The Gospel and the End (19:4)

Of all the things that must happen before the conflict is over, Jesus especially emphasized one. He said that the gospel, the true picture of God, must go to the whole world before the End will come (Matt 24:14; Mark 13:10). We can trust God to wait until His children all over this planet have had a chance to make an enlightened decision. In view of the confusion and the deception to come, God would not ask anyone to pass through that period without sufficient information upon which to base an intelligent choice.

This is consistent with the way God has treated angels and men ever since the Great Controversy began. He has always waited patiently for His children to make up their own minds. Think of how many centuries He waited for Israel to respond to the information brought by the prophetic messengers that He sent one after the other. It was not until Israel went beyond even the Creator’s power to restore, that He finally and reluctantly gave them up. But after the Israelites had been taken off to Babylonian captivity, God inspired the writer of 2 Chronicles to explain why He could no longer protect them, why He had to let them go:

The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people . . . but they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words, and scoffing at his prophets, till the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, till there was no remedy. 2 Chr 36:15-16, RSV.

It was not an arbitrary decision. They were misbehaving so grossly (as we know from Kings and Chronicles), He simply could not do anything more for them. He had to let them go into the discipline of captivity. And that’s what the “wrath of God” means, God sadly giving Israel up. Fortunately, it was not the final awful destruction at the end of the world. But it was discipline. And though God seemed to have abandoned them, we know that He went with them, didn’t He? He blessed Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Esther, Mordecai, and Ezekiel while they were in captivity. But by and large, God could not work through His people as a nation at that time. He had to give them up into the discipline of captivity.

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