Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered October 1, 2005 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Are We Almost There?

(RealAudio Version available)

Are we almost there? Are we going to continue having church services here in the McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church for the next ten, twenty of thirty years? Are you kids that are twelve, fourteen, fifteen years old, are you going to end up getting your driver's license? Are you actually going to go to the academy and graduating? Will you get married? Or, will be all be in heaven a year from now, or sooner, or later. Are we almost there? I would love to give you a date for Jesus' coming but it wouldn't make any difference because you need to be ready at all times. Your time could be this afternoon. So, let's just be ready. We Seventh-day Adventists believe in the nearness of the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Remember the fall of 2004? Three back to back hurricanes hit Florida. My cousin lives down in Florida and I called her after the first hurricane. "How are you doing, Kathy?" "Well, we survived." Here came another one and then another one. There were three in a row. Remember that? I asked, "Are you still going to live down there, Kathy?" "Yes, this won't happen again like this." I'm glad she didn't think of moving to New Orleans, or Houston. Now this fall we have Katrina striking and devastating New Orleans and then another named Rita hitting Houston, the fourth largest city in America. What is going on? Is something happening that we as Seventh-day Adventists ought to be aware of? I think so. New Orleans was totally evacuated. Do you realize that no major American city has been evacuated since Richmond and Atlanta during the Civil War almost 150 years ago. That's history in the making.

Look at Matthew 24 in you Bible, and I want you to notice verse 7. Of course Matthew 24 is the chapter on last-day events, the signs of Jesus' coming. Matthew 24:7,8. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There famines and earthquakes in various places. All of th4ese are the beginning of birth pains. Now, Jesus could just as easily have mentioned hurricanes.

We've always had wars, and rumors of wars. In fact, we've always had earthquakes I'm sure. And we've always had hurricanes. But they're getting more and more numerous, and more and more destructive, just prior to the second coming of Jesus.

Someone told me this week that they believed that God is actually targeting the coastal cities that are the centers of sin. These sinful cities are targets in God's arsenal, that God allows these storms to strike. Hmm, that's an interesting thought, isn't it. I got to thinking about that. You know, San Fransi3co, the year of 1906, they had a devastating earthquake. That's a coastal city. And I got to thinking of all that the coastal cities have endured. The most recent ones: the twin towers in New York. That's right on the coast, isn't it? And then you've got these earthquakes, these hurricanes, these tidal waves, these tsunamis that are happening. It seems like the coastal cities are centers of sin. If God is not sending all this, then who is? If God isn't allowing this, then who is? Is Al Qaeda somehow in charge of the weather? Maybe it could be that we're entering the last days of the four angels relaxing their grip on the four winds. Do you think that could be? Where can we find answers? Fortunately we have a lot of light on this topic. .

I'd like you to look at Joel 2:11. ...the day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it? And then, Zephaniah 1:13 Their wealth will be plundered, their houses demolished.

I think that's what I saw as I sat watching CNN. I could see pictures from a helicopter flying along the Gulf Coast after Katrina. I could see miles of rubble. When you see piles of lumber, you are seeing houses that have been demolished. And that's what the Bible said. I could see miles of rubble. It looked like every house was gone. Every house I saw was completely demolished. Newscasters were describing a huge tidal wave that had come in and that had mowed down thousand and thousands of houses, instantly reducing them to rubble. Living in those homes had once been someone's own coastal slice of heaven. But in a quick moment people's worst fears were realized.

Luke 21:22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. This is payback time. You know, you can sin for just so long and these places of wickedness and then disaster is going to come. Jeremiah 4:20 Disaster follows disaster; the whole land lies in ruins. In an instant my tents are destroyed, my shelter in a moment. They're gone just like that. Well that's exactly what happened. Houses were mowed down it seems as if by some giant steamroller. Does it seem to you like one storm follows on the heels of another, on almost identical tracks. That's just about what happened. I was just amazed at what I saw. Of course, Jeremiah 4:20 says that Disaster follows disaster.

