The hardening of the heart to the Word of God has provoked various kinds of misbehavior: idolatry, sensuality, egocentrism, unbridled struggle for power, […]
The hardening of the heart to the Word of God has provoked various kinds of misbehavior: idolatry, sensuality, egocentrism, unbridled struggle for power, disregard for the suffering of others, disregard for the Sabbath, etc. These are some of the reasons the world has faced many of its greatest crises. But for every major crisis God has provided people to deliver His messages, outlining the steps they must take to be spiritually safe. This principle was expressed by the prophet Amos: “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).
Allow me to trace how God guided His people through at least four major crises during earth’s history. We can see His providential leading during the time of the Flood, the liberation of His people from Egypt, through times of idolatry, and in the radical demonstration of His love for humanity that led God to allow His only Son, Jesus Christ, to live and die for us.
Four Crucial Moments in History
The Flood. The Bible says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). Verse 11 adds the damning indictment that the earth was “corrupt” and filled with “violence.” Secularism