December 19, 2010 – December 25, 2010
“I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him.” Isaiah 57:19.
Study Help: The Great Controversy, 289–298; Prophets and Kings, 675–678.
“It was the work of the Reformation to restore to men the word of God.” The Great Controversy, 388.
1 With the spread of the Word of God and the Reformation, what new era was ushered in? II Corinthians 3:17.
2 While the accession of the Roman Church to power marked the beginning of the Dark Ages, what marked the end of this period? Revelation 13:3, first part; 12:14.
Note: “The accession of the Roman Church to power marked the beginning of the Dark Ages.” The Great Controversy, 55.
“This period, as stated in preceding chapters, began with the supremacy of the papacy, A.D. 538, and terminated in 1798. At that time the pope was made captive by the French army, the papal power received its deadly wound, and the prediction was fulfilled, ‘He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity’ [Revelation 13:10].” Ibid., 439.
“In the beginning of the year 1798, on the 15th of February, a French general, Berthier, entered Rome with a French army without resistance, deposed the pope, abolished the papal government, and erected the republic of Italy.” William Miller, Miller’s Works, vol. 2, 99.
3 How was the prophecy of Daniel concerning the increase of knowledge fulfilled? What was particularly instrumental in this? Daniel 12:4.
Note: “The improvements in printing have given an impetus to the work of circulating the Bible. The increased facilities for communication between different countries, the breaking down of ancient barriers of prejudice and national exclusiveness, and the loss of secular power by the pontiff of Rome have opened the way for the entrance of the word of God. For some years the Bible has been sold without restraint in the streets of Rome, and it has now been carried to every part of the habitable globe.” The Great Controversy, 288.
“In 1804, according to Mr. William Canton of the British and Foreign Bible Society, ‘all the Bibles extant in the world, in manuscript or in print, counting every version in every land, were computed at not many more than four millions. … The various languages in which those four millions were written, including such bygone speech as the Moeso-Gothic of Ulfilas and the Anglo-Saxon of Bede, are set down as numbering about fifty.’ …
“The American Bible Society reported a distribution from 1816 through 1955 of 481,149,365 Bibles, Testaments, and portions of Testaments. To this may be added over 600,000,000 Bibles or Scripture portions distributed by the British and Foreign Bible Society.” Appendix to The Great Controversy, 689.
4 What prophecy leads us to look for an expanding growth of gospel and missionary activity? Revelation 11:12.
Note: “For the fifty years preceding 1792, little attention was given to the work of foreign missions. No new societies were formed, and there were but few churches that made any effort for the spread of Christianity in heathen lands. But toward the close of the eighteenth century a great change took place. Men became dissatisfied with the results of rationalism and realized the necessity of divine revelation and experimental religion. From this time the work of foreign missions attained an unprecedented growth.” The Great Controversy, 287, 288.
5 How did Daniel amplify the prophecy given in Daniel 12:4 and what is the significance of this? Daniel 12:6, 7.
Note: “[Joseph] Wolff believed the coming of the Lord to be at hand, his interpretation of the prophetic periods placing the great consummation within a very few years of the time pointed out by Miller. To those who urged from the scripture, ‘Of that day and hour knoweth no man’ [Matthew 24:36], that men are to know nothing concerning the nearness of the advent, Wolff replied: ‘Did our Lord say that that day and hour should never be known? Did He not give us signs of the times, in order that we may know at least the approach of His coming, as one knows the approach of the summer by the fig tree putting forth its leaves? Matthew 24:32. Are we never to know that period, whilst He Himself exhorteth us not only to read Daniel the prophet, but to understand it? and in that very Daniel, where it is said that the words were shut up to the time of the end (which was the case in his time), and that ‘many shall run to and fro’ (a Hebrew expression for observing and thinking upon the time), ‘and knowledge’ (regarding that time) ‘shall be increased’ (Daniel 12:4). Besides this, our Lord does not intend to say by this, that the approach of the time shall not be known, but that the exact ‘day and hour knoweth no man.’ Enough, He does say, shall be known by the signs of the times, to induce us to prepare for His coming, as Noah prepared the ark.’—Wolff, Researches and Missionary Labors, pages 404, 405.” The Great Controversy, 359, 360.
6 When opening the future to His disciples, what did Jesus say would occur at the end of the tribulation of the Dark Ages? Mark 13:24, 25; Matthew 24:21, 22.
Note: “In the Saviour’s conversation with His disciples upon Olivet, after describing the long period of trial for the church—the 1260 years of papal persecution, concerning which He had promised that the tribulation should be shortened—He thus mentioned certain events to precede His coming, and fixed the time when the first of these should be witnessed: ‘In those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light.’ Mark 13:24. The 1260 days, or years, terminated in 1798. A quarter of a century earlier, persecution had almost wholly ceased.” The Great Controversy, 306.
