May 14-20, 2000
MEMORY VERSE: “And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.” John 14:29.
STUDY HELP: The Desire of Ages, 627–636.
INTRODUCTION: “After He had given the signs of His coming, Christ said, ‘When ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.’ ‘Take ye heed, watch and pray.’ God has always given men warning of coming judgments. Those who had faith in His message for their time, and who acted out their faith, in obedience to His commandments, escaped the judgments that fell upon the disobedient and unbelieving. The word came to Noah, ‘Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before Me.’ Noah obeyed and was saved. The message came to Lot, ‘Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city.’ Genesis 7:1; 19:14. Lot placed himself under the guardianship of the heavenly messengers, and was saved. So Christ’s disciples were given warning of the destruction of Jerusalem. Those who watched for the sign of the coming ruin, and fled from the city, escaped the destruction. So now we are given warning of Christ’s Second Coming and of the destruction to fall upon the world. Those who heed the warning will be saved.’ The Desire of Ages, 634.
“Signs in the sun, moon and stars”
1 What sign of Christ’s coming was John first shown? Revelation 6:12, first part.
NOTE: “In fulfillment of this prophecy there occurred, in the year 1755, the most terrible earthquake that has ever been recorded. Though commonly known as the earthquake of Lisbon, it extended to the greater part of Europe, Africa, and America. It was felt in Greenland, in the West Indies, in the island of Madeira, in Norway and Sweden, Great Britain and Ireland. It pervaded an extent of not less than four million square miles. In Africa the shock was almost as severe as in Europe. A great part of Algiers was destroyed; and a short distance from Morocco, a village containing eight or ten thousand inhabitants was swallowed up. A vast wave swept over the coast of Spain and Africa engulfing cities and causing great destruction.” The Great Controversy, 304. (See also pages 304–306.)
2 What celestial signs did Jesus warn of? Mark 13:24. (Compare Revelation 6:12, 13.)
NOTE:: “Twenty-five years later appeared the next sign mentioned in the prophecy—the darkening of the sun and moon.” The Great Controversy, 306, 308.
3 What further celestial sign did Jesus warn of? Mark 13:25.
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.” The Great Controversy, 333.
“On the Earth Distress of Nations With Perplexity”
4 Besides the celestial signs, what did Jesus tell us of the state of mankind in the last days? Luke 21:25, last part.
NOTE: “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.” The Review and Herald, November 22, 1906.
5 How is the reaction to the increasing disasters described? Luke 21:26.
NOTE: “Not long ago a very impressive scene passed before me. I saw an immense ball of fire falling among some beautiful mansions, causing their instant destruction. I heard someone say, ‘We knew that the judgments of God were coming upon the earth, but we did not know that they would come so soon.’ Others said, ‘You knew? Why then did you not tell us? We did not know.’ On every side I heard such words spoken. Soon grievous troubles will arise among the nations—trouble that will not cease until Jesus comes. As never before we need to press together, serving Him who has prepared His throne in the heavens and Whose kingdom ruleth over all. God has not forsaken His people, and our strength lies in not forsaking Him. The judgments of God are in the land. The wars and rumors of wars, the destruction by fire and flood, say clearly that the time of trouble, which is to increase until the end, is very near at hand. We have no time to lose. The world is stirred with the spirit of war. The prophecies of the eleventh of Daniel have almost reached their final fulfillment.” Maranatha, 25.
“Famines and Earthquakes and Pestilences”
6 What further calamities are signs of Christ’s coming? Matthew 24:7, last part.
NOTE: “Christ is coming soon. He declared that when there would be wars and rumors of wars, when there would be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places, we might know that the time of His second appearing is near. ‘When these things begin to come to pass,’ He declared, ‘then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.’ Christ represented this time by the parable of the fig tree. ‘Behold the fig tree,’ He said, ‘and all the trees; when they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.’ The wickedness, the turmoil, the disturbances on every side, should be regarded by us as signs that the day of God is at hand. We are standing on the verge of the eternal world. We have no time to lose. It is high time to tell the people that Christ is coming. Let us warn them, visiting them at their homes, and talking and praying with them personally. By such efforts we shall win souls to Christ. If we come to God in faith, He will give us power and grace for every duty.” Peter’s Counsel to Parents, 33.
“Already the restraining Spirit of God is being withdrawn from the earth. Hurricanes, storms, tempests, fire and flood, disasters by sea and land, follow each other in quick succession. Science seeks to explain all these. The signs thickening around us, telling of the near approach of the Son of God, are attributed to any other than the true cause. Men cannot discern the sentinel angels restraining the four winds that they may not blow until the servants of God are sealed; but when God shall bid his angels loose the winds, there will be such a scene of His avenging wrath as no pen can picture.” The Review and Herald, January 11, 1887.
