02 Probation’s Imminent Conclusion and the King of the North

By John Thiel, Preparation for the Close of Probation Conference, Study 2, Audio: mp3

Probation is a time that is given us to gain a fitness for heaven. It is the period of time in which the gospel, through the work of justification, puts us in a position where, through the wonderful revelation of God’s character to us, we may pick up on the process and also receive the power to change our character, and to sanctify us. It is the period of the sowing and the growing of the crop according to the parable that Jesus gave us until the people like the grain are ready to be placed into the heavenly garner.

Our focus has been to understand the importance of developing a character and reaching a condition as it is described in the Bible. Let us find in the Bible the condition that we must be in when probation is concluded.

Hebrews 12:12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. 14 Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

In our preparation we may become weary. That is why it says, Lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees. The path that we are to walk is a path that needs application for diligence; it is called a straight path. “Make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way.” What then must we have as we walk along this path of preparation? “Follow peace with all men, and holiness.” Peace with all men, and, holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Here it is. Holiness is needed, and we need to prepare ourselves for the closing of the time of probation by gaining holiness. For without that holiness probation closes, and we will not be fit to meet the Lord.

It is wonderful that through justification we have a title to heaven. What is the title?

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

Holiness without which we cannot see God; a purity that is like His. These are the character states that we have to gain in preparation for the close of probation. If we are going to reach that state, it is the work of God in us. In other words, we need to have such a deep relationship with God that we can reach that position.

Jude 1:24 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,

Probation has been given us so that we can develop this condition, the condition of holiness, of purity as He is pure, of faultlessness, of not falling anymore.

How close is the close of probation? This is the subject of our meditation. The announcement that this probationary time is to close, is found in Revelation 22, where the language of what we have just been reading in Hebrews, that we are to gain a holiness without which no man shall see God, can be found again. This declaration tells us that there is a point which is reached:

Revelation 22:11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. 12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward [is] with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

Before Jesus comes there is a point where there is a declaration made, He that is holy, let him be holy still. There is a moment in time when a people have reached a point of no return. It is a declaration that is made when Jesus sees, That is it, nobody is going to change anymore. When probation closes, there will be no more change. The position that we have to reach if we want to be there for Jesus to come and take us home, is that we have reached a point where He can say, He that is righteous – he has been made righteous, God has been working with him, they have been working together with him, and now he is righteous, and – he remains that way. He is holy, and he remains that way. Jesus refers to this particular time of conclusion of the time of probation in the following scripture, where He actually lays it upon the heart of the believer that he needs to be occupied in a certain way so that that point in time does not leave him on the wrong side.

Matthew 24:37 But as the days of Noe [were], so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

In Revelation (22:11) the declaration is made, and then He says, Behold, I come quickly. The reference here is directly relevant to that. As in the days of Noah, there came a point in time, before the flood came, that the people’s destiny was sealed, when the door of the ark was closed. There was no rain yet. When probation closes, Jesus hasn’t yet come physically.

Matthew 24:40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two [women shall be] grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Many people read this to be the rapture, where suddenly they will disappear. No, we will still be on earth, but one will be in, and the other one will be out. Therefore Jesus warns that there is something we must do so that when probation closes, we will not be found out.

Matthew 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

This is a very powerful warning for people of our position today, because we want to know how imminent this is. We are to know; we are to watch so that this moment of the close of probation does not take us by surprise and we are found out, like the people were found out of the ark.

In chapter 25 Jesus is directly making reference to the shut door for the people living at such a time. It is the parable of the ten virgins, where the five wise virgins were watching, and they were not caught unawares, whereas the other ones were.

Matthew 25:10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. … 13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

Probation represents the coming of the Lord, that there is no more change, and He may as well have appeared because the people that were on the wrong side are going to be on the wrong side anyway at His physical appearance. The people who were inside would stay inside anyway The Spirit of Prophecy makes it abundantly clear that what Jesus is referring to when He says to watch that it does not take us by surprise, is directly in reference to Jesus finishing His work in the sanctuary and to the closing of probation.

