Spirit of Prophecy Day / Heritage Sabbath
October 21, 2023
‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His word;
Just to rest upon his promise,
Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord.”
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him!
How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust him more!
O how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust his cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
Neath the healing, cleansing flood!
Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.
I’m so glad I learned to trust thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, friend;
And I know that thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.
5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
A wild colt was feeding in the pasture of one of the Adventist men who lived near Topsham, Maine. This colt belonged to a man who lived many miles away, and he wanted him brought home. He didn’t have time to come after the horse, so he suggested that someone coming up that way drive the colt home.
No one wanted to drive the young animal, for he had been mistreated by the men who were trying to train him, and had become badly frightened, until it was almost impossible to manage him. Once when the men were trying to drive him, the colt had become so frightened that he had run against the rocky cliff at the side of the road and crushed one of the men to death.
If someone did hitch up the colt to a buggy, the reins had to be held tightly and not allowed to touch the flanks of the colt, for if anything touched him, he at once began to kick furiously.
Shortly after the meeting at Topsham, Maine, in which Mr. Bates was so happy because he felt that God had sent the vision of the stars especially for him, Mr. and Mrs. White decided to go to the town where the owner of the colt lived.
“Mr. White, why don’t you drive that colt back to its owner, since you’re going there now?” suggested someone. “Oh, no, you had better not take him,” said another. “He isn’t safe. He’ll hurt someone.”
“I think I can manage him,” answered James White. “I’ve broken in several colts to drive, and I think we’ll get along all right.”
Someone offered Mr. White the use of a market wagon, which had a front and a back seat. It was without a dashboard, and to enter, one had to step up onto an iron step on the shafts and then onto a step that went across the front of the wagon. The colt was brought and hitched to the wagon, and Mr. White got in, holding the reins tight and straight. While someone held the horse’s head, Mrs. White sat down beside her husband, and Captain Bates and another brother climbed into the back seat. When all were ready, the colt was let loose, and the party started off. Mr. White had his hands full, but he managed the colt, and they went on their way without any real difficulty.
As they followed the road through the beautiful hills that were aflame with the colors of the late autumn, Mrs. White spoke of the beauties of the new earth and of the joy that will come to all followers of Christ.
While she was talking, the power of God came upon her and she was given a vision. In a beautiful voice she called, “Glory! Glory! Glory!” as she saw the glories of heaven opened before her. As soon as she began to speak, the colt suddenly stopped perfectly still and stood with his head drooped. At the same time, Mrs. White stood up, and with her eyes looking upward, stepped over the front of the wagon, and laying her hand on the haunches of the colt, stepped down onto the shafts.
“That colt will kick her to death!” called out Mr. Bates.
“The Lord has the colt in charge now; I do not wish to interfere,” quietly answered Mr. White. The colt stood as gently as an old horse, as Mrs. White, with her hand on his back, stepped down onto the ground. Mrs. White went up the bank onto a grassy plot beside the road, and walked back and forth while she described the beauties of the new earth.
While Mrs. White was out of the wagon, Mr. White thought he would test the horse to see what was making him so tame. First, he touched the colt with the whip, and it did not move; then Mr. White struck the horse harder and harder, but it remained quiet, just as though it had not even felt the touch of the whip.
“This is a solemn place,” said Mr. Bates. “Surely the power that gives the vision, also has subdued the wild nature of this colt.”
Then Mrs. White walked slowly down the bank, and again putting her hand on the colt’s haunches, stepped back up onto the shafts and into the wagon. When she took her seat, the vision was ended. The colt at once started, and the travelers continued on their journey and reached their destination in safety.
Mr. and Mrs. White went on from church to church, bringing good courage to the believers.
Gift for the End Times
Spirit of Prophecy Sabbath 2023
An announcement by the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding a mysterious virus-related pneumonia in Wuhan on January 9, 2020, did not ring major alarm bells. Even, when on January 23 the Chinese government took the unprecedented decision to close off Wuhan’s population and restrict access to Huanggang—30 miles east—effectively putting 18 million people under lockdown, the alarm bells did not ring for most people outside China. It was just another flu strain that seemed to be a little more serious, but nothing about which to panic. On January 31 the WHO issued a global health emergency as the virus began spreading exponentially. By February 2 countries were limiting air travel to and from China. Covid-19 was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020, when Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO, and his team expressed their deep concern about the “alarming levels and spread of the outbreak,” adding that there were “alarming levels of inaction” in the face of the pandemic.
