Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Surprise Unfolds (An Overwhelming Surprise Part 1)

An Overwhelming Surprise

Is the environmental crisis preparing the world to "wonder after the Beast" of Revelation 13?

An Overwhelming Surprise Part 1 – The Surprise Unfolds

To all my fellow believers who are looking forward to the second coming of Jesus, I have a very serious and exciting message for you today.

The time has arrived for us to take a new look at the events we are soon to confront, which involve the enforcement of a Sabbath by the world, a counterfeit of the true Sabbath of Scriptures.

A test will be brought which will make us choose between the commandments of God, or the commandments of men.

I have been monitoring developments in the world that are currently under way and are taking place at an alarming rate, which indicate that this test may soon be upon us.

An important question is, are we ready?

An inspired writer once said this about that testing time:

“Transgression has almost reached its limit. Confusion fills the world, and a great terror is soon to come upon human beings. The end is very near. God’s people should be preparing for what is to break upon the world as an overwhelming surprise.” – Ellen G. White, “Testimonies Vol. 8”

“An overwhelming surprise,” is how the Spirit of Prophecy and the Bible describe the impact of final events on the inhabitants of the world. The scary thing about these

Prophesies is the prospect that many in the church may also be overwhelmed by the deception.

“And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.” – Luke 21:34, 35

We battle against a very intelligent and wily foe. Our enemy has studied the human race for over six thousand years, and is well able to discern the most effective way to deceive and entrap us. Those who hold out against his deceptions are to become the special focus of his attacks.

“For there shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” – Matthew 24:24

You may be wondering how this could happen to us; we who have the Spirit of Prophecy, and have been preaching about these events for over a century and a half.

These insights from the Spirit of Prophecy may help us understand:

The servants of God become estranged from the truth by associating with the world, and by partaking of its spirit. When this is done, the truth is not appreciated as a sacred and sanctifying truth.” – RH, June 19, 1888

“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 prepared to choose the easy, popular side.” – The Great Controversy 1888 page 608

We will focus today on prophecies concerning the establishment of Sunday laws, started by the United States and eventually adopted by the remainder of the world.

“To secure popularity and patronage, legislators will yield to the demand for a Sunday law… By the decree enforcing the institution of the papacy in violation of the law of God our nation will disconnect herself fully from righteousness…

As the approach of the Roman armies was a sign to the disciples of the impending destruction of Jerusalem, so may this apostasy be a sign to us that the limit of God’s forbearance is reached.” -5 Testimonies for the Church 451

Considering the fact that this is the issue on which the entire world is to be tested, with the results of the test being either eternal life or the plagues and eternal loss; I am certain Satan will try his utmost to disguise it, and hide its true purpose as much as he possibly can.

“We have been looking many years for a Sunday law to be enacted in our land; and now that the movement is right upon us, we ask, Will our people do their duty in the matter?… The time is fast approaching when those who choose to obey God rather than man, will be made to feel the hand of oppression. Shall we then dishonor God by keeping silent while His holy commandments are trodden under foot?” -Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 716

Again, I ask, with us expecting it, how can it be a surprise? And how can we be led to remain silent? And will we recognize it as a fulfillment of prophecy?

One possible reason may be that we have had an inaccurate comprehension of what will bring in the Sunday laws, and what will be the nature of those laws.

For years we have thought that any number of events could be the catalyst used to demand the enactment of a Sunday law, these include: a crisis in the areas of national security (terrorism, wars), or a crisis involving the economy, energy, rampant crime, disasters, and a call for the country to turn back to God.

If you look at each one of these you can see how, even though they could affect large areas of the world, and will play a part in final events, they would not be able to draw everyone together from all the diverse cultures and religions the world over, especially to honor a Christian “tradition” as many see the Sabbath.

