Conflicts in the Last Days
Note: The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, brought shock and horror to the citizens of the United States of America and to many others. The sympathies and prayers of Seventh-day Adventists are with all who have been affected by the tragic happenings of that day. In view of those events, we are reminded of what Ellen White wrote concerning the need to share the good news of the Gospel and Christ's soon return to the millions who live and work in our world's large cities--many of whom are spiritually unprepared for the troubles and destruction coming on the world in the last days.
Contrary to unsubstantiated reports, Ellen White made no prediction concerning the destruction of a twin-towered building in New York or any other place in the world. She did foresee great disasters of various kinds resulting in the loss of magnificent buildings and many lives in the large cities before Jesus' return. She spoke of demonic forces exercising their power in earthquakes, fires, and other calamities. She also warned that the time will come when defiant rejection of God's Spirit will result in the complete removal of His restraining power over such destructive elements in the earth.
Due to the many inquiries received by the Ellen G. White Estate since the devastating events of September 11, we have gathered some of Ellen White's statements on the general topic of conflicts in the last days, mostly as found in the compilation Last Day Events and the devotional book Maranatha. This collection has been prepared with no attempt to make any specific application to recent events, places, or individuals. But it should remind us of our own need to be ready continually for Christ's soon return and of our responsibility to help others also to be prepared. At the end of this document is a link to a chapter from Last Day Events which focuses on how to prepare spiritually for the end times.
Warning and Assurance from Jesus
Christ upon the Mount of Olives rehearsed the fearful judgments that were to precede His second coming: "Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: . . . Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows" [Matt. 24:6-8]. While these prophecies received a partial fulfillment at the destruction of Jerusalem, they have a more direct application in the last days.--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 753 (1899).
The terrible reports we hear of murders and robberies, of railway accidents and deeds of violence, tell the story that the end of all things is at hand. Now, just now, we need to be preparing for the Lord's second coming.--Letter 308, 1907 (Last Day Events, p. 23).
The nations are in unrest. Times of perplexity are upon us. Men's hearts are failing them for fear of the things that are coming upon the earth. But those who believe in God will hear His voice amid the storm, saying, "It is I; be not afraid."--Signs of the Times, Oct. 9, 1901.
Wars and Disasters
The tempest is coming and we must get ready for its fury by having repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord will arise to shake terribly the earth. We shall see troubles on all sides. Thousands of ships will be hurled into the depths of the sea. Navies will go down, and human lives will be sacrificed by millions. Fires will break out unexpectedly and no human effort will be able to quench them. The palaces of earth will be swept away in the fury of the flames. Disasters by rail will become more and more frequent. Confusion, collision, and death without a moment's warning will occur on the great lines of travel. The end is near, probation is closing. Oh, let us seek God while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near!--Messages to Young People, pp. 89, 90 (1890).
In the last scenes of this earth's history war will rage. There will be pestilence, plague and famine. The waters of the deep will overflow their boundaries. Property and life will be destroyed by fire and flood. We should be preparing for the mansions that Christ has gone to prepare for them that love Him.--Maranatha, p. 174 (1897).
Calamities Serve as Warnings
We are not now able to describe with accuracy the scenes to be enacted in our world in the future, but this we do know, that this is a time when we must watch unto prayer, for the great day of the Lord is at hand. --Selected Messages, book 2, p. 35 (1901).
What mean the awful calamities by sea--vessels hurled into eternity without a moment's warning? What mean the accidents by land--fire consuming the riches that men have hoarded, much of which has been accumulated by oppression of the poor? The Lord will not interfere to protect the property of those who transgress His law, break His covenant, and trample upon His Sabbath, accepting in its place a spurious rest day.
The plagues of God are already falling upon the earth, sweeping away the most costly structures as if by a breath of fire from heaven. Will not these judgments bring professing Christians to their senses? God permits them to come that the world may take heed, that sinners may be afraid and tremble before Him.--Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, p. 311 (1902).
Coming Events Are in the Hands of the Lord
The world is not without a ruler. The program of coming events is in the hands of the Lord. The Majesty of heaven has the destiny of nations as well as the concerns of His church in His own charge.--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 753 (1889).
These symbolical representations [the fiery serpents in the wilderness] serve a double purpose. From them God's people learn not only that the physical forces of the earth are under the control of the Creator, but also that under His control are the religious movements of the nations. Especially is this true with reference to the enforcement of Sunday observance.--Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, p. 281 (1902).
In the great closing work we shall meet with perplexities that we know not how to deal with, but let us not forget that the three great Powers of heaven are working, that a divine hand is on the wheel, and that God will bring His purposes to pass.--Evangelism, p. 65 (1902).
In the annals of human history, the growth of nations, the rise and fall of empires, appear as if dependent on the will and prowess of man; the shaping of events seems, to a great degree, to be determined by his power, ambition, or caprice. But in the Word of God the curtain is drawn aside, and we behold, above, behind, and through all the play and counterplay of human interest and power and passions, the agencies of the All-merciful One, silently, patiently working out the counsels of His own will.--Prophets and Kings, pp. 499, 500 (c. 1914).
Judgments Coming on the Cities
Terrible shocks will come upon the earth, and the lordly palaces erected at great expense will certainly become heaps of ruins.--Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, p. 312 (1891).
When God's restraining hand is removed, the destroyer begins his work. Then in our cities the greatest calamities will come.--Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, p. 314 (1897).
The end is near and every city is to be turned upside down every way. There will be confusion in every city. Everything that can be shaken is to be shaken and we do not know what will come next. The judgments will be according to the wickedness of the people and the light of truth that they have had.--Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, p. 248 (1902).
O that God's people had a sense of the impending destruction of thousands of cities, now almost given to idolatry.--Evangelism, p. 29 (1903).
The time is near when large cities will be swept away, and all should be warned of these coming judgments.--Evangelism, p. 29 (1910).
Catastrophe-proof Buildings Will Become Ashes
I have seen the most costly structures in buildings erected and supposed to be fireproof, and just as Sodom perished in the flames of God's vengeance so will these proud structures become ashes. . . . The flattering monuments of men's greatness will be crumbled in the dust even before the last great destruction comes upon the world.--Selected Messages, book 3, p. 418 (1901).
Men will continue to erect expensive buildings, costing millions of money. Special attention will be called to their architectural beauty and the firmness and solidity with which they are constructed, but the Lord has instructed me that despite the unusual firmness and expensive display, these buildings will share the fate of the temple in Jerusalem.--Ellen G. White Comments, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1098 (1906).
On one occasion, when in New York City, I was in the night season called upon to behold buildings rising story after story toward heaven. These buildings were warranted to be fireproof, and they were erected to glorify their owners and builders. . . .
The scene that next passed before me was an alarm of fire. Men looked at the lofty and supposedly fireproof buildings and said: "They are perfectly safe." But these buildings were consumed as if made of pitch. The fire engines could do nothing to stay the destruction. The firemen were unable to operate the engines.
I am instructed that when the Lord's time comes, should no change have taken place in the hearts of proud, ambitious human beings, men will find that the hand that had been strong to save will be strong to destroy. No earthly power can stay the hand of God. No material can be used in the erection of buildings that will preserve them from destruction when God's appointed time comes to send retribution on men for their disregard of His law and for their selfish ambition.--Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, pp. 12, 13 (1909).
Specific Warnings Regarding New York City