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The Reformation Herald Online Edition

Wake Up Already!

Getting Ready
Wake Up Already!
D. Burec-Stoikoff
Wake Up Already!

Our instructions were very clear: Be complete ready when your host will meet you.

It was one of those beautiful, seemingly perfect days as my friends and I crested the winding, narrow path that led to the top of a small mountain. Tired from the long walk and from carrying our gear, we sat against the large trees that lined the pathway.

We were treated with a stunning sight that evening. The amber, red and purple hues stretched across the sky. The crisp air hinted that autumn was surely approaching, and we all watched silently as the sun sank against a backdrop of hills dotted with trees starting to shed their summer foliage.

What a day it had been! So much had to be accomplished in preparation for this “big day,” and we had all worked hard at making final preparations. Now, we were exhausted, thanks to the climb that seemed to drain us of every ounce of strength we had left. I’m sure that many in our group thought to themselves that this trip would have been easier if we had just known when the “big moment” was coming. But for whatever the reason, we weren’t instructed on that detail. Thankfully we had been instructed on every aspect as how to be ready.

As the sun finally set, a few of our traveling companions yawned and started talking amongst themselves.

“I don’t know what’s gotten into me today! I’m so tired I can barely keep my eyes open, much less change into the travel clothes we were given and light my lamp just in case He shows up tonight,” one said. Another chimed in, “You’re so right! I think I’m actually out of oil anyway. Oh well. . . . I guess I need to stop at the market tomorrow.” I turned around to look as another member of our group stretched out on the ground and said, “Tomorrow’s another day. How long have we been waiting now? And still no sign of Him! I think we’ll be ok tonight if we skip changing our clothes and fill our lamps just this once.”

I turned back around and slowly started to lie down before stopping at my elbows, catching myself from following some of the others.

“It’s not that much extra effort to be prepared JUST in case He came at night,” I said to myself. I quickly changed and filled my lamp with oil I had purchased earlier in town during the day, then went to sleep.

In what seemed like just a few minutes after I fell asleep, I heard a commotion and what seemed to be daylight. “I just went to sleep! It can’t be morning already!?” I opened my eyes and as they adjusted to the light, I was startled back to consciousness. I jumped to my feet realizing that our King had finally come! What a shock to those that had not prepared just that one time!

Brothers and sisters, I’ve taken creative liberties with the well-known parable of the 10 virgins in the hope of helping us all understand that each one of us is a slumbering virgin. We may be so filled with pride that we think that our church, the church that has been given so much light and so much responsibility, is not slumbering. But let’s take a look at early church history . . . early enough that Christ Himself was still on this earth warning the members of His church as to the events surrounding His death.

A parallel from the time of the disciples . . .

Matthew 16:13–16, 21. In Caesarea, Jesus tells His disciples that He’s going to die.

“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. . . . From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”

Matthew 17:22, 23. In Galilee, again, Jesus tells His disciples He’s going to die.

“And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: and they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.” They were exceeding sorry . . . still not grasping the warnings that Jesus had given them, to prepare them to be physically and spiritually ready for those events.

Luke 18:31–34. Now close to Jerusalem, Jesus tells His disciples He’s going to die.

“Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.”

Finally, do they understand!? Really? “And they [the twelve disciples] understood none of these things: . . . neither knew they the things which were spoken.”

What about us?

The chosen twelve men that spent 3 ½ years with Jesus, eating together, traveling together, sleeping together, could not understand what He had been telling them for weeks—possibly months—at that point. Is it possible that we, feeling so privileged—and dare I say proud—to be in the truth for years, are asleep to what is soon to take place? Have we become so caught up in trying to achieve worldly goals of prosperity, and a life with no cares and burdens that we ourselves are fulfilling prophecy by saying the Lord delayeth His coming?

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:3, 4).

Do we realize the times in which we are living? Are we aware that in Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 11, the Spirit of Prophecy foresaw terrible scenes that would take place in New York? We are now living in the time of the fourth angel of Revelation 18 which is to stir us to sound the Loud Cry, which simultaneously is the time of “refreshing” or the” latter rain.”