One of the most popular theories indorsed by Adventists is that a major world wide crisis will arise, with no apparent solution, at which time Satan will impersonate Christ’s second coming and claim to have changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, and call on the world to honor his sacred day in order to stop the crisis, as the following quote from the Spirit of Prophecy seems to say:

“As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ. The church has long professed to look to the Saviour’s advent as the consummation of her hopes. Now the great deceiver will make it appear that Christ has come. In gentle, compassionate tones he presents some of the same gracious, heavenly truths which the Saviour uttered; he heals the diseases of the people, and then, in his assumed character of Christ, he claims to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and commands all to hallow the day which he has blessed. . .” The Faith I Live By 346

Some of these events will happen, although the context is not as we have suspected for so long. The timing of Satan’s impersonation is the key. Listen to what the Spirit of Prophecy says about the timing and events surrounding this very deceptive and important act:

“The wrath of Satan increases as his time grows short, and his work of deceit and destruction reaches its culmination in the time of trouble. God’s long-suffering has ended. The world has rejected His mercy,despised His love, and trampled upon His law. The wicked have passed the boundary of their probation, and the Lord withdraws His protection, and leaves them to the mercy of the leader they have chosen. Satan sees that he is about to lose his case. He cannot sweep in the whole world. He makes one last desperate effort to overcome the faithful by deception. He does this in personating Christ. He clothes himself with the garments of royalty, which have been accurately described in the vision of John. He has power to do this. He will appear to his deluded followers, the Christian world who received not the love of the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness . . . as Christ coming the second time. One effort more, and then Satan’s last device is employed. He hears the unceasing cry for Christ to come, for Christ to deliver them. (Christ’s followers) This last strategy is to personate Christ, and make them think their prayers are answered.” -The Truth About Angels 273

Satan has one purpose in impersonating Jesus, to deceive those he does not already have in his camp, the “elect”. The rejecters of Gods law have already “passed the boundary of their probation.”

The Sunday laws have already done their evil work. The people have already been tested. The three angels messages have been given to the world and God’s people have already been sealed and called out of Babylon.

If Satan doesn’t cause the Sunday laws by impersonating Christ, and the events listed above do not have a universal reach, then what could be the catalyst? Is it possible to know? And can we see the Sunday law coming?

The answer to the last two questions is definitely yes. God wants us to know when danger threatens, especially when Satan hides the danger under a disguise.

There will need to be a crisis of such magnitude as to affect the whole world, a problem that setting up a Sunday law could be approved even by countries that are not Christian. (That is a large portion of the world)

At this point, I would like you to clear your mind of any preconceived ideas of how this will, or could take place. Prepare to listen without jumping to any conclusions when you hear my next statements.

What I will be presenting to you is an issue that is frequently in the news and is also increasingly linked to the call for a universal Sunday rest day, and it is one likely to catch many Sabbath keepers off guard.

That worldwide crisis which has taken the world by storm is simply, global warming, and climate change.

Again I say be very careful at this point, that you keep an open mind, forgetting what you have previously heard about environmentalism. The environmental movement today is not what it once was.

The movement that once was a fringe movement most people considered as fanatics is now mainstream, accepted by every nation, culture, and religion the world over.

The people of the world are very concerned with what they see as “the greatest threat to civilization the world has ever confronted.”

We hear forecasts of sea level rise that will swallow up entire island nations and flood many major coastal cities such as New York and Miami, sending millions on a migration to higher ground. Food supplies are feared to be in danger, diseases on the increase, storms and flooding increasing in frequency and severity.

The future with climate change is indeed bleak.

Never before has any issue resulted in such universal cooperation, this is the greatest ecumenical movement the world has ever experienced. Even if a Sunday law wasn’t a part of the equation, it is very significant that the religions of the world are uniting on this issue to such a great extent.

All barriers have been broken down. Nothing separates those involved. On this issue, there are no barriers between science and religion, Protestants and Catholics, dictatorships and democracies, Christians and pagans.

There is no doubt that this issue has risen to the top priority for most of the world, watch any news broadcast, pick up any magazine, click on the internet, and it won’t be long before you encounter a “green” article, someone will be describing a new study, or telling how climate change is already affecting us, or will, in some drastic way in the near future.

Let me make one thing clear, whether or not global warming is real or not matters little in regard to its ability to influence thinking and policymaking.

What does matter is whether people perceive it as real and a serious threat.

I personally believe the climate is warming, whether or not it is caused by man or not. We also have a serious problem with pollution. I support efforts to clear the air and water, and to conserve resources, as long as they don’t interfere with our free practice of religion, or trample on God’s commandments.

We as Adventists have been better than the average citizens in living environmentally friendly lives. We have given the earth a rest one day a week in our observance of a weekly Sabbath.

