Bible Study Guides – The Time of Trouble, Part IV – The First Four Plagues and Jacob’s Trouble

July 31, 2005 – August 6, 2005

Memory Verse

“And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.” Revelation 16:1.

Suggested Reading: Revelation 15:5–16:9; Patriarchs and Prophets, 195–203; Prophets and Kings, 605, 606; Early Writings, 279–282.

1 Describe the destructive power that will be exercised when the plagues begin to fall. For Old Testament type, see Exodus 11:4–6; 12:29, 30; 11 Samuel 24:14–16. How many angels carried out this work of destruction?

note: “A single angel destroyed all the first-born of the Egyptians and filled the land with mourning. When David offended against God by numbering the people, one angel caused that terrible destruction by which his sin was punished. The same destructive power exercised by holy angels when God commands, will be exercised by evil angels when He permits. There are forces now ready, and only waiting the divine permission, to spread desolation everywhere.” The Great Controversy, 614.

2 What effect has the final warning had on the wicked who have risen up against it? Revelation 12:17; 13:14–17.

note: “I was pointed down to the time when the third angel’s message was closing. The power of God had rested upon His people; they had accomplished their work and were prepared for the trying hour before them. They had received the latter rain, or refreshing from the presence of the Lord, and the living testimony had been revived. The last great warning had sounded everywhere, and it had stirred up and enraged the inhabitants of the earth who would not receive the message.” Early Writings, 279.

3 With whom is the devil enraged? What accusations and persecution will result? Matthew 24:9; Revelation 12:17; 14:12. For biblical examples of the similar experience of God’s people in the past, see 1 Kings 18:17; Acts 21:28; 24:6.

note: “Those who honor the law of God have been accused of bringing judgments upon the world, and they will be regarded as the cause of the fearful convulsions of nature and the strife and bloodshed among men that are filling the earth with woe. The power attending the last warning has enraged the wicked; their anger is kindled against all who have received the message, and Satan will excite to still greater intensity the spirit of hatred and persecution.” The Great Controversy, 614, 615.

4 What specific judgments are being referred to in this setting? Revelation 16:1–9.

note: “Says the revelator, in describing those terrific scourges: ‘There fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshiped his image.’ The sea ‘became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.’ And ‘the rivers and fountains of waters . . . became blood.’ [Revelation 16:2–4.] . . .

“In the plague that follows, power is given to the sun ‘to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat.’ Verses 8, 9. The prophets thus describe the condition of the earth at this fearful time: ‘The land mourneth; . . . because the harvest of the field is perished. . . . All the trees of the field are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men.’ [Joel 1:10–12.]” The Great Controversy, 628.

5 What time frame is specified as to when these four plagues will begin to fall? Revelation 19:1, 2; 15:1.

note: “When Christ ceases His intercession in the sanctuary, the unmingled wrath threatened against those who worship the beast and his image and receive his mark (Revelation 14:9, 10), will be poured out.” The Great Controversy, 627.

“An angel returning from the earth announces that his work is done; the final test has been brought upon the world, and all who have proved themselves loyal to the divine precepts have received ‘the seal of the living God.’ Then Jesus ceases His intercession in the sanctuary above. He lifts His hands and with a loud voice says, ‘It is done;’ and all the angelic host lay off their crowns as He makes the solemn announcement: ‘He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.’ Revelation 22:11.” Ibid., 613.

6 What specific point in time will these four plagues precede? For Old Testament prophecy, see Isaiah 26:20, 21; 51:21–23.

note: “The plagues upon Egypt when God was about to deliver Israel were similar in character to those more terrible and extensive judgments which are to fall upon the world just before the final deliverance of God’s people.” The Great Controversy, 627, 628.

7 What would happen to this world if these four plagues were universal? For Old Testament prophecy, see Joel 1:10–12, 17–20; Amos 8:3.

note: “These plagues are not universal, or the inhabitants of the earth would be wholly cut off. Yet they will be the most awful scourges that have ever been known to mortals.” The Great Controversy, 628, 629.

8 What element is now absent from these four judgments that was present in the judgments that fell before the close of probation? James 2:12, 13.

note: “The pleading blood of Christ has shielded the sinner from receiving the full measure of his guilt; but in the final judgment, wrath is poured out unmixed with mercy.” The Great Controversy, 629.

9 What is God going to do for His people at this time? See Old Testament prophecy, in Isaiah 33:15, 16; 41:17.

note: “The people of God will not be free from suffering; but while persecuted and distressed, while they endure privation and suffer for want of food they will not be left to perish. That God who cared for Elijah will not pass by one of His self-sacrificing children. He who numbers the hairs of their head will care for them, and in time of famine they shall be satisfied.” The Great Controversy, 629.

