Bible Study Guides – “What Shall Be the Sign?”

May 14-20, 2000 

MEMORY VERSE: “And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.” John 14:29.

STUDY HELP: The Desire of Ages, 627–636.

INTRODUCTION: “After He had given the signs of His coming, Christ said, ‘When ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.’ ‘Take ye heed, watch and pray.’ God has always given men warning of coming judgments. Those who had faith in His message for their time, and who acted out their faith, in obedience to His commandments, escaped the judgments that fell upon the disobedient and unbelieving. The word came to Noah, ‘Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before Me.’ Noah obeyed and was saved. The message came to Lot, ‘Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city.’ Genesis 7:1; 19:14. Lot placed himself under the guardianship of the heavenly messengers, and was saved. So Christ’s disciples were given warning of the destruction of Jerusalem. Those who watched for the sign of the coming ruin, and fled from the city, escaped the destruction. So now we are given warning of Christ’s Second Coming and of the destruction to fall upon the world. Those who heed the warning will be saved.’ The Desire of Ages, 634.

“Signs in the sun, moon and stars”

1 What sign of Christ’s coming was John first shown? Revelation 6:12, first part.

NOTE: “In fulfillment of this prophecy there occurred, in the year 1755, the most terrible earthquake that has ever been recorded. Though commonly known as the earthquake of Lisbon, it extended to the greater part of Europe, Africa, and America. It was felt in Greenland, in the West Indies, in the island of Madeira, in Norway and Sweden, Great Britain and Ireland. It pervaded an extent of not less than four million square miles. In Africa the shock was almost as severe as in Europe. A great part of Algiers was destroyed; and a short distance from Morocco, a village containing eight or ten thousand inhabitants was swallowed up. A vast wave swept over the coast of Spain and Africa engulfing cities and causing great destruction.” The Great Controversy, 304. (See also pages 304–306.)

2 What celestial signs did Jesus warn of? Mark 13:24. (Compare Revelation 6:12, 13.)

NOTE:: “Twenty-five years later appeared the next sign mentioned in the prophecy—the darkening of the sun and moon.” The Great Controversy, 306, 308.

3 What further celestial sign did Jesus warn of? Mark 13:25.

NOTE: “This prophecy received a striking and impressive fulfillment in the great meteoric shower of November 13, 1833. That was the most extensive and wonderful display of falling stars which has ever been recorded; ‘the whole firmament, over all the United States, being then, for hours, in fiery commotion! No celestial phenomenon has ever occurred in this country, since its first settlement, which was viewed with such intense admiration by one class in the community, or with so much dread and alarm by another.” The Great Controversy, 333.

“On the Earth Distress of Nations With Perplexity”

4 Besides the celestial signs, what did Jesus tell us of the state of mankind in the last days? Luke 21:25, last part.

NOTE: “The signs in the sun, moon, and stars have been fulfilled. Since that time earthquakes, tempests, tidal waves, pestilence, and famine have multiplied. The most awful destructions, by fire and flood, are following one another in quick succession. The terrible disasters that are taking place from week to week speak to us in earnest tones of warning, declaring that the end is near, that something great and decisive will soon of necessity take place.” The Review and Herald, November 22, 1906.

5 How is the reaction to the increasing disasters described? Luke 21:26.

NOTE: “Not long ago a very impressive scene passed before me. I saw an immense ball of fire falling among some beautiful mansions, causing their instant destruction. I heard someone say, ‘We knew that the judgments of God were coming upon the earth, but we did not know that they would come so soon.’ Others said, ‘You knew? Why then did you not tell us? We did not know.’ On every side I heard such words spoken. 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. The judgments of God are in the land. The wars and rumors of wars, the destruction by fire and flood, say clearly that the time of trouble, which is to increase until the end, is very near at hand. We have no time to lose. The world is stirred with the spirit of war. The prophecies of the eleventh of Daniel have almost reached their final fulfillment.” Maranatha, 25.

“Famines and Earthquakes and Pestilences”

6 What further calamities are signs of Christ’s coming? Matthew 24:7, last part.

NOTE: “Christ is coming soon. He declared that when there would be wars and rumors of wars, when there would be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places, we might know that the time of His second appearing is near. ‘When these things begin to come to pass,’ He declared, ‘then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.’ Christ represented this time by the parable of the fig tree. ‘Behold the fig tree,’ He said, ‘and all the trees; when they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.’ The wickedness, the turmoil, the disturbances on every side, should be regarded by us as signs that the day of God is at hand. We are standing on the verge of the eternal world. We have no time to lose. It is high time to tell the people that Christ is coming. Let us warn them, visiting them at their homes, and talking and praying with them personally. By such efforts we shall win souls to Christ. If we come to God in faith, He will give us power and grace for every duty.” Peter’s Counsel to Parents, 33.

“Already the restraining Spirit of God is being withdrawn from the earth. Hurricanes, storms, tempests, fire and flood, disasters by sea and land, follow each other in quick succession. Science seeks to explain all these. The signs thickening around us, telling of the near approach of the Son of God, are attributed to any other than the true cause. Men cannot discern the sentinel angels restraining the four winds that they may not blow until the servants of God are sealed; but when God shall bid his angels loose the winds, there will be such a scene of His avenging wrath as no pen can picture.” The Review and Herald, January 11, 1887.

7 What restraining work was seen by John and what was its purpose? Revelation 7:1–3.

NOTE: “John sees the elements of nature—earthquake, tempest, and political strife—represented as being held by four angels. These winds are under control until God gives the word to let them go. There is the safety of God’s church. The angels of God do His bid-ding, holding back the winds of the earth, that the winds should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree, until the servants of God should be sealed in their foreheads.…Angels are now restraining the winds of strife, until the world shall be warned of its coming doom; but a storm is gathering, ready to burst upon the earth, and when God shall bid His angels loose the winds, there will
be such a scene of strife as no pen can picture.” Maranatha, 266. (See also Early Writings, 58.)

“Wars and Rumors of Wars”

8 How did Jesus tell His followers to react to political developments? Matthew 24:6, 7, first part.

NOTE: “The coming of the Lord is nearer than when we first believed. The Great Controversy is nearing its end. Every report of calamity by sea or land is a testimony to the fact that the end of all things is at hand. Wars and rumors of wars declare it. Is there a Christian whose pulse does not beat with quickened action as he anticipates the great events opening before us? The Lord is coming. We hear the footsteps of an approaching God, as He comes to punish the world for its iniquity. We are to prepare the way for Him by acting our part in getting a people ready for that great day.” Review and Herald, November 12, 1914. (See also Evangelism, 240, 241.)

9 What final alliance will take place among the nations and whom will they combine against? Revelation 16:13–16.

NOTE: “The battle of Armageddon is soon to be fought. He on Whose vesture is written the name, King of kings and Lord of lords, leads forth the armies of heaven on white horses, clothed in fine linen, clean and white. Every form of evil is to spring into intense activity. Evil angels unite their powers with evil men, and as they have been in constant conflict and attained an experience in the best modes of deception and battle, and have been strengthening for centuries, they will not yield the last great final contest without a desperate struggle. All the world will be on one side or the other of the question.…On one side stands the Creator of heaven and earth. All on His side bear His signet. They are obedient to His commands. On the other side stands the prince of darkness, with those who have chosen apostasy and rebellion.” SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 982, 983.

“And Then Shall the End Come”

10 What work is to be accomplished before the end comes? Matthew 24:14.

NOTE: “Long has God waited for the spirit of service to take possession of the whole church so that everyone shall be working for Him according to his ability. When the members of the church of God do their appointed work in the needy fields at home and abroad, in fulfillment of the gospel commission, the whole world will soon be warned and the Lord Jesus will return to this earth
with power and great glory.” Acts of the Apostles, 111. (See also The Desire of Ages, 633, 634.)

11 What preparation is necessary before God’s people can complete their work? Ephesians 5:25–27. Compare Hebrews 10:22–25, 1 Corinthians 1:7, 8.

NOTE: “He [Paul] reminded them of the gifts of the Holy Spirit which they had received, and showed that it was their privilege to make continual advancement in the Christian life until they should attain to the purity and holiness of Christ.” Acts of the Apostles, 301. (See also Ibid., 600.)

“Take Heed That No Man Deceive You”

12. What repeated warning did Christ give to His people? Matthew 24:4, 11, 23–26. Compare 2 Thessalonians 2:3.

NOTE: “Said Paul: ‘There’ shall ‘come a falling away…and that man of sin be revealed.’ 2 Thessalonians 2:3. So apostasy in the church will prepare the way for the image to the beast. Satan will work with all power and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness.’ (2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10.) His working is plainly revealed by the rapidly increasing darkness, the multitudinous errors, heresies, and delusions of these last days. Not only is Satan leading the world captive, but his deceptions are leavening the professed churches of our Lord Jesus Christ. The great apostasy will develop into darkness deep as midnight. To God’s people it will be a night of trial, a night of weeping, a night of persecution for the truth’s sake. But out of that night of darkness God’s light will shine.” Maranatha, 165.

13 What defenses do God’s people have against the prevailing deceptions? Matthew 24:26. Compare Ephesians 4:13, 14.

NOTE: “Only those who have been diligent students of the Scriptures, and who have received the love of the truth, will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive. The Saviour has warned His people…and has clearly foretold the manner of His Second Coming. ‘There shall arise false Christs.…Wherefore if they shall say unto you, ‘Behold, He is in the desert;’ go not forth: ‘behold, He is in the secret chambers;’ believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.’ Matthew 24:24–27. This coming, there is no possibility of counterfeiting. It will be universally known—witnessed by the whole world. Are the people of God now so firmly established upon His Word that they would not yield to the evidence of their senses? Would they, in such a crisis, cling to the Bible, and the Bible only?” The Faith I Live By, 346.

Bible Study Guides – Preparing for Jesus Coming

July 21- July 27, 2002

MEMORY VERSE: “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.” 11 Peter 3:11.

STUDY HELPS: The Great Controversy, 670–673; The Desire of Ages, 628–633.

INTRODUCTION: “The prophecies which the great I AM has given in His Word, uniting link after link in the chain of events, from eternity in the past to eternity in the future, tell us where we are today in the procession of the ages, and what may be expected in the time to come. All that prophecy has foretold as coming to pass, until the present time, has been traced on the pages of history, and we may be assured that all which is yet to come will be fulfilled in its order.” Evangelism, 193, 194.

1 What warning of the time of the end did God give in the sixth seal? Revelation 6:12, first part.

NOTE: “These signs were witnessed before the opening of the nineteenth century. In fulfillment of this prophecy there occurred, in the year 1755, the most terrible earthquake that has ever been recorded. Though commonly known as the earthquake of Lisbon, it extended to the greater part of Europe, Africa, and America. It was felt in Greenland, in the West Indies, in the island of Madeira, in Norway and Sweden, Great Britain and Ireland. It pervaded an extent of not less than four million square miles. In Africa the shock was almost as severe as in Europe. A great part of Algiers was destroyed; and a short distance from Morocco, a village containing eight or ten thousand inhabitants was swallowed up. A vast wave swept over the coast of Spain and Africa engulfing cities and causing great destruction.” The Great Controversy, 304.