The world woke up. Suddenly it was not possible to physically go to the office. Shopping became a high-risk occupation, and, in many places, churches were closed. Over the next two years we learned a new vocabulary: social distancing, asymptomatic, PCR testing, droplet transmission, and self-isolation to name just a few. We learned new behavioral patterns: wearing masks in public places and using technology such as Zoom. Church services went online. It seemed like the world had been turned upside down.
The speed of many changes, combined with the general acquiescence and acceptance by the majority in almost every country of global restrictions of freedom of movement, led some to ask: Is this one of the plagues in Revelation? Is this the end of time? As the pandemic developed so did more accurate information, while at the same time, fake news and conspiracy theories abounded. Knowing whom to trust and whom to believe was, and remains, difficult.
In times of uncertainty, the question comes, Who and want can be trusted? We know that there will be many crises at the end of time. The world will feel as if it is falling apart. Looking down through the centuries Luke recorded Jesus describing this time. He saw “people fainting from fear and the expectation of the things that are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Luke 21:26, NASB). However, the Lord did not leave His people to face these things alone. His word, the Bible, provides a source of clarity, comfort, and consolation. In addition, as Seventh-day Adventists, we are blessed with the writings of Ellen G White.
A gift for the End Times
When sin entered the world, God’s rescue plan came into effect. Immediately, the promise of a Savior was given (Gen 3:15). Hope, comfort, and a solution were offered. Throughout the ages God has spoken through His messengers, the prophets, to bring hope and comfort in present difficulties, but also pointing forward, prophesying what was to happen. As Amos writes, “Certainly the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret plan to His servants the prophets,” (Amos 3:7)
At Pentecost Peter, quoting the prophet Joel (Joel 2:8), applied the promise that the Spirit would be poured out. One evidence was that “your sons and daughters would prophesy,” a prophetic promise which also applies in the last days, or the days before Jesus returns (Acts 2:17-21).
After the Great Disappointment of 1844 when those who had hoped and believed that Jesus was coming struggled to understand what had happened, once again the gift of prophecy was given, this time to a young woman named Ellen Harmon, later known as Ellen G. White. Her ministry was multifaceted. The initial impact of her work was particularly significant in three areas: providing guidance, practical counsel, and as a source of unity for the fledgling movement.
Guidance for the Advent Movement
Ellen White’s visions did not uncover Bible truths, rather they confirmed truths that the Adventist believers discovered. For example, the importance of the seventh-day Sabbath was first introduced to Adventist believers in 1843 in Washington, New Hampshire, by Rachel Oakes. This led an Adventist minister, T. M. Prebble, to write about the Sabbath in an The Hope of Israel, an Adventist publication of that time.This article was read by Joseph Bates, who upon further study, was convicted of the Sabbath truth. He shared his conviction with James and Ellen White who also accepted the Sabbath. Seven months after keeping the Sabbath, Ellen White had a vision, confirming the importance of the Sabbath.
As she explained the story of salvation, based on her study of the Bible and as shown her in her visions, Ellen White wrote about the cosmic conflict between Jesus and Satan. She throws light on what will happen as Jesus returns at the end of time. The book The Great Controversy is the clearest and most comprehensive explanation, and as we get closer to the Second Coming it becomes more precious, not as a checklist of things that must happen, but as a source of comfort and hope that the evil and wickedness we see around us will not last forever, and neither will it go unpunished. God is a God of love, and He is coming back to put an end to suffering, separation, and sin.
During her lifetime, Ellen White provided practical counsel and guidance to the church and to individuals—guidance that is still very relevant today. Some of her individual counsel may be found in the nine-volume Testimonies for the Church and in more recently released Letters and Manuscripts.
Following her first major vision on health in 1863, she began to share the truths shown to her. Over the years medical science has confirmed time and again that her counsels on health are accurate and highly beneficial. If we follow her guidance and advice today, it will have the same effect. We will be healthier and have a better quality of life.
