The Cords that Bind

Jesus said that when the Lord comes, everybody in the world will be bound into bundles. “Another parable He put forth to them, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, “Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?” He said to them, “An enemy has done this.” The servants said to him, “Do you want us then to go and gather them up?” But he said, “No, lest while you gather up the tares, you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, [Another version says, “at the time of the harvest.” A more accurate translation would be, “during the time of the harvest”] and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ” Matthew 13:24–30.

Notice, it says the tares are gathered together and they are bound. To bind anything, you need to have some kind of a cord or rope or something with which to bind them. Jesus explained what these cords were: “Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.’ He answered and said to them: ‘He who sows the good seed is the Son of man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.’ ” Verses 36–43.

We read here that Jesus will send forth His angels to bind the tares in bundles and cast them into the fire before the wheat is gathered for the heavenly garner. This is surely not a physical binding but a mental or spiritual binding. But what are the cords that bind?

Binding the Tares

“Satan is busily at work in our crowded cities. His work is to be seen in the confusion, the strife and discord between labor and capital, and the hypocrisy that has come into the churches. That men may not take time to meditate, Satan leads them into a round of gayety and pleasure-seeking, of eating and drinking. He fills them with ambition to make an exhibition that will exalt self. Step by step, the world is reaching the conditions that existed in the days of Noah. Every conceivable crime is committed. The lust of the flesh, the pride of the eyes, the display of selfishness, the misuse of power, the cruelty, and the force used to cause men to unite with confederacies and unions—binding themselves up in bundles for the burning of the great fires of the last days—all these are the working of Satanic agencies. This round of crime and folly, men call life.” Evangelism, 26.

Notice the two things mentioned that bind them: confederacies and unions. Men are bound up in bundles by joining certain organizations. How does this happen? “In all our great cities there will be a binding up in bundles by the confederacies and unions formed. Men will rule other men and demand much of them. The lives of those who refuse to unite with these unions, will be in peril.

“The work of the people of God is to prepare for the events of the future, which will soon come upon them with blinding force. In the world gigantic monopolies will be formed. Men will bind themselves together in unions that will wrap them in the folds of the enemy. A few men will combine to grasp all the means to be obtained in certain lines of business. Trades unions will be formed, and those who refuse to join these unions will be marked men. …

“These unions are one of the signs of the last days. Men are binding up in bundles ready to be burned. They may be church members, but while they belong to these unions, they cannot possibly keep the commandments of God; for to belong to these unions means to disregard the entire Decalogue.” Maranatha, 182.

If you are a member of an organization that is breaking the law of God, you are a part of it, and when you give your time, money and influence to it, you will be acknowledged as guilty of the same sins if you stay in it. You will be bound in a bundle.

Very often somebody says, “I’m not doing it.” But you are a member of an organization that is doing it, and supporting what they are doing with your influence, time, and your money. And so, it says, “They cannot possibly keep the commandments of God, for to belong to these unions means to disregard the entire Decalogue.”

In Notebook Leaflets, 48, Ellen White has this to say about the subject: “I am instructed to say that in the future great watchfulness will be needed. There is to be among God’s people no spiritual stupidity. Evil spirits are actively engaged in seeking to control the minds of human beings.”

Notice the way evil spirits try to control the minds of human beings. She says, “Men are binding up in bundles, ready to be consumed by the fires of the last days. Those who discard Christ and His righteousness will accept the sophistry that is flooding the world. Christians are to be sober and vigilant, steadfastly resisting their adversary the devil, who is going about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Men under the influence of evil spirits will work miracles.” Ibid.

We don’t understand how rapidly this work of binding people in bundles is going on. Once people are bound, it appears to them that they can never get loose. They say that they will lose their job and won’t have a way to make a living. Of course, they could decide that they are going to lose anything to gain eternal life and the Lord could provide for them. But you can see how it takes a tremendous amount of faith to get loose from this bundle once you have been bound.

“Can we not see how earnestly Satan is at work binding the tares in bundles, uniting the elements of his kingdom, that he may gain control of the world? This work of binding up the tares is going forward far more rapidly than we imagine. Satan is opposing every obstacle to the advancement of the truth. He is seeking to create diversity of opinion and to encourage worldliness and avarice. He works with the subtlety of the serpent and, when he sees it will do, with the ferocity of the lion. The ruin of souls is his only delight, their destruction his only employment; and shall we act as though we were paralyzed? Will those who profess to believe the truth listen to the temptations of the wily foe and allow themselves to become selfish and narrow, and their worldly interests to interfere with efforts for the salvation of souls?” Testimonies, vol. 5, 384.

