Bible Study Guides – Signs of the Nearness of Christ’s Coming

August 19, 2007 – August 25, 2007

Key Text

“So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.” Luke 21:31.

Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 1, 268-270.


“The signs in the sun, moon, and stars have been fulfilled. Since that time earthquakes, tempests, tidal waves, pestilence, and famine have multiplied. The most awful destructions, by fire and flood, are following one another in quick succession. The terrible disasters that are taking place from week to week speak to us in earnest tones of warning, declaring that the end is near, that something great and decisive will soon of necessity take place.” Review and Herald, November 22, 1906.

1 What sign was to appear in the stars? Matthew 24:29.

note: “This prophecy received a striking and impressive fulfillment in the great meteoric shower of November 13, 1833. That was the most extensive and wonderful display of falling stars which has ever been recorded; ‘the whole firmament, over all the United States, being then, for hours, in fiery commotion! No celestial phenomenon has ever occurred in this country, since its first settlement, which was viewed with such intense admiration by one class in the community, or with so much dread and alarm by another.’ ‘Its sublimity and awful beauty still linger in many minds. . . . Never did rain fall much thicker than the meteors fell toward the earth; east, west, north, and south, it was the same. In a word, the whole heavens seemed in motion. . . . The display, as described in Professor Silliman’s Journal, was seen all over North America. . . . From two o’clock until broad daylight, the sky being perfectly serene and cloudless, an incessant play of dazzlingly brilliant luminosities was kept up in the whole heavens.’ R. M. Devens, American Progress; or, The Great Events of the Greatest Century, ch. 28, pars. 1-5.

“ ‘No language, indeed, can come up to the splendor of that magnificent display; . . . no one who did not witness it can form an adequate conception of its glory. It seemed as if the whole starry heavens had congregated at one point near the zenith, and were simultaneously shooting forth, with the velocity of lightning, to every part of the horizon; and yet they were not exhausted thousands swiftly followed in the tracks of thousands, as if created for the occasion.’ F. Reed, in the Christian Advocate and Journal, Dec. 13, 1833. ‘A more correct picture of a fig tree casting its figs when blown by a mighty wind, it was not possible to behold.’ _The Old Countryman,’ in Portland Evening Advertiser, November 26, 1833.” The Great Controversy, 333, 334.

2 What is said of the manner of their fall? Revelation 6:13. Was it the real planetary stars that fell?

note: “In 1833, two years after [William] Miller began to present in public the evidences of Christ’s soon coming, the last of the signs appeared which were promised by the Saviour as tokens of His second advent. Said Jesus: ‘The stars shall fall from heaven.’ Matthew 24:29. And John in the Revelation declared, as he beheld in vision the scenes that should herald the day of God: ‘The stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.’ Revelation 6:13.” The Great Controversy, 333.

“This language of the prophet (Revelation 6:13) has always been received as metaphorical. Yesterday it was literally fulfilled. The ancients understood by aster in Greek and stella in Latin the smaller lights of heaven. The refinement of modern astronomy has made the distinction between stars of heaven and meteors of heaven. Therefore, the idea of the prophet as it is expressed in the original Greek, was literally fulfilled in the phenomena of yesterday.” Henry Dana Ward, in Journal of Commerce, November 15, 1833.

3 In what marked way was this prophecy fulfilled?

note: There is a record of not less than 16 star showers between a.d. 902 and 1868. None of those previous to 1780 could be the one referred to by the Saviour. . . . The skeptic may ask, “How can you know which of these [star showers] is the fulfillment of the prophecy?” This is easily determined by reading Revelation 6:13. It is the one in which the stars fall as untimely figs. This was true only of the one in 1833. The astronomers speak of the shower of 1833 as the most important one that has yet been seen.

“November 13, 1833, there was the most wonderful display of falling stars ever beheld by men. Again thousands believed that the day of judgment had come.” The Story of Jesus, 176.

4 What signs were to follow the falling of the stars? Luke 21:25, 26.

note: “Since that time earthquakes, tempests, tidal waves, pestilence, famine, and destructions by fire and flood, have multiplied. All these, and ‘distress of nations, with perplexity,’ [Luke 21:25] declare that the Lord’s coming is near.” The Story of Jesus, 176.

“The Saviour declared that before his second coming, there would be wars and rumors of wars, and earthquakes in divers places. The reports that reached us of the terrible earthquakes in Italy and Sicily tell of another fulfilment of the signs of the end. These calamities are becoming more and more frequent, and each report of calamity by land or sea is a testimony to the fact that the end of all things is near. The world is filled with iniquity, and the Lord is punishing it for its wickedness. As crimes and iniquities increase, these judgments will become more frequent, until the time shall come when the earth shall no more cover her slain.” Review and Herald, November 17, 1910.

“In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous. Destruction will be upon both man and beast. ‘The earth mourneth and fadeth away’; ‘The haughty people . . . do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.’ Isaiah 24:4, 5.” Counsels on Health, 461.

“Strange and eventful history is being recorded in the books of heaven events which it was declared should shortly precede the great day of God. Everything in the world is in an unsettled state.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, 313.

