Many of us are familiar with the term ‘the time of trouble at the end of time’, but it is a subject not often heard of now over our pulpits. Here at home in our personal worship time, we have been reading material on the Time of the End. The section just read has prompted me, even compelled me to write on this vital topic to bring the details fresh to our attention. Bear in mind that all the material shared in this editorial is over 100 years back, so the counsel is intensified many-fold in our day.
“Just before us is a time of trouble such as never was...” There it is, a statement often voiced in our conversations, but is there more to it than just that? Oh yes, much more.
“Just before us is a time of trouble such as never was and those who are weaving the principles of truth into their practical life will soon understand what the wrath of the dragon means...”
That certainly does have more to it than just a time of trouble ahead of us such as has not been. But it goes even further and starts to get a bit more personal.
“Every soul who loves God will be tested in regard to his sacred law. Christians must stand on the elevated and holy ground which advanced truth has given them. The light shining forth from the Scriptures for these last days, will qualify those who walk in it, to stand before magistrates and rulers, and will enable them to lift up the true standard of religion by their intelligent knowledge of the word of God...”
Strong counsel for us, and definitely some answers to what is ahead. But now some rebuke...
“The word of God has been neglected, but it is high time to wake to the necessity of diligent and prayerful study of the Scriptures. God would have us study the history of his dealing with men and nations in the past, that we may learn to respect and obey his messages, that we may take heed to his warnings and counsels.” – All the above quoted from Review and Herald, Nov.5, 1889
But the quote doesn't end there.
“God tested the world when he sent, through Noah, a message to the antediluvians. He sent warning after warning that the world would be destroyed by the waters of the flood; but the wise men of the age despised the message, and showed contempt for God's messenger. They had so far separated themselves from God that they trusted to the imaginations of their own hearts, and cared not to know the will of God... 'But as the days of Noe where, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.'
“If a similar condition of things is to exist in our day, we should be intelligent concerning it, and have sanctified judgment, that we may not take a course like the course of those who perished in the flood. We should be so instructed that we will not follow a multitude to do evil. God has sent reproofs and warnings that men might repent of their transgressions, and forsake the evil of their ways, and so escape his threatened judgments. God has always made a refuge for those who have repented of their sins, believed in his love, and hoped in his mercy.” – ibid
So to those original few words, “Just before us is a time of trouble such as never was...” there is a whole script attached and much of it valuable counsel for us today – much needed valuable counsel for us today.
The Coming Crisis
So what is coming, how can we prepare and what is the value of such an event?
“In these precious closing hours of probation, we have a deep and living experience to gain. We shall thus form characters that will ensure our deliverance in the time of trouble. The time of trouble is the crucible that is to bring out Christlike characters. It is designed to lead the people of God to renounce Satan and his temptations.” – Our High Calling, p.321
So yes, we will have to go through the refining process because it is in crisis that the character is truly revealed. But the question, can we know why God's children suffer?
“The mysterious providence which permits the righteous to suffer persecution at the hand of the wicked has been a cause of great perplexity to many who are weak in faith. Some are even ready to cast away their confidence in God because He suffers the basest of men to prosper, while the best and purest are afflicted and tormented by their cruel power. How, it is asked, can One who is just and merciful, and who is also infinite in power, tolerate such injustice and oppression? This is a question with which we have nothing to do. God has given us sufficient evidence of His love, and we are not to doubt His goodness because we cannot understand the workings of His providence...
“...Again, the righteous are placed in the furnace of affliction, that they themselves may be purified; that their example may convince others of the reality of faith and godliness; and also that their consistent course may condemn the ungodly and unbelieving.” – Great Controversy p.47,48
But while it may not be ours to ask why the trials, do they have their purpose?
“These trials of life are God's workmen to remove the impurities, infirmities, and roughness from our characters, and fit us for the society of pure, heavenly angels in glory. But as we pass through these trials, as the fires of affliction kindle upon us, we must not keep the eye on the fire which is seen, but let the eye of faith fasten upon the things unseen, the eternal inheritance, the immortal life, the eternal weight of glory; and while we do this the fire will not consume us, but only remove the dross, and we shall come forth seven times purified, bearing the impress of the Divine.– 1 Test. p.706,707
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” – I Peter 4:12,13
These afflictions that we encounter certainly do have their essential ingredients towards our victory.
