As he considered the last days, the apostle Paul saw clearly how it would be and wrote: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” 2 Timothy 3:1. Other versions translate the word “perilous” as “difficult.”
The message of Jesus for the last days is also very impressive: “… Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Matthew 24:12. What is the world without love? Who can be happy without it in the family, in the church, and in society?
His next picture of our days is related to faith: “… When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8. This sentence is very short, but also very significant. Fewer and fewer people believe in God, His word, His miracles, His resurrection, and His second coming. What is left of spirituality for many people? Only “a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” 2 Timothy 3:5. Every day shows that the end is coming.
Looking back at history, the servant of the Lord writes: “The image revealed to Nebuchadnezzar, while representing the deterioration of the kingdoms of the earth in power and glory, also fitly represents the deterioration of religion and morality among the people of these kingdoms. As nations forget God, in like proportion they become weak morally.
“Babylon passed away because in her prosperity she forgot God, and ascribed the glory of her prosperity to human achievement.
“The Medo-Persian kingdom was visited by the wrath of heaven because in this kingdom God’s law was trampled under foot. The fear of the Lord found no place in the hearts of the people. The prevailing influences in Medo-Persia were wickedness, blasphemy, and corruption.
“The kingdoms that followed were even more base and corrupt. They deteriorated because they cast off their allegiance to God. As they forgot Him, they sank lower and still lower in the scale of moral value.” –The Youth’s Instructor, September 22, 1903.
Then, turning her view to her day, she added: “We have come to a time when God’s sacred work is represented by the feet of the image in which the iron was mixed with the miry clay. God has a people, a chosen people, whose discernment must be sanctified, who must not become unholy by laying upon the foundation wood, hay, and stubble. Every soul who is loyal to the commandments of God will see that the distinguishing feature of our faith is the seventh-day Sabbath. If the government would honor the Sabbath as God has commanded, it would stand in the strength of God and in defense of the faith once delivered to the saints. But statesmen will uphold the spurious sabbath, and will mingle their religious faith with the observance of this child of the papacy, placing it above the Sabbath which the Lord has sanctified and blessed, setting it apart for man to keep holy, as a sign between Him and His people to a thousand generations. The mingling of churchcraft and statecraft is represented by the iron and the clay. This union is weakening all the power of the churches. This investing the church with the power of the state will bring evil results. Men have almost passed the point of God’s forbearance. They have invested their strength in politics, and have united with the papacy. But the time will come when God will punish those who have made void His law, and their evil work will recoil upon themselves.” –(Manuscript 63, 1899) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, pp. 1168, 1169.
The coming events will be much more shocking and severe than we can imagine, because everything that is not firmly established will be shaken. Hebrews 12:27. Therefore, in view of the future test, the Spirit of prophecy counsels: “There is an earnest work of preparation to be done by Seventh-day Adventists if they would stand firm in the trying experiences just before them. If they remain true to God in the confusion and temptation of the last days, they must seek the Lord in humility of heart for wisdom to resist the deceptions of the enemy….
“Ever are we to keep in mind the solemn thought of the Lord’s soon return, and in view of this to recognize the individual work to be done. Through the aid of the Holy Spirit we are to resist natural inclinations and tendencies to wrong, and weed out of the life every un-Christlike element. Thus we shall prepare our hearts for the reception of God’s blessing, which will impart to us grace and bring us into harmony with the faith of Jesus. For this work of preparation great advantages have been granted to this people in light bestowed, in messages of warning and instruction, sent through the agency of the Spirit of God.” –In Heavenly Places, p. 347.
These Sabbath School Lessons, “God’s People in the Last Days,” have been prepared in view of what is happening now and what lies just ahead. It is the desire and sincere prayer of the writer as well as of all the brethren of the General Conference and the Ministerial Department that the students will consider these matters with the great earnestness that these times deserve. May every week’s lesson be a great blessing to all our brothers and sisters, young people, and interested souls.
–The brothers and sisters of the General Conference and the Ministerial Department
Sabbath, July 2, 2016
“The book of Revelation, in connection with the book of Daniel, especially demands study. Let every God-fearing teacher consider how most clearly to comprehend and to present the gospel that our Saviour came in person to make known to His servant John–‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass.’ Revelation 1:1. None should become discouraged in the study of the Revelation because of its apparently mystical symbols. ‘If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.’ James 1:5.” –Education, p. 191.
Prophecy, the foundation of faith
1. What is the importance of prophecy for those who live at the end of time?
Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
1 Corinthians 14:22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.
2 Peter 1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.
“Ministers should present the sure word of prophecy as the foundation of the faith of Seventh-day Adventists. The prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation should be carefully studied, and in connection with them the words, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’
“The twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew is presented to me again and again as something that is to be brought to the attention of all. We are today living in the time when the predictions of this chapter are fulfilling. Let our ministers and teachers explain these prophecies to those whom they instruct. Let them leave out of their discourses matters of minor consequence, and present the truths that will decide the destiny of souls.” –Gospel Workers, p. 148 (1915).
Assurance of prophecy
2. How can we be sure that the prophecies given for the last days will be fulfilled?
Habakkuk 2:3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
Hebrews 10:36, 37 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 37For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
“All that God has in prophetic history specified to be fulfilled in the past has been, and all that is yet to come in its order will be. Daniel, God’s prophet, stands in his place. John stands in his place. In the Revelation the Lion of the tribe of Judah has opened to the students of prophecy the book of Daniel, and thus is Daniel standing in his place. He bears his testimony, that which the Lord revealed to him in vision of the great and solemn events which we must know as we stand on the very threshold of their fulfillment.