2 What reaction is happening to men as they see the signs being fulfilled? Luke 21:25, 26.

NOTE: “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 relations that exist among the nations. They observe the intensity that is taking possession of every earthly element, and they recognize that something great and decisive is about to take place—that the world is on the verge of a stupendous crisis.

“The Bible, and the Bible only, gives a correct view of these things. Here are revealed the great final scenes in the history of our world, events that already are casting their shadows before, the sound of their approach causing the earth to tremble and men’s hearts to fail them for fear.” Prophets and Kings, 537.

3 What unexpected occurrence will surprise the nations? 1 Thessalonians 5:3.

NOTE: “The advent of Christ will surprise the false teachers. They are saying, ‘Peace and safety.’ Like the priests and teachers before the fall of Jerusalem, they look for the church to enjoy earthly prosperity and glory. The signs of the times they interpret as foreshadowing this. But what saith the Word of Inspiration? ‘Sudden destruction cometh upon them.’

“Men are putting afar off the coming of the Lord. They laugh at warnings. The proud boast is made, ‘All things continue as they were from the beginning.’ ‘Tomorrow shall be as this day and much more abundant.’ 2 Peter 3:4; Isaiah 56:12. We will go deeper into pleasure loving. But Christ says, ‘Behold, I come as a thief.’ Revelation 16:15. At the very time when the world is asking in scorn, ‘Where is the promise of his coming?’ the signs are fulfilling. While they cry, ‘Peace and safety,’ sudden destruction is coming. When the scorner, the rejecter of truth, has become presumptuous; when the routine of work in the various money-making lines is carried on without regard to principle; when the student is eagerly seeking knowledge of everything but his Bible, Christ comes as a thief.” The Faith I Live By, 342.

4 What events precede the outpouring of God’s wrath? Revelation 11:18.

NOTE: “I saw that the anger of the nations, the wrath of God, and the time to judge the dead were separate and distinct, one following the other, also that Michael had not stood up, and that the time of trouble, such as never was, had not yet commenced. The nations are now getting angry, but when our High Priest has finished His work in the sanctuary, He will stand up, put on the garments of vengeance, and then the seven last plagues will be poured out.” Maranatha, 258.

5 How does the Apostle James describe the condition between the poor and the rich? James 5:1–6.

NOTE: “Love of money and love of display have made this world as a den of thieves and robbers. The Scriptures picture the greed and oppression that will prevail just before Christ’s second coming. [James 5:1, 3–6 quoted.]

“Even among those who profess to be walking in the fear of the Lord, there are some who are acting over again the course pursued by the nobles of Israel. Because it is in their power to do so, they exact more than is just, and thus become oppressors. And because avarice and treachery are seen in the lives of those who have named the name of Christ, because the church retains on her books the names of those who have gained their possessions by injustice, the religion of Christ is held in contempt. Extravagance, overreaching, extortion, are corrupting the faith of many and destroying their spirituality. The church is in a great degree responsible for the sins of her members. She gives countenance to evil if she fails to lift her voice against it.” Prophets and Kings, 651.

6 What should be our attitude before Christ’s return? Isaiah 51:6. Compare Psalm 102:25, 26.

NOTE: “We need to look heavenward in faith. We are not to be discouraged because of apparent failure, nor should we be disheartened by delay. We should work cheerfully, hopefully, gratefully, believing that the earth holds in her bosom rich treasures for the faithful worker to garner, stores richer than gold or silver. The mountains and hills are changing; the earth is waxing old like a garment; but the blessing of God, which spreads for His people a table in the wilderness, will never cease.” The Ministry of Healing, 200.

“The whole of the fifty-first chapter of Isaiah is worthy of close, earnest study, and we would do well to commit it to memory. It has a special application to those who are living in the last days.” Review and Herald, December 1, 1896.

7 What was Jesus concerned that he may not be able to find when He returns? Luke 18:8, last part.

NOTE: “As the time of their probation was closing, the antediluvians gave themselves up to exciting amusements and festivities. Those who possessed influence and power were bent on keeping the minds of the people engrossed with mirth and pleasure, lest any should be impressed by the last solemn warning. Do we not see the same repeated in our day? While God’s servants are giving the message that the end of all things is at hand, the world is absorbed in amusements and pleasure seeking. There is a constant round of excitement that causes indifference to God and prevents the people from being impressed by the truths which alone can save them from the coming destruction.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 103.

8 What will the people be saying just before the second coming of Christ? 2 Peter 3:3, 4.

NOTE: “Of the vast population of the earth before the Flood, only eight souls believed and obeyed God’s word through Noah. For a hundred and twenty years the preacher of righteousness warned the world of the coming destruction, but his message was rejected and despised. So it will be now. Before the Lawgiver shall come to punish the disobedient, transgressors are warned to repent, and return to their allegiance; but with the majority these warnings will be in vain. . . . [2 Peter 3:3, 4 quoted.] Do we not hear these very words repeated, not merely by the openly ungodly, but by many who occupy the pulpits of our land? ‘There is no cause for alarm,’ they cry. ‘Before Christ shall come, all the world is to be converted, and righteousness is to reign for a thousand years. Peace, peace! all things continue as they were from the beginning. Let none be disturbed by the exciting message of these alarmists.’ But this doctrine of the millennium does not harmonize with the teachings of Christ and His apostles. Jesus asked the significant question, ‘When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?’ Luke 18:8. And, as we have seen, He declares that the state of the world will be as in the days of Noah. Paul warns us that we may look for wickedness to increase as the end draws near: ‘The Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.’ 1 Timothy 4:1. The apostle says that ‘in the last days perilous times shall come.’ 2 Timothy 3:1. And he gives a startling list of sins that will be found among those who have a form of godliness.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 102.

9 What did Paul predict would happen before the end of time? 2 Timothy 4:3, 4.

NOTE: “The apostle was undoubtedly thinking of the great apostasy that was soon to develop in the church, and which would continue to imperil it until the second advent of Christ.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 348. (On 2 Timothy 4:3.)

“The ministers of Christ today are in the same danger. Satan is constantly at work to divert the mind into wrong channels, so that the truth may lose its force upon the heart.” Gospel Workers, 312.

10 Is there any way to tell when the end is near? Matthew 24:6, 33.

NOTE: “These lessons are for our benefit. We need to stay our faith upon God, for there is just before us a time that will try men’s souls. Christ, upon the Mount of Olives, rehearsed the fearful judgments that were to precede His second coming: ‘Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars.’ ‘Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.’ While these prophecies received a partial fulfillment at the destruction of Jerusalem, they have a more direct application to the last days.

“We are standing on the threshold of great and solemn events. Prophecy is fast fulfilling. The Lord is at the door. There is soon to open before us a period of overwhelming interest to all living. The controversies of the past are to be revived; new controversies will arise. The scenes to be enacted in our world are not yet even dreamed of. Satan is at work through human agencies. Those who are making an effort to change the Constitution and secure a law enforcing Sunday observance little realize what will be the result. A crisis is just upon us.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 753.

11 As we see prophecy being fulfilled, how should we conduct ourselves? Jude 21.

NOTE: “Many . . . professed Christians dress, talk, and act like the world, and the only thing by which they may be known is their profession. Though they profess to be looking for Christ, their conversation is not in heaven, but on worldly things.” Early Writings, 108.

12 What will happen to those who are preparing for Jesus’ soon coming? 1 John 3:1–3.

NOTE: “Such transformation of character as is seen in the life of John is ever the result of communion with Christ. There may be marked defects in the character of an individual, yet when he becomes a true disciple of Christ, the power of divine grace transforms and sanctifies him. Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, he is changed from glory to glory, until he is like Him whom he adores.

“John was a teacher of holiness, and in his letters to the church he laid down unerring rules for the conduct of Christians. ‘Every man that hath this hope in him,’ he wrote, ‘purifieth himself, even as He is pure.’ ‘He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.’ 1 John 3:3; 2:6. He taught that the Christian must be pure in heart and life. Never should he be satisfied with an empty profession. As God is holy in His sphere, so fallen man, through faith in Christ, is to be holy in his sphere.” The Acts of the Apostles, 559.

By Ruth Grosboll

Bible Study Guides – Signs in the Heavens

July 14- July 20, 2002

MEMORY VERSE: “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” Luke 21:28.

STUDY HELPS: The Great Controversy, 299–316.

INTRODUCTION: The wonderful things to take place in our world—the greatest events of all ages—are incomprehensible to worldly minds; they cannot be explained by human sciences. The powers of heaven shall be shaken. Christ is coming in power and great glory, but His coming is not such a mystery as the things to take place before that event. Man must be a partaker of the divine nature in order to stand in this evil time, when the mysteries of satanic agencies are at work. Only by the divine power united with the human can souls endure through these times of trial. Says Christ, ‘Without me ye can do nothing.’ Then there must be far less of self and more of Jesus.” The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, vol. 1, 332.

1 How did God answer Joshua’s request? Joshua 10:12–14.

NOTE: “The lengthening of the day not only provided additional time for the total destruction of the enemies of Israel but was a signal demonstration of the power of Israel’s God. It showed that the very gods whom the heathen worshiped were powerless before the true God. They worshiped the Canaanite god Baal and the goddess Ashtoreth. Both the sun and the moon whom they worshiped were shown to be subservient to Joshua’s command, under the direction of Israel’s God, Jehovah.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 226. (On Joshua 10:12.)

2 How did God use the sun to answer Hezekiah? 2 Kings 20:8–11.

NOTE: “Only by the direct interposition of God could the shadow on the sundial be made to turn back ten degrees; and this was to be the sign to Hezekiah that the Lord had heard his prayer.” Prophets and Kings, 342.

3 What happened to the sun at the crucifixion of Christ? Matthew 27:45.

NOTE: “When His mission began, the heavens were opened, and the glory of God encircled the Son of God; but when it ended, He hung upon Calvary’s cross, and even the sun which He had created, refused to shine upon the scene of His agony. Darkness, denser than that of midnight, enshrouded the Son of God.” Youth’s Instructor, June 23, 1892.

4 How did the disciples approach Jesus about the signs of the end of the world? Matthew 24:3.

NOTE: “Jesus did not answer His disciples by taking up separately the destruction of Jerusalem and the great day of His coming. He mingled the description of these two events. Had He opened to His disciples future events as He beheld them, they would have been unable to endure the sight. In mercy to them He blended the description of the two great crises, leaving the disciples to study out the meaning for themselves. When He referred to the destruction of Jerusalem, His prophetic words reached beyond that event to the final conflagration in that day when the Lord shall rise out of His place to punish the world for their iniquity, when the earth shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. This entire discourse was given, not for the disciples only, but for those who should live in the last scenes of this earth’s history.” The Desire of Ages, 628.

