It is the latter rain that provides the power to give the final warning to the world during the time of the Sunday laws and Satan’s impersonation of Christ. These will be the crowning trial and final test, which are soon to break upon us.
Just before the disciples were to face their crowning trial and final test, Jesus offered this prayer in their behalf: “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one.” “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:11, 17, NIV.
Even with the crisis of His trial and crucifixion just a few hours away, the thought uppermost in the mind of Jesus was the unity of His disciples. It was the central theme of His prayer. Then He prayed for all believers. “My prayer is . . . for those who will believe in me . . . that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you . . . that they may be one as we are one. . . . May they be brought to complete unity . . . .” John 17:20–23, NIV.
My friends, Jesus was praying for us. Today, as our crowning trial and final test are just before us, Jesus is praying for us. And what is the burden of His prayer? It is for His family on earth to be in complete unity. A unity that parallels His relationship with the Father.
Jesus spent three years of ministry on this earth to help the fallen human race reach this high standard of purity and unity that we might be restored into the presence of the Father.
In this series of articles, we will study five major events in the ministry of Jesus that reveal the trials and attitudes of the children of Israel and their relationship to Jesus and the truths He taught. How did they respond to the work of Jesus to bring them into unity with the Father? We will find that there is a parallel to each of these five events in the second advent movement today. These five parallels provide us with an overview of how God sees the whole second advent movement. Our study of these events and the reactions of the people will help us better understand our present condition as God sees it. These studies will reveal what we need to do to receive the latter rain and be prepared for our crowning trial and final test.
The Temple Cleansing
The first event we will examine is found in John 2:11–25. The time is the first Passover of Jesus’ ministry. The place is the temple in Jerusalem. John explains a most surprising and unprecedented event that took place during this Passover. “In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!’ ” John 2:14–16, NIV.
To help us keep these five parallels in their order, I am going to use an Advent Time Line. The first event is the first cleansing of the temple. We will identify it as “1F” under the Passover of 28 a.d.
Purpose of the Cleansing
Why did Jesus interrupt the largest, most sacred and important religious meeting of the Jewish church? What was His purpose? “In the cleansing of the temple, Jesus was announcing His mission as the Messiah, and entering upon His work. . . . In cleansing the temple from the world’s buyers and sellers, Jesus announced His mission to cleanse the heart from the defilement of sin,—from the earthly desires, the selfish lusts, the evil habits, that corrupt the soul.” The Desire of Ages, 161.
And then we find this interesting application of Malachi 3:1–3 to the first cleansing of the temple. “ ‘The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, . . . and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver.’ Malachi 3:1–3.” Ibid.
In cleansing the temple, Jesus did three things.
- Christ announced His mission as the Messiah.
- He entered upon His work for the next three years.
- He announced His mission to cleanse the heart from the defilement of sin.
What was the reaction of the people to this most unusual action of Jesus? We find that three general attitudes were revealed. Ellen White says of the priests and rulers—the leaders of the church: “For a time they [the priests and rulers] were convinced that Christ was a prophet; and many believed Him to be the Messiah. The Holy Spirit flashed into their minds the utterances of the prophets concerning Christ. Would they yield to this conviction?
“Repent they would not. . . . Because Christ discerned their thoughts they hated Him. His public rebuke was humiliating to their pride, and they were jealous of His growing influence with the people. They determined to challenge Him . . . .” The Desire of Ages, 162.
So we see that the attitude of the priests and rulers was to challenge Jesus. Then she writes of a large second group. “They looked with amazement on the works of Jesus, and were convicted that in Him the prophecies concerning the Messiah were fulfilled. . . . The people were comparatively innocent. They were impressed by the divine authority of Jesus; but with them the influence of the priests and rulers was paramount. They regarded Christ’s mission as an innovation, and questioned His right to interfere with what was permitted by the authorities of the temple. They were offended because the traffic had been interrupted, and they stifled the convictions of the Holy Spirit.” Ibid., 163, 164.
So we see that the great majority of the people yielded to the will of the priests and rulers. In contrast to these leaders and the large group of people, she tells of a small group of faithful believers who remained behind to talk with Jesus.
“When they [the priests and rulers] fled, the poor remained behind; and these were now looking to Jesus, whose countenance expressed his love and sympathy. With tears in His eyes, He said to the trembling ones around Him: Fear not; I will deliver thee . . . .
“The people pressed into Christ’s presence with urgent, pitiful appeals: Master, bless me. . . . Everyone was healed from whatever disease he had. . . .
“At the crucifixion of Christ, those who had thus been healed did not join with the rabble throng in crying, ‘Crucify Him, crucify Him.’ Their sympathies were with Jesus . . . . They knew Him to be their Saviour . . . . They became agents of God’s mercy, and instruments of His salvation.” Ibid., 163.
To summarize this event, we find that three basic attitudes developed in response to the work of Jesus in the first cleansing of the temple that represented cleansing the heart from sin.
- The priests and rulers rejected Christ’s work and decided to challenge Him.
- The majority of people were convicted that Jesus was the Messiah, but with them the influence of the priests and rulers was paramount.
- A small group of faithful believers knew Jesus to be their Savior and received the cleansing He offered.
Temple Cleansing Parallel
Now we may ask ourselves, what event in the second advent movement is a parallel to the first cleansing of the temple? There are two similar statements that give us the answer. We will consider just one of them at this point.
“When Jesus began His public ministry, He cleansed the temple from its sacrilegious profanation. Almost the last act of His ministry was to cleanse the temple again. So in the last work for the warning of the world, two distinct calls are made to the churches; the second angel’s message, and the voice heard in heaven, ‘Come out of her, my people.’ [Revelation 18:4.]” The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, vol. 2, 725, 726.
The first distinct call that Sister White mentions is the second angel’s message, which is parallel to the first cleansing of the temple. We will consider the second distinct call in a later parallel. When was this first distinct call—the second angel’s message—first given? “The second angel’s message of Revelation 14 was first preached in the summer of 1844.” The Great Controversy, 389.
This places “the first distinct call” at the beginning of the second advent movement. Now that the second angel’s message has been identified as the first cleansing of the second advent movement, and the time of its proclamation has been identified, we will add this event to the Second Advent Time Line as “1S.”
First Angel’s Purpose
Why was there a cleansing of the second advent movement (church) at the very beginning? To understand this we first need to know the purpose of the first angel’s message. “The first angel’s message, ‘Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come’ [Revelation 14:7], pointed to Christ’s ministration in the most holy place, to the investigative judgment . . . .” The Great Controversy, 424. “While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people upon earth.” Ibid., 425.
That the first angel’s message was a call to cleanse the heart from sin is further emphasized by the application of Malachi 3 to this judgment hour message. “ ‘The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.’ Malachi 3:1. The coming of the Lord to His temple was sudden, unexpected, to His people. . . . ‘Who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver.’ Malachi 3:2, 3.” Ibid., 424, 425.
There are two points revealed here that show a parallel purpose between the first cleansing of the temple and the opening of the second advent movement. In the first advent, Jesus announced His mission to purify the heart from sin. In the second advent, under the first angel’s message, there is a special work of purification and putting away of sin. Ellen White applies Malachi 3:1–3 to both advent movements. In The Desire of Ages, 161, she uses this text in reference to Jesus coming to cleanse the temple. In The Great Controversy, 425, she uses it in reference to Jesus coming to cleanse the heavenly sanctuary.
Now let’s look at the attitudes of the people toward the first angel’s message that resulted in the need for the second angel’s message. We will again look at three groups of people.