“In history and prophecy the Word of God portrays the long continued conflict between truth and error. That conflict is yet in progress. Those things which have been, will be repeated. Old controversies will be revived, and new theories will be continually arising. But God’s people, who in their belief and fulfillment of prophecy have acted a part in the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages, know where they stand. They have an experience that is more precious than fine gold. They are to stand firm as a rock, holding the beginning of their confidence steadfast unto the end.” –Selected Messages, book 2, p. 109.
The danger of ignoring past history
3. Can we be satisfied with the knowledge of prophecy that we already have? Will a simple knowledge of prophecy be sufficient to pass safely through the final dangers?
Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
“All genuine experience in religious doctrines will bear the impress of Jehovah. All should see the necessity of understanding the truth for themselves individually. We must understand the doctrines that have been studied out carefully and prayerfully…. There is great need to search the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation, and learn the texts thoroughly, that we may know what is written….
“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…. Then does it not become everyone to understand the reasons for our faith? In place of having so many sermons, there should be a more close searching of the Word of God, opening the Scriptures text by text, and searching for the strong evidences that sustain the fundamental doctrines that have brought us where we now are, upon the platform of eternal truth….
“When men turn away from the landmarks the Lord has established that we may understand our position as marked out in prophecy, they are going they know not whither.” – Evangelism, pp. 363, 364.
4. In facing the danger of false christs and false prophets, what is particularly important?
Ephesians 4:13-15 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.
“Times that will try men’s souls are just before us, and those who are weak in the faith will not stand the test of those days of peril. The great truths of revelation are to be carefully studied, for we shall all want an intelligent knowledge of the word of God. By Bible study and daily communion with Jesus we shall gain clear, well-defined views of individual responsibility and strength to stand in the day of trial and temptation. He whose life is united to Christ by hidden links will be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation….
“The Christian is required to be diligent in searching the Scriptures, to read over and over again the truths of God’s word. Willful ignorance on this subject endangers the Christian life and character. It blinds the understanding and corrupts the noblest powers. It is this that brings confusion into our lives. Our people need to understand the oracles of God; they need to have a systematic knowledge of the principles of revealed truth, which will fit them for what is coming upon the earth and prevent them from being carried about by every wind of doctrine.
“Great changes are soon to take place in the world, and everyone will need an experimental knowledge of the things of God.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 273.
5. What will the faithful have to face–those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus?
Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
2 Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
“Those who endeavor to obey all the commandments of God will be opposed and derided. They can stand only in God. In order to endure the trial before them, they must understand the will of God as revealed in His word; they can honor Him only as they have a right conception of His character, government, and purposes, and act in accordance with them. None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict. To every soul will come the searching test: Shall I obey God rather than men? The decisive hour is even now at hand. Are our feet planted on the rock of God’s immutable word? Are we prepared to stand firm in defense of the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus?” –The Great Controversy, p. 593.
The prophetic book of Daniel
6. Is the book of Daniel still sealed? Was the little book that the angel of Revelation 10 had in his hand closed or open?
Daniel 12:4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
Revelation 10:2 And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth.
“After these seven thunders uttered their voices, the injunction comes to John as to Daniel in regard to the little book: ‘Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered.’ These relate to future events which will be disclosed in their order. Daniel shall stand in his lot at the end of the days. John sees the little book unsealed. Then Daniel’s prophecies have their proper place in the first, second, and third angels’ messages to be given to the world. The unsealing of the little book was the message in relation to time.” –(Manuscript 59, 1900) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 971.
“When the book was opened, the proclamation was made, ‘Time shall be no longer.’ See Revelation 10:6. The book of Daniel is now unsealed, and the revelation made by Christ to John is to come to all the inhabitants of the earth. By the increase of knowledge a people is to be prepared to stand in the latter days.” –Selected Messages, book 2, p. 105.
Revelation is an open book
7. Since the book of Revelation is for our time, how should we study it? Who will be specially blessed by studying it?
Revelation 22:10, 6, 7 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand…. 6And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. 7Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
“The book of Revelation opens to the world what has been, what is, and what is to come; it is for our instruction upon whom the ends of the world are come. It should be studied with reverential awe. We are privileged in knowing what is for our learning….
“The Lord Himself revealed to His servant John the mysteries of the book of Revelation, and He designs that they shall be open to the study of all. In this book are depicted scenes that are now in the past, and some of eternal interest that are taking place around us; other of its prophecies will not receive their complete fulfillment until the close of time, when the last great conflict between the powers of darkness and the Prince of heaven will take place.” –(Review and Herald, August 31, 1897) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 954.
“Prophecy has been fulfilling, line upon line. The more firmly we stand under the banner of the third angel’s message, the more clearly shall we understand the prophecy of Daniel; for the Revelation is the supplement of Daniel. The more fully we accept the light presented by the Holy Spirit through the consecrated servants of God, the deeper and surer, even as the eternal throne, will appear the truths of ancient prophecy; we shall be assured that men of God spake as they were moved upon by the Holy Ghost. Men must themselves be under the influence of the Holy Spirit in order to understand the Spirit’s utterances through the prophets. These messages were given, not for those that uttered the prophecies, but for us who are living amid the scenes of their fulfillment.” –Selected Messages, book 2, p. 114.
“It is the first and highest duty of every rational being to learn from the Scriptures what is truth, and then to walk in the light and encourage others to follow his example. We should day by day study the Bible diligently, weighing every thought and comparing scripture with scripture. With divine help we are to form our opinions for ourselves as we are to answer for ourselves before God.” –The Great Controversy, p. 598.