by P. Gerard Damsteegt
Church History Department,
S. D. A. Theological Seminary,
Author, Foundations of the Seventh-day Adventist Message and Mission
What does it mean to prepare for Christ's return?
Seventh-day Adventists are confident about the return of Jesus. He will come soon.
Yet for most of us this blessed hope has very little impact on our day-to-day living. Our lives are filled with our daily routine, jobs, plans, projects, and aspirations, trying to fulfill our dreams for the future.
Our young people attending church-operated academies, colleges, and universities are choosing careers that will guarantee good-paying, secure jobs. The growing number of our youth who are attending public schools do likewise. They find respectable careers that offer security and a good income. That is their main focus.
A general feeling permeates many of our churches that, as long as you love the Lord, regularly attend church, pay your tithe, respect the Sabbath, assist from time to time with church work, and do not do anything really bad, Jesus will take care of you and you will be all right when He returns. Many go beyond this and reason that since we are saved by faith only, not by our works, what we do is not even important. Some feel that we ought not to worry about any special preparations for Jesus return, as long as we love Him. Jesus will come at His determined time, and we cannot do anything about it anyway.
But what does the Bible teach about preparing for the Second Advent? Is there any indication that we need to make special preparations for it beyond expressing faith and love in the Lord Jesus Christ?
The Bible reveals that at every major juncture in the history of salvation, God in love informed His people of His plans. Throughout the ages they have found comfort in His promise, Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets (Am 3:7).
Looking at the message and experience of the prophet Elijah, we will examine what the Bible says on the importance of preparing for Gods major events. This will provide us insights on how we ought to prepare for the Second Advent just before us.
Coming Judgments. Throughout history God has sought fellowship with mankind. Through the symbolic worship service of the sacrificial system of the sanctuary He revealed to His covenant people the good news of salvation. He selected spiritual leaders that had the proper qualifications to teach His people how to be saved through His mercy and escape the corruption of sin.
Yet time and time again the people departed from Gods law and His testimonies, following the deceptions of Satan and bringing inevitable judgments. In attempting to avert these tragic consequences, God sent His messengers, the prophets, to prepare His people to avoid these judgments by coming back into a covenant relationship with Him.
One of the greatest reformers He used was the prophet Elijah. In a time of deep apostasy God chose him as His special messenger to warn His people of their impending doom. Great was the apathy of the people. Almost single-handedly Elijah faced the nation, denouncing their evil ways and calling them to repentance. His work was to restore among Gods people the worship of the true God which foreign worship forms and practices had displaced. He called the people to a radical decision to abandon false worship practices and to return to the Lord. Elijahs message became a pattern for all true reformers. And Scripture links it to both the First and Second Advents of Christ.
Preparation for the First Advent
Scripture associates the spirit and power of Elijahs message with the work of preparing a people for one of the greatest events in the history of salvation: the First Advent of Christ.
Jesus identified the ministry of John the Baptist as the work that was preparing the people for His first coming. Quoting Malachi 3:1, He told His hearers that John is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You (Mt 11:10, NKJV here and throughout). He added that John was Elijah who was to come (v. 14).
Reinforcing the importance of this work of preparation is the fact that prior to Johns birth the angel gave special instruction to his father about Johns lifestyle and mission. As to lifestyle, he instructed that John shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mothers womb (Lk 1:15).
Like Elijah. Regarding the nature of Johns ministry, the angel said that he will also go before Him [the Messiah] in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (v. 17). This indicates that John was to be a reformer like Elijah.
The type of preparatory work John would do was similar to that of Elijahs mission. Jesus explained that John was to restore all things (Mt 17:11). This restoration characterized the preparatory work of John the Baptist.
Six months before Jesus began His ministry, John began preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. In fulfillment of Isaiahs prophecy, Scripture describes Johns ministry as the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; and the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God (Lk 3:3-6).
Thus, in the spirit and power of Elijah, John preached a radical reformation, calling on Gods people to bear fruits worthy of repentance (v. 8). It was a message to prepare people for the Messiahs first coming.
Preparation for the Second Advent
The next event of monumental significance after the First Advent is the Second Advent that will bring an end to all sin. If the Scriptures place such importance on the need to prepare for the First Advent, should we not expect to see a similar call to prepare for Christs Second Advent?