I sat in unbelief before my TV as I saw looters in New Orleans. Did you see that? Then I saw law enforcement officers join in the looting. I thought, 'This is anarchy.' Some people carried off huge TV's. Where was the electricity to operate them? Men broke jewelry store windows out and women rushed in to haul out the loot. That wasn't survival food. Still others pushed whole racks of expensive clothing down the street. They were just looting. That's all they were doing. New Orleans was reduced to Anarchy. Fire and gunshots exploded into deadly mayhem. Some were shooting at medical-relief helicopters and ambulances. Looters barged into hospitals demanding medical staff turn over drugs to them. And, people were shooting at ambulances. How fast do we become animals? We need to think about that in the last days.

Jonah was sent to the wicked city of Nineveh. Jonah 1:2 The word of God came to Jonah son of Amittai: "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before Me." You know, when the wickedness reaches a certain level. Now what level is that? When the wickedness reaches a certain level, then God takes action. What is that certain level? Well, we don't know, do we. If we did, then we could say, 'This city is ready." You'd see a thermometer in every city you know. We would know when this would take place. Maybe again God is beginning to act because the wickedness is at a certain level. How could a human mind possibly rationalize such tragic behavior as we saw on our television of those looters? The looters had just escaped a storm of Biblical proportions. All around them people were dying and suffering and houses were mowed down and the first thing on their mind is to loot. Why didn't we see prayer bands and prayer meetings. Why didn't we see people out there, you know, helping others more. Gangs attacked fleeing victims stealing their cars and boats. There were beatings and rapes. Some people were turned into animals.

2 Timothy 3 answers that question. 2 Timoyhy3:1-3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderers, without self control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God having a form of godliness but denying its power. They're going to lose their self control. It'll be gone. New Orleans was out of control. Nobody would doubt that. Nobody was in charge, except the mobs and the devil, it seemed like, and the hurricane.

But I will tell you I was so proud of the way that Christians behaved. Christians behaved wonderfully. We sent several busloads from here in the Collegedale area to go down to New Orleans and down to Bass Academy and other areas that were devastated and help flowed in. Churches started serving up to 500,000 meals per day. Believers donated money. People banned together in prayer and many believe both hurricanes lightened up at the last minute in answer to their prayers. ADRA sent over $1 Million in aid to help the suffering.

I believe that killer weather is a sign of the last days. Luke 21:25. Pay attention to weather as you read this. Luke 21:25 "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Now, the Third Volume of Special Messages, by EG White, p. 417 quotes this verse about the roaring and tossing of the waves. And it says this about the waters: "they shall pass their borders, and destruction will be in their track." "In the last days the Oceans will dramatically overflow their boundaries."1 Well, that's what we're seeing, right?

This is happening partially because for some reason the oceans are getting warmer. I wouldn't dare mention global warming because you would say, "Aha! That's not proved." But for some reason the oceans are warming up. They don't know why. It couldn't have anything to do with our life-style, maybe. Are you aware that three weeks ago a Russian ship sailed straight from St. Petersburg all the way to the North Pole without the assistance of an icebreaker. The surface of the ocean was not frozen. It was all open. This is the first time in the known records of seafaring that this has ever happened. There was No Ice!2 Things are happening that never happened before. There was no ice. You could go right up to the north pole.

Speaking of earthquakes, volcanoes, and disaster, I read that "These wonderful exhibitions will be more numerous and terrible just before the second coming of Christ and the end of the world, as signs of its speedy destruction." 3 More numerous and terrible when? Just before the speedy destruction of the world, just before the end of time.

If you watch the news and can't see the soon arrival of Jesus in the headlines of the things that are happening, then you've got spiritual macular generation.

An interesting verse about the last days appears in James 5. Come over here to James. James 5:3. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Not for the last days, but in the last days. The Bible predicts that in the last days man will pile up treasure, pile up colossal fortunes in the last days. There will be an amazing increase of wealth in the last moments of time. The poor will get poorer and the wealth of the rich will skyrocket.

Did you realize that in the 1860s there were only about six millionaires in America. Today there are 8 Million millionaires, even discounting inflation! We are far wealthier than our forefathers. Most of this wealth has been amassed in our day.