5 Have the nations of the earth been particularly distressed since 1833?

note: “We are living in the very last days of this earth’s history. The terrible calamities that have recently visited our country show that the judgments of the Lord are falling on the world. The destruction of these cities is a warning to us to prepare for what is coming upon the earth. In the future there will be broken thrones and great distress of nations, with perplexity. Satan will work with intense activity. The earth will be filled with the shrieks of suffering, expiring nations. There will be war, war. The places of the earth will be in confusion, as from its bowels pours forth its burning contents, to destroy the inhabitants of the world who, in their wickedness, resemble the inhabitants of the antediluvian world.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 18, 92.

6 What effect do all these things have upon the people? Luke 21:26.

note: “The present is a time of overwhelming interest to all living. Rulers and statesmen, men who occupy positions of trust and authority, thinking men and women of all classes, have their attention fixed upon the events taking place about us. They are watching the relations that exist among the nations. They observe the intensity that is taking possession of every earthly element, and they recognize that something great and decisive is about to take place that the world is on the verge of a stupendous crisis.

“The Bible, and the Bible only, gives a correct view of these things. Here are revealed the great final scenes in the history of our world, events that already are casting their shadows before, the sound of their approach causing the earth to tremble and men’s hearts to fail them for fear.” Prophets and Kings, 537.

7 At this same time, what can be said of the mental improvement of the people? Daniel 12:4.

note: “There are many inventions and improvements, and labor-saving machines now that the ancients did not have.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4A, 155.

“All right inventions and improvements have their source in him who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working. The skilful touch of the physician’s hand, his power over nerve and muscle, his knowledge of the delicate mechanism of the body, is the wisdom of divine power to be used in behalf of the suffering. The skill with which the carpenter uses his tools, the strength with which the blacksmith makes the anvil ring, come from God. Whatever we do, wherever we are placed, he desires to control our minds, that we may do perfect work.” Review and Herald, October 3, 1912.

8 Name some of the principal inventions since 1833.

note: Reaper and mower, 1833; telegraph, electrotype, and phonography, 1837; photography, 1839; electric light and sewing machine, 1846; submarine cable, 1851; washing machine, 1858; bicycle, 1861; typewriter, 1867; telephone, 1876; phonograph, 1877; cash register, 1884; dishwasher, 1886; escalator, 1891; safety razor and vacuum cleaner, 1901; airplane, 1903; tractor, 1904; Model T automobile, 1908; talking motion picture, 1910; photocopier, 1937; color television, 1940; computer, 1942; handheld calculator, 1967; videocassette recorder, 1971; cellular phones, 1979; World Wide Web, 1990.

“Christ never flattered men; he never spoke that which would exalt their fancies and imaginations, or praised them for their clever inventions. But those who were deep, unprejudiced thinkers received his words, and found that it put their wisdom to the stretch to comprehend the spiritual truths which he revealed in the simplest language.” Sabbath School Worker, January 1, 1895.

9 What are we to know when we see all these things? Luke 21:31; Matthew 24:33.

note: “The Bible declares that in the last days men will be absorbed in worldly pursuits, in pleasure and money-getting. They will be blind to eternal realities. . . .

“So it is today. Men are rushing on in the chase for gain and selfish indulgence as if there were no God, no heaven, and no hereafter. In Noah’s day the warning of the flood was sent to startle men in their wickedness and call them to repentance. So the message of Christ’s soon coming is designed to arouse men from their absorption in worldly things. It is intended to awaken them to a sense of eternal realities, that they may give heed to the invitation to the Lord’s table.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 228.

10 What expression is used that shows the coming of the Lord very near? Luke 21:32.

note: “Christ has given signs of His coming. He declares that we may know when He is near, even at the doors. He says of those who see these signs, ‘This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.’ [Matthew 24:34.] These signs have appeared. Now we know of a surety that the Lord’s coming is at hand. ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away,’ He says, ‘but My words shall not pass away.’ [Verse 35.]” The Desire of Ages, 632.

11 Then what may we expect within the present generation? Revelation 6:14; Matthew 24:30.

note: “The end of all things is at hand. The Lord is soon coming. Already His judgments are abroad in our land. We are not only to talk of Christ’s coming, but in every action we are to reveal the fact that He is soon to be manifested in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Have we the wedding garment on? Have we personal piety? Have we cooperated with divine agencies in a wholehearted, unreserved manner, in weaving into our life’s practices the divine principles of God’s holy law? It is one thing to talk the law, and it is another thing entirely to practice it. It is the doers of the law that shall be justified before God; for those who do the law represent the character of God, and lie not against the truth.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 187.

12 What will Christ do when He appears? Matthew 24:31.

note: “The Lion of Judah, so terrible to the rejectors of His grace, will be the Lamb of God to the obedient and faithful. The pillar of fire that speaks terror and wrath to the transgressor of God’s law, is a token of light and mercy and deliverance to those who have kept His commandments. The arm strong to smite the rebellious will be strong to deliver the loyal. Everyone who is faithful will be saved. ‘He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.’ [Matthew 24:31.]” Sons and Daughters of God, 358.