Some very specific Bible prophecies tell of events to unfold just prior to Christs return. These prophecies demand special preparation on the part of Gods people. They tell how to prepare for the climax of the centuries. Failure to take them seriously will cripple our preparation for the Second Advent.
Warning Message. As God sent a message to warn humanity before He destroyed the world by a flood, so He will send a warning message before the destruction of the present world by fire.
Malachis prophecy about the coming of Elijah before the Day of the Lord was not completely fulfilled at the First Advent of Christ. At that time the great day of judgment, the Day of the Lord, was not imminent. That event would take place at the conclusion of the time of the end. This makes Malachis prediction very relevant for today.
In harmony with Gods promise to send Elijah, the book of Revelation (18:1) reveals that just prior to the destruction of Babylon, the Lord will send a warning message which will enlighten the whole earth with the glory of the Lord, revealing Gods purposes and final actions in the great controversy drama and bringing everyone to a decision.
Remnant. How will He give this warning? Just as He has done throughout history, God will use His faithful remnant to do this unique work. This final demonstration of Gods love and His righteousness will be the greatest revival of the centuries, preparing the world for the Second Advent.
Elijah will come by Gods raising up messengers in the spirit and power of Elijah to perform a mighty work for the Lord. This work will restore the relevant truth for this timethe present truth, which will prepare the world to be ready for the return of Jesus Christ and provide the means for everyone to escape Gods final judgment on unrighteousness.
Jesus Urgent Appeals. Jesus promises and admonitions underscore the seriousness of preparing for the Second Advent. Just before the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus assured His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them in heaven. When this preparation is completed, He will come again to take them to their heavenly homes.
Realizing the weaknesses of human nature, Jesus warned His followers not to lose sight of this beautiful promise, diverting their focus from His return to the things that the world considers priorities.
Because no one knows the exact moment of His return, it is easy to get careless during the waiting period. As the antediluvians had neglected to prepare for the flood, Jesus predicted a similar lack of readiness just before His return: But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be (Mt 24:37-39).
Watch and Pray. How can we avoid repeating this sad history? Jesus warns, Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man (Lk 21:36). He points out the urgency of escaping the coming judgments, to stand before Him when the sky parts and He appears as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19).
The great question for us to consider is the cry of the lost on the Day of the Lord: Who is able to stand? (Rev 6:17).
Scripture is plain that failure to watch and pray constantly will lead to such involvement with daily affairs that the Day of the Lord will surprise us as a thief in the night (1 Thess 5:2). Jesus strongly urges His followers to make earnest preparations, not to be caught off guard: But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth (Lk 21:34, 35).
Those who accept His warnings, making serious preparation for His coming, will not be in darkness that the close of human probation should surprise them as a thief (1 Thess 5:4).
Jesus calls for us to be ready: Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him (Mt 24:44). His followers are not only to prepare daily but to be ready at any time.
This calls for serious reflection. If He returned today, would we be ready to meet Him? Are we ready for heaven if death should come upon us today? Are we prepared to face the judgment? What does the Lord expect of us in this time of preparation?
The Call to Watch. As we noted, Jesus said to watch and pray (Lk 21:36). What does Jesus want us to watch? His last sermon on the Mount of Olives clearly urges us to watch the signs of the times of His return. Those who heed this counsel will study the Scriptures to discover the harbingers of the Second Advent. They are people of prophecy, ready to identify every sign Providence gives.
These students of Gods Word will not be fanatical, reading newspapers with paranoia and setting speculative times for the next sign to take place. They will, however, be well acquainted with the Bibles scenario of the last acts in the great controversy drama.
They will focus on the present truth in prophecy and closely observe how the prophecy of Revelation 13 is being fulfilled. They will watch the astonishing transformation of a country that has been the worlds strongest defender of freedom of religion. They will notice this precious freedom gradually being taken away and a dreadful image of the beast being formed that will persecute Gods people.
In response, they will do everything in their power to defend the divine privilege of all to worship God according to the dictates of conscience. They will tell others of the tragic results of taking away this freedom.
