The Review and Herald

386/1902

January 11, 1887

Our Present Duty and the Coming Crisis

EGW

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” The very atmosphere is polluted with sin. Soon God's people will be tested by fiery trials, and the great proportion of those who now appear to be genuine and true will prove to be base metal. Instead of being strengthened and confirmed by opposition, threats, and abuse, they will cowardly take the side of the opposers. The promise is, “Them that honor me I will honor.” Shall we be less firmly attached to God's law because the world at large have attempted to make it void? RH January 11, 1887, par. 1

Already the judgments of God are abroad in the land, as seen in storms, in floods, in tempests, in earthquakes, in perils by land and by sea. The great I AM is speaking to those who make void his law. When God's wrath is poured out upon the earth, who will then be able to stand? Now is the time for God's people to show themselves true to principle. When the religion of Christ is most held in contempt, when his law is most despised, then should our zeal be the warmest and our courage the most unflinching. To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few,—this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason. The nation will be on the side of the great rebel leader. RH January 11, 1887, par. 2

The days of purification of the church are hastening on apace. God will have a people pure and true. In the mighty sifting soon to take place, we shall be better able to measure the strength of Israel. The signs reveal that the time is near when the Lord will manifest that his fan is in his hand, and that he soon will thoroughly purge his floor. RH January 11, 1887, par. 3

The days are fast approaching when there will be great perplexity and confusion. Satan, clothed in angel robes, will deceive, if possible, the very elect. There will be gods many and lords many. Every wind of doctrine will be blowing. RH January 11, 1887, par. 4

With unerring accuracy, the Infinite One keeps an account with all nations. While his mercy is tendered with calls to repentance, this account will remain open; but when a certain limit which God has fixed is reached, the ministry of his wrath commences. The account is closed. Divine patience ceases. There is no more pleading for mercy in their behalf. RH January 11, 1887, par. 5

The prophet, looking down the ages, had this time presented before his vision. The nations of this age have been the recipients of unprecedented mercies. The choicest of Heaven's blessings have been given them; but increased pride, covetousness, idolatry, contempt of God, and base ingratitude, are written against them. They are fast closing up their account with God. RH January 11, 1887, par. 6

But that which causes me to tremble, is the fact that those who have had the greatest light and privileges have become contaminated by the prevailing iniquity. Influenced by the unrighteous around them, many, even of those who profess the truth, have grown cold, and are borne down by the strong current of evil. The universal scorn thrown upon true piety and holiness, leads those who do not connect closely with God to lose their reverence for his law. If they were following the light, and obeying the truth from the heart, this holy law would seem even more precious to them when despised and set aside. As the disrespect for God's law becomes more manifest, the line of demarkation between its observers and the world becomes more distinct. Love for the divine precepts increases with one class, according as contempt for them increases with the other class. RH January 11, 1887, par. 7

The crisis is fast approaching. The rapidly swelling figures show that the time for God's visitations has nearly come. Although loth to punish, nevertheless he will punish, and that speedily. Those who walk in the light will see signs of the approaching peril; but they are not to sit in quiet, unconcerned expectancy of the ruin, comforting themselves with the belief that God will shelter his people in the day of visitation. Far from it. They should realize that it is their duty to labor diligently to save others, looking with strong faith to God for help. RH January 11, 1887, par. 8

The command is, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.” These sighing, crying ones had been holding forth the words of life; they had reproved, counseled, and entreated. Some who had been dishonoring God repented and humbled their hearts before him. But the glory of the Lord had departed from Israel. Although many still continued the forms of religion, its power and presence were lacking. RH January 11, 1887, par. 9

In the time when his wrath shall go forth in judgments, the humble, devoted followers of Christ will be distinguished from the rest of the world by their soul anguish, which will be expressed in lamentation and weeping, reproofs and warnings. While others try to throw a cloak over the existing evil, and excuse the great wickedness everywhere prevalent, those who have a zeal for God's honor and a love for souls will not hold their peace to obtain favor of any. Their righteous souls will be vexed day by day with the unholy works and conversation of the unrighteous. They will be powerless to stop the rushing torrent of iniquity, and hence they will be filled with grief and alarm. They will mourn before God to see religion despised in the very homes of those who have had great light. They will lament and afflict their souls because pride, avarice, selfishness, and deception of almost every kind are in the church. RH January 11, 1887, par. 10

The class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension, nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left without the seal of God. The Lord commissions his messengers, the men with slaughtering weapons in their hands: “Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.” RH January 11, 1887, par. 11

Here we see that the church—the Lord's sanctuary—was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God. The ancient men, those to whom God had given great light, and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust. This shows us that we must not look to men for example. 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 in the last days. RH January 11, 1887, par. 12

John also was a witness of the terrible scenes that will take place as signs of Christ's coming. He saw armies mustering for battle, and men's hearts failing them for fear. He saw the earth moved out of its place, the mountains carried into the midst of the sea, the waves thereof roaring and troubled, and the mountains shaking with the swelling thereof. He saw the vials of God's wrath opened, and pestilence, famine, and death come upon the inhabitants of the earth. RH January 11, 1887, par. 13

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. RH January 11, 1887, par. 14

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 even dreamed of. Satan is at work through human agencies. Those who are making so great efforts to change the Constitution and secure a law enforcing the first day of the week little realize what will be the result. A crisis is just upon us. RH January 11, 1887, par. 15

But God's servants are not to trust to themselves in this great emergency. In the visions given to Isaiah, to Ezekiel, and to John, we see how closely heaven is connected with the events transpiring upon the earth. We see the care of God for those who are loyal to him. The program of coming events is in the hands of the Lord; the world is not without a ruler. The Majesty of heaven has the destiny of nations, as well as the concerns of his church, in his own hands. RH January 11, 1887, par. 16

