For more than a thousand years, Bible students have recognized that the latter part of the book of Revelation contains prophecies which primarily apply to the end of all things earthly, as we know them, and the ushering in of a new age. Seventh-day Adventists know that the beginning of this new age will occur at the Second Coming of Christ, when He will raise all of the righteous dead and grant to all of His followers immortality.
This closing chapter of earth’s history, the utter end of all things, and the ushering in of the new age of righteousness and peace is often referred to as the apocalypse, a Greek word which translates revelation.
It was concerning this wonderful prospect that Paul said that in the ages to come, God would show to us the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (See Ephesians 2:7.) Paul also referred to the end of this age and the ushering in of the age to come as the blessed hope. (Titus 2:11–14.)
Adventists have recognized for well over one hundred years that since 1798 we are living in the last epochal time period of earth’s history, called by Daniel the “time of the end” and by many other Bible writers as the “last days.” We have been looking for and expecting events to take place that would indicate when we would be, not just in the last days, not just in the time of the end, but in the end of time.
When on the Mount of Olives the apostles asked Jesus when these things would be and what would be the sign of His coming (see Matthew 24:3), He responded by cautioning us to be ready at all times because we do not know when the time is. (See Mark 13:33.) He also warned that the final events would happen in an hour that we do not expect. (See Matthew 24:44.) Ellen White has plainly warned us of our great danger of being taken by surprise.
“I lay down my pen and lift up my soul in prayer, that the Lord would breathe upon His backsliding people, which are as dry bones, and they shall live. The end is near, stealing upon us stealthily, so imperceptibly, so noiselessly, like the muffled tread of the thief in the night to surprise the sleepers off guard and unready. May the Lord grant to bring His Holy Spirit to bear upon the hearts of all who are now at ease, that they may no longer sleep as others but watch and be sober.” Paulson Collection, 348.
And again she writes: “When Jesus ceases to plead for man, the cases of all are forever decided. This is the time of reckoning with His servants. To those who have neglected the preparation of purity and holiness, which fits them to be waiting ones to welcome their Lord, the sun sets in gloom and darkness, and rises not again. Probation closes; Christ’s intercessions cease in heaven. This time finally comes suddenly upon all, and those who have neglected to purify their souls by obeying the truth are found sleeping. They became weary of waiting and watching; they became indifferent in regard to the coming of their Master. They longed not for His appearing, and thought there was no need of such continued, persevering watching. They had been disappointed in their expectations and might be again. They concluded that there was time enough yet to arouse. They would be sure not to lose the opportunity of securing an earthly treasure. It would be safe to get all of this world they could. And in securing this object, they lost all anxiety and interest in the appearing of the Master. They became indifferent and careless, as though His coming were yet in the distance. But while their interest was buried up in their worldly gains, the work closed in the heavenly sanctuary, and they were unprepared.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 191.
Wherever one looks, there are straws in the wind which indicate very plainly that we are entering apocalyptic times. We hope to outline some of these in next month’s editorial.