5 What did Jesus say would happen in the heavens as signs of His coming? Luke 21:25, 26.

NOTE: “The future was mercifully veiled from the disciples. Had they at that time fully comprehend the two awful facts—the Redeemer’s sufferings and death, and the destruction of their city and temple—they would have been overwhelmed with horror. Christ presented before them an outline of the prominent events to take place before the close of time. His words were not then fully understood; but their meaning was to be unfolded as His people should need the instruction therein given. The prophecy which He uttered was twofold in its meaning; while foreshadowing the destruction of Jerusalem, it prefigured also the terrors of the last great day.” The Great Controversy, 25.

6 What did Jesus say would happen to the sun? Matthew 24:29, first part.

NOTE: “The Saviour gives signs of His coming, and more than this, He fixes the time when the first of these signs shall appear: [Matthew24:29–31 quoted].

“At the close of the great papal persecution, Christ declared, the sun should be darkened . . . .” The Desire of Ages, 631, 632.

“‘Almost, if not altogether alone, as the most mysterious and as yet unexplained phenomenon of its kind, . . . stands the dark day of May 19, 1780,—a most unaccountable darkening of the whole visible heavens and atmosphere in New England.’—R. M. Devens, Our First Century, page 89.” The Great Controversy, 306.

7 What did Jesus prophesy about the moon as a sign of his second coming? Mark 13:24.

NOTE: “The description of this event, as given by eyewitnesses, is but an echo of the words of the Lord, recorded by the prophet Joel, twenty-five hundred years previous to their fulfilment: ‘The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.’

“Christ had bidden His people watch for the signs of His advent, and rejoice as they should behold the tokens of their coming King.” Maranatha, 150.

8 What additional celestial phenomenon did Jesus say would occur? Luke 21:25, first part; Matthew 24:29.

NOTE: “This prophecy [of Matthew 24:29] received a striking and impressive fulfillment in the great meteoric shower of November 13, 1833. That was the most extensive and wonderful display of falling stars which has ever been recorded; ‘the whole firmament, over all the United States, being then, for hours, in fiery commotion! No celestial phenomenon has ever occurred in this country, since its first settlement, which was viewed with such intense admiration by one class in the community, or with so much dread and alarm by another.’ . . . R. M. Devens, American Progress; or, The Great Events of the Greatest Century, ch. 28, pars. 1-5.” The Great Controversy, 333.

9 What was the first warning Christ gave when asked about the signs of the end? Matthew 24:4, 5; Luke 21:8.

NOTE: “Satan is a cunning foe. And it is not difficult for the evil angels to represent both saints and sinners who have died, and make these representations visible to human eyes. These manifestations will be more frequent, and developments of a more startling character will appear as we near the close of time. We need not be astonished at anything in the line of deceptions to allure the unwary and deceive, if possible, the very elect. Spiritualists quote, ‘Prove all things.’ But God has, for the benefit of His people who live amid the perils of the last days, proved this class, and given the result of His proving.” Review and Herald, April 1, 1875.

“Rebellion and apostasy are in the very air we breathe. We shall be affected by it unless we by faith hang our helpless souls upon Christ. If men are so easily misled, how will they stand when Satan shall personate Christ, and work miracles? Who will be unmoved by his misrepresentations, professing to be Christ when it is only Satan assuming the person of Christ, and apparently working the works of Christ? What will hold God’s people from giving their allegiance to false christs? ‘Go ye not . . . after them’ (Luke 21:8).

“The doctrines must be plainly understood. The men accepted to teach the truth must be anchored; then their vessel will hold against storm and tempest, because the anchor holds them firmly. The deceptions will increase.— Letter 1, 1897.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 58.

10 What is one of the signs that the false prophets will perform? Matthew 24:24; Revelation 13:13.

NOTE: “I saw that soon it would be considered blasphemy to speak against the rapping, and that it would spread more and more, that Satan’s power would increase, and some of his devoted followers would have power to work miracles, and even to bring down fire from heaven in the sight of men. I was shown that by the rapping and mesmerism, these modern magicians would yet account for all the miracles wrought by our Lord Jesus Christ, and that many would believe that all the mighty works of the Son of God when on earth were accomplished by this same power.” Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White, 168, 169.

11 What aspects of Christ’s second coming will Satan be unable to counterfeit? Matthew 24:27; Revelation 1:7.

NOTE: “Satan is not permitted to counterfeit the manner of Christ’s advent. The Saviour has warned His people against deception upon this point, and has clearly foretold the manner of His second coming. [Matthew 24:24, 26, 27 quoted.] . . . This coming there is no possibility of counterfeiting. It will be universally known—witnessed by the whole world.” The Great Controversy, 625.

12 How are Christians to prepare as the signs are being fulfilled? 2 Timothy 2:15.

NOTE: “There is great need for studying the Word of God. From one end of the world to the other the message of Christ’s righteousness is to be sounded by human lips, to prepare the way of the Lord. The youth, the aged, and the middle-aged are to act a personal part in preparing their own souls for the great event that is soon to take place, even the second coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven, and in so doing they will reflect light upon many other souls.” Review and Herald, July 22, 1909.

13 What words of caution did Christ give to those living just before His second coming? Luke 21:34.

NOTE: “Only those who have been diligent students of the Scriptures and who have received the love of the truth will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive. By the Bible testimony these will detect the deceiver in his disguise. To all the testing time will come. By the sifting of temptation the genuine Christian will be revealed. Are the people of God now so firmly established upon His word that they would not yield to the evidence of their senses? Would they, in such a crisis, cling to the Bible and the Bible only? Satan will, if possible, prevent them from obtaining a preparation to stand in that day. He will so arrange affairs as to hedge up their way, entangle them with earthly treasures, cause them to carry a heavy, wearisome burden, that their hearts may be overcharged with the cares of this life and the day of trial may come upon them as a thief.” The Great Controversy, 625, 626.

14 What did Jesus say our responsibility is if we are to be ready when He comes? Matthew 24:42. Compare Mark 13:35, 36.

NOTE: “Because we do not know the exact hour of Christ’s coming, we are commanded to watch. ‘Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching.’ Those who watch for the Lord’s return do not wait in idle expectancy. They purify their hearts by obedience to the truth. With vigilant watching they unite earnest working. Because they know that the Lord is at the door, their zeal is quickened to cooperate with divine intelligences in working for the salvation of souls. These are the faithful and wise servants, who give to the Lord’s household their portion of meat in due season. They are declaring the truth that is now specially applicable. As Enoch, Abraham, and Moses each declared the truth for his time, so will Christ’s servants now give the special warning for their generation.” Review and Herald, November 13, 1913.

By Ruth Grosboll

Bible Study Guides – Signs That Deceive

August 11–August 17, 2002

MEMORY VERSE: “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.” Mark 13:22.

STUDY HELPS: The Great Controversy, 593–626; Testimonies, vol. 1, 290–302.

INTRODUCTION: As the end approaches, Satan’s deceptions will increase in subtlety. His supreme effort will be directed against the remnant church, if only to nullify the great work God has commissioned it to do in preparation for Christ’s second coming. Many will be deceived, “giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” They will “go out from us,” says Ellen G. White in Notebook Leaflets from the Elmshaven Library, vol. 1, 57. (See also Selected Messages, Book 2, 392.) It is therefore of the utmost importance that every member become familiar with Satan’s strategy and how to meet it, so as to be both forewarned and forearmed for the perils ahead. “Nothing disturbs Satan so much as our knowledge of his devices. If we feel our dangers we shall feel the need of prayer. . . .” Testimonies, vol. 3, 572.

1 What did Christ tell His disciples about last day deceptions? Mark 13:22, 23.

NOTE: “We shall all be severely tested. Persons who pretend to believe the truth will come to us and urge upon us erroneous doctrines, which will unsettle our faith in present truth if we pay heed to them. True religion alone will stand the test of the Judgment.” Review and Herald, December 2, 1884.

“Christ foretold that the going forth of deceivers would be accompanied with more danger to His disciples than would persecution.” Evangelism, 359.

2 How will the world be deceived in the last days? Revelation 12:9. Compare Revelation 19:20.

NOTE: “The enemy is preparing for his last campaign against the church. He has so concealed himself from view that many can hardly believe that he exists, much less can they be convinced of his amazing activity and power. They have to a great extent forgotten his past record; and when he makes another advance move, they will not recognize him as their enemy, that old serpent, but they will consider him a friend, one who is doing a good work. Boasting of their independence they will, under his specious, bewitching influence, obey the worst impulses of the human heart and yet believe that God is leading them. Could their eyes be opened to distinguish their captain, they would see that they are not serving God, but the enemy of all righteousness. They would see that their boasted independence is one of the heaviest fetters Satan can rivet on unbalanced minds.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 294.

3 What final delusion will Satan use? Matthew 24:5; Mark 13:21.

NOTE: “As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ. The church has long professed to look to the Saviour’s advent as the consummation of her hopes. Now the great deceiver will make it appear that Christ has come. In different parts of the earth, Satan will manifest himself among men as a majestic being of dazzling brightness, resembling the description of the Son of God given by John in the Revelation. . . . The shout of triumph rings out upon the air, ‘Christ has come! Christ has come!’ The people prostrate themselves in adoration before him. . . . In gentle, compassionate tones he presents some of the same gracious, heavenly truths which the Saviour uttered; he heals the diseases of the people, and then, in his assumed character of Christ, he claims to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and commands all to hallow the day which he has blessed. . . .

“Only those who have been diligent students of the Scriptures, and who have received the love of the truth, will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive.” The Faith I Live By, 346.

4 How successful will this deception be? 1 Timothy 4:1.

NOTE: “It is difficult to hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end; and the difficulty increases when there are hidden influences constantly at work to bring in another spirit, a counterworking element, on Satan’s side of the question. In the absence of persecution, there have drifted into our ranks some who appear sound, and their Christianity unquestionable, but who, if persecution should arise, would go out from us. In the crisis, they would see force in specious reasoning that has had an influence on their minds. Satan has prepared various snares to meet varied minds. When the law of God is made void the church will be sifted by fiery trials, and a larger proportion than we now anticipate, will give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. Instead of being strengthened when brought into strait places, many prove that they are not living branches of the True Vine; they bore no fruit, and the husbandman taketh them away.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 368.

“As we near the end of time, falsehood will be so mingled with truth, that only those who have the guidance of the Holy Spirit will be able to distinguish truth from error. We need to make every effort to keep the way of the Lord. We must in no case turn from His guidance to put our trust in man. The Lord’s angels are appointed to keep strict watch over those who put their faith in the Lord, and these angels are to be our special help in every time of need. Every day we are to come to the Lord with full assurance of faith, and to look to Him for wisdom. . . . Those who are guided by the Word of the Lord will discern with certainty between falsehood and truth, between sin and righteousness.” God’s Amazing Grace, 201.

