This morning I want to talk to you about a very important question: Is Jesus really coming soon? What do you believe the answer to that question is? (Jesus is coming soon.) Good, they why is the editor of the Signs of the Times even asking that question? Is Jesus really coming soon? In the Signs of the Times the whole point of the time of the magazine is that Jesus is coming soon, isn't it? So, why would I be asking that question? Well, because there is a problem.
Please turn with me to Romans 13:11. While you're turning to Romans 13, I would like to point out to you that Paul wrote the book of Romans in about 55 to 57, AD He had been a Christian about twenty or twenty two years at that time. Probably the church in Rome had been established in the mid forties. So the Christians there in Rome had been followers of Jesus for ten to twelve years. No, notice what Paul said in Romans 13:11. And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. Now, Paul was talking about the second coming here. And he said, "Our salvation is nearer than when we first believed." For the Christians in Rome, that would be ten to twelve years. In other words, Paul is saying, "Jesus is coming within the next ten years." That's what I would have understood if I had read that letter.
Paul wasn't the only one that saw it that way. James said, "The Lord's coming is near." Peter said, "the end of all things is near." John said, "This is the last hour." In the last book of the Bible and the last chapter, three times Jesus said, "Yes, I am coming soon."
Well now, wait a minute, folks. It's been almost two thousand years since these words were written. How soon is "soon?" Let's come up about eighteen hundred year to the beginning of our own church. You remember 1844, the Great Disappointment? What do you think our pioneers would have said if you could have interview them immediately after the Great Disappointment? If you had asked them if they thought Jesus was coming soon, what would they have said? Let us pretend that we have James White with us. He went through the Great Disappointment and he's sitting there on the front row. Do you see him sitting there? "Brother James, I'm so happy to have you here this morning. We're all glad to have you here. Now, you came through this Great Disappointment. It's just been a few weeks since that Great Disappointment and we'd like to ask you a question. Do you still believe Jesus is coming soon?" "Oh yes, Brother Moore, absolutely, of course Jesus is coming soon." "You know, Brother James, after this great disappointment you've been through, I'm really happy to hear you say that. We'd like to know how soon you think Jesus is coming?" "Well, you know, the Bible doesn't rightly say, Brother Moore, but it can't be long now. Just a few more years." Brother James, do you think that Jesus, let's say, will be here by the year 1860?" "Eighteen sixty, Brother Moore, Jesus is going to be here long before 1860!" Do you know, that's what they all believed.
But you know, we hadn't even organized the SDA Church in 1860. So, let's got to the organizational meeting of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, May 21, 21 in 1863. Battle Creek, Michigan, and we're going to talk to the first president of the General Conference. His name was John Byington. He's sitting by our associate pastor. See him sitting there? He's there, isn't he? Right here. He shook his head. "Brother Byington, we're so happy to see you here this morning. It's an honor to have the first president of the General Conference here visiting with us this morning." "Brother Moore, what a privilege. I had no idea that the Seventh-day Adventist Church would go to this extent some day. It's an honor for me to be here." "Well, Brother John, we want to know if you still believe Jesus is coming soon." "Well, of course, Brother Moore! That's what this meeting is about in Battle Creek. In the last couple days we've organized the Seventh-day Adventist Church to proclaim to the world that Jesus is coming soon. Of course we believe that!" "Do you any idea how soon Jesus might come, Brother Byington?" "Well, no. You know, the Bible doesn't tell us, but it can't be long. Just a few more years, Brother Moore." "Brother Byington, do you think Jesus might be here by the year 1900?" "1900! Brother Moore, Jesus is going to be here long before 1900!" Do you know, that's what they believed?
But we're already into the year 2000 and He still hasn't come. And again we're faced with the question: how soon is soon?
I receive a letter from a friend of mine awhile back. I'd lie to read that letter to you. This friend knows that I speak and write on end-time events a great deal. He says, "I don't mean to suggest I'm skeptical of your particular perspective on the topic of last-day events. I'm skeptical of all of them. I remain open and interested in the possibility of Christ's soon return. I'm willing to suspend this belief, but I'm frankly skeptical. I do understand in the terms of our traditional story that last-day events is our primary reason to be, but i wonder how long that idea can suffice as the decades rumble along and nothing happens. Here we are a hundred ad fifty six years beyond the Great Disappointment and we're still waiting and wondering."