The Call to Pray. In the light of the Second Advent, what is the meaning of Jesus call to pray? While the signs of the times occur in rapid succession, those who pray for Christs coming kingdom will call upon Him to establish His kingdom soon. Praying daily Thy kingdom come (Mt 6:10) will bring the assurance that no matter how long we have to wait, His kingdom will surely come.
For our encouragement the Lord has given us prophetic signs to keep this promise alive in our minds. Every fulfilling sign will inspire us to greater dedication, remembering the promise to look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draws near (Lk 21:28). These signs of the times make our prayers more intentional and meaningful as they help us to keep the Advent hope alive in our hearts.
Jesus, however, will not inaugurate the kingdom of glory before the preparation for the coming of the Second Advent is done. This work involves first of all a personal preparation, and secondly, a preparation of the whole world to meet the Lord.
Elijah and the Time of the End
The life and work of Elijah, one of Gods most outstanding reformers, reveals our work of preparing for the Second Advent.
Malachi prophesied, Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers (Mal 4:5, 6).
Here Elijah is a type or symbol of the work that prepares people to meet the Lord at His coming. This prophecy gives us a glimpse of Gods compassion for the world, in which He brings about a work that is to prepare the people for the Day of Judgment so that they can escape the seven last plagues.
Malachis prophecy makes it clear that Elijahs work will change the hearts of Gods people. It will bring about a reformation that prepares people for the Day of the Lord and Christs return.
The prophet Elijah lived in a time of great apostasy. At the head of this apostasy were the leaders of Gods people, who had departed from the truth more than any others before them. Scripture stated, And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him (1 Kgs 16:30). This situation brought on Gods wrath: Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him (v. 33).
Departures from Truth. The spiritual and moral decline among Gods people did not take place suddenly but gradually. It began with Solomon, deepened with Jeroboam, and reached its awful depth in Elijahs time. What were some of the departures that led to such apostasy?
Violation of the marriage covenant. Departure from the truth began a century earlier with Solomon, reputed to be the wisest man on earth. In spite of his fame he fell into sin by disregarding the plain counsels of Scripture regarding lifes most intimate relationshipmarriage. His personal passions took priority over the principles of Scripture, and he departed from the biblical principles of the marriage relation, taking multiple wives, among them even unbelievers.
The Bible records this strong censure: But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittitesfrom the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods. Solomon clung to these in love (1 Kgs 11:1, 2).
These intimate relations with unbelievers led him astray in the end. For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David (v. 4).
How did this happen? To please his unbelieving wives, he not only allowed them to have their own worship preferences, but he took an ecumenical attitude and personally participated in these deviant forms of worship. The Scriptures, however, judge his behavior as totally unacceptable, stating bluntly, Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord (v. 6).
New forms of worship. With the next king, Jeroboam, the apostasy deepened. This king was not satisfied to have his people faithfully worship their God and attend the religious services in the house of the Lord. Jealously he surmised that if his subjects attended the annual religious festivals in Jerusalem he would lose his popularity, the peoples support, and finally his job.
To prevent the people from worshiping in Judea, Jeroboam decided to compete with the Jerusalem church by offering an alternative worship that would be easier and less demanding than the traditional worship that God had outlined to His prophets. Thus he made two calves of gold, and said to the people, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt. And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan (1 Kgs 12:28, 29).
Low standards for spiritual leaders. Jeroboam next lowered the standards for spiritual leadership. The Bible gives no reason for his actions, but one may safely assume that not everyone went along with his plans for revised worship. In order to attract sufficient new leadership for the new worship styles, he disregarded the biblical requirements for leadership. Scripture states that the king made priests from every class of people, who were not of the sons of Levi (v. 31).
Personal ambitions or desires, not Scripture, became the standard for qualifying as a spiritual leader. Thus the king would set apart or ordain anyone who felt called to lead Gods people: Whoever wished, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places (1 Kgs 13:33). Most people saw nothing wrong with these changes, but Scripture saw it differently: And this thing was the sin of the house of Jeroboam (v. 34).
No Fear of the Lord. In the time of Elijah, the fear of the Lord had diminished so much that Gods people were no longer concerned about the false worship forms. These had become a light matter, firmly established and nothing to worry about. Commenting on the attitude of leadership, Scripture states, And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him [Ahab] to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and went and served Baal and worshiped him (1 Kgs 16:31).