5 How will we recognize the true church? Revelation 12:17.

NOTE: “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 Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children. At that time many will separate themselves from those churches in which the love of this world has supplanted love for God and His word. Many, both of ministers and people, will gladly accept those great truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time to prepare a people for the Lord’s second coming. The enemy of souls desires to hinder this work; and before the time for such a movement shall come, he will endeavor to prevent it by introducing a counterfeit. In those churches which he can bring under his deceptive power he will make it appear that God’s special blessing is poured out; there will be manifest what is thought to be great religious interest. Multitudes will exult that God is working marvelously for them, when the work is that of another spirit. Under a religious guise, Satan will seek to extend his influence over the Christian world.” Maranatha, 33.

6 What will be the outward appearance of many false religions? Matthew 7:15.

NOTE: “Public opinion favors a profession of Christianity. Little self-denial or self-sacrifice is required in order to put on a form of godliness and to have one’s name enrolled upon the church book. Hence many join the church without first becoming united to Christ. In this Satan triumphs. Such converts are his most efficient agents. They serve as decoys to other souls. They are false lights, luring the unwary to perdition. It is in vain that men seek to make the Christian’s path broad and pleasant for worldlings. God has not smoothed or widened the rugged, narrow way. If we would enter into life, we must follow the same path which Jesus and His disciples trod,—the path of humility, self-denial, and sacrifice.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 172.

7 How are we to know what is true and what is counterfeit? 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1–3.

NOTE: “Faith in a lie will not have a sanctifying influence upon the life or character. No error is truth, or can be made truth by repetition, or by faith in it. Sincerity will never save a soul from the consequences of believing an error. Without sincerity there is no true religion, but sincerity in a false religion will never save a man. I may be perfectly sincere in following a wrong road, but that will not make it the right road, or bring me to the place I wished to reach. The Lord does not want us to have a blind credulity, and call that the faith that sanctifies. The truth is the principle that sanctifies, and therefore it becomes us to know what is truth. We must compare spiritual things with spiritual. We must prove all things, but hold fast only that which is good, that which bears the divine credentials, which lays before us the true motives and principles which should prompt us to action. —Letter 12, 1890.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 56.

8 What standard should God’s people use to test every message? Isaiah 8:20. See also Mark 4:24; 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

NOTE: “While conflicting doctrines and theories abound, the law of God is the one unerring rule by which all opinions, doctrines, and theories are to be tested.” The Great Controversy, 452.

9 Should we accept a prophet because he performs miracles? Deuteronomy 13:1–4.

NOTE: “We shall encounter false claims; false prophets will arise; there will be false dreams and false visions; but preach the Word, be not drawn away from the voice of God in His Word. Let nothing divert the mind. The wonderful, the marvelous, will be represented and presented. Through satanic delusions, wonderful miracles, the claims of human agents will be urged. Beware of all this.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 49.

10 Since there will be so many counterfeit Christs, how will Christians know it is really Jesus when He comes the second time? 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; Revelation 1:7.

NOTE: “Satan is not permitted to counterfeit the manner of Christ’s advent. . . . Those who have received the love of the truth will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive. By the testimony of the Scriptures they will detect the deceiver in his disguise.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 443.

11 How thoroughly should Christians understand the reasons for their beliefs? 1 Peter 3:15.

NOTE: “The Lord desires that every soul who claims to believe the truth shall have an intelligent knowledge of what is truth. False prophets will arise and will deceive many. Everything is to be shaken that can be shaken. Then does it not become everyone to understand the reasons for our faith?” Evangelism, 363, 364.

12 Why did Paul commend the Bereans? Acts 17:10, 11.

NOTE: “Only those who have been diligent students of the Scriptures and who have received the love of the truth will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive. By the Bible testimony these will detect the deceiver in his disguise. To all the testing time will come. By the sifting of temptation the genuine Christian will be revealed. Are the people of God now so firmly established upon His word that they would not yield to the evidence of their senses? Would they, in such a crisis, cling to the Bible and the Bible only? Satan will, if possible, prevent them from obtaining a preparation to stand in that day. He will so arrange affairs as to hedge up their way, entangle them with earthly treasures, cause them to carry a heavy, wearisome burden, that their hearts may be overcharged with the cares of this life and the day of trial may come upon them as a thief.” The Great Controversy, 625, 626.

13 To whom does God promise protection in times of trial? Revelation 3:10.

NOTE: “He [Satan] can gain his object only as men voluntarily yield to his temptations. Those who are earnestly seeking a knowledge of the truth and are striving to purify their souls through obedience, thus doing what they can to prepare for the conflict, will find, in the God of truth, a sure defense. . . . He would sooner send every angel out of heaven to protect His people than leave one soul that trusts in Him to be overcome by Satan.” The Great Controversy, 560.

Bible Study Guides – Signs in Society of Christ’s Soon Return

July 28–August 3, 2002

MEMORY VERSE: “Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.” 3 John 1:11.

STUDY HELPS: Patriarchs and Prophets, 90–104; 156–170.

INTRODUCTION: “Before the Flood God sent Noah to warn the world, that the people might be led to repentance, and thus escape the threatened destruction. As the time of Christ’s second appearing draws near, the Lord sends His servants with a warning to the world to prepare for that great event. Multitudes have been living in transgression of God’s law, and now He in mercy calls them to obey its sacred precepts. All who will put away their sins by repentance toward God and faith in Christ are offered pardon.” Conflict and Courage, 41.

1 What type of social life will people have just before Christ’s return? Luke 17:26–28.

NOTE: “The same sins that brought judgments upon the world in the days of Noah, exist in our day. Men and women now carry their eating and drinking so far that it ends in gluttony and drunkenness. This prevailing sin, the indulgence of perverted appetite, inflamed the passions of men in the days of Noah, and led to widespread corruption. Violence and sin reached to heaven. This moral pollution was finally swept from the earth by means of the flood.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 146.

2 What conditions existed before the Flood? Genesis 6:2, 5, 11–13.

NOTE: “This is inspired testimony respecting the state of society in the days of Noah,—an accurate description of the generation that perished in the waters of the flood. . . . The fear of God had well-nigh died out of the hearts of the children of men. Lawlessness was rife, and almost every conceivable sin was practiced. The wickedness of men was open and daring, and the cries of the oppressed reached to heaven. Justice was trampled in the dust. The strong not only disregarded the rights of the weak, but forced them to commit deeds of violence and crime.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, July 1, 1887.

3 What were the conditions in Sodom and Gomorrah? Ezekiel 16:49, 50.

NOTE: “The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was on account of their great wickedness. They gave loose rein to their intemperate appetites, then to their corrupt passions, until they were so debased, and their sins were so abominable, that their cup of iniquity was full, and they were consumed with fire from heaven.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4a, 121.

4 What did Paul say about the moral conditions of the last day? 2 Timothy 3:1, 3, 4, first part.

NOTE: “Perilous times are before us. Every one who has a knowledge of the truth should awake, and place himself, body, soul, and spirit, under the discipline of God. The enemy is on our track. We must be wide awake, on our guard against him. We must put on the whole armor of God.” Gospel Workers, 308.

“The picture which the apostle Paul has drawn of the professed people of God in the last days is a sad but faithful delineation of the popular churches of our time. . . . And in view of the frequent and startling revelations of crime, even among those that minister in holy things, who dare affirm that there is one sin enumerated by the apostle which is not concealed under a profession of Christianity?” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 239.

5 During this time, what is the reaction of young people to parental authority? 2 Timothy 3:2.

NOTE: “The sin of rebellion against parental authority, lies at the very foundation of the misery and crime in the world today.” The Faith I Live By, 269.

“One of the signs of the ‘last days’ is the disobedience of children to their parents. And do parents realize their responsibility? Many seem to lose sight of the watch care they should ever have over their children, and suffer them to indulge in evil passions and to disobey them.” Child Guidance, 229.

6 What will be the consuming interest of people living in the last days? 2 Timothy 3:4, last part.

NOTE: “One of the sins that constitute one of the signs of the last days, is that professed Christians are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Deal truly with your own souls. Search carefully. How few, after a faithful examination, can look up to Heaven and say, I am not one of those thus described. I am not a lover of pleasure more than a lover of God. How few can say, I am dead to the world; the life I now live is by faith of the Son of God. My life is hid with Christ in God, and when he who is my life shall appear, then shall I also appear with him in glory. The love and grace of God! Oh precious grace! more valuable than fine gold. It elevates and ennobles the spirit beyond all other principles. It sets the heart and affections upon Heaven. While those around us may be engaged in worldly vanity, pleasure-seeking, and folly, the conversation is in heaven, whence we look for the Saviour; the soul is reaching out after God for pardon and peace, for righteousness and true holiness. Converse with God, and contemplation of things above, transform the soul into the likeness of Christ.” Review and Herald, May 11, 1886.

7 From whom are we to turn away? 2 Timothy 3:5.

NOTE: “Pleasure-lovers may have their names upon the church-records, they may stand high as worldly-wise men; but they have no connection with Christ of Calvary. . . . Be not deceived by them, do not imitate their practices.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 295.

“Many have a form of godliness, their names are upon the church records; but they have a spotted record in heaven. The recording angel has faithfully written their deeds. Every selfish act, every wrong word, every unfulfilled duty, and every secret sin, with every artful dissembling, is faithfully chronicled in the book of records kept by the recording angel.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 442.

8 What course will men take in these last days on earth? 2 Timothy 3:13.

NOTE: “We must make up our minds that instead of matters taking a more favorable turn, wicked men, seducing teachers, will grow worse and worse, deceiving themselves and deceiving others. We may expect greater opposition than has yet been experienced. . . . We must now make Christ our refuge, or in the days before us our souls will be overwhelmed with darkness and despair. There is a point beyond which human help cannot avail. Every one must live by faith as he is forced into close and apparently deadly conflict with the powers of darkness. Each must stand or fall for himself. The arrows of the destroyer are about to be hurled against the faithful ones, and no earthly power can turn aside the shaft. But could our eyes be opened we could see angels of God encircling the righteous, that no harm may come upon them. . . .” Our High Calling, 362.

9 How did the antediluvians reap the results of their wickedness? Genesis 6:7; 7:11, 19, 21, 22.

NOTE: “From the highest peaks men looked abroad upon a shoreless ocean. The solemn warnings of God’s servant [Noah] no longer seemed a subject for ridicule and scorning. How those doomed sinners longed for the opportunities which they had slighted! How they pleaded for one hour’s probation, one more privilege of mercy, one call from the lips of Noah! But the sweet voice of mercy was no more to be heard by them. . . . The avenging waters swept over the retreat, and the despisers of God perished in the black depths.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 100, 101.

