One of the first things that you are taught when you learn to fly an airplane is how to recover from a stall. If you are flying level and your airspeed gets to be too low, the airplane will stop flying and just drop. That is not serious generally, for in a small plane like a Cessna 150 or 152, you can recover in two or three hundred feet, but the larger the airplane, the more distance it takes to recover. To practice this maneuver you must have sufficient altitude. Stalling without sufficient altitude can be very dangerous and even deadly. The standard procedure to follow when going too slow and stalling is to give it fuel, push in the throttle and gain speed and you will come right out of it.
It is customary when purchasing a plane to take it up with an instructor, or someone that has experience with that particular plane, for a test run before taking delivery. A personal friend and Seventh-day Adventist minister was taking delivery of an airplane he had purchased and took it on the test flight. It was flying fairly low and stalled. Unfortunately, the plane was flying too low and it slammed into the ground instantly killing both occupants. In 1991 that very same thing happened to a 737. A sports team was coming in for a landing in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The winds were very gusty that day which makes it one of the most dangerous times to land, because you are flying into the wind and you have to have your flight speed up high enough so if the wind drops, you are still above stalling speed. The wind was gusting anywhere from 15 to 40 miles per hour, and the pilot failed to keep the correct airspeed. While the airplane was coming in for a landing, the wind pulled back and all of a sudden the plane just went straight down and instantly killed everybody. A stall is not dangerous when there is plenty of altitude, but coming in for a landing when the plane is low, there is not enough time or distance to recover.
We are headed toward the Holy City. We are almost home and ready to make a heavenly landing. Care must be taken to not stall, for soon it will be too late to recover.
The warning of the third angel is found in Revelation 14:9–12; it says, “Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.’ Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”
The reason for this warning given by the third angel is because of what the powers of this earth are going to do in the end of this world’s history. It is described in Revelation 13:14–17: “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. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”
Now, for over 150 years, Seventh-day Adventists have been preaching the three angels’ messages to the world. Some Seventh-day Adventists have heard it so much that it no longer affects them. It is in the back of their mind; they believe it, but think it probably won’t happen in their lifetime. The messenger of the Lord has something to say about this way of thinking.
“The day is at hand when the destiny of every soul will be fixed forever. This day of the Lord hastens on apace. The false watchmen are raising the cry, ‘All is well’; but the day of God is rapidly approaching. Its footsteps are so muffled that it does not arouse the world from the deathlike slumber into which it has fallen. While the watchmen cry, ‘Peace and safety,’ ‘sudden destruction cometh upon them,’ ‘and they shall not escape’; ‘for as a snare [a trap] shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.’ It overtakes the pleasure-lover and the sinful man as a thief in the night. When all is apparently secure, and men retire to contented rest, then the prowling, stealthy, midnight thief steals upon his prey. When it is too late to prevent the evil, it is discovered that some door or window was not secured. ‘Be ye also ready: for in an such hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.’ People are now settling to rest, imagining themselves secure under the popular churches; but let all beware, lest there is a place left open for the enemy to gain an entrance. Great pains should be taken to keep this subject before the people. The solemn fact is to be kept not only before the people of the world, but before our own churches also, that the day of the Lord will come suddenly, unexpectedly. The fearful warning of the prophecy is addressed to every soul. Let no one feel that he is secure from the danger of being surprised. Let no one’s interpretation of prophecy rob you of the conviction of the knowledge of events which show that this great event is near at hand.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 335, 336.
Our only safety is to be ready at all times. Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His time because they were not able to read the signs of the times.
About forty years ago I was first informed of a development that could bring about the fulfillment of the prophecy of being unable to buy or sell. Recently, I have become aware that this development is happening much more rapidly than most people realize. It is not happening in the United States, but all around the world and is developing secretly so that most people do not even know that it is happening. However, many of the relatively few who do know about it are scared to death about what it portends for the future, and these people don’t even know the three angels’ messages.
Most do know that the United States money supply has been increased by trillions of dollars in the last three or four years. But what many do not realize is that dozens of central banks, including the United States Federal Reserve Bank, are starting to abandon the paper money system and force us to a new traceable digital currency. The New York Times has reported that the United States government is shredding and burying billions of dollars in landfills, enough to fill 1,750 dump trucks per year. This shredding program has been going on for years to rid the system of worn out dollar bills. Recently they are destroying currency faster than they are replacing it, and are shredding so much cash, that they have been forced to outsource this to private companies. Landfill fees have been getting so high that they have been forced to find new and unusual ways to dispose of all this unwanted paper. ABC News reported that the dollars are piling up so quickly that the Federal Reserve will need to spend $650,000 to build a new vault in Dallas, Texas, to hold them.
What is this endless destruction of paper money all about? It appears that the plans are to flip us into an age of digital, traceable currency and bring to an end the use of cash. In 2011, the United States Treasury printed fewer $5 bills than it had in over 30 years, and no $10 bills were printed at all. In regard to coins, it costs the government about 9 cents to make a nickel, and about 2 cents to make a penny.
