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Looking Ahead Through the Prophet's Eyes

by Hedwig Jemison

Are we seeing the fulfillment of predictions made long ago? What does the future hold?

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"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts" (2 Peter 1:19).

Peter and his two companions were present with Christ at the transfiguration and saw their Lord in all His majestic glory. This was strong evidence that could never be removed from their minds, evidence they would often recount.

Yet, Peter declared as he once told this story, there is something stronger than the evidences of our senses of hearing and seeing, and that is the more sure word of prophecy. The New English Bible puts it this way: "In the message of the prophets we have something still more certain."

The apostles were firmly convinced of the mission of Christ. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they built up the early church. "Faithfully and wisely they labored, testifying of the things they had seen and heard, and appealing to `a more sure word of prophecy'" (The Acts of the Apostles, p. 165; see also p. 534).

And these are the resources of the church today in the fulfillment of its missionthe same mission. Personal experience is important. Men and women may testify as to what they have seen, heard, and felt, but strength and safety lie in "the sure word of prophecy." This we find in God's Word as imparted to mankind in times of old and in the promised gift of the Spirit of prophecy to the remnant church called to warn and enlighten the world as it sinks into darkness. This gift provides eyes for the church in end time.

The amazing, unique ministry of Ellen White continues to bless the world and its inhabitants nearly a century after her death. Through the eyes of her gift she opened up tomorrow to the inhabitants of the world. The success of her work can be summed up in her own words:

"At times I am carried far ahead into the future and shown what is to take place. Then again I am shown things as they have occurred in the past" (Spiritual Gifts, 2:292).

In vision Ellen White was shown in detail how the great controversy between Christ and Satan would come to its climax, how Satan, knowing he had but a short time, would be relentless in his fury to deceive and to ruin God's people.

The conflict is raging in our times, engulfing the whole world. Satan is zeroing in on individuals, churches, cities and nations. In a last desperate effort he is trying to wrench the world and its inhabitants from Christ and plunge them into eternal destruction. And these final events are made meaningful to us through the "sure word of prophecy" for these last days.

Let us recall what took place in 1844. Students of Bible prophecy heralded the special message that God was bringing the world to a cataclysmic end. God wanted the people on planet Earth to know how they should relate themselves to the events of 1844. He first chose William Foy, a young man studying for the ministry. Foy responded to God's commission to tell others what had been revealed in the visions. But the third vision seemed incomprehensible to him, and this led him to confusion. Though he did not publicly proclaim his third vision, he did continue as a preacher for the Freewill Baptists. Then God called Hazen Foss, a young man of talent, and told him that He had a message for the end time and had chosen him to give it. But unlike Foy, Foss refused to tell the vision. He feared the ridicule and the skepticism he would have to meet and failed to fulfill his role as God's messenger.

God then turned to "the weakest of the weak."

Ellen Harmon was an attractive young girl who enjoyed school and loved her classmates. One day an angry child threw a stone which hit Ellen in the face, injuring and disfiguring her. She was in a coma for three weeks and afterward found it impossible to continue her education. Her hand shook when she tried to write and she fainted when she attempted to study. This was a great disappointment to her. Of this experience she wrote later:

"I know the light I received came from God, it was not taught me by man. I knew not how to write so that others could read it till God gave me my visions. I went to school but very little on account of my health. . . . Sickness would cause me to take [to] my bed for weeks and sometimes for months" (Manuscript Releases, 5:98).

Her illness and misfortune made her very sensitive to the taunts of her former friends. Her playmates shied away from her because of her facial disfigurement. In her loneliness she turned to Christ and found in Him the comfort and companionship for which her sensitive soul longed. She became an avid student of the Bible.

When God came to Ellen Harmon at 17 and told her that He had a message for the end time and wanted her to give that message to the people, her sensitive nature caused her to shrink from this tremendous responsibility.

Carefully she counted the cost of prejudice, ridicule, and misunderstanding, and then in faith she claimed God's promises that He would be with her.

The night Ellen told her first vision in Poland, Maine, early in 1845, Hazen Foss overheard her. He recognized her account as a description of what had been shown to him. When he met her the next morning, he encouraged her to give the messages faithfully: "Do not refuse to obey God, for it will be at the peril of your soul. I am a lost man."[1]

The messages God gave Ellen Whitepresented to her in about 2,000 visions and prophetic dreams which formed the basis for some 120 books now in printwere to bring guidance, hope, courage, and eternal life to those who read and accepted them.

