Chapter 15

WHY JESUS HAS NOT YET RETURNED

Christ is waiting for only one thing to happen before He can initiate the final events of earth’s history. As soon as the event for which He is waiting occurs, the final acts in this drama of earth will take place, and Christ will come to put an end to the trials of earth forever.

Satan knows that someday he is going to die. Ezekiel 28:18,19 says that he will someday be ashes upon the surface of the earth. “Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.”

Satan knows that he is going to die. Revelation 12:12 tells us that because of this he is furious. “Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” Naturally Satan does not want to die. He, like most of us, would rather live — forever. His time is running out, and he is in a panic trying to figure out how to keep himself alive.

Satan knows why Christ has not yet returned. He realizes that if he can prevent the one thing for which Christ is waiting from happening, he will be able to live. He knows that if he can keep people from realizing exactly why Christ has delayed His return to earth, if he can keep them from understanding the Bible, and if he can keep them from realizing exactly what God expects of them, the event for which Christ is waiting will not happen. Everything that Satan does on the earth, therefore, is designed for only one thing: to keep him alive. By his concentrated barrage of lies and propaganda, through which he deceives the whole world, he attempts to prevent this one event from occurring. To discover what this event is, let us review exactly what God expects of His people.

How high is the standard God wants His people to attain? Is it possible, for instance, after one comes to realize and understand the situation in this world concerning sin, to live a perfect life thereafter? Is it possible for the human being to attain the goal of perfection in this life so that he never again breaks any of God’s laws? Can the human being reach a level of character development where it is impossible for him to commit a sin? Does God expect perfection from His people?

Many will take exception to the thought that it is possible for us to reach the plateau of perfection. But before we hastily rule out this possibility, let us consider some of the many verses of Scripture which discuss this point and see exactly what God does expect of us and whether or not perfection is possible for us to attain.

In Matthew 5:48 Jesus gives us a command: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” This command for us to be perfect just as God is perfect seems like a total impossibility to us, for Satan has instilled in our minds that we can never achieve such perfection. This, you will remember, was one of the accusations Satan made against God and His law in heaven: that it was impossible for anyone to obey His law perfectly.

When Jesus commanded us to be perfect, He was commanding perfect obedience to the Ten Commandments. Would Jesus ask us to do something that we could not possibly do? Of course not. However, man cannot achieve this state of perfection by himself; he needs the grace and power of God in his life if he is to accomplish this.

First of all we must understand from 2 Timothy 3:16,17 that we need the message of the entire Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, in order to be able to reach perfection. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be PERFECT, throughly [thoroughly] furnished unto all good works.” Notice that God gave us the Scriptures so “That the man of God may be perfect.” Thus we see that the entire Bible contains the information and instructions which we need to achieve perfection.

Ephesians 6:11 tells us to “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” The whole armor of God is the whole truth of God contained in the entire Bible. This text indicates that if we have on this armor, we will be able to stand against the wiles of the devil; if we can stand against the wiles of the devil, we will be able to keep from breaking God’s law ever again.

Speaking of the new covenant, which, you will remember, is shown in Jeremiah 31:31-33 and Hebrews 8:10 to be God’s law written in our hearts, Ezekiel 36:26,27 says, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” This is a mighty promise God makes to His true people. He says that He, Himself, will cause them to walk in His statutes. He will be the power in the lives of His true Christians to cause them always to obey the Ten Commandments. Furthermore, He says that His people will, indeed, keep His statutes and His laws. When God promises each of us that He will cause us to walk in His statutes and that we will keep His judgments and do them, how could one of God’s people possibly say that he could never achieve this goal?

God’s causing us to walk in His statutes is somewhat analogous to power steering on a car. Power steering will not turn the wheels until the driver moves the steering wheel slightly. Then the power steering takes over and moves the wheels for him. Likewise, if we want perfection with all our hearts and strive for this goal ourselves, God will take over and do it for us just as He promised.

God promised that He would keep us from breaking His law, and Jude 24 tells us that He has the power to do so. “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. . . .” Since Christ has the power to keep us from falling, to keep us from breaking His law, and since He promised that this is exactly what He will do, what excuse do we have for ever breaking any of the Ten Commandments?

If we do not know that we can stop breaking God’s law, chances are that we never will. Satan, you see, has been working very hard to convince everyone that it is impossible to reach perfection. We must realize that we have all been deceived all our lives on this point. However, in order to reach perfection we must want this more than anything else in our lives.