However poverty is also growing. Now, there's nothing wrong with being a millionaire. Just make sure you share with the Lord and if your income has gone up from $40 to $400, don't complain about the tithe, you know. Share it with others. But poverty is also growing. The national poverty rate rose to 12.5 percent, which means that there are 37 million people living in poverty here in the United States. Of those 37 million people, 12.5 million of those people are children.4 And they are living below the poverty level which is $9000 some dollars a year. One out of every eight people that you see is living in poverty in America. Could it be that we are actually entering the final days? He rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

I think there are many lesson that we can learn from the things that we see that are happening in the world. What just happened in the hurricane disaster on the Gulf Coast is just a foretaste of the future. Remember the millions of cars stuck in traffic jams on the freeway. They had loade up all their provisions to last them a little while. Taking all the family pictures with them, all the pets were in the car, all the kids were in the car, the car is loaded to the gills, It's hot, They're out on the freeway averaging a half a mile an hour, they're out of gas. If all that happens to our major cities, when we have two days of advanced warning, imagine what would happen as people panicked if there is not warning and we have an atomic attack from our terrorist enemies, or a chemical attack from our terrorist enemies, imagine what would happen then. Katrina and Rita gave fair warning. Terrorists won't.

Look at Thessalonians. Come back here to 1 Thessalonians in your bible. 1 Thessalonians 5:3-6 While people were saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will note escape.

But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all the sons of the light, and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night, or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. "Let us watch and be sober," the King James Bible says.

You know, we need to be awake. But inst4ead, we are laxidazical. We expect disasters will strike about anywhere except where we live. We expect they ought to have a seventy-two hour supply of emergency stuff. But we don't expect that we should. We expect they ought to be spiritually ready, but we ought to be spiritually ready, too. And we ought to stay ready. We expect that we will have all of the electricity, all of the food, all of the water, all the stuff that we need, and it's not true. We are not exempt from chaos. The four angels who are holding back the four winds, I believe are beginning to let go of the four winds of strife.5 So, if you aren't right with the Lord, if you ought to be baptized, if you ought to give your heart to Jesus, if you ought to follow Him, then do it. Do it now.

Look at Matt 7 in your bible. Come to Matthew 7:26,27 "But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them in practice is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, and the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

Now, who is to blame for all this stuff that is happening down there? You know, I read letters to the editor. In many newspapers people wrote to say, "Katrina is God's punishment for what we're doing in Iraq." Charles Sobieski of Scottsdale, AZ said, "Hurricanes are God's way of teaching President Bush about global Warming." A group called Columbia Christians for Life said, "God sent Katrina to destroy the five abortion clinics in New Orleans." And their proof? They had a radar photograph showing how much Katrina looked like a fetus in the womb.6

You know, I do read from something factual that in the last days, some people are going to blame us Seventh-day Adventists because we don't go to church on Sunday, and we are causing those things. Are you aware of that? Some intimated that the world is experiencing the wrath of God because of our sins, personal and national, and we ought to get back to church. Again near the end as disasters become more frequent & deadly another group will accuse those who do not attend church on Sunday of bringing these troubles and convulsions of nature that fill the earth with woe.7

I listened to a national reporter who was interviewing a Christian pastor and a non-Christian pastor. The reporter asked, "Why is all this happening?" The Christian pastor said, "God has strange ways and we just have to accept them." That's the basis of what he said. It was a very short interview. Then he interviewed a non Christian religious leader who said, "We must have faith during the times we cannot understand."

I wish I could have answered that reporter. Why all this trouble? Number one, God is not to blame. God is never the destroyer. .All of these things are not acts of God, they're acts of the devil. This is an act of Satan. Satan is the great destroyer. Jesus is the restorer. Number two, bad things happen because of bad choices. We have to shoulder a lot of the blame. I was taught in school that water always seeks the lowest level. Maybe we ought not to build a city in a hole. Every 100 years the New Orleans sinks 39" while at the same time the ocean level is rising. Think about that. Some disasters are man made. Scientists had said for years that a mega- hurricane would bury New Orleans. Hurricanes kill us because we live in their territory where they like to romp. Number three, accidents do happen. I hit my thumb with the hammer. Is that an act of God? No, it is just an accident. Some things just happen.

I will say a lesson I have learned from this: If the Levees of life are neglected too long we will suffer a breakthrough of things that we don't want, things that will destroy us.

2 Timothy 3:1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. Are we really ready for the last days? We need reliable light on this subject, and I will tell you that that light is in the Bible

2 Peter 1:19 And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you do well to pay attention to it, as a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

There will be terrorism in the last days. Matthew 24:37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Well, what was it like in Noah's day? Genesis 6:5 The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.