7 What doctrine began to take on a new significance as the signs given by Jesus came to pass? Matthew 24:29–33.
8 What did Reformers say concerning this event which should bring hope and encouragement to every Christian?
Note: “They [saints and martyrs] were willing to go down to the grave, that they might ‘rise free.’—Daniel T. Taylor, The Reign of Christ on Earth: or, The Voice of the Church in All Ages, p. 54. They looked for the ‘Lord to come from heaven in the clouds with the glory of His Father,’ ‘bringing to the just the times of the kingdom.’ The Waldenses cherished the same faith.—Ibid., pages 129–132. Wycliffe looked forward to the Redeemer’s appearing as the hope of the church.—Ibid., pages 132–134.
“Luther declared: ‘I persuade myself verily, that the day of judgment will not be absent full three hundred years. God will not, cannot, suffer this wicked world much longer.’ ‘The great day is drawing near in which the kingdom of abominations shall be overthrown.’—Ibid., pages 158, 134.
“ ‘This aged world is not far from its end,’ said Melanchthon. Calvin bids Christians ‘not to hesitate, ardently desiring the day of Christ’s coming as of all events most auspicious;’ and declares that ‘the whole family of the faithful will keep in view that day.’ ‘We must hunger after Christ, we must seek, contemplate,’ he says, ‘till the dawning of that great day, when our Lord will fully manifest the glory of His kingdom.’—Ibid., pages 158, 134.
“ ‘Has not the Lord Jesus carried up our flesh into heaven?’ said Knox, the Scotch Reformer, ‘and shall He not return? We know that He shall return, and that with expedition.’ Ridley and Latimer, who laid down their lives for the truth, looked in faith for the Lord’s coming. Ridley wrote: ‘The world without doubt—this I do believe, and therefore I say it—draws to an end. Let us with John, the servant of God, cry in our hearts unto our Saviour Christ, Come, Lord Jesus, come.’—Ibid., pages 151, 145.
“ ‘The thoughts of the coming of the Lord,’ said Baxter, ‘are most sweet and joyful to me.’—Richard Baxter, Works, vol. 17, p. 555. ‘It is the work of faith and the character of His saints to love His appearing and to look for that blessed hope.’ ‘If death be the last enemy to be destroyed at the resurrection, we may learn how earnestly believers should long and pray for the second coming of Christ, when this full and final conquest shall be made.’ ” The Great Controversy, 303, 304.
9 What promise of Jesus should always be remembered and taught to all who will listen? John 14:1–3.
Note: “One of the most solemn and yet most glorious truths revealed in the Bible is that of Christ’s second coming to complete the great work of redemption. To God’s pilgrim people, so long left to sojourn in ‘the region and shadow of death’ [Matthew 4:16], precious, joy-inspiring hope is given in the promise of His appearing, who is ‘the resurrection and the life’ [John 11:25], to ‘bring home again His banished’ [II Samuel 14:13].” The Great Controversy, 299.
10 How did the Reformers lighten the world and how are they to do it now? Matthew 5:14–16; Psalm 19:7.
Note: “Rome withheld the Bible from the people and required all men to accept her teachings in its place. It was the work of the Reformation to restore to men the word of God.” The Great Controversy, 388.
“This principle we in our day are firmly to maintain. The banner of truth and religious liberty held aloft by the founders of the gospel church and by God’s witnesses during the centuries that have passed since then, has, in this last conflict, been committed to our hands. The responsibility for this great gift rests with those whom God has blessed with a knowledge of His word.” The Acts of the Apostles, 68, 69.
Personal Review Questions
1 What was a noticeable result of the Reformation?
2 What factors influenced the increase in missionary activity around the world?
3 What prophecies find their specific fulfillment at the close of the Dark Ages?
4 What should be a focal point of the gospel message in our time?
5 What can we do to continue and finish the work begun by the Reformers?
“The word of God abounds in sharp and striking contrasts. Sin and holiness are placed side by side, that, beholding, we may shun the one and accept the other. The pages that describe the hatred, falsehood, and treachery of Sanballat and Tobiah, describe also the nobility, devotion, and self-sacrifice of Ezra and Nehemiah. We are left free to copy either, as we choose. The fearful results of transgressing God’s commands are placed over against the blessings resulting from obedience. We ourselves must decide whether we will suffer the one or enjoy the other. …
“The spiritual restoration of which the work carried forward in Nehemiah’s day was a symbol, is outlined in the words of Isaiah: ‘They shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities.’ ‘They that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.’ Isaiah 61:4; 58:12.
“The prophet here describes a people who, in a time of general departure from truth and righteousness, are seeking to restore the principles that are the foundation of the kingdom of God. They are repairers of a breach that has been made in God’s law—the wall that He has placed around His chosen ones for their protection, and obedience to whose precepts of justice, truth, and purity is to be their perpetual safeguard.” Prophets and Kings, 676–678.
©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission