On Sunday 14 November 2021, Apostle Harold Swartbooi conducted the central AVT divine service at Pescodia congregation. The divine service was conducted in English. 

He was accompanied by Bishop Werner Von Schaeffer, a small music ensemble and the NACTV crew. This divine service was made available on NACTV, Cape Town TV on DSTV channel 263, as well as Radio KC, Radio Teemaneng and SABIE stereo. This divine service was also streamed live on the NACTV Facebook page.  For members who were unable to watch the divine service, please find a detailed summary of the sermon: 

Opening Hymn: The Bridegroom comes (EH:425)
Bible word: ‘Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.’ (Hebrews 4:1)
Apostle Swartbooi:

My dear brothers and sisters, those here and those who are connected. May the words of this hymn continue to echo in our hearts. I wait for the Lord. It should be like that every day. Every day we should wait. Because the Lord is going to return. He is coming. And whilst waiting, we need to prepare ourselves for the return of Jesus Christ. And it is beautiful when we can wait together. We wait for that day when God will give the instruction to go and fetch the bride. And we need to prepare ourselves so that we can be accepted. And for this, it is important that you and I remain under God’s hand of grace.

The Bible word that I read says, ‘Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest…’ In order to give context to this, one needs to go to the creation. Let's focus for a moment on these words where it says ‘…of entering His rest…’ It says in Genesis 2:2, ‘And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.’ God did not rest because He was tired. God is not a human being. He doesn't get tired. He rested because the work was done, and it was perfect. Then two human beings were placed in that perfect space. They entered that beautiful space that God had prepared for them. It was a perfect space. And that space affected their life. They had a relationship. It affected all their relationships. They had a relationship with God which was perfect. They had this beautiful relationship of peace. They looked forward to God entering paradise at the time. They subjected themselves to the divine will of God. And they knew that God is the landlord, and they were only the tenants. The landlord determines what's transpiring on his property. And He gave them certain rules and regulations and said this is what you should do. But this you shouldn't do. Don't eat from the tree of good and evil. And while they obeyed that law, they had a perfect relationship with God. They had a perfect relationship with each other. They had a perfect relationship with nature. Today we hear about certain campaigns. One example of this is Save the rhino. We hear of certain animals that don't exist anymore. What happened in the time was that no animal’s life was in danger. They lived in perfect harmony with Adam and Eve, and Adam and Eve with them. So, their relationship with God, their relationship with each other, their relationship with nature was perfect. Absolutely perfect. Who wouldn't love to stay in such a kingdom? Who wouldn't love to stay in such an environment? Who wouldn't love to stay in such a place of peace? This is what they had.

We know that Satan came, and he presented them with a question. Isn’t God just afraid that you might become like Him? And they disobeyed the rules and regulations of the almighty God. And then the harmony was disturbed. Then things went from bad to worse. I often think about this. Eve was the first woman to whom it was told your son was murdered. You can imagine that shock. And then, that was not all. It was the other brother that murdered him. And from there, things just escalated and got worse and worse. And that was not God's intention. He wanted them to live in perfect harmony. He wanted them to live in perfect peace.

And now brothers and sisters, let's just fast forward a little bit. Our Bible word comes from Hebrews 4. Remember, ‘…entering His rest…’, that rest of perfection. That rest of eternal joy and eternal happiness. If you read Hebrews 3, God spoke these words and addressed it to the Israelites at the time of Moses. And the word was given to them, ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion…’. The rebellion… does God only speak to Moses? Why didn't you leave us in Egypt? It was better there. Do we have to die now? Because the Egyptians were behind them. And then in front of them was the Red Sea. And they stood up against Moses. And then Hebrews 3 goes further. It says, ‘In the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works 40 years.’ They saw what God did for them. They saw the miracles performed for them and yet they rebelled against God. And then it says, ‘Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, “They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.”’ And then the instruction from God, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ Why? Because they rebelled against God. He said to them, I've got a promised land for you and Moses will take you there. Listen to him. This is my servant. I am speaking through him. He has been mandated to take you to a place of rest where you won't be subjected to what the Egyptians are doing to you. In the beginning, they gladly accepted this. Then things changed.

And now, this word, there's an eternal rest, the Lord gives as a promise to all His people. He says and I read it again, ‘Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest…’ There is a promise that remains. God is giving you the invitation. You can enter My rest. And to understand this, I will read John 14:3. He says, ‘And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.’ The Lord wants us to be in the place that He created for Adam and Eve. He wants us to enter a place of eternal rest. His rest. And we will enter that place. The project is finished. It just has to be occupied - that space that the Lord has gone to prepare for you and me. The Lord wants us to be with Him. The first word of this Bible word says, ‘Therefore’. Something preceded this verse. And what preceded that, was God showing this is what happened. People came into rebellion. People did not accept and did not subject themselves to My instruction. And then this word, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ And hear the Lord says I want you to enter My rest. I've gone to prepare a place for you. I want you to be where I am. You and I have received that invitation. And normally when you receive an invitation, at the bottom, there you will find the letters RSVP. In other words, you need to respond. Are you coming? Are you accepting the invitation? And with our baptism and Holy Sealing, we said yes Lord. I am accepting this invitation.