Brethren, it is no time now for mourning and despair, no time to yield to doubt and unbelief. Christ is to us not a Saviour in Joseph's new tomb, closed with a great stone, and sealed with the Roman seal. We have a risen Saviour. He is the King, the Lord of hosts; he sitteth between the cherubim, and amid the strife and tumult of nations he guards his people still. He who rules in the heavens is our Saviour. He measures every trial. He watches the furnace fire that must test every soul. When the strongholds of kings shall be overthrown, when the arrows of God's wrath shall strike through the hearts of his enemies, his people have the assurance that they are safe in his hands. In patience they are to possess their souls. RH January 11, 1887, par. 17

Those whom God employs as his messengers are not to feel that his work is dependent upon them. Finite men are not left to carry this burden of responsibility. In Ezekiel's vision, God had his hand beneath the wings of the cherubim. This is to teach his servants that it is divine power that gives them success. He will work with them if they will put away iniquity, and become pure in heart and life. The heavenly messengers seen by Ezekiel, like a bright light going among the living creatures with the swiftness of lightning, represent the speed with which this work will finally go forward to completion. He who slumbers not, who is continually at work for the accomplishment of His designs, can carry forward His great work harmoniously. That which appears to finite minds entangled and complicated, the Lord's hand can keep in perfect order. He can devise ways and means to thwart the purposes of wicked counselors, and those who plot out mischief. RH January 11, 1887, par. 18

Those who are called to responsible positions in the work of God often feel that they are carrying heavy burdens, when they may have the satisfaction of knowing that Jesus carries them all. We permit ourselves to feel altogether too much care, trouble, and perplexity in the Lord's work. We need to trust him, believe in him, and go forward. The tireless vigilance of the heavenly messengers, their unceasing employment in their ministry in connection with the beings of earth, show us how God's hand is guiding the wheel within a wheel. The divine Instructor is saying to every actor in his work, as he said to Cyrus of old, “I girded thee, though thou hast not known me.” RH January 11, 1887, par. 19

Men are not to take credit to themselves for the success of their labors. The clear, sharp thought, the wisdom to plan and execute, are of the ability that God giveth. God is the Master-worker; men are only the instruments in his hand. It is his mind that is working through all who yield themselves to his control. While we are to act our part by improving to the utmost every talent committed to us, we have nothing which we have not received of God, and we should give him all the glory. RH January 11, 1887, par. 20

The important future is before us. To meet its trials and temptations, and to perform its duties, will require great faith, energy, and perseverance. But we may triumph gloriously; for not one watching, praying, believing soul will be ensnared by the devices of the enemy. All heaven is interested in our welfare, and waits our demand upon its wisdom and strength. Neither wicked men nor evil spirits can hinder the work of God or shut out his presence from his people, if they will, with subdued, contrite hearts, confess and put away their sins, and in faith claim his promises. Every opposing influence, whether open or secret, may be successfully resisted, “not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” If the Lord had a company of workers who would rely wholly upon him, he would accomplish a great work through them. One could chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight. God is just as willing now as anciently to work through human efforts, and to accomplish great things through weak instrumentalities. We shall not gain the victory through numbers, but through full surrender of the soul to Jesus. We are to go forward in his strength, trusting in the mighty God of Israel. RH January 11, 1887, par. 21

In the time of trial just before us, God's pledge of security will be placed upon those that have kept the word of his patience. If you have complied with the conditions of God's word, Christ will be to you a refuge from the storm. He will say to his faithful ones, “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee; hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.” The Lion of Judah, whose wrath will be so terrible to the rejecters of his grace, will be the Lamb of God to the obedient and faithful. The pillar of cloud will speak terror and wrath to the transgressor of God's law, but light and mercy and deliverance to those who have kept his commandments. The Arm strong to smite the rebellious, will be strong to deliver the loyal. Every faithful one will surely be gathered. “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.” RH January 11, 1887, par. 22

Brethren, you to whom the truths of God's word have been opened, what part will you act in this momentous time of the closing scenes of earth's history? Are you awake to these solemn realities? Do you realize the grand work of preparation that is going on in heaven and earth? Let all who have received the light, who have had the opportunity of reading and hearing the prophecy, take heed to keep those things that are written therein; “for the time is at hand.” Let none now venture to tamper with sin, or remain in a state of lethargy and stupid indifference. Let not the destiny of your soul hang upon an uncertainty. Know for yourselves that you are fully on the Lord's side. Let the inquiry go forth from sincere hearts and trembling lips, Who shall be able to stand? Have you, in the precious hours of probation mercifully granted you, been putting the very best material into your character-building? Have you been purifying your souls from every stain? Have you followed the light? Have your works corresponded with your profession of faith? RH January 11, 1887, par. 23

It is possible to be a formal, partial believer, and yet be found wanting, and lose eternal life. It is possible to practice some of the Bible injunctions, and be regarded as a Christian, and yet perish because you are lacking in essential qualifications that constitute Christian character. The destroying angels have the commission from the Lord, “Begin at my sanctuary.” And “they began at the ancient men which were before the house.” If the warnings which God has given are neglected or regarded with indifference, if you suffer sin to be cherished, you are sealing your soul's destiny; you will be weighed in the balances and found wanting. Grace, peace, and pardon will be withdrawn forever; Jesus will have passed by, never again to come within the reach of your prayers and entreaties. While mercy still lingers, while Jesus is making intercession for us, let us make thorough work for eternity. RH January 11, 1887, par. 24

Torre Pellice, Italy.