Yes, there are some Seventh-day Adventists that are beginning to ask the question: "Is Jesus really coming soon? Or, perhaps have we been wrong all these years?" But I told you I believe Jesus is coming soon, but I think we need to do more than just say that. I think we need to have some good solid reasons why we believe Jesus is coming soon after two thousand years after the apostles said it and a hundred fifty years since our own pioneers said it. We need to have some god solid reasons why we still believe that. And I'd like to share that with you. I'd like to give you two good solid reasons why I believe Jesus is coming soon. And I'd like to give you three signs that tell me that Jesus is coming soon. Two reasons, three signs.
The first reason: The outline prophecies of Daniel. You remember that Daniel stood in front of King Nebuchadnezzar and said, "You had this dream, King and you saw this great image." It had a head made out of gold. It had arms and breast of silver. It had a waist of brass, legs of iron and feet of iron and clay mixed together. And you know what the parts of that image represented: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. The iron mixed with clay, those ten toes represented divided Europe. And what was the next thing that happened in the dream? Well, a stone came down and struck the image on the feet and the stone became a great mountain that filled all the earth. And Daniel said to the king, "That represents that God is going to set up His kingdom that will never be destroyed." In other words, he's saying to this king, "Your kingdom isn't going to last forever." You know folks, you don't say that to a tyrant. You don't say that to a dictator like Stalin or Hitler or Nebuchadnezzar because they're all in the same category, folks. You don't say that to these people, but Daniel did.
Now, notice this. Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome have all come and gone. We live in the time of the ten kingdoms. What's the next thing in the prophecy? The second coming of Jesus. I told you there are two outline prophecies in Daniel that tell us that Jesus is coming is near.
The second one is this vision that Daniel had in chapter seven of these great beasts. A lion, a bear, a leopard and a dragon, representing again: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. The ten horns of the dragon represent the ten kingdoms. And then we have a couple things Daniel's vision that did not show up in the vision that God showed to Nebuchadnezzar. We have the little horn that pops up among the ten representing medieval Christianity and then we have a judgment scene in heaven. The very next thing to happen after the judgment scene is the kingdom is given to the people of the saints of the Most High. And so we have again: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome represented by the lion, the bear, the leopard and the dragon. And then we have the ten kingdoms represented by the ten horns, and the judgment. And the next thing to happen is the coming of Jesus.
Well now, we live in the time of the judgment. Everything else has come and gone. Only one thing left to happen. And that is the first reason that I believe Jesus' coming is near. Those outline prophecies, everything has been fulfilled except one thing: the coming of Jesus.
The apostles didn't understand that. Don't blame them. They weren't supposed to. Didn't the angel say to Daniel, "Seal up the vision until the time of the end. It won't be understood until the time of the end." Don't blame the apostles for not understanding that vision. God didn't intent for them to. He intended for you and me to understand it, and we do.
My second reason I believe the coming of Jesus is near is the two great time prophecies of Daniel. The 1260 years and the 2300 years. The 1260 years began in 538 ad and extended to 1798 ad, and then the 2300 years began way back here in 457 BC and extended 1844 ad. Now, there's something very interesting about these two time prophecies. They began more than a thousand years apart back in ancient history. The ended less than fifty years apart in your time and mine. Only the God of heaven could give two prophecies like that, two time prophecies beginning more than a thousand years apart in ancient history and ending less than fifty years apart in our day.
Now then, the interesting thing about this prophecy of the twenty three hundred days, Daniel 8:14 (KJV), And he said unto me, "Unto two thousand three hundred day; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." You just keep reading about it another four or five verses on down there in Daniel. You know what you'll find? You'll find that twice, the angel told Daniel, "This prophecy is for the time of the end." So, ever since 1844, my friends, we have been living in the time of the end. That's according to God's own prophecy. We don't have to wonder whether we're living in the time of the end, we've been told that in the Bible. The only question is this: How much longer does the time of the end have to run? Now, our pioneers thought it was much shorter, the time of the end would be much shorter than what we now realize that actually has been.
Are we nearing the time of the end? I'd like to share with you now, three signs that tell me, "Yes, we are nearing the time of the end."
The first sign is based on Matthew 24:14, and you know that verse very well. Let's just say it together out of the King James Version the way we all learned it as children: And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end com. That is the most specific prediction, the most specific sign of the end that Jesus ever gave. One interesting thing about it, though, is that you and I will never know when it is fulfilled. Only God will know when every person has heard the gospel and either accept it or reject it. But I will tell you what we can know. We can know that God is setting things up for this prophecy to be fulfilled over night.
