Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Open Gates at the Close of the Millennium

It has been noted with interest that at the close of the millennium, after the wicked are raised, that the gates of the Heavenly Jerusalem are open. "With Satan at their head, the multitude move on. Kings and warriors follow close after Satan, and the multitude follow after in companies. Each company has its leader, and order is observed as they march over the broken surface of the earth to the Holy City. Jesus closes the gates of the city." (Early Writings, p. 292.)

Obvious for them to be closed, they had been open! And the metaphor of "open heavenly gates" is used to signify the door of mercy: that salvation is available. "Shut gates" metaphorically are used to signify the door of mercy being shut.

For example: "Strive to enter in at the strait gate" "Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles." Luke 13:24, Isaiah 60:11. "Dear reader, the gates are open, and the glory of God is shining for every soul who looks to Heaven in times of trial and perplexity…. We through His grace may become perfected, and be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ in the everlasting kingdom." (There Is Help in God PH105, p. 8.)

And on the other hand, "at length the mandate goes forth: '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.' The heavenly gate closes, the invitation of salvation ceases." (In Heavenly Places, p. 362.)

However, remember these references to gates are metaphors. There are of course the actual, physical gates on the walls of the New Jerusalem that these metaphors refer to. But it would not be wise to assume that every reference to those gates is a metaphor of salvation!

Let's look at the context of that passage from Early Writings that we started with:

"Then Jesus and all the retinue of holy angels, and all the redeemed saints, left the city. The angels surrounded their Commander and escorted Him on His way, and the train of redeemed saints followed. Then, in terrible, fearful majesty, Jesus called forth the wicked dead; and they came up with the same feeble, sickly bodies that went into the grave. . . . All are seeking to hide in the rocks, to shield themselves from the terrible glory of Him whom they once despised. And, overwhelmed and pained with His majesty and exceeding glory, they with one accord raise their voices, and with terrible distinctness exclaim, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord!" Then Jesus and the holy angels, accompanied by all the saints, again go to the city, and the bitter lamentations and wailings of the doomed wicked fill the air. Then I saw that Satan again commenced his work. He passed around among his subjects, and made the weak and feeble strong, and told them that he and his angels were powerful. . . . Satan succeeds in deceiving them, and all immediately begin to prepare themselves for battle. . . . [Then] they march over the broken surface of the earth to the Holy City. Jesus closes the gates of the city, and this vast army surround it, and place themselves in battle array, expecting a fierce conflict. Jesus and all the angelic host and all the saints, with the glittering crowns upon their heads, ascend to the top of the wall of the city. Jesus speaks with majesty, saying, "Behold, ye sinners, the reward of the just! And behold, My redeemed, the reward of the wicked!" The vast multitude behold the glorious company on the walls of the city. And as they witness the splendor of their glittering crowns and see their faces radiant with glory, reflecting the image of Jesus, and then behold the unsurpassed glory and majesty of the King of kings and Lord of lords, their courage fails. A sense of the treasure and glory which they have lost rushes upon them, and they realize that the wages of sin is death." (Early Writings, p. 292-293.)

1000 years previous to that we have the close of probation. When probation closes—when that metaphorical heavenly gate closes—when the invitation of salvation ceases—"when Jesus ceases to plead for man, the cases of all are forever decided." (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 191.)

This passage in Early Writings is just referring to the physical, literal gates on the city. Christ and His people leave the city (obviously the physical gates must be open to do that). Then they go back in (again gates must be open). And then as the city is attacked, the gates are closed.

Please, be sure that you are inside the city when that happens. "Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts." Hebrews 3:15.


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