Ellen White encouraged the establishment of the publishing work following a vision in Dorchester in 1848. Afterward, she instructed her husband James White, “You must begin to print a little paper and send it out to the people. Let it be small at first; but as the people read, they will send you means with which to print, and it will be a success from the first. From this small beginning it was shown to me to be like streams of light that went clear round the world.” James White followed his wife’s vision and today there are many Adventist publishing houses still fulfilling the mission. Only in the kingdom will we know the full impact of this vision and all the literature that has been printed and distributed, to say nothing of digital distribution through the Internet and other electronic means.
Following the Great Disappointment in 1844, when Jesus did not return as expected, the Millerite movement shattered. Some rejected their experience as a delusion, mocking themselves because they had been fooled by these teachings. Others went back to their previous churches, and some formed what became the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Then, as now, the church was made up of people from various backgrounds, experiences, and temperaments. Inside and outside the Church disagreements can happen, yet Ellen White holds up the Christian ideal and shows that for the true disciple, unity is not optional, but rather a sign of our relationship with Christ:
The unity that exists between Christ and His disciples does not destroy the personality of either. In mind, in purpose, in character, they are one, but not in person. By partaking of the Spirit of God, conforming to the law of God, man becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ brings His disciples into a living union with Himself and with the Father. Through the working of the Holy Spirit upon the human mind, man is made complete in Christ Jesus. Unity with Christ establishes a bond of unity with one another. This unity is the most convincing proof to the world of the majesty and virtue of Christ, and of His power to take away sin.
This kind of unity will be visible in our attitude and actions toward others, by serving and encouraging them: “Every true disciple is born into the kingdom of God as a missionary. He who drinks of the living water becomes a fountain of life.” She also wrote that, “The followers of Christ are to unite together, that they may strengthen each other in the divine life.” These messages are of equal or perhaps greater importance today as we as a Church family sometimes struggle to make sense of everything that is happening in the world around us. We may not always agree, but when we strengthen each other in Christian love, the whole Church grows stronger.
Prophetic guidance, counsel, and unity continue to be important, but the closer we come to the Second Coming, Ellen White’s writings provides us with comfort and courage as we face situations that are frightening, unprecedented, and constantly changing. She provides very practical advice on how we should prepare. If we follow this advice, no matter what happens, we will not be discouraged, but we will look to the Lord with hope and confidence.
We need to concentrate on developing spiritual discernment so as not to be deceived by fake gospel “truths.” Things that sound right, perhaps even feel right, but have a little bit of error mixed in, is hard to discern if we do not carefully study God’s word. There are things that resonate with the latest social trends and do not seem “so bad,” yet when viewed through the lens of God’s Word they go against biblical teaching. Spiritual preparation helps us to view things from God’s perspective, giving us discernment and also a greater understanding of His love.
We need a true understanding of our own sinfulness and God’s response. God prepared a solution before Adam and Eve ever tasted the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. God had a plan to rescue humanity! That plan was based on Christ taking our place and punishment. Ellen White captured the significance of Christ’s sacrifice, when she wrote, “Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share.” That perspective changes everything, bringing God’s love to the front and exposing Satan’s deceptions for what they are.
When facing crises, we turn to family and friends we trust. A consistent thread through her writings is the need to spend time growing and developing our friendship with God. God is our Heavenly father and regardless of how good or fractured our earthly family relationships are, we need to build a relationship with our Heavenly Father. If we don’t do this now, we will struggle as end-time events unfold. It is difficult to trust someone you do not know. Trust is built over time, by consistent actions. We may be inconsistent, but as Paul writes in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever.”
All relationships begin with a small step. For the Christian, it is consciously surrendering our life to God’s control. It sounds like a huge step, but it is just like opening a door to the most wonderful relationship imaginable. Ellen White expressed the danger and loss if we only pay lip service to the idea of surrender, but do not actually do it: “The are many who believe and profess to claim the Lord’s promise; they talk about Christ and about the Holy Spirit, yet receive no benefit. They do not surrender the soul to be guided by the divine agencies.
God talks to us through His word. His is an unchanging message, a message of love that is consistent and constant. A love that is so complete and yet incomprehensible, that we will continue to study it throughout the ages of eternity and still never truly fathom it. “Such love is without a parallel. Children of the heavenly King! Precious promise! Theme for the most profound meditation! The matchless love of God for a world that did not love Him! The thought has a subduing power upon the soul and brings the mind into captivity to the will of God. The more we study the divine character in the light of the cross, the more we see mercy, tenderness, and forgiveness blended with equity and justice, and the more clearly we discern innumerable evidences of a love that is infinite and a tender pity surpassing a mother’s yearning sympathy for her wayward child.”
