The Trials of the 144,000
By M. L. Andreason
Job was a good man. God trusted him. Day by day he offered sacrifices for his sons. “It may be that my sons have sinned,” he said. Job. 1:4 He was prosperous and enjoyed the blessing of God. Then came “a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.” Verse 6. A conversation is recorded between the Lord and Satan that concerned Job. The Lord says that job is a good man, which Satan does not deny, but urges that job is God-fearing merely because it pays him to be so. He states that if God will take away His mercies, Job will curse God.
The statement is in the form of a challenge, and God accepts it. Satan is given permission to take away Job’s property and otherwise to cause him sorrow, but not to touch Job himself, Satan immediately proceeds to do what he is permitted to do. Job’s property is all swept away, and his children are killed. When this happened, “Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshiped, and said, Naked came 1 out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither.
The Lord gave, and the Lord bath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” Job 1:20-22.
Satan is defeated, but he makes another attempt. At the next meeting with the Lord, without admitting defeat, he claims that he had not been permitted to touch Job himself. If he had, he claims, Job would have sinned. The statement is again a challenge, and God accepts it. Satan is given permission to torment job but not to take his life. He immediately departs on his mission.
All that the evil one can do, Satan does to Job. But job stands fast. His wife counsels him to give up, but he does not waver. Under intense physical pain and mental anguish he remains steadfast. Again it is recorded that job stood the test. “In all this did not Job sin with his lips.” Job 2:10. Satan is defeated and does not appear any more in the book.
In the succeeding chapters in the book of Job we are given a little insight into the struggle going on in Job’s mind. He is greatly perplexed. Why has all this calamity come upon Him? He is not conscious of any sin. Why, then, should God afflict him? He, of course, does not know of the challenge of Satan. Neither does he know that God is depending upon him in the crisis through which he is passing. All he knows is that out of a clear sky disaster has come upon him till he is left without family or property, and with a loathsome disease that nearly overwhelms him. He does not understand, but he retains his integrity and faith in God. This God knew he would do. This Satan said he would not do. In the challenge God won.
Humanly speaking, Job had not deserved the punishment that came to him. God Himself says it was without cause. “Thou moved Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” Job 2:1 The whole experiment can therefore be justified only by considering it as a specific test devised for a specific purpose.
God wanted to silence Satan’s charge that job served God only for profit. He wanted to demonstrate that there was at least one man whom Satan could not control. Job suffered as a result of it, but there seemed to be no other way. A reward was afterward given him.
Job’s case is recorded for a purpose. While we grant its historicity, we believe that it has also a wider meaning. God’s people in the last days will pass through an experience similar to Job’s. They will be tested as he was; they will have every earthly stay removed; Satan will be given permission to torment them. In addition to this the Spirit of God will be withdrawn from the earth, and the protection of earthly governments removed. God’s people will be left alone to battle with the powers of darkness. They will be perplexed, as was Job. But they, as did he, will hold fast their integrity.
In the last generation God will stand vindicated. In the remnant Satan will meet his defeat. The charge that the law cannot be kept will be met and fully refuted. God will produce not only one or two who keep His commandments, but a whole group, spoken of as the 144,000. They will reflect the image of God fully. They will have disproved Satan’s accusation against the government of heaven.
God is ready for the challenge. He has bided His time. The supreme exhibition has been reserved until the final contest. Out of the last generation God will select His chosen ones. Not the strong or the mighty, not the honored or the rich, not the wise or the learned, but common, ordinary people will God take, and through and by them make His demonstration. Satan has claimed that those who in the past have served God have done so from mercenary motives, that God has pampered them, and that he, Satan, has not had free access to them. If he were given full permission to press his case, they also would be won over.
But he charges that God is afraid to let him do this. “Give me a fair chance,” Satan says, “and 1 will win out.”
And so, to silence forever Satan’s charges; to make it evident that His people are serving Him from motives of loyalty and right without reference to reward; to clear His own name and character of the charges of injustice and arbitrariness. And to show to angels and men that His law can be kept by the weakest of men under the most discouraging and most untoward circumstances, God permits Satan in the last generation to try His people to the utmost. They will be threatened, tortured, persecuted. They will stand face to face with death in the issuance of the decree to worship the beast and his image. (Revelation 13:15) But they will not yield. They are willing to die rather than to sin.
God removes His Spirit from the earth. Satan will have a greater measure of control than he has ever had before. True, he may not kill God’s people, but that seems to be the only limitation. And he uses every permission he has. He knows what is at stake. It is now or never.