10 What wickedness caused God to rain fire from heaven to destroy men? Genesis 13:13; 19:4, 5.

NOTE: “In Abraham’s day the people of Sodom openly defied God and His law; and there followed the same wickedness, the same corruption, the same unbridled indulgence, that had marked the antediluvian world. The inhabitants of Sodom passed the limits of divine forbearance, and there was kindled against them the fire of God’s vengeance.” Prophets and Kings, 297.

11 At the end of time, how will God again cleanse the earth? 2 Peter 3:10.

NOTE: “The hand of omnipotence is at no loss for ways and means to accomplish his purposes. He could reach into the bowels of the earth and call forth his weapons, waters there concealed, to aid in the destruction of the corrupt inhabitants of the old world. . . . Water will never destroy the earth again, but the weapons of God are concealed in the bowels of the earth which he will draw forth to unite with the fire from heaven to accomplish his purpose in the destruction of all those who would not receive the message of warning and purify their souls in obeying the truth and being obedient to the laws of God.” Signs of the Times, January 3, 1878.

12 What is the last message to be sent to our world? Revelation 14:6–12.

NOTE: “The Three Angels’ Messages are to be combined, giving their threefold light to the world. In the Revelation, John says, ‘I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.’ [Revelation 18:1.] . . . This represents the giving of the last and threefold message of warning to the world.” Maranatha, 173.

13 What message are we to be giving to the people who are in error about the true worship of God? Revelation 18:1–4.

NOTE: “Angels were sent to aid the mighty angel from heaven, and I heard voices which seemed to sound everywhere, [Revelation 18:4, 5 quoted]. This message seemed to be an addition to the third message, joining it as the midnight cry joined the second angel’s message in 1844. The glory of God rested upon the patient, waiting saints, and they fearlessly gave the last solemn warning, proclaiming the fall of Babylon and calling upon God’s people to come out of her that they might escape her fearful doom.” Early Writings, 277, 278.

“Many of the honest in heart are gasping for a breath of life from heaven. They will recognize the gospel when it is brought to them in the beauty and simplicity with which it is presented in God’s Word.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 110, 111.

Are We Prepared?

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22. What a wonderful promise this is, for we know that God’s promises are sure and that His hand is over all. We know that nature is not going to fail us, and that things are going to go on much the same. If we plant and harvest, God will bless us, but we sometimes fall into the snare of which Peter speaks in 11 Peter 3:4: “Since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as [they were] from the beginning of the creation.” Often, however, we pass over the first part of the statement in Genesis that says, “while the earth remaineth.” That very statement should tell us something.

The world is in turmoil. Statesmen are afraid to tell the truth for fear they will not get into office. People are afraid to speak out against homosexuality for fear of losing influence in the community. All the while, Satan is gaining more and more control of the human race.

Signs Fulfilled

The signs spoken of in the Bible, which are predicted to transpire before the Lord’s return, are in the land. Revelation is being fulfilled to the very letter. In fact, the signs of the end of time are happening so quickly that we hardly realize that the great controversy is being fought right in our midst.

What is most baffling and difficult to understand is what is happening in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I dare not try to list all the apostasies that are occurring, but I will mention a few, such as sending a medallion to the Pope, selling out the medical institutions to Catholic organizations, and attending their ecumenical meetings.

What is happening within the historic Seventh-day Adventist movement is even more astounding. When we should be loving one another and upholding each other, what are we doing? We are trying to seek out one another’s faults, dispute the differences in each other’s understanding regarding the Bible and coming events, and criticize each other when something is not just like we would do it—either reading the “wrong” version of the Bible or worshiping in the wrong place or eating the wrong food. Are we really getting ready to meet Jesus, or are we stalling His coming by our self-propelled ideas and discontents—when the world needs to have the Gospel and learn that Jesus is coming soon?

Lessons From the Past

It would be beneficial to contemplate what the Spirit of Prophecy says about the children of Israel: “The trials of the children of Israel, and their attitude just before the first coming of Christ, have been presented before me again and again to illustrate the position of the people of God in their experience before the second coming of Christ.” Review and Herald, February 18, 1890. Ellen White also wrote that, “Satan’s snares are laid for us as verily as they were laid for the children of Israel just prior to their entrance into the land of Canaan. We are repeating the history of that people.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 160.

When we remember what happened to the children of Israel while they were out in the wilderness, it should cause us to do some serious thinking. Most of them died out there and never reached the Promised Land. When Jesus was born, very few even knew His birth had occurred.

Even at the Door

We are living in the day when we should know that the coming of the Lord is near, even at the door. We should be able to give, with humility and the fear of the Lord, to every man who asks us, a reason for the hope that we have. (See 1 Peter 3:15.) Do we know our Bibles that well? Are we really giving the world the message that Jesus is coming again? In our innermost souls, do we really know what we believe, and are we acting upon that belief?

Get Ready

We have all heard and have probably even repeated many times the words “Get ready, get ready, get ready.” Some day the time will come when we are no longer getting ready—we will have to be ready. How soon that day will be no human being knows, but we do know that it will come as a sudden surprise to those who are not ready to meet their Redeemer. There is no time to lose, if we are going to be saved in the kingdom of heaven. This world is on its final countdown.

Sunday laws are imminent. Men’s hearts are growing so hard that life and death have no sacredness. The morals of people are even lower than the instinct of animals. Homosexuality has circled the earth until the whole world is like Sodom and Gomorrah, which reminds us what Jesus said, in Luke 17:28, 29: “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed [them] all.”

The Spirit of Prophecy is full of instruction for God’s people who are living in these last days of earth’s history. We need to read, study, meditate, and devour this timely instruction. We labor and spend money trying to prolong this mortal life, which is as the grass that fades away in the sunshine, but for our eternal, immortal life, we fail to spend time or money to obtain it. Oh, how sad it would be to hear Jesus say, “I never knew you; depart from me.” Matthew 7:23.

“I saw that many were neglecting the preparation so needful and were looking to the time of ‘refreshing’ and the ‘latter rain’ to fit them to stand in the day of the Lord and to live in His sight. Oh, how many I saw in the time of trouble without a shelter! They had neglected the needful preparation; therefore they could not receive the refreshing that all must have to fit them to live in the sight of a holy God. Those who refuse to be hewed by the prophets and fail to purify their souls in obeying the whole truth, and who are willing to believe that their condition is far better than it really is, will come up to the time of the falling of the plagues, and then see that they needed to be hewed and squared for the building. But there will be no time then to do it and no Mediator to plead their cause before the Father. Before this time the awfully solemn declaration has gone forth, ‘He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.’ [Revelation 22:11.] I saw that none could share the ‘refreshing’ unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action. We should, therefore, be drawing nearer and nearer to the Lord and be earnestly seeking that preparation necessary to enable us to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. Let all remember that God is holy and that none but holy beings can ever dwell in His presence.” Early Writings, 71.

I must ask, Are we really in earnest about shaping our lives to fit into the heavenly environment, or are we satisfied with our present condition, too busy to worry about eternity? The day will come when things are finalized, and we will either be in heaven or hell. We are told by the pen of inspiration that we should keep before us the fact that there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. (Review and Herald, January 7, 1902.)

One Probation

No one will enter the pearly gates with cherished sins in his or her heart, and we have been faithfully warned to spend time praying and agonizing with the Lord to overcome. Jesus told Peter to pray, but he went to sleep and consequently denied His Lord. We must ask ourselves, Are we asleep, or are we praying for divine assistance?

We must keep in mind that we have only one probation, and that is now, while we are on this earth. Time passes by very quickly. We have not one moment to lose. “We have but one probation in which to form character, and our destiny depends upon the manner of character we form. Those who on earth have formed characters that through the grace of Christ bear the heavenly mould, will be ripened through the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit for the eternal reward. They become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. It is a realization of the fact that our characters are Christlike, that calls forth the song of praise and thanksgiving to God and to the Lamb. Those who appreciate the goodness, mercy, and love of Christ, and by beholding him become changed into his image, will be partakers of eternal life. The attributes of their character are like those of Christ, and they cannot fail of the rest that remains for the people of God.” The Signs of the Times, July 31, 1893.

Ruth Grosboll is an employee of Steps to Life. A retired, registered nurse, she worked for many years with her husband in the mission field. She may be contacted by e-mail at: or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Unmistakable Signs of the Times

Just before Jesus was to tread those torturous steps leading to the cross at Calvary, His disciples asked Him, “Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of the world?” The Saviour answered, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places.” Matthew 24:3, 6, 7.

Dear friends, how many of these prophecies are we seeing fulfilled?

“The great conflagrations and the disasters by sea and land that have visited our country were the special providences of God, a warning of what is about to come upon the world. God would show man that He can kindle upon his idols a fire that water cannot quench. The great general conflagration is but just ahead, when all this wasted labor of life will be swept away in a night and day. The treasure laid up in heaven will be safe. No thief can approach nor moth corrupt it.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 49.

The last century has witnessed many events unparalleled in recorded history. For example, when have there ever been universal wars like those that have taken place in the last century? An example is the Auschwitz concentration camp, where, according to German records, over one million innocent human beings perished for no other crime than that they were “politically incorrect.”

Friends, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” II Peter 3:9–12.

The Lord is offering the last message of mercy to a rebellious and sinful world. He longs to pour out His grace and pardon upon all who will accept His invitation. Are you preparing in your life for “a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time”? Daniel 12:1. Are you learning the beautiful, simple gospel of the gentle Jesus, and is the intensely practical teaching being applied in every aspect of your life? You cannot depend upon your pastor or anyone else to do this for you.

“All who are on the Lord’s side are to confess Christ. ‘Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord.’ [Isaiah 43:10, first part.] The faith of the genuine believer will be made manifest in purity and holiness of character. Faith works by love and purifies the soul, and with faith there will be corresponding obedience, a faithful doing of the words of Christ. Christianity is always intensely practical, adapting itself to all the circumstances of actual life.” The Youth’s Instructor, March 9, 1893.

Opposition to God’s Law began very early in this earth’s history. We have the account of His reckoning with that rebellion. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented [sorrowed] the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth Me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6:5–8. Are we not seeing the same kind of heaven-daring rebellion in the world today?

Why did just one man find grace in the eyes of the Lord? “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” Verse 9. Friends, Noah was not just professing faith in God; he was obedient, demonstrating his faith in his life! If we are living our faith, will we not also be keeping all of God’s commandments? “ ‘Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.’ [James 4:8.] When the heart has a deep longing for God, when the mind contemplates the goodness and the loving kindness of God, when the soul hopes and trusts in the Lord, the Holy Spirit will be as a comforter to the soul. Jesus says, ‘If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.’ [John 15:10,11.] ‘Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.’ [Colossians 4:6.] Shall we be obedient to these inspired words that come sounding down the line to our time? The purpose to which we are called is an exalted one. Peter says, ‘But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.’ [I Peter 2:9.] How can you show forth His praises? ‘By the words that you utter. You can speak in such a way as to bless others, to be a savor of life unto life in working the works of righteousness. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evil doers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.’ ” The Youth’s Instructor, July 18, 1895.