The first group to be considered will be the ministers and religious leaders. “But as ministers and religious leaders decided against the advent doctrine and desired to suppress all agitation of the subject, they not only opposed it from the pulpit, but denied their members the privilege of attending preaching upon the second advent, or even of speaking of their hope in the social meetings of the church.” The Great Controversy, 376.
So we see that in the first cleansing of the churches in the second advent movement, the ministers and leaders opposed and rejected the message. In the next reference we see the attitudes of a second and by far the larger group of people. “Multitudes, trusting implicitly to their pastors, refused to listen to the warning; and others, though convinced of the truth, dared not confess it, lest they should be ‘put out of the synagogue.’ [John 12:42.] The message which God had sent for the testing and purification of the church revealed all too surely how great was the number who had set their affections on this world rather than upon Christ.” Ibid., 380.
So we see that in this cleansing the great majority of the people followed the leading of the ministers as they did in the first advent movement. The third group of people are the faithful believers. Their attitude is seen in the following statement: “They loved their churches and were loath to separate from them; but as they saw the testimony of God’s word suppressed and their right to investigate the prophecies denied they felt that loyalty to God forbade them to submit. Those who sought to shut out the testimony of God’s word they could not regard as constituting the church of Christ, ‘the pillar and ground of the truth.’ [1 Timothy 3:15.]” Ibid., 376.
To summarize these attitudes, we find that ministers and leaders decided against the advent doctrine and opposed it and that multitudes trusted the ministers and refused to listen to the warning. The faithful believers felt that loyalty to God forbade them to submit to the ministers and could not regard those who tried to shut out God’s word as constituting the church of Christ.
So we see that these cleansings of the church in the first and second advent movements are parallel, even to the attitudes of the people involved. Very few were willing to be purified from sin and come into unity as Jesus is with the Father.
A Cleansing Message
“The first angel’s message . . . was designed to separate the professed people of God from the corrupting influences of the world. . . . In this message, God has sent to the church a warning, which, had it been accepted, would have corrected the evils that were shutting them away from Him.” Ibid., 379.
The purpose of the first angel’s message was to remove sin from among the people of God. Just as Jesus cleansed the temple at the beginning of His ministry to announce His mission to cleanse the heart from sin, so the first angel’s message was to cleanse the second advent church from sin at the beginning of the second advent movement.
“Had they received the message . . . the Spirit and power of God would have been manifested among them. The church would again have reached that blessed state of unity, faith, and love which existed in apostolic days, when the believers ‘were of one heart and of one soul’ [Acts 4:32] . . . .” Ibid.
The objective of the first angel’s message was to purify a people to receive the latter rain as the disciples purified themselves so they could receive the Holy Spirit in the early rain on the day of Pentecost. The second advent church is still in need of completing this work of putting away sin and coming into unity with Christ 159 years after 1844. We have been wandering in the wilderness four times longer than Israel did on their way to the promised land.
“If God’s professed people would receive the light as it shines upon them from His word, they would reach that unity for which Christ prayed, that which the apostle describes, ‘the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’ [Ephesians 4:3.]” Ibid.
Here is presented the condition on which our eternal destiny rests. Will we receive the light of God shining from His word that calls for a unity like that of the disciples on the day of Pentecost?
“In refusing the warning of the first angel [Revelation 14:6, 7], they rejected the means which Heaven had provided for their restoration. They spurned the gracious messenger that would have corrected the evils which separated them from God, and with greater eagerness they turned to seek the friendship of the world.” Ibid., 380.
It was the rejection of the first angel’s message to put away sin and purify the heart that called forth the second angel’s message—the first cleansing of the second advent movement—in the summer and fall of 1844.
In our next article we will study the second parallel in our series of five.
Maurice Hoppe is Director of Revelation Ministry which is dedicated to helping people prepare for the soon coming of Jesus. His special emphasis is the closing scenes of this earth’s history, the parallels between the first and second advents, and the need for unity among the people of God. He may be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com or at: P. O. Box 184, Days Creek, Oregon 97429.