Have you ever been in an earthquake? Earthquakes have been important signs of the end. It was an earthquake, in Lisbon, Portugal, that started the signs of the time of the end.
Growing up on the Mississippi, I heard about the greatest recorded earthquake which happened there in about 1800. It was so strong that the Mississippi River flowed backwards for five or ten minutes. We have the record of a steamboat captain who went backwards while the bluffs were crashing into the water. It was estimated that it measured eight on the Richter scale.
In 1906, there was a big earthquake in San Francisco which Ellen White saw in vision two days before it happened. Then there was the earthquake in Anchorage, Alaska. More recently there was the earthquake in San Francisco when the Bay Bridge collapsed.
Each of us is going to go through a shaking. In fact, I hope that each of you will go through three shakings. First the church shakes. Second, the nations shake. And third, the earth shakes. The shakings become successively better and better for the saints, and worse and worse for those who disregard God’s law.
The Church is Shaken
The underlying issue of the shaking of the church is, Where is your trust? Is it in man? Or God? Jeremiah 17:5 says, “Thus saith the Lord. Cursed be the man that trusteth in man and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.” But cursed be the man who makes flesh his arm.
We can make flesh our arm in a number of ways. We can make an organization an arm of flesh by saying, “This organization or this church will not be shaken out. We will trust in this.” But we cannot put our trust in an organization or man, because all who have their trust in the arm of flesh will be shaken out. All who are not firmly rooted and grounded to the Rock, Christ Jesus, will be shaken out.
We cannot trust in our own arm. We are doing this when we say, “I can do this by myself.” That is what Peter did. Jesus said, “Peter, before the cock crows, you are going to deny Me three times.” And Peter said, “You have to be mistaken. I would never deny You, Lord. Though all these deny You, I will not.” Matthew 26: 34, 35.
Peter trusted in himself and because he trusted in himself, he was shaken. We have to put our trust in the Lord and in God’s Word. If our trust is not here, like Peter, we will deny our Lord.
“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord and whose hope the Lord is.” Jeremiah 17:7. We are blessed if we put our trust in the Lord in order to stand. Cain trusted in his own arm when he brought his very best, but not what God required. He said, “I will trust in my arm. I do not want to go to Abel and ask for a lamb to have a blood sacrifice to point forward to the Messiah.” But Abel, said, “I will bring the best of my flock. I will do what the Lord has said. I will trust that if I obey He will deliver me.”
Where is our trust? Is it in our own arm, our parent’s arm, our friend’s arm, our pastor’s arm, or in an organization? If we trust in the arm of flesh, we are virtually denying God’s power.
Isaiah commanded, “Cease ye from man.” Isaiah 2:22. The whole issue of the shaking is, “Are we leaning on the arm of flesh or on the omnipotent arm of God?” If we will obey explicitly like Abel, and trust in God, we will also be accepted.
We can always trust God. When we come to a dark place in our lives, we can trust that He will see us through. Would it be trust if we could see through the darkness to the other side? No, but God has given us evidences to strengthen our faith. Just consider all the stories in the Bible when God sustained His people. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and as long as we do not turn from Him, He will hold us fast.
The shaking is painful, but necessary. Why is it necessary? At the bottom of a box of apples there is one rotten one. If left, the apples around it will spoil and become rotten. That is the work of the shaking, testing and sifting out of the good from the rotten.
During this shaking, the world exults. They say, “Your numbers are getting smaller. Many people are leaving you.” This is the most difficult shaking for God’s church.
There was a parallel of today’s shaking in Jesus’ time. It lasted throughout the life and ministry of Jesus. We read in John 6 that many of His disciples walked no more with Him because He said, “I am not here for temporal gains; I am here to free you from your sins.”
The company that followed Jesus became smaller until eventually, on the cross, there were only eleven men and a few women remaining. To see how essential this shaking was, consider Judas. The disciples trusted in Judas because he seemed to be eloquent, intelligent, and have more ability than other disciples, but inside he was rotten.
The Nations Shake
The second shaking stirs the nations of this earth. This shaking is much more exciting, and much better for God’s people. It was necessary that the first shaking, that of the church, take place before the shaking of the nations. If we do not make it through the first shaking, we will not be a part of this shaking when the church shakes the nation.
When the nations shake, it is going to be more powerful than anything yet seen. “After these things I saw another angel come down from heaven having great power and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Revelation 18:1–4.
Before Christ’s second coming the earth will be lightened with His glory. This will shake the nations. The glory of God will go all the way around the earth. It will be a world-wide message.
The day of Pentecost was a foretaste of what it will be like when the earth is lightened with His glory. When that other angel comes down, it will be much more powerful than the day of Pentecost. “Be glad then, ye children of Zion. Rejoice in the Lord your God: for He hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.” Joel 2:23, 24.
I want to be part of that experience. On the day of Pentecost, three thousand were added to the church. The gospel went to all the then known world in just a matter of years. But that will be small in comparison to when the nations shake. We are very privileged to be living in this period of earth’s history and have the opportunity to be part of that work.
Ellen White tells us that the loud cry will be ten times greater than the midnight cry of the 1840s. (See Spaulding and Magan Collection, 4.) Just think about that. During the midnight cry, the first angel’s message went to every tribe, kindred, tongue, and nation. Joseph Wolf, missionary to the world, preached the soon coming of Jesus to Jews, Hindus, Turks, and even in Congress, warning them that the hour of His judgment had come. La Cunza, a Jesuit priest in South America, preached the same first angel’s message. In Scandinavia, children between six and eight years of age preached the soon coming of Jesus because the ministers were silenced by the church, saying Jesus is soon to come.