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Visions Help Us Understand Last Day Events

People are observing the intensity that has taken possession of practically all earthly elements, conscious that something great and decisive is about to take place. The hearts of men and women are troubling them greatly because they cannot explain what is happening. Looking ahead, Ellen White wrote:

"The world is on the verge of a stupendous crisis" (Prophets and Kings, p. 537). "The whole world appears to be in the march to death" (Evangelism, p. 26). "The time is at hand when there will be sorrow in the world that no human balm can heal. The Spirit of God is being withdrawn. Disasters by sea and by land follow one another in quick succession" (Prophets and Kings, p. 277).

Disasters.

Recently I saw a tallying of natural disasters for the year 2000. "Insurance companies put global loss this year at $30 billion--the most costly disaster year in history. $7.5 billion was covered by insurance, $22.5 billion is outright loss. The worst disaster of the year was flooding in Mozambique in February. 500,000 people were left homeless."[2] Through the sure word of prophecy we know what these disasters mean. Ellen White told us that they are among God's "agencies by which He seeks to arouse men and women to a sense of their danger" (Prophets and Kings, p. 277).

She observed, "In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, 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. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous" (The Great Controversy, pp. 589, 590).

Movements in Christendom.

She further predicted, "Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions. While the former lays the foundation of spiritualism, the latter creates a bond of sympathy with Rome." "The line of distinction between professed Christians and the ungodly is now hardly distinguishable. Church members love what the world loves and are ready to join with them, and Satan determines to unite them in one body and thus strengthen his cause by sweeping all into the ranks of spiritualism" (The Great Controversy, p. 588).

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The Broad Scope of the Writings

In Early Writings, p. 155, Ellen White stated that "John came in the spirit and power of Elijah to proclaim the first advent of Jesus," and then she declared, "I was pointed down to the last days and saw that John represented those who should go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah to herald the day of wrath and the second advent of Jesus." But John wrought no miracle.

The Seventh-day Adventist church represents the Elijah message of the last days. It is the church's task to help people understand the Bible and prepare them for the second coming of Christ, not to distract with miracles. There are miracles among us--and we believe in miracles--but as a people we are not noted at this time for "great signs and wonders." Rather, in vision, Ellen White saw thousands going from house to house explaining the Word of God and pointing people to Christ and His second coming. We are witnessing the fulfillment of this through Global Missions and other Bible-centered outreaches today.

Diversion.

In the setting of an ecstatic speaking in tongues Ellen White wrote about "those who will treat as something of great importance these peculiar manifestations, which are not of God, but which are calculated to divert the minds of many away from the teachings of the Word" (Selected Messages, 2:41, emphasis supplied).

Note the fruitage of such experiencesdiverting minds from the teachings of the Word. And she warned:

"We cannot afford to sanction anything that would bring in confusion and weaken our zeal in regard to the great work that God has given us to do in the world to prepare for the second coming of Christ" (Selected Messages, 2:42, emphasis supplied).

Paul said, "I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue" (1 Cor 14:19).

When a couple from Ohio came to Ellen White and offered to exhibit their ecstatic experience for her approval, she replied, "I have been instructed that when one offers to exhibit these peculiar manifestations, this is a decided evidence that it is not the work of God" (Selected Messages, 2:42).

Guidelines.

Note some of the guidelines God has given us for these last days:

1. "The Holy Spirit . . . always comes . . . in a way that commends itself to the judgment of the people. In our speaking, our singing, and in all our spiritual exercises, we are to reveal that calmness and dignity and godly fear that actuates every true child of God" (ibid., p. 43).

2. "Impressions and feelings are no sure evidence that a person is led by the Lord. Satan will, if he is unsuspected, give feelings and impressions. These are not safe guides" (Testimonies for the Church, 1:413).

3. "The Lord requires His people to use their reason, and not lay it aside for impressions. His work will be intelligible to all His children. His teaching will be such as will commend itself to the understanding of intelligent minds. It is calculated to elevate the mind" (ibid., p. 230).