Let me explain what I mean. For the past hundred years we've had telephones. A hundred fifty years we've had telegraph. For about the past hundred years we've had radio. For the past fifty years we've had television. It's only been about twenty five or thirty years that you could punch the telephone keypad and dial; anywhere in the country direct, and now it's anywhere in the world direct. Several years ago I was in Europe and I called my secretary one day. I punched in those numbers on that keypad of the pay phone, and within a half minute she was on the phone. She answered the phone, and she said, "Where are you?" And I said "I'm over in Norway." And she said, "You sound like you're right next door." And here I'm half a world away.
But that's not all, my friends. In the last ten or fifteen years we've gotten fax machines. In the last end years, really five for most of us, we've got the internet. How many of you remember Dwight Nelson standing up in the Pioneer Memorial Church a year or so ago, and preaching? How many of you saw that? You know, Dwight Nelson preached to about two thousand people there in the Pioneer Memorial Church, but he preached to millions of people around the world., all at one time. Amazing! Brothers and Sisters, what do you think the apostle Paul would have thought about this technology? What should James White have thought of it? And James white wasn't much advanced over the apostle, Paul, frankly.
What I am proposing to you is this: The God of heaven is setting things up to finish the proclamation of the gospel practically over night. We don't know when the gospel will be preached to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. But my friends, we can see God setting up the communications system to have it happen practically overnight.
And here's the interesting thing; much of what I've been sharing with you, especially this satellite technology that makes it possible for us to down-link all over the world, and the internet and fax machines, global travel by air. It's all been within the past thirty five years that this has been possible. Interesting. Very interesting.
And so the evidence that the coming of Jesus is near, one of the evidences to me is that God is setting up this communication system to finish the job practically overnight. It's my first sign that the second coming of Jesus is near.
The second sign is the rise of modern spiritualism. I have in my hands a book I'd like to show you. It's called Embraced by the Light. The author is a woman by the name of Betty Eddy. Betty had one of these near-death experiences in which she felt herself being drawn out of her body and going through this dark tunnel. You've heard about this, haven't you? She breaks out into the light and talks with Jesus. Many people have had this. Most of them after they have talked with their deity, whether it's Jesus or their Buddha or Allah or what ever, after they're through talking with their deity then they feel themselves being drawn back down through this dark tunnel back into their bodies and she's alive and everybody is happy.
Well that happened to Betty, but she also tells us in this book that before she was drawn back down into her own body a couple of angel spirit guides gave her a tour of heaven. And this book is the story of her tour of heaven. I'd like to read to you a couple paragraphs in this book.
"Each element, each particle of creation has intelligence in it which intelligence is filled with spirit and life and thus has the capacity for experiencing joy." So, this pulpit has the capacity for experiencing joy. The water in this glass that I'm going to drink, it give me joy, but she says the water has joy. These flowers here can experience joy. Those pew, the fabric on the pews can all experience joy. Do you know what the name of that thought is? It's pantheism.
Let me read another paragraph from this book. "'When we die,' my guide said, 'we experience nothing more than a transition to another state. Our spirit slips from the body and moves to a spiritual realm..'" You understand the implication of that statement don't you? My friends, this is spiritualism that we're talking about here.
Why do I tell you this story? Why do I show you this book? Because this book, when it was published back in 1992 was on the New York Times best seller list for more than a year. Millions of copies were bought up right here in America. My friends, I'm telling you spiritualism is rapidly gaining ground in America.
I have another book I'd like to show you. It's called Teen Witch. One of the most popular books on the news stands today; Borders, Barnes and Noble, Amazon.Com. Selling like hotcakes. Teen Witch, wicken for teenagers. And then there is the Harry Potter books which I'm sure we all have heard about. Very occult, oriented toward witchcraft and spiritualism.
I do not hesitate to tell you, my friends, that spiritualism is growing very rapidly. Interest in spiritualism is growing very rapidly. Parents will say to their children, you know, to each other and critics will say, "Well, it doesn't matter. Just these little witches and goblins in the Harry Potter stories. Yes, it doesn't matter." Except that in our whole culture, witchcraft and spiritualism is becoming very popular and children are being accustomed to it. And that's a fulfillment of prophecy.
Please turn with me to 2 Thessalonians 2:9,10. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all knds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. It's false miracles, by the way. False miracles, performed by Satan and his angels. And then over in Revelation 13, a very demonic force, this second beast of Revelation 13, very demonic. Revelation 13:13,14. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the first beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. Deception, because of false miracles.
