Matthew 25:1–13 gives a parable of the ten virgins, which Jesus gave to his disciples in the evening. Of this parable Ellen White wrote, “Christ with His disciples is seated upon the Mount of Olives. The sun has set behind the mountains, and the heavens are curtained with the shades of evening. In full view is a dwelling house lighted up brilliantly as if for some festive scene. The light streams from the openings, and an expectant company wait around, indicating that a marriage procession is soon to appear. . . . In the scene upon which Christ looks, a company are awaiting the appearance of the bridal party, intending to join the procession.
“Lingering near the bride’s house are ten young women robed in white. Each carries a lighted lamp and a small flagon for oil. All are anxiously watching for the appearance of the bridegroom.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 405, 406.
Matthew 24 and 25 contain the instruction that Jesus gave to His disciples after they asked Him, “What shall be the sign of Your coming? When will these things [the destruction of Jerusalem] be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and the end of the world?” Matthew 24:3. In answer, He gave this dual prophecy, a prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and also concerning the end of the world.
The story of the ten virgins is a parable that applies particularly to the time of the end, to those people who are waiting expectantly and watching the eastern sky, waiting for Jesus to come. In this parable of the ten virgins, there was an unexpected delay. Has that happened? Yes.
In the 1980s, I served for a time as the Health Ministries Director for the Texas Conference. One Sabbath I was the guest speaker in a church, and a gentleman came to me and said, “My grandfather expected to live until Jesus came. My grandfather died. My father expected to live until Jesus came, but my father died. I have been expecting Jesus to come ever since I was a young man, and now I am 70 years of age.” The generations of his family had experienced the delay that is spoken of in the parable. This delay has had a terrible effect on Adventists.
The delay in the parable was so long; what did they do? The last time you attended a wedding, did you go to sleep? These ten young ladies were not expecting, originally, to go to sleep, but they slumbered and slept. The Lord included all of this detail in His story—the unexpected delay and the devastating effect that it would have upon those who were waiting.
The long-anticipated cry, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh,” came at midnight, the darkest time of the night hours. It is predicted in this story that Jesus will return again in the darkest period of earth’s history. It is my personal conviction that we are just about at that midnight hour; we are just about at the darkest period of earth’s history.
The Midnight Hour
In Luke 17:28–30, it says, “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed [them] all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.”
If you have studied history, you should be aware that never before in the history of man has homosexuality become socially acceptable all over the world. It was socially acceptable in Sodom, and it was socially accepted later on among the ten tribes. It became socially acceptable in the Roman government, and it became socially acceptable in France. But Jesus said that at the end of time it was going to be like the days of Lot in the world, not just in one geographic area. Friends, we are there! We live in a world that is so full of slime that we cannot allow ourselves to think about it. If we think about it too much, it is defiling for our own minds.
God foresaw all the different conditions that we would have to face and meet as we approach the last years of earth’s history. Are we living in the last years now? Yes, we are in the last years of earth’s history. We are approaching midnight.
At midnight a cry goes forth, “Behold, the bridegroom comes.”
Indulgence of Appetite
While traveling recently, I saw a billboard that was, to me, a fulfillment of prophecy. The billboard was an advertisement for International House of Pancakes (IHOP). It had a picture of about six pancakes with butter and syrup flowing over them. Then, in fairly large print, off to the right and bottom of the billboard it said, “Open 24 hours.” Shortly after that I saw another billboard advertising steaks and burgers. It also stated that this establishment is “Open 24 hours.” As I passed these signs, I thought, Do people really need to be eating syrup-smothered pancakes or steaks and burgers at 1:00 or 3:00 in the morning, or even at 11:00 at night? I thought that surely this is a fulfillment of prophecy.
Ellen White wrote about what will happen as the end of the world approaches: “As we draw near the close of time, Satan’s temptations to indulge appetite will be more powerful, and more difficult to resist.” Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 154. We are living in that time. When Ellen White wrote this statement, there were no International House of Pancakes restaurants that were open 24 hours.
There is a reason that we are constantly tempted on the point of appetite. The devil is trying to cause our eternal destruction through the indulgence of our appetite.