We have eco-supportive eating habits with an emphasis on vegetarianism, which is the best use of farmland. You can feed more people with plants grown on an acre of land than you can with the flesh food produced on the same acre and with much less damage to the environment.

What evidence do we have that this movement is heading in the direction of a Sunday law, or if it could ever be successful in accomplishing such an outcome? In answering these questions, you are going to hear things you probably have never heard before so be prepared as we begin to answer these questions.

You will be surprised to learn that many people high in the effort to stop global warming, in order to avert the threatened catastrophe, are already calling for a “Sabbath for the earth”, a day to allow the earth to rest.

I’ll answer your next question right up front; the answer is yes, if they do enact a Sunday law for the earth, it will be a fulfillment of the prophecy.

Herein lies the danger of this program, many may fail to recognize the seriousness of the issue, if the Sunday law is instituted as an environmental measure, instead of for a religious purpose.

We have become so accustomed to thinking of the Sunday law as a religious law we forget that when it first begins it will be secular in nature. The Spirit of Prophecy supports this scenario as well, as you will see later.

I know that this is a strange and foreign concept especially since most of you are hearing this for the first time today. It may take a little while for the idea to sink in, to see how it all fits together into a scenario that could bring about the crisis we are expecting. Soon the picture will become much clearer.

Would it surprise you to learn that a Sabbath for the earth is already in place today. The day is once a year, and what day do you think that Sabbath is on? Sunday, of course.

Since 1984 there has been an annual Sabbath for the earth, celebrated throughout the world.

The United Nations Environmental Program established one at that time to focus attention on the need to preserve the earth. The Environmental Sabbath is the Sunday closest to Earth Day.

The new direction for the environmental movement began in earnest back in 1990 and took a giant leap forward following the circulation of a letter from 32 Nobel Laureates and other prominent scientists, called an “Open Letter to the Religious Community”.

The scientists expressed their concern for the direction the environment was headed. There was a sense of urgency. Their appeal to the religions of the world can be summarized by this paragraph from the letter:

“As scientists, many of us have had profound experiences of awe and reverence before the universe. We understand that what is regarded as sacred is more likely to be treated with respect. Our planetary home should be so regarded. Efforts to safeguard and cherish the environment need to be infused with a vision of the sacred … Thus, there is a vital role for both religion and science.”

The letter was presented in January 1990 at the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders Conference in Moscow, Russia.

Present and signing on to the appeal were two hundred and seventy one well-known spiritual leaders from eighty-three countries.

About the same time, the environmental Sabbath was instituted by the U.N. a prayer was published by the – UN Environmental Sabbath Program, and received widespread distribution entitled “A Call To Sabbath”.

A Call to Sabbath

“We who have lost our sense and our senses – our touch, our smell, our vision of who we are, who frantically force and press all things, without rest for body or Spirit, hurting our earth and injuring ourselves; we call a halt. We want to rest. We need to rest and allow the earth to rest. We need to reflect and to rediscover the mystery that lives in us, that is the ground of every unique expression of life, the source of the fascination that calls all things to communion. We declare a Sabbath, a space of quiet; for simply being and for recovering the forgotten truths for learning how to live again. Amen”

Remember, this is coming from the United Nations, the body that represents most nations worldwide.

The foundation has already been laid, the idea planted, how long before someone decides, “if a Sabbath for the earth is good one day a year, wouldn’t it be even better every week?”

Since that time, many have followed the U. N. in calling for a Sabbath for the earth; listen to a few statements concerning the issue.

This first quote is from an award winning article presented to the Southern Environmental Law Center, by Jill Rios, entitled “Back to the Garden: Cultivating Environmental Advocacy in the Christian South,” she writes:

“Like the Civil Rights Movement, a successful environmental movement requires deep spiritual underpinnings. At best, faith communities can only limp along if people of faith do not demand a Sabbath for the earth. Likewise, the largely secular environmental movement will be hobbled if it does not embrace a religious or spiritual dimension.”

Miss Rios was the Western Organizer for Clean water for North Carolina.

Did you notice several interesting points here? Remember who presented the award. There are two main points that raise a flag; they are: the “spiritual leanings” of the environmental movement, and the call for the “people of faith” to “demand a Sabbath for the earth”.

Remember this statement in the Spirit of Prophecy that uses very similar language?

