Sermon delivered September 5, 1998

by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Quotations from the Bible are from The New International Version

Unnatural Natural Troubles

You know, I labored this week over what to speak about and several people talked with me and encouraged me and said, "Really, you are making a mistake by planning to have the prayer meeting series on last day events." I said, "Oh, really? Tell me more about this." "You should have it at prayer meeting, but you should also have it during the church service." So that's exactly what we've done. We have scheduled the entire month on last day events. Every church service, every prayer meeting beginning today. And so I hope you will be here to take advantage of these things. We're going to be talking about tremendously important things that are happening in this world. And some of us have been praying about this. You always wonder, could this be it? Well, it could be. There are some things happening that really tell us that maybe this could be it. I don't know. I'm not predicting that the Lord will come in the year, 2000. In fact, if anything tells me, He will NOT come in the year, 2000 because that's when everybody expects He will come. But I think He could come before the year, 2000, or shortly after the year, 2000. I don't know when He's coming, but I have a suspicion that this is it. So let's talk about it a little bit.

Come to Revelation 7:1-3 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.

Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: "Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God."

That sealing time, when that takes place, then the troubles start. When the four angels begin loosening their grip on the strong winds of trouble we will begin to see the unleashing of unnatural natural disasters. And I believe that when you see these four angels that have been holding these four winds back, and they start loosening their grip, you will know that the sealing time is here, and you will know that the last days are absolutely here.

Be very clear that the four angels are heavenly angels and they don't want to hurt us. This says that as soon as they let go the earth is hurt. I believe that these angels are not exactly the cause of the disasters but that they allow the disasters to happen. For many years they have worked overtime to hold the winds in check. The evil winds WANT to hurt the world. These troubles want to come.

Let me share a little statement that I found. It says, "Satan works through the elements also to garner his harvest of Unprepared souls. He has studied the secrets of the laboratories of nature and he uses ALL his power to control the elements as far as God allows." - EG White, Counsels on Health, p. 460 I think he is doing that today.

If this continues, "He will bring disease and disaster until populous cities are reduced to ruin and desolation. ... In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations (fires), in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power." - EG White, Counsels on Health, p. 461 He's doing that today.

When you really begin to see violent natural catastrophes you might presume that the sealing time is about over and probation for human kind is over. Probation for humankind is over. The angels do not let go of the winds (or final troubles) until God's people are sealed.

One disaster is fire. This surely includes nuclear fire. During the predawn hours of January 25, 1995, the Norwegians sent a rocket-based scientific experiment into space from a northern island less than 300 miles from the Russian border.

Ninety-seven miles up, the rocket unexpectedly turned east toward Russia. This instantly sent tremors through the Russian defense system. At one point during the crisis panicked Russian military officials handed President Boris Yeltsin his "NUCLEAR SUITCASE".

The Russians suspected that an American Trident Submarine missile (their worst nightmare) had violated their airspace. Fortunately Yeltsin had a cool head. Had he given the order, several thousand Russian missiles would have been reprogrammed and aimed at the United States. The incident has been called the "Most serious false alarm in the history of Soviet-American" relations. And it took place just recently. Now that's serious.

By the way Chattanooga has always been one of the targets. You are fully knowledgeable of the fact that the United States and the Russians still maintain 5,000 nuclear warheads between them that are prepared to fire within minutes. Technically these are not aimed at each other, but could be re-aimed almost instantly. Source: Signwatch, Spring, 1998 page 2-3. This crisis is not over.

Now America has a intense program to install a system of interceptor missiles around our costal boarders to defend us from so many of these nations that now have nuclear capabilities. Who has the bombs? Terrorists are beginning to get the bombs. They're very concerned about that. You've been seeing some of this on the news. With the on-going economic crisis in Russia, and thousands of unpaid soldiers in possession of these bombs, possibly many have already been sold to terrorist groups who have the most money. Make no mistake about it, we are in very serious times.

Let's turn to Luke 21 This tells the reaction to what will happen. Luke 21 is almost like Matthew 24. It's a fantastic chapter to read and to study. Luke 21:26 Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world.... Terrible things taking place.

If the angels are really loosening their hold on the four winds of strife and trouble, then the final days are indeed here!

Are natural disasters increasing? I happened to talk to an Indian a couple of weeks ago. He said, "Have you seen how hot it is lately?" I said, "Yes, it has been an awfully hot summer. It's been the hottest summer this century," He said. "I think I know why. The end of the world is here."

"How do you know that?" I asked. He told me that for hundreds of years Indian (he was a Black Foot Indian) culture has passed down a belief that just before the end of the world a white Buffalo will be born. He told me that the animal has indeed been born and Indians are electrified. One stipulation is that it must turn red. And he told me that it is indeed in the process of growing natural red hair! Now, I'm not sure I believe in buffaloes as the sings of the Lord's coming, but they believe it. It could be that all these things are coming together. There are more natural disasters.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states that STORMS have gotten worse during the past 100 years. The number of extreme precipitation events (heavy rain storms and blizzards) has jumped 20% in one year. Over the century there is a 20% increase over all former records. They believe this is a global phenomena. (Signswatch, Winter, 1998, p. 2

Now, Jesus spoke of epidemics. Diseases are on the rampage. Tuberculosis has erupted again. Malaria was all but wiped out fifty years ago. Now, cases are up 400% especially in Latin America. The parasite that causes this disease is increasingly resistant to modern drugs.

Pestilences. We have the Japanese beetle, and now the Chinese long-horned beetle has invaded Chicago. Every tree of any kind that it infects, every tree will die. So far, every pesticide they've tried has been of no effect. I hope they can get it stopped. They're going to try cutting the trees down and chopping them up and burning them. Isaiah 24:4 The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the exalted of the earth languish.

Let's finish Luke 21:26 Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. They see something up in the skies that petrifies them.

In July, 1997, last summer, NC1, which was a mile wide asteroid just missed our world. So often we find out about these things after they happen, but scientists predict that in just the next 20 years, some 2,000 rogue asteroids will be a potential threat for impacting our planet. (Signswatch, winter, 1998, p. 3. That's amazing.

Revelation talks and alludes to this in the eighth chapter. Revelation 8:7-8 ... fire... was HURLED upon the earth, and a third of the earth was burned... something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. From where do these come? From outer space.

Luke 21:11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

Of course there are many other signs of the near return of Jesus that are not so natural.

When I was a teenager, I thought: Am I ever going to get to go to college? I'll probably never get to college. Never get married. Because the Lord will be here. Well, is the Lord really going to come this time? We can't set dates but this looks very ominous. There are many other signs of the natural sings of the Lord's coming. Look at 2 Timothy.

WICKEDNESS 2 Timothy 3:13 Evil men shall wax worse and worse. Worse and worse! Evilness! When you dodge drivers that are zigzagging down the road like Zombies you assume they are drunk. Are they drunk? The University of Tennessee researchers in cooperation with the Memphis police department did a study. They found out that fifty-nine percent of reckless drivers were not drunk. They were drugged! They were either on cocaine or marijuana. Drugged drivers outnumber drunken drivers. So that drunk driver out there is probably a drugged driver.

US News and World Report, Feb. 1989 says,

Seventy-five percent of all teenagers take drugs. Our teenagers don't take drugs. Some of them may have gotten a sample or two and some of them may be hooked on drugs, but I hope not. Well, folks, let's be better. Let's avoid these problems.

Do you know what the thirty-eighth largest state is today? If you take in the number of people, it would be the 1,631,000 Americans who are in prisons and jails today. The 38th largest state. This exceeds the number of active US military personnel. A lot of people in jail! ( Signs of the Times, Feb. 1998, p. 7.)

UNGODLY DESIRES: Jude 16-18 These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage. But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires."

They're going to walk after their own lusts! They have no control. "Each day in America 2,753 teenagers will get pregnant. 609 of teens will get a sexually transmitted disease." (US News and World Report, Feb. 1989.)

WORLDLINESS - Matthew 24:37 As it was in the days of Noah..... They were worldly. When I look at the way some of the worldly things that are going on today I think we're getting back to heathenism. Leviticus 19:28 Now you may not agree with this. When I look at the way that some people today are tattooing their bodies I shudder. In Leviticus 19 God says this, Do not ... put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD. That's pretty clear, isn't it? No tattoos!

I think this deliberate branding and scarring by knife is a sign of the times. People taking razor blades and cutting designs into their backs and other parts of their bodies. And all the Piercing that is going on! It seems that if it sticks out they want to put a ring in it or a stud on it. Ears, nose, lips, tongue studs, and rings in other places. US News and World Report said this, and I'm surprised they would really come out and say it: "The rapid spread of this piercing movement is yet another sign that THE CRISIS is here." US News and World Report, July 31, 1995, Page 16 It's amazing for a secular magazine to say that. It seems that we are trying to become modern primitives.

Matthew 24:44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

INCREASE OF KNOWLEDGE

One of the signs of the times is in Daniel 12:4 But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. (KJV) Today, with your computer and your modem you can tap into the accumulations world information in a heart beat. "In just 20 years scientists project that Knowledge will double every 73 days." (Edmund Scientific Company, April, 1998)

My concern is that much of the knowledge we are tapping into is similar to what Eve tapped into when she bit into the apple. She got knowledge all right! When you sit in front of your Apple or IBM, you need to be careful what kind of knowledge you are tapping into, because you can bring right into your living room some of the vilest and wickedest things. Make sure the information you view is assisting you on your way to heaven and not hastening your fall.

Matthew 24:9 Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.

Are people being persecuted today, and killed, and murdered? Did you know that More Christians have been martyred in the twentieth century than in the past nineteen centuries combined! (Source: James Dobson, 4/97 Family News, page 1) Now you might say, "I don't believe that." Well, you'll have to see the Scripps-Howard News Service of September 28, 1996. Most of these people that are being exterminated today are being killed by Muslim extremists. Death of the worst kind: starvation, looting, torture, burning, even slavery. You've read about it; in Bosnia and all these places.

