The Opportunity of a Lifetime

We live in a day of technology such as was not even imagined just a few years ago. Years ago we never dreamed that we would have so much access to so much information that is available today. Study methods were so different; copies were made of things we wanted to remember. My grade school teacher had a whole box full of cards that she studied.

My parents copied important statements in notebooks, and in the last few months, while going through my mother’s things, I found a whole book of quotations about heaven that my father recorded from his devotional reading, many of them while a soldier in Burma and India during World War 11. We are just pilgrims and strangers in this world, and if you lose your vision of heaven, you are lost and will just start living for this world and whatever is down here.

There are some things, especially about future events, that are important enough that, even if they are studied out before, are beneficial to review. What is referred to as “the little time of trouble,” is bigger trouble than that of which you have ever seen or heard. It is called “the little time of trouble” because it is not nearly as bad as the big time of trouble that is coming right after it. We often study about the great time of trouble described in Daniel 12:1, which occurs after the close of probation. The progression of events and life do not go just from peace and safety to the great time of trouble in one great leap.

If you had just learned to swim and could swim across the pool, it would not mean you could swim the English Channel. Before that could be possible, there would have to be a period of training. Just so, the great time of trouble! To be equipped and able to endure this time, it would be necessary to first go through a little time of trouble.

In many places in the New Testament, it talks about the trouble that is coming upon this world. Jesus talked about it. Paul talked about it. Peter talked about it. James talked about it. John talked about it. Over and over again the Bible talks about the fact that in the last days there are going to be troublous times. Ellen White was shown in vision, in 1847, about this little time of trouble that was going to come. This is recorded in the book Early Writings, 32, 33.

It is a wonderful privilege we have as Seventh-day Adventists to have access to the Spirit of Prophecy. In the vision given to Ellen White in Topsham, Maine, while she was in a prayer meeting with a group of believers, she describes what she saw. In vision she was taken to heaven. This was the same experience as Ezekiel and John. Though their bodies remained on the earth, while in vision, their minds are taken to anywhere in the universe.

Mrs. White had been taken to heaven many times in vision, but this time she was taken to where God’s sanctuary is; the veil was lifted, and she was taken into the Holy Place. She describes what she saw there. She saw a table of showbread, seven golden candlesticks, and an altar of incense, but then she says the veil was lifted, and she was allowed to go into the Most Holy Place. This is very interesting, because in the Old Covenant, women were not even allowed in the sanctuary, and Ellen White was a woman and allowed to go into the Most Holy Place. She was a prophet.

In the Most Holy Place in the sanctuary in heaven she saw the ark. In the earthly sanctuary there were two cherubs made from pure gold placed above the mercy seat. However, in heaven real cherubs, real angels, stand at either end of the ark facing each other just like it was in the earthly sanctuary. While still in vision, the Lord lifted the lid on the ark, and she was allowed to look inside and see the Ten Commandments written on tables of stone. (See Early Writings, 32, 33.)

She was astonished when she saw the tables of commandments. On one table were the first four and on the second table were the last six. The first four commandments deal with our relationship with God, and the other six deal with our relationship to our fellow man. She noticed that the commandments on the first table were brighter than the last six, but then she was most astonished that the Sabbath commandment had a halo of light over it more than all of the rest. The Sabbath commandment is the most important commandment of the law. We are not depreciating any other commandment; breaking any commandment will keep a person out of heaven, but the Sabbath is the most important commandment of the law. The reason the devil wants to change the Sabbath is to cause men to forget God. The Sabbath causes men to remember Him. The very first word in the fourth commandment is “remember” [Exodus 20:8].

“Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.”

In the book Early Writings, 33, she says, “I saw that the holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers; and that the Sabbath is the great question to unite the hearts of God’s dear, waiting saints.

“I saw that God had children who do not see and keep the Sabbath.” Ibid. How many children does God have who do not see and keep the Sabbath? There could easily be many millions. What is going to happen to these children of God who do not see and keep the Sabbath? When probation closes, there is no more a Mediator in the heavenly sanctuary. As long as Jesus is presenting Himself as our High Priest, our sins of ignorance are covered and forgiven. Sins of ignorance are those of which we are unaware. But what about those children He says are His who do not see and keep the Sabbath?

Some people have a very simplistic view of the Ten Commandments, but they cover the entire moral duty of man and involve the thoughts and the feelings and the affections of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). In the beginning of The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, it says that before probation closes, all of these things must be revealed to us, and then we must change so that our life is in perfect harmony with God’s law. But right now God has children out there in the world who are His children; they are breaking the Sabbath every week, and they don’t know about it.