Notice what Satan is introducing to bind people in bundles. Three things are mentioned. He is seeking to create diversity of opinion, to encourage worldliness—the love of the world, and avarice—a desire and craving to gain possessions. The devil tries to break down people’s barriers so their soul is weak, that without moral force, they can be overcome and then become polluted and debased and easily bound together in bundles.

“The matter is placed before us in the correct light. The question is asked, ‘And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God … Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing’ (II Corinthians 6:16, 17). What does this mean—the suggestions, the evil workings in the children of disobedience. You are not in any case to become contaminated with the spirit or influence of unbelievers. Be afraid of uniting or binding up in bundles with them. Be afraid of communicating the works connected with the Lord’s cause to those who have no part with God, or sympathy with those who love the truth of God.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 271, 272.

The devil seeks to get us bound up by being contaminated with the spirit or the influence of unbelievers. Of course, this Scripture (II Corinthians 6:14–16) is usually used to teach that as Christians we should not marry those that are not Christians, those that do not have the same faith. That is a true application of this Scripture, but it does not refer simply to a marriage covenant. When you are in close business relationships with a non-Adventist, disagreements can arise on whether or not to keep the establishment open on Saturday, when to close it on Friday or how to distribute the means that are made. An Adventist will want to pay tithe on his increase while a non-Adventist will generally not want to pay tithe on anything. When you are bound up with an unbeliever you are headed for trouble, and the Bible says not to do it.

In the book This Day With God, 163, it says, “The inhabitants of the world, under Satan’s leadership, are binding up in bundles ready to be burned. We have no time, not a moment, to lose. The judgments of God are in the land, and those who stand obstinate, unconvinced by the warnings God sends, will be bound up in bundles ready to be burned.”

We are not to bind ourselves with them. In Special Testimonies for Ministers and Gospel Workers, 10, Ellen White said, “Let not God’s people in any of our institutions sign a truce with the enemy of God and man.” She then quotes from II Corinthians 6:14, “Be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers.”

In our institutions there is a continual temptation to try to become more successful by uniting with the world. Ellen White wrote, “Christian consistency marked the course of Daniel and Joseph in all the actions of their lives. There are men binding in bundles by vows that will end in sacrificing conscience for professional success.” Pamphlet, 167.

Elder Burden was the principle leader that helped the Seventh-day Adventist church establish today what is called Loma Linda University. Ellen White wrote to him and Mrs. Burden: “How long will the Lord suffer oppression of the poor that rich men may hoard wealth? These men are heaping together treasures for the last days. Their money is placed where it does no one any good. To add to their millions, they rob the poor and the cries of the starving are no more to them than the barking of a dog. But the Lord marks every act of oppression. No cry of suffering is unheard by Him. Those who today are scheming to obtain more and more money, putting in operation plans that mean to the poor starvation, will in the last great day stand face to face with their deeds of oppression and injustice. Those who claim to be the children of God are in no case to bind up with the labor unions that are formed or that shall be formed. This the Lord forbids. Cannot those who study the prophecies see and understand what is before us. The transgressors of the law of God have taken sides with their leader, the general of rebellion. He understands how to devise his satanic schemes and through whom to work for the carrying out of them. He is striving to lead every soul to take sides with him, and under the influence of his temptations, thousands are binding themselves up in bundles, ready to be consumed by the fires of the last day. Those who yield to his temptation become in their turn tempters, standing among the ablest of his helpers.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 4, 78.

Most do not understand how the labor movement began. A few decades ago a Seventh-day Adventist minister who was a leader of the religious liberty department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, came to talk to ministers about this problem and the problems that they were facing, at that time, in the State of California where people were saying, in certain big cities, that if you want to get a job and earn a living here, you have to belong to a labor union. Sharing the problems they were dealing with, he told us how the modern labor movement got started. It was very interesting to hear the dates that he gave, compared with the statements that Ellen White wrote around the turn of the twentieth century. He told us that at the end of the nineteenth century a pope was elected in 1878 who continued in his office until 1903. In 1891, he wrote an encyclical that initiated the modern labor movement. Most people are unaware of the very close connections that the labor movement has had from its very inception with the Roman Catholic Church. Ellen White goes on to say to Elder Burden, “In the time of the harvest the Lord will say to His reapers, ‘Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into My barn’ (Matthew 13:30). God has a people on the earth who will see the evil of every phase of oppression, and will refuse to unite with the enemy in carrying out his plans.” Ibid., 79.