Foreign Worship. The driving force behind the new worship trends came from the powerful influences of the pagan nations worship practices. Israels leader loved what he saw in one of these nations so much that he did not see anything wrong in making an alliance through marriage. This alliance impacted his personal life and the life of the nation. But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up (1 Kgs 21:25). This intimate relationship with an unbeliever paved the way for one of the deepest apostasies among Gods people.
Trained Leaders. Israels experience shows that the type of leadership determines the success of apostasy. The new worship styles required a specialized ministry, leaders who had been trained by the fallen nations in these worship styles. They facilitated the adoption of worship practices foreign to the heritage of Gods people. Scripture informs us that there were the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah. The national leadership favored these priests skilled in the pagan worship stylesthey ate at Jezebels table (1 Kgs 18:19). With such a force of false teachers one can understand the full-scale apostasy in Elijahs time.
Persecution. The national leadership strongly promoted the new worship forms. Any defense of Gods worship style was politically incorrect. Truth was unpopular and its defenders were persecuted. So many feared to stand up for the truth that Elijah felt that he was the only one left faithful to the Lord. Seeing no sign of public support, he shared his disappointment with the Lord: I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life (1 Kgs 19:10).
Leadership was determined to make the new worship styles a success. Traditional worship services were no longer tolerated, and strong action was taken to eliminate any opposition. Systematic persecution began against Gods faithful ministers: Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord (1 Kgs 18:13). When God used Elijah to bring about a revival and reformation, Jezebel issued a death decree against him: So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them [the prophets of Baal who were killed] by tomorrow about this time (1 Kgs 19:2).
Although they did not dare to speak up openly, God still had believers who refused to participate in the popular worship forms. The Lord comforted Elijah, saying, Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him (v. 18).
These examples show clearly that apostasy leads to a change in the style of worship. This is not surprising, because apostasy affects the way we view God, which in turn influences our reverence for Him, how we communicate and relate to Him, and finally, our behavior and lifestyle, even in worship.
Elijahs message resulted from his prayers and his intimate relationship with the Lord. The Bible states that he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months (James 5:17). This prayer shows that he recognized the apostate condition of his people and longed for a change for the better. He realized that such a change could only come as the result of divine judgment on his people. Thus he interceded with God for his own people, calling for divine judgments to awaken them from their apathy towards the apostasy. The people desperately needed to hear a straight testimony that would cure their spiritual paralysis.
Judgment Message. Because Elijah interceded, the Lord sent him a message of judgment to proclaim to the leaders who had been promoting the new worship styles. He said to Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word (1 Kgs 17:1).
Conditions for prosperity and adversity. Scripture clearly states that rain was one of the blessings of obedience: And it shall be that if you diligently obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season . . . (Deut 11:13-15).
Since the time of Moses, Scripture had pointed out that a departure from the true worship of God leads to disaster: Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, lest the Lords anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you (vv. 16, 17).
The judgments that the Elijah message announced were simply the result of departing from Gods counsels and following the worship of the apostate nations around them.
The cause of calamity. After Israel suffered from years of famine, Elijah appeared again in public and pointed to the real reason for the present calamity. Elijahs message was clear and direct: they had failed to follow the plain counsels of the Lord. In addressing Ahab, he said, you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and you have followed the Baals (1 Kgs 18:18).
Confronting Apostasy. Elijah knew that the issues dividing Gods people needed clear identification and decisive action. No politically correct positions for the sake of preserving peace would do.
Elijah called for a general conference of all believers to bring an open confrontation between true and false worship. He invited everyone to Mount Carmel to investigate the worth of the false and true worship forms. He commanded, Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah (1 Kgs 18:19).
Call to take sides. The meeting Elijah called for had to produce results. Thus he appealed to everyone to take a firm position on the issue of worship. The message called on the people to give up their indecisiveness and to take sides openly, no longer remaining neutral. And Elijah came to all the people, and said, How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him. But the people answered him not a word (v. 21).
