Sabbath, December 17, 2016
“Fearful tests and trials await the people of God. The spirit of war is stirring the nations from one end of the earth to the other. But in the midst of the time of trouble that is coming–a time of trouble such as has not been since there was a nation–God’s chosen people will stand unmoved. Satan and his host cannot destroy them, for angels that excel in strength will protect them.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 17.
The time of Jacob’s trouble
1. How does the prophet Jeremiah describe this time of trouble?
Jeremiah 30:5-7 For thus saith the Lord; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. 6Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? 7Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.
“The people of God will then be plunged into those scenes of affliction and distress described by the prophet as the time of Jacob’s trouble. ‘Thus saith the Lord: We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace…. All faces are turned into paleness. Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.’ Jeremiah 30:5-7.
“Jacob’s night of anguish, when he wrestled in prayer for deliverance from the hand of Esau (Genesis 32:24-30), represents the experience of God’s people in the time of trouble….
“Like Jacob, all are wrestling with God. Their countenances express their internal struggle. Paleness sits upon every face. Yet they cease not their earnest intercession.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 616, 630.
2. When will the time of trouble begin?
Revelation 22:11 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.
“When Christ shall cease His work as mediator in man’s behalf, then this time of trouble will begin. Then the case of every soul will have been decided, and there will be no atoning blood to cleanse from sin. When Jesus leaves His position as man’s intercessor before God, the solemn announcement is made, ‘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. Then the restraining Spirit of God is withdrawn from the earth. As Jacob was threatened with death by his angry brother, so the people of God will be in peril from the wicked who are seeking to destroy them. And as the patriarch wrestled all night for deliverance from the hand of Esau, so the righteous will cry to God day and night for deliverance from the enemies that surround them.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 201.
“Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator.” –The Great Controversy, p. 425.
The seven plagues
3. What will happen on the earth when Jesus is no longer interceding for man in the sanctuary? Therefore, what call is especially appropriate now?
Revelation 16:1 And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.
Amos 4:12, last part … Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.
“When Christ ceases His intercession in the sanctuary, the unmingled wrath threatened against those who worship the beast and his image and receive his mark (Revelation 14:9, 10), will be poured out. The plagues upon Egypt when God was about to deliver Israel were similar in character to those more terrible and extensive judgments which are to fall upon the world just before the final deliverance of God’s people.” –The Great Controversy, p. 627.
“Then my eyes were taken from the glory, and I was pointed to the remnant on the earth. The angel said to them, ‘Will ye shun the seven last plagues? Will ye go to glory and enjoy all that God has prepared for those who love Him and are willing to suffer for His sake? If so, ye must die that ye may live. Get ready, get ready, get ready. Ye must have a greater preparation than ye now have, for the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate and to destroy the sinners thereof out of it.’ “ –Early Writings, p. 66.
Bread and water for God’s people
4. While God’s people, who do not receive the mark of the beast, will not be able to buy or sell, how will they be sustained?
Isaiah 33:16; 41:17 He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure…. 41:17When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
“The people of God will not be free from suffering; but while persecuted and distressed, while they endure privation and suffer for want of food they will not be left to perish. That God who cared for Elijah will not pass by one of His self-sacrificing children. He who numbers the hairs of their head will care for them, and in time of famine they shall be satisfied. While the wicked are dying from hunger and pestilence, angels will shield the righteous and supply their wants.” –The Great Controversy, p. 629.
“I saw that a time of trouble was before us, when stern necessity will compel the people of God to live on bread and water…. In the time of trouble none will labor with their hands. Their sufferings will be mental, and God will provide food for them.” –(Manuscript 2, 1858) Last Day Events, p. 265.
Trust in God
5. How will Satan try to make God’s people despair? But what promise will the faithful believers trust?
Revelation 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Psalm 37:39, 40 But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: he is their strength in the time of trouble. 40And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.
“As Satan accuses the people of God on account of their sins, the Lord permits him to try them to the uttermost. Their confidence in God, their faith and firmness, will be severely tested. As they review the past, their hopes sink; for in their whole lives they can see little good. They are fully conscious of their weakness and unworthiness. Satan endeavors to terrify them with the thought that their cases are hopeless, that the stain of their defilement will never be washed away. He hopes so to destroy their faith that they will yield to his temptations and turn from their allegiance to God.
“Though God’s people will be surrounded by enemies who are bent upon their destruction, yet the anguish which they suffer is not a dread of persecution for the truth’s sake; they fear that every sin has not been repented of, and that through some fault in themselves they will fail to realize the fulfillment of the Saviour’s promise: I ‘will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world.’ Revelation 3:10. If they could have the assurance of pardon they would not shrink from torture or death; but should they prove unworthy, and lose their lives because of their own defects of character, then God’s holy name would be reproached.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 618, 619.
6. What vision of the prophet Zechariah will strengthen the faithful remnant?
Zechariah 3:1-5 And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. 2And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? 3Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. 4And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. 4And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. 5And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by.
“But while the followers of Christ have sinned, they have not given themselves up to be controlled by the satanic agencies. They have repented of their sins and have sought the Lord in humility and contrition, and the divine Advocate pleads in their behalf. He who has been most abused by their ingratitude, who knows their sin and also their penitence, declares: ‘The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan. I gave My life for these souls. They are graven upon the palms of My hands. They may have imperfections of character; they may have failed in their endeavors; but they have repented, and I have forgiven and accepted them.’
“The assaults of Satan are strong, his delusions are subtle; but the Lord’s eye is upon His people. Their affliction is great, the flames of the furnace seem about to consume them; but Jesus will bring them forth as gold tried in the fire. Their earthliness will be removed, that through them the image of Christ may be perfectly revealed.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 589.
7. Having been informed about what will happen during the time of trouble, how are God’s faithful children to be prepared now?
Psalm 26:1-3; 139:23, 24 Judge me, O Lord; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the Lord; therefore I shall not slide. 2Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. 3For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth…. 139:23Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
1 John 5:3, 4 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 4For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
“The season of distress and anguish before us will require a faith that can endure weariness, delay, and hunger–a faith that will not faint though severely tried. The period of probation is granted to all to prepare for that time….
“Those who exercise but little faith now, are in the greatest danger of falling under the power of satanic delusions and the decree to compel the conscience. And even if they endure the test they will be plunged into deeper distress and anguish in the time of trouble, because they have never made it a habit to trust in God. The lessons of faith which they have neglected they will be forced to learn under a terrible pressure of discouragement….
“As they endeavor to wait trustingly for the Lord to work they are led to exercise faith, hope, and patience, which have been too little exercised during their religious experience. Yet for the elect’s sake the time of trouble will be shortened.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 621, 622, 631.
For personal study
“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.’ 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, p. 71.
“The time of trouble is a fearful ordeal for God’s people; but it is the time for every true believer to look up, and by faith he may see the bow of promise encircling him.” –The Great Controversy, p. 633.
Last Day Events, pp. 264, 265.
The Great Controversy, chapter 39.