And while we wait for the Lord, we can't just wait and sit still. We've got to wait and prepare. So how do we prepare ourselves? We come to the Lord’s house. We come here to listen to His divine instruction. What does the Lord have to say to us? In the beginning, there was already an intervention by God, and He sent Jesus who died for us. He made that supreme sacrifice. And each one of us should say on a daily basis, the Lord will not die in vain for me. It's too big a sacrifice. Why did He do that? Because He loves us. He did not create a paradise for Himself. He created it for people. He didn't create the promised land for Himself. He did it for the Israelites. And now for us brothers and sisters, I go and prepare a place so that you can be where I am. That's what the Lord desires. I want you to be with Me where I am. And it says in Scripture it is a place of eternal peace. Can you imagine a place where no people fight? We don't need to lock doors. Here we have to wear masks. Here we have a shortage of lots of things. There we will have everything in abundance for the soul. My soul waits on the Lord. Everything is ready and prepared for the soul. It's up to you and me to accept this. We accept and profess Jesus Christ. We want to be with our Lord and Master. We are in a relationship with Him.

And what does God do? He sent us the Holy Spirit. It is that Spirit that is revealed in every divine service that which you and I need to know for our perfection. In preparation, I thought of Apostle Paul. He says and whether I live or whether I die, the gain is Christ. When he was given testimony of the teachings of Jesus, his course of life changed. And afterwards, he made a very profound statement which you and I should follow. He says, I die daily. That simply means you and I can't have only one funeral in our lives. We can't. We have to realize and acknowledge the things that you and I need to die off. Why? So that we can reach the stage that He reached. He says and I don't live anymore. Brothers and sisters, we are those who subject ourselves to the will of God. I don't live anymore. It is not what I want for me. No. It is what the Lord wants for me. I don't live anymore. Lord, what do You want me to do? Where do You want me to go? In what direction do I need to go? He says, I want you to come to Me. In order to be prepared for the return of Jesus Christ, attendance to the divine services is vital. Jesus says, come to Me and I will give you rest. This means He will give you peace. When we hear the word of God, I can recall many years ago when my dad would give us a task. He would go off to work and he would give us a task and say when I return tonight, I want the yard at the back to be cleaned. And when we came from school, nobody said anything. And we just carried on playing, and we did our homework. And then my mother, she normally did this about five minutes before my dad would arrive home, then she would tell us your dad said you must clean the yard. Five minutes were not enough to clean the yard. What did we do? We did what Adam and Eve did. We went to hide because we knew we were in trouble. We were in trouble because we did not obey what my father requested. We ran away and thought this would solve the problem. In fact, it made it worse. And here the Lord speaks to us. Today when you hear my voice do not harden your heart.

Let us not treat the divine service as a concert. There are many concerts in life. But you select which one you want to attend or not attend. We can't treat a divine service like that. We need to treat a divine service like a student who has an objective in mind. I want to qualify as a teacher or an advocate. I want to qualify as a chartered accountant, whatever the case may be. That means you need to attend the classes. This morning, I looked at the divine service guide. The theme for the month of November speaks about the hope in the return of Jesus Christ. And when we miss a divine service, we miss a chapter that is necessary in our preparation for that day. The Lord is going to come. There is no doubt about that. There's nothing that can stop the return of Jesus Christ. He did not change His date. The date is set. There will come a day when the Lord will say, go and fetch the bride.

In conclusion, I want to say something similar was said to the people in the time of Noah. Noah went to them and said God is going to destroy the earth with water. And I can only imagine how he went into the homes. How he told the families. He did soul care visits; I am sure of that. The Bible doesn't say so, but I'm just convinced of it. He must have said to the people, take your child into the ark because God is going to destroy the earth with water. The ark is a safe space for you. You will be protected. They must have hardened their hearts to that call. Why? Because it was only Noah and his family that were saved. And imagine at the time, a little boy asked his dad, ‘Dad, is that not what uncle Noah said? Didn't he say you must take us in the ark? Dad, why must I drown now? Why should I lose my life here?’ What answer do you have for your child if you are responsible for the death of your own child? And it says in Scripture that in the last days, it will be like in the time of Noah. Let us not be the ones who rebel against the word of God. Let us not be the ones to rebel against the word of God. Today, when you hear my voice, harden not your heart. Let's prepare ourselves for the return of Jesus Christ and not only when we have time. Make time to prepare ourselves for the return of Jesus Christ. That when the time comes that our children do not tell us mommy, but wasn't that what the Priest said? The Priest was here in our home? He then said, come bring your children to the Lord's house. That's a safe space. Daddy, he was here. I sat on your lap when the Priest said those things. He prayed even that the Lord must prosper the ways that we as a family can come to His house. Brothers and sisters, this is serious. The Lord is going to come. There's no doubt about it. And He wants to save us. Let's make Him proud of us. Let's make sure that the Lord says, this is My beloved son. This is my beloved daughter. They have difficulties to contend with. They have to swim upstream. But they stand up for Jesus Christ. The Lord is coming. Make use of every opportunity. Brothers and sisters, let us prepare ourselves. And when the Lord comes, we can say I am ready. Like the hymn that was sung. I wait for the Lord. I wait for the Lord and my soul is ready to experience what He has gone to prepare for me. Amen.
Thoughts from Apostle Harold Swartbooi