Error Exposed. During the investigation Elijahs message exposed the error of false worship. He showed the utter bankruptcy of the new worship forms, calling to the false prophets, Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping, and must be awakened (v. 27).
Restoring True Worship. After having demonstrated the utter failure of the apostate practices and teachings, Elijahs message arrived at its ultimate objective: restoring Gods true worship.
Foundations. The first thing, therefore, that Elijah did was to call the people together and restore the foundations of true worship, the altar around which all worship of God centered. And Elijah said to all the people, Come near to me. So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down (v. 30). Here on the altar the only sacrifice for sin is lifted up before every worshiper, calling attention to the ultimate price that was paid for our redemption.
Such simple, uncomplicated worship leads people into a new covenant relationship through deep repentance and affliction of soul. The new covenant brings the worshiper into a relationship of loving obedience to the Lamb of God who takes away our sins. The worshiper asks what is pleasing to God and how He wants to be worshiped as Creator, not what kind of worship style we like or prefer and what makes us feel comfortable.
Reformation. When the people saw the result of Elijahs message of true worship, they fell on their faces; and they said, The Lord, He is God! the Lord, He is God! (v. 39).
Elijahs message did not simply restore genuine worship practices, it did away with all apostate teachings. The false teachings and teachers had to be eliminated from among Gods people. When the false teachers offered no sign of repentance, Elijah called on Gods people for a radical removal of the sources of apostasy, commanding, Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let one of them escape! So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Brook Kishon and executed them there (v. 40).
Results of the Elijah Message
It changes the heart. The results of the Elijah message are impressive. It will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children (Mal 4:6). This message leads to bridging any gap in family relations. Fully accepted, it brings unity instead of separation. It leads to reconciliation, stops divorce proceedings, ends lawsuits between Gods people, and rejuvenates family happiness, for where Jesus rules, happiness reigns supreme. The result will be a home that is truly a heaven on earth, a model of Christian love, and the most powerful demonstration of what God can accomplish in families.
It leads back to the original faith. The heart-changing influence of the message has even deeper consequences. Malachi stated that the message will turn . . . the hearts of the children to their fathers. In the end-time setting, this means that it would lead people to return to the faith of their fathersthe simple but powerful faith of the early church as well as a revival of the faith of the Adventist pioneers.
In the pioneer experiences we see the power of the Holy Spirit especially at work, and we see the message and mission that God has given to His remnant. Understanding Gods original purpose for His people in preparing the way for Jesus return will bring a revival. We will also better understand how to fulfill the task that lies before us. Truly, we have nothing to fear for the future, unless we have forgotten Gods leading and teaching in the history of His people.
It brings persecution. Elijahs message did not go unopposed. The public exposure and resultant failure of the apostate worship brought violent reactionpersecution.
After Elijahs message at Mount Carmel, Jezebel tried to kill him. He explained his desperate situation to the Lord, stating, they seek to take my life (1 Kgs 19:10). The promoters of the false worship styles tried to destroy Gods messenger and the message of reform he bore, but the Almighty protected him and he continued unharmed.
It carries an eternal reward. Proclaiming the message of reform brought rich results. Faithful Elijah was translated to heaven. Suddenly, a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, . . . and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven (2 Kgs 2:11).
When Gods people go forward in the spirit and power of Elijah, faithfully presenting an unadulterated message, their work will have an effect similar to that of Elijahs message on his generation. In the same way, our faithfulness in proclaiming the three angels messages will receive abundant reward when we enter the glorious heavenly mansions the Lord is preparing.
When Is the Elijah Message Preached?
Bible prophecy says the Elijah message will be proclaimed just before the Day of the Lord, which begins with the seven last plagues. This message will be given by a people who will go forward in the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare a people ready for the Second Advent.
According to Ellen G. White, Adventists around 1844 proclaimed the Elijah message. Thousands were led to embrace the truth preached by William Miller, and servants of God were raised up in the spirit and power of Elijah to proclaim the message (Early Writings, p. 233).
Today. In commenting on Elijahs dealings with apostasy, the servant of the Lord stressed todays need for the Elijah message to correct the apathy toward sin among Gods people: Today there is need of the voice of stern rebuke; for grievous sins have separated the people from God. Infidelity is fast becoming fashionable. We will not have this man to reign over us, is the language of thousands. Luke 19:14. The smooth sermons so often preached make no lasting impression; the trumpet does not give a certain sound. Men are not cut to the heart by the plain, sharp truths of Gods word (Prophets and Kings, p. 140).