“To secure popularity and patronage, legislators will yield to the demand for a Sunday law…” -5 Testimonies for the Church 451

“Demand” is a word you will hear frequently concerning measures to correct global warming.

Here is a statement from the magazine, U.S. Catholic:

“Now that God is green, Catholics and other believers are harnessing religion to rein in global warming. So, let us remember the one commandment that could cut energy consumption and pollution by 14.29 percent, more or less. That’s one seventh, just as the Sabbath halts work one day out of the weekly seven.

“For six days you shall work,” Yehweh told the Israelites at Sinai, “but on the seventh day you shall rest” (Exodus 34:21).

Clear-cut. So, it is odd that all the laypeople– and pastors, rabbis, theologians, and politicians–urging that we reduce our “carbon footprint” and deciding which hybrid car Jesus would drive, few recall the third (or in our Bible, the fourth) commandment.”

According to the writer of this article, it is “odd” that no one, including the politicians, have thought of a Sabbath for the earth as a solution to the problem.

Here is another comment, this one from Resurgence magazine, by a man named Satish Kumar, who was president of Schumacher College in the U.K. the title of the article is “Green Sunday”:

“Sir Nicholas Stern has written a lengthy report for the British Government outlining the urgent action needed in response to the imminent climate crisis. (Stern was discussing the financial cost of global warming) Most of his solutions to global warming are technological, based on finding alternative, non-fossil-fuel sources of energy. They are all commendable, but it will be some time before we can implement these solutions. In the meantime, we can do something immediately: we can declare Sunday to be a fossil-fuel-free day or at least an energy-saving day. We can start this week, this month or this year. We can start individually and collectively. Not long ago Sunday used to be a day of rest, a day of spiritual renewal, a day for families to come together, but we have changed Sunday from a day of rest to a day of shopping, flying and driving. However, in the context of excessive carbon emissions into the atmosphere, which are bringing catastrophic upheavals, we can and should restore Sunday to a day for Gaia, the earth. There will be no great hardship in cutting down all non-essential and non-urgent use of fossil fuels for one day a week. We can easily close supermarkets, department stores and petrol stations, stop deliveries and reduce mobility to the essentials. We can enjoy Sunday once more with our family and friends, or by gardening, writing, painting, walking or simply spending time in contemplation. This will be good for our personal health as well as for the health of the planet. At a stroke, we can reduce by one-seventh our carbon emissions into the atmosphere.”

This statement by the prominent UK educator says a lot and is very clear. Notice how easy it can be implemented. What do you think the “stroke” represents?

Here are a few lines of an article from the Christian Science Monitor, entitled Give the earth a Sabbath day:

“As religious leaders and their congregations go green, they’ve neglected one Judeo-Christian teaching that could cut energy consumption and pollution by 14.29 percent. That’s one-seventh, just as the Sabbath halts work one day out of the weekly seven. The day of rest– long considered a gift from God– is meant to create a joyful, liberating respite from worldly concerns such as work and consumption, activities that both use the earth’s resources. So renewed observance of the Sabbath could also be a gift to the air, land, and water that we consume the other six days of the week.”

Another call for a Sabbath, this time for the “air, land, and water”, remember that combo, there is a special mention of it in Scripture we will refer to later.

Here is a portion of a sermon given on 8-26-07 at the St. James Episcopal church in Los Angeles. The speaker was Mary D. Nichols, the Chair of the California Air Resources Board:

“In fact, when Father Neal and I met to talk about my assignment a few weeks ago, he focused my attention on the Gospel lesson appointed for today, and we had a very interesting conversation about the concept of Sabbath. We all understand the need for a Sabbath, a time given us by God to refresh body and soul. Wouldn’t it be interesting to think about a Sabbath for the earth as well?”

Her talk ends with this comment:

“In this mornings Gospel lesson, Jesus is telling us that God wants us to heal his creation, and that the lesson of the Sabbath would be well spent in healing our planet. It will take all of us and more. Let us pray that we can find the strength and wisdom to act in time.”

Remember, California often leads, and the rest of the country follows.

I have given enough information to show that many in the world are interested in the idea of a Sabbath for the earth, there are many more, I have trimmed this program down so as to have time for including the most recent activity, developments that are taking place at a much accelerated pace in recent days. These exciting new events will be covered at the end of the program.

Go To Part 2 | Part 3


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