Now chapter 16 is about the seven last plagues, and the seven last plagues are the last thing to happen just before Jesus comes. We're going to read something from the sixth plague. So the sixth plague is the very last thing to happen just before Jesus comes. Revelation 16:12-14. The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the east. Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty. My friends, what the Bible is telling us is this: Jesus said it, John said it twice in Revelation, and Paul said it. At the very end of time there will be false miracles performed by demons, and they will deceive the whole world and gather them for the battle of Armageddon.
Now, we don't see spiritualism as rampant as it's described, for example in the sixth plague. You know, where the demons go out to the kings of the earth. It's not that rampant, but what we do see is what I've just shared with you. It's on the way. The interesting thing is this: it's only been on the way for the past thirty to thirty five years. You can go back beyond that and you very rarely hear much about spiritualism in America. But now you do. It's everywhere. And it's growing.
And that's my point. This is a sign that the coming of Jesus is nearer than back in 1844 and 1850 and 1863.
My third sign is: Religion involved in politics. Please turn with me to Revelation 17, which you learned in the first grade, comes right after Revelation 16. Revelation 17:1. One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters." Now, you know, in Bible prophecy a woman represents the Christian church. A virtuous woman represents the church in its apostolic purity and a evil woman represents the church in its apostasy. Now, Revelation 17 is describing conditions in the world during the seven last plagues. And so we see here a prostitute which is an evil woman and that represents the church in the apostasy. In other words, just before Jesus comes the Christian church will be in deep apostasy. I don't mean the remnant will be in deep apostasy, but Christians as a whole will be in deep apostasy.
What will be the nature of the apostasy? Let's keep reading: Revelation 17:2. "With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries." Now, adultery is simply a relationship between a man and a woman that God condemns. So when this woman, here, in Revelation is committing adultery with the kings of the earth it means that there is a relationship between the church and the state that God condemns. What's the nature of that relationship? Verse 3 tells us: Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. So the woman is riding the beast.
Now, we don't have a contradiction here. It's talking about kings of the earth, plural, in verse two and then she's riding a beast, singular, in verse three. You know, a beast represents a kingdom, a world power. And the woman is riding the beast. So we have kings, plural, in verse 2, and we have beast, singular, in verse 3. I don't think that's a contradiction, I think it represents what we already see existing in our world: mainly, we've got all the kingdoms, the nations of the world today, but there is also a super-overarcing governing agency called the United Nations that is a single entity and I think that is a kind of reality that will exist until the end of time. Very likely it will be the United Nations pretty much as we know it, although I can't guarantee that.
Be that as it may, the point is this: The woman is riding the beast. Now, in real life, any time a human is riding an animal the human being is supposed to be in control. I don't care whether it's a camel, a donkey or an elephant, the human being riding that animal is in control. The only exception that I've ever seen is in a rodeo. The woman is riding the beast! Who is in control of this one world government? The Christian church. That's what prophecy says. In other words, before the end of time, just before Jesus comes, the Christian church is going to be deeply involved in politics to the point of controlling global politics. Now, we don't see it to that extent today. About the only countries in the world where you really have a tight union of church and state, and you'll get persecuted for your faith if you believe otherwise are some to the Muslim countries of the world, like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and some of those countries. But Revelation tells us that this is going to happen globally before the end of time. I want to tell you something: It is on the way.
I'm holding in my hands a copy of Time magazine dated May 15: 1995. On the cover is a picture of Ralph Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition, and the words: "The right hand of God. Meet Ralph Reed, 33, his Christian Coalition is on a crusade to take over U.S. politics and it's working." The date here is significant: May 15, 1995. About six months after the 1994 election, when it was the democrats out and the republican in in the Congress of the United Sates. Now there's nothing unusual about a switch in the party that controls congress. That switch takes place on the average of about every fifty to sixty years. And the democrats have been in control of Congress since about the thirties, so it was about time for the republicans to take over. And guess what. They did. That's not all that unusual. But, what is unusual is the reason why they took over. It had to do with the religious right in America, not only including the Christian Coalition, but many other religious right organizations as well.
And the interesting thing is that the journalists recognize that the it really is happening. "Meet Ralph Reed, 33, his Christian Coalition is on a crusade to take over U.S. politics and it's working." And it did. I think that the Christian Coalition and these other religious right people may not have quite the political influence today that they had six years ago, but guess what. It doesn't matter, they still are very active and still have a lot of influence and all you have to have is some national, global issue that can bring them right back in again into power. Very quickly.