She bemoaned the lack of ministers like Elijah and saw that many have fallen victim to compromise: So men who should be standing as faithful guardians of Gods law have argued, till policy has taken the place of faithfulness, and sin is allowed to go unreproved. When will the voice of faithful rebuke be heard once more in the church? (ibid., p. 141).
She expressed a deep desire for ministers and leaders to live up to their divine calling: Would that every minister might realize the sacredness of his office and the holiness of his work, and show the courage that Elijah showed! As divinely appointed messengers, ministers are in a position of awful responsibility. They are to reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering. 2 Timothy 4:2. In Christs stead they are to labor as stewards of the mysteries of heaven, encouraging the obedient and warning the disobedient. With them worldly policy is to have no weight. Never are they to swerve from the path in which Jesus has bidden them walk (ibid., p. 142).
Then she stated what kind of message God calls them to proclaim today: Their message is to be, Thus saith the Lord. God calls for men like Elijah, Nathan, and John the Baptistmen who will bear His message with faithfulness, regardless of the consequences; men who will speak the truth bravely, though it call for the sacrifice of all they have (ibid.).
These urgent appeals make it obvious why Scripture has chosen the prophet Elijah as a type of those who will proclaim a similar message today as did Elijah. Gods remnant church is characterized as Laodicea, revealing a spirit of apathy. It should come as no surprise to us that God will raise up people who, in the spirit and power of Elijah, confront apostasy and do everything possible to lead Gods people back to His way, ready to stand in the Day of the Lord.
How to Be Filled With the Spirit and Power of Elijah
Many Adventists have heard about the Elijah message, but few have made this subject a serious, prayerful study. The Lord has given some crucial information through Ellen G. White about how to receive the Holy Spirit so that we will be filled with the spirit and power of Elijah, ready to be a part of the exciting adventure of preparing others for the Second Advent. Here is the simple but profound advice that will transform our lives.
Study the Word of God deeply. We need first to become thoroughly dependent upon the Lord by the study of His Word. There is too little dependence upon God. When God would have a special work done for the advancement of the truth, He will impress men to work in the mines of truth with prayerful earnestness to discover the precious ore. These men will have Christlike perseverance. They will not fail or be discouraged. They will sink self out of sight in Jesus (The 1888 Materials, p. 169). Only after having thoroughly digested His Word and obtained a knowledge of the present truth message will we be able to catch the spirit of Elijah that will drive us forward as successful witnesses for the truth.
Share Gods Word, lifting up Christ. Second, we need to share what we have obtained from the mines of truth regarding the Second Advent and Gods special message that will get peoples attention and commitment. Said the messenger of the Lord: They are to preach Gods Word; their testimony must not be molded by the opinions and ideas that have been regarded as sound, but by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. They are to lift up Christ and call sinners to repentance (ibid.).
No human opinions, ideas, and methods must dilute the proclamation of the three angels messages, the Elijah message of the last days. No human strategies but Gods methods are to be used to arouse the churches and the world. When we unreservedly follow the counsels given to us by the Lords messenger, we will be able to share Gods Word most effectively and draw the minds of people to Christ. In Him alone will we obtain the repentance we need to stand in the Day of the Lord.
Practice the graces of Christ. Finally, we need to present the Elijah message with the same tact and courtesy as our Lord used when He brought the bread of life to starving souls. Those who deliver the Eljiah message are to practice the graces of Christ, to pursue a straightforward course, breaking down skepticism and urging upon all their personal responsibility to be kind and courteous, to do good and to win souls to Jesus (ibid.).
Results. As we take these three steps, we will be able to go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare the way for the second advent of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is their work to make crooked things straight. Some things must be torn down, some things must be built up. The old treasures must be reset in a framework of truth (ibid.).
When we fulfill the conditions, God will have an army that will go forward conquering the enemy territory and obtaining victory after victory. In a short time the whole earth will be illuminated with His glory, and many will be ready for the Second Advent.