Well, what is going to happen to them? Every command of God is a promise (see Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 76). It is fair to say then that when God commands something, you accept that command as a promise. The Holy Spirit will enable you to start keeping the Sabbath. So what is going to happen to those children that God has in the world who are not keeping the Sabbath now because of ignorance? Mrs. White says, “I saw that God had children who do not see and keep the Sabbath. They have not rejected the light upon it. And at the commencement of the time of trouble, we were filled with the Holy Ghost as we went forth and proclaimed the Sabbath more fully.” Early Writings, 33. Before probation closes, those whom God claims as His will be made aware of the Sabbath, as it will be proclaimed more fully at the commencement of the time of trouble.

Now, when Ellen White wrote this statement, some Adventist people were confused, thinking that “the time of trouble” refers to when Michael stands up, the close of probation when the plagues begin to fall and there is no Mediator. So what good would it do to proclaim the Sabbath more fully after that?

What did the statement mean: “At the commencement of the time of trouble, we were filled with the Holy Ghost as we went forth and proclaimed the Sabbath more fully”? Ellen White had to write an explanation, and it is recorded in “An Explanation,” Early Writings, 85.

“This view was given in 1847 when there were but very few of the Advent brethren observing the Sabbath, and of these but few supposed that its observance was of sufficient importance to draw a line between the people of God and unbelievers. Now the fulfillment of that view is beginning to be seen. ‘The commencement of that time of trouble,’ here mentioned does not refer to the time when the plagues shall begin to be poured out, but to a short period just before they are poured out, while Christ is in the sanctuary. At that time, while the work of salvation is closing, trouble will be coming on the earth, and the nations will be angry, yet held in check so as not to prevent the work of the third angel. At that time the ‘latter rain,’ or refreshing from the presence of the Lord, will come, to give power to the loud voice of the third angel, and prepare the saints to stand in the period when the seven last plagues shall be poured out.” Ibid., 85, 86.

The time of trouble that she referred to is just before probation closes, when the latter rain and the loud cry of the third angel are given. During that period of time, everybody in the whole world will learn about the commandments of God, the law of God, and the Sabbath, and everybody in the world will make a decision and be on one side or the other.

What is going to happen during this little time of trouble that takes place just before probation closes and how do we get ready for it? Many people have made the whole focus of their life a physical preparation for a time like this. However, while physical preparation is all right, it is the spiritual preparation that is most important. If you have the spiritual preparation, the Lord can get you through whatever kind of situation in which you find yourself. But if you do not have the spiritual preparation, all the physical preparation in the world is not going to help you.

During the little time of trouble that is coming, God’s children are going to be scattered to many countries as a result of persecution. There are a lot of people who think the way to get ready for it is to get a place that is way out in the country where there is an independent water supply, independent electricity, and to be totally self-sufficient and able to grow your own garden. I am not saying that God has not sent somebody to do something like that. But what are you going to do in a situation like that if, after you have all this in place, you have to flee to Mexico, or Canada or South America or somewhere else because of persecution? It has been predicted that God’s children will be scattered into many countries.

It is most important to prepare spiritually for the times that are coming on this earth before Jesus comes. “When the reasoning of philosophy has banished the fear of God’s judgments; when religious teachers are pointing forward to long ages of peace and prosperity, and the world are absorbed in their rounds of business and pleasure, planting and building, feasting and merrymaking, rejecting God’s warnings and mocking His messengers—then it is that sudden destruction cometh upon them, and they shall not escape.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 104.

I remember so well in 1989 when the Iron Curtain fell. Articles appeared in the national magazines and people were just rejoicing and adoring Ronald Reagan [40th president of the United States] and Pope John Paul 11, giving them the credit for bringing the barrier down. The national magazines even claimed there was no longer need of a military; now there will be peace! Paul said, “For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:3. Only a few short years later, in 1991, we were in war again. The peace did not last very long, and we found out right away that we were still in need of the military, and it has been evident more and more since that time.

We have been warned that the people are not going to fear; they are going to believe that they have nothing to worry about with God’s judgments and that the religious teachers will be pointing forward to long ages of peace and prosperity. For this reason, the little time of trouble is going to take most of the world by surprise, except those who believe the prophecies and are aware of what is happening. They will think they are getting together for a millennium of peace. They will think they are going to get together for a great celebration, a great rejoicing. (See Maranatha, 317.) People will be urged to join the millennium of peace that has already started. All that is needed is to be in harmony with the Sunday Law and all will be harmonious.

