Our Present Duty and the Coming Crisis
by Ellen White
AND because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." Matthew
24:12. 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
honour me I will honour." 1 Samuel 2:30. Shall we be less firmly attached to God's
law because the world at large has attempted to make it void?
Already the judgements 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 defence
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 demarcation 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.
The crisis is fast approaching. The rapidly swelling figures show that the time for
God's visitations has nearly come. Although loath 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 realise that it is their duty to labour diligently to save others,
looking with strong faith to God for help.
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." Ezekiel 9:4. These sighing, crying
ones had been holding forth the words of life; they had reproved, counselled, and
entreated. Some who had been dishonouring 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.
In the time when His wrath shall go forth in judgements, 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 honour and a love for souls will not hold their
peace to obtain favour 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.
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." Ezekiel 9:5-6.
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 judgements that were to precede His Second Coming:
"Ye shall hear of wars and rumours 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." Matthew
24:6-8. While these prophecies received a partial fulfilment at the destruction of
Jerusalem, they have a more direct application in the last days.
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.
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.
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 realise what
will be the result. A crisis is just upon us.
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.
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.
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 counsellors, and those who plot out mischief.
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." Isaiah
Men are not to take credit to themselves for the success of their labours. 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.
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." Zechariah 4:6. 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.
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." Isaiah
26:20. 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." Matthew 24:31.
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 realise 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 you 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?
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." Ezekiel 9:6. 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. Review and Herald, January 11, 1887.