Greetings to you, our faithful MOL Family!
Welcome back to our “Survival” series. Our opening text today is one of the wonderful prophecies of the Bible, dealing with the day in which we live – the present and immediate future, the coming time of trouble, and the wonderful deliverance that is coming to the people of God. Do you want to be a survivor? Let’s enter into this experience, today!
God’s People Will Survive
In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. – Isaiah 4:2
These are the survivors. The preceding chapter deals with the terrible destruction waiting those who compromise with the world, and follow its customs and fashions. But there will be some in Israel that will escape the apostasy and escape the destruction. These are pictured in our text. Notice again the picture of the survivors, in the 3rd verse:
And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remains in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem. – Isaiah 4:3
Again, here are the survivors: Those who are left in Zion; those that remain in Jerusalem. And notice that in that time the prophecy pictures everyone is holy, and righteous, and in harmony with God’s law. Now, let’s notice what must precede that:
When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, [if you want to see what some of that filth is, read the 3rd chapter, especially the last part of it. It’s a picture of the time in which we are living. But there are some that are going to get washed from all that filth] and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. – Isaiah 4:4
Then, looking forward to the great time of trouble when, as we have already studied, God’s people will be under the special protection of the holy angels, the prophet says:
And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: – Isaiah 4:5
Here, you see, the prophet borrows those things from the exodus movement, where the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night were symbols and exhibitions of the Lord’s presence and protection.
So, during the great time of trouble when the plagues are falling upon this world, the people of God will be under His special care. [Continuing] the 6th verse:
… there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain. – Isaiah 4:6
Quoting some of these verses, the book, Patriarchs and Prophets says:
In one of the most beautiful and comforting passages of Isaiah’s prophecy, reference is made to the pillar of cloud and of fire to represent God’s care for His people in the great final struggle with the powers of evil. – Patriarchs and Prophets, pg. 283
These verses 5 and 6 are quoted. This prophecy is focused directly and specifically upon the great final struggle with the powers of evil. Thank God, His people will survive.
THOUGHT QUESTION In our last lesson, we studied about the survival of the home. Now, I promised that we would then answer another important question. Will the church survive? What must be the experience before this can happen?
I want to show you from the Word of God, as well as from the revelations that have come to His people through the Spirit of Prophecy, that there is no question about the survival of the church. How you and I as individuals will relate ourselves to that is another question. And while we will refer to this in our lesson, you shall notice that phase of the subject more fully in our lessons to come.
When God plans to do something, He always gets it done. It may take a while. God has time. He can afford to take time. He’s not in a hurry, and by that I mean, He doesn’t have to accept a slip-shod job. He looks ahead. God plans.
Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure. – Isaiah 46:9-10
Oh my friends, I like the trumpet call of that, don’t you? I like the ring of it. God will not be defeated in this age-long controversy. His counsel will stand. He will do all His pleasures.
What is His counsel? What is His purpose? What is that which He has been looking forward to since the beginning of time? Let us go to Ephesians 3, where Paul makes it plain what this eternal purpose which God purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord is. And it concerns you and me. Thank God we have a part in it.
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Ephesians 3:9-11
I’m studying this so that we can get a background and foundation as we seek to get the answer to the question, Will the church survive? You see, according to this text, God has had a purpose, a mystery since the eternal ages. He has been planning for something. What is it Paul? That “now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be made know through the church the manifold wisdom of God.”
We might think that Heaven is the best place to understand God. There’re some things that the angels in Heaven are looking to this world, in order that they may get a clearer view and a more wonderful understanding of the character of the great Creator; that’s what Paul says.
And notice what it is, and how it is, and through whom it is, that that demonstration, that exhibition, that illustration is to be made. It is through the what? – It’s through the Church that the angels in Heaven are to learn something about the wisdom of God.
THE GREAT CONTROVERSY This opens up a great wonderful field of thought and study. When the great controversy began in Heaven (Revelation 12:7), the controversy was over the law of God; whether it was reasonable for God to expect obedience from His creatures. Whether it was possible to give creatures the power of choice and still there be harmony and unity. God said it could be done. Lucifer said, “No, it cannot be done.”
Now for 6,000 years, the controversy has been waging. We come down to this last battle, that the book of Revelation especially deals with. The question is, Will God win or satan win?
There is more to this than satan being destroyed, and Christ reigning in this world. That could have happened anytime in the great controversy. God could have simply taken over and destroyed satan. But, there is a demonstration that must be made. God must prove to the universe that His law is reasonable and can be kept.
Jesus came down and took our flesh and did it. He was obedient to all His Father’s commandments. But this is not enough to convince all concerned, that it can be done. There must be a demonstration in this world.
There have been demonstrations down through the history and years. There have been men and women who have, through the grace of Christ, conquered sin and have kept the commandments of God, that’s what the Bible says.
But to make the perfect demonstration, and this is what God is waiting for. There must come a time when all of God’s children in this world, not merely as individuals but as a group; not merely personally, but as a church, make that demonstration of complete harmony with God and full union with one another.
This is what our Lord prayed just before He entered the Garden of Gethsemane. Turn please to John 17. Notice how the heart of Christ was set on this demonstration. And notice that it is a demonstration – what its lesson is, and what the results of seeing it will be:
Neither pray I for these alone, [His disciples gathered around Him there] but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent Me. – John 17:20-21
See the demonstration? See the result of it? The world is waiting to see worked out before it the miracle which binds the people of God together in love. It’s a wonderful thing for an Enoch to stand out in his generation, for John the Baptist to give a wonderful demonstration of a holy life; but how the universe will thrill with joy, and with appreciation of the character of God when the entire church shall fully reflect the image of Jesus, and shall be in complete union with God and with one another.
This is not a dream. This is a vision. The vision that, by God’s grace, is on the hearts of God’s Messengers of Light. Yet, thank God, we are not dependent upon mere human wishes and desires. The great Head of the church poured out His heart to God in this intercessory prayer, pleading for the unity of His church. Will that prayer be answered? Indeed. Will that vision be fulfilled? Indeed. It must. What did we read in Isaiah? “Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times the things that are not yet done saying, my counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” This is why things have been delayed; the church is not yet in that condition. You agree with me that it’s not yet in that condition, do you not? The question is, will it be done? Indeed it will. The honor of the throne of God is at stake. The promises of God must be fulfilled. Will you unite in this finishing work?
*This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.