“The people are dreaming of prosperity and peace. ‘Escape for thy life,’ is the warning from the angels of God; but other voices are heard saying, ‘Be not excited; there is no cause for alarm.’ The multitudes cry, ‘Peace and safety,’ while Heaven declares that swift destruction is about to come upon the transgressor. On the night prior to their destruction [the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah], the cities of the plain rioted in pleasure and derided the fears and warnings of the messenger of God; but those scoffers perished in the flames; that very night the door of mercy was forever closed to the wicked, careless inhabitants of Sodom. God will not always be mocked; He will not long be trifled with. ‘Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and He shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.’ Isaiah 13:9. The great mass of the world will reject God’s mercy, and will be overwhelmed in swift and irretrievable ruin. But those who heed the warning shall dwell ‘in the secret place of the most High,’ and ‘abide under the shadow of the Almighty.’ His truth shall be their shield and buckler [Psalm 91:1, 4].” Ibid., 167.

At the beginning of the time of trouble, God’s people will proclaim the Sabbath more fully, and it is going to everybody in the world in a very, very short time. We do not know exactly how long it will be. With our telecommunications today, very soon it will be possible to communicate to every person in the world in about 24 hours. God is making the necessary preparations, so it is going to close down very, very fast.

While God’s people are proclaiming the Sabbath more fully to the world, the religious teachers are going to be telling the people not to listen to the Adventists, because there will be a long period of peace and prosperity. The devil will make sure that happens for a period of time and the world will be convinced and will scoff at the warnings of God. You have to be willing to have some opposition if you are going to be on God’s side of the great controversy as we approach the end, because people will scoff.

At the end of the world, whole nations will be destroyed, but first, just cities or local regions will be affected. “Calamities will come—calamities most awful, most unexpected, and these destructions will follow one after another. If there will be a heeding of the warnings God has given, and if churches will repent, returning to their allegiance, then other cities may be spared for a time. But if men who have been deceived continue in the same way in which they have been walking, disregarding the law of God and presenting falsehoods before the people, God allows them to suffer calamity, that their senses may be awakened.

“The Lord will not suddenly cast off all transgressors or destroy entire nations; but He will punish cities and places where men have given themselves up to the possession of Satanic agencies.” Evangelism, 27. Recently, there have been many cities destroyed by floods and earthquakes. Daily you can read of disasters taking place all over the world.

“Strictly will the cities of the nations be dealt with, and yet they will not be visited in the extreme of God’s indignation, because some souls will yet break away from the delusions of the enemy, and will repent and be converted, while the mass will be treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath.” Ibid.

So, there are going to be calamities or, what we call today, natural disasters. Tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, all manner of great fires, all manner of natural disasters are going to occur, and at the same time that there are these natural disasters, there’s going to be what we call “political trouble” that will be developing.

“The world is stirred with the spirit of war. The prophecies of the eleventh of Daniel have almost reached their final fulfillment.

“Soon strife among the nations will break out with an intensity that we do not now anticipate.” Maranatha, 174.

There had already been a tremendous slaughter in Russia in 1905, but for several decades before World War I in 1914, leading statesmen in Europe were very concerned about a general war breaking out in the last part of the nineteenth century. When World War I broke out, the world was changed forever.

World War I was the most awful war the world had ever seen up until that time. As a result, the entire army was almost totally destroyed. Before the war, the Czar of Russia had an army of about two and a half million soldiers, but since his army was practically destroyed, the Czar was left almost powerless. A revolution erupted; the Czar and his family were all killed in cold blood, which led to a communist takeover of over half of the world and lasted until the 1970s. World War I destabilized the whole world and World War II destabilized it even further.

Ellen White said that, “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.” Maranatha, 25.

Concerning this period just before the war broke out, Ellen White wrote, “The present is a time of overwhelming interest to all living. Rulers and statesmen, men who occupy positions of trust and authority, thinking men and women of all classes, have their attention fixed upon the events taking place about us. They are watching the strained, restless relations that exist among the nations. They observe the intensity that is taking possession of every earthly element, and they realize that something great and decisive is about to take place—that the world is on the verge of a stupendous crisis.” Maranatha, 174. That stupendous crisis has started and will not cease until Jesus comes; it will never again be stable like it has been in the past. Now, during this period of time while there are grievous troubles among the nations, natural disasters and calamities, and strife among the nations, the Three Angels’ Messages and the Sabbath message must go to the whole world. It may be that this will not be fully understood until the time comes when the Lord gives us the message. We know from a number of statements that God is going to give His people special messages and truth that we have not understood before, right at this period of time, right at the end of time.

At the right time, if we are ready, she says, “… we were filled with the Holy Ghost as we went forth and proclaimed the Sabbath more fully.” The Review and Herald, July 21, 1851. Being in a condition to receive the Holy Spirit is of paramount importance to us as we approach the end of time, for without it, it will be impossible to go out with power and spread the final message.

