The end of human probation

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1. Introduction

Once God's end time message to the world (the three angels' messages) has completed its work and God’s remnant are forever sealed (see studies: ‘The three angels’ messages: God’s final warning’ and ‘The Mark of the Beast and the Seal of God’), the most solemn event in human history takes place: the end of human probation.

2. The end of human probation

Since sin entered the world, God has granted the human race a period of probation in which each may repent of sin and be saved.  However, God will not always strive with mankind - His probation will come to an end. We see this illustrated in the days of Noah.

2.1 Probation in the days of Noah

In study: ‘The end time: overview’, 3.3, we see that the end time will be as it was in the days of Noah before the flood, when wickedness and violence abounded.  

An idea of the extent of pre-flood wickedness is contained in the Midrash Rabbah Genesis, which is rabbinic literature of ancient Judaism, comprising commentaries on the Hebrew Scriptures. It is based on the interpretation of the Torah (Old Testament) and was compiled 300-500 AD. 

On page 213 of the Midrash Rabbah Genesis we see that just prior to the flood such practices as pederasty (sexual relations between a man and a boy) and bestiality were legalized - sins which finally exceeded God's tolerance and brought about the flood.      

In the days of Noah we see God declaring He would withdraw His spirit after 120 years (the period of the building of Noah’s ark):

Ge 6:3  And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. 

After the 120 years, God stopped calling mankind to repentance - the probation of the wicked had ended.  They had placed themselves beyond God’s reach and become extremely wicked (Ge 6:5).  This precipitated the destruction of the entire wicked human race by means of the flood (Lk 17:27) - they left God no choice. 

The pre-flood race were blind to their true condition: 

Mt 24:38  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,

They lived as though all things would continue as they were.  Their probation ended when Noah entered the ark (Ge 7:9,10) - from that moment the place of refuge was forever closed to them.

2.2 The close of probation in the Old Testament

After the death of king Soloman the Hebrew nation was divided into: the northern and southern kingdoms.

The northern kingdom persisted stubbornly in idolatry, and eventually exhausted its probation, and was left to be overrun by Assyria.  As a result, the ten northern tribes were widely dispersed and simply disappeared - it is a fearful thing to exhaust the Lord's probation - see The two kingdoms.

2.3 The close of probation in the end time

Because the end time (i.e. now) will be the same as Noah’s day (Mt 24:37-39), we know that the Holy Spirit today will not strive indefinitely with sinful mankind.  God has determined a time when human probation will close, and then He will bring an end to sin and sinners (see study: ‘The end of sin and sinners: judgment and eternal death’).

Like the pre-flood generation, end-time worldly humanity will be blind to their true condition:

2Pe 3:3-5  Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 

4  And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 

5  For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 

Note.  The last days generation are willingly ignorant, and are thus without excuse - the end of human probation will overtake them unawares.

The book of Daniel addresses this most sombre event.  After the main end time prophecies and teachings have been given, we see a most solemn announcement:

Da 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. 

The phrase ‘And at that time’ joins Daniel chapter 12 to the preceding chapter (11), which contains further discussion of end time events (confirmed in Da 11:6,40). 

Daniel chapter 11 discusses at length the conflict between two end time powers who are in conflict: the king of the north and the king of the south.  

At the time of Daniel, the prevailing powers were Egypt in the south, and Babylon in the north, who were in conflict.  We must understand what these powers represent today, in the time of the end.

The king of the north

In Daniel 11 the end time (see Da 11:6,40) king of the north power is identified by its characteristics:

The king of the north takes away the ‘Daily’, and he magnifies himself above all others (see Da 11:31,36).  These are identifying characteristics of the little horn of Daniel 8, which we identify as Papal Rome (see study: ‘‘Daniel 8, part 2: identifying the little horn’,2,3.2). 

Furthermore, modern Babylon (the northern power today), is identified in study ‘‘The three angels’ messages’,2.2 as Papal Rome.

Thus the king of the north power (in Daniel 11) is Papal Rome, which is the main protagonist in Daniel chapter 11.

The king of the south

In the time of Daniel, Egypt (the southern power) was an idolatrous nation.  Thus, the king of the south in Daniel 11 is an apostate power.

The king of the south is overcome by the king of the north (Da 11:3,13-15), i.e. Papal Rome prevails: her doctrines are adopted by those she overcomes.

End time confederation of apostasy

The king of the south in the end time refers to all those who are seduced (overcome) by Papal Rome, adopting her doctrines to form Satan’s final apostate power.  Today, apostate Protestantism collectively has adopted the false doctrines of the Papacy, and is therefore one in purpose with Papal Rome.

We see in Da 11:27 that both the kings of the north and the south ‘do mischief’, and that they ‘speak lies at one table’.

Thus Papal Rome and apostate Protestantism will join in apostasy at the end of time, and impose the final mark of the beast test upon the whole world (see study: 'The mark of the beast and the Seal of God'). Those who remain faithful to God will receive His Seal.

In Da 11:44 we see the end time power (the Papacy) troubled by tidings from the east and from the north.  In Re 7:2,3 we see the angel from the east, who has the seal of God, holding back strife on the Earth until God’s people are sealed. 

In Is 14:13 we see that God’s presence is in the north - this is a Heavenly north, a different north to the earthly north of the antichrist power.

Thus the tidings from the north are from the presence of God, i.e. Christ has ended His final redemptive work which He performed in the presence of the Father in the Most Holy in the Heavenly Sanctuary (see study: ‘The cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary’).  

The tidings from the east therefore, are that in consequence of Christ’s finished work the angel in the east has sealed the redeemed with the Seal of God.  This causes the troubling of the antichrist (the Papacy).