Jesus has left us word: “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the Master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” We are waiting and watching for the return of the Master, who is to bring the morning, lest coming suddenly He find us sleeping. What time is here referred to? Not to the revelation of Christ in the clouds of heaven to find a people asleep. No; but to His return from His ministration in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, when He lays off His priestly attire and clothes Himself with garments of vengeance, and when the mandate goes forth: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” {2T 190.1}

This is what Jesus is referring to. We are to watch to identify when that will happen. Nobody knows the day or the hour, but we are to watch for it to happen. We are not talking about a day or an hour of the close of probation; we are trying to find scriptural guidance as to when we will be observing the closing of that time. That is why our conference and this subject are of such vital importance. We can actually be alert, and not asleep; we can be the wise virgins, so that when the door shuts we will be in, and not left out like the foolish. We are to watch so that that moment does not take us by surprise. Jesus gave the parallel of Noah’s example to our time. Let us see in the Spirit of Prophecy what we are to learn from Noah and the people of that time:

Noah’s day

A multitude at first apparently received the warning of Noah, yet did not fully turn to God with true repentance. {1SP 71.2}

They heeded what Noah was preaching, just like so many Adventists had accepted the message and were heeding it, but they did not fully turn to God with true repentance.

There was some time given them before the flood was to come, in which they were to be placed upon probation–to be proved and tried. {1SP 71.2}

When Noah started preaching there was a time of probation given to the entire antediluvian people – a time of probation, like it is given to us now.

They failed to endure the trial. The prevailing degeneracy overcame them, and they finally joined others who were corrupt, in deriding and scoffing at faithful Noah. They would not leave off their sins, but continued in polygamy, and in the indulgence of their corrupt passions. {1SP 71.2}

The period of their probation was drawing near its close. {1SP 71.3}

Is our probation drawing to its close? Can you see the parallel?

The unbelieving, scoffing inhabitants of the world were to have a special sign of God’s divine power. Noah had faithfully followed the instructions God had given to him. The ark was finished exactly as God had directed. He had laid in store immense quantities of food for man and beast. {1SP 71.3}

Probation was to close and there was perfect preparation made by him. The ark was finished.

And after this was accomplished, God commanded the faithful Noah, “Come thou, and all thy house, into the ark, for thee have I seen righteous before me.” Angels were sent to collect from the forest and field the beasts which God had created. Angels went before these animals and they followed, two and two, male and female, and clean beasts by sevens. These beasts, from the most ferocious, down to the most gentle and harmless, peacefully and solemnly marched into the ark. The sky seemed clouded with birds of every description. They came flying to the ark, two and two, male and female, and the clean birds by sevens. The world looked on with wonder–some with fear, but they had become so hardened by rebellion that this most signal manifestation of God’s power had but a momentary influence upon them. For seven days these animals were coming into the ark, {1SP 71.3}

It wasn’t just one day.

For seven days these animals were coming into the ark, and Noah was arranging them in the places prepared for them. {1SP 71.3}

There was a sign. As these animals were coming in, the people had a sign by which they could recognise that, It is happening, we better go in. But probation hadn’t yet closed. It was the last-minute preparation. By the sign they could have prepared, but no. They had become so hardened that they were only affected for a moment. We have situations today where people are affected by the powerful message. I have seen it happening, they were in tears, they were responding at heart, and then, because there was such an amount of false understanding, they just drifted away again. We have that same picture here as a parallel warning. We are going to continue to study, and we will recognise that for us there are obvious indicators, just like they had.

Everything was now ready for the closing of the ark, which could not have been done by Noah from within. {1SP 72.2}

Probation can’t be closed by any human being.