Like any good, healthy relationship, our relationship with God is not a one-way street. God talks to us through His word, through nature, and many other ways including the writings of Ellen White, but God delights when our interactions with His word lead us to talk with Him.
Ellen G White describes prayer as “… the opening of the heart to a friend. Not that it is necessary in order to make known to God what we are, but in order to enable us to receive Him.” These exchanges develop confidence and build trust in “God – believing that He loves us and know best what is for our good.” Faith and trust grow over time. As we bring the small everyday things to God, He will sustain us in times of crises.
One example is found in the life of Joseph Bates, an early Adventist pioneer. In 1846 when Bates was emersed in writing his book on the Sabbath, his wife came in and said that she needed four pounds of flour. Bates bought the flour and left it on the kitchen table. When questioned by his wife where the flour had come from, he said he had bought it with the last money they had. She was devastated. She knew he had been using his fortune to spread the message of Jesus’ soon return but didn’t think their resources were exhausted. Later in the day, Bates felt impressed to go to the post office. There was a letter for him, but there was an amount to pay as it had no stamp. The postmaster was willing to give the letter to Bates and let him pay another time. Bates said no, but asked the postmaster to open the letter. Inside was 10 dollars.
Bates then asked the postmaster to take the postage and ordered substantial provisions to be delivered to his home. He instructed them not to tell his wife where they had come from. Later when his wife told him of all the provisions that had been delivered, he shared what had happened. Bates had learned to trust the Lord over a period of time, and the Lord did not fail. The same principle applies in our lives. As we learn to trust the Lord, to talk to Him and share our needs and wants, He will meet them in amazing ways.
When looking forward to the very end of time Ellen White wrote,
Those who exercise but little faith now, are in the greatest danger of falling under the power of satanic delusions and the decree to compel the conscience. And even if they endure the test they will be plunged into deeper distress and anguish in the time of trouble, because they have never made it a habit to trust in God. The lessons of faith which they have neglected they will be forced to learn under a terrible pressure of discouragement. We should now acquaint ourselves with God by proving His promises. Angels record every prayer that is earnest and sincere. We should rather dispense with selfish gratifications than neglect communion with God. The deepest poverty, the greatest self-denial, with His approval, is better than riches, honors, ease, and friendship without it. We must take time to pray.
Hope and confidence
God is love. In His love He has provided us with abundant evidence of it and His ability to save us, despite everything Satan maintains to the contrary. When we understand that, we can fully understand our need and dependence on God. With that dependence comes the wonderful comfort that God is not a God who is limited by our human perspectives and fears. God is a God of abundance and blessing. He will help and guide us, and with Him no situation is too difficult. Having this assurance means that although the world may be in turmoil, we can be calm and confident knowing that not only has God promised that He is preparing for us an eternal home (John 14:1-3), He cares about our current challenges: “Our Heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us, of which we know nothing. Those who accept the one principle of making the service and honor of God supreme, will find perplexities vanish, and a plain path before their feet.”
While we have time and relative peace, let us take the time to develop our relationship with our loving God, Father and friend, so that we can face whatever the future brings, with confidence and courage. Then we will be able to echo Paul’s response to the Lord’s promise:
“He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever abandon you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’”
Audrey Andersson is a General Vice-President of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. A former Secretary of the Trans-European Division, she also serves as Chairwoman of the Ellen G. White Estate, Inc. Board of Trustees.
Lift up the trumpet, and loud let it ring:
Jesus is coming again!
Cheer up, ye pilgrims, be joyful and sing:
Jesus is coming again!
Coming again, coming again,
Jesus is coming again!
Echo it, hilltops; proclaim it, ye plains:
Jesus is coming again!
Coming in glory, the Lamb that was slain;
Jesus is coming again!
Heavings of earth, tell the vast, wondering throng:
Jesus is coming again!
Tempests and whirlwinds, the anthem prolong;
Jesus is coming again!
Nations are angry–by this we do know
Jesus is coming again!
Knowledge increases; men run to and fro;
Jesus is coming again!