Question (No. 3)
Is it true that probation will close for the church before the general close of probation for the world (Revelation 22:11)?
Both the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy gives clear evidence that probation will indeed close for the church before that of the world.
Generally speaking, God typically first judges those who have the most spiritual privileges and to whom He has revealed more of His will. (Luke 12:47, 48). This has been the case throughout history. For example, He typically punished Israel first before he punished the other nations (See Jeremiah 25:12 –37). In the New Testament Peter tells us that "judgment must begin at the house of God." (1 Peter 4:17). So it is only logical and consistent with His justice that He would apply the same principle to us today.
In the book, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9, p. 97, it is stated that the door of mercy will close for us before it closes for those who do not know the truth.
This point is brought home most forcibly by Isaiah: "For, behold the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury and His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword, will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many.... And I will set a sign among them, and will send those that ESCAPE of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame neither have seen my glory; and they shall DECLARE my glory among Gentiles." (Isaiah 66:15, 16, 19).
This passage is generally accepted to be the second coming of Christ in the clouds of glory. (1 Thessalonians 4:14 –17). However, a closer study reveals that it has to be the close of probation and judgment for the church, not the world. Notice that (verse 16 in the KJV) uses the word "plead"—which can only take place during probationary time, which is before the second return. (See Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2, p. 691). That is, there is no pleading for anyone at or after the second advent, because probation
would have already been closed.
This fact is further borne out when we continue to
(verse 19) where we notice that some escape. But from what do they escape? The only thing to escape from in the chapter is the judgment in (verses 15, 16) during which "many" are "slain." Notice too, that those who survive this judgment are not taken to heaven (at least not yet) but are sent as missionaries to the world to preach the gospel, or as Isaiah put it, "declare" God's "glory" among the "gentiles."
Since no one will escape the second coming to go and preach the gospel to the world, this passage must be speaking about a judgment to take place in the church, after which the faithful who remain in its ranks will be filled with God's Spirit and sent out to proclaim the final proclamation of the gospel to the world at large.
Now in case you're wondering, could this text not be referring to the first advent of Christ when he came as a babe, and not with chariots and whirlwind as described here by Isaiah? And our response is that, it could not be, as that event was not apart of this prophecy. Also, neither could it be His coming after the millennium, because as stated earlier, probation will have been closed or have ended by then therefore no need to preach the gospel to anyone.
The parable of the harvest also makes this clear. If you compare (Mathew 13:41) with (Matthew 24:30, 31), you will notice that in Mathew 13 the angels remove or gather the UNFAITHFUL from among the faithful in HIS KINGDOM (the church), while in Matthew 24:31, the angels at the second coming gather the "ELECT" or righteous from among the unrighteous—the opposite!
Thus, Mathew 13 could NOT be speaking about the second coming. Notice, once again, that in Matthew 24 (the second coming) He does not remove or gather the unrighteous and leave the righteous as He does in Matthew 13, instead he takes the righteous away to glory—the opposite. Therefore, Matthew 24 speaks of the second coming and Mathew 13 speaks of the judgment work in the church which is before the one in the world. So there must be two probations—two judgments! In Testimonies for the Church Vol. 3, pp. 266, 267, we are told that there is a "closing work for the church," which shows a clear distinction from the closing work for or of the world. (See also Testimonies to Ministers, p. 445 & Ezekiel 9:1- 11).