When attending the School of Health at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California, over 30 years ago, we were told, in a nutrition class, that in the third world countries only 10 percent of the people were overweight. In Western Europe, however, 25 percent of the people were overweight. That is one in four! But in the United States, we were having an epidemic of overweight. In this country, 41 percent of the people were overweight!
If you have read a newspaper or any of the national newsmagazines recently, it is being reported that over 60 percent of our population is significantly overweight. If you have studied health, physiology, epidemiology, or biostatistics, you know how ominous this is. You see, if there is an epidemic of obesity, the scene is being set up to have an epidemic of diabetes. That is already happening. When there is an epidemic of diabetes, then there is going to be an avalanche of trouble with the eyes and with the kidneys of diabetics. There will also be an increase of heart attacks.
These severe health issues as a result of indulged appetite are not just happening in the world. They are occurring throughout our churches. The devil is after us. Ellen White said that, “As we near the close of time, we must rise higher and still higher upon the question of health reform and Christian temperance, presenting it in a more positive and decided manner.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 443.
She wrote also, “As our first parents lost Eden through the indulgence of appetite, our only hope of regaining Eden is through the firm denial of appetite and passion.” Ibid., 59.
About this problem Jesus said, “Pay attention to yourselves, lest you burden down your hearts with surfeiting.” Luke 21:34. Do you know what surfeiting is? It is what we call feasting or eating. When Jesus warns us to pay attention to our condition in the last days, the first thing he talks about is feasting, surfeiting. The verse continues, “. . . and drunkenness and the anxieties of every day living.”
Do we have anxieties of everyday living? Did you have any anxious moments when the price of gasoline escalated about 75 cents a gallon within a few days? We each have a number of anxieties of everyday living. So Jesus said, “Watch out, lest because of these things that they come upon you suddenly [when you are not aware].”
We must learn to practice self-denial in regard to appetite and passions. Ellen White did not say we are to quit eating, but we must learn how to be in control of our eating.
There will not be any gluttons in heaven, so the devil is trying to lead us into a life of self-indulgence. Not only does it wreck our health, but it becomes the means of us forfeiting eternal life. This is one of the great temptations of the last days.
“And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, [it is] because [there is] no light in them.” Isaiah 8:19, 20. (See also Revelation 16:13, 14; 1 Samuel 28; Deuteronomy 18:9–12; 11 Corinthians 11:13–15.)
Ellen White wrote: “Satan is a cunning foe. And it is not difficult for the evil angels to represent both saints and sinners who have died, and make these representations visible to human eyes. These manifestations will be more frequent, and developments of a more startling character will appear as we near the close of time.” Review and Herald, April 1, 1875.
We are living in the time when more of these startling developments are taking place. Since Ellen White wrote the above statement, there has been a crescendo, a tremendous increase in the number of apparitions that are appearing to members of the human family, especially to the leaders of the world.
In Revelation 16:14, it says that these unclean spirits are going to “go out to the kings of the earth and the whole world, to gather them together for the battle of the great God Almighty.”
After Princess Diana died in a car accident in 1997, a big point was made on the news that she had been seeking advice from a spiritualist medium. If you listen carefully to the news, from time to time information such as this tidbit will be given. You will find out that the leaders of the nations are getting advice from people who are in contact with spiritists or from spiritists themselves.
More and more apparitions are appearing, and when they appear, they have a tremendous influence on people who do not know their Bible or from where these apparitions are coming. They think they are talking to the spirits of their dead loved ones. Any preacher or evangelist, any Bible worker, any man or woman who is in contact with many people, giving Bible studies to the public, can tell you stories of people with whom they have come in contact who have been in contact with some spirit.
I was told about a man in Wichita, Kansas, whose father had died. As he was driving along a road one day, he saw his father standing by the road, so he stopped, and they had a conversation. He thought he was talking to the spirit of his father. Things like this are happening more and more frequently, much more than in Ellen White’s day. We are living in the last years of earth’s history.