In Noah's day the Nephilim (giants or tyrants) were terrorizing the land. In these last days we again have terrorists terrorizing the world with dire results. Terrorism is a fact of life.

TERRORISM is one sign of the last days. I'm afraid we have opened up a hornet's nest by what we have done over in Islamic lands. Hatred is red hot towards America. We should expect most anything from atomic blasts to bombings to mass killings. Terrorism is actually erupting almost everywhere. Three weeks ago nearly 3 million people were left without electricity in SW Colombia, South America when terrorists destroyed 4 massive 165 foot electrical towers. Last year alone terrorist guerrillas blew up 121 electrical towers.8 It is coming.

I believe we're living in the last days. Do you believe that? We ought to be ready and we ought to help others to get ready. We are destroying the world. How do we know that this is the end? One reason is that man is now able to destroy the world. And I believe we are now in the process of doing that very thing even as we speak.

Revelation 11:18 The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for the judging of the dead, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great and for destroying those who destroy the earth.

I think one of the greatest signs of the coming of Jesus is the preaching of the gospel to all the world. Probably the greatest indicator that we are living at the threshold of the end of the world is found in Matthew 24:14 "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come."

How are we doing in preaching the gospel? Right now the Seventh-day Adventist Church is preaching the gospel of Jesus in 203 out of 228 countries in 717 languages. Adventist World Radio covers 70% of the world's population. We are one of the fastest growing denominations in the world with over 20 million attending every Sabbath. That's phenomena! We believe in the nearness of the coming of Jesus to this earth.

Examine your life and habits. Are you less ready, or more ready for Jesus to come than you were say a year ago? Time is short. Give your heart to Jesus now. Get ready. Stay ready. Get others ready. Are we almost there? I think, 'Yes we are!'


Endnotes:

1. Last Day Events, by EG White, p. 23.

2. The Week, September 16, 2005, p. 11.

3. Signs of the Times, March 13, 1897, Par. 4, by EG White.

4. Washington Post

5. Revelation 7:1.

6. Time, September 12. 2005, p. 27.

7. Great Controversy, by EG White, p. 615.

8. The Week, September 16, 2005, p. 9.


32 Signs of Jesus Soon Coming:

In The Physical World:

Earthquakes, Calamities, Disasters Luke 21:11

Destructive inroads by insects Joel 1:4-7

In The Business World:

Rapid accumulation of wealth James 5:3

Swift means of travel Daniel 12:4

Labor Troubles James 5:4

Increase of Knowledge Daniel 12:4

In the Political World:

Speeding up of Events Isaiah 17:13

Fear, Distress, Perplexity Luke 21: 25-26

War and preparation for War Joel 3:9, 10, 14

A Peace Union of the Nations Isaiah 2:2-4

Racial Hatred Revelation 11:18

Trouble and uprisings worldwide Luke 21:25-26

Corruption in Government Micah 7:3-4

Disregard for Justice Isaiah 59:14

Pressure for Religious Legislation Rev. 13:12-17

Increase in Papal Power Rev. 13:3, 14, 17

In The Social World:

Moral Breakdown Hosea 4:1-3

Increase of Crime Gen 6:13 with Mat 24:37

Craze for Pleasure II Timothy 3:1-4

Laxity in Marriage Genesis 6:2 with Mat 24:37

Tide of Immorality Genesis 19:1-9, Luke 17:28-30

Wide-spread Travel Daniel 12:4

In the Religious World:

A Decline in spirituality II Tim. 3:1-5 Mat 24:12

Disregard for 10 Commandments Isa 30:3, 9

Scoffing about 2nd coming II Peter 3:3-5

Rejection of truth II Timothy 4:3-4

Return to Sabbath keeping Isaiah 58:12-14

Demand to preach smooth things Isaiah 30:10

False Religions thrive Matthew 24:24

Occult and Spiritualism growing I Timothy 4:1

A Movement Preaching Christ's soon coming Rev 14:6-14

Appearance of God's Remnant Rev 12:17, 14:12.

Matthew 24:33, "Even so, when you see all these things,you know that it is near, right at the door."

 Hymn of Praise: #26,  Praise the Lord!  You Heavens, Adore Him
Scripture:  Luke 21:25-28
Hymn of Response: #201,  Christ Is Coming

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