“ ‘The commencement of that time of trouble,’ here mentioned [on Early Writings, p. 33] does not refer to the time when the plagues shall begin to be poured out, but to a short period just before they are poured out, while Christ is in the sanctuary. At that time, while the work of salvation is closing, trouble will be coming on the earth, and the nations will be angry, yet held in check so as not to prevent the work of the third angel. At that time the ‘latter rain,’ or refreshing from the presence of the Lord, will come, to give power to the loud voice of the third angel, and prepare the saints to stand in the period when the seven last plagues shall be poured out.”1

Ellen White said, as she “looked at the great buildings going up there [in New York City], story after story, ‘What terrible scenes will take place when the Lord shall arise to shake terribly the earth! Then the words of Revelation 18:1–3 will be fulfilled.’ The whole of the eighteenth chapter of Revelation is a warning of what is coming on the earth. But I have no light in particular in regard to what is coming on New York [City], only that I know that one day the great buildings there will be thrown down by the turning and overturning of God’s power. From the light given me, I know that destruction is in the world. One word from the Lord, one touch of His mighty power, and these massive structures will fall. Scenes will take place the fearfulness of which we cannot imagine.”2

What then, is so significant about the time of the “latter rain,” the “refreshing” or the “Loud Cry” of Revelation 18 that would be fulfilled during these events? In order to receive the latter rain and participate in the Loud Cry, our sins must be blotted out, which logically implies that we have transitioned from the judgment of the righteous dead to the judgment of the righteous living.

“The work of the investigative judgment and the blotting out of sins is to be accomplished before the second advent of the Lord. Since the dead are to be judged out of the things written in the books, it is impossible that the sins of men should be blotted out until after the judgment at which their cases are to be investigated. But the apostle Peter distinctly states that the sins of believers will be blotted out ‘when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ’ (Acts 3:19, 20). When the investigative judgment closes, Christ will come, and His reward will be with Him to give to every man as his work shall be.”3

A distinct alarm

If this doesn’t wake us up to the time in which we are living, then there is something seriously wrong in our spiritual life. Have we been lulled to sleep with words of “peace and safety” that we can’t see just how close we are to Jesus’ coming? Don’t believe me? Let’s take a quick look:

Jesus said, “Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For 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).

Interestingly, this word “sorrows,” in Greek odino, means to experience the pains of childbirth. Ask any mother, and she will tell you that as she comes nearer to the time of her delivery, she will experience two things: the birth pains will become more intense and more rapid. Jesus is here equating the signs of His coming as experiencing birthing pains with the same elements of intensity and rapidity.

So now, let me ask you: When has a single generation seen “all the events” fulfilled in Matthew 24 with the level of intensity and rapidity we have seen over the last 20 years?

Take a look at this chart of natural disasters from 1900–2011.

Recently in the news, Pope Francis asked a Pentecostal gathering about the need of Christian unity “if we are to preach Salvation in Christ to the world.” In a video address delivered by his friend, Tony Palmer, an Anglican Bishop, to the Pentecostal attendees, the Pope states the church and Christians are “separated because of sin, our sins.” “Who is at fault?” he asked. “All of us are, we are all sinners. There is only one who is just, and that is the Lord,” and he longs for the day when “this separation would end and there would be communion.” (You can see this video for yourself online.)

Are we not seeing prophecy being fulfilled by our own eyes?

Weeks after being awakened to the state I am in, personally, I have been praying for the Lord to show me “what must I do to be saved.” During a morning devotional shortly after praying on this, I read:

“The human agent whom Christ has died to save importunes [demand with persistence, or to annoy] the throne of God, and his petition is taken up by Jesus who has purchased him with His own blood. Our great High Priest places His righteousness on the side of the sincere suppliant, and the prayer of Christ blends with that of the human petitioner. . . .

“The Lord Jesus loves His people, and when they put their trust in Him, depending wholly upon Him, He strengthens them. He will live through them, giving them the inspiration of His sanctifying Spirit, imparting to the soul a vital transfusion of Himself. He acts through their faculties and causes them to choose His will and to act out His character.”4

“Believing in Him, we have this hope as an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast. We are to understand that we may confidently expect God’s favor not only in this world, but in the heavenly world, since He paid such a price for our salvation. Faith in the atonement and intercession of Christ will keep us steadfast and immovable amid the temptations that press upon us in the church militant. Let us contemplate the glorious hope that is set before us, and by faith lay hold upon it. . . . We gain heaven not through our own merits but through the merits of Jesus Christ. . . . Let your hope not be centered in yourself, but in Him who has entered within the veil. . . .

“In Christ our hope of eternal life is centered. . . . Our hope is an anchor to the soul both sure and steadfast when it entereth into that within the veil, for the tempest-tossed soul becomes a partaker of the divine nature. He is anchored in Christ. Amid the raging elements of temptation he will not be driven upon the rocks or drawn into the whirlpool. His ship will outride the storm.”5

“Our precious Redeemer is standing before the Father as our intercessor, and is preparing mansions for all those who believe in Him as their personal Saviour. Let those who would meet the divine standard, search the Scriptures for themselves, that they may have a knowledge of the life of Christ and understand His mission and work. Let them behold Him as their Advocate, standing within the veil, having in His hand the golden censer from which the holy incense of the merits of His righteousness ascends to God in behalf of those who pray to Him. Could they thus behold Him they would feel an assurance that they have a powerful, influential Advocate in the heavenly courts, and that their suit is gained at the throne of God. What an experience may be attained at the footstool of mercy, which is the only place of sure refuge! You may discern the fact that God is back of His promises, and not dread the issue of your prayers or doubt that Jesus is standing as your surety and substitute. As you confess your sins, as you repent of your iniquity, Christ takes your guilt upon Himself and imputes to you His own righteousness and power. To those who are contrite in spirit He gives the golden oil of love and the rich treasures of His grace. It is then that you may see that the sacrifice of self to God through the merits of Christ makes you of infinite value; for clothed in the robe of Christ’s righteousness you become the sons and daughters of God. Those who approach the Father, recognizing the bow of promise, and ask forgiveness in the name of Jesus will receive their request. At the very first expression of penitence Christ presents the humble suppliant’s petition before the throne as His own desire in the sinner’s behalf. He says, ‘I will pray the Father for you.’ ”6

Based on what we just read, what then will save us? Nothing we can do for ourselves, only trusting on the sacrifice that Jesus made in our behalf and believing the promise that He is even now acting as our intercessor before God. Knowing the cost of what it took to become our Intercessor, how can we not love Him? In loving Him, we become changed from the inside out, and in turn, we will love those around us that are not as fortunate to have the message we do.

Let me take this a step further. If you’re reading this, it is probable that you already know the truth or have been exposed to this truth. Have you ever asked why? Why was I born into the truth? Is it possible that my life experience will speak a different sermon than your life experience? Because of your experiences, you may be able to reach someone that I wasn’t able to. Yet, by not sharing our life sermons, both of us will be accountable if we stand by and do nothing while others around us spread the message of the three angels. Seemingly secure in our secluded life, essentially hiding from the world so as to not be of the world, we have squandered and hidden the life experiences that make up the talents God has entrusted to us.

“Because of the neglect [to bring the truth of the Gospel before many who are now in vice and iniquity] neglect the Lord has looked with disfavor upon the church. A love of ease and selfish indulgence has been shown by many. Some who have had the privilege of knowing Bible truth have not brought it into the inner sanctuary of the soul. God holds all these accountable for the talents which they have not returned to Him in honest, faithful service in making every effort possible to seek and to save those who were lost. These slothful servants are represented as coming to the wedding supper without the wedding garment, the robe of the righteousness of Christ. They have nominally accepted the truth, but they do not practice it.”7

“It is high time for us to awake out of sleep, to cast off the armor of Satan, and call upon Him who never slumbers nor sleeps. The Lord desires men and women to break their connection with the enemy, and link up with Christ. The mistakes of the past have been enough. Through them minds have been confused, precious opportunities have been neglected, and time, which is of more value than gold, has been wasted. We need now strong evidence that the Lord is with us of a truth. We need to consecrate ourselves and all we have to the service of God.”8

What will you tell the Bridegroom when He asks why you were sleeping when there was given so much to share?

1 Early Writings, pp. 85, 86. [Emphasis supplied.]
2 The Review and Herald, July 5, 1906. [Emphasis supplied.]
3 The Great Controversy, p. 485.
4 The Sabbath School Worker, February 1, 1896. [Emphasis supplied.]
5 The Review and Herald, June 9, 1896. [Emphasis supplied.]
6 The Youth’s Instructor, January 16, 1896.
7 Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 295.
8 The Review and Herald, May 21, 1901.