Three Angels Messages Part 77

The awesome things foretold by the messages of the three angels are yet to be; but we are not far away from them. The question comes to mind, in view of all these stupendous and tremendous events soon to come to pass, how shall we prepare? What should we be doing now to become ready? What should we be doing now in anticipation of Jesus’ coming? It makes no sense to know the things that are coming if we’re not prepared them. We are now living in the time of “preparation,” a term worthy of our study. We’re going to look at several Bible passages where that term is found. The term “preparation” may be divided into two categories; there is God’s preparation, with which we have nothing to do, and there is man’s preparation, which God will accomplish in us if we surrender and comply.

What is God’s preparation? Before Jesus died He said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3. Jesus committed Himself to an obligation of preparing a place in which the righteous will dwell.

Has that been done? Did He keep His promise? Only a few decades after this, Paul wrote concerning God’s saints, “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:16. What does the tense of the verb tell you? We were told before that Jesus promised to prepare a place and the book of Hebrews tells us that “He has prepared” the city. This tells us that God’s part of the preparation has already been done and has been waiting our occupancy for centuries!

There’s a wonderful parallel to this given in the Old Testament. When God took Israel from Egypt and sent them on the way to Canaan, He told them, “Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.” Exodus 23:20. Through Ezekiel He said that He was leading them to a land of milk and honey “that I had searched out for them.” Ezekiel 20:6. Before they left the land of bondage, God had already scouted out the area to which He would bring them and had “prepared a place” for them. What a wonderful comparison!

In one of the Psalms Asaph testified, “You have brought a vine out of Egypt; You have cast out the nations, and planted it. You prepared room for it, and caused it to take deep root, and it filled the land.” Psalm 80:8, 9. So God had “preparation” work to do, both for the Israel of old as they entered earthly Canaan, and for the Israel of today as we look forward to the heavenly Canaan. It seems that He has completed the preparation long ago!

The other category of “preparation” involves us. We’ll look at three very brief snapshots that focus on “preparation” and illustrate where we are now in time; what our lives should be like in view of what’s coming. What did the prophet Amos say? “Prepare to meet your God.” Amos 4:12. Wise counsel! The three stories we’ll look at concern Noah, Joseph, and Moses and the manna.

First, Noah had a work of preparation to do before the world was destroyed by water. Peter reveals how God waited while the ark was being prepared. I Peter 3:20. Because of man’s wickedness, a flood was coming to wash the world of its filth. Yet, there would be salvation available through the vessel which Noah was commissioned to build. The ark that Noah prepared was God’s “safe box.”

What can we learn from Noah’s work of preparation? We see that specific instruction was given him regarding its design. It’s length, width, height and features were all provided him from above. God told Noah, “This is how you shall prepare it.” Preparation was needed for the coming crisis, and what Noah “prepared” went from one “world” to the next. What are we to prepare? There’s only one thing that we can take to the next “world,” to heaven. What is that? It is our character. Not our bank accounts, not our real estate, not our titles or our looks, things on which the world spends so much of its time. Only our characters will go to heaven. What exactly is our “character”? It is the sum of our thoughts and feelings. Those are the things that make us what we are. We should give much attention, time and effort to this “construction project,” this preparation, in view of the final outcome that it determines.

What is the model in our character building? It is the life of Christ. Here’s the lesson from the first story: Because his “world” was going to end, Noah was given a “pattern” from above when he “prepared” the ark. He didn’t make up the dimensions of the ark in his head. They were given to him by God. We also are given a “Pattern” from above, the life of our dear Lord. He came to pay for our sins as well as to show us how to live. He was our divine Sacrifice and Example. Look to Jesus to find out how to live. Ponder carefully the episodes of His life journey. Not one flaw; not one mistake will you find in that Record. His life is to be our life. “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” I John 2:6.
 
Noah was given the pattern, but he had a part to do. I’m sure he found his share of slivers and raised his share of blisters. He worked. He sweated. He invested all he had in the building project. It wasn’t done in a day, either. It took 120 years, but when he finished, a vessel was constructed which, with the Lord’s guidance and blessing, survived the Deluge. Noah’s job was to “prepare” an ark with God’s help, from the pattern he had received from above. Our job is to build character, through His grace, enabled by the Pattern from above.

Here's a second illustration. We see that Joseph was involved in a work of “preparation.” Though sold by his brothers in Egyptian slavery, because “God was with him,” he eventually became the prime minister of that country. Pharaoh had had dreams, and then it was remembered that Joseph had successfully interpreted the dreams of the king’s butler and baker while they were in prison. Joseph was summoned to hear the king’s dreams. They were both similar; they both “said the same thing.” One dream was of seven fat cows that were eaten by seven skinny cows, who remained skinny after they had eaten the seven fat cows. The other was of seven hearty stalks of grain that were consumed by seven withered stalks of grain.