“The followers of Christ know little of the plots Satan and his hosts are forming against them... The Lord permits His people to be subjected to the fiery ordeal of temptation, not because He takes pleasure in their distresses and affliction, but because this process is essential to their final victory.” – Great Controversy p.528
“He permits us to encounter obstacles, persecution and hardships, not as a curse but as the greatest blessing of our lives.” – Mount of Blessing p.117
Not to Fear the Future
We are not to have fear for the future now, but our present duty is to trust in the power of an Infinite and Omnipotent God. These next three quotes offer help and answers.
“The prospect of being brought into personal danger and distress, need not cause despondency, but should quicken the vigor and hopes of God's people; for the time of their peril is the season for God to grant them clearer manifestations of His power.” – 2 Selected Messages p.370
“Live the life of faith day by day. Do not become anxious and distressed about the time of trouble, and thus have a time of trouble beforehand. Do not keep thinking 'I am afraid I shall not stand in the great testing day.' You are to live for the present, for this day only. Tomorrow is not yours. Today you are to maintain victory over self. Today you are to live a life of prayer. Today you are to fight the good fight of faith.” – Signs of the Times, Oct. 20,1887
“We are not to have the courage and fortitude of martyrs of old until brought into the position they were in... Should there be a return of persecution there would be grace given to arouse every energy of the world to show a true heroism.” – Our High Calling p.125
Never Failing Help
But it is not all bad. With our merciful God, there is never all the bad without the healing balm of God’s mercy and compassion. Here are some words of comfort for the troubled soul as this troublous time comes upon the world.
“The way to heaven is consecrated by the Saviour's footprints. The path may be steep and rugged, but Jesus has travelled that way; His feet have pressed down the cruel thorns to make the pathway easier for us. Every burden that we are called to bear, He Himself has borne..
“The Saviour would have passed through the agony of Calvary that one might be saved in His kingdom. He will never abandon one for whom He has died. Unless His followers choose to leave Him, He will hold them fast... Through all our trials we have a never failing Helper.” – Desire of Ages p.480-483
“The Savour is by His tried and tempted ones. With Him there can be no such thing as failure, loss, impossibility or defeat; we can do all things though Him who strengthens us.” – Desire of Ages p.492
“God's people are not to fear. Satan cannot go beyond his limit. The Lord will be the defence of His people.” – Maranatha p.191
“Brethren, it is not time now for mourning and despair...our Saviour...measures every trial. He watches the furnace fire that must test every soul... His people will be made safe.” – 5 Test. p.754
“Amid the strife and tumult of nations He guards His people... His people have the assurance that they are safe in His hands... If you have complied with the conditions of God's Word, Christ will be to you a refuge from the storm...The Lion of the tribe 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.” – Review and Herald, Jan.11,1887
“As difficulties thicken around His people amid the perils of the last days, He sends His angels to walk all the way by our side, drawing us closer and still closer to the bleeding side of Jesus. And as the greater trials come, lesser trial are forgotten.” – Our High Calling p.317
Seasons Of Our Experience
“Hear ye, and testify in the house of Jacob, saith the Lord God, the God of hosts, that in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Beth-el: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground. And I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish and the great houses shall have an end, saith the Lord.” – Amos 3:13-15
There are seasons that we endure in our individual Christian experience, some are cold like winter, some are hot like the summer heat, and God deals with each ‘season’ that comes to us while on our pilgrimage on this earth. He will deal with the sin problem wherever its tentacles have reached. But the experience overall that the world is going through is likened to a winter experience. Darkness and cold explain the setting of this old earth riddled with sin. There is this cold blast of persecution and trials, but we are take heart, winter is not to last for eternity. No, there is something better after this time of trouble.
“This earth is the place of preparation for heaven. The time spent here is the Christian's winter. Here the chilly winds of affliction blow upon us, and the waves of trouble roll against us. But in the near future when Christ comes, sorrow and sighing will be forever ended. Then will be the Christian's summer. All trials will be over, and there will be no more sickness or death.” – 7 Bible Commentary p.988.
May this study give encouragement to see us through the days ahead. We have only today, that is our burden to carry. Tomorrow has it's own set of burdens that we don't have to take on board today. We can't do much about yesterday. The strength for yesterday has gone. Live for today and make a good job of it. No need to try to sort tomorrow's trials and troubles out before they get here.
Remember, Yesterday is past history, Tomorrow is still a mystery, Today is a ’present’ given us. Use it wisely, it will soon disappear into oblivion, but the deeds done will be on record forever. '
Courage friends, every morning may you seek the face of Jesus before you seek th face of people.
– Much of this material has been drawn from Time of the End, by James Hayward