Over and over again the Bible indicates that God answered the prayers of Christ while He was on earth. Suppose Christ prayed that God would keep His people from evil, from breaking the Ten Commandments. Would God answer a prayer like that? Of course He would. Jesus prayed that exact prayer, as recorded in John 17:15: “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” Christ prayed that His people should remain in the world but that God should keep them from evil. This is exactly what God is doing for His true people.

That God answered this prayer is shown in 2 Thessalonians 3:3: “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.” Evil, of course, is sin, the breaking of any of the Ten Commandments. Since the Lord keeps His true Christians from breaking the law, they can, indeed, live perfect lives if this is what they desire more than anything else.

A very important point is brought out in the following verse. Some may get the mistaken idea that God is simply going to take sin out of our lives, without requiring any effort on our part. This idea is not correct, for the following verse indicates that we are still required to resist the temptations which will come to us. God never says that the task of overcoming sin will not require effort on our parts. In fact, our successful resistance to some temptations will require considerable effort. God does promise to give us the power and the grace which, coupled with our efforts, will make us successful. God also promises in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that He will not allow the devil to tempt us beyond our capacity to resist. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

Since God is not permitting us to be tempted beyond our capacity to resist the temptation, how can we possibly have any excuse for sinning? Since He is not permitting us to be tempted beyond our capacity to resist, how can we say that it is impossible for us to stop breaking the Ten Commandments? We sin, you see, because we have chosen to do so. We sin because we put our desires (lusts) before God. God has done everything to make it possible for us to resist the devil, to overcome sin completely, and then to live perfect lives, but to achieve perfection we must desire it more than life itself.

God again tells us, in 1 Peter 5:10, that He, Himself, will make us perfect. “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, MAKE YOU PERFECT, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” God will indeed do this, but He will never do it against our will.

The key to perfection is that one must desire with all his heart to be perfect and, without wavering, strive for this goal above all others. God will not give us the power to be perfect unless perfection is what we really want. One of the reasons so many fail so miserably to achieve perfection is that they are not ready to go all the way with God. They have some pet habits they know are coming between them and God, but they are not quite ready to give them up. Or they have some things they want to do yet, things they know are not quite right in God’s sight, things they know will take time and means from His work.

We all know how easy it is to do something when asked by someone we love. Indeed, we often take great pleasure in obeying one whom we dearly love. Can our love for God be any different? When our love for God exceeds our love for everyone and everything else, we are pleased to do as He has asked. When we cherish God above everything else, we are pleased to obey His commandments — perfectly.

In Ephesians 4:13,14 we see again that God expects us to be perfect. “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” Notice the meaning of perfect in this text: “Unto a perfect man, unto . . . the stature . . . of Christ.” God, you see, expects us to become as steadfast against sin as was Christ.

Does a truly born-again Christian commit sin? The term “born-again” implies death to our lives of sin. If we have died to sin, will we continue to break God’s law, the Ten Commandments? The Bible definition of a born-again Christian is found in 1 John 5:18. “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” Remember that God is not permitting us to be tempted beyond our capacity to resist. If we sin, it is because we have chosen to do so! If we sin, we have not died to sin and are not born-again.

Thus we have seen many times using many texts that a true born-again Christian will never break any of God’s Ten Commandments. We have seen that God has promised that by His grace and power each true Christian is able to overcome sin fully and then live the remainder of his life without ever again breaking any of God’s Ten Commandments.

The definition of a born-again Christian is also found in 1 John 3:9. This verse not only tells us that we can achieve perfection, but it also says that it is impossible for a true born-again Christian to commit a sin! “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” A true born-again Christian simply does not break God’s Ten Commandments, for it is impossible for him to do so, as we just read! The phrase “his seed remaineth in him” refers to God’s law written on our hearts and in our minds. Do we have the faith to believe this promise of God? Do we have the faith to overcome sin — forever? Is this our desire above even life itself? If so, perfection is not far away.

From the verses which we have just been considering, a definition of the perfection which God requires becomes apparent. God requires that the person reach a point where it would be impossible for him ever to sin again. Even Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before sin entered were not perfect according to this standard, for even though they had never sinned until Satan beguiled the woman, they were capable of sinning. God wants His people to attain such quality of character that they are incapable of breaking His law. He wants His people to reach the point where their characters will not permit them to sin.

