Where Are We Now?
Is the prophecy of Revelation 18 an entirely future event to be fulfilled only under the latter rain, or is the “other angel” already doing his work, preparing a people to give a loud cry under the latter rain? Some believers in the threefold message read the statement, “As yet, we certainly have not seen the light that answers to this description”1 and ignore the work that the “other angel” (Revelation 18) has been doing since 1888, according to the references given in the previous articles. Of course, the fullness of the manifestation of the light of the angel of Revelation 18 will be seen in the future, but we should not ignore that this angel is active now.
The light that is to lighten the earth with its glory under the latter rain was declared to be “shinning” in 1890.2 Already in 1890 E.G. White testified, “We are announcing the message of the third angel and of the other angel that follows the third.”3 In 1906 it was taught that the prophecies of Revelation 18 were being fulfilled, and that the call to the churches “is now to be given”4.
The Lord used Sister White to announce that the story of 1888 be repeated at the next crisis looming before the church.
“The position taken at Minneapolis was apparently an insurmountable barrier. . . . When another crisis comes, those who have so long resisted evidence . . . will again be tested, . . . and it will be hard for them to receive that which is from God. . . . Those who do receive the heavenly endowment will go forth clad with the armor of righteousness to do battle for God.
. . . But in many, many places, and on many, many occasions it could truth- fully be said as in Christ’s day of those who profess to be God’s people, that not many mighty works could be done, because of their unbelief. Many. . . have been. . . prejudice[d] against the message of truth which angels of heaven were seeking to communicate through human agencies—justification by faith, the righteousness of Christ.”5
This prophecy has been repeated many times since the prophet spoke. We, as God’s people, have failed Him over and over. But God has not abandoned us. We are not to dwell on our failures more than necessary for repentance. Let us arise and do our duty. We are called to announce “the message of the third angel and of the other angel that follows the third.” On the basis of the existing evidence we believe that, together with all other faithful believers in the threefold message wherever they may be, we are to move forward to meet our responsibility.
“This [other] angel represents the people that have this message to give to the world.”6
Especially since 1888, Seventh-day Adventists have been divided. Among a great majority of nominal believers there have been a very small minority of genuine Christians. Only those who are true followers of Christ can be a light to God’s people in Babylon.
“God has jewels in all the churches, and it is not for us to make sweeping denunciation of the professed religious world. . . . Let men see piety and devotion, let them behold Christlikeness of character, and they will be drawn to the truth.”7
Unless people in other churches see “piety and devotion” in us, we cannot help them. We cannot bring light to them only by showing them what is the seal of God, and what is the mark of the beast, and by calling their attention to other doctrinal points. For this reason, the servant of the Lord called the attention of the Advent people, repeatedly, to the need of a revival and a reformation.
Already in 1882 God used Ellen G. White to make this appeal to His people: “The church has turned back from following Christ her Leader and is steadily retreating toward Egypt. . . . You must repent; you must fall helpless on the Rock, Christ Jesus. You must feel your need of a physician and of the one only remedy for sin, the blood of Christ. This remedy can be secured only by repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”8
In 1888 the need for a revival and reformation was repeated through a special message brought by Elders Waggoner and Jones, which was the beginning of the work of the angel of Revelation 18. Individual members were benefitted by the message, but the church as a church was not.
In 1903 the problem with God’s people was described as follows: “As foretold in the eighteenth of Revelation, the third angel’s message is to be pro- claimed with great power by those who give the final warning against the beast and his image. . . . This is the message given by God to be sounded forth in the loud cry of the third angel. . . . [But] instead of leading the world to render obedience to God’s law, the church is uniting more and more closely with the world in transgression. Daily the church is becoming converted to the world.”9
History repeats itself. We believe that were the prophet of God alive today, she would repeat to us the same need for repentance toward God. Whenever the efforts to bring a revival and a ref- ormation into the church fail, God still finds a few faithful people to do His reformatory work. This is exactly what was foreseen in the prophetic picture of the church in the Laodicean period.
“While multitudes are devoted to mammon, and serve not the Holy One of Israel, there are a few who have not defiled their garments, but have kept them unspotted from the world; and these few will be a power. This class will have that faith which works by love and purifies the soul. They will exemplify lofty Christian principles.”10
“The days will come when the righteous will be stirred to zeal for God because of the abounding iniquity. . . . In the hour of the church’s greatest danger most fervent prayer will be offered in her behalf by the faithful remnant.”11
“The true people of God, who have the spirit of the work of the Lord and the salvation of souls at heart, will ever view sin in its real, sinful character. . . . [They] are those ‘that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done’ in the church.”12
Don’t delay duty
“The work which the church has failed to do in a time of peace and prosperity she will have to do in a terrible crisis. . . . And at that time the superficial, conservative class, whose influence has steadily retarded the progress of the work, will renounce the faith and take their stand with its avowed enemies, toward whom their sympathies have long been tending. These apostates will then manifest the most bitter enmity, doing all in their power to oppress and malign their former brethren and to excite indignation against them.”13
“As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel’s message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are pre- pared to choose the easy, popular side. Men of talent and pleasing address, who once rejoiced in the truth, employ their powers to deceive and mislead souls. They become the most bitter enemies of their former brethren. . . . Then, feeling their utter helplessness, they [the former brethren] flee to the Mighty One for strength. They remember that the words which they have spoken were not theirs, but His who bade them give the warning.”14
“Hence the movement symbolized by the angel coming down from heaven, lightening the earth with his glory and crying mightily with a strong voice, announcing the sins of Babylon.
In connection with his message the call is heard: ‘Come out of her, My people.’ These announcements, uniting with the third angel’s message, constitute the final warning to be given to the inhabitants of the earth.”15
“When the storm of persecution really breaks upon us, the true sheep will hear the true Shepherd’s voice. Self-denying efforts will be put forth to save the lost, and many who have strayed from the fold will come back to follow the great Shepherd. The people of God will draw together and present to the enemy a united front. In view of the common peril, strife for supremacy will cease; there will be no disputing as to who shall be accounted greatest. No one of the true believers will say: ‘I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas.’ The testimony of one and all will be: ‘I cleave unto Christ; I rejoice in Him as my personal Saviour.’
“Thus will the truth be brought into practical life, and thus will be answered the prayer of Christ, uttered just before His humiliation and death: ‘That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art
in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me’ (John 17:21). The love of Christ, the love of our brethren, will testify to the world that we have been with Jesus and learned of Him. Then will the message of the third angel swell to a loud cry, and the whole earth will be lightened with the glory of the Lord.”16
This is how the work of Revelation 18 will be completed.
1 The Review and Herald, April 1, 1890. 2 Selected Messages, bk. 3, p. 426. 3 Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, p. 315. 4 The Upward Look, p. 277. 5 Manuscript Releases, vol. 14, pp. 110–112. 6 The Review and Herald, August 18, 1885. 7 The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 4, p. 1184. 8 Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 217, 218. 9 Ibid., vol. 8, pp. 118, 119. 10Ibid., vol. 5, p. 482. 11 Ibid., p. 524. 12 Ibid., vol. 3, pp. 266, 267. 13 Ibid., vol. 5, p. 463. 14 The Great Controversy, pp. 608, 609. 15 Ibid., p. 604. 16 Testimonies (1900), vol. 6, p. 401