[Sermon presented at East Texas Rally, Le Tourneau University campus, Longview, TX, March 10, 2001 – by Herbert E. Douglass, Th.D.]
Never Been This Late Before –
Mark Finley tells the story of a young teenager whose daily job was to clean up a clock store in upstate Vermont. Has anyone been in a clock store at the top of the hour? Do all the clocks chime or gong at once? Hardly! To try to synchronize dozens of clocks would drive someone crazy. So our young man was used to all the variations. But, one afternoon, it was different in that Vermont clock store. One clock chimed on--twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen. . . . thirty-three, thirty-four. That was too much for that teenager. He ran from the building, shouting in the street: "Its never been this late before!"
When I read my newspaper or my weekly news magazines these days, I know how that boy felt: "It has never been this late before!" If you haven't come to that conclusion, you either haven't been reading newspapers or the book of Revelation!
Those of us who are at least over 30 have a very strong sense that God has pushed the fast-forward button. We don't seem to be walking into the future anymore. The future seems to be galloping into us! In fact, we can hardly get our breath before the next news program reminds us that “It’s never been this late before!”
This is no time for half-hearted repentance, no time for a permissive gospel that promises a Saviour from the penalty of sin but no Saviour from the power of sin. This is no time for a soft gospel that doesn't produce overcomers!
This is no time for confusing confession for repentance, or for casual witnessing for Christ, or for playing church! Too many have been taking spiritual holidays--it's time to come back to reality. We are living in the end of the time of the end!
Events foretold in the Book of Revelation and in the writings of Ellen White are now being fulfilled that were not even on the horizon 25 years ago. Yes, we talked about some of them, in a general way, but none of us then could point to events even remotely like what we see on the front pages today.
Let's look at some of these predictions that we merely romanticized about for years. "It's never been this late before!"
I. Jesus will return when we can destroy ourselves. We could spend the next hour just reviewing the latest survey of how many nations have intercontinental ballistic missiles that did not have them ten years ago. Let’s connect with Revelation 11:18, and the sounding of the seventh trumpet (seventh—there is no eighth trumpet): "The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, And those who fear Your name, small and great, And should destroy those who destroy the earth."
Today we have rogue nations, run by dictators or military leaders, who own the latest in intercontinental ballistic technology, most of it stolen from the United States. And they are as unpredictable as cornered cats.
We are talking about the end of the end of time. Don’t think that Saddam Hussein does not have the capability of destroying Israel? Or China, as it eyes Taiwan? Or North Korea, envying South Korea? Or India, looking over the mountains at Pakistan. It is no longer a question of if, but when! With all the mutual protection treaties that the United States has with its allies, there will be no hesitation as to how our nuclear submarines will respond and whatever else we have ready. No, we will not incinerate ourselves in a nuclear holocaust although we could. But the tensions and possibilities will continue to escalate and add fuel to all other crises that demand the quick fix of economic and religious legislation.
"It has never been this late before." Is there anyone in this room who still doubts the accuracy of these prophecies?
II. Jesus will return—after the major nations have “one mind,” united in a world government, a union strongly influenced by the Papacy, in their attempts to solve last-day problems.
Reading Revelation 17:12, 13--"And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast."
Note the key elements in this prophecy—one mind, authority, beast. For long centuries , the iron and clay disunity has been a matter of history. But the time is coming when, not only the European nations , but all nations will unite with “one mind.” Some call it “The New World Order.” Some new dramatic crisis will occur, even as quickly as the Berlin Wall fell—and iron and clay will suddenly cleave, but only for a short time. All the countries of the world will have "one mind," at least in solving an international crisis. But what is more profoundly startling, to achieve the peace and harmony they want, they will give over their political sovereignties to the "beast" of last-day prophecies. The beast power will be, without question--the world unifier in the end of the end of time.—the power behind the global “one mind.”
Do I have to remind anybody about the astonishing development of a united Europe in the last five years? And the equally astonishing role that the Pope is playing in this world-encompassing unity. I am talking about something more important than the EuroDollar, that unites most of Europe.
But in the shadows, the Sunday-rest issue is being pushed especially in Europe for now. Germany is giving a mighty push to get a federal-level Sunday section into various trade treaties which involves even more than the members of the European Union
Take a look at Belgium: One of the issues that has gotten extensive analysis in Europe is how to minimize unemployment. Under Belgium’s law on employment, is this new provision, and I am summarizing under the heading, Sunday rest:
It is prohibited to employ people on Sundays. Some work may be carried out on a Sunday (e.g. machine maintenance), but only if it is urgent and cannot be performed on another weekday. The law also makes an exception for retail businesses. Shift workers may work on Sundays, provided their activities are interrupted once a week for 24 hours consecutively, of which at least 18 coincide with a Sunday.