As we approach the end of time, if you have children, be sure that they are instructed and understand what to do if they should meet with somebody that looks just like one of their dead relatives. The devil is going to come to our children. He is going to come to us.
Ellen White said, “They [the saints] must understand the state of the dead; for the spirits of devils will yet appear to them, professing to be beloved relatives or friends, who will declare to them unscriptural doctrines. They will do all in their power to excite sympathy and will work miracles before them to confirm what they declare. The people of God must be prepared to withstand these spirits with the Bible truth that the dead know not anything, and that they who thus appear are the spirits of devils.” Early Writings, 262. (See Ecclesiastes 9:5.)
Apparitions are appearing more and more in the world. Before it is over, the devil and his angels are going to impersonate, Ellen White says, the apostles. “He who is the father of lies, blinds and deceives the world by sending forth his angels to speak for the apostles, and to make it appear that they contradict what they wrote by the dictation of the Holy Ghost when on earth. These lying angels make the apostles to corrupt their own teachings and to declare them to be adulterated. By so doing Satan delights to throw professed Christians and all the world into uncertainty about the Word of God.” Ibid., 90. Can you imagine? The world is being prepared for this through all manner of spiritistic programming on television.
Several years ago, I was flying to Australia to preach in a number of different places there. On those long overnight flights, the airlines always have movies playing. I was trying to rest with my eyes shut, but I opened my eyes for a moment, and I was shocked by what was on the movie screen. It was showing experiences with spirits after people had died. This is everywhere in our society.
Society is being educated to believe in spirits. Already they believe that when an apparition of the Virgin Mary appears, it is really Mary. In Wichita, somebody reported a shadow on a window of a medical clinic that looked like a shadow of the Virgin Mary. It seemed as though people in the town went crazy. They had to go there and see this shadow.
The world is open for this today. What will happen when the apostle Paul or the apostle Peter is impersonated, and then we are told by these apparitions things that contradict what these apostles wrote in the Scriptures? Are your children educated what to do when they meet up with something like this? This is what is going to happen in the last years of this world’s history.
In 1 Corinthians 10, the apostle Paul mentions a number of different things that happened to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and he says, “You do not murmur like they murmured. All of these things happened to them for ensamples [or examples] for us, upon whom the ends of the ages are come.” Verses 10, 11. What was this murmuring that Paul speaks of here? If you look back to Numbers 16:11–35, you will understand that he is referring to the experience of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. This experience is a special warning to those living in the last years of earth’s history. Speaking of the rebellion of these men, Ellen White wrote: “The facts relative to Korah and his company, who rebelled against Moses and Aaron, and against Jehovah, are recorded for a warning to God’s people, especially those who live upon the earth near the close of time. Satan has led persons to imitate the example of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, in raising insurrection among the people of God. Those who permit themselves to rise in opposition to the plain testimony, become self-deceived. Such have really thought that those upon whom God has laid the burden of his work were exalted above the people of God, and that their counsels and reproofs were uncalled for. They have risen in opposition to the plain testimony which God would have his servants bear in rebuking the wrongs among God’s people. . . . The straight testimonies borne were in their way, and caused them great uneasiness; and they found relief in warring against them, and striving to make themselves and others believe that they were untrue. They said that the people were all right, but it was the reproving testimonies which made the trouble.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 306, 307.
See, this is what Korah said! He said, “The people are all right; the problem is just this Moses who is too hard on us. The people are all holy.”
Ellen White wrote: “The repeated murmurings of the Israelites, and the visitations of God’s wrath because of their transgressions, are recorded in sacred history for the benefit of God’s people who should afterward live upon the earth; but more especially to prove a warning to those who should live near the close of time.” Ibid., 270.
One of the biggest problems today is the disunity and insurrection being raised among God’s people. This was the problem that the children of Israel had, and it was so serious that they were murmuring and complaining against their leaders, sometimes only Moses, sometimes both Moses and Aaron. This was one of the major reasons that all but two did not get to enter the Promised Land.
The devil knows that if we get to murmuring or complaining because of the providences of God that we do not understand or if we are unhappy with the leadership, we are murmuring because of the straight testimony; the preachers are preaching too straight.
