Three Angels' Messages Part 12

            Thanks again for being part of our study of the Three Angels’ Messages, God’s last warning call to Planet Earth! Last time we saw that these messages are particularly targeted toward those who are “earth dwellers,” meaning that they have the perspective that this life is all there is. This is in direct contrast to what the Holy Bible teaches us, that this life is temporary, just a training ground for the life to come, and therefore we are “pilgrims,” “strangers,” “sojourners,” and “aliens.” We are followers of Jesus Christ, Who said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”
Paul spoke to this way of thinking when he said, “But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away.” I Corinthians 7:29-31. We, as pilgrims on this earth are to live here as though this is not our permanent home. Don’t be an earth-dweller!
            An interesting illustration of this frame of mind is seen in the construction of the wilderness tabernacle, made up of gold-clad boards covered by a series of curtains. The first curtain, which was the one seen when the priest entered its chambers, was made of “fine linen thread, and blue and purple and scarlet yarn; with artistic designs of cherubim.” Exodus 26:1. There were actually 10 of these curtains made, and they were coupled together with gold clasps to make them “one.” Now here’s the interesting part. Verse 2 says, “The length of each curtain shall be twenty-eight cubits.” Let’s do a little computation. The height of the walls of the tabernacle was 10 cubits, as was its width. That would mean that a curtain that would cover the entire sides and ceiling would need to be 30 cubits in length. Very intentionally, this inner curtain was not that long. It was 28 cubits, make it come to a point one cubit above the ground on the sides. The outer curtains were indeed 30 cubits in length, and therefore reached to the ground. But not the first, or inner one!
            What was the message of this design? Or, was it just arbitrarily built that way? Certainly not! Everything in that structure had meaning and purpose. What was the meaning and purpose of that first curtain being shorter? The tabernacle was given to teach us about Christ. He was the One Who “tabernacled” among us. John 1:14. This part of it was to convey the idea that in His inner being He was “not of this world.” Yes, on the “outside” He lived here as a human being and in a literal sense His feet touched the ground. But in His inner Self, He was the One Who came from above.
            This same Paul used a verbal image that is worth noting, describing the reality of what is now the unseen world and how it will completely take over and envelope the present visible existence. Quoting from the Old Testament, he said that when Jesus comes, “then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’” I Corinthians 15:54. In his second letter to the Corinthians he made use of the same imagery when he penned, “For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.” II Corinthians 5:4. When something is “swallowed up” it means that it is consumed and totally disappears.
            When Moses went to Egypt to deliver God’s people, as a sign he threw down his rod and it became a serpent. Pharaoh’s magicians “did likewise,” but the rod/serpent of Moses swallowed up the rod/serpents of the magicians. They were no more. They were gone. So it will be with the present mortal, visible life when Jesus comes. The eternal reality of Christ’s coming will “swallow up” the current existence and it will be no more. Instead of concentrating on the “here and now,” which according to Scripture will soon pass away and will be swallowed up, we should be focusing our minds on the “then and there.” Do our conversations and “table talk” reveal that our minds are trained on what is soon to happen? Are we walking along in life like the lady we talked about last time, texting in the mall, oblivious to what is just ahead? Is it considered a strange thing to talk about Jesus’ coming and life as we know it coming to an end? Don’t be an earth-dweller!
            Here’s a question for you to consider. Is your name Gershom? You may wish to reconsider your answer when you read the following text, which tells about Moses who had fled from Egypt and married Zipporah, the daughter of the priest of Midian. “And she bore him a son, and he called his name Gershom; for he said, ‘I have been a stranger in a foreign land.’” Exodus 2:22. What an appropriate name for a Christian! Do you know that you are a “stranger in a foreign land”? Is your name Gershom? Paul counseled us, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2.
            The Lord brought His children from Egypt and set their feet in a path toward Canaan. Between Egypt and Canaan was the wilderness, in which they wandered as sojourners. “Egypt” represents the land of bondage, the life of sin in which we as Christians lived before the light of the Gospel broke through the chains of darkness. “Canaan” represents that future home, our permanent abode in the heavens. Between these two we, like Israel of old, find ourselves as sojourners in the wilderness of this earth; renouncing the slavery of Egypt, but not yet in the land of promise.
