Trials Before Gods People
the Adventist denomination was recovering from the crisis of 19021903,
and while plans were being made to expand the work, to launch
new enterprises, and to establish new institutions, the servant
of the Lord warned the leadership and the people about a much
more fearful crisis that the church would have to face in the
near future. She was shown the preparations that were being made
in the political world for a series of conflicts that would start
with World War I and how these conflicts would affect the people
nations of the world are eager for conflict," she had written
back in 1900; "but they are held in check by the [four] angels.
When this restraining power is removed, there will come a time
of trouble and anguish." The SDA Bible Commentary
[E. G. White comments], vol. 7, p. 967.
White wrote Testimonies for the Church, volume 9, during
a period of five years, from 1904 through 1909. Deeply impressed
by the scenes that she had seen in vision, she started the first
chapter of that book by sounding a warning:
are living in the time of the end. The fast-fulfilling signs of
the times declare that the coming of Christ is near at hand. .
. . Plagues and judgments are already falling upon the despisers
of the grace of God. The calamities by land and sea, the unsettled
state of society, the alarms of war, are portentous. They forecast
approaching events of the greatest magnitude.
agencies of evil are combining their forces and consolidating.
They are strengthening for the last great crisis. . . .
condition of things in the world shows that troublous times are
right upon us. The daily papers are full of indications of a terrible
conflict in the near future." Testimonies, vol.
9, p. 11.
world is stirred with the spirit of war. The prophecy of the eleventh
chapter of Daniel has nearly reached its complete fulfillment.
Soon the scenes of trouble spoken of in the prophecies will take
place." Ibid., p. 14.
tests and trials await the people of God. The spirit of war is
stirring the nations from one end of the earth to the other."
Ibid., p. 17.
connection with this warning, she quoted, among other verses,
Isaiah 24:18. Verse 1 mentions the destruction that would
be caused by wars in the latter days: "Behold, the Lord maketh
the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down,
and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof."
spite of the warnings that the Advent people had received, the
majority were not able to see what was actually going on behind
the scenes. Only those who were prayerfully watching the signs
of the times saw that the world was about to be involved in
an international conflict identified with "the beginning
of sorrows" (Matthew 24:8).
War I did not start suddenly out of events emerging in 1914. The
real causes of the conflict can be traced much further back. Tensions
resulting from unwise political attitudes over a period of years
lined up the most powerful nations of Europe in two blocs. Each
side was proud, jealous, suspicious, and filled with a spirit
of nationalism. Both sides were heavily armed and fearful of each
that war was about to erupt, wise leaders in those nations did
their best to ward off the imminent danger. Also, a Permanent
Court of Arbitration was established at The Hague, the Netherlands,
for the purpose of helping nations to settle disputes. The first
international peace conference, attended by 24 nations, was held
at The Hague in 1899. A second peace conference, to which 44 nations
sent their representatives, took place in l907. But the Hague
Court had practically no authority, as it could only help settle
disputes that the contending nations were willing to submit to
it for arbitration.
the efforts made through the Hague Court and the Hague Conferences,
there were organized peace movements supported by wealthy men
in the early years of the twentieth century.
Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite, donated a high sum of
money to be distributed in the form of prizes in the interest
of peace and cooperation among the nations. Andrew Carnegie, an
American steel manufacturer, built the famous Peace Palace for
the Hague Court. But "the nations were angry" (Revelation
11:18) beyond human help. While the Peace Palace was under construction,
a reporter wrote:
erection of the Peace Palace at The Hague is going on satisfactorily.
There is much discouragement connected with this peace building.
It has quite a dangerous drawback. Proof: When the construction
was approved, the Boer war broke out. When the plans for the building
were accepted, the Russo-Japanese war started. At the time of
the laying of the foundation, the German emperor visited Tangier
and the unrest in Morocco began. When the first floor was completed,
Austria conquered Bosnia and Herzegovina from the Turks. When
the second floor was finished, the German-French tension over
Morocco began. Since the completion of the attic chambers, the
Italian-Turkish war broke out. I have been following with great
fear the progress of the building. The closer it is drawing toward
its completion, the worse the situation is becoming. When you
think that the glaziers, the paperhangers, and the decorators
have not even started their job, what will it be like when these
men begin working? I have heard of some of the great symbolic
peace paintings which should brighten the triumph of the peace
movement. Im afraid. As often as one part is completed,
somewhere in the world there will be a shrapnel shower. Also a
few statues are to be placed in the gallery of this palacePax,
Lex, Labor, etc. Every one will cost thousands of lives. And,
finally, the day when this temple of peace shall be dedicated,
every one of us will shoulder his gun. A general World War will
then break outall against all. Therefore, I request that
this palace be torn down as quickly as possible." Taegliche
Rundschau, No. 473.
spirit of imperialism kept fueling the tension existing especially
among the European powers. So, before 1914, Europe was split into
two rival military alliances, as mentioned before. On the one
hand there was the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary,
and Italy, and on the other hand the Triple Entente of Great Britain,
France, and Russia.
before the outbreak of hostilities in 1914, the two military blocs,
from fear of each other, increased their military preparations,
which, in turn, increased their mutual fears day by day. Only
a little "spark"a new international crisiswas
needed to trigger the imminent conflict, and this crisis was provoked
on June 28, 1914, when the Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand
and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia,
a province which Austria-Hungary had recovered from the Turks
in 1908. And then the feared chain reaction began. When the war
was over, in 1918, the casualties on all fronts were estimated
at 10 million dead and 20 million wounded.
us go back a few years before the war. In view of what was about
to happen in those eventful days, 19141918, Sister White
predicted the beginning of a time of trial and persecution for
the church as follows:
season of great trial is before us. . . . The time is right upon
us when persecution will come to those who proclaim the truth.
