A key text for people who are living in the last years of time, approaching the end of everything in this world as we know it, is Revelation 12:12: “On account of this, rejoice, O heavens, and those who dwell in them! Woe to the earth and the sea! Because the devil has come down to you having great wrath, knowing that he has but a short time.”
Among different Bible students and scholars, there is a difference of opinion as to what exact time this text in Revelation 12 applies. I am not interested in getting into a controversy about it. I will mention the two positions, and you can study this whole chapter and try to figure it out for yourselves. Some people believe that this applies particularly to 31 a.d., after the resurrection of Jesus. I have no real argument with those people. I personally believe that this Scripture has more particular application to 1798, the end of the 1260 day period. Study it out for yourself and make your own decision. Whichever way it is, we are living in that time now.
With a Whisper
“The devil has come down to you having great wrath, knowing that he has but a short time.” What does this text predict? This text predicts that as we approach the last years of earth’s history, the controversy between Christ and Satan is going to become more fierce and intense.
Ellen White wrote: “The Lord Jesus Christ came to dispute the usurpation of Satan in the kingdoms of the world. The conflict is not yet ended; and as we draw near the close of time, the battle waxes more intense.” Review and Herald, April 14, 1896. Then she discussed how Satan will personate Jesus Christ and how he will work upon the human imagination. The devil is cunning; even though he has great wrath, sometimes he comes with a whisper.
How does the devil get to your imagination? He can get to it through billboards, magazines, radio, television, novels, plays, videos—all of those are ways the devil can use to introduce things into your imagination and to start working on it. You need to be careful what you are looking at, what you are listening to, and what your imagination is dwelling upon.
After Ellen White says that the battle will wax more intense, she continues: “He will exercise his power, and work upon the human imagination.” Ibid. The devil wants to work on your imagination and on my imagination. We sometimes may not even know we are being tempted. We may think that we are just daydreaming, that we are just enjoying a little reverie, but the devil is working on the imagination.
A special warning is given for the young people: “Through the pleasures and ambitions of the world, the enemy is working to draw the youth into his ranks, and he has much success. As we approach nearer to the close of time, he will invent every possible attraction to draw their minds into worldly channels.” Ibid., February 1, 1912.
Attack upon Marriage
Another sign that the end of this earth is near is the severe attack we see upon marriage. Divorce seems to be used as the solution to a myriad of issues.
A young lady who was contemplating divorce once asked me for counsel. In her situation, I could only tell her, “Jesus said that if you divorce your spouse and marry somebody else, for some reason other than adultery, you are in adultery.” She did not like my answer. She divorced her husband and married somebody else anyway. That is one of the signs of the times.
Ellen White wrote, “A woman may be legally divorced from her husband by the laws of the land, and yet not divorced in the sight of God and according to the higher law. There is only one sin, which is adultery, which can place the husband or wife in a position where they can be free from the marriage vow in the sight of God.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, 159.
When Jesus comes again, there will be many people who have remarried after divorce, with no biblical grounds. It is a problem that we are facing all over the world. It is one of the signs of the times.
Speaking about a certain class of people, Ellen White said, “Those who cannot sustain their position by the Scriptures are stubbornly determined that it shall be sustained at all hazards, and with a malicious spirit they attack the character and motives of those who stand in defense of unpopular truth. Though very unbelieving in regard to the sure word of prophecy, they manifest the utmost credulity in accepting anything detrimental to the Christian integrity of those who dare to reprove fashionable sins. This spirit will increase more and more as we near the close of time.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 292.
If you study history, you will learn that in every period of history in this world there have been certain sins in different cultures that have been acceptable. There are sins today that are acceptable in Adventism. When some of us have decided that we have to write, preach, teach, and say what God says about these fashionable sins, people get angry. There is hatred of those who reprove fashionable sins.
There are sins that were fashionable in other periods of time that are not fashionable today. People fall into fashionable sins because they are looking around at other people, and they may not even realize something is sin, because everybody is doing it.
When we lived in Keene, Texas, my son attended the Keene Adventist Elementary School. One evening when we were talking, I was admonishing him about certain things that he should not do, and he said to me, “But dad, everybody is doing it.”
I was ready for that! I said, “Son, what if all those people who are doing that burn up some day? Would you like to burn up with them?”
There was a time, during Old Testament times, when one of the fashionable sins was the practice of polygamy. Was it a sin? Of course it was a sin. That is not fashionable right now, although today we have consecutive polygamy—we marry and divorce, marry and divorce. We have multiple spouses; we just have them one at a time.
One of the fashionable sins in Adventism today is lewdness. Do you know what lewdness is? Maybe I should use a simpler word: immodesty. Ellen White says that lewdness defiles the conscience. (Patriarchs and Prophets, 454.) Concealed Sin
“As we near the close of time, Satan will work with masterly activity to undermine principle, and corrupt moral character. Sin is committed by many who think their crime is effectually concealed. But there is One who says, ‘I know thy works.’ ‘There is nothing covered, which shall not be revealed; and hid, which shall not be known.’ [Revelation 2:2; Matthew 10:26.] When the mind is infatuated with the idea of sin, there will be deception practiced; lies will be told; for those who commit such sins will not be slow to lie as well. But all sin shall be revealed.” Review and Herald, May 24, 1887.