            The children of Israel, as they left Egypt made their first encampment at a place called Succoth. “Then the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth.” Exodus 12:37. The place was given its name by Jacob, who “journeyed to Succoth, built himself a house, and made booths for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth.” Genesis 33:17. When Israel left Egypt and began their sojourn to the land of promise, it was both fitting and also prophetic that their first encampment would be in Succoth, the “place of booths.” They would spend the next four decades as wanderers, living in temporary abodes.
            Throughout the next 15 centuries this experience would be commemorated each fall as the Israelites would celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. After they entered Canaan and settled into life in the Promised Land, they would still spend one week of each year, in the autumn, being reminded of this part of their history. As the years rolled by, children of Israel, scattered into distant lands by the Diaspora, would assemble in Jerusalem and for that week live in tents, cottages or make-shift booths. Those whose homes were in the City of Zion would participate by pitching a tent in their courtyard, or erecting a booth on their rooftop. Thus they would keep fresh in their minds the lessons of the past.
            But was it just to be reminded of the past; to recall the two-score years of desert pilgrimage? Or, was it also to preserve the attitude that this world, even if you reside in Canaan, even if your home is in Jerusalem, is only a temporary place. It would be well for us to enter the spirit of the Feast of Tabernacles and share in the pilgrim perspective.
            In the book of Jeremiah there is a colorful image used to illustrate the concept of becoming too comfortable in this life; in being an earth dweller. It comes from the context of grape juice that had been allowed to rest undisturbed, to the point that the dregs had settled at the bottom. For this purpose, the Lord announced to Moab, He would allow the enemy to come in and “shake her up.” “‘Moab has been at ease from his youth; he has settled on his dregs, and has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, nor has he gone into captivity. Therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent has not changed. Therefore behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I shall send him wine-workers who will tip him over and empty his vessels and break the bottles.’” Jeremiah 48:11, 12.
            Back in their day, there were laborers whose job it was to shake or tilt (the KJV has the word “tilters” for “wine-workers”) the vessels so as to prevent settlement. This lesson, of course, applied equally to Israel of old, and to God’s people today. If we become too complacent in this life, the Lord may allow trials to come to “shake” and “sift” us, and remove the attitude that this life is our focus. Don’t regret those trials! They are God’s workers, His “wine-workers” to prevent us from becoming too settled in this life. He doesn’t want us to become earth dwellers!
            I’ve enjoyed growing grapes in the last couple of years. It’s very rewarding to go out in the yard and enjoy freshly picked grapes. It’s even better to squeeze them and make your own home-made grape juice. When pruning the growth this year, I noticed that one of the vines had come off the main trunk quite close to the ground and had actually trailed along the earth for a short distance before climbing back on the fence. Now, a few months later, having laid on the moist ground, guess what I found when I came to trim it back? It had grown roots in the area where it had come into contact with moist soil! I tried to pull it up, but found that it was securely attached to the earth! There was a sermon in what happened there for me. Don’t let your roots extend into the soil of this earth!
            Paul said that He would come as a “thief” to those not expecting Him. Then the apostle said, “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so this Day should overtake you as a thief.” I Thessalonians 5:4. “Here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.” Hebrews 13:14. Be careful not to allow “this world” to become your home! It will soon pass away! You are an heir to a kingdom eternal! You are called to separate from those who “dwell” on this earth!

1 Comment

Jon - May 7th, 2022 at 1:25am

Yes, don’t be an earth-dweller! Instead, you can dwell in heaven, now! I know there are several Bible texts that refer to this, especially in Paul’s writings, but I can’t think of any specifically. I’m sure you can. I’ll search for a few.