In 1998 I received a videotape from Tim Simkin, a close friend of mine. In this video he drew parallels between Christ’s experiences in His “time of trouble,” and the experiences of those who will pass through the final time of trouble. The message contained in that video moved me to tears, and as I studied it further, I was astonished at just how deep this subject goes. It is my hope that God will bless you as richly as He has blessed me.
A Time of Trouble Such as Never Was
Bible prophecy makes it very clear that just prior to Christ’s second advent, “…there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time.…” Daniel 12:1. “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble.…” Jeremiah 30:7. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Matthew 24:21.
The pen of inspiration has attempted to help us understand how serious this crisis will be. “It is often the case that trouble is greater in anticipation than in reality; but this is not true of the crisis before us. The most vivid presentation cannot reach the magnitude of the ordeal.” Great Controversy, 622. “…soon the time of trouble, such as never was, will come upon us, of which we have but little idea.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 241. “We are on the very verge of the time of trouble, and perplexities that are scarcely dreamed of are before us.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 43. “It is impossible to give any idea of the experience of the people of God who shall be alive upon the earth when celestial glory and a repetition of the persecutions of the past are blended” Last Day Events, 266. “We are standing on the threshold of the crisis of the ages.” Prophets and Kings, 278. “The conflict that is right upon us will be the most terrible ever witnessed.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 407. “The most momentous struggle of all the ages is just before us.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 711. From this perspective, let us now begin to look to Jesus, and to draw parallels between His experience and ours.
“Now [in Gethsemane] the tempter had come for the last fearful struggle. For this he had been preparing during the three years of Christ’s ministry. Everything was at stake with him. If he failed here, his hope of mastery was lost…” Desire of Ages, 686. And today, in preparation for the time of trouble, “The agencies of evil are combining their forces and consolidating. They are strengthening for the last great crisis.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 11. And paralleling Jacob’s experience with ours Ellen White says, “The crisis in his life has come; everything is at stake.” Great Controversy, 617.
Why is God willing that His children go through such a terrible crisis? What purpose will it serve? To answer this question, we must look to Calvary where Christ triumphed over “principalities and powers,” and “made a shew of them openly.” Colossians 2:15. “Satan saw that his disguise was torn away. His administration was laid open before the unfallen angels and before the heavenly universe. He had revealed himself as a murderer. By shedding the blood of the Son of God, he had uprooted himself from the sympathies of the heavenly beings.…Yet Satan was not then destroyed. The angels did not even then understand all that was involved in the great controversy. The principles at stake were to be more fully revealed. And for the sake of man, Satan’s existence must be continued. Man as well as angels must see the contrast between the Prince of Light and the prince of darkness. He must choose whom he will serve.” Desire of Ages, 761. So in Christ’s time of trouble, God purposed to reveal Satan’s character and uproot sympathy for him. But when will “man as well as angels” have this experience? “The time of trouble is the crucible that is to bring out Christ like characters. It is designed to lead the people of God to renounce Satan and his temptations. The last conflict will reveal Satan to them in his true character, that of a cruel tyrant, and it will do for them what nothing else could do, to uproot him entirely from their affections.” Our High Calling, 321. Praise God!
“At the cross of Calvary, love and selfishness stood face to face. Here was their crowning manifestation. Christ had lived only to comfort and bless, and in putting Him to death, Satan manifested the malignity of his hatred against God. He made it evident that the real purpose of his rebellion was to dethrone God, and to destroy Him through whom the love of God was shown.” Desire of Ages, 57. Brethren, a yet greater manifestation of satanic hatred will be shown against those “through whom the love of God is shown,” for it is written: “The wrath of Satan increases as his time grows short, and his work of deceit and destruction will reach its culmination in the time of trouble.” Great
We Have a Law
The religious leaders of Christ’s day had cried out to the state authority: “…We have a law, and by our law He ought to die…” John 19:7. So in the time of trouble, “…the image of the beast should both speak [legislate], and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” Revelation 13:15. “…the Jews said…’We have a law, and by our law He ought to die.’ Over and over again this will be repeated.” Signs of the Times, May 26, 1898. “The religious character of professed Christians makes them act like demons. ‘We have a law,’ they say, ‘and by our law He ought to die.’ More than common contempt will be shown to those who make the Word of God their criterion. The scenes of Christ’s condemnation will be acted out in the courts by the people of this age who claim to be serving God.… Men will do the deeds of their fathers, repeating as far as possible the course of action pursued against Christ.” Signs of the Times, January 31, 1900.
Again, paralleling Christ’s experience with ours, Mrs. White says: “…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.” Great Controversy, 615. How full of meaning to us are the words of our Lord: “…the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service…. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them.” John 16:2,4.