What did the dreams mean? Joseph, through wisdom given him by God, interpreted the dreams to mean that Egypt would experience seven years of abundant harvests, followed by seven years of extreme famine. Joseph ventured to offer some advice to Egypt’s monarch. Let one be appointed to gather the excesses during the seven years of “plenty,” and store up grain and in this way prepare for the seven years of famine.

It made sense. Pharaoh accepted both the interpretation given by Joseph and the wise counsel. He appointed Joseph to be the one to carry out the gathering and dispensing project, to be the one to “prepare” for the coming famine. Does Genesis 41 speak to us today? Are we now living in a time of “plenty” to be followed by a “famine”? What do the dreams of the corn and cows have to do with us?

We are living in a time of “plenty” now, in the sense that opportunities to learn about God and His truth abound. We have religious liberty, allowing us to study and pray in private or to worship together in public without fear of interference. The Scriptures are available to us in unlimited and unprecedented abundance. You can get the Bible in book or electronic form. You can read it as it is recorded on paper or on an ipad. Now is the “time of plenty,” when we can “store up” knowledge of God’s Word and His truth leading to a relationship with Him of faith, strong enough to withstand the times of “famine” that are coming when religious liberty will be removed.

Here’s what the prophet Amos said. “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘that I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, but shall not find it.’” Amos 8:11, 12. The time will come when the only Bible you will have is what’s committed to your memory. Are you taking advantage of this time of “preparation,” during this time of “plenty”? Do you now appreciate the opportunities to build a relationship of love with your Savior through the study of His word and through prayer?

Thirdly, we’re told more about “preparation” by the story of the giving of the manna during the days when Moses led God’s people from Egypt. A few centuries after Joseph’s day the Israelites were delivered from Egypt’s bondage and found themselves in the wilderness. Before very long their stores of food were exhausted. Immediately they cried out to Moses and complained that he had deliberately led them out into the desert, away from the flesh pots of Egypt to kill them. Exodus 16:3. “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.’” Exodus 16:4, 5.

When the Israelites went out the next morning, they saw something on the ground. “What is it?” they asked. In Hebrew, the way you express the question, “What is it?” is manna. Thus that very question became the name for the miracle bread which sustained them over the next four decades. On the sixth day of each week, on Friday, twice as much manna fell. Because none would fall on the seventh day, God’s holy Sabbath (note that the Sabbath was in existence before the giving of the Law from Mt. Sinai, recorded in Exodus 20), they were given more on Friday. While on other days if they tried to gather and keep manna for the following day it “bred worms,” the manna they gathered on Friday to “prepare” for the Sabbath did not.

Thus the sixth day became known to them as the “day of preparation,” a designation that continued throughout their generations. When Jesus died on the cross, how does the Bible identify the day of His death? “That day (which we call Good Friday) was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew on.” The ladies, fearing that they would run out of time to anoint the body of Christ that very day, “prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.” Luke 23:54, 56.

The New Testament was originally written in Greek. For the sixth day of the week to be called “preparation” in Hebrew would make sense, given the history of the preparation for the Sabbath being part of their heritage, but how do you explain that the word for the sixth day of the week in the Greek language was known as the “preparation” (paraskeve)? Even more fascination, not only was this the word for the sixth day of the week 2,000 years ago, but it has survived as the word for the sixth day of the week in the Greek language to this very day! How did that happen, that the sixth day of the week in Greek is called “preparation”?

Do you know how much a word has to be used in order for it to become imbedded in a language? I can remember the first time I heard the word “google,” meaning to do a search on the internet. Today it's firmly entrenched in our language, but only because of the wide-spread and frequent usage of that term. So how did the word paraskeve, “preparation,” become the word for “Friday” in the Greek language, still retained today 2,000 years after Jesus was here? I wonder if today people ask, “Why is Friday called the day of ‘preparation’? What are we preparing for?” And, “Why is the seventh day called ‘Sabbath’”?

Here’s the lesson for us. We are now in the “wilderness,” aren’t we? The Christian walk has three parts as reflected in the experience of ancient Israel. God has led us from the bondage of sin, represented by Egypt, and we’re on our way to “Canaan,” heaven, but we’re not there yet. We’re now in between those two, in the “wilderness.” We’re in the “sixth day” of the “week” now, so to speak. A “sabbath” of rest is coming, a millennial “sabbath,” but it hasn’t come yet.

God has provided a large measure of “manna” for us now, a double portion. What is the manna? Jesus referred to the Israelites in the wilderness and said, “For the bread of God is He Who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. I am the Bread of life. The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life.” John 6:33, 35, 63. Jesus is the true Manna, and we receive Him today through His Word, the Bible. We are now living in the world’s “sixth day.”  We are now living in the “day of preparation.” Now is when we need to be feeding on the true Manna. Now is when we need to be establishing a relationship with Him based on faith and love through His words, the Holy Scriptures. What did Jesus say? “When the Son of man comes, will He indeed find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8. May God impress on our minds the need for us today to be preparing, through His grace, for the days ahead!
           

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