Revelation 22:11 is often understood to be a reference to the close of human probation. That is the time when there is no longer an opportunity to make a decision for salvation. That verse says:
“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.” (Revelation 22:11)
This page is a supplement to the glossary page on the definition of probation. See that page for a better understanding of the meaning of probation in a Biblical context. On this page, we look more at what it is that closes probation. Here is the big question: would a God of love cut off anyone’s opportunity for salvation? Him doing that would seem contradictory considering that:
“The Lord is …not willing that any should perish …” (2 Pet 3:9)
Here is a statement linking the close of probation to Christ ending His intercessory ministry. While not stating why the ministry was ended, the article connects its end to the close of probation:
“The statement in Revelation 15:8 that “no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed” means that Christ has concluded His intercessory ministry in the temple on behalf of sinners, and even He cannot (or perhaps more correctly, will not) enter it. And in the very next verse, which is Chapter 16:1, the seven angels begin to pour out their bowls of wrath, the seven last plagues.
Most of the biblical evidence for the close of human probation has it closing either at the time we die or at Christ’s second coming. However, what I have just shared with you is the biblical evidence for the idea that human probation will close a short time before Christ’s second coming, not at His second coming.” (Marvin Moore, https://atoday.org/is-the-close-of-probation-a-biblical-teaching/)
If that is true, the question is still: why does He stop interceding? Is it to be an arbitrary decision based on a timetable? Consider this verse:
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Josh 24:15)
It is asking people to choose to follow God. Will God, at some point in the future, say “okay, time is up. If you haven’t decided by now I will decide for you”?
When Does Probation Close?
There are three possibilities, according to the Bible, of how probation for anyone will close.
- At Death
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Heb 9:27)
“And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:” (Matt 25:32)
It is pretty obvious that, in most cases, probation ends at death.
- The Sin Against the Holy Spirit
For a hopefully-small number of people probation will end when they cut off their own possibility of repentance.
“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” (Matt 12:31-32)
“And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.” (Luke 12:10)
Those passages have caused many to misunderstand the forgiveness of God. He is willing to forgive any sin; the issue is whether or not we will receive that forgiveness. A study of the original words used for forgiveness makes that very clear. It is the omnipresent Spirit of God, that inner voice of conviction, that we need to listen to and admit that we are wrong in order to repent and receive the freely-offered forgiveness.
So if a person is under any degree of conviction that they may have committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, they clearly have not. What they really need is to understand the love and forgiveness of God and accept forgiveness.
- The General Close of Probation
The two ways described above in which a person’s probation can close happen individually. But the Bible also speaks of a more general (applying to all alive at the time) close of probation which, in context, happens just before the second Coming:
“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. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” (Rev 22:11-12)
It reads very much like a proclamation; something like that dreaded “time’s up.” However, there is one small but important word in that passage that appears four times – the word “let” which is defined as “allow’ or “permit.”
To arbitrarily close probation ending one’s opportunity to make a choice is limiting the exercise of free will whereas to “let” someone do something implies allowing free will.
The decree here is actually in favor of freedom of choice. It is essentially God saying that each person has made up his or her own mind and He is not going to force them to change it. God always honors freedom to choose. If not He would be forcing the will and that is totally inconsistent with love.
The only way for this to be an actual close of probation is if it is describing people who have each made such a firm decision (even in light of all the evidence) that they cannot change. Essentially, by ignoring the pleadings of God to the point they can no longer hear His voice (the voice of conscience) they have cut themselves off from Him.
But Doesn’t Christ End His Mediation?
There is a concept that Christ, at some point shortly before He returns at the Second Coming, ends His mediation for sinners. That comes from verses such as these:
“The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:” (Rev 14:10)
“And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.” (Rev 15:1)
If the seven last plagues contain the undiluted (or “full strength” – English Standard Version) wrath of God unmixed with mercy there couldn’t still be mediation, could there? Doesn’t that sound like it is saying God is filled with wrath, that He couldn’t be angrier? “Had it up to here” as we might say?
But the question is still how and why does that mediation end? If God’s mercy is everlasting (Psa 100:5) wouldn’t He always be offering it? As we saw under #2 above, the cutting off of the voice of the Holy Spirit by the willful action of the sinner effectively ends his probation. It marks his final choice. It means that while mercy is even still being offered there is no awareness or appreciation of the offer and therefore no reception of it.
That was the situation in the state of people just before the flood:
“Hast thou marked the old way which wicked men have trodden? Which were cut down out of time, whose foundation was overflown with a flood: Which said unto God, Depart from us: and what can the Almighty do for them?” (Job 22:15-17)
God honored their freewill choice to have Him depart from them. Thus, He could do nothing for people who wanted nothing to do with Him.
The Wrath of God
It is helpful, at this point, to correctly understand the word “wrath” as applied to God in scripture. Romans 1 is very helpful for that:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;” (Rom 1:18)
“Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:” (Rom 1:24)
“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:” (Rom 1:26)
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;” (Rom 1:28)
The wrath of God is revealed in His allowing sinners to go the way of their own choosing and to freely receive the results of those choices.
When the wrath of God is correctly understood (see wrath – definition) it will be seen that it is really describing God in a state of being so very hurt from being abandoned by ones that He loves.
It is more like, having, in love, to honor free will, He says:
“Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” (Matt 23:38)
We needn’t be worried about the decisions God will make in our case; rather, we need to be concerned about our own decisions. It is only those decisions that can close our probation.
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