Now, it's also happening on a global scale. I'd like to show you this book: The Keys of this Blood, author, Malachi Martin. Malachi Martin is a Jesuit Priest. The Keys of this Blood. Let me read to you the subtitle: The Struggle for World Dominion between John Paul II and Mikhail Gorbachev and the Capitalist West. The struggle for world dominion, and John Paul is one of the contestants along with Gorbachev and the capitalist West. Gorbachev is out now for the time being so it's a struggle for world dominion between John Paul II and the capitalist West. I'd like to read to you a couple paragraphs from this book. A couple on the first page and one paragraph from the third page. "Willing or not, ready or not, we are all involved in an all-out, no-holds-barred three-way global competition. Most of us are not competitors, we are the stakes. For the competition is about who will establish the first one-world system of government that has ever existed in this society of nations. It is about who will hold and wield the dual power of assorting control over us as individuals and over all of us together as a community. The competition is all-out because now that it is started there is no way it can be reversed ad called off." Page three: "It is not too much to say, in fact, that the chosen purpose of John Paul's pontificate is to be the victor in that competition, now well under way." Wow! This wasn't from the Adventist Review or the Great Controversy or something like that. This is from one of Catholicism's own best American authors. It's telling us that one of John Paul's greatest ambitions is for him and his church to dominate the coming one-world government. Interesting.
So, that's my third sign that the coming of Jesus is near. And the interesting thing again, folks, is this, Only in the past twenty or thirty years have we seen this happening. In fact, really about the last ten to twenty years. John Paul came on the scene about twenty two years ago. The Christian Coalition has been around about ten or twelve years now. The religious right. The Moral Majority began about before that. My point is this: These various different signs that we're looking at, and I could point you to some others in the ecology, the weather, the disasters in the world, the economy. We could talk about the exploding false revival going on in America and around the world. There's a number of things we could talk about. The interesting thing is that it all seems to be kind of exploding here in the last fifteen to twenty years.
That's the reason I tell you, my friends, we've been in the end- time since about 1845, mid-1800's. How much time does the end- time have to run? I can't tell you, but I can tell you that the signs around us are multiplying and the end-time is winding down. I don't hesitate to say that to you. Let's not talk about the next five years. I think we need to stop doing that. I can remember fifty years ago someone said to me, "I think Jesus is coming in the next five years." My mother can remember her mother saying that. My grandmother can remember her mother saying the same thing. "Jesus is coming in the next five years." How many of you have heard people say that? Let's not say that, folks. We need to stop saying that because we don't know when Jesus is coming, I'd like to believe it'll be in the next five years, but I don't know that. What I do know though is this. The time of the end is winding down. The end is near. It's a hundred and fifty years closer than it was back in the 1850's.
So, how should we relate to this reality that we really are moving toward the second coming of Jesus? How should we relate to that? Two things: Number one, We need to be preparing ourselves for that time. That's why I would like to urge you to come this afternoon when we talk about making that preparation. Number two: We need to be sharing with our friends the good news that Jesus is coming soon. Now then, you will, I'm sure, forgive me for showing you a good way to do that. It's called, Signs of the Times. You have a copy in your hands. For a hundred fifty years, a hundred twenty five years, Signs of the Times has been telling people that Jesus is coming soon and telling them how to be ready. We're still doing that. I'd like to encourage you to share this with your friends and loved ones. You see, we cover all the twenty seven fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church every year in Signs of the Times. There's another nice thing about Signs of the Times is that your friends don't have to tune in. They don't have to take personal initiative to tune in to the program. It comes in there mail box. They don't have to choose to get it, they get it. All they have to do is choose whether or not they're going to read it. They may throw one issue away, and two or three issues later there's something on the cover, on the back page that will grab their attention and they'll look inside and they'll read it. We try to make sure that there are very arresting covers in Signs of the Times so that your friends and loved ones will want to take that magazine and then read it.
Well, you know folks, Jesus is coming soon. There was a little boy lying in bed one night when a grandfather clock began to strike. Bong, Bong, three, four....twelve. The little boy said, "It's midnight." But something went wrong, the clock malfunctioned, it continued to strike. Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen,.... The little boy jumped out of bed, rush out into the hall, burst into his parents' bedroom and he said, "Mom, Dad. Wake up it's later than it's ever been before." And I say to my Seventh-day Adventist brothers and sister, "Let's wake up. It's later than it's ever been before." Jesus is coming soon.
Hymn of Praise: #598, Watch, Ye Saints Scripture: Matthew 24:32-35 Hymn of response: #205, Gleams of the Golden Morning Transcribed of an audio tape.
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