1. PREPARING FOR OUR FINAL TEST
a. How is Jacob’s anguish similar to what God’s people are soon to endure—and what event is associated with this? Jeremiah 30:5, 6; Revelation 22:11, 12.
“Jacob’s experience during that night of wrestling and anguish represents the trial through which the people of God must pass just before Christ’s second coming.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 201.
b. What must we understand about the close of probation? Acts 1:7; John 9:4.
“God has not revealed to us the time when this message will close, or when probation will have an end. Those things that are revealed we shall accept for ourselves and for our children; but let us not seek to know that which has been kept secret in the councils of the Almighty. . . .
“Letters have come to me asking me if I have any special light as to the time when probation will close; and I answer that I have only this message to bear, that it is now time to work while the day lasts.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 191.
2. VIGILANCE NEEDED
a. Why must we who are entrusted with great light be very vigilant in preparing to meet our Lord in peace? 1 Timothy 5:24; 1 Peter 4:17.
“As the books of record are opened in the Judgment, the lives of all who have believed on Jesus come in review before God. Beginning with those who first lived upon the earth, our Advocate presents the cases of each successive generation, and closes with the living. Every name is mentioned, every case closely investigated. Names are accepted, names rejected.”—The Great Controversy, p. 483.
“The great light and privileges bestowed require returns of virtue and holiness corresponding with the light given them. Anything short of this, God will not accept.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 454.
b. Explain both the solemnity and hope connected with this reality. Exodus 32:33; Ezekiel 18:24, 27–30.
“When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life, and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the book of God’s remembrance. . . .
“All who have truly repented of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ as their atoning sacrifice, have had pardon entered against their names in the books of heaven; as they have become partakers of the righteousness of Christ, and their characters are found to be in harmony with the law of God, their sins will be blotted out, and they themselves will be accounted worthy of eternal life.”—The Great Controversy, p. 483.
“Solemn are the scenes connected with the closing work of the atonement. Momentous are the interests involved therein. The judgment is now passing in the sanctuary above. For many years this work has been in progress. Soon—none know how soon—it will pass to the cases of the living. In the awful presence of God our lives are to come up in review. At this time above all others it behooves every soul to heed the Saviour’s admonition: ‘Watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.’ Mark 13:33. . . .
“When the work of the investigative judgment closes, the destiny of all will have been decided for life or death.”—Ibid., p. 490.
3. THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION
a. What warning should we heed from an actual—though also symbolic—experience that occurred in early Christianity? Matthew 24:15, 16.
“The Saviour warned His followers: ‘When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains’ (Matthew 24:15, 16; Luke 21:20, 21). When the idolatrous standards of the Romans should be set up in the holy ground, which extended some furlongs outside the city walls, then the followers of Christ were to find safety in flight. When the warning sign should be seen, those who would escape must make no delay.”—The Great Controversy, p. 26.
“Not one Christian perished in the destruction of Jerusalem. Christ had given His disciples warning, and all who believed His words watched for the promised sign.”—Ibid., p. 30.
b. How is the abomination of desolation paralleled in the end? Daniel 12:1.
“As the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman armies was the signal for flight to the Judean Christians, so the assumption of power on the part of our nation [the United States] in the decree enforcing the papal sabbath will be a warning to us.”—Maranatha, p. 180.
“I saw that Jesus would not leave the most holy place until every case was decided either for salvation or destruction, and that the wrath of God could not come until Jesus had finished His work in the most holy place, laid off His priestly attire, and clothed Himself with the garments of vengeance. Then Jesus will step out from between the Father and man, and God will keep silence no longer, but pour out His wrath on those who have rejected His truth. I saw that the anger of the nations, the wrath of God, and the time to judge the dead were separate and distinct, one following the other, also that Michael had not stood up, and that the time of trouble, such as never was, had not yet commenced. The nations are now getting angry, but when our High Priest has finished His work in the sanctuary, He will stand up, put on the garments of vengeance, and then the seven last plagues will be poured out.”—Early Writings, p. 36.
4. FOCUSING OUR FAITH
a. How is Jacob’s time of trouble paralleled in the end? Jeremiah 30:7 (first part); Revelation 13:11–17.
“When Christ shall cease His work as mediator in man’s behalf, then this time of trouble will begin. Then the case of every soul will have been decided, and there will be no atoning blood to cleanse from sin. . . . As Jacob was threatened with death by his angry brother, so the people of God will be in peril from the wicked who are seeking to destroy them. And as the patriarch wrestled all night for deliverance from the hand of Esau, so the righteous will cry to God day and night for deliverance from the enemies that surround them.
“Satan had accused Jacob before the angels of God, claiming the right to destroy him because of his sin; he had moved upon Esau to march against him; and during the patriarch’s long night of wrestling, Satan endeavored to force upon him a sense of his guilt, in order to discourage him, and break his hold upon God.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 201.
b. As Satan taunts us over our sins, what must we recall? Isaiah 1:18; 26:3, 4.
“When in his distress Jacob laid hold of the Angel, and made supplication with tears, the heavenly Messenger, in order to try his faith, also reminded him of his sin, and endeavored to escape from him. But Jacob would not be turned away. He had learned that God is merciful, and he cast himself upon His mercy. He pointed back to his repentance for his sin, and pleaded for deliverance. As he reviewed his life, he was driven almost to despair; but he held fast the Angel, and with earnest, agonizing cries urged his petition until he prevailed.
“Such will be the experience of God’s people in their final struggle with the powers of evil. God will test their faith, their perseverance, their confidence in His power to deliver them. Satan will endeavor to terrify them with the thought that their cases are hopeless; that their sins have been too great to receive pardon. They will have a deep sense of their shortcomings, and as they review their lives their hopes will sink. But remembering the greatness of God’s mercy, and their own sincere repentance, they will plead His promises made through Christ to helpless, repenting sinners.”—Ibid., pp. 201, 202.
5. THE INTENSITY OF JACOB
a. What is the greatest concern in the time of Jacob’s trouble—and the encouraging news about it? Isaiah 44:22; Jeremiah 30:7 (last part).
“Had not Jacob previously repented of his sin in obtaining the birthright by fraud, God could not have heard his prayer and mercifully preserved his life. So in the time of trouble, if the people of God had unconfessed sins to appear before them while tortured with fear and anguish, they would be overwhelmed; despair would cut off their faith, and they could not have confidence to plead with God for deliverance. But while they have a deep sense of their unworthiness, they will have no concealed wrongs to reveal. Their sins will have been blotted out by the atoning blood of Christ, and they cannot bring them to remembrance.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 202.
b. Describe the fervor with which we are to seek God now. Matthew 11:12.
“[Matthew 11:12 quoted.] The violence here meant is a holy earnestness, such as Jacob manifested. We need not try to work ourselves up into an intense feeling, but calmly, persistently, we are to press our petitions at the throne of grace. Our work is to humble our souls before God, confessing our sins, and in faith drawing nigh unto God.”—That I May Know Him, p. 272.
“The righteous in their distress will have a deep sense of their unworthiness, and with many tears will acknowledge their utter unworthiness, and, like Jacob, will plead the promises of God through Christ, made to just such dependent, helpless, repenting sinners.”—The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, pp. 121, 122.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why has God wisely chosen not to reveal the date probation ends?
2. How might I be in danger of being too lax about my spiritual condition?
3. What happens when Jesus closes His work as our Mediator?
4. What two opposite delusions are perilous regarding our confession of sin?
5. How can I more zealously cultivate real, Jacob-like intensity with God?