Are we going to become sanctified through the truth or are we going to become the subjects of Satan’s temptations? “Let all walk and work circumspectly, under the molding influence of the Holy Spirit. There is little wisdom in binding about the work in any line. God has not given His sanction to any branch of His work’s being bound about. But unbelief has strengthened, and those who have not been sanctified through the truth will be subjects of Satan’s temptations. They will be his most successful allies. … There are now those who will show just what they will do under temptation and in an emergency.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, 383. When you are under temptation and in an emergency, what will you do?

Concerning these people, “They cannot be depended upon. The Lord has given them great light, but they choose Barabbas rather than Christ. This is being enacted in our very midst. They crucify afresh the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. But the unsetting Sun of Righteousness is to shine forth, and those who have worked to counterwork what God has appointed will be gathered in bundles with the tares.” Ibid., 383.

There is always somebody to object, criticize and counterwork any time God is doing a work in the world. Those people guilty of this will be bound together in bundles. We all need to be very careful when we are analyzing and listening to somebody criticize something. If you are found criticizing something that God is in, then you are counterworking something that God is doing and are in a very dangerous situation.

Ellen White wrote a letter while she was in Australia, around 1892, to a gentleman that was a member of a secret society. There are many, many lodges, fraternities and secret societies of all kinds in the world today. These secret societies are another means by which people are bound in bundles. This man was a member of a Masonic Lodge. This is what she wrote to him: “I am anxious that you shall be a free man from the slavery of all bondage. You have been binding yourself in bundles with those who are an offense to God. Your brethren, or many of them, do not know that which you yourself and the Lord know—the inward workings of the association with which you are connected. You do not yourself know its character.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 20, 281.

Often times these organizations look very bland and mild on the outside, disguising the inner secret workings that go on within. Ellen White went on to say, “You are like a man intoxicated; every advancement perverts your senses.” Ibid.

That man finally freed himself from his association with the secret society. There are other people today who are members of these secret associations who will cut loose when the loud cry goes out. During the time of the latter rain, the people who want to be saved are going to cut loose from everything that keeps them from obeying the truth.

Today there are many obstacles that prevent people from obeying the truth. Some people refuse to obey because of their spouses; others hold back because of family connections. There are people who don’t obey the truth because of their business or connections with secret societies and labor unions. This connection makes them responsible to a degree for what is done by those associations in breaking the law of God.

As mentioned previously, when we come to the end of time, everybody is going to be bound. There is a big difference in the outcome, which depends upon the bundle in which you are bound. The parable says that the tares will be bound first, but later on, the wheat also will be bound.

Let us consider the cords and what it is that binds the wheat and holds it together. Some people believe that it is the church organization to which you belong.

In the book Early Writings, 88, 89, Ellen White wrote, “I saw the rapidity with which this delusion was spreading. [She was referring to spiritualism.] A train of cars was shown me, going with the speed of lightning. The angel bade me look carefully. I fixed my eyes upon the train. It seemed that the whole world was on board, that there could not be one left. Said the angel, ‘They are binding in bundles ready to burn.’ Then he showed me the conductor, who appeared like a stately, fair person, whom all the passengers looked up to and reverenced. I was perplexed and asked my attending angel who it was. He said, ‘It is Satan. He is the conductor in the form of an angel of light. He has taken the world captive. They are given over to strong delusions, to believe a lie, that they may be damned. This agent, the next highest in order to him, is the engineer, and other of his agents are employed in different offices as he may need them, and they are all going with lightning speed to perdition.’

“I asked the angel if there were none left. He bade me look in an opposite direction, and I saw a little company traveling a narrow pathway. All seemed to be firmly united, bound together by the truth, in bundles, or companies. Said the angel, ‘The third angel is binding, or sealing, them in bundles for the heavenly garner.’ This little company looked careworn, as if they had passed through severe trials and conflicts. And it appeared as if the sun had just risen from behind a cloud and shone upon their countenances, causing them to look triumphant, as if their victories were nearly won.”