God, to make the demonstration complete, does one more thing. He hides Himself. The sanctuary in heaven is closed. The saints cry to God day and night for deliverance, but He appears not to hear. God’s chosen ones are passing through Gethsemane. They are having a little taste of Christ’s experience those three hours on the cross. Seemingly they must fight their battles alone. They must live in the sight of a holy God without an intercessor.
But though Christ has finished His intercession, the saints are still the object of God’s love and care. Holy angels watch over them. God provides them shelter from their enemies; He provides them with food, shields them from destruction, and supplies grace and power for holy living. (See Psalms 91) Yet they are still in the world, still tempted, afflicted, tormented.
Will they stand the test? To human eyes it seems impossible. If only God would come to their rescue, all would be well. They are determined to resist the evil one. If need be they will die, but they will not sin. Satan has no power-and never has had-to make any man sin. He can tempt, he can seduce, he can threaten; but he cannot compel. And now God demonstrates through the weakest of the weak that there is no excuse, and never has been any, for sinning. If men in the last generation can successfully repel Satan’s attack; if they can do this with all the odds against them and the sanctuary closed, what excuse is there for men’s ever sinning?
The 144,000 In the last generation God gives the final demonstration that men can keep the law of God and that they can live without sinning. God leaves nothing undone to make the demonstration complete. The only limitation put upon Satan is that he may not kill the saints of God.. He may tempt them, he may harass and threaten them; and he does his best. But he fails. He cannot make them sin. They stand the test, and God puts His seal upon them.
Through the last generation of saints God stands finally vindicated. Through them He defeats Satan and wins His case.. They form a vital part of the plan of God. They go through terrific struggles; they battle with unseen powers in high places. But they have put their trust in the Most High, and they will not be ashamed. They have suffered hunger and thirst, but now “they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
Revelation 7:16, 17. They “follow the Lamb whither so ever He goes.” Revelation 14:4. When at last the doors of the temple shall swing open, a voice will sound forth: “Only the 144,000 enter this place.” – Early Writings, page 19. By faith they have followed the Lamb here. They have gone with Him into the holy place; they have followed Him into the most holy. And in the hereafter only those who have thus followed Him here will follow Him there. They will be kings and priests. They will follow Him into the most holy, where only the High Priest can ever enter. They will stand in the unveiled presence of God. They shall follow Him “whither so ever He goes.” They will not only be “before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in
His temple,” but they will sit with Him in His throne, even as He also overcame, and is set down with His Father in His throne. (Revelation 7:15; 3:21.)
The matter of greatest importance in the universe is not the salvation of men, important as that may seem. The most important thing is the clearing of God’s name from the false accusations made by Satan. The controversy is drawing to a close. God is preparing His people for the last great conflict. Satan is also getting ready. The issue is before us and will be decided in the lives of God’s people. God is depending upon us as He did upon job. Is His confidence well placed?
It is a wonderful privilege vouchsafed this people to help clear God’s name by our testimony. It is wonderful that we are permitted to testify for Him. It must never be forgotten, however, that this testimony is a testimony of life, not merely of words. “In Him was life. And the life was the light of men.” John 1:11.
“The life was the light.” It was so with Christ, it must also be so with us. Our life should be a light, as His life was. To give people the light is more than to hand them a tract. Our life is the light. As we live, we give light to others, Without life, without our living the light, our words abide alone. But as our life becomes light, our words become effective. It is our life that must testify for God. May the church of God appreciate the exalted privilege given here “You are My witnesses, said the Lord.” Isaiah 43: 10. There must be “no strange god among you: therefore you are My witnesses, said the Lord, that I am God.” Verse 12. May we be witnesses indeed, testifying what God has done for us!
All this is closely connected with the work of the Day of Atonement. On that day the people of Israel, having confessed their sins, were completely cleansed. They had already been forgiven; now sin was separated from them. They were holy and without blame. The camp of Israel was clean.
We are now living in the great antitypical day of the cleansing of the sanctuary. Every sin must be confessed and by faith be sent beforehand to judgment. As the high priest enters into the most holy, so God’s people now are to stand face to face with God. They must know that every sin is confessed, that no stain of evil remains. The cleansing of the sanctuary in heaven is dependent upon the cleansing of God’s people on earth. How important, then, that God’s people be holy and without blame! In them every sin must be burned out, so that they will be able to stand in the sight of a holy God and live with the devouring fire.
“Hear, you that are far off, what I have done; and, you that are near, acknowledge My might. The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walks righteously, and speaking uprightly. He that despises the gain of oppressions, that shakes his hands from holding of bribes, that stops his ears from hearing of blood, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil; he shall dwell on high. His place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.” Isaiah 33:13-16.
M. L. ANDREASON, THE SANCTUARY SERVICE