4. "The most profitable meetings for spiritual advancement are those which are characterized with solemnity and deep searching of heart; each seeking to know himself, and earnestly, and in deep humility, seeking to learn of Christ" (ibid., p. 412).

5. "Some rejoice and exult that they have the gifts, which others have not. May God deliver His people from such gifts. What do these gifts do for them?" (ibid., pp. 418, 419).

6. "We must be very careful to guard against everything that savors of fanaticism and disorder. We must guard against all peculiar exercises that would be likely to stir up the mind of unbelievers, and lead them to think that as a people we are led by impulse, and delight in noise and confusion accompanied by eccentricities of action" (Selected Messages, 2:41).

7. "Let God's people act so that the world will see that Seventh-day Adventists are an intelligent, thinking people, whose faith is based on a surer foundation than the bedlam of confusion" (ibid., p. 24).

Today the "gift of tongues" is gathering people of all religions and beliefs--Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Spiritualists, cultists--under one mighty umbrella. The only criterion for "belonging" is to be able to "speak in tongues." It is an ecumenical movement without precedent.

Healings.

Often linked with tongues are healings. A convert to the movement wrote:

"When Ken prayed for me, he prayed in a beautiful language I had never heard before. You might have intellectual arguments against the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, but when somebody prays for you in tongues and heals you, what is there left to argue about? That was the first time I had heard someone manifesting a new language."[3]

Soon after this person was healed he began speaking in tongues. How direct and timely is the caution:

"Some will be tempted to receive these wonders as from God. The sick will be healed before us. Miracles will be performed in our sight. Are we prepared for the trial which awaits us when the lying wonders of Satan shall be more fully exhibited? Will not many souls be ensnared and taken? By departing from the plain precepts and commandments of God, and giving heed to fables, the minds of many are preparing to receive these lying wonders. We must all now seek to arm ourselves for the contest in which we must soon engage. Faith in God's Word, prayerfully studied and practically applied, will be our shield from Satan's power and will bring us off conquerors through the blood of Christ" (Testimonies for the Church, 1:302).

We must always remember the inspired counsel: "Every statement and every miracle must be tested" "by the Holy Scriptures" (The Great Controversy, p. 593). Ellen White also stated, "The man who makes the working of miracles the test of his faith will find that Satan can, through a species of deceptions, perform wonders that will appear to be genuine miracles" (Selected Messages, 2:52).

Her thought-provoking warning is: "Those who do not accept the Word of God just as it reads, will be snared in his [Satan's] trap" (ibid.) But she offered this comforting admonition: "You must learn the simple art of taking God at His word; then you have solid ground beneath your feet" (My Life Today, p. 10).

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Rock Music, Drugs and Satan Worship

Cam was a very articulate young man, reared in an Adventist home. But for some time he was committed to rock music and drugs. Then he came face to face with Satan and it seemed that Satan was going to destroy him. During this experience he felt the tug of the Holy Spirit's power. He awakened his parents early one morning to tell them of the subtly deceiving LSD trip he had been through. That morning, through earnest prayer and Bible study, this young man found Christ as his personal Savior. He now wants people to realize that "rock groups turn kids on to drugs, and under the influence of drugs, rock music leaves an open channel for the working of Satan on the mind and body." Many young people are turning to drugs, alcohol, sexual promiscuity, rebellion, and the occult. "Eight out of ten songs," he told me, "promote in a subtle way these evils. Those who listen to such music are inviting Satan to work in their minds. Even rock 'n' roll as `Christian rock' often leads its listeners into the charismatic movement and the Christian coalition, with its pro church-and-state agenda."

Through the prophetic utterances of God's messenger, Satan's schemes are unmasked. We read in Education, p. 167, that "Music is often perverted to serve purposes of evil, and it thus becomes one of the most alluring agencies of temptation."

"Association with worldliness in musical lines is looked upon as harmless by some Sabbathkeepers," Mrs. White wrote in 1900. "But such ones are on dangerous ground. Thus Satan seeks to lead men and women astray, and thus he has gained control of souls. So smooth, so plausible is the working of the enemy that his wiles are not suspected" (Selected Messages, 3:332). "Music, when not abused, is a great blessing; but when put to a wrong use, it is a terrible curse. . . Satan is leading the young captive. Oh, what can I say to lead them to break his power of infatuation! He is a skillful charmer, luring them on to perdition" (Testimonies for the Church, 1:497).