The result of the Three Angels’ Messages ends in Revelation 14:12, “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” It is the third angel that binds the wheat into a separate bundle from the rest of the world.

“However much man may pervert the words of God, His purposes will be accomplished. Men may reject the truth, but it is the truth still. To us is committed the most solemn warning ever given to man; for us who are now upon the stage of action are reserved the most important scenes in this world’s history. Many who gave the first and second messages (Revelation 14:6–8) greatly desired to see this day which we see, and saw it not. And not all who now believe will remain to the coming of the Lord; some will sleep for a moment. The Master is binding the precious grain in bundles for the heavenly garner, while the wicked are gathering together as fagots for the fires of the last day. The church and the world are preparing for the last great contest, in which all must act a part. The kingdoms of the whole world are gathering their forces to the battle of the great day, when the wrath of God will be manifested against the nations that have made void His law.” The Review and Herald, January 27, 1885.

“The third angel’s message must go over the land, and awaken the people, and call their attention to the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Another angel unites his voice with the third angel, and the earth is lighted with its glory. The light increases, and it shines out to all the nations of the earth. It is to go forth as a light that burneth. It will be attended with great power, until its golden beams have fallen upon every tongue, every people, and every nation upon the face of the whole earth. Let me ask you, What you are doing to prepare for this work? Are you building for eternity? You must remember that this angel represents the people that have this message to give to the world. Are you among that people? Do you really believe that this work in which we are engaged is truly the third angel’s message? If so, then you understand that we have a mighty work to do, and that we ought to be about it. We must sanctify ourselves by a strict obedience to the truth, placing ourselves in right relation to God and His work. As the truth goes forth, Satan intensifies his zeal to defeat its progress by presenting pleasing delusions. As we urge the truth, he urges his errors. He will stir up his agents, in view of the coming of the Lord, to go out and cry, ‘Lo! here is Christ, and lo! there is Christ.’ And here arises this superstition, and there arises that heresy. And tell me, what are we to do about it? I will tell you: we can become familiar with the Bible, and read what saith the Lord. Not only the ministers but all who love and fear God are to do the Master’s work; and that is to let the light that He has given you shine before all. Here are two companies; one of them is being bound in bundles to burn, the other is being bound by the cords of truth and love. Satan is binding his followers with the work of iniquity. Christ is binding together His people in love and faith in the keeping of His commandments. And this work will increase more and more, and Satan will work to divide and separate God’s people one from the other.” The Review and Herald, August 18, 1885.

The devil is trying to separate and divide God’s people. “Satan will work to divide and separate God’s people one from the other. And while he is doing this kind of work, be careful that none of you are found helping him. We want to put away our cold-heartedness, and let love, tender compassion, true courtesy, and the spirit of tenderness come into our midst. Here we are in the waiting time, in the day of God’s preparation. Here in this world we are to fit up for these great trials that are soon coming upon us. And yet some of us act as though we had a whole millennium before us in which to accomplish the work. But, says the text, ‘Watch and pray; for ye know not when the time is’ (Mark 13:33). And what Christ said to His disciples, I say unto you, ‘Take ye heed, watch and pray,’ that when the Master comes to reckon with His servants, you may receive from Him the crown of life laid up for the overcomer, and rejoice with Him in His kingdom.” Ibid.

In Ellen White’s day, the following was a prophecy of what was going to happen in the future, in our day. It is happening all around us. She says, “I see perplexities on every side. As character develops man and woman will take their position, for varied circumstances brought to bear upon them will cause them to reveal the spirit which prompts them to action. Every one will reveal the character of the bundle with which he is binding himself.” The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, 995, 996.

Every bundle has its own character. We will reveal the character of the bundle with which we are being bound. If I intend to be in the kingdom of heaven but belong to an organization that is in open sin, I will have to cut loose from it before Jesus comes. The multitude of God’s people is still in Babylon, but before Jesus comes, the cry of Revelation 18:4 is going to go out, “Come out of her My people.” Babylon is in open sin and God’s people have to come out.

Two groups, both bound—one group ready to be burned. Jesus is coming for the heavenly garner that is bound about with the cord of truth. Make sure you choose the right bundle!

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.