An angel is seen by the scoffing multitude descending from Heaven, clothed with brightness like the lightning. He closes that massive outer door, and then takes his course upward to Heaven again. Seven days were the family of Noah in the ark before the rain began to descend upon the earth. In this time they were arranging for their long stay while the waters should be upon the earth. And these were days of blasphemous merriment by the unbelieving multitude. They thought because the prophecy of Noah was not fulfilled immediately after he entered the ark, that he was deceived, and that it was impossible that the world could be destroyed by a flood. Previous to this there had been no rain upon the earth. A mist had risen from the waters, which God caused to descend at night like dew, reviving vegetation and causing it to flourish. {1SP 72.2}

What were the events? The animals were coming in for seven whole days. When they were in, before the door was shut, Noah was inviting people, Come; but they were scoffing. What happens today? People say, No, no, there are still lots of things to happen yet. Don’t they say that? There are still futuristic ideas, when this message of probation for the last generation has been going on for years. How imminent is it for us? Can we, like the antediluvians, be alerted by certain things that are written in God’s word that would show us the imminence of the close of probation today?

The warning that Jesus gave was in reference to Him finishing His work in the sanctuary above, and in the following scripture we see the work of Jesus being concluded.

Daniel 12:1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation [even] to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

This gives us a hint to the time when Jesus will stand up and say, He that is holy, let him be holy still. Christ’s conclusion in the sanctuary and the commencement of the plagues are here written in that verse. Notice what kind of a warning is here given in chapter 12. Gabriel is talking to Daniel, after having given him the vision.

Daniel 12:9 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words [are] closed up and sealed till the time of the end. 10 Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.

As Jesus finishes His work there is something for the wise virgins to understand while the wicked will continue to do wickedly and will not understand. The wise are going to be purified, and made white, and tried, before that close of probation.

Daniel 12:3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

The wise virgins will shine in being prepared, in repenting of their sins, so that their character is being purified from those sins. It is for this period of time that the book of Daniel was written for us to understand. It was written for those that would be watching the events, just like Noah and the faithful of that time were watching the events and knew that, Now it is time, let us prepare ourselves for the last few days before that door shuts.

At that time shall Michael stand up – at what time? Where is the indicator of when He shall stand? In verse 40 of Daniel 11, it mentions the time of the end:

Daniel 11:40 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.

Here is a direct reference to the time of the end. When does the time of the end commence? 1798 and 1844. In 1844 Jesus went into the most holy place. There was the commencement of the final period of probation, of a time when the people needed to be the wise virgins. The Spirit of Prophecy says that the story of the ten virgins commenced in 1844. In this time the king of the north and the king of the south – that is, respectively, the territories of the Turkey area and of Egypt, which was the story of Daniel 11 – these territories are going to be the scene. What shall the king of the north do?

Daniel 11:45 And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. 12:1 And at that time shall Michael stand up,

Are we getting an indication here, if we are watching? If we are watching we know who the king of the north is. When he plants the tabernacles of his palace, the seat of his government, in the glorious holy mountain; when he puts it there in Jerusalem, then we know that is the time when probation closes. That is the time when Michael shall stand up, and Jesus says, Watch, so this won’t catch you by surprise. As it was in the days of Noah, the preparation can be seen if you are following carefully, and you can know exactly how little time you’ve got left to get into the company of the righteous, by applying the beauty of the gospel.

We want to read something from the pioneers which leaves us without any confusion on the matter, because the pioneers understood what we need to understand at this time:

The time will come when he will remove from Constantinople, and take up his abode in Palestine; that is, plant his tabernacle between the Mediterranean and Red Seas. Even the Turks themselves are looking forward to the time when they will have to remove their capital from Constantinople to Jerusalem. {Stephen N. Haskell, Prophetic Waymarks, p. 416}

That is what the pioneers understood.

