If you had to jump out of a burning building into trampoline held by firemen, could you trust them to catch you safely? I read the story of a child who had to jump from a burning house into the parent’s arms and did it. No doubt trust in the parent motivated the child. This planet of sinners are called to leave the domain of sin, with which they are familiar and which is socially acceptable by everyone around, and trust themselves to their Creator to reconcile their misunderstandings of Him, so that He can grow on them and cleanse them and make them march to the beat of a different drum than they marched to all of their lives.
The only way to a holy Creator is to trust Him to get us there. If we want to get to the moon, we can flap our arms from now until kingdom come and never make it. Or, we can put ourselves in the hands of NASA and a shuttle will take us to the moon. We will be greatly restricted by being strapped into a seat, and any flapping of the arms will force mission control to ground us; but if we expend all of our effort to keep ourselves in NASA’s hands, we’ll get to the moon. NASA is the only viable means to travel into space. Flapping our arms is full of frustration, which results in anger, which results in total exhaustion and depression.
Flapping our arms to get to the moon is no more productive than trying to be good without God getting us there. And this stubborn insistence to be godly of our own resources is what the 3rd angel’s message is all about.
“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Rev. 14:9-11).
We also see the weariness and exhaustion in Jeremiah’s jeremiad against Babylon. “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire; and the people shall labour in vain
, and the folk in the fire, and they shall be weary.…
Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary
.” (Jer. 51:58,64).
Babylon’s humanistic efforts to be moral never arrived at any goodness. “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” (Rev. 18:2). The reason Babylon is used in Revelation at the very end is because before Jesus would return the human effort to be good would be so pervasive, and faith in God would be such a rare thing. “When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Luk. 18:8). Humanism is resulting in a world so tired of trying to be good, that they will throw out the whole business of being good and jump head-long into chaotic perdition.
This will happen even from a whole world professing Christianity. Could it happening in our church today? The mark of the beast is no respecter of persons and can be given to people who wish to receive the seal of God but have no time for Him each morning and throughout the day.
The mark of the beast comes by trying to be a good person without faith in Jesus to give reconciliation with God and sanctification. Its about more than just the religious person going to church and putting in his time. Its about more than for the secularist doing his time as a moral citizen and neighbor. Those who escape the mark of the beast mindset and receive the seal of God mindset arrive at goodness in peace. But, this takes faith that God can and will give us the liberated life of obedience and it takes patience with Him until He has done it. As it is written, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12).
Hence: righteousness by faith. “For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” (Gal. 5:5).
Faith in our Creator is the most blessed possession we can ever own. “For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance
Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward....
Now faith is the substance
of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb 10:34,35;11:1). Of all earthly substance, our relation to God and to eternal things is the greatest of all to hope in. Possessions in this world give us a sense of security. But, the greatest security is the Holy Spirit that comes when we trust Jesus to accept us and to stay our friend through all of our faults and failures. If we will look to His convicting and comforting life of love, and yearn to have His love, He promises to stay with us, no matter how bad we are.
“Thus saith the Lord, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.
The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jer. 31:2,3). “I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.” (Hos. 11:3,4).
And how do we get faith? It comes only as a gift from time spent with the great Giver of everything. In His infinite wisdom, to give us faith in Him He uses the simple laws of the heart. The hunger for love, the thirst for grace, which He set up throughout His kingdom from eternity past, are our responses to His efforts to save us. As we search His life for evidence of love and grace, faith in Him grows.
“The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.
The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season.
Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.…
The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.
He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.
The Lord preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy.
My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.” (Ps. 145:14-16,18-21).
The person who believes he doesn’t need God and can manufacture the strength to be holy on his own, ends up with the mark of the beast and never receives the genuine, natural goodness that comes with joy and love.
