10. The Close of Human Probation
CP = Close Probation
This lesson presents the Biblical concept that, before Jesus comes, there will be a time when everyone will have made his/her decision for or against Christ. At this point, the judgment, that has been going on in heaven for over a hundred years, will end.
Jesus will cease His work as our High Priest in Heaven because there is no one for whom He can mediate. All the righteous have already been cleansed from their sins by faith in Jesus. The wicked have come to the point where they have no interest at all in Christ, and will cease to feel a need to confess their sins. (They may still pretend to be religious and continue to carry out church rituals.)
Since there is no longer any mediation to be done, Christ lays off His priestly robes to leave the temple in heaven. At that point, there is no turning back for anyone on earth. Probation has closed.
1. WHEN PROBATION CLOSES, WHAT DECREE SOUNDS FORTH FROM THE TEMPLE IN HEAVEN?
1 CP Rev. 22:11, 12 The possibility of changing sides will no longer be an option, because everyone has made up his/her mind. But notice: those who are either wicked or righteous will be that way “still.” This indicates that probation closes in real time when there is still time left before the coming of Jesus.
There are several stories in the Bible that tell of a time when probation closed for the people involved.
2. THE PEOPLE WHO LIVED IN THE TIME OF NOAH EXPERIENCED A CLOSING OF PROBATION. WHAT HAPPENED TO MARK THIS TIME?
2 CP Gen. 7:1-5,10 Noah took over 100 years to build the ark, and such a monstrous ship would have been known world-wide. Everyone on earth had the opportunity to get inside the ark when God called Noah to enter. But only Noah and his family went in.
Here we have a time of probation . . . and it's close. Everyone had a chance to be saved as long as the door was open, but when the door shut, those on the outside were judged guilty of death. “He that is wicked, let him be wicked still.”
Time continued yet for seven more days. But on the seventh day the rain began to fall, geysers spouted forth, winds blew fiercely. Within 40 days there was no one left alive—except for the small family in the ark. And the wicked?” . . . the flood came and took them all away.
3. JESUS USED THE EXAMPLE OF LOT TOO. HOW DOES HIS STORY FIT INTO THE CONCEPT OF THE CLOSE OF PROBATION?
3 CP Gen. 19:12-14, 24, 25 The cities were evil and God sent His angels to destroy them. The angels told Lot to warn all those who had at least some hope of being saved from the disaster. Lot went out and got them out of bed, warning them to get out of the city. But they refused to go.
After Lot*s final warning, probation lingered for several more hours. Anyone could be saved merely by leaving the city. But the close of probation occurred when Lot*s family left with the angels. And the destruction of the city brought the sentence of judgment upon those people.
Just before the coming of Jesus, many who know the truths that the Bible teaches will find it more convenient to go along with the crowd than risk persecution and death at the hands of those who follow the Beast and worship his image. (Rev. 13:15)
But as the plagues begin to fall and the coming of Jesus is immanent, they will realize that they*ve made an eternal mistake.
4. HOW DOES JEREMIAH DESCRIBE THE CLOSE OF HUMAN PROBATION?
4 CP Jer.8:20 Jeremiah draws a parallel between the end of the harvest and the close of human probation.
The mental picture of the harvest (“. . . the harvest is the end of the age,” [Matt 13:39]) helps us understand this subject. (The picture of harvest is also used of the second coming [Rev 14:14]).
Several of Jesus* parables illustrate the affect of probation upon people of both sides.
5 HOW DOES THE PARABLE OF THE DISHONEST STEWARD ILLUSTRATE THE CLOSE OF PROBATION?
5 CP Luke 16:1-9 The dishonest steward was not cut off and sent away immediately. The king merely asked him to give account of his work as manager. He was granted a probation during which he dishonestly used shrewd methods to win friends for himself. Even his employer felt that the man had ‘used his head,” although the employer’s decision to let him go still stood.
6. HOW DOES THE MAN WITHOUT A WEDDING GARMENT ILLUSTRATE THE CLOSE OF PROBATION?
6 CP Matt. 22:2, 3, 7-13 The king must have provided the wedding garment to all who came, because many had been brought in from the streets, etc., and would have had no wedding clothes of their own. And, it seems, there was allowed enough time for the guests to put on their wedding garments and be seated for the wedding. All this time, probation lingered for all the guests to be ready for the king*s coming.
But when the king came in, he wanted to look over the people who had been persuaded to come. Everyone was nicely clothed in the wedding garment—except for one man. When he was asked why he didn*t have a garment on, he was speechless—he*d been given a garment, and he had plenty of time to put it on, but evidently he felt his own clothes were good enough.
His reward? He was thrown out. He missed the wedding and the good eats that would have been his.
The illustration is plain here: Probation closed when the king saw the man without a wedding garment.
Just so, there will be a time when the probation of all human beings on planet Earth will close—for good or evil.
7. IN WHAT WAY DOES THE PARABLE OF THE TEN VIRGINS PREVIEW THE CLOSE OF PROBATION?
7 CF Matt. 25:1-13 Five of the virgins brought their olive-oil lamps and in addition, a flask of oil—should they need more. The other five evidently felt that they had enough and didn*t bring any extra oil. The bride-groom was late in arriving and, after a short nap, the five who brought the extra oil refilled their lamps and were ready to go.
The other five, after unsuccessful attempts to get oil from the others, had to go to the oil merchants to buy some. When they got back, the door was shut and they were too late,
Probation for all the virgins remained open until the sound of the bride-groom*s party was heard. At that moment it closed leaving some outside the wedding.
Christ Throws the Censer into the Earth
God*s Spirit will not labor with the rebel heart indefinitely (Gen 6:3). If Bible truth is persistently resisted and refused, the Spirit*s prompting will cease to be heard and the soul will be left in terrible darkness. This is possibly the condition to which Paul referred when he described certain consciences as being “seared with a hot iron” (I Tim. 4:2). For a man guilty of the sin against the Holy Spirit, probation closes on him when, his conscience seared, he can no longer feel the promptings of the Spirit. The blood of Jesus no longer covers his sins, and he has nothing to look forward to, except for the certain, fearful looking for of judgment (Heb 10:26, 27; cf. Jude 12, 13).
The last work that Jesus has to do as our Mediator is to receive the final prayers of the saints. This is symbolized by the smoke that ascends from the censor that is taken by our High Priest to the altar of burnt incense. But this time it is different. After Christ has finished His work of interceding in our behalf and probation has closed, He has no more use of the censer and throws it into the earth. (Rev. 8:5)
8. HOW CAN WE MAKE IT THROUGH THE CLOSE OF PROBATION ON CHRIST*S SIDE, AND THUS BE SAVED IN THE KINGDOM?
8 CP Matt. 24:44 Jesus wants us the be ready at every moment of every day. In order to do that, we must spend time reading God*s love-letter to us—the Bible. And we must spend time talking with God in prayer. This is the only way that we can be ready at all times. This is the only way that we can be ready for the close of probation
Jesus said, (Mat 24:44) “So you also must he ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”