There is no legal requirement for businesses to accept dollars as payment, and businesses are starting to refuse cash. Many airlines no longer accept cash for food and drink during flights. Apple stores won’t accept it for an iPad or an iPhone. The State of Louisiana has made it illegal to buy many things with cash.
The Economist magazine said recently, “Cash, after millennia, as one of mankind’s most versatile and enduring technologies, looks set to melt away.” This same thing is happening overseas. In Mexico, there is a bill before the legislature to make it illegal to pay cash for real estate. In Greece, all cash transactions worth 1,500 Euros or more are against the law as of January 1, 2012. In Italy, all cash transactions over 5,000 Euros will be banned.
What does this mean to you? It means you will not be able to transfer a large sum of money anonymously, and every financial transaction that you make will be easily monitored and controlled by the government. Now, we have been on this road for over 50 years, but the pace has become much faster in recent months. Over 90 percent of our money supply is digital. The government is not printing more money but transactions are being made through computers.
Many do not believe that cash will ever disappear, however there is a bill in the United States Congress right now that would remove legal tender status from United States Treasury coins and Federal Reserve Notes. If that bill should pass, paper money would not be money anymore. The United States Treasurer has announced plans to switch to digital payments that will save, they say, nearly three hundred million dollars a year by eliminating millions of paper checks.
The Social Security administration recently switched from paper check to a new digital currency system to distribute billions of dollars in monthly benefit payments. Here is what one analyst said: “There’s not much time left, before the United States government prints their last dollar bill.” Dozens of central banks, including the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States, are about to force us into a traceable currency. And when that happens, it will be the simplest, easiest thing in the world to enforce the mark of the beast so you cannot buy or sell, as it is predicted in Revelation 13:15 and 17.
These things have been developing slowly over the last 50 years. But, like a lot of things, it is just going slowly and then all of sudden it happens. Ellen White said this about the rapidity of these things being fulfilled at the end: “The work of the people of God is to prepare for the events of the future, which will soon come upon them with blinding force.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 4, 74.
Blinding force is something that happens so fast you can’t see it; it blinds you to even try to see what is happening. Ellen White, when writing the book The Great Controversy, said, “I was moved by the Spirit of the Lord to write that book, and while working upon it, I felt a great burden upon my soul. I knew that time was short, that the scenes which are soon to crowd upon us would at the last come very suddenly and swiftly, as represented in the words of Scripture: ‘The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night’ (I Thessalonians 5:2).” Selected Messages, Book 3, 113.
Peter also tells us that the last events of this earth would come very suddenly and swiftly. He says, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.” II Peter 3:10.
The ability to buy and sell is a test over the law of God. The mark of the beast is the change in the law of God, specifically the change in the time of the law of God as mentioned in Daniel 7:25. And the change of the Sabbath is the sign or mark of authority of the anti-christ. We are told in Evangelism, 234, 235. “No one has yet received the mark of the beast. The testing time has not yet come. There are true Christians in every church, not excepting the Roman Catholic communion. None are condemned until they have had the light and have seen the obligation of the fourth commandment. But when the decree shall go forth enforcing the counterfeit sabbath, and the loud cry of the third angel shall warn men against the worship of the beast and his image, the line will be clearly drawn between the false and the true. Then those who still continue in transgression will receive the mark of the beast.
“With rapid steps we are approaching this period.”
The great test of loyalty will be over the fourth commandment and this test is going to occur before probation closes, before the work closes up. Ellen White says, “The Lord has shown me clearly that the image of the beast will be formed before probation closes; for it is to be the great test for the people of God, by which their eternal destiny will be decided.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 80.
Think about what you would do tonight if you could not buy or sell. Only the Lord will be able to sustain His people through that period. The just shall live by faith. Though the 144,000 live until the Lord comes, it will look like they are going to be killed. They would rather be killed than disobey God. This is the mindset necessary to go through to the end and be part of the people who are ready to meet Jesus when He comes.
“This is the test that the people of God must have before they are sealed. All who prove their loyalty to God by observing His law, and refusing to accept a spurious sabbath, will rank under the banner of the Lord God Jehovah, and will receive the seal of the living God. Those who yield the truth of heavenly origin, and accept the Sunday sabbath, will receive the mark of the beast.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 15, 15.
If you receive the mark of the beast, it is too late to recover, just like an airplane that stalls when it’s coming in for a landing—it’s too late!
“The substitution of the laws of men for the law of God, the exaltation, by merely human authority, of Sunday in place of the Bible Sabbath, is the last act in the drama. When this substitution becomes universal, God will reveal Himself. He will arise in His majesty to shake terribly the earth. He will come out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the world for their iniquity, and the earth shall disclose her blood and shall no more cover her slain (Isaiah 26:21).” Testimonies, vol. 7, 141. Things are being put in place so that central governments can control every financial transaction that occurs. When that happens, it will be very easy on a central computer, if you don’t have proper ID, to block the code so that your card won’t work. Instantly, you will not be able to buy and sell. What will you do then?
“In the last vision given me, I was shown the startling fact that but a small portion of those who now profess the truth will be sanctified by it and be saved.” Ibid., vol. 1, 608. This means that the majority now professing the faith will turn away from it for their temporal needs.
