24 Elders: Final Celebration with the Lost-and-Found Sheep
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?
And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!”Luke 15:4-7 NLT
The Parable of the Lost Sheep is often used to show how the church should look for the erring members, this is a nice application of the parable. But there is a wider and cosmic purpose for this.
Cosmic application of the Parable of the Lost Sheep
In line with what we learned about the 24 Elders being the representatives of the unfallen worlds, this Parable of the Lost Sheep perfectly fits that story when all the inhabitants of the heavens will come together to welcome all the redeemed from the Earth.
The hundred sheep represents all of God’s perfect creation and that includes human beings, the angels, and other beings in the unfallen worlds. But one of them went wayward through the sin of its representative Adam. The lost sheep is us, human beings.
In the heavenly council, the plan to redeem the Earth was presented. The Good Shepherd obeyed willingly to the will of the Father that He will be born as a human and will die on the cross to provide for humanity a way to go back to God’s fold.
The Father who is seated on His throne, the Holy Spirit standing in the presence of the Father, the four living creatures which are the four angels of the highest order, the 24 Elders being the representatives of the unfallen worlds), and all the angelic hosts were watching in awe and admiration to the Son of God as He fulfills His mission of “searching for the lost sheep”.
And so the second Adam (Jesus) was falsely accused and murdered on the cross but is resurrected. And now, all those who believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
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Once Saved Always Saved clashes with Jesus’ Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor
Jesus Himself taught that if a forgiven individual (saved) does not know how to forgive others (wrong deed) then his forgiveness will be taken away (no salvation).
The Good Shepherd presents the Lost Sheep to the heavenly council
Luke added more details on how the Good Shepherd reacted when he found the lost sheep. First, he put the lost sheep on his shoulder. This represents the moment when Jesus will lead the way back to heaven together with all the saints and present it to the Father in the heavenly council where all other creations are waiting to witness that glorious celebration.
A glimpse of this celebration is described in the last chapter of the book Desire of Ages, “To My Father, and Your Father“. Although the description pertains to John’s vision of Revelation 4 when Jesus ascended to heaven, the scene will be repeated in the most glorious, majestic, and most anticipated way as millions of the redeemed and the tens of thousands and thousands of the angelic hosts led by the Good Shepherd will fly through the heavens to the throne room of God the Father.
All heaven was waiting to welcome the Saviour to the celestial courts. As He ascended, He led the way, and the multitude of captives set free at His resurrection followed. The heavenly host, with shouts and acclamations of praise and celestial song, attended the joyous train. As they drew near to the city of God, the challenge is given by the escorting angels,
“Lift up your heads, O ye gates;
And be ye lift
up,ye everlasting doors;
And the King of glory shall come in.”
Joyfully the waiting sentinels respond,
“Who is this King of glory?”
This they say, not because they know not who He is, but because they would hear the answer of exalted praise,
“The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O ye gates;
Even lift them up, ye everlasting doors;
And the King of glory shall come in.”
Again is heard the challenge, “Who is this King of glory?” for the angels never weary of hearing His name exalted. The escorting angels make reply,
“The Lord of hosts; He is the King of glory.” Psalm 24:7-10.
Then the portals of the city of God are opened wide, and the angelic throng sweep through the gates amid a burst of rapturous music.
Second, the Good Shepherd called his friends and neighbors and made a feast to celebrate the joy of finding the lost sheep. These friends and neighbors represent all the inhabitants of the heavens and other unfallen worlds.
Revelation 7 and 19 describe this most anticipated celebration when all other beings eagerly listened to the song of the redeemed saints.
An atom and yet precious to God’s sight
Compared to other modern writers of spiritual and religious topics, Ellen White gave a unique view of this parable.
“By the lostChrist’s Object Lessons page 191.
sheepChrist represents not only the individual sinner but the one world that has apostatized and has been ruined by sin. This world is but an atom in the vast dominions over which God presides, yet this little fallen world—the one lost sheep—is more precious in His sight than are the ninety and nine that went not astray from the fold.”
In the eyes of God, humanity is not just a tiny atom that anyone can easily be disregarded, we are precious in the eyes of our Creator. She added:
“Christ, the loved Commander in the heavenly courts, stooped from His high estate, laid aside the glory that He had with the Father, in order to save the one lostChrist’s Object Lessons page 191.
world. For this He left the sinless worlds on high, the ninety and nine that loved Him, and came to this earth, to be “wounded for our transgressions” and “bruised for our iniquities.” (Isa. 53:5.) God gave Himself in His Son that He might have the joy of receiving back the sheep that was lost.”
What a wonderful God we served!
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