Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sabbath, September 5, 2015
Will you hang on through the cleansing cycle?
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (Revelation 3:7–13, KJV 1900).
Encouraging Your Faithfulness:
Stay faithful and hold fast until Jesus comes. Your crown is awaiting.
While I would love to examine the details of the exact nature of the problems going on in Philadelphia, it would be more efficient for us to consider some of the basic principles, then apply them, in the short devotional time we have today.
Our God is sensitive to our needs. He understands when we are weary, and gives us the encouragement we need. He opens His counsel to the church in the ancient city of brotherly love with a compassionate acknowledgement that He sees that their strength was low. Apostasy, compromise, persecution, etc., had riddled the churches prior to this time, and when one part of the organism is troubled, all can feel it.
The church in Philadelphia existed at a time when the Lord was doing something very special (For details go to Amazingfacts.org and type “1844” into the search box for in-depth understanding). He was about to transition His ministry of forgiveness into an open door to a ministry dedicated to cleansing those who continue to have faith in Him. Much like the Old Testament system of ceremonies and sacrifices, there are different phases of sanctification that God carries us through. During the cleansing phase, the high priest went into the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement to minister before the Lord while God removed the record of sin, signified by the sacrificial blood that was all over the sanctuary. Priests daily applied the blood of forgiveness of sin for those who submitted to God, confessed, and repented. Once per year, that record of sin, which was no longer held against the people, was mysteriously expunged through cleansing. No person, not even the devil, could hold those forgiven and cleansed sins against faith-filled followers of God.
In Jesus’ counsel, He made it clear that not too long following the time He shut the door to His Holy Place ministry, and opened the door to His Most Holy Place ministry, He would “come quickly.” The people of God were to discern this heads-up and prepare for His arrival. He further forecasted that if they would keep His command to persevere through the trials that were about to hit the earth just prior to His return, that a crown was stored up in heaven for them.
We are living at a time that directly precedes Jesus’ appearing. To us, as to those Philadelphians, God says, “Keep the faith! I am coming soon.” For those who are discouraged and figure that this announcement was made many years ago and Jesus has not yet come, take courage. That fact alone proves that the Lord is nearer than when we first believed.
So, what does one do while the Lord is cleansing His people? Here is an interesting factoid about cleansing: God can only cleanse us from sins we have confessed and forsaken. The blood that was offered in the Old Testament came only as a result of people’s confessed and forsaken sins being symbolically transferred from them to the innocent animal; to the priest; to the sanctuary; and then out of the camp for disposal. Thus it is that only those who accept the sacrifice and full ministry of Jesus on our behalf can be cleansed from all unrighteousness. God is preparing His people to be able to stand before His absolute holiness without spot or wrinkle.
We can begin to participate in Jesus’ ministry today, by asking Him to show us what we may not have surrendered to Him, confess and forsake it, and prepare others for His arrival. There are more trials on the horizon, but just as God said to the Philadelphians, if we hold fast to Him, He will give us a crown of life. Hold fast ‘til He comes.
A Prayer for Your Hearts:
Lord, please help us to walk through the open door of cleansing by faith. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.