Thoughts on the Sabbath School lesson for 9.1.12
I have a theory that the followers of God have always had a job to do – a mission to accomplish – and, following my tendency to oversimplify things, I have concluded that we can narrow all the possibilities down to three specific tasks.
From my perspective, the way the Bible tells God’s story fits pretty neatly into this framework.
The first role I believe God wants us to fill is that of Companion. God created us to be His friends and companions. In Eden, before sin, God spent time every day with Adam and Eve and they learned about Him. In the same way, Jesus and His disciples lived and worked together for three and a half years, while He was here on earth. And, I believe Jesus calls us to spend that same kind of daily and prolonged time with Him.
The second role I believe we are called to is to be a Warrior. By that I mean someone whose task is to expand and protect God’s territory. In Old Testament times, that was a much more physical task – David and other warriors of that time literally fought wars and battles to guard the edges of God’s territory. In the book of Acts we see the apostles and the early Christian church fighting the same battle with the help of the Holy Spirit. The war they fought may not have looked much like the ones David fought, but the result was just as deadly for some of God’s warriors.
I believe that we’re also called to be warriors for God – expanding the spiritual territory of God and defending His truth. Warrior is not a job for cowards, and it can’t be done correctly without first having spent considerable time as God’s companion and friend.
The third role I believe that God asks us to fill is the role of Prophet. By that I mean someone who point people to the coming of Jesus. The Old Testament prophets spent their time pointing the Jews to the coming of the Messiah. Almost all of the New Testament writings point to the Second Coming of Jesus. And for those of us living right now, we have to keep encouraging our brothers and sisters in Jesus to hang on until Jesus comes.
I don’t mean to say that these three jobs are separate and distinct. In actual practice, we need to do all three jobs all the time. They should overlap and intertwine with everything we do in our everyday lives.
I believe that maintaining the roles of Companion, Warrior and Prophet as we go about our daily lives will help us stay focused and ready for the final events that lead to Jesus’ Second Coming.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians to urge them to not let their readiness slip.
“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” I Thessalonians 5:1-11
It is really difficult to maintain the appropriate level of readiness. It is so easy to “sleep” as Paul says when we should “watch and be sober.” It’d be a whole lot easier if we just had a date, wouldn’t it? Then we could make sure we were ready, right?
“The times and the seasons God has put in His own power. And why has not God given us this knowledge? Because we would not make a right use of it if He did. A condition of things would result from this knowledge among our people that would greatly retard the work of God in preparing a people to stand in the great day that is to come. We are not to live upon time excitement. We are not to be engrossed with speculations in regard to the times and the seasons which God has not revealed. Jesus has told His disciples to ‘watch,’ but not for a definite time. His followers are to be in the position of those who are listening for the orders of their Captain; they are to watch, wait, pray, and work, as they approach the time for the coming of the Lord; but no one will be able to predict just when that time will come; for ‘of that day and hour knoweth no man.’ You will not be able to say that He will come in one, two, or five years, neither are you to put off His coming by stating that it may not be for ten or twenty years.” (E.G. White, The Review and Herald, March 22, 1892)
I think the key to being ready is to keep working! We have to maintain our relationship with Jesus by spending time with Him as His companion. We have to let ourselves be led by the Holy Spirit to tell others about Jesus – expand God’s spiritual territory as a Warrior. And we have to point others to and help them be ready for Jesus’ Second Coming as a Prophet. If we do all those things, we won’t have time to get complacent.
You probably know the story of The Great Disappointment and William Miller who thought he’d figured out when Jesus was coming. When the date he had set came and went without Jesus return, many of us might have given up on God. Many of us might have moved away and become a recluse. William Miller didn’t do either of those things. He kept studying and believing that even though he didn’t understand, God was in control of the situation.
“After the passing of Oct. 22, 1844 - a date that Miller did not set, but accepted at the last moment - Miller wrote to Joshua Himes: ‘Although I have been twice disappointed, I am not yet cast down or discouraged….My hope in the coming of Christ is as strong as ever. I have done only what after years of sober consideration I felt to be my solemn duty to do….I have fixed my mind upon another time, and here I mean to stand until God gives me more light. - And that is Today, TODAY, and TODAY, until He comes, and I see HIM for whom my soul yearns’ (letter, Nov. 10, 1844, in The Midnight Cry, Dec. 5, 1844, pp. 179, 180).”