The sealing of God’s people means that the time is right for Michael’s declaration of Da 12:1 to  be given.  However, to fully understand the declaration, we must establish Michael’s identity.  

3. Identifying Michael

3.1 Michael the archangel

In Jude 1:9 Michael is called an archangel and we see Him contending with the Devil.

In Re 12:7,8 we see that Michael fought against the Devil (Satan) and prevailed.

Satan was once Lucifer (Strong’s H1966, morning star), the greatest and most powerful of all the angels (Eze 28:12).  After his fall, Lucifer, though he had lost his position, had lost none of his power.  Thus as Satan (Strong’s G4567, accuser) he is the most formidable adversary, against whom, in ourselves, we have no power. 

It therefore requires one who is greater than the most powerful angel to prevail against Satan.  No angel, is greater in power than Satan - Christ alone is more powerful than Satan.

3.2 Michael a prince

Dan 10:13,21  But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me [Gabriel, see Da 8:16;9:21,22] one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. 

21  But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince

Michael is described as a chief prince, and ‘your’ prince.  No angel, not even Gabriel, the mightiest of all the Heavenly angels, who stands in the presence of God (Lk 1:19), is addressed in this way.  Gabriel is the one who occupies the place once occupied by Satan (when he was Lucifer), and as such is equal in power to Satan.  

However, Gabriel had to enlist Michael’s help (Da 10:13 above) against the 'prince of Persia' (this must be a personification of Satan - no earthly prince could withstand Gabriel).  Thus Michael is superior to all the angels.  Furthermore, Michael is the Prince who upholds Scripture truth (Da 10:21 above) against Satan.

3.3 Christ the Prince and Archangel

In scripture, Christ is referred to by many superlatives:

- Messiah the Prince  Da 9:25

- Prince of peace  Is 9:6

- Prince of life  Ac 3:15

- Prince and Saviour  Ac 5:31

- the Prince who washed us from our sins in His own blood  Re 1:5

Christ is Prince and Saviour, and He is also ‘King of Kings’ and ‘Lord of Lords’ (Re 19:16)

1Th 4:16  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 

Christ, the Lord Himself, who, as an archangel, triumphs at His second coming and raises the faithful dead.

Not even the highest ranking angel (Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, Lk 1:19), who is a created being, can be Saviour and raise the dead. Yet we see the Archangel who is the Lord Himself (Christ), doing precisely these things.

3.4 Michael, His identity

Now we see that Michael is both archangel and prince. Likewise, we see that Christ is both Archangel and Prince.

Thus Michael is no less than Christ, the Great Prince, the one who ‘stands for the children of thy people’ (Da 12:1), who only has the power to prevail against Satan, who only has the authority to close human probation.

4. Michael’s (Christ's) work

Michael’s (Christ’s) work in the end time is foretold in the great Day of Atonement in the earthly Sanctuary (see study: ‘The Day of Atonement’).

The Day of Atonement was the most important and most solemn act of the Hebrew ecclesiastical year, in which, in figure for the time, the sin of God’s people was eradicated.  

This prefigured God’s final act of judgement in the sanctuary in Heaven, which determines irrevocably, eternal life or eternal death for every person who has ever lived, and is living.  This judgment is known as the investigative judgment (see study: ‘The cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary’,5), and is taking place at this moment.   

4.1 Michael's (Christ's) criteria for salvation

In study: ‘The cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary’,2.3, we see that in the pre-advent investigative judgment only those written in the Book of Life are judged (those not written in the book of life are condemned already because they never repented).

During the investigative judgement Christ applies His criteria for salvation.

For those sleeping in the grave (see study: 'Death and the state of the dead',6) Christ’s decision is based solely on whether a person, having accepted saving Grace, remained faithful until death.

For those living through the final test of the end time (they are alive at the time of the investigative judgement) Christ’s decision is based solely upon whether a person, having accepted saving Grace, is living a faithful life and is worthy of the Seal of God.  

In study: ‘The Mark of the Beast and the Seal of God’ we see that the Seal of God is adherence to the seventh day Sabbath of the Fourth Commandment, while the mark of the beast is adherence to the unscriptural false sabbath: Sunday. 

4.2 Michael (Christ) Stands up (Da 12:1) 

As we see in section 2.2, Christ’s ‘standing up’ marks the termination of His redemptive work in the Heavenly Sanctuary.

When Michael (Christ) ‘stands up’, all decisions for life or death have been made - the time for repentance has passed, human probation has ended and the fearful declaration is made:

Re 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. 

Once probation has ended, the Holy Spirit no longer strives with the unrepentant and is wholly withdrawn from the world (but not from God’s people).  All hope is gone for the wicked, while the redeemed (the sealed of God) are forever secure.  

As pre-flood probation ended when Noah entered the ark (the place of safety), so the end time place of safety, God’s true Church that love’s God and keeps His Commandments (Ex 20:6; Jn 14:15) is forever closed to the lost.

Despite being sealed the redeemed must, for a short time until Christ returns, live in a world in which Satan has full control of the wicked (the unrepentant).  This time is called a ‘time of trouble such as never was’ (see study: ‘The time of trouble’), and immediately precedes the deliverance of God’s people.

Note, because there are none amongst the human race to save, the time of trouble need be short only - Christ's redemptive work is finished; thus there is nothing to delay His return.

5. Summary

Those who live in the end time are facing the most solemn moment in Earth’s history: the close of probation for all mankind.  

Christ, at the close of probation, will have made His decision for all mankind, i.e. for life, or for death.  Once all decisions have been made, God’s mercy no longer pleads for mankind - the saved are irrevocably saved, and the lost are irrevocably lost.  

This precipitates a short time of trouble such as the world has never seen, which terminates in the deliverance of God’s people at Christ's second advent. 

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