|Event 3 - Probation Closes
Christ has bidden His people watch for the signs of His advent and
rejoice as they should behold the tokens of their coming King. "When
these things begin to come to pass," He said, "then look
up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." He
pointed His followers to the budding trees of spring, and said: "When
they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer
is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things
come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand." Luke 21:28,
"And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the
moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations,
with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things
which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up
your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." Luke
But the spirit of humility and devotion in the church has given place to pride
and formalism, love for Christ and faith in His coming have grown cold. Absorbed
in worldliness and pleasure seeking, the professed people of God have been blinded
to the Saviour's instructions concerning the signs of His appearing. The doctrine
of the second advent has been neglected; the scriptures relating to it have been
obscured by misinterpretation, and to a great extent, ignored and forgotten.
Especially is this the case in the churches of America. The freedom and comfort
enjoyed by all classes of society, the ambitious desire for wealth and luxury,
beget an absorbing devotion to money-making, the eager rush for popularity
and power, which seems to be within the reach of all, leads men to center their
interests and hopes on the things of this life, and to put far in the future
that solemn day when the present order of things should pass away.
When the Saviour pointed out to His followers the signs of His return, He foretold
the state of backsliding that would exist just prior to His second advent. There
would be, as in the days of Noah, the activity and stir of worldly business and
pleasure seeking--buying, selling, planting, building, marrying, and giving in
marriage--with forgetfulness of God and the future life. For those living at
this time, Christ's admonition is: "Take heed to yourselves, lest at any
time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of
this life, and so that day come upon you unawares." "Watch ye therefore,
and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that
shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." Luke 21:34, 36.
The condition of the church at this time is pointed out in the Saviour's words
in the Revelation: "Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead." And
to those who refuse to arouse from their careless security, the solemn warning
is addressed: "If therefore
thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know
what hour I will come upon thee." Revelation 3:1, 3.
It was needful that men should be awakened to their danger; that they should
be roused to prepare for the solemn events connected with the close of probation.
The prophet of God declares: "The day of the Lord is great and very terrible;
and who can abide it?" Who shall stand when He appeareth who is "of
purer eyes than to behold evil," and cannot "look on iniquity"?
Joel 2:11; Habakkuk 1:13. To them that cry, "My God, we know Thee," yet
have transgressed His covenant, and hastened after another god, hiding iniquity
in their hearts, and loving the paths of unrighteousness-- to these the day of
the Lord is "darkness, and not light, even very dark, and no brightness
in it." Hosea 8:2, 1; Psalm 16:4; Amos 5:20. "It shall come to pass
at that time," saith the Lord, "that I will search Jerusalem with candles,
and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The
Lord will not do good, neither will He do evil." Zephaniah 1:12. "I
will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and
I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness
of the terrible." Isaiah 13:11. "Neither their silver nor their gold
shall be able to deliver them;" "their goods shall become a booty,
and their houses a desolation." Zephaniah 1:18, 13.
The prophet Jeremiah, looking forward to this fearful time, exclaimed: "I
am pained at my very heart. . . . I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard,
O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. Destruction upon destruction
is cried." Jeremiah 4:19, 20.
"That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness
and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,
a day of the trumpet and alarm." Zephaniah 1:15, 16. "Behold, the day
of the Lord cometh, . . . to lay the land desolate: and He shall destroy the
sinners thereof out of it." Isaiah 13:9.