“The small sins will swell into the greater sins. Impure thoughts, private, impure actions, unrefined, low, and sensual thoughts and actions in the marriage life, the giving loose reins to the baser passions under the marriage vow will lead to every other sin, the transgression of all the commandments of God.” Ibid.
We need to face up to the divine counsel in the Spirit of Prophecy. Impure thoughts lead to impure actions. God has given you the right to eat. He gave Adam and Eve the right to eat, but did He give them the right to eat anything they pleased at any time? No. There was one tree of which God said, “Do not eat.” (Genesis 2:17.)
Whether you are a man or a woman, God has given you the right to get married. That is honorable. The Bible says that marriage is honorable, but just as it is not right for a person to eat anything, any time, any way, so the marriage privileges can be abused.
If you are concerned as to whether or not you and your spouse are living in a way that is honorable and glorifying to God, obtain the book, Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, by Ellen White. In it her counsel and advice is very, very specific.
Lose to Win
Matthew 24:10, 11 has some specific counsel as to what will happen as we approach the end of time: “And then shall many be offended and shall betray one another and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall arise and shall deceive many.” These verses say, “many.” How many are these many? Ellen White states very specifically that the majority will forsake us. (Testimonies, vol. 5, 136.)
What is going to happen? She says, “We are living in these last days, when lukewarmness and apostasy abound.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 7, 171. “The development of those who are not of the truth, will become of more frequent occurrence, as we near the close of time. Many will show that they are not one with Christ, that they are not dead to the world, that they may live with him; and frequent will be the apostasies of men who have occupied responsible positions. To be dead with Christ, means to be dead to all sin,—dead to the pleasures, the enjoyments, the profits, the honors, of the world; and, if we are partakers of Christ’s self-denial and suffering, we shall lose nothing by it, for we shall be partakers with him of his glory. It is at the peril of our souls that we prove unfaithful.” Review and Herald, September 11, 1888.
Remember that whatever we lose when we follow Jesus is not really a loss. As we approach the end, we are going to lose everything, from a worldly standpoint. But if we have faith, that is going to be a very exciting time. When it seems as though everyone around us has forsaken us and we lose everything for Jesus’ sake, then we know, if we have faith, that we are going to gain everything.
The day that we lose everything and the day that we gain everything is not the same day. There will be some time when it will appear, from a worldly point of view, that we have lost out on everything completely. Our friends or our relatives who are not in the faith, who are not walking up the narrow road, will think we are absolutely crazy. Some of us have had some experiences like that already.
Accuser of the Brethren
Revelation 12:12 says that as we approach the end of time, “On account of this, rejoice, O heavens, and those who dwell in them! Woe to the earth and the sea! Because the devil has come down to you having great wrath, knowing that he has but a short time.”
Verse 10 says, “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Now has come salvation and power, the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ, because the accuser of our brethren has been cast out, the one accusing them before our God day and night.”
The devil is the accuser of the brethren. You can study about that in Zechariah 3. He stood at the right hand of Joshua to oppose him. Ellen White writes, “Satan studies every indication of the frailty of human nature, he marks the sins which each individual is inclined to commit, and then he takes care that opportunities shall not be wanting to gratify the tendency to evil.” The Great Controversy, 555.
As we approach the close of time, she writes that, “Satan commenced his work as an accuser in heaven. This has been his work ever since the fall, and it will be his work in a special sense as we approach nearer to the close of time.” Review and Herald, September 22, 1896. We are going through this right now.
What To Do
What should we do since we are in this situation? Divine counsel has been given. I do not see God’s people doing this very much, but we should start doing it: “Now and onward till the close of time the people of God should be more earnest, more wide-awake, not trusting in their own wisdom, but in the wisdom of their Leader. They should set aside days for fasting and prayer. Entire abstinence from food may not be required, but they should eat sparingly of the most simple food.” Ibid., February 11, 1904.
This is a very interesting statement. If Ellen White were not inspired, she would not have known to write this. But, you see, we are living in a time when we are the weakest generation there has ever been. There are people all around us who have diabetes and various other health problems, which make it difficult to easily fast. They have to be very careful. I have friends who are on insulin, and they cannot just decide that they are not going to eat anything for a day. They have to be careful.
We are facing a crisis in the church and in the world that we have never before faced. We are not going to make it through these last years successfully unless we have special divine help. I believe that because, as I have prayed, I have been impressed that unless I have special divine help from the Lord, I am not going to make it. Jesus said to the disciples, when they could not cast out the devil, “This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17:21.
We will be opposed, in a very short time, by a monolithic worldwide church led by the antichrist. How are we going to make that? It is written in The Great Controversy, 384, that, “The Protestant churches have much of antichrist in them, and are far from being wholly reformed from . . . corruptions and wickedness.” The Seventh-day Adventist church is a Protestant church, and many Adventists will be right along with this worldwide church. We are not going to make it through this time unless we devote some days to fasting and prayer.