In The Great Controversy, 589, 590, it says that God is going to allow the devil to bring disasters upon the people of this world, because they are disobedient to this law. Tornadoes, earthquakes, fires and other terrible disasters will be blamed on Sabbath-keepers for refusing to reverence Sunday worship and honoring the resurrection of Christ. Those who stand true to God at that time will be brought before rulers and interrogated before courts.

Jesus said, “You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you shall speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” Matthew 10:18–20.

Being brought before a court today, with the technology now available, may give opportunity to bear witness to more people in one day than in a whole previous lifetime. At that time we are told that “when brought into trial the Holy spirit will bring to their remembrance the very truths that will reach the hearts of those who shall come to hear.” Maranatha, 45. In order for that to happen, there must have been some prior studying. “The servants of Christ are to prepare no set speech to present when brought to trial for their faith. Their preparation is to be made day by day, in treasuring up in their hearts the precious truths of God’s word, in feeding upon the teaching of Christ.” Ibid.

“The time will come, when we shall be brought before councils and before thousands for His name’s sake, and each one will have to give the reason of his faith.” Ibid., 252. Men and women will be standing alone to answer for their faith.

Are you ready to give an answer as to why you believe what you believe? “Every position of truth taken by our people will bear the criticism of the greatest minds; the highest of the world’s great men will be brought in contact with truth, and therefore every position we take should be critically examined and tested by the Scriptures.” Ibid.

The Scriptures are explicit. Our faith is not built on implicit evidence. It is built on explicit evidence. Explicit evidence is what the Bible actually says and not what you think it means. “Now we seem to be unnoticed, but this will not always be. Movements are at work to bring us to the front, and if our theories of truth can be picked to pieces by historians or the world’s greatest men, it will be done.” Ibid.

The most difficult speech to give is one that you have to give to a hostile audience, to those who do not like what you believe and would love to prove you wrong. Though the audience at that time will be hostile, it will be a marvelous opportunity for those who are ready to witness for Jesus. “The Lord Jesus will give the disciples a tongue and wisdom that their adversaries can neither gainsay nor resist. Those who could not by reasoning overcome satanic delusions, will bear an affirmative testimony that will baffle supposedly learned men. Words will come from the lips of the unlearned with such convincing power and wisdom that conversions will be made to the truth. Thousands will be converted under their testimony.” Ibid. Isn’t that exciting?

Thousands of people will hear the message for the first time, and though the majority will reject it, there will be someone listening who responds to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

“The time is not far off when the people of God will be called upon to give their testimony before the rulers of the earth. Not one in twenty has a realization of what rapid strides we are making toward the great crisis in our history. … There is no time for vanity, for trifling, for engaging the mind in unimportant matters.

“Kings, governors, and great men will hear of you through the reports of those who are at enmity with you, and your faith and character will be misrepresented before them. But those who are falsely accused will have an opportunity to appear in the presence of their accusers to answer for themselves.

“They will have the privilege of bringing the light before those who are called the great men of the earth, and if you have studied the Bible, if you are ready to give an answer to every man that asketh you of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear, your enemies will not be able to gainsay your wisdom.

“You now have an opportunity to attain to the greatest intellectual power through the study of the word of God. But if you are indolent, and fail to dig deep in the mines of truth, you will not be ready for the crisis that is soon to come upon us. O that you would realize that each moment is golden. If you live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, you will not be found unprepared.

“You know not where you may be called upon to give your witness of truth. Many will have to stand in the legislative courts … .” Ibid., 253.

A legislative court is different than a judicial court. A judicial court is the court in which we usually stand. A legislative court is either a court in the capitol of the state or the country where the laws are made. A legislative court of the United States is its Congress, its House of Representatives, and its Senate. However, there are legislative courts in each state that make laws for that state. Mrs. White goes on to say, “Many will have to stand in the legislative courts; some will have to stand before kings and before the learned of the earth, to answer for their faith.

“Those who have only a superficial understanding of truth will not be able tclearly to expound the Scriptures, and give definite reasons for their faith. They will become confused, and will not be workmen that need not to be ashamed. Let no one imagine that he has no need to study, because he is not to preach in the sacred desk. You know not what God may require of you.” Ibid.

Are you getting ready? This is going to be the greatest opportunity of your life. If that promise is going to be fulfilled, you will need to know what the Bible says.

If your argument is established on the word of God, no matter how wise the opposition is, truth will still stand and if you have faith, if you have been a student of the Bible, it will be the greatest opportunity of your life.

[Bible texts quoted are NKJV translation.]

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Free Seventh-day Adventist Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.