With so many texts which indicate that a person can totally overcome sin and live a perfect life, why do so many believe that this is impossible? Why is it so difficult to believe that a Christian can live the remainder of his life without sin? Because of the devil’s propaganda, which has inundated this world. God tells us that He will keep us from falling, and we believe the devil! Perhaps we do so because it is easier on our consciences if we have an excuse, no matter how flimsy, for doing things that we know God would not approve of. It is time that we reject all false doctrine and accept the truth from God, for He will do what He promises. We must have the faith to accept what the Bible says, regardless of how wrong or how difficult it seems to us, and believe that God will, indeed, enable us to overcome sin totally and to live perfect lives if we truly want Him to.

How does God cause us to walk in His statutes? How does God enable us to keep His laws perfectly? By helping us to develop a hatred for sin which rivals His own in intensity. When a person hates sin as much as God does, the option to sin is simply not open to him.

Because God promised that He will enable those of us to keep His law who really want to with all our hearts, 1 John 3:6 makes the statement that “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: Whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.” Here we see that if anyone continues to sin he does not even know the Lord. In fact verse 8 says that “He that committeth sin is of the devil.” A born-again Christian is one who has died to sin and has been born into a new life free from sin. As the apostle Paul says in Romans 6:2, “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” If we are still sinning, we are not born-again. There is no such thing as a born-again Christian who breaks God’s Ten Commandment law.

Not only do they who sin not know the Lord, but 1 John 2:3,4 tells us that those who say they know the Lord and yet break any of the Ten Commandments are liars! “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” Remember again that God is not permitting us to be tempted beyond our capacity to resist. If we sin, it is because we have chosen to do so; and if we choose to do so, we certainly do not know the Lord.

Overcoming sin and living perfect lives is entirely possible, as we have seen. Christians who have overcome sin and have achieved perfection are described in Revelation 14:4,5: “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” They are without fault; they are perfect.

There are other verses in the Bible which mention those who have completely overcome sin and who keep God’s laws perfectly. Revelation 12:17 describes these people: “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” These people are described as keeping the commandments of God. It does not say they keep most of them, or that they keep them sometimes. It says that they keep them — always. Revelation 14:12 also describes these people: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” It is, then, indeed possible to keep God’s law perfectly, for these verses describe the people who do.

Actually, it is only the perfect who will be saved to enjoy the beautiful eternity with God, for God will not take anyone to heaven who would ever break any of His Ten Commandments after he got there, as we see in Proverbs 2:21,22. “The upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.” The perfect shall dwell in the land.

Nahum 1:9 also tells us that no one will ever again break even one of God’s laws after sin and sinners are destroyed. “What do ye imagine against the Lord? he will make an utter end: affliction [sin] shall not rise up the second time.”

Some may be worried at this point about people who have died without having reached perfection. These people will not necessarily be lost. God will save a person if that person lived a proper life based on the truth that he had. This is implied in Acts 17:30: “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” God will probably save people who sincerely strive to obey Him, and who, in the pure society of heaven, would realize that sin is intolerable and immediately abide by the law; but God will never take anyone to heaven who would break any of the Ten Commandments after he got there. We simply do not have the capacity to judge others at this time, and we must rely on the fact that God is totally just and that He will do the right thing. Remember that at the end of the millennium the entire universe votes unanimously that Christ is totally righteous and totally just.

Why does God tell us the same things over and over again in the Bible? We have all lived from childhood literally in a sea of deception from the devil. We have believed the devil’s lies all our lives, and often Bible truth seems impossible to us. We rationalize and philosophize and explain away the verses we will not accept; we become dogmatic and stubborn. “Thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass.” (Isaiah 48:4). We must have complete faith in God that He will not lie to us. We must believe what God tells us in the Bible regardless of what we feel is right. Proverbs 16:25 tells us that “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” God tells us things over and over again hoping that the truth will penetrate our brows of brass.

If God told us something a thousand times, probably most people would still not believe it. As we have seen, He has told us repeatedly to keep the Commandments, yet most do not even believe that the law is applicable today. We have seen that the Lord has told us over and over again that He Himself will make us perfect, yet most refuse to believe it. What must God do to get through to the people of this world?

We sometimes wonder about the severe punishment for sin which was administered in Old Testament times. God severely punished some of the early sinners so that those living afterward would understand that He means exactly what He says. We need to realize that when God tells us something, we can rely upon it. He has told us that He will keep us from sinning and that true, born-again Christians cannot sin. We should search our own hearts to find out why this is so difficult for us to believe.

The parable of the wheat and the tares, found in Matthew 13:24-30, gives us an extremely important clue in our study of why Jesus has not yet returned to gather His faithful people from the earth.