This law is a national Sunday law. We expect similar language to be adopted in other EuroUnion States. We are watching closely a similar move here in this country in Rhode Island. We know that the initial Sunday laws will be general and be justified for a myriad of reasons (i.e., family values, time to rest, unemployment, moral health, appease God because of calamities).
Sunday laws will come, for any one or all of these reasons, but their enforcement will come later (GC:590; MAR:188) .The reason will be economic but the affect will be religious. . "One mind. . . . given to the beast." --"It has never been this late before." Is there anyone in this room who still doubts the accuracy of this prophecy?
III. Jesus will return after the world will have its worst economic collapse of all time.
In Revelation 18:11, 17--"And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore. . . . For in one hour such great riches came to nothing."
Is there anyone alive who thinks that the countries of the world, are not in an unparalleled economic quandary? If I were to list what the leading politicians and economists are saying about the financial instability of the future, the quotations would be endless .
For example, a recent update from the World Future Society, usually a very optimistic think tank: "Forecast #5: A worldwide economic collapse is extremely likely in the next few years. Those unprepared may stand naked before a crisis unseen in the U.S. since the Civil War."
You ask, What does an economic downturn have to do with the Second Advent? The coming international economic collapse will drive governments to find scapegoats for the escalating calamities. The religious card will be played. Some thing like this will be said, "We are in an enormous crisis. We need unity like never before. We need to restore our religious roots. We need less divisions, less hate talk. In fact, we are going to outlaw any group talking negatively about anyone else. This is a time to come together and fulfill the American dream. Remember, "righteousness exalted a nation." Let's restore the peace of our communities, at least for one day of the week. It will help unify all of us as we restore America to the way it used to be." And Sunday will be the day of choice and the plea for tolerance will outlaw all negative talk about anyone’s sexual orientation, ethnic origin or religious beliefs..
Now think of a familiar comment made by Ellen White in Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 13: "There are not many, even among educators and statesmen, who comprehend the causes that underlie the present state of society. Those who hold the reins of government are not able to solve the problem of moral corruption, poverty, pauperism, and increasing crime. They are struggling in vain to place business operations on a more secure basis." Written in 1904, but sounds like today's newspaper.
So what, someone may ask? These unprecedented conditions will eventually force strict government rules that will evaporate the basic freedoms this country was founded on. We are not there yet, but the stage is surely being set. --"It has never been this late before." Is there anyone in this room who still doubts the accuracy of this prophecy?
IV. Christ will come after a great portion of this world has been seduced by psychic phenomena.
Let us read Revelation 16:14--"For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty."
For more than a century, we have seen an astonishing rise of modern spiritualism. Wherever one turns, spiritualism in the form of psychic phenomena is in our face! Think about TV programs, such as Touched By An Angel, those large sections of the book stores devoted to the psychic world. Slick Eastern gurus, horoscopes, channelers, tarot cards, Ouija boards, etc. have become as common as public drinking fountains.
Spiritualism has dumped its old, negative baggage and we call it The New Age umbrella. Is there anyone who is not aware of the astonishing impact of the Harry Potter books on the youth of the world? I can’t think of any one event in the past five years which has done more to soften up young and old to the spirit world.
Do you think that the coming impersonation of Jesus Christ will be strange to most of the world that is now being set up for cosmic interventions. A world used to Star Trek, and ET, and Caspar and his angels will have no difficulty in bowing before a counterfeit Christ who walks across the surface of the Hudson River into the United Nations building with his plan for world peace. O! are we being set up! It has never been this late before! Is there anyone in the room who still doubts the accuracy of this prophecy?
V.. Christ will come after the Papacy has reached unprecedented power, not only religiously, but also politically and economically.
Let us turn to a very familiar verse, Rev. 13:3—"All the world marveled and followed the beast." Do we need to review the phenomenal attention that the world press is giving to every nod and word of the Pope? His run-away best-seller in North America, Threshold of Hope, surpassed Tom Clancy and Stephen King.
