[Photo courtesy of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists]
Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Ted N.C. Wilson, President, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

G reetings, Friends. As you know, we are living in very strange and unusual times. During these last several months we have seen crises hit, one right after another, in an unprecedented way. Global disasters, fires, the pandemic, civil unrest, explosions, earthquakes and more all remind us that these are unusual times. And just this week, more fires broke out in the western part of the United States—in northern California.
This fire that is raging as we speak, started very near “Elmshaven,” the last home of Ellen G. White. The home, located near St. Helena, lies directly in the path of the fire. Also threatened is Adventist Health St. Helena, the hospital located just up the hill from Elmshaven. Further on up Howell Mountain is Pacific Union College, a Seventh-day Adventist educational institution established in 1882. All of these entities have been evacuated, along with the surrounding area. At the time of this recording, we do not yet know the outcome of the fire, but we will keep you informed through the various communication channels of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I urge you to pray for the dear people in the upper Napa Valley communities who are experiencing the terrible effects of this fire, as well as others around the world who are facing their own trials.

As unsettling as the many recent events are—coming one right after another—we should not be surprised. Disasters and more have been happening for years, but they now seem to be coming in succession more rapidly. While on earth, Jesus Himself told us what to expect in the last days. 

In Luke 21:25-28 we read: 

“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”

Let’s notice for a moment the signs given in this passage:

  1. “signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars.” It’s interesting that whenever these heavenly signs are mentioned in the New Testament, the sun-moon-stars sequence is the same. You can see this in Matthew 24:29 and Rev. 6:12, 13. This fact suggest a very specific fulfillment to this prophecy, and as Seventh-day Adventists we believe these signs were fulfilled by the “Dark Day” of May 19, 1780, when candles were needed at noon and a smoky haze reddened the moon, and the Leonid meteor shower of November 13, 1833. These events remain unequalled in terms of their intensity, visibility, and religious impact. And their timing signaled the raising up by God of an end time remnant movement to proclaim the three angels’ messages and to bring the gospel work to a close;
  2. “distress of nations, with perplexity.” While there have certainly been wars throughout history, the timing of this indicates a distress of a more global nature and may refer to the world wars of the twentieth century, and more;
  3. “the sea and the waves roaring.” This could certainly refer to the increasing intensity of the destruction brought by sea-based natural disasters such as tsunamis, typhoons, and hurricanes;
  4. “men’s hearts failing them from fear.” While people have been fearful throughout human history, a new kind of fear seems to have arisen with the rise of terrorism along with the real uncertainties we are experiencing in the 21 st century. But, praise God, we are not left in a state of fear and uncertainty! Reading on in this passage found in Luke 21, verse 27:

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

And then, in verse 28, we read this marvelous promise:

“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

Friends, I fully believe that Jesus is coming very, very soon. It is time, like never before, to be encouraged and to get ready for His soon return. We are told in Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9: 

“In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import—the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention. The most solemn truths ever entrusted to mortals have been given us to proclaim to the world. The proclamation of these truths is to be our work. The world is to be warned, and God’s people are to be true to the trust committed to them. . . . (p. 19). 

Now is the time, dear friends, to let our lights shine for Him. I encourage you to pray for God’s guidance and direction in how best you can reach others for Him.

Let's pray together just now. 

Dear Lord. We know that we are entering the very end of time. We know that we cannot find our way through, unless we depend completely upon you. Unless we understand that the messages that we are to give to the world the first, second and third angels messages are not given through our power, but through the power of the Holy spirit, as we lean upon.

You as we face so many catastrophes, so many challenges, so much dissension and difficulty between people. We ask, Lord, that you will capture our hearts, that you will make us truly your witnesses in these last days. Come close to us. Now, Lord, we submit to you completely, and we thank you. For the hope we have in Jesus soon return in Christ's name, we ask it.

Amen.

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