2020 has been one of turmoil with unprecedented change, severe sickness and death; with parts of the globe devastated with natural disasters, with political unrest, economically struggling, leaving the world in a state of depression and to most, a very uncertain future. May we praise our God that we have the message that gives answers. Our future on this earth may be uncertain, but to rise above it, our future is very certain – a 'more sure word of prophecy.' With the year behind us now at the end of 2020, we don’t want to spend all our time dwelling upon the past, but as we head into 2021, let's focus on what is ahead.
Before reading any further, just be aware that the words that follow are not sweet words of peace and safety, but rather more reproach and admonition. We must prepare our own hearts to face what is coming. Because of the words penned, I will keep my own comments quiet and let inspiration give the rebuke! Although written along time back, it is very relevant for today – one can almost see the happenings today as it is being read.
Great Distress Coming, God's People Not Prepared For It!
“There will be greater distress in the land than we have yet witnessed. There are the groans and cries of distress, with large companies in active battle. There is the booming of the cannon, the clash of arms, the hand-to-hand fight, the groans and prayers of the dying. The ground covered with the wounded and the dead. I saw desolate, despairing families, and pinching want in many dwellings. Even now, many families are suffering want, but this will increase. The faces of many families looked haggard, pale, and pinched with hunger. The people of God should be closely united in the bonds of Christian fellowship and love. God alone can be our shield and strength in this time of our national calamities.
The people of God should awake. Their opportunities to spread the truth should be improved, for they will not thus last long. I was shown distress, and perplexity, and famine in the land; and Satan is now seeking to hold God's people in a state of inactivity, to keep them from acting their part in spreading the truth, and that they may be at last weighed in the balance and found wanting.
God's people must take warning and discern the signs of the times. The signs of Christ's coming are too plain to be doubted; and in view of these things, everyone who professes the truth should be living preachers. God calls upon all to awake; preachers and people must awake. All Heaven is astir. The scenes of this earth's history are fast closing. We are amid the perils of the last days. Greater perils are before us, and yet we are not awake. This lack of activity and earnestness in the cause of God is dreadful. This death-stupor is from Satan. He controls the minds of unconsecrated Sabbath-keepers, and leads them to be jealous of each other, fault-finding, and censorious. It is Satan's special work to divide hearts, that the influence, strength, and labor, of God's servants may be kept among unconsecrated Sabbath-keepers, and precious time be occupied to settle little differences, which should be spent in proclaiming to unbelievers the truth.
God's people seem to be waiting for some change to take place – a compelling power to take hold of them. But they will be disappointed. They are wrong. They must act. They must take hold of the work themselves, and earnestly cry unto God for a true knowledge of themselves. The scenes which are passing before us are of sufficient magnitude to cause us to arouse. In view of these things we must urge the truth home to the hearts of all whom we can get to listen to it. The harvest of the earth is nearly ripe.
It is absolutely important that ministers be right who engage in the solemn, responsible work of proclaiming the third angel's message. The Lord is not straightened for means or instruments to do his own work. He can speak at any time by whom he will, and his word is powerful and will accomplish the thing whereunto it is sent. But if the truth has not sanctified, and made pure and clean the hands and heart of him who ministers in holy things, he is liable to speak according to his own imperfect experience; and when he speaks of himself, according to the decisions of his own unsanctified judgment, his counsel is not then of God, but of himself. As he that is called of God is called to be holy, so he that is approved and set apart of men must give evidence of his holy calling, and show forth in his heavenly conversation and conduct that he is faithful to Him who hath called him.
Sanctified By The Truth
There were fearful woes for those who preach the truth and are not sanctified by it, and there are woes also for those who consent to receive and maintain the unsanctified to minister to them in word and doctrine, I am alarmed for the people of God who profess to believe solemn, important truth, for I know that many who now profess to believe the truth are not converted nor sanctified through the truth. Men can hear and acknowledge the whole truth, and yet know nothing of the power of godliness. All who carry the truth will not themselves be saved by the truth they preach. Said the angel, "Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord."
The time has come when those who choose the Lord for their present and future portion, must trust in him alone. Every one professing godliness must have an experience of their own. The recording angel is making a faithful record of the words and acts of God's people. Angels are watching the development of character, and weighing moral worth.
Those who profess to believe the truth should be right themselves, and exert all their influence to enlighten and win others to the truth. Their words and works are the channel through which the pure principles of truth and holiness are conveyed to the world. They are the salt of the earth, and the light thereof. I saw that in looking Heavenward we shall see light and peace, but in looking to the world we shall see that every refuge must soon fail us, and every good soon pass away.
There is no help for us but in God, and in this state of earth's confusion we cannot be composed, strong, or safe, only in the strength of living faith; nor can we be in peace, only as we rest in God, and wait for his salvation. Greater light shines upon us than shone upon our fathers. We cannot be accepted or honored of God in rendering the same service, or doing the same works our fathers have done. In order to be accepted and blessed of God as our fathers were, we must imitate their faithfulness and zeal – improve our light as they improved theirs – and do as they would have done if they had lived in our day.