The Eastern nations are gaining power. Joel 3:10-13 Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weakling say, "I am strong!" Come quickly, all you nations from every side, and assemble there. Bring down your warriors, O LORD! (War in the last days) Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe......so great is their wickedness!"

Are you aware that Islam is the second largest world religion? And soon to become the second largest religion in the United States. An Islamic prayer has been given at the opening of our American Congress several times. Muslim chaplains are in our American military.

Lo and behold, at the Vatican in an unprecedented document called "Nostra Aetate", they now recognize Muslims are believers and that they are included in God's salvation. (Source of last two paragraphs: Aramco World, May/June, 1998, page 13-17.) Now, I'm not up here badmouthing Muslims because many of them are undoubtedly are great people. Some of them have better morals than some of us. But there is no other name than Jesus Christ whereby we may be saved.

First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton said "We must accept Islam." Muslims are one of the fastest growing religions in America. By the year 2000, there will be more of them than Presbyterians. Signs of the Times, 2/98

It seems to me that almost all the signs that you can read in the Bible are taking place right now. This could be it. Look again at 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. Is that taking place? What has to be preached? The Gospel!

Take a look at Net-98 which starts in just a few weeks is the largest evangelic thrust that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has ever had. We are literally going to have thousands of crusades taking place at the same time all around the world. You can go to some countries today and one-fourth of the people, one out of every four people, you see is a Seventh-day Adventist. God is blessing this work. People are responding. They are responding by radio, by the printed word, by satellites, by preaching, by angels, by every means, the truth is going forth to the entire world.

Every yardstick indicates that the time seems to really be at hand. One of the most consequential hazards to Adventists alive today is not the seven last plagues. It's is not the big time of trouble. It's not the small time of trouble. It's not the Sunday Law. We'll talk about that next Sabbath. It's not Y2K. We're going to talk about that Wednesday night. Do you know what the biggest problem for Seventh-day Adventists is? It is not looming persecution or hunger. It's not that you can't buy nor sell. The biggest problem today is postponement of Jesus' return. The fact that He hasn't come yet means some of us are getting lukewarm and lax. There aren't sermons being preached in our pulpits about the second coming of Christ. We're Adventists. We believe in the soon return of Jesus.

Matthew 24:48-50 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, "My master is staying away a long time," and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.

I tell you this: Some of us are beginning to loosen up our standards of eating and drinking. We are beginning to drink. Some Seventh-day Adventists are beginning to drink. That's what the Bible predicts, isn't it? "Our Master dealyeth His coming." What do they do? They go out and drink with the drunkards. We're beginning to party with the world. Our faith is beginning to falter. Our giving to offerings shrinks to a trickle. Our attendance becomes half-hazard. Our prayer life grinds to a lukewarm stop. And we think we are among the "chosen". We're among the frozen chosen.

We need to be on fire for Jesus Christ. It is time to wake up! Would you like to know how to approach the last days with absolute confidence? You know, I'm not concerned about the last days. I'm concerned about being ready TODAY! Here's how you can do it- This gem comes from that classic book by EG White: Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing: p. 101- If we do just one thing, ALL the perplexing problems we face will be solved!

"If you will seek the Lord and be converted Every Day; If you will of your own spiritual choice be free and joyous in God; If with gladsome consent of heart to His gracious call you come wearing the yoke of Christ- the yoke of obedience and service (then) All your murmurings WILL BE STILLED, All your difficulties WILL BE REMOVED, All the perplexing problems that now confront you WILL BE SOLVED!"

That is a mouthful. Fantastic! In other words, boil this down, what do we have to do? When you totally believe that God loves you and ever lives to help us, we shall cease to worry about the future. Are we worried about last day events? No, we're not. Because Jesus hold our hand. We don't know the future, but we know Who hold the future. You need to make sure that your hand is held by His hand. We don't grasp Him; He has hold of us.

And pretty soon you will be in heaven. I don't think it will be very long.

Opening Hymn   337
Scripture: Responsive Reading # 746
Closing Hymn   633

980905GETTYS#446

The responsive reading is from the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, number 746.

SIGNS OF CHRIST'S COMING

When (Jesus) was sitting on the Mount of Olives the disciples came and asked him privately, "Tell us, when is this going to happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the world?"

And Jesus answered them, "Take care that no one deceives you; because many will come using my name and saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will deceive many.

"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars; do not be alarmed, for this is something that must happen, but the end will not be yet. For nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes here and there.... Then they will hand you over to be tortured and put to death; and you will be hated by all the nations on account of my name.

"This Good News of the kingdom will be proclaimed to the whole world as a witness to all the nations. And then the end will come.

"There will be great distress such as, until now, since the world began, there never has been, nor ever will be again.... False Christs and false prophets will arise and produce great signs and portents, enough to deceive even the chosen, if that were possible. There, I have forewarned you.

"Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its brightness, the stars will fall from the sky and the powers of heaven will be shaken.

"And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven; then too all the peoples of the earth will beat their breasts; and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

"And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet to gather his chosen from the four winds, from one end of heaven to another."

-From Matthew 24, Jerusalem Bible.



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