these times. His work and the work of those who go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah to arouse the people from their apathy are the same in many respects. Christ is to come the second time to judge the world in righteousness. The messengers of God who bear the last message of warning to be given to the world are to prepare the way for Christ’s second advent as John prepared the way for His first advent.”—The Youth’s Instructor, May 17, 1900.
c. Why is preparation required? Hebrews 12:14; Luke 12:39.
“Christians should be preparing for what is soon to break upon the world as an overwhelming surprise, and this preparation they should make by diligently studying the word of God and striving to conform their lives to its precepts. . . . God calls for a revival and a reformation.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 626.
“God desires His people to prepare for the soon-coming crisis. Prepared or unprepared, they must all meet it; and those only who have brought their lives into conformity to the divine standard will stand firm at that time of test and trial.”—The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 431, 432.
4. TURNING THE HEART OF PARENTS AND CHILDREN
a. What is the special work parents are called to do? Luke 1:13–17; Proverbs 22:6.
“An angel from heaven came to instruct Zacharias and Elizabeth as to how they should train and educate their child, so as to work in harmony with God in preparing a messenger to announce the coming of Christ. As parents they were to faithfully cooperate with God in forming such a character in John as would fit him to perform the part God had assigned him as a competent worker. John was the son of their old age, he was a child of miracle, and the parents might have reasoned that he had a special work to do for the Lord and the Lord would take care of him. But the parents did not thus reason; they moved to a retired place in the country, where their son would not be exposed to the temptations of city life, or induced to depart from the counsel and instruction which they as parents would give him. They acted their part in developing a character in the child that would in every way meet the purpose for which God had designed his life. By no careless neglect on their part shall their son fail to become good and wise, [Luke 1:7–9 quoted].”
—The Signs of the Times, April 16, 1896.
b. What special personal work is each one called to do? Malachi 4:4–6.
“Fathers and mothers, turn your hearts to seek the Lord; for a great responsibility rests upon you to give your children a correct mold of character. Keep ever before you their eternal interests. Educate them to be refined, pure, noble, revealing the highest traits of character, and before the world and heaven to make known that they have chosen to serve God. . . .
“Great blessings and spiritual strength will come to the families who will determine to put away those things which are unessential and will resolutely take up the work of preparation for the coming of the Lord. God has entrusted parents with the work of helping their children to gain a Christlike experience. . . .
“Reveal in your own lives conformity to the image of Christ. Improve the talents you have; cultivate the powers of mind and body; increase your knowledge of the Word of God; improve the gift of speech; by the witness of a godly example uplift before others the power of the Word to transform the character.”—The Review and Herald, October 5, 1911.
5. A WORK FOR BOTH PARENT AND CHILD
a. Why was it necessary for John’s parents to bring him up with a strict diet? Luke 1:15; Matthew 3:4.
“The child will be affected, for good or evil, by the habits of the mother. She must herself be controlled by principle and must practice temperance and self-denial, if she would seek the welfare of her child.
“God had an important work for the promised child of Zacharias to do; a work that required active thought and vigorous action. He must have a sound physical constitution, and mental and moral strength; and it was to secure for him these necessary qualifications that his habits were to be carefully regulated, even from infancy. . . . We urge that the principles of temperance be carried into all the details of home life; that the example of parents be a lesson of temperance; that self-denial and self-control be taught to the children and enforced upon them, so far as possible, even from babyhood.”—Historical Sketches, pp. 208, 209.
b. Why is it so important to focus so much of our effort on training our children? Proverbs 22:6; Psalm 127:3.
“More than any natural endowment, the habits established in early years decide whether a man will be victorious or vanquished in the battle of life. Youth is the sowing time. It determines the character of the harvest, for this life and for the life to come.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 101.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. If we love God supremely, how will this affect how we live our life?
2. How should a faithful watchman behave today?
3. How can we prepare for the coming crisis?
4. What is the special work God wants it done in families today?
5. How can we teach our children lessons in temperance, and what will this knowledge do for them later in life?