We can look around the world today, and we can see that Jesus is soon to come. The signs are fulfilling rapidly. Almost all of the signs that Jesus told His disciples, in Matthew 24, have already been fulfilled. We can see that Jesus is coming very, very soon, and that should fill us with hope. While we are in this world we have trials and troubles. We have to meet temptations. But it is all for our own good. We would not enjoy Heaven as much if God just took us there without trying us.
One reason we have trials is that God is going to make sure that Heaven is not going to be desecrated again. Before God can take us to Heaven, it must be demonstrated that we would not start this rebellion all over again.
What we must concentrate on now is being faithful, so that we can be there. When we are going through trials we need to think about the beauties and the glories of Heaven. If we could get just one glimpse of the New Jerusalem, we would not want anything on this earth again. Revelation tells us that the New Jerusalem has streets made of gold, walls of jasper, and twelve gates, each made of a single pearl. The beauty is unsurpassed!
Heaven is beyond our brightest conceptions. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9. We can try to picture the best thing possible to our imagination, and it is going to be much better than that.
We are told that we do not have one single tree on this earth which would compare to the trees in the garden of Eden. (See The Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 1, 66.) We have some beautiful trees on this earth. Think of the lofty redwoods and the giant sequoias. These do not even compare to what was in the garden of Eden.
How many people do you think could sit under the canopy of the biggest tree in the world? In one of the descriptions of Heaven, Mrs. White tells us that all the righteous will sit down underneath the tree of life. (See Early Writings,16.) I cannot even begin to imagine a tree of that size.
We could continue to list all the amazing and beautiful things that are going to be in Heaven, but the best thing about Heaven is that we are going to get to meet our Savior there. Our Savior who left Heaven, and came here to redeem us. He did all that so that we might not receive our deserved reward—death, but instead go to Heaven to live eternally with Him.
It is sad, but the vast majority of the world is not going to accept His gift. Many will choose to follow their own sinful ways. But He loves us so much that died for just you, or for just me.
Revelation 13:3 tells about a time when it will look like very few are going to be saved. It says: “And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed and all the world marveled and followed the beast.” All the world, except for the few that have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, are going to be united in worshipping and following the beast.
Why will so much of the world be deceived? Consider what Jesus said in Matthew 24:24: “For false christs and false prophets will arise, and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Almost the whole world is going to be taken captive by the delusion that you do not need to obey God’s law. If possible, even the very elect would be deceived. That should make us pray harder and study God’s Word more earnestly.
The devil is going to have many temptations that appear good. “He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth, in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.” Revelation 13:13, 14.
Today people are all looking at signs and outward appearances. They are dazzled by miracles, or what they consider supernatural signs. The devil is well aware of this and he is going to show signs, and many miracles, so that, if possible, the very elect will be deceived.
How can we keep from being deceived? We must be rooted and grounded in the Word of God, and know what we believe and why we believe it.
Matthew 13:5, 6 tells us about a group of people who did not know why they believed what they did. “Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had not depth of earth. But when the sun was up, they were scorched, and because they had no root, they withered away.” This group of people readily accepted the truth. They appeared at first to be flourishing plants, but their roots were not deep.
What happens to them? “Yet, he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately, he stumbles.” Matthew 13:21. When the sun arose, when the persecution and tribulation came, they withered away.
Persecution and tribulation are represented here as the sun. Can a plant grow without the sun? It cannot. Neither can a Christian grow and be strong without trials. We need trials and persecution to prepare us for Heaven, so that we will be ready for it, and be able to enjoy it.
The law of Heaven is self-sacrifice. Jesus came and gave all for us. What if you had not given anything for Him? Far from being a curse, our trials and our persecutions are actually the greatest blessings of our lives, and God in His mercy today, is preparing us to stand when it really gets hard. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” If we are seeking God first in everything we do, He will take care of us when the difficult times come.
You do not need to be frightened by the things ahead of us. God has promised to give us the grace to go through whatever we need to go through. Dwight Moody said, “I don’t have the faith of a martyr. I haven’t needed it yet.” God gives us grace and faith proportionate to what we need. If God calls us to give up our lives as a witness for Him, He will give us all the grace we would need to be faithful to Him.
God’s power is not shortened. His hand is not held back. He will do His part if we are willing to do ours. Now is the time for us to send down roots, so that we are not like the stony ground hearers. Then when the trial comes, we will not wither away.
“And you will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.” Matthew 10:19. During the time of trouble, you are going to be asked to prove what you believe. You will have to stand alone. How will you answer when they say, “All the world believes this. You cannot be right, because everybody believes this.”
Just because the majority believes it, is it the truth? In the 1600s, scientists believed a very interesting thing. They believed that if you put a piece of meat out in the open air, flies would just spring up from the meat. They called it spontaneous generation. Everyone believed that theory. They also thought that if you took an old sweaty shirt and threw it on some hay in a bucket, mice would automatically appear. Everybody believed that, but did that make it right? No. A man called Redi came along, and said, “No, this is not true.” He put the meat in a jar, and put a screen over it, and no flies were found on the meat. He did the same experiment with the sweaty shirt and the mice. His experiments completely disproved that theory. He also proved that the truth is still the truth no matter who does or does not believe it.