“I was pointed back to ancient Israel. But two of the adults of the vast army that left Egypt entered the land of Canaan. Their dead bodies were strewn in the wilderness because of their transgressions. Modern Israel are in greater danger of forgetting God and being led into idolatry than were His ancient people. Many idols are worshiped, even by professed Sabbathkeepers.” Ibid., 609.
“To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few—this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason.” Ibid., vol. 5, 136.
We are rapidly approaching the test that will come to each of us individually. It is one thing to stand and preach about it, or sit and listen to it, but it will be another thing when hungry and thirsty and you can’t buy and sell.
The survivors will, like the three worthies on the plain of Dura, say, Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us but if He does not, let it be known that we will not bow even if we lose our lives. (See Daniel 3:17, 18.)
This is how Ellen White described it: “The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The mark of the beast will be urged upon us. Those who have step by step yielded to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will not find it a hard matter to yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death. The contest is between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. In this time the gold will be separated from the dross in the church. True godliness will be clearly distinguished from the appearance and tinsel of it. Many a star that we have admired for its brilliancy will then go out in darkness. Chaff like a cloud will be borne away on the wind, even from places where we see only floors of rich wheat. All who assume the ornaments of the sanctuary, but are not clothed with Christ’s righteousness, will appear in the shame of their own nakedness.” Ibid., 81.
Time is running out. At this final test the wheat will be separated from the tares. “Said my [Ellen White] accompanying angel, ‘Fearful is his work. Awful is his mission. He is the angel that is to select the wheat from the tares, and seal, or bind, the wheat for the heavenly garner.’ ” Early Writings, 118.
We are preparing to come in to land at our heavenly home. The landing strip is in sight and there is still time to throttle up and make a safe landing by choosing to surrender your life to Jesus Christ and make the commitment, “Lord, I am committing my life to You, and whether I live or die, I am going to follow You and obey You.” Divine power will be given to you and you will be amazed that now you can overcome habits that you never thought possible.
Everyone is to receive a mark, some will have a mark of deliverance—the seal of God. Others will have a mark of destruction—the mark of the beast. At the close of probation one group is going to be saved and there is no way they can be destroyed. The other group of people that have the other mark are going to be destroyed, and there is no way they can be saved.
After receiving the marks, it is too late to change. “Our own course of action will determine whether we shall receive the seal of the living God or be cut down by the destroying weapons. Already a few drops of God’s wrath have fallen upon the earth; but when the seven last plagues shall be poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation, then it will be forever too late to repent and find shelter.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 212.
This is going to come suddenly, at a time when least expected. The signs of the times show that we are almost there, and it will be too late to pick up speed, just as the 737 stalled as it was coming in for landing and went straight down because it was too late! Spectators watched as it hit the ground. If the plane had stalled while still high enough in the air, it could have recovered but you don’t dare stall on the approach, for it is then too late to recover.
Soon there will be no more atoning blood to wash away the stains of sin. Jesus is about to leave the most holy place. Just being a Sabbath-keeper is not enough. “Not all who profess to keep the Sabbath will be sealed. There are many even among those who teach the truth to others who will not receive the seal of God in their foreheads.” Ibid., 214. That is scary!
If Paul said he had to keep his body under or he could be rejected (1 Corinthians 9:27), that would apply to me and it would also apply to you. “They had the light of truth, they knew their Master’s will, they understood every point of our faith, but they had not corresponding works. These who were so familiar with prophecy and the treasures of divine wisdom should have acted their faith.” Ibid. Pray earnestly that you are not in that class.
The spiritual condition of those who receive the seal of God is seen in Revelation 7:1–3 and Revelation 14:1–5. Compare this condition with Revelation 7:1–3. Plead for righteousness while there is still time: “Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them.” Ibid., 215.
When God has a people in this world whose souls are cleansed from every defilement, they will receive the “latter rain.” James 5:7.
Do not despair; your case is not hopeless if you come to Jesus. All things are possible, if you can believe that Jesus can remove all the spots and stains out of your character if you are willing to let go of those bad habits no matter what they are. But, He will never force anyone to let them go and take away their free will. Victory is available to all of those who cooperate with the heavenly agencies. Before we can be ready to receive the latter rain and to give the loud cry, these stains have to come out. This is impossible for us; it is the Lord’s work, but we must cooperate with the divine agencies and be willing to let go.
“There are sinners in Zion who need to repent of sins that have been cherished as precious treasures. Until these sins are seen, and thrust from the soul, until every faulty, unlovely trait of character is transformed by the Spirit’s influence, God cannot manifest Himself in power.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, 366.
Imagine the family and church where each person had the unlovely traits of character removed. “Before the final visitation of God’s judgments upon the earth there will be among the people of the Lord such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times.” The Great Controversy, 464.
Ellen White wrote in The Signs of the Times, August 19, 1886, “If we have become the disciples of Christ, we shall be learning of Him—every day learning how to overcome some unlovely trait of character.”
We are approaching the time when it will be too late to stall and then recover. Every moment is precious, and we need to seek God day and night that every unlovely trait of character may be removed from our characters that we might become a perfect reflection of the character of our precious Saviour, Jesus Christ.
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.