The signs of the times are fast fulfilling. We do not know the day or the hour of Christ’s Second Coming, but we do know from the parable of the fig tree that “when her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near; so ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the door.” Mark 13:28, 29.

With this in mind, are you taking seriously your position as a part of the Lord’s remnant army? Are you prepared to stand for truth? Are you looking for souls as one who must give an account? Of the many souls with whom you come in contact every day, have you considered that for some of them, today might be their last opportunity to accept the Saviour’s invitation of mercy?

Urgently pray for the wisdom that comes only from on high. Study your Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy that you may be equipped with the truth as it is found in Jesus, prepared not only to save your own soul, but also those whom the Lord brings within the sphere of your influence during this closing hour of probation’s time.

[All emphasis supplied.]

Dennis Crystal lives in Montana and is director of Laymen United for Truth and can be contacted at:

Neglectful Blindness in the Light of Truth

Often people put their trust in things that turn out to be not so trustworthy. This is one of the most common human experiences, and also one of our greatest disappointments. Some put their trust in the government, some in the church, the military, or the court system while others trust only in their own mind. As human beings, we have a seemingly insatiable desire to know what is going to happen in the future. The God of the Bible gives a challenge in Isaiah 45 and 46. He challenges those who are worshipping all other gods. He says, “Prove your case. Who can tell the future? I can tell the end from the beginning.”

In the Bible, we find the only accurate prophecies from ancient times dealing with not only up to the present, but to things that have not yet happened.

The disciples of Jesus also enquired about the future.

A few days before His crucifixion, Jesus left the Jewish temple in Jerusalem for the last time. He had just denounced the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders and of the nation as a whole and as He was leaving He made this pronouncement. He said, “See, your house is left to you desolate.” Matthew 23:38.

This was not an arbitrary decree but Jesus explained why. He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets, and stones those who are sent to you, how often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” Verse 37.

He then went on and told them, “You are not going to see me anymore, until you say, Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Verse 39. Here He referred to what they will say in the resurrection at the last day. He then walked out of the temple, and with His disciples went out of the city, up into the Mount of Olives where they sat down overlooking the temple. See Matthew 24:1.

This temple they saw was not the original which had been built by Solomon. Great stores of material had been gathered by King David for the first temple and built according to the plans that had been given him by divine inspiration; however, David was not allowed to build it himself. See I Chronicles 28:12, 19.

David’s son, Solomon, who was declared to be the wisest of Israel’s monarchs, completed the task. The building is reputed to have been the most magnificent building that the world has ever seen. However, because of the apostasy of the Jewish people, God allowed that building to be destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. About 500 years before Christ was born the Jews, returning from captivity to a land that had been largely desolated during their absence, rebuilt the temple.

This second temple was not nearly as magnificent as the first and when the people, the old men who had seen the first temple, saw it, they wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes (Ezra 3:12).

Describing the second temple the Bible says, “The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts: and in this place I will give peace, says the Lord of hosts.” Haggai 2:9.

The prophet explained how that was going to happen. “For thus says the Lord of hosts; Once more, it is a little while, I will shake heaven, the earth, the sea, and dry land; And I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the desire of all nations: and I will fill this temple with glory, says the Lord of hosts.” Haggai 2:6, 7.

Though the second temple did not have the visible tokens of the glory of God like the first one did, it was honored and was more highly exalted because in this second temple there came the desire of all nations. The Man of Nazareth taught and healed in its sacred enclosure. The presence of Christ alone made it more glorious than the first.

But Israel had put from her God’s proffered gift. And that day, when the humble Teacher had passed out from the temple for the last time, Jesus said, “Your house is left to you desolate.”

Now the disciples were filled with awe and wonder and astonishment as they heard Christ speaking these words, and as He was going out of the temple they tried to draw His attention to the wonderful architecture and to the skill and to the wonderful and expensive materials that had constructed this temple.

“Then as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!” Mark 13:1.

The temple walls were made with white marble. They were fitted together so tightly that, according to tradition, you could not stick a knife between them. From a distance it was a gorgeous sight and looked like one solid piece of white marble. The disciples attempted to draw Jesus’ attention to this marvelous building that He had just said was left to the Jewish people, desolate. “And Jesus answered and said to him, Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Verse 2.

At this the disciples were in a state of astonishment. They thought that if Jerusalem would be overthrown, Jesus must be talking about the events associated with His personal coming back to this world in temporal glory, to take the throne of universal empire, to punish the impenitent Jews and to break off the Roman yoke. Jesus had told them that He was going to come back to this world a second time. So when He mentioned the judgments that were going to come upon Jerusalem their minds reverted to that coming. “Now as he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, Tell us, when will these things be? and what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3.

Fortunately, in mercy, the future was veiled from the disciples. If they had known that in just a few more days their Lord and Master would be tried, scourged and crucified and also that for most of them, within their own lifetime, Jerusalem and the temple would be totally destroyed with not one stone being left upon another, they would have been filled with horror and unable to think logically or analytically about anything. They would have been overwhelmed, so Jesus simply presented to them an outline of the prominent events that were to take place before the destruction of Jerusalem and before the close of time. The prophecy He uttered had a two-fold meaning; firstly it had to do with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, but it also had to do with the terrors of the last great day.

Jesus declared to His listening disciples the judgments that were going to fall upon apostate Israel and especially the vengeance that would come upon them for their rejection and crucifixion of the Messiah. Before this dreaded hour would come there would be unmistakable signs that would precede the awful climax. This would come swiftly and suddenly.

He warned, “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, (whoever reads, let him understand).” Matthew 24:15.

Luke records this in literal terms and in the most graphic language. Jesus said, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.

“Then let those in Judea flee to the mountains; let those who are in the midst of her depart; and let not those who are in the country enter her.” Luke 21:20, 21.

In other words, when they would see the idolatrous standards of the Roman armies set up on the holy ground around Jerusalem, then the followers of Christ were to find safety in flight.

This is an interesting command that Jesus gives. He told them that when they saw the Roman army surrounding Jerusalem they were to flee.

But how were the Christians to flee from Jerusalem if there were Roman armies surrounding and besieging it? Jesus did not explain how it would happen; He just gave them instructions what they were to do. He told them they were not even to take time to return home to get a garment but when they had the opportunity they were to immediately flee.

At the time that Jesus spoke those words the city of Jerusalem was a highly fortified city and any person who publicly foretold that Jerusalem would be destroyed and there would not be one stone left upon another at the temple would have been regarded as Noah was when he predicted a worldwide flood. They would have been considered a crazed alarmist and out of their mind. But Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Matthew 24:35.

Because of her sins, wrath had been denounced against Jerusalem and her stubborn unbelief rendered her doom certain. This is exactly what the Lord predicted was going to happen in Jerusalem through the prophet Micah hundreds of years before it happened. “Hear this, you heads of the house of Jacob, and rulers of the house of Israel, who abhor justice, and pervert all equity. Who build up Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with iniquity. Her heads judge for a bribe, her priests teach for pay, and her prophets divine for money: yet they lean on the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? no harm can come to us.” Micah 3:9–11.

Notice that these people who are living in wickedness say, “We are God’s people.”

There are people today who say they are Christians and that no harm can come to them, yet they are not living a Christlike life but live directly contrary to the way Jesus said to live. Jesus said to the people in His day, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and you don’t do what I say?” Luke 6:46.

Because they were living like the devil while claiming to be God’s own people their outcome was predicted: “Therefore because of you, Zion shall be plowed like a field. Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest.” Micah 3:12.

This prophecy described the condition of the Jewish nation in the time of Christ. Although they were proud of their self-righteousness,, they were living in sin and were transgressing the principles of the law of God. They hated Christ because of His purity. His holiness was a living rebuke to the way that they were living and they accused Jesus of being the cause of their troubles. They knew that He was sinless. Jesus said, “Which of you convicts me concerning sin?” John 8:46.

They had no answer, but they condemned Him to death because they said His death was necessary for the security of their nation. “If we let him alone like this, everyone will believe in him: and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation. And then, do you not consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish?” John 11:48, 50.

As Micah had predicted, they built up Zion with bloodshed and Jerusalem with iniquity, and yet, even though they had killed their Saviour, who reproved their sins, because of their self-righteousness they still claimed to be the people of God, His favored people, and expected the Lord to deliver them from their enemies.

This same thing has happened many times through earth’s history and is still happening today. Many people claim that they are God’s people but refuse to follow His instructions. They make a profession without reflecting His character; they do not walk as He walked, or live as He lived.

For nearly forty years after A.D. 31 when Jesus predicted this destruction, the judgments against Jerusalem were delayed. God is wonderfully long-suffering. The murderers of His Son were given almost forty years to consider the evidence and see the development of the Christian church and what was happening in the world. For two generations the fathers, mothers and children had opportunity to evaluate the character of Christ.

But when the time came that the children also rejected not only the light that their parents had, but also additional light that they themselves had received, the cup of their iniquity was full. The long-suffering of God toward Jerusalem just confirmed the Jews in their stubborn impenitence and eventually God gave them up.

When God sees that no matter what evidence He gives a person they still refuse to submit, there is no way they can be saved. He finally gives up and leaves them over to their own control. The Holy Spirit ceases to plead with them because they have committed the unpardonable sin and have come under the control of another spirit.

In their hatred toward the disciples of Jesus, the Jews rejected God’s last offer of mercy to His chosen people. His protection was removed and also His restraining power upon Satan and his angels who came to totally control God’s chosen people. Her children had spurned the grace of Christ, the only One who could deliver her.

There now was no safety anywhere. Friends and kindred betrayed one another and uncontrolled passions made the people tyrants.

False accusations made their lives uncertain. They had said, “Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.” Isaiah 30:11. And now their desire was granted. The fear of God no longer disturbed them. Satan was at the head of the nation and the highest civil and religious authorities were under his control and sway. All kinds of awful things happened but the leaders still said, “This city cannot be destroyed; it is God’s own city. We are not afraid that this city will be destroyed; God won’t ever let it happen.”

So the multitudes believed, right to the last, that the Most High was going to deliver them from their adversaries. But, they had spurned the Divine protection and now they had no defense. They were rent by internal dissentions and her children were slain by another’s hands.

All the predictions that Jesus gave concerning Jerusalem were fulfilled right to the letter. They learned the truth of His words—As you measure to somebody else it will be measured to you again. See Matthew 7:2.

There were many signs that occurred before the destruction of Jerusalem, showing that something awful was going to take place.