This was the trouble with Moses. Moses was reproving the children of Israel often. That was not pleasurable for him to do, but that was his responsibility. It became even more unpleasant because they were murmuring, and one time they even wanted to stone him.
We are living in a time now when the majority of the professed people of God will not listen to plain preaching from the Word of God. That is one of the signs of the times, the fulfillment of this prophecy. We are doing exactly what the children of Israel did.
In 1993, the pastor of the Keene, Texas, Seventh-day Adventist Church, of which I was a member, sent me a letter. I had been an elder of this church for many years, as well as a Sabbath School teacher. In his letter, he stated that on a certain date there would be a church meeting and my name would be brought up for disfellowshipping. I thought this was very interesting, and I responded in writing that I would like to be there, if I was going to be disfellowshipped, but that I was scheduled to be in Europe on that date.
Well, they decided to disfellowship me anyway, while I was in Europe. When I returned from Europe, they sent a letter to me stating four reasons why I had been disfellowshipped. All four reasons were true! One of the four reasons they gave for my disfellowshipping was that I had stated that they were in apostasy. I had said that; I had even put it in print. It was the truth, and I could not retract it, because it was the truth.
I had published a booklet entitled, None Dare Call it Apostasy. In this booklet, I included quotations from denominational newspapers and college newspapers that documented what was being done in the church. Also included were some Bible texts and Spirit of Prophecy quotations, which made it very evident that there was apostasy in the church. We cannot take such reproof any more. If we are in apostasy, but nobody can say anything about it, how can we ever get out of that condition? You see, if a church or a group of people is in apostasy, there is no hope for them unless somebody gives them a warning of their condition, and unless they accept it, there is no hope.
Walls of Separation
We are living in the last years of time. During this time, there is going to be a polarization of all the people in the world. At the very end, there will only be two groups. These two groups will be so different from one another! One group will be an exact replica or image of the character of Satan. The other group will be an exact replica or image of the character of Jesus.
In 1 John 3:2, we are told that when Jesus comes, we are going to be like Him. The same writer, in Revelation 19:19, talks about these different worldly powers and how they are going to be gathered together to fight the Lord, the One that is on the horse.
Writing of the development of these two groups, Ellen White says, “As we near the close of time the demarcation between the children of light and the children of darkness will be more and more decided. They will be more and more at variance.” Last Day Events, 215. Why are they more and more at variance? Because one of the groups is becoming more and more like Jesus. They will not look at sin. They will not listen to sin. They will not be around sin. They will not eat like the world. They will not indulge in the entertainment of the world. They will not dress like the world.
The worldly are saying to us now, “Well, just what in the world do you do? You do not do anything that we do.” This experience repeatedly occurs when people accept God’s truth. All of a sudden they have to make new friends, because their worldly friends say, “You do not go to the movies with us anymore. You do not go to the drinking parties anymore. You do not play cards, gamble, or dance anymore. You do not do anything that we do.” So they lose all of their former friends; they have to develop all new friendships.
Perhaps the devil is tempting you with the fact that since you have chosen to follow Jesus, you are a loser. Maybe you have lost your spouse or other family members or dear friends have deserted you. You feel all alone in the world. Let me tell you something. When everyone forsakes you because you are following Jesus, you are going to gain more friends, and the friends you gain are going to be of a much better quality than the ones you have lost.
“As we near the close of time the demarcation between the children of light and the children of darkness will be more and more decided. They will be more and more at variance. This difference is expressed in the words of Christ, ‘born again’—created anew in Christ, dead to the world, and alive unto God. These are the walls of separation that divide the heavenly from the earthly and describe the difference between those who belong to the world and those who are chosen out of it, who are elect, precious in the sight of God.” Ibid., 215, 216.
The difference between the two groups is going to become more and more evident, because we are attempting to imitate the life of Christ. It is the goal, if you are a Christian, to imitate, to copy the Pattern. The Bible says, “He that is in Him, it is necessary for him to walk as He walked.” 1 John 2:6.
[Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]
Pastor John Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559