What is Happening
A most startling statement is given in Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 379. This is a prediction of what is going to happen in the last years. I believe that we are living in the last years, and I believe this is being fulfilled right in front of our eyes. This quotation explains to me why Adventists are exclaiming, “What is going on? I cannot believe that this is happening.” But it is happening.
“In His Word the Lord declared what He would do for Israel if they would obey His voice. But the leaders of the people yielded to the temptations of Satan, and God could not give them the blessings He designed them to have, because they did not obey His voice but listened to the voice and policy of Lucifer.”
What was the problem? God promised His people, “If you obey My voice, I will do these things for you.” But she continued, “God could not give them the blessings He designed them to have, because they did not obey His voice but listened to the voice and policy of Lucifer.”
That is the setting for the statement that applies to us: “This experience will be repeated in the last years of the history of the people of God, who have been established by His grace and power. Men whom He has greatly honored will in the closing scenes of this earth’s history pattern after ancient Israel.” Ibid.
Who are the people of God in the last years of earth’s history that have been established by God’s grace and power? Seventh-day Adventists.
What happened to Israel? God said, “If you obey My voice, I will do this for you.” They did not obey His voice but listened to the voice and policy of Lucifer. This is why so many things are happening today. People wonder why the Vatican flag was in the Parade of Nations at the General Conference Session. What is happening? Why are Catholic priests giving testimony and monsignors addressing the leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church? What is happening?
What did Ellen White say would happen in the last years? The experience of leaders of God’s people not obeying His voice but listening to the voice of Lucifer, she said, would be repeated. Just like it happened in ancient Israel, she said, “Men whom He has greatly honored will in the closing scenes of this earth’s history pattern after ancient Israel.”
We are in the closing scenes of this earth’s history, and that is why we see things happening in the church that cause us to say, “What is happening?” We cannot understand it. We cannot believe it. It is so confusing that we cannot make any sense out of anything. That is what is happening.
True or False
One more thing that is going to happen as we approach the end is:
“Falsehood will be so mingled with truth, that only those who have the guidance of the Holy Spirit will be able to distinguish truth from error.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 7, 359.
This statement is an excellent one to follow after the quotation about listening to the voice of Lucifer. You see, when you listen to the voice of Lucifer, that does not mean that you are not going to hear truth. The devil knows what the truth is, and the devil can teach you a lot of truth. By the way, everything that the antichrist believes is not a lie. Much of what the antichrist teaches is the truth.
Does the antichrist power believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sin? They teach it. Do they believe that you should pray? Yes. They are even teaching now—they did not teach this in the Dark Ages—that you should read your Bible. They believe in missions.
I was given an official Catechism of the Catholic Church. I have looked through it, and it is actually quite amazing, the tremendous amount of truth it contains. But, of course, it is mixed up; it is the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
The Book of Revelation predicts that the whole world is going to be deceived by the devil at the end of time. Do not think that all they will believe are lies. A lot of what they believe will be the truth. That is what will make it so deceptive. There will be truth mingled with error, and you will not be able to figure it out unless you have the help of the Holy Spirit.
This perhaps helps you to understand why we need to be praying every day. This is why we pray before we preach. This is why we pray before we study God’s Word. This is why we pray, “Lord, help us to understand the truth,” before we study our Bibles at home.
The devil stands beside some people when they are studying the Bible. He teaches them lots of things—a lot of truth mixed up with error. We cannot tell the error unless the Holy Spirit is working in our mind s. When we understand this, we no longer have self-confidence. Instead, we ask the Lord to keep us. We surrender our lives totally to Him because we recognize that only He can keep us from being deceived.
Lust of the Flesh
What is happening as we approach the end of time, the last years of earth’s history? Ellen White wrote, in the January 2, 1900, Review and Herald, “Many who profess to believe the word of God do not seem to understand the deceptive working of the enemy. They do not realize that the end of time is near; but Satan knows it; and while men sleep, he works. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life are controlling men and women. Satan is at work even among the people of God, to cause disunion. Selfishness, corruption, and evil of every kind are taking a firm hold upon hearts.”
The day of probation is not over yet. If selfishness, corruption, the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life has a firm hold on your heart, if you cry out to the Lord Jesus, He can set you free from the devil’s firm hold.
From the few things we have addressed in this article, you know that the Lord Jesus can save you if you make a complete surrender and dedication to Him. I hope you understand that it is necessary to make a total surrender to the Lord, because if you do not, the devil is going to get you.
We are living in the shaking period, in the last years of earth’s history. There is going to be a group of people that will be ready when Christ returns. I want to be one of those people. If you want to be one of those people also, make a covenant with the Lord right now; pray, “Lord, I want to make a covenant with You. Whatever I lose in this world, whatever opposition I have, I want to be one of the people that is ready when Jesus comes. Lord, if there is anything in my life that is wrong, please point it out to me. I want every wrinkle, every spot, to come out of my character. Lord, I am really serious about being saved.”
[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: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.