“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”

Here we have a farmer who planted a field of wheat. During the night his enemy came and planted tares. Strangely, the farmer wanted to let the tares grow until the harvest. This is usually not the case in the real world. The farmer would pull up the weeds to allow his crop more room to grow. What does this parable mean? Jesus explains the meaning of this parable in Matthew 13:36-40.

“Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.”

We see that the situation on earth is symbolized in the parable of the wheat and the tares. Christ is allowing both the wicked and the righteous to grow together until the harvest at the end of the world. The tares referred to here are Bearded Darnell grass, which before ripening looks exactly like wheat. If the seeds are eaten, however, they produce violent nausea, convulsions, and sometimes death. Only at the time of ripening is the difference between the Bearded Darnell grass and the wheat apparent, for the Darnell grass turns black and the wheat turns a golden brown.

One reason why Christ wants to allow the wicked to flourish beside the righteous is that if He punished the false Christians before they showed their true colors, He would appear to be unjust, and many would fall away. The righteous would not understand about the false Christians, thinking that their fellow church members who were punished had been true Christians. They would mistake the tares for wheat. Thus, they would be appalled at what they would believe to be the injustice of God. The farmer in the parable did not want to uproot a tare for fear that wheat might be uprooted also. This parable, therefore, reveals the great care with which Christ works for the salvation of everyone. He is “not willing that any should perish.” (2 Peter 3:9).

These false Christians are the subject of Matthew 7:21-23: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” The world thinks that they are true, but God knows differently, and they must be permitted to “ripen” for the harvest at the end of time so that the difference is readily apparent to all.

That Christ is waiting for the harvest is also mentioned in James 5:7: “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.” Here Jesus, the husbandman, is pictured as waiting very patiently for the fruit of the earth to ripen. When the fruit ripens, then follows the harvest, which is described in Revelation 14:14-19.

“And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.”

We see here that the true Christians (the wheat) and the wicked (the tares, or in this last symbolism, the grapes of the earth) both get ripe together. When a person first becomes interested in the message of the Bible, he begins to study. Gradually he understands and applies his newfound knowledge to his life, and some of his sins are forsaken. As he learns more and more and forsakes more and more sin, he grows closer to God and closer to the goal of perfection. This is the process referred to in the Bible when it speaks of Christians ripening for the harvest. The righteous are becoming more and more righteous. Likewise, the wicked in their ripening process are becoming more and more wicked.

Revelation 14:12 describes the end product of this ripening process. “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Here we have people who indeed do keep the commandments of God. They do not just keep some of them, and they do not slip once in a while and sin. Here are they that keep all the commandments all the time. Here are the perfect people. Here are they who have successfully put sin out of their lives. Here are they who have achieved perfection. Here is the ripened wheat for which Christ is waiting.

Will those who achieve perfection realize that they have done so? No, they will not. As they get closer and closer to the goal, they get closer and closer to Christ. They are aware of their past sins and see themselves in comparison with Christ, and none of them will feel that he is perfect.

Christ is patiently waiting for 144,000 of His people to achieve perfection before returning to earth to take them to heaven. Why does He wait for 144,000 people to reach perfection before He will return? When He was on earth He lived a perfect life, showing us that it can be done. Satan, however, complained that Christ could live a perfect life because He was God in heaven, but that men could not achieve this. Another accusation against Christ and His law.

Christ, therefore, must wait until He has 144,000 people whose characters have developed to the point where for them sin is impossible. He can then point to them as proof that his law can be obeyed — perfectly. Then, what can Satan say? Nothing. To the entire universe the 144,000 prove him to be a liar. As soon as the 144,000 perfect people appear, the final events of earth’s history will immediately occur, and the pain and misery of earth will come to an end.

Why the number 144,000? This is the number of people that Christ feels is adequate to prove to the universe that the accusations which Satan made against Him and His law are false. This is the number which Christ feels is required to make Satan, himself, admit that he was wrong.

It is sad that only 144,000 of the vast population of earth will achieve this perfection of character in these last days. The 144,000 are discussed in Revelation 14:1-5: “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” Thus we see that the 144,000 are, indeed, the perfect people, for “they are without fault before the throne of God.”

The phrase “not defiled with women” is often misunderstood. This simply means that the 144,000 perfect people do not defile their characters in the least with the false doctrines and practices of the many false churches. A woman, you will remember, is the symbol of a church in Bible prophecy. These perfect people will have nothing to do with any heathen doctrine. Their religion is the pure Word of God. Notice that the 144,000 are redeemed from among men. They do not die. They are the righteous living when Christ returns.

The 144,000 are again mentioned in Revelation 7:1-4: “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.”