7 What restraining work was seen by John and what was its purpose? Revelation 7:1–3.
NOTE: “John sees the elements of nature—earthquake, tempest, and political strife—represented as being held by four angels. These winds are under control until God gives the word to let them go. There is the safety of God’s church. The angels of God do His bid-ding, holding back the winds of the earth, that the winds should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree, until the servants of God should be sealed in their foreheads.…Angels are now restraining the winds of strife, until the world shall be warned of its coming doom; but a storm is gathering, ready to burst upon the earth, and when God shall bid His angels loose the winds, there will
be such a scene of strife as no pen can picture.” Maranatha, 266. (See also Early Writings, 58.)
“Wars and Rumors of Wars”
8 How did Jesus tell His followers to react to political developments? Matthew 24:6, 7, first part.
NOTE: “The coming of the Lord is nearer than when we first believed. The Great Controversy is nearing its end. Every report of calamity by sea or land is a testimony to the fact that the end of all things is at hand. Wars and rumors of wars declare it. Is there a Christian whose pulse does not beat with quickened action as he anticipates the great events opening before us? The Lord is coming. We hear the footsteps of an approaching God, as He comes to punish the world for its iniquity. We are to prepare the way for Him by acting our part in getting a people ready for that great day.” Review and Herald, November 12, 1914. (See also Evangelism, 240, 241.)
9 What final alliance will take place among the nations and whom will they combine against? Revelation 16:13–16.
NOTE: “The battle of Armageddon is soon to be fought. He on Whose vesture is written the name, King of kings and Lord of lords, leads forth the armies of heaven on white horses, clothed in fine linen, clean and white. Every form of evil is to spring into intense activity. Evil angels unite their powers with evil men, and as they have been in constant conflict and attained an experience in the best modes of deception and battle, and have been strengthening for centuries, they will not yield the last great final contest without a desperate struggle. All the world will be on one side or the other of the question.…On one side stands the Creator of heaven and earth. All on His side bear His signet. They are obedient to His commands. On the other side stands the prince of darkness, with those who have chosen apostasy and rebellion.” SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 982, 983.
“And Then Shall the End Come”
10 What work is to be accomplished before the end comes? Matthew 24:14.
NOTE: “Long has God waited for the spirit of service to take possession of the whole church so that everyone shall be working for Him according to his ability. When the members of the church of God do their appointed work in the needy fields at home and abroad, in fulfillment of the gospel commission, the whole world will soon be warned and the Lord Jesus will return to this earth
with power and great glory.” Acts of the Apostles, 111. (See also The Desire of Ages, 633, 634.)
11 What preparation is necessary before God’s people can complete their work? Ephesians 5:25–27. Compare Hebrews 10:22–25, 1 Corinthians 1:7, 8.
NOTE: “He [Paul] reminded them of the gifts of the Holy Spirit which they had received, and showed that it was their privilege to make continual advancement in the Christian life until they should attain to the purity and holiness of Christ.” Acts of the Apostles, 301. (See also Ibid., 600.)
“Take Heed That No Man Deceive You”
12. What repeated warning did Christ give to His people? Matthew 24:4, 11, 23–26. Compare 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
NOTE: “Said Paul: ‘There’ shall ‘come a falling away…and that man of sin be revealed.’ 2 Thessalonians 2:3. So apostasy in the church will prepare the way for the image to the beast. Satan will work with all power and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness.’ (2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10.) His working is plainly revealed by the rapidly increasing darkness, the multitudinous errors, heresies, and delusions of these last days. Not only is Satan leading the world captive, but his deceptions are leavening the professed churches of our Lord Jesus Christ. The great apostasy will develop into darkness deep as midnight. To God’s people it will be a night of trial, a night of weeping, a night of persecution for the truth’s sake. But out of that night of darkness God’s light will shine.” Maranatha, 165.
13 What defenses do God’s people have against the prevailing deceptions? Matthew 24:26. Compare Ephesians 4:13, 14.
NOTE: “Only those who have been diligent students of the Scriptures, and who have received the love of the truth, will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive. The Saviour has warned His people…and has clearly foretold the manner of His Second Coming. ‘There shall arise false Christs.…Wherefore if they shall say unto you, ‘Behold, He is in the desert;’ go not forth: ‘behold, He is in the secret chambers;’ believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.’ Matthew 24:24–27. This coming, there is no possibility of counterfeiting. It will be universally known—witnessed by the whole world. Are the people of God now so firmly established upon His Word that they would not yield to the evidence of their senses? Would they, in such a crisis, cling to the Bible, and the Bible only?” The Faith I Live By, 346.