William Miller in America preached the first angel’s message to thousands, and hundreds of thousands who flocked to hear him. But the latter rain, the “other angel” who is going to lighten the earth with his glory, will be ten times more powerful than that. Do you want to be a part of giving that message? God is waiting on us.
How can we be a part of this? First we must pray for it. In every assembly we need to pray for this, because God loves to hear and answer our prayers. It is like a child asking his father for something good. The father wants to give it to the child. So our Heavenly Father wants to give us the latter rain. He wants to fit us so we can be a part of this “other angel.” But He cannot while we are not ready.
“When the Third Angel’s Message shall go forth with a loud voice, the whole earth shall be lightened with His glory, the Holy Spirit is poured out upon His people. The revenue of glory has been accumulating for this closing work of the Third Angel’s Message. The prayers that have been ascending for the fulfillment of the promise, the descent of the Holy Spirit, not one has been lost. Each prayer has been accumulating, ready to overflow and pour forth a healing flood of heavenly influence and accumulated light all over the world.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, 180, 181.
The prayers have been accumulating; none have been lost. That should urge us to pray more. The more we pray for it, the more quickly it will come and the more powerful it will be. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14. We need to pray for it as we have never prayed before.
That is not all that we need to be a part of the first shaking. We need to become a part of fulfilling God’s promise in Isaiah 13:12, 13: “I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of His fierce anger.”
Jesus, by His death upon the cross of Calvary, has made provision so that we can be made more precious than the golden wedge of Ophir. To make use of the provision we must give up our sins.
If we have not given up our sins, if we have not laid all on the altar, we are not ready for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Why could God entrust the Holy Spirit without measure to Jesus? Because He had no sin, and that is the only way He can entrust us with the Holy Spirit without measure.
“Now the Lord is that Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 11 Corinthians 3:17. We need liberty from sin in order for the Holy Spirit to dwell in us fully. We cannot just believe it; we have to experience it. God says, “Taste and see.” Psalms 34:8. We have to know for ourselves that He is good and we have to give up all sin for Him.
God poured out the Holy Spirit upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost after they experienced the cross. They saw the deep spiritual significance of it. They spent ten days in the upper room, praying, searching their hearts and making things right. That experience enabled them to receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We will be enabled, in the same way, to partake of the latter rain, to be a part of the church that shakes the nations.
Are we spending time at the cross daily? When we look at the cross, we see how horrible sin is, and how much we need to have it taken out of our hearts. We must ask ourselves, is there anything that is separating me from God? Am I clinging to any sin, so that God cannot use me for the fulfillment of His great work? We must humble ourselves before the Lord, and He will show us what we must do.
The third thing we must do in order to receive the latter rain, is to be working earnestly for others. In order for the other angel to unite with the third angel, we must be proclaiming the third angel’s message. “Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts: According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not. For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.” Haggai 2:4–7.
After the nations are shaken, then Jesus can come. Everyone will have made their decision. In Noah’s day everyone heard that a flood was coming. And every person on the globe had a chance to make a decision whether or not to heed Noah and go into the ark. So it is today. Jesus will not come the second time until everyone has had a chance to make a decision. That is the work that we have to do. We have a part to play in shaking the nations and hastening Jesus’ soon coming.
We have to be working earnestly for the salvation of our neighbors, and friends, and all with whom we come in contact. We are to pray, “Lord, what more can I do to be a part of the proclamation of the third angel’s message. I want to be a part of that other angel who lightens the earth with his glory and shakes all nations.”
The gospel has to go to the entire world before the end can come. Paul said that the gospel was “preached to every creature.” Colossians 1:23. And it must be again. They said about Paul, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.” Acts 17:6. We need to be one of those today who turns the world upside down.
How badly do we want Jesus to come? Can other people tell by how we live that we want Him to come? The power that lightens the earth with his glory is never going to come upon someone who is not working earnestly for the salvation of souls now.
To be living during the time when the earth is lightened with his glory, to be living during the time when the Holy Spirit is poured out, and not to know that it is going on would be dreadful. That will be our experience if we are neither praying for it, nor removing sin from our lives, and if we are not earnestly working for others.
The Earth Shakes
We have seen that during the first shaking, the church shakes. The second shaking, the nations shake. The third, and best shaking is when the heavens and the earth shake. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.” Matthew 24:29.
This occurs at the voice of God when He delivers His people, just a few days before Jesus comes. (See The Great Controversy, 636.) This shaking will be wonderful for God’s people, but it is a terrible shaking for the wicked, because they realize that they are lost.
Immediately after this “shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven.” Matthew 24:30. After this shaking, Jesus will come. Is this not what we are longing for? When Jesus comes, He will take away all sickness and sorrow and we will live in a perfect world. We have a part to do in bringing this about. We must experience the latter rain, when the Holy Spirit is poured out without measure. Then we will be able to give the loud cry. The work will be finished and we can go home where Jesus is. [Emphasis supplied.]
Cody Francis is currently engaged in public evangelism for Mission Projects International. He also pastors the Remnant Church of Seventh-day Adventist Believers in Renton, Washington. He may be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.