. . . But wherever Gods people may be forced to go, even
though, like the beloved disciple, they are banished to desert
islands, Christ will know where they are and will strengthen and
bless them, filling them with peace and joy.
there is to be trouble all over the world. It becomes everyone
to seek to know God. We have no time to delay. . . . Gods
love for His church is infinite. His care over His heritage is
unceasing. He suffers no affliction to come upon the church but
such as is essential for her purification, her present and eternal
good. He will purify His church even as He purified the temple
at the beginning and close of His ministry on earth. All that
He brings upon the church in test and trial comes that His people
may gain deeper piety and more strength to carry the triumphs
of the cross to all parts of the world."Testimonies,
vol. 9, pp. 227, 228.
and trials have a purifying effect upon the church. When everything
seems to be at peace, there is no noticeable difference between
the two classes of believers. But when strict obedience to God
is followed by oppression and persecution, and threats of imprisonment,
torture, and death, the false-hearted professors are clearly distinguished
from those who have made a "Thus saith the Lord" their
rule of life. This dreadful experience was before the Adventist
people when the servant of the Lord was writing Testimonies
for the Church, volume 9. She often pointed out the fact that
the coming crisis would reveal two distinct companies of Adventists.
authorities will make laws to restrict religious liberty. . .
. They will think they can force the conscience, which God alone
should control. Even now they are making a beginning; this work
they will continue to carry forward till they reach a boundary
over which they cannot step. . . . Many stumble and fall, apostatizing
from the faith they once advocated. Those who apostatize in time
of trial will, to secure their own safety, bear false witness,
and betray their brethren." The Desire of Ages,
God, all will not be rocked to sleep in the cradle of carnal security.
There will be faithful ones who will discern the signs of the
times. While a large number professing present truth will deny
their faith by their works, there will be some who will endure
unto the end." Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 10.
Gods people will be tested by fiery trials, and the great
proportion of those who now appear to be genuine and true will
prove to be base metal. . . . To stand in defense of truth and
righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles
of the Lord when the champions are fewthis will be our test.
At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others,
courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason.
. . . The test will surely come." Ibid., pp. 136, 137.
of the readers may think that the oft-predicted test will not
come before the Sunday decree. Surely, we will all be tested when
the image of the beast is set up shortly before the close of probation.
A decree enforcing Sunday observance will go forth to all the
nations of the world. But this will be "the final test"
(The Great Controversy, p. 605), "the last act in
the drama" (The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White
comments], vol. 7, p. 980). When E. G. White mentions the coming
"test" or "tests," she often refers to a testing
time, or a series of tests beginning with the preliminary tests
and ending up with the final test. This is evident in The Desire
of Ages, p. 630, quoted above, as well as in other Spirit
of Prophecy statements.
point which must be clarified before we can proceed to the next
chapter: unless we have a correct concept of what it means to
"apostatize from the faith," we will not have a clear
understanding of certain Spirit of Prophecy declarations. Some
will say that apostatizing from the faith is the same as leaving
the church. Not necessarily. History teaches that, century after
century, the apostatized majority did not leave the church; on
the contrary, they took control of the church. This is why, today,
there is a whole family of fallen churches Babylon, both
mother and daughters (Revelation 17:5). In Testimonies,
vol. 3, pp. 265267, and vol. 5, pp. 210212, and in
many other prophetic writings referring to the end, we read about
an unreformed majority which will hold the reins of government
in the Adventist Church until it is too late to make a change.
course of the unfaithful majority was prophetically described
is a prospect before us of a continued struggle, at the risk of
imprisonment, loss of property, and even of life itself, to defend
the law of God, which is made void by the laws of men. In this
situation worldly policy will urge an outward compliance with
the laws of the land, for the sake of peace and harmony."Ibid.,
company was presented before me under the name of Seventh-day
Adventists, who were advising that the banner or sign which makes
us a distinctive people should not be held out so strikingly;
for they claimed it was not the best policy in securing success
to our institutions." Selected Messages, bk.
2, p. 385.
her prophetic visions, Sister White saw also another company of
Seventh Day Adventists, namely, a faithful minority:
saw a company who stood well guarded and firm, giving no countenance
to those who would unsettle the established faith of the body.
God looked upon them with approbation."Early Writings,
all in this world have taken sides with the enemy against God.
Not all have become disloyal. There are a faithful few who are
true to God; for John writes, Here are they that keep the
commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. Revelation
14:12."Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 15.
first phase in the fulfillment of these predictions was seen in
19141918 under the preliminary tests.