One of the most interesting fulfillments of prophecy when you look at that historical event of the destruction of Jerusalem is that you will find that not one Christian perished in the city. Jesus had given His disciples warning and every one who listened to the warning was saved. This is what Jesus had said to them:

“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those in Judea flee to the mountains; let those who are in the midst of her depart; and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things that are written may be fulfilled.” Luke 21:20–22.

The Romans under the general Cestius surrounded the city, about A.D. 66. It was the time of the Feast of Tabernacles and there were people from throughout the world who were gathered in Jerusalem during this siege. Unexpectedly, Cestius abandoned the siege when everything seemed to be in his favour. These events were so overruled that neither the Jews nor the Romans did anything to hinder the flight of the Christians. Upon the retreat of Cestius the Jews sallying from Jerusalem pursued after his retiring army and while both forces were thus engaged, the Christians had an opportunity to leave the city unmolested.

Also, at this time the country had been cleared of enemies who might have endeavoured to intercept them. At the time of the siege the Jews had been gathered together in Jerusalem and thus the Christians throughout the land were able to make their escape without hindrance.

It is interesting that Jesus gave a command that would seem impossible to be fulfilled and yet the opportunity to escape was there, just as He told them. All those who listened and obeyed the command of Jesus were saved; not one perished in the destruction of Jerusalem. They fled without delay to a place of safety beyond Jordan.

Read Matthew 24 carefully. The destruction of Jerusalem was used by Jesus as a symbol of what will happen to the entire world who rejects the authority of God and His law and the gospel of Jesus Christ at the end of time.

The Bible says, “Flee from the wrath to come.” Matthew 3:7.

If you are willing to listen to the instructions that Jesus gives in His word, then at the end of the world you will not be among the nations that mourn because they then realize that they have been worshipping the anti-christ and not the true Christ.

You can be saved. You do not have to be destroyed in the destruction of the world that is coming. Jesus said it like this:

“Watch therefore: for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore, you also be ready: for the Son of man is coming at an hour when you do not expect.” Matthew 24:42–44.

Jesus is coming, and He is coming in our time.

Pastor John Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at:, or by telephone at: (316) 788–5559.

Signs for Us

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Matthew 23:37–24:5

The whole focus of the disciples was on the organization of the time. Even though they had walked year after year with Christ, they really had become somewhat conditioned to the belief that the system could dictate to God, and not that God would direct the system. They were more concerned with the organization than with the mission. As a result, when Jesus spoke about the temple, they had more faith in the temple than in God, and attempted to correct Him. They said, What do you mean that your house is left unto you desolate? And Jesus said, Listen, not one stone is going to be left upon another. This really confused the disciples when Jesus prophesied that the very temple, the center of their worship, would be destroyed. They wanted to know when these things would happen and what would be the sign of His coming and the end of the world.

Jesus began by giving them a universal sign. He gave them the signs in things that existed in heaven and the signs that have existed all throughout creation ever since man was here. He first warned about deception. “Let no man deceive you.” What man can deceive us best? It is self-deception. Deception is what caused the angels to be thrown out of heaven.

In Revelation 12:4 it says, “And his [the devil’s] tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.” The devil drew with his tail one-third of the heavenly angels. I praise God that the appeals of Jesus caused some to turn, but still one-third is billions and billions of angels.

The Bible is explicit on what his tail represents: “The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail.” Isaiah 9:15. The tail would represent lies or deceit. Here the devil deceived all of these angels into believing him. The prophet of God tells us that at first they did not believe him but sympathized with him. They really got caught up in business that really wasn’t theirs. They felt sorry for him and started listening to him and before they knew it, they were cast out of heaven. Satan would love to go back to heaven.

It was amazing to me what I read in The Story of Redemption. When Satan saw an angel, he would tell him to come and when the angel came, he would ask that angel to go get Jesus for him and the angel went to get Christ. Satan then pleads with Christ to be able to come back to heaven offering to take any position, but Jesus wept at his woe—it broke His heart, because Satan could no longer be trusted. Heaven is based on trust. The Bible says that, “Iniquity will not raise its head again.” Sin is not coming back. In heaven we will not lose our ability to sin; we will just choose not to do it. Our love and appreciation for God will place us where we would never, ever consider doing anything contrary to His word. It will not be a forced thing.

Satan is the great deceiver; he even tried to deceive Jesus. Knowledge of the prophecies in the Word of God are landmarks to let us know where we are in time. At the end of Jesus’ life He knew that the only thing He could trust in was His Father and the Word. While nailed to the cross He knew that Judas would throw down the ransom money he received from the priests and rulers and that it would be used to purchase the potter’s field (Zechariah 11). He knew the prophecies!

We do not know who will stand when severely tested. Each of us needs to be sure that our faith is strong. All through the trial of Jesus, He continued loving his disciples while He watched them look from a distance. Then, while hanging there and in the final moments of His life He experienced what David had prophesied many years before. Psalm 22 says that dogs encompassed him and that He could feel pain all through His body. They took His clothes and cast lots for them. Everybody ran out on Him. Jesus looked and He heard the conversation of the soldiers planning to split up His garments. Jesus knew what the prophecy had said.

The devil tries to manipulate prophecy, but he cannot. If you will notice in Matthew 24:29–31 it says, “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: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” These events happen right before the coming of the Lord.

When all of the disciples comment on the same thing, it is something really worth paying attention to. Look at Mark 13:24–27. It says, “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.”

Again, Jesus said that certain things are going to transpire. These prophecies are landmarks. It first said there would be signs, an earthquake, then a sign in the sun, then a sign in the moon and signs in the stars.

Right now, we are living during the sixth seal, between the signs in the heavens and the coming of the Lord. Revelation 6:12–17 says, “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”

We know that on November 1, 1755, there was the great Lisbon earthquake. I believe that this fulfilled prophecy. Remember this great earthquake came just before 1798. Something big was going to happen in 1798. God started revealing these prophecies so that His people would understand that He was soon coming. There were three earthquakes, one at 9:00 a.m., one at 10:00 a.m. and one at 12:00 noon. At 9:00 a.m. people became afraid and at 10:00 a.m. they were really scared and by 12:00 noon they ran to the church to pray and thousands died there in church. God is not the author of fear. When these things happen we ought to get excited and exclaim that our redemption draweth nigh (Luke 21:28). We need to be resting in Christ, understanding what it means to rest in Christ and believe that He will keep us from falling and that He can save us, and not have a deceptive belief, while living in a known sin. This is not resting in Christ.

In Christ there is no sin, because the mind of Christ literally dwells in you. It is to have the faith of Jesus. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20. It is literally Christ’s faith activated in my life. I don’t have the faith to believe that God is going to open up a body of water for me to walk across which is contrary to everything my humanity knows. But He has the faith and He is willing to activate that faith in our lives. You will never get that experience unless you go to God and plead for it.

Preachers started preaching that the Lisbon earthquake was a sign of the coming of the Lord and people believed. In 1780 when all of a sudden at noon time the sun went black like a light bulb that went out and the cattle started heading back to the barn, people became afraid. That night the moon became as blood. Preachers were preaching, churches were full and the people believed that it was a sign of the coming of the Lord. The Lord has given us these signs specifically for a reason.

In 1833 when the stars fell there were preachers, including William Miller, preaching all over the world that the Lord was coming. When they saw the stars fall, they looked at Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 and Revelation 6 and they said Jesus has to come, because the prophecy said that after these stars would fall, He would come. What happened? 1844 came and Jesus did not come to this earth, but went into the Most Holy Place in heaven. Prophecy was fulfilled, but the people did not understand it until a little later when God revealed more light.

An important Scripture to understand is Ezekiel, chapter 8. Ezekiel was not preaching to the heathen but to God’s people. The church was in sin and God sent an angel who grabbed Ezekiel by the lock of his hair and suspended him between earth and heaven and showed him the people of God. Ezekiel was a true Christian and he did not want to see sin and he tried to turn. He saw all of these abominations and his heart was broken. The angel kept telling him to look further and finally, notice what he saw in verse 16: “And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.”

Ezekiel saw that God’s people were involved with sun worship. That is when he said it was time for the destroying angel to do his work. If you don’t believe that our people have been deceived, and they have bought into this Ecumenical Movement, it is time to open your eyes. I don’t study what the churches are doing because I am too busy working myself. But, I do know that when we have a Catholic cardinal open our General Conference session with prayer, something is wrong. At the last General Conference session, why, at the parade of nations, does the Vatican have a flag? Italy was there. God is trying to show us something but some of us still will not agonize with God. We still refuse to get our lives in order so that the Holy Spirit can use us to be effective workers for God. When this message goes forth, it will go forth by Seventh-day Adventists, the faithful ones, who are really praying and studying and according to Ezekiel 9 are crying and sighing for the abominations being done in the land and are not involved in gossiping or tearing down.

One of the top selling songs is Man in the Mirror. I went on the internet to read the lyrics. It says something like, “Who are you fooling? If you want change, you need to look in the mirror at yourself and change yourself and stop dealing with other people.” I said, Lord, are the rocks crying out? We have to start examining ourselves to make sure that we are on the path that God has placed us. There is no time to get caught up in surface issues; we need to take time to study and know the message; then preach it.

Stop wasting time and start studying. If you do not have a schedule for your time every day, make one. Your time belongs to God. No other gift has He given of which we have to give a more strict account. Study now and you will be prepared and not overwhelmed when the winds of strife are no longer held back and all breaks loose upon the world. Don’t be found with a form of godliness but denying the power thereof (II Timothy 3:5) and be exposed as a fraud.

Now is the time to develop an ear to hear the Holy Spirit saying, this is the way, walk ye in it [Isaiah 30:21] and stop running to man. Every day start your day with worship.

Once, in India, we were riding in a car that stopped because of a cow in the middle of the road. The driver stopped for that cow and did not even try to move it because it was believed that cows were sacred and we were told that if we attempted to move the cow we would be killed because that cow was sacred. Some Christians do not have as much reverence for the true God as those people had for that cow. There is no excuse not to have a personal relationship with God and to be able to go to Him and know that He is answering your prayers. All have squandered time, but we can redeem the time by not wasting any more, by giving God as much time as you possibly can and He will prepare you for the crisis or He will trust you to die. You have to be trusted to die, because you have to die in Christ.

We are in a war. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you will find yourself weeping because there are so many people trapped in sin. You will find yourself losing your comfort to cause others to feel comfortable so they can know your God. You will constantly pray and ask God how you can reach somebody. It is Christ allowing you to feel His burden through you. Have the patience of the saints who keep the commandments and have the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12) and you will be sealed by settling into the truth, both spiritually and intellectually, because you have surrendered to God.

Pastor Stephen Lewis is an international speaker and director of The Present Truth Ministry. This article is from a sermon he preached at the Steps to Life Camp Meeting 2009. He can be contacted at:

Signs – Which Direction are You Turning?

