“At the time of the end…many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12:4)
The challenge of the present world to this youthful generation has been in a great degree inclining towards gaining supreme knowledge in science and technology. Indeed, the wittiest students of today are seen to get way too excited at the thought of being the next Nobel Prize Winner that they seem to forget which phase of the matter matters the most.
And to that, we, the Adventist students, are not excused.
We work. We study. And most of the ones who’ve been asked had confessed that it is to earn money, to accomplish individual goals. But that reasoning only gives a stronger evidence for the surging untoward perception on the matter – today’s increasing hold for material things.
Contrary to the exhortations given in the Scriptures that go on saying, “Fix not your eyes on what is seen but on what is unseen (2 Corinthians 4:18),” and “work not for the food that perishes but for that which endures to eternal life (John 6:27),” our contemporary confines seem to direct us to instead put our efforts to the pursuit of such transient goals.
As evidenced, the things that are seen are then the ones usually worked for: the food that we eat and even the water that we drink. But, just come to think of it: the air we breathe in, which is essentially unseen, is actually given for free. Interestingly enough, when the unseen, the gift, the thing not worked for, is given up, the rest of the seen are sure to follow naught.
When air is taken away, for example, it would only take about 4-7 minutes for life to cease. But when water is taken away, 4-7 days are still left given the living soul. And when the solid one, the food, the one most definite and tangible, is taken away, life is yet a long way extended to a 4-to-7-week survival span.
The implication? The material things which most of us work or study for are merely things and are not the ones that matter the most. What really does matter is the matter which may seem at first insignificant since it is unseen, but is the one most essentially keeping us wholly alive. The body alone is nothing, merely of dust which to dust also shall return. But something for which we do not need to work in order to pay for, something very necessary other than the living necessities that are acquired when worked for and bought– something we feel indebted to but taking possession of which could not be credited to our own efforts – the air of unseen essential gases, the breathe of life, and even the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as well as the salvation of our souls – these are given for free.
The selfish pursuit
“At the time of the end…” it has been revealed to the youthful Daniel of the ancient time the foreseen tendency of the end-time youth to pursue an increased degree of knowledge. But while the gospel of the kingdom is now preached into almost all the world, many are yet in the wrong, for in their pursuance of earthly knowledge, they knew not neither the Scriptures, nor the power of God for salvation (Matthew 22:29).
While education is a tool for growth, it may also be a tool for stumbling, especially if driven not by the refined and purified motivation. While we, students, pursue degrees, we are often chained to the alluring tugs of the world for us to become the most-awarded scientist, the wealthiest businessman, the most-skillful engineer, the cleverest professor, the most eloquent diplomat, or the best-applauded entertainer. And while we are inclined to such selfishly sounding lines of thinking, the deemed fruits of hard labor are in a great danger credited to the capital “I.”
At once, then, when the attention is directed to self and to the deception that success was achieved and thus to be maintained by the same self, pride subsequently proceeds to creep in and destruction follows through (Proverbs 16:18). Hence the fall, and hence the endeavor to climb for self-exaltation and selfish fulfillment once again.
Wrestling with chains
We, the youth of the time, are seemingly chained to take the tempting risk of edging ourselves in with this competitive world. In reality, we are battling with the egoistic desires of the flesh, the desires not being flesh and blood themselves. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood…but against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).” We are wrestling against the chains of the devil, against the deceitful charms of human praise, against the same temptations to which our Great Master Guide has been subjected: the temptations over the lust for power, position and possession.
The chains of the matter
The chains with which we are imprisoned may be in the form of solid matter. They may be in forms of pursued material possessions with definite shape and volume, and are tangible and visible. But since they are definite, confined in a single place where once we saw them and next are to leave them, they are then never to really stick to us. Unless we have enough of them wherever we go, the acquisition of them will never give satisfaction to our poor souls.
The devil’s chains, too, may be in liquids. They may be in the form of pursued earthly knowledge and vain honor that fit well the shape of the proud man’s container, allowing the one living in these chains to float through the overwhelming vainglory the chains gives him. But once these liquid chains are greedily slurped to self, none then is left to further buoy up the individual and thus he gives the soul up to sink.
The call to rest
From these chains, however, we are called to withdraw. We are called to deny ourselves, to take up the cross, and to follow Him Who desires to set at liberty those who are held captives by selfishness and pride – us (Matthew 16:24, Luke 4:18). From the clearly definite, tangible and visible offers of the world, we are called to fall to the unseen; not to the solid or liquid chains, but to the unseen spirit of real freedom, the gaseous spirit of real peace.
Yet, sadly, no one seems to love falling through the air, although that could be a most-coveted dream if viewed as a childish wish of being able to fly. But an adult dreamer of an easy life, now devoid of a once childlike faith, would not now subject himself into the Unseen Wind for he feels unsecure and he fears to fall without a visible catching net. What he fails to ponder is that, while he sticks to work for the materially solid and tangible possessions offered by the world, or prefers to walk in its liquid waters of fame, he will have to suffer stumbling or drowning to his own peril, and he is never to be a struggle-free soul. But falling through the Invisible, the Intangible, the Indefinite and hence the Only True Independent One of anyone or of anything – by faith and not by sight – this is the only means to being caught in a sure cell, and yet at the same time being truly set free.
The choice to make
All through the course of time there has only been one thing given to us, human beings, which we can most assuredly claim to be ours – our choice. The freedom of choice given us testifies to the unbounded limitation of liberty that we can experience under the care of our God. Along with these choices, however, are the pre-determined consequences we also are to face with freewill regard.
Since man chose to be independent of Providence, God only then allowed him to realize what life would be like if he has to continue that way. Since the fall, the beginning of sin in man, he has then to learn to work for his own living. Nevertheless, God has never left man to the utmost consequence of hopelessness in an endless labor, but then gave him a chance to realize that what he does work for does not really give him real satisfaction; and that his most needed things are, in fact, provided for him readily. God then wants man, and all of us, to realize that we just cannot be independent of Him. He is the Source of everything; and everything includes both the energy for work, and the time with which that energy is to be spent. There is nothing, really, we can claim our own, except of course for our choice. But still then, God provides us even with the choices or the options upon which we base the choice we make. It’s either we choose independence of Him and have nothing, or choose dependence on Him and have everything. Now since God is love, and He loves us unlimitedly that He most willingly desires to give us everything we really do need, He then calls us all back to choose Him.
Now as students, we have been struggling over earthly goals that in times of crises we often forget the Source of everything, our loving Creator. We often get troubled by the cares of unfinished business, of upcoming exams, or of some to-be-maintained top rank that we almost immediately set aside the call of the Unseen One waiting for our choice to rest. In wanting to pursue matters that benefit our own selves we often lose sight of the Invisible, and thus we fail to experience the freedom of rest that He ever wants to give us. To break the chains that attach us to worldly wants requires no effort on our part, only faith that is seen in the rest of surrender, into falling through the mighty hands of God.
The final call…
…then, is the call to rest. Equivalently, it is also the call to remember. Although we, the youth, are far from having Alzheimer’s disease common among the aged throng, God has called us through King Solomon to “remember [Him], our Creator, in the days of [our] youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). God tells us then that while in our “evil days” or “old ages” we may suffer from memory gap on certain matters of earthly knowledge and pleasures, the greatest memory deficiency we could ever have will be experienced in the days of our youth, when because of full vigorous zeal we might fix our eyes on the transient Nobel matter, instead of on the Eternal, Noble One.
“At the time of the end…knowledge shall increase.” And this is most prominent in us nowadays, who, with youthful vigor, are running to and fro, seeking the fleeting desires of the flesh, but through the stumbling darkness are actually approaching the verge of nowhere. Sadly.
If only we could learn to surrender!
Dearest students of today, we are chained by the world to risk, but we are called by our God to rest. Here and now, let us then learn from the Preacher, the wise King Solomon, even in all his temporal glory, that this indeed is “The end of the matter; [for] all has been heard. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Behold, my fellow youth, let us all learn to surrender, to rest and to remember, and to stand for the Lord’s Sabbath day.
The first edition of this article was first published in 2007. Subsequent publications in later years were also made in different sites as well as in papers such as the Harbinger and The Armed MAS.