Galileo said that the earth goes around the sun. But the rest of the world believed that the sun goes around the earth. For hundreds of years it had been taught that the earth was the center of the universe. But did that make it right? No. It did not matter how many people believed it. It still was not true. If only one person believed it, in fact, if no one believed it, the truth would still be the truth.
Neither was the majority right in Christ’s day. At the beginning of His ministry many people flocked after Him to hear His teachings and benefit from His miracles. But how many actually stayed with Him till the end? Not many. Most of the people had such a distorted idea of what Christ’s kingdom was going to be that they were offended by His words. You can read about it in John 6:66 “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.”
The Majority Are Shaken Out
In the 1840s there was a big movement called the great awakening. Hundreds of thousands of people accepted it, but when the great disappointment came, almost all lost faith. There were only a few hundred who held to God’s Word, and studied to find the truth. There was a shaking then, but God’s Word says that there is going to be an even stronger shaking in the last days. “See that you don’t refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.’ Now this, ‘Yet once more’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.” Hebrews 12:25–28. Everyone is going to be shaken. Only those that are rooted and grounded, and know what they believe from God’s Word will remain.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” Hebrews 12:28. Paul tells us that the kingdom that God is going to establish will be unshakable. Why? Because anyone who is a part of that kingdom will have already gone through the shaking, and were immovable, because they were clinging to Christ.
Christ is the rock. When I think about this, I like to think of a barnacle. A barnacle is not very big, but it clings to the rock. When the storms come, and the waves beat against it, it clings securely to the rock. We must be like that. Only those that are clinging to the Rock, that are becoming a part of Him, that are engrafted into the olive tree, are going to stand through the shaking.
Isaiah 17 tells us something more about the shaking. ” ‘In that day it shall come to pass that the glory of Jacob will wane, and the fatness of his flesh grow lean. It shall be as when the harvester gathers the grain, and reaps the heads with his arm; it shall be as he who gathers heads of grain in the Valley of Rephaim. Yet gleaning grapes will be left in it, like the shaking of an olive tree, two or three olives at the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in its most fruitful branches,’ says the Lord God of Israel.” Isaiah 17:4, 6.
Isaiah compares the shaking to the harvest of the olive tree, when they shake the tree and almost all the olives fall on the ground. All the olives that fall on the ground he compares to the lost, but he says, a few will remain. Only a few faithful will remain.
Another example in nature is the evergreen tree. We have two kinds of trees. When cold winter weather comes, the deciduous trees loose all their leaves and are completely bare. The evergreen tree, in contrast, is green all through winter. That is how we need to be as Christians. When the cold winds blow, and the howling blizzards whirl around us, will we drop our leaves? Will we give up our faith? Or, instead, will we be like a palm tree in the desert? The sun beats upon it, and rain rarely comes, but if you dig down, the palm tree has connected to the water deep beneath the surface. It has roots that go down deep, where it reaches fresh water. We need to continually be sending our roots down deeper to that Living Water, our source of life, Christ Jesus.
Do You Know Why You Believe Me?
When Sabbath-keepers are brought before courts, to be tried for their faith, it is going to be all over the world. It is not going to be just an isolated instance. Just think, if all the cameras were on you, and they asked you, “Why are you going against the majority? Why do you refuse to be obedient to the laws of the land?” and you say, “I am not going to break the Sabbath and receive the mark of the beast—because my parents told me not to.” What kind of an impression do you think that would make? Or, “I am not going to obey you because, my minister told me I shouldn’t.”
Peter said: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” 1 Peter 3:15.
Do you want to be among the faithful when Jesus comes? If you do, you will be like the description that David gave in Psalms 92:12-15: “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”
“When the love of Jesus is abiding in the soul, many who are now but withered branches will become as the cedars of Lebanon, ‘whose root is by the great waters.’ The cedar is noted for the firmness of its roots. Not content to cling to the earth with a few weak fibers, it thrusts its rootlets, like a sturdy wedge, into the cloven rock, and reaches down deeper and deeper for strong holds to grasp. When the tempest grapples with its boughs, that firm-set tree cannot be uprooted. What a goodly cedar might not every follower of Christ become if he were but rooted and grounded in the truth, firmly united to the Eternal Rock.” Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1151.
This should be our goal, and what we strive for each day. I want to be like one of those olives, that when the shaking comes, will cling to the branch. I want to be rooted and grounded in the Word of God. Now is the time for each of us to study God’s Word more fervently. We are not going to be rooted and grounded by spending 10 or 15 minutes here and there in God’s Word. It won’t work. We have to be studying it with a more intense earnestness than ever before. May the Lord help you to be rooted and grounded in Him—unshakable, no matter what comes.