On November 1, 1755, an earthquake struck in the Atlantic Ocean. It is commonly known as The Great Lisbon Earthquake. The total duration of the shaking lasted ten minutes, comprising three distinct jolts. A devastating fire following the earthquake destroyed a large part of Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, and a very strong tsunami caused heavy destruction along the coasts of Portugal, south Spain and western Morocco. Geologists today estimate that the earthquake approached magnitude 9. The effects from the earthquake were far reaching, with shaking felt in North Africa.

May 19, 1780, stands in history as The Dark Day. Since the time of Moses, no period of darkness of equal density, extent or duration has ever been recorded. “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.” Joel 2:31. The moon became as red as blood on the night of the Dark Day, May 19, 1780. Milo Bostick in Stone’s History of Massachusetts says, “The moon which was at its full, had the appearance of blood.”

On November 13, 1833, the skies over the eastern United States were lit up by thousands of shooting stars every minute. This display lasted for four hours preceding dawn that day.

These phenomena were the fulfillment of the signs given before the coming of Jesus. At first, the people were afraid and gathered themselves together to pray. However, when nothing happened they soon went back to their former lifestyles.

“We are living in the time of the end. The fast-fulfilling signs of the times declare that the coming of Christ is near at hand. The days in which we live are solemn and important. The Spirit of God is gradually but surely being withdrawn from the earth. Plagues and judgments are already falling upon the despisers of the grace of God. The calamities by land and sea, the unsettled state of society, the alarms of war, are portentous. They forecast approaching events of the greatest magnitude.

“The agencies of evil are combining their forces and consolidating. They are strengthening for the last great crisis. Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones.” Lift Him Up, 356.

Then is described the condition of the world at that time. Ellen White says, “Bold robberies are of frequent occurrence. Strikes are common. Thefts and murders are committed on every hand. Men possessed of demons are taking the lives of men, women, and little children. Men have become infatuated with vice, and every species of evil prevails.” Ibid.

“On one occasion, when in New York City, I was in the night season called upon to behold buildings rising story after story toward heaven. These buildings were warranted to be fireproof, and they were erected to glorify the owners and builders. Higher and still higher these buildings rose, and in them the most costly material was used. Those to whom these buildings belonged were not asking themselves: ‘How can we best glorify God?’ The Lord was not in their thoughts.

“I thought: ‘Oh, that those who are thus investing their means could see their course as God sees it! They are piling up magnificent buildings, but how foolish in the sight of the Ruler of the universe is their planning and devising. They are not studying with all the powers of heart and mind how they may glorify God. They have lost sight of this, the first duty of man.’

“As these lofty buildings went up, the owners rejoiced with ambitious pride that they had money to use in gratifying self and provoking the envy of their neighbors. Much of the money that they thus invested had been obtained through exaction, through grinding down the poor. They forgot that in heaven an account of every business transaction is kept; every unjust deal, every fraudulent act, is there recorded. The time is coming when in their fraud and insolence men will reach a point that the Lord will not permit them to pass, and they will learn that there is a limit to the forbearance of Jehovah.

“The scene that next passed before me was an alarm of fire. Men looked at the lofty and supposedly fire-proof buildings and said: ‘They are perfectly safe.’ But these buildings were consumed as if made of pitch. The fire engines could do nothing to stay the destruction. The firemen were unable to operate the engines.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 12, 13.

The day before 9/11 when the twin towers in New York came down, there was a special documentary aired on the television explaining how the buildings had been erected and how they had withstood the 1993 bombing attempt to bring them down. They were declared to have been built from the most costly material, were fireproof and that nothing could bring them down. Some, since the attack, claim that there had been bombs put inside, and that there was an explosion because of the way the building fell. No, the prophet of God said buildings would come down. Angels touched those buildings. That was our modern day sign, a wake up call. God said, “I am coming.” If you want to know how the people reacted in November of 1755 and how they responded in 1780 and again in 1833, just remember how the people responded after 9/11. All of a sudden, sports were no longer important and churches of all different denominations filled up.

In The Review and Herald, September 10, 1901, Ellen White says, “Satan has devised a multitude of ways in which to keep men from serving God. He has invented sports and games, into which men enter with such intensity that one would suppose a crown of life was to reward the winner.” The purpose of this is to take the minds of God’s people so that they will not think of God. But now, after a tragedy, everybody agrees, no baseball games, no football games; all of the evening talk shows and laugh shows were stopped. All of sudden, people who were not interested before, were interested in talking about God.

When I first moved into my neighborhood, my neighbors invited us over for little housewarming parties and would offer me beer, which I would refuse. I told them I am a minister and they would say, Well, my pastor is cool. My pastor and I are buddies and he knows that he can come to my house and have a beer and no one is going to know. I told him I don’t drink, but you can go ahead and drink. Because I refused to join them we were known as killjoys and are no longer invited to their parties. I would see neighbors run by my house to their parties thinking I did not see them with their wine bottles and beer, etc. When they got so far, often I would call out the door and ask them how they were doing.

But after 9/11, it was different. These same people who had shunned me now wanted me to come and pray in their homes. Everybody in our area would drive by and wave. Everybody was afraid. They became solemn and serious about God. This is the same way people responded in November of 1755 when the great Lisbon earthquake struck, and also how people responded in 1780 when the sun went black and the moon turned red. It is how people responded in 1833 when all the stars were falling. These were all events beyond their control and they were scared.

In the days of Noah, when the animals boarded that ark, directed by an unseen hand, everybody was interested and intrigued. These were intelligent people, some of whom lived to be 950 years old; they were not cave men. You can only imagine what inventions there were and what your computer skills would be like with 900 years of experience. When the people saw this, everybody was frightened, just like now. But, in those next seven days after the door of the ark had been shut, when nothing else happened, they went back to business as usual. Fear will never convict a person to be loyal to God. The prophet of God says that when that angel swirled around in the sky, dropped down and got hold of that massive door of the ark and shut it, everybody was afraid. There was quiet. If the rain had started right then the people would have said, “Lord, if you would only have given me a few more days, I was going to get on board.”

Instead, God allowed that emotion to wear off. The first day, everybody was praying; the second day everybody was praying. You can just imagine Wednesday night prayer meeting—all the churches were filled just like they were after 9/11. But when nothing happened, somebody cracked a little joke and before you knew it, by Thursday, they were all laughing and saying that Noah was a wild fanatic. All of the preachers were preaching on that next Sabbath and planning on doing whatever they do after sunset Saturday.

Out of nowhere on that eighth day, dark hellish clouds came together and with combustion that man had never experienced, from the top and from the bottom. Water came from everywhere but by then it was too late for help. Then, the people wanted God and cried to Noah but the door was shut and the opportunity to be saved was passed.

Some today are trapped in regard to their siblings, children and parents who do not want to know their God. It comes to a point when each needs to ask, Who is my brother; who is my sister; who is my mother—they that do the will of my Father. When Noah entered that ark he had many family members who remained outside. The Bible said his father had more children, so there must have been sisters and brothers and maybe his mother was still alive, screaming for help when the rain started falling. Noah had to keep trusting in God—his name means rest. Salvation is an individual decision and Noah rested in his confidence in God.

“There are not many, even among educators and statesmen, who comprehend the causes that underlie the present state of society. Those who hold the reins of government are not able to solve the problem of moral corruption, poverty, pauperism, and increasing crime. They are struggling in vain to place business operations on a more secure basis.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 13.

Few understand the time in which we are living. Shortly after these disasters we are being told that the economy is coming back and everything is going to be good. This is not true; we are at the end of time. God did not leave us without a witness. In detail He tells us to listen. We must believe in the prophets. These testimonies were not written for one hundred years ago; they were written for our warning today.

Because nothing more happened right away after 9/11, people have become relaxed again. Now we see the economy is gone and is not coming back. Everybody is crying for the government to support them. Take care of us; take care of us; you are responsible for us! They are going to take care of us with their many schemes, but not without a cost. There is healthcare—at what cost? Save your home—at what cost?

This dear little lady prophetess is trying to tell us, through the Holy Spirit, that we should have our houses in order. There is no time to pretend that you have an experience that you don’t really have. Only you know what goes on when no one else is looking but God. Only you know how interested you really are in His Word. We need to ask God for help now for He will not cast us out, but some will not consistently ask. Are we too busy being occupied with the cares of this world to seek Him with all of our hearts? Do we leave the sanctuary after a seed of truth has dropped into our hearts and then not allow it to take root because of casual talking and neglecting to pray and praise God for what He has done for us? We should be able to go home and spend time in prayer, pleading with God for help, lest we perish. Ask Him for help and then linger to hear His voice. The prophet of God said that when she was 15 years old, she used to wait until her twin sister was asleep and then get out of bed and plead with God and agonize with Him and tell Him that she would not go to bed until He blessed her. She said that sometimes the sun would come up before she slept, but the Lord blessed her because she had prevailed in prayer. You have to search and ask God and the promise says that you will receive it. It is worth asking for.

The world in this condition cannot continue to go on indefinitely. Are you ready for Jesus to come? Have you really embraced eternal life? The Bible says that this is life eternal that you know Jesus (John 17:3). Do you really know Him? Jesus desires to have an intimate, personal relationship with you. The younger you are the easier it will be without having to fight through all of the different things you have conditioned yourself to believe. John the Baptist was a young man, preaching and doing ministry before Jesus came and commenced His ministry. When Jesus approached where he was baptizing, He said, “This is the Lamb of God” (John 1:36). God wants us to know Him, to recognize Him like John did. How angels must weep seeing so many unprepared and not interested in getting ready to go home.

Whatever the enemy of souls offers you, it is only temporary. Life in this world is so short. “Why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth.” Ezekiel 18:31, 32. To those who reject the offer of eternal life God asks, Why will you die? Take a look at your life and ask, Are the pleasures of this world worth losing heaven over? The Lord says that He has no pleasure at all in your death, so why will you die?

Isaiah 5:4 says, “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?” What more could God have done for you? These are pertinent questions. When the world turns their back on you and when nobody else understands, the Lord says, Come; it is going to be alright. Choose life and spend eternity with Jesus, the One who loves you and shed His innocent blood that you might live. Though you have rejected Him and spat in His face in the past, when you are ready, He says, Come. He never mentions the spit. He says, I want to give you My victory. When we walk in the flesh, we crucify Him afresh. Jesus has a personal interest in seeing you in heaven. You were created for His pleasure and for His joy. He wants to save you.

“Why will ye die, O house of Israel?” “What could have been done more to my vineyard?” Make your choice today. Make a decision right now to give your heart to the Lord. He longs to create in you a new heart right now.

“A new heart also will I give you.” Ezekiel 36:26.

Pastor Stephen Lewis is an international speaker and director of The Present Truth. This article is from a sermon he preached at Steps to Life Camp Meeting, 2009. He can be contacted at