10 What will the world and the churches not know, and what will they continue when Christ ceases His ministration in the heavenly sanctuary? Revelation 22:11. See also Luke 13:34, 35; Mark 13:32–36.

note: “When God’s presence was finally withdrawn from the Jewish nation, priests and people knew it not. Though under the control of Satan, and swayed by the most horrible and malignant passions, they still regarded themselves as the chosen of God. The ministration in the temple continued; sacrifices were offered upon its polluted altars, and daily the divine blessing was invoked upon a people guilty of the blood of God’s dear Son and seeking to slay His ministers and apostles. So when the irrevocable decision of the sanctuary has been pronounced and the destiny of the world has been forever fixed, the inhabitants of the earth will know it not. The forms of religion will be continued by a people from whom the Spirit of God has been finally withdrawn; and the satanic zeal with which the prince of evil will inspire them for the accomplishment of his malignant designs, will bear the semblance of zeal for God.” The Great Controversy, 615.

11 Because of these fearful judgments and the continuing Sabbath/Sunday controversy, what do the religious and secular authorities decide needs to be done with those who refuse to comply with the Sunday law? For New Testament type, see John 11:47–50; Revelation 13:15–17.

note: “As the Sabbath has become the special point of controversy throughout Christendom, and religious and secular authorities have combined to enforce the observance of the Sunday, the persistent refusal of a small minority to yield to the popular demand will make them objects of universal execration. It will be urged that the few who stand in opposition to an institution of the church and a law of the state ought not to be tolerated; that it is better for them to suffer than for whole nations to be thrown into confusion and lawlessness. The same argument eighteen hundred years ago was brought against Christ by the ‘rulers of the people.’ ‘It is expedient for us,’ said the wily Caiaphas, ‘that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.’ John 11:50. This argument will appear conclusive; and a decree will finally be issued against those who hallow the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, denouncing them as deserving of the severest punishment and giving the people liberty, after a certain time, to put them to death. Romanism in the Old World and apostate Protestantism in the New will pursue a similar course toward those who honor all the divine precepts.” The Great Controversy, 615, 616.

12 What condition does the death decree bring on God’s people? Jeremiah 30:5–7; Genesis 32:24–30.

note: “The people of God will then be plunged into those scenes of affliction and distress described by the prophet as the time of Jacob’s trouble. ‘Thus saith the Lord: We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. . . . All faces are turned into paleness. Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble . . . .’ Jeremiah 30:5–7.” The Great Controversy, 616.

13 What should the people of God do to prepare for the “time of Jacob’s trouble”? Romans 13:1–14.

note: “Yet he [Jacob] leaves nothing undone on his own part to atone for the wrong to his brother and to avert the threatened danger. So should the followers of Christ, as they approach the time of trouble, make every exertion to place themselves in a proper light before the people, to disarm prejudice, and to avert the danger which threatens liberty of conscience.” The Great Controversy, 616.

14 During the “time of Jacob’s trouble,” who will try the people of God to the uttermost? What will be severely tested? For Old Testament type, see Zechariah 3:1. See also 1 Peter 1:7; 5:8; Revelation 12:12.

note: “As Satan accuses the people of God on account of their sins, the Lord permits him to try them to the uttermost. Their confidence in God, their faith and firmness, will be severely tested. As they review the past, their hopes sink; for in their whole lives they can see little good. They are fully conscious of their weakness and unworthiness. Satan endeavors to terrify them with the thought that their cases are hopeless, that the stain of their defilement will never be washed away. He hopes so to destroy their faith that they will yield to his temptations and turn from their allegiance to God.” The Great Controversy, 618, 619.

15 What will happen to anyone who has an unconfessed sin on his or her record in the “time of Jacob’s trouble”? For biblical type, see Hebrews 12:16, 17. See also Revelation 22:11, 12; 1 Timothy 5:24, 25.

note: “Had not Jacob previously repented of his sin in obtaining the birthright by fraud, God would not have heard his prayer and mercifully preserved his life. So, in the time of trouble, if the people of God had unconfessed sins to appear before them while tortured with fear and anguish, they would be overwhelmed; despair would cut off their faith, and they could not have confidence to plead with God for deliverance.” The Great Controversy, 620.

16 What will be required of God’s people in the “time of Jacob’s trouble”? When is the preparation for this to be done? Revelation 2:10; 11 Corinthians 6:2.

note: “The season of distress and anguish before us will require a faith that can endure weariness, delay, and hunger—a faith that will not faint though severely tried. The period of probation is granted to all to prepare for that time. Jacob prevailed because he was persevering and determined.” The Great Controversy, 621.

17 Who will succeed as did Jacob? Ephesians 6:10–13, 18.

note: “His victory is an evidence of the power of importunate prayer. All who will lay hold of God’s promises, as he did, and be as earnest and persevering as he was, will succeed as he succeeded. Those who are unwilling to deny self, to agonize before God, to pray long and earnestly for His blessing, will not obtain it. Wrestling with God—how few know what it is! How few have ever had their souls drawn out after God with intensity of desire until every power is on the stretch.” The Great Controversy, 621.