Dangers Today.

Cam is greatly concerned about the music many young people of our church are listening to and singing, even in our religious services. As to the secular music, many do not seem to realize what the words mean and to what end they lead. "Some songs have language so vulgar," he insisted, "that one wouldn't dare to read it in a mixed group, yet the young people everywhere are singing these songs and do not know what they are singing. Some songs cannot really be fully understood until a person is under the influence of drugs." He stated that "rock music today is progressing into deeper and heavier portrayals of grosser sins with unbelievable rapidity."

One rock group a number of years ago claimed to have made an album in a noon break at their studio and cut it before it was three hours old after they had worked themselves into a frenzy in a most "frantic session." Cam explained to me that it is impossible to make a recording of such perfection in just three hours. This could only be done through Satan's influence. Many such rock groups have nearly instantaneous success, when all they produce is loud noise which one could scarcely call music. Cam feels that the only explanation for such success is that Satan is the leader of the groups.

Ellen White wrote of Satan's influence in religious services just before the close of probation:

"Every uncouth thing will be demonstrated. There will be shouting, with drums, music, and dancing. The senses of rational beings will become so confused that they cannot be trusted to make right decisions. . . . This is an invention of Satan to cover up his ingenious methods for making of none effect the pure, sincere, elevating, ennobling, sanctifying truth for this time. . . . The powers of satanic agencies blend with the din and noise, to have a carnival, and this is termed the Holy Spirit's working" (Selected Messages, 2:36).

Could it be that these prophetic words describe the Christian rock music leading to experiences attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit?

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A Predicted Turning to Oriental Religions

Young people whose minds have been distorted by the use of drugs and through these drugs have had mystical experiences often turn to Eastern cults and devil worship. As one writer puts it, "I have yet to find a Satan worshiper who did not first open his mind to mystical experiences through drugs. Devil worshipers are graduates of the school of psychedelia."[4]

In explaining the art of meditation to an inquirer, a robed religious teacher (swami) in Calcutta stated, "We're sort of a `spiritual United Nations,' seeking to unite all religions of the world through meditation."[5]

Listen to what Ellen White saw would happen in the end time:

"With the imagination highly wrought, and voices musically tuned, they picture the broad road as one of happiness and glory. . . . Satan . . . covers his hideous purposes, and succeeds too well in deluding the unwary who are not firmly anchored upon eternal truth" (Evangelism, p. 609).

Pleasing Forms.

"There are many who shrink with horror from the thought of consulting spirit mediums, but who are attracted by more pleasing forms of spiritism. Others are led astray . . . by the mysticism of Theosophy and other Oriental religions" (Prophets and Kings, p. 210).

In our day a rising interest in astrology and psychic hotlines, new age movements, and channeling are the modern ways Satan is flattering his way to gain people's interest in his deceptions.

My friend Cam has served as a Bible instructor for 5½ years and welcomes opportunities to alert young people to the dangers of Satan's allurements. He is grateful for God's forgiving grace which has released him from this world of rock music and drugs. As he studied the Bible and the writings of Ellen G. White, he exclaimed, "Ellen White is so far ahead of her times that many can't grasp it. It is about time we were catching up." He cites The Ministry of Healing, p. 503, showing that God's people "need an experience much higher, deeper, broader, than many have yet thought of having." With all our religious advantages, we ought to know far more than we do about this experience.

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Cities Becoming Like Sodom

Many of our evangelists and leaders have given study to the challenge of the cities: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Manila, Accra, Rio de Janeiro, and other cities of the world. City work in general has been researched to find ways to gain access to these citadels of sin. In 1909 the Holy Spirit moved God's servant to declare that in these cities, "The corruption that prevails is beyond the power of the human pen to describe" (Testimonies for the Church, 9:89).

She wrote, "The cities of today are fast becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah" (ibid.). Years ago a columnist for Newsweek wrote: "We're living in a Babylonian society more Babylonian than Babylon itself. . . . All codes have been broken down."[6] The passage of time has made his statement all the more true.