Speaking of the religious leaders of His time, Jesus said “They hated Me without a cause.” John 15:25. (See also Psalms 69:4, 109:3-5.) This hatred reached its culmination as Jesus hung upon the tree. Why? “There was never one who walked among men more cruelly slandered than the Son of man. He was derided and mocked because of His unswerving obedience to the principles of God’s holy law. They hated Him without a cause.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 32. And why will those who follow the Lamb be hated by the world in the time of trouble? “As Christ was hated without cause, so will His people be hated without cause, merely because they are obedient to the commandments of God and do His works in the place of working directly contrary to them.” Manuscript Releases, No. 19, 163. “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” John 15:18.
Infuriated Mobs Rush In
In Gethsemane, Christ “…heard the footsteps of the mob in search of Him…” Desire of Ages, 694. So too will the righteous be hunted by wicked mobs: “Houses and lands will be of no use to the saints in the time of trouble, for they will then have to flee before infuriated mobs.…” Early Writings, 56.
“Turning to the multitude he [Herod] angrily denounced Jesus as an imposter.… No sooner were these words spoken than a rush was made for Christ. Like wild beasts, the crowd darted upon their prey.” Desire of Ages, 731. The sealed remnant will have a similar experience. “…the wicked were enraged, and would rush violently up to lay hands upon us to thrust us into prison.…” Early Writings, 15.
Who was stirring up the wicked in the closing scenes of our Saviour’s conflict? “Satan with his angels, in human form, was present at the cross. The archfiend and his hosts were co-operating with the priests and rulers.” Desire of Ages, 746. What about our time of trouble? “Satanic agencies in human form will take part in this last great conflict.…” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 383. Will these agencies again work hand in hand with the rulers of this world? “Urged on by Satan, the rulers of this world are seeking to destroy them; but… angels of God encamped about them.…” Testimonies, vol. 5, 475.
Heavenly messengers also had a part to act. “Standing in advance of His disciples He said, ‘Whom seek ye?’ They answered, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus replied, ‘I am He.’ As these words were spoken, the angel who had lately ministered to Jesus moved between Him and the mob.” Desire of Ages, 694. Angels will again interpose between the wicked and the righteous in the coming conflict. “Though a general decree has fixed the time when commandment keepers may be put to death, their enemies will in some cases anticipate the decree, and before the time specified, will endeavor to take their lives. But none can pass the mighty guardians stationed about every faithful soul.” Great Controversy, 631.
To Stand Alone
“Repentant sinners stand before the Father justified, because the Innocent One has borne their guilt. ‘…I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the people there was none with Me.… I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold…’” Signs of the Times, August 26, 1903. Though the 144,000 will at times have the companionship of each other and the guidance of angels, they will, nonetheless, be (collectively) alone and helpless. “In the last great conflict of the controversy with Satan, those who are loyal to God will see every earthly support cut off.” Desire of Ages, 121. And during some periods they will be individually cut off. “…at this time…they will be tried singly, not in groups. Every one must stand the test for himself.” SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1143. “The faith of individual members of the church will be tested as though there were not another person in the world.” SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 983. (See also Last Day Events, 260.)
“I invite you to look to the Man of Calvary.…Look to him who was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, who was despised and rejected of men.” Review and Herald, May 10, 1892. “…his [Noah’s] message was rejected and despised. So it will be now.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 102. “Said the angel, ‘…They have rejected Jesus and despised His saints. The filthy must remain filthy forever.’” Early Writings, 281.
We Must Drink the Cup
“The awful moment had come—that moment which was to decide the destiny of the world. The fate of humanity trembled in the balance. Christ might even now refuse to drink the cup apportioned to guilty man. It was not yet too late. He might wipe the bloody sweat from His brow, and leave man to perish in his iniquity. He might say, Let the transgressor receive the penalty of his sin, and I will go back to My Father. Will the Son of God drink the bitter cup of humiliation and agony?” Desire of Ages, 690 “…the cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?” John 18:11. But Jesus asked another question: “…Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto Him, We are able. And He saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with.…” Matthew 20:22-23. When will the words of Jesus reach their complete fulfillment? When will people experience most deeply that cup? “The people of God must drink of the cup and be baptized with the baptism.… Yet for the elect’s sake the time of trouble will be shortened.” Great Controversy, 630.
As the mysterious cup trembled in the balance, the angel Gabriel was sent to minister to Jesus. Did he come to remove or lessen the force of that terrible cup?
“The angel came not to take the cup from Christ’s hand, but to strengthen Him to drink it.…” Desire of Ages, 693. So too, “In the time of trouble just before the coming of Christ, the righteous will be preserved [to drink their cup] through the ministration of heavenly angels.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 256.
“He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, ‘O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done.’” Matthew 26:42. “Three times has He uttered that prayer. Three times has humanity shrunk from the last, crowning sacrifice. But now the history of the human race comes up before the world’s Redeemer. He sees that the transgressors of the law, if left to themselves, must perish. He sees the helplessness of man. He sees the power of sin. The woes and lamentations of a doomed world rise before Him. He beholds its impending fate, and His decision is made. He will save man at any cost to Himself. He accepts His baptism of blood, that through Him perishing millions may gain everlasting life. He has left the courts of heaven, where all is purity, happiness, and glory, to save the one lost sheep, the one world that has fallen by transgression. And He will not turn from His mission. He will become the propitiation of a race that has willed to sin. His prayer now breathes only submission: ‘If this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done.’” Desire of Ages, 690. And in the time of trouble, “Day and night their cry ceased not: ‘Thy will, O God, be done! If it can glorify Thy name, make a way of escape for Thy people!…’ All seemed to have a deep sense of their unworthiness and manifested entire submission to the will of God; yet, like Jacob, every one, without an exception, was earnestly pleading and wrestling for deliverance.” Early Writings, 272.