The term “Israel,” which means “ruling with God,” refers to the true Christians in the world today. (Galatians 3:28,29). If God’s true people today are Israel, how, then, can they be from the twelve tribes of the children of Israel? Continuing with Revelation 7:5-8 we see that 12,000 people come from each of the twelve tribes to make up the 144,000.

Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

We can get some insight into the meaning of these different tribes by considering Genesis 49:1-27. These verses describe the last testimony Israel (Jacob) gave to his twelve sons just before his death. Notice that this is a prophecy for the last days, the days in which we are living. “And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob: and hearken unto Israel your father.” Israel then proceeded to describe the character of each of his sons:

Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.

Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their self-will they digged down a wall. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.

Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.

Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.

Issachar is a strong ass couching between two burdens: And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.

Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord.

Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.

Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.

Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.

Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel: Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts and of the womb: The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.

Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.

Thus Israel described the characters of each of his sons. Remember that this was a prophecy for the last days. These twelve personalities represent the twelve character groups of mankind. Therefore, from each of these twelve different character groups will come twelve thousand to make up the 144,000. How perfectly Christ has planned for this drama of earth and for the salvation of mankind! So that there can be no accusations by Satan that one character type had advantages over others, Christ’s perfect people, His 144,000, will come equally from every temperament, indicating that salvation is equally available for everyone in the world. It is totally up to the individual whether he will obey the Lord and be saved or not.

Even heathenism, through astrology, recognizes that there are twelve different character groups into which the human race falls, each under a different sign of the zodiac. Incidentally, God tells us in Jeremiah 10:2 to have nothing to do with astrology. “Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven (signs of the zodiac); for the heathen are dismayed at them.”

The 144,000, of course, will not be the only ones to be saved. After Revelation 7:1-8 describes the 144,000, consisting of twelve thousand from each character type, Revelation 7:9 describes a vast multitude which are also saved. “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.” These are the righteous people of all ages who will be resurrected when Christ returns to enjoy an abundant life in God’s eternity.

Thus we see that before He can return to earth and put an end to sin forever, Christ must wait for His 144,000 perfect people. Therefore, when the Lord will return is really up to us.

Revelation 19:7 also shows most clearly that the Lord is waiting for his people to get themselves ready before He will return to the earth. “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” Second Corinthians 11:2 tells us that His church, His people, are to be presented to Him as His bride. “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” When His true church, His wife, makes herself ready — when 144,000 of her members reach the goal of perfection — the Lord will return to earth.

How long will we keep Him waiting? How many more people will have to suffer and die before we understand that we are keeping Christ from returning? How many more millions of people will be butchered by the communists and the papacy around the world before we realize that Christ is waiting for us? How many more unborn babies will be murdered in the abortion clinics of the world before we realize that Christ is waiting for us to get ready for His return?

We think too much of having fun. Many plan all week long what they are going to do on the weekend to have fun, and as they have their fun, millions suffer. People waste a fourth of their lives in front of television sets absorbing the devil’s lies by the millions, as he prepares this world for the final crisis. Millions sit in front of computers watching the most abominable trash on the internet. Millions play the most violent games on their computers. Entertainment today is watching people break God’s law.

Suppose Christ has 143,999 people and is waiting for one more. Suppose also that the last person will be you. How will you feel to learn of the misery, pain, suffering, and death many people were caused to bear because you were not quite ready, because you wanted to do other things before you surrendered your life fully to Christ, and He had to wait for you?

We have seen that Christ Himself gives us power to be perfect. He has promised that we will never be tempted beyond our ability to resist the temptation. Therefore, there can be no excuse for breaking God’s Ten Commandment law. Christ has done everything necessary for each one of us to be able to reach perfection. There can be no excuse for keeping Christ waiting any longer.

If we sin after we have once understood, it is because we have willingly chosen to serve ourselves instead of our Creator. We have made a conscious choice to break God’s law. Once a person understands God’s word and becomes a true follower of Christ, he will never permit himself to sin, for sin will be as loathsome to him as it is to God. Remember, that 1 John 3:9 tells us that it is impossible for a true born-again Christian to sin.

It is time to realize that God is in earnest. Sin is despicable in His sight, and it is time for His people to understand this. Perfection, you see, is not only possible; it is what God requires.

Often one hears the expression, “We must finish the work so the Lord will return.” There are different ideas as to just what this work is. We have seen that the work which must be done is on the individual, by himself, with the help, the grace, and the power of God, who is able to keep us from falling. Let us get to this work, and, indeed, finish it quickly so that God can end this drama of earth and cleanse the universe of sin forever.

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