Hope for Cities.

But there is also a message of hope! In spite of the gross wickedness of the cities, the Lord's messenger wrote:

"In every city, filled though it may be with violence and crime, there are many who with proper teaching may learn to become followers of Jesus. Thousands may thus be reached with saving truth and be led to receive Christ as a personal Saviour" (Prophets and Kings, p. 277).

In another statement she wrote, "The millions living in these congested centers are to hear the third angel's message" (Evangelism, p. 35). Praise God that through modern technology the word of God is circling the earth by radio and television, aiding the powerful witness of preaching and of personal work.

What a challenge!

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Glimpses of the Future

And now for a few quick glimpses into the future through the eyes of the prophet. In The Great Controversy Ellen White predicted the advance of the message under the latter rain when God's people, with faces lighted up, "will hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from heaven" (p. 612).

Thousands will join in giving the warning. God's people will then work miracles. Satan too will work miracles, "even bringing down fire from heaven" (ibid.).

Church and State.

She saw trouble ahead for the United States as its government would "repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government." This traumatic experience was to follow the forming of a "threefold union" with Protestant America stretching its hand "over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism" and the papacy (Testimonies for the Church, 5:451).

She wrote of coming Sunday laws and the problems they will bring, and then she gave the assurance that "the faithful servants of God need not fear the outcome of the conflict" (Review and Herald, Sept. 30, 1909). "It is God that shields His creatures and hedges them in from the power of the destroyer" (The Great Controversy, p. 589).

Shaking.

Another view given through the eyes of the prophet relates to the shaking that will come to the church--an experience in which "the church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall." Ellen White explained that the church remains, but "the sinners in Zion will be sifted out—the chaff separated from the precious wheat" (Selected Messages, 2:380). This she declared will be "a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place." This glimpse of the future should lead every member to look well into his own soul.

But even in this terrible crisis the ranks of the church will not dwindle. "But there are men who will receive the truth, and these will take the places made vacant by those who become offended and leave the truth. . . . The Lord will work so that the disaffected ones will be separated from the true and loyal ones. . . . The ranks will not be diminished. Those who are firm and true will close up the vacancies that are made by those who become offended and apostatize" (ibid., 3:422).

In order for us to attain this experience she urged a personal study of the Bible as of paramount importance, the acceptance of Christ as a personal Savior, heeding the word of the prophets, and a responsible reaction to the counsels relayed through them.

True Tongues.

And through the prophetic word we learn of the great things that are to take place in the final warning when with power the "events of the day of Pentecost shall be repeated." Ellen White wrote, not of speaking in unknown tongues, but of the genuine gift of known languages by which the message will be shared:

"Then, as at the Pentecostal season, the people will hear the truth spoken to them, every man in his own tongue. . . . Thousands of voices will be imbued with the power to speak forth the wonderful truths of God's Word. The stammering tongue will be unloosed, and the timid will be made strong to bear courageous testimony to the truth" (Review and Herald, July 20, 1886).

"The work of conquering evil is to be done through faith," she wrote. "Those who go into the battlefield will find that they must put on the whole armor of God. The shield of faith will be their defense and will enable them to be more than conquerors. Nothing else will avail but this—faith in the Lord of Hosts, and obedience to His orders. Vast armies furnished with every other facility will avail nothing in the last great conflict. Without faith, an angel host could not help. Living faith alone will make them invincible and enable them to stand in the evil day, steadfast, unmovable, holding the beginning of their confidence firm unto the end" (Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, pp. 182, 183).

Let us give heed to God's "sure word of prophecy" and know that "victories are . . . gained . . . by simple obedience to the highest General, the Lord God of heaven. He who trusts in this Leader will never know defeat" (Testimonies for the Church, 6:140).

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Notes

1. Arthur L. White, Ellen G. White: The Early Years 1827-1862 (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald Publishing Assn., 1985), p. 67.

2. Endtime Issues, February 2001, insert.

3. Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship Voice, July/August 1972.

4. David Wilkerson, Witchcraft, pp. 2, 3.

5. Bob Larson, Hippies, Hindus, and Rock and Roll (McCook, Neb., 1969), pp. 39-40.

6. Newsweek, Nov. 13, 1967, p. 75.

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