Paleness Sits Upon Every Face
“The disciples roused from their slumber to find their Master standing over them in a state of mental and bodily anguish such as they never before had witnessed. They saw the grief and agony of His pale face, and the bloody sweat upon His brow, for ‘His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.’” Signs of the Times, August 14, 1879. “…His pale countenance expressed a sorrow past all description.” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, 95. Jeremiah, when shown in vision the last experience of the faithful, asked the solemn question: “…wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and 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 30:6-7. “Like Jacob, all are wrestling with God. Their countenances express their internal struggle. Paleness sits upon every face. Yet they cease not their earnest intercession.” Great Controversy, 630.
“…From the pale, quivering lips of the innocent Sufferer a prayer of pardoning love was breathed for His murderers: ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.’” Testimonies, vol. 2, 208. “…Those hands so often reached out in blessing, nailed to the wooden bars; those feet so tireless on ministries of love, spiked to the tree; that royal head pierced by the crown of thorns; those quivering lips shaped to the cry of woe.” Desire of Ages, 755. But in the time of trouble, those righteous lips will be shaped to a “silver trumpet” which will be heard echoing throughout the lengths of the earth. And then, “…from His lips they hear the request, presented before His Father and the holy angels, ‘I will that they also, whom thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am.’ John 17:24. Again a voice, musical and triumphant, is heard, saying: ‘They come! they come! holy, harmless, and undefiled. They have kept the word of My patience; they shall walk among the angels;’ and the pale, quivering lips of those who have held fast their faith utter a shout of victory.” Great Controversy, 636.
Mental Anguish Draws Sweat of Blood
“‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.’ ‘Tarry ye here,’ said He, ‘and watch with Me.’ He was bowed to the earth with mental anguish, and in an agony He prayed to His Heavenly Father.” Signs of the Times, August 14, 1879. “His heart was broken by mental anguish.” Desire of Ages, 772. No amount of mental anguish can be compared with that of the Prince of sufferers, for no one will ever be called to bear the guilt of the sins of the world. Nevertheless, “The righteous in their mental anguish will cry to God day and night for deliverance from the hand of the wicked who surround them.” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 121. What degree of mental anguish? “…I saw the saints suffering great mental anguish. They seemed to be surrounded by the wicked inhabitants of the earth.” Early Writings, 283.
“…And His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22:44. “The temptations to which Christ was subjected were a terrible reality.… He ‘resisted unto blood’ in that hour when the fear of moral failure was as the fear of death. As He bowed in Gethsemane, in His soul agony, drops of blood fell from His pores, and moistened the sods of the earth.” Youth’s Instructor, October 26, 1899. In describing a vision of the time of trouble, God’s messenger said, “My husband was just before me. Large drops of sweat were falling from his brow, the veins in his neck and temples were increased to double their usual size, and suppressed, agonizing groans came from his lips. The sweat was dropping from my face, and I felt such anguish as I had never felt before. A fearful struggle was before us.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 596. Beloved, it would seem that the following words were penned for us, more than for any other people that have ever lived. “…let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” Hebrews 12:1–4. For how long? “But ‘ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.’ We have an incessant strife, but is not the reward at the end of the conflict worthy of all the labor?” Signs of the Times, September 7, 1891.
“Could one sin have been found in Christ, had He in one particular yielded to Satan to escape the terrible torture, the enemy of God and man would have triumphed. Christ bowed His head and died, but He held fast His faith and His submission to God.” Desire of Ages, 761. So also, “…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.…” Great Controversy, 620.
Forsaken by God
In the first verse of the twenty-second Psalm, David prophesied as to how Jesus would feel as He was dying upon the cross. In fulfillment of this prophecy, Jesus uttered the very words that David had penned. “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice… ‘My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?’” Matthew 27:46. So too has Ellen White prophesied (brace yourself): “The remnant in the time of trouble will cry, ‘My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’” Special Manuscript, 2a.
As we close part 1 of this study, it would be well to ponder anew the significance of the words that follow. “It will do you good, and our ministers generally, frequently to review the closing scenes in the life of our Redeemer. Here, beset with temptations as He was, we may all learn lessons of the utmost importance to us. It would be well to spend a thoughtful hour each day reviewing the life of Christ from the manger to Calvary. We should take it point by point, and let the imagination vividly grasp each scene, especially the closing ones of His earthly life.” Gospel Workers, 1892 edition, 246. In our next article we will examine even more intense parallels between our Saviour’s experience and ours.
(all emphasis supplied by the author unless otherwise noted.)