The Moorefield, WV church has several Hispanic families and they used to have a Hispanic family from Costa Rica with the nicest litttle boy and girl. Carlito was about 3 or 4 years old before they returned to their country. He would have so much fun with the other kids, and yet never do anything to hurt them. If his father told him to quiet down, he would always obey his father immediately. He trusted and loved his daddy. Beside his mommy, his daddy was everything to Carlito, and even his father’s voice of authority didn’t change that at all. Carlito had faith in his parents, and the fruit of that was obedience to them by faith in them. Being good was the most natural thing to little Carlito. He loved life, but in his young mind, it must be a circumspect life.
Faith is a gift through time spent with the giver. If we spend time with someone who is trustworthy, trust happens automatically. But, the Lord must overcome ill effects of the abuse Satan has caused us. “Now therefore, what have I here, saith the Lord, that My people is taken away for nought? They that rule over them make them to howl, saith the Lord; and My name continually every day is blasphemed.” (Isa. 52:5). “He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger....” (Isa. 14:6). “I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction.” (Zech. 1:15). Satan has abused and intentionally warped humanity's concept of divinity's discipline. Depending on how much baggage we have from Satan's abuse that impedes the process of our learning to trust God, the reception of faith happens sooner or later; but even if sought cautiously faith always will happen as we invest the time in Jesus and in His written legacy, the Bible.
And we must have patience. “For we through the Spirit wait
for the hope of righteousness by faith.” “No man also having drunk old wine straightway
desireth new.” (Lk. 5:39). The change may not happen “straightway”, but if the shamed addict of sin will keep coming to the new wine, desirous and patiently waiting for his tastes and inclinations to change, Jesus implies here that God will eventually make it happen. The body and mind will be cleansed of the old chemicals, and a new life of health and happiness will stretch out before him. If God can be patient with us, we can be patient with ourselves. The question to us is, will we hold on to faith in His power to change our vile natures; will we wait for Him until He can get His foot in the door of our trust and slowly, wisely wedge open like the men who open clams to get pearls?
“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” (Heb. 10:36). Therefore, let us “let patience have her perfect work,” and we shall be “perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (Jas. 1:4).
Holiness is a gift from God. And rest has everything to do with it. “I gave them My sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.” (Eze. 20:12). Sanctification only comes in rest; and rest only comes by ceasing from work. Therefore, the 4th commandment is central to gaining the character of God in our minds—the seal of God in our foreheads. And thus we avoid the mark of the beast, which comes by working hard at righteousness without the friendship with Jesus. “To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. ” (Rom. 4:5). This “work” is not referring to the powerful work of God in us through the Holy Spirit when we come to trust Jesus, but to our own work, our gritting of teeth to obey the Law and to overcome sin.
“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His.
Let us labour
therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” (Heb. 4:9-11). As in the 4th commandment, the gospel commands us to labor to have that rest.
Labor at what? It must be laboring in whatever it takes to have faith. “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.
But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.” (Rom. 9:30-33).
If we want righteousness we have to get connected with the Son of God. We don't seek righteousness to have righteousness. We seek Jesus to have righeousness. No Jesus―no righteousness.
“The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (Jas. 3:18). And Jesus is “The Prince of Peace.” and the “King of peace” (Isa. 9:6;Heb. 7:2). This peaceful style of obtaining righteousness may appear slow, but God knows it’s the only effective one. It takes time for Jesus to cause us to rest. It took Moses 80 years to get to the burning bush; it took Jacob 60 years to wrestle with God; it took Abraham 75 years to leave Ur and follow the kindly voice speaking to his conscience. It takes time to learn to trust Someone wholly trustworthy. But God has the time.
Ellen White states that the big trouble in the end will not come until God has allowed the time necessary for His saints to love and trust in Him implicitly and to receive His righteousness.Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads—it is not any seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved—just as soon as God's people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come. Indeed, it has begun already; the judgments of God are now upon the land, to give us warning, that we may know what is coming.
(MS 173, 1902).
In the end, its only those who patiently waited for the Lord to show them His love for sinners and to change them who escape the judgments of God and receive eternal life. “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.…Because he hath set his love upon Me
, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known My name.” (Ps. 91:5-7,14).