Pope John Paul II was Time magazine's "Man of the Year," a few years ago. This is even more astounding. Part of the cover article went like this: "People who see him--and countless millions have--do not forget him. His appearances generate an electricity unmatched by anyone else on earth. . . . When he talks, it is not only to his flock of nearly a billion; he expects the world to listen. . . . In a year when so many people lamented the decline in moral values or made excuses for bad behavior, Pope John Paul II forcefully set forth his vision of the good life and urged the world to follow it. . . . John Paul's impact on the world has already been enormous, ranging from the global to the personal. . . . With increased urgency. . . John Paul presented himself, the defender of Roman Catholic doctrine, as a moral compass for believers and nonbelievers alike. . . . Billy Graham [said recently], "He's been the strong conscience of the whole Christian world."
Does any of this remind you of something in The Great Controversy?
Is there anyone today who doesn't wonder about the world power of the Pope of Rome? "It's never been this late before!"
VI. Christ will come after the United States has become the world super power. Revelation 13: 11-17 describes the rise of the United States. Quiet at first, she will become a major world power in the end times.
Does anyone doubt the world leadership of the United States? Since the Gulf War, no one should question it! Ever since, it seems most every nation thinks that the United States should solve every world problem.
But John the Revelator is predicting something more than scientific and political leadership. This young nation with world power will exercise "all the authority of the first beast" (that is, the papal power) and "causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed."
How will this worship to the beast be done? By "telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived'" (verse 14).
How successful would this religious pressure be? This lamblike beast would eventually become a dragon power and [verse 15] : It would "grant power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no on may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast."
The United States will not become a Catholic nation. But it will restore the mark of the Papacy as a national decree. The mark of the Papacy, in their own words, is the Sunday Sabbath.
The use of the government to enforce religious laws is also a mark of the Papacy--exactly what most of the early settlers of young America wanted to put behind them.
What have we seen developing in the past year, regarding the input of religious language and leaders in the making of our nation's laws? Much in every way. Too many instances to even list today.
It's never been this late before.! Is there anyone in this room who still doubts the accuracy of this prophecy?
VI. Let’s look at what’s happening from another angle. Remember when Ellen said: “Flesh was never the best food; but its use is now doubly objectionable, since disease in animals is so rapidly increasing.”—MH:313 “Animals are becoming more and more diseased, and it will not be long until animal food will be discarded by many besides Seventh-day Adventists.” 7T:124. “Even milk will have to be discarded. Disease is accumulating rapidly.” CDF:384.
Need I remind anyone of the Mad-Cow Disease that has cost European nations billions of dollars already and with no end in sight. And as we are reminded in one news story after another, the United States and the rest of the world is hardly immune. It is a world-class horror. The incubation period may be up to 40 years, thus anyone who has eaten European beef within the last 40 years is targeted for this indescribably awful, killer disease. Evidence is developing that the remarkable rise of Alzheimer’s is not due to the increase of Alzheimer’s Disease. The real reason, some experts say, for these statistics is that physicians fear to do autopsies, and rightly so, on Mad-Cow Disease victims and thus report the death as due to Alzheimer’s.
How many are aware of the FDA recall last October and November of more than 1,325,000 pounds of Wisconsin cheese? You never saw it on the TV or newspapers. The dairy and meat lobbies in Washington are very, very powerful. The sad secret is that listeria contamination is not killed by pasteurization and grows well in refrigerator temperatures and every cheese eater plays Russian roulette.
It’s never been this late before. Is there anyone in this room who still doubts the accuracy of this prediction?
No time for casual Bible study, no time for prayer on the run. We are in the closing hours, the last chance for millions.
I think of Armand, the Armenian boy lost under that terrible earthquake a few years ago. For several days the rescue workers had been digging for survivors. The constant rain and the danger of further collapse, led everyone to finally give up. No one could possible be alive, they said.
But Armand's father kept digging, his hands bloodied as he pulled the concrete apart piece by piece. The town officials ordered him out. But the father kept digging, four days and four nights! Then, he heard the moan, the hoarse voice. He kept digging. It was Armand. What were Armand's first words? " Daddy, I knew you would come." Still, there was heavy concrete to be removed. Coming out of the hole that he had dug, the father called now to the bystanders who had thought he was crazy, "Will you help me now?"
Someone else has come looking for lost children. He looked for you and me! The effort hardly seemed worth it. But He kept digging. O! how His hands were bloodied! And His feet. And you reached out from the debris of sin and said, "Thanks for coming, Jesus."
It's never been this late before. How many people in this room need someone to keep digging for them? How many people are back home for whom Jesus is saying to you, "Will you help me now?"
It's never been this late before!
Copyright © 2001 Herbert E. Douglass. All rights reserved.