A definite time is introduced in this verse [Daniel 12:1], not a time revealed in names or figures which specify any particular year or month or day, but a time made definite by the occurrence of a certain event with which it stands connected. “At that time.” What time? – The time to which we are brought by the closing verse of the preceding chapter, – the time when the king of the north shall plant the tabernacles of his palace in the glorious holy mountain; or, in other words, when the Turk, driven from Europe, shall hastily make Jerusalem his temporary seat of government. …. And when this event takes place, he is to come to his end; … This movement on the part of Turkey is the signal for the standing up of Michael; that is, it marks this event as next in order. {Uriah Smith, Daniel and the Revelation (1897), 319.2}

Here we have some events that we can be watching and which are a fulfilment of God’s revelation that the end of probation is about to take place. How imminently is this probation coming to its conclusion? Turkey was where the Caliphate existed, the ruling power of the Ottoman Empire, of the whole Muslim world. If you examine the internet under the word Caliphate, you can see that the Caliphate was relinquished in Turkey over a hundred years ago. The Islamic people have been bleeding under that loss of the Caliphate for all this time, and they are really looking forward to transfer the Caliphate.

Here are some comments by Moshe Sharon, an expert in Middle-East events. In talking about the Caliphate, he says:

It’s all part of an offensive move by forces that have different names — ISIS, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade, what have you. … And why is it happening now? In part, it’s happening because they believe the time for the caliphate has come. … Jerusalem is the prize, and the world domination their goal. … There’s going to be unity among Muslims. There’s going to be a world power that could not be matched by anything.” {Moshe Sharon, CBN News, Caliphate: Islamic World’s ‘Dream Come True’}

This is the aim of the Muslim world. There are a lot of Muslims that are against it, but more and more are realising that this is their opportunity, the time has come, and Jerusalem is the prize. The Muslim Brotherhood have actually expressed it when they were blowing their trumpet, as it were; they said, We are going to establish the caliphate in Jerusalem.

While we do not know when that will be, in regards to a particular time, or place, their Caliphate is truly something we are watching. How much more time are we going to have until they establish their Caliphate in Jerusalem? We don’t know, but we can see the signs. And when the event takes place, Jesus stands up. Can we recognise that the close of probation is truly at the door?

We are living in the closing scenes of this earth’s history. Prophecy is fast fulfilling. The hours of probation are fast passing. We have no time–not a moment–to lose. Let us not be found sleeping on guard. Let no one say in his heart or by his works: “My Lord delayeth his coming” (Matthew 24:48). Let the message of Christ’s soon return sound forth in earnest words of warning. . . . {AG 354.3}

The Lord is soon to come, and we must be prepared to meet Him in peace. {AG 354.4}

How fitting is it for us living in these moments of earth’s history? We are to prepare because the hours of probation are fast passing. We have not time, we haven’t got a moment to lose. We need to understand very clearly what we are going to be studying for the rest of this conference. This is why it was imperative that we cover this material at this time, because we can see the events of the Middle-East telling us that, just like with the antediluvians, the door is very soon to be closed. We need to be watching diligently its approach and couple with diligence to be found holy at that time.

2 Peter 3:14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

This is what we must be diligent about. This work has to do with us seeking God with all our hearts so that He may be found of us; and we will find Him, He has promised that. This is our diligent need.

1 Peter 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

We have a very practical message. This is not just a sort of open-ended picture of just watching. Watch for what? What are we to watch for? We are to watch the events, pray earnestly, be sober and concentrate our whole mental, spiritual fibre on being in tune with our Creator so that we might be found of Him in peace, in holiness, and that we may be in purity as He is pure.

This is our need – prayer and watching thereunto, and seeing the events, knowing that there is indeed not enough time left to develop a character over a lifetime. This is our further study; we want to appreciate the kind of activity that we need to engage in in these last moments so that we may be the wise virgin  who may be mocked by others because the others are still saying, “No, no, there is still the latter rain to come yet; there is still the outpouring of the latter rain and the loud cry,” and yet there are these events taking place that are not going to give enough time for that.

It is already happening. The very last call is where Noah was there at the door of the ark, saying, Come in. Yes, there is going to be a call when God’s people will be in the courts saying, Get out of there, come into the ark before probation closes entirely. But this needs to be understood, this needs to be proclaimed so that we will not be caught by surprise.

May God give us His Holy Spirit to not only see and be enlightened by this, but to be quickened by it.

Amen.

Posted on June 20, 2015, in Preparation for the Close of Probation and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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