We must improve and walk in the light which shines upon us, otherwise our light will become darkness. God requires us to exhibit to the world, in our character and works, that measure of the Spirit, union, and oneness, which are in accordance with the sacred truths we profess, and the spirit of those prophecies that are being fulfilled in these last days. The truth which has reached our understanding, the light that has shone on the soul, will judge and condemn us, if we turn away and refuse to be led by them.
What shall I say to arouse the remnant people of God? I was shown that dreadful scenes are before us, and Satan and his angels are bringing all their powers to bear upon God's people. He knows if they sleep a little longer he is sure of them, for their destruction is certain. I warn all who profess the name of Christ to closely examine themselves, and make full and thorough confessions of all their wrongs, and let them go beforehand to judgment, that opposite their names the recording angel may write, Pardon. If these precious, merciful moments are not improved, you are left without excuse. If you will make no special effort to arouse, if you will not manifest zeal in repenting, these golden moments will soon pass and you will be weighed in the balance and found wanting, then your agonizing cries will be of no avail.
"Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord; they would none of my counsel; they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil." – Based on Spiritual Gifts, vol.4b, p.59-62
While these words have focused mainly on our spiritual preparation, there are some personal points that need addressing. These words are also a bit cutting, but the counsel of rebuke never comes with ease. Again, take these words for what they are, but more than that I would urge to take heed of them.
“The unbelieving world will soon have something to think of beside their dress and appearance; and as their minds are torn from these things by distress and perplexity, they have nothing to turn to. They are not prisoners of hope, and therefore do not turn to the Strong Hold. Their hearts will fail them for repining and fear. They have not made God their refuge, and he will not be their consolation then, but will laugh at their calamity, and mock when their fear cometh. They have despised and trampled upon the truths of God's word. They have indulged in extravagant dress, and have spent their lives in hilarity and glee, They have sown to the wind, they must reap the whirlwind.
In the time of distress and perplexity of nations there will be many who have not given themselves wholly to the corrupting influences of the world and the service of Satan, who will humble themselves before God, and turn to him with their whole heart and find acceptance and pardon.
Those among Sabbath-keepers who have been unwilling to make any sacrifice, but have yielded to the influence of the world, are to be tested and proved. The perils of the last days are upon us, and a trial is before the young which they have not anticipated. They are to be brought into most distressing perplexity. The genuineness of their faith will be proved. They profess to be looking for the coming of the Son of man, yet some of them have been miserable examples to unbelievers. They have not been willing to give up the world, but have united with them, have attended picnics, and other gatherings of pleasure, flattering themselves that they were engaging in innocent amusement.
Yet I was shown that it was just such indulgences that separate them from God, and make them children of the world. God owns not the pleasure, or amusement-seeker as his follower. He has given us no such example. Those only who are self-denying, and who live a life of sobriety, humility and holiness, are true followers of Jesus; and such cannot engage in, and enjoy the frivolous, empty conversation of the lovers of the world.
Isaiah 3, was presented before me. I was shown that this prophecy has its application to these last days; and the reproofs are given to the daughters of Zion who have thought only of appearance and display. Read verse 25: "Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war." I was shown that this scripture will be strictly fulfilled. Young men and women professing to be Christians, yet having no Christian experience, and having borne no burdens, and felt no individual responsibility, are to be proved. They will be brought low in the dust, and long for an experience in the things of God, which they failed to obtain.” –Ibid
But with all this condemnation, it is important to draw the heart to Jesus Christ, the Only One who is the answer to this dilemma – and a big dilemma. Our God has it all in hand, but He will require each one of us to make a decision, and there are only two destinations, each destination having eternal consequences. Wake up friends, wake up!
Have You Counted the Cost?
In conclusion, after all this rebuff and rebuke, here are some words that offer much more encouragement - eternal life. “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
“The world's Redeemer presents to His followers the plan of the battle in which they are called to engage, and He bids them count the cost. He assures them that angels who excel in strength shall be in His army, and will enable those who trust in Him to fight valiantly. One shall chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight – not through their own strength, but through the power of Omnipotence. . . . The Captain of the Lord's host is with them, taking the command of the armies, and leading them on to victory.
Because of their human frailty, because of their sinfulness, they may fear and tremble as they view the vast hosts of the powers of darkness; but they may rejoice as they look upon the angels of God ready to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. They may rejoice as they realize that the Captain of the Lord's host will lead them forward in every conflict against natural and supernatural foes. . . . Your Leader is a conqueror. Advance to victory. . . .
How precious are these assurances that we shall never be left to take one step in our own finite strength, for He has said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." –Hebrews 13:5 We are fighting in the presence of invisible hosts. Unseen intelligences survey the whole array of evil, and help is at hand. We shall not only be provided with that which is necessary but shall be placed upon vantage ground. . . .
To every Christian comes the word that was addressed to Peter, "Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not." –Luke 22:31 Thank God we are not left alone. This is our safety. Satan can never touch with eternal disaster one whom Christ has prepared for temptation by His previous intercession; for grace is provided in Christ for every soul, and a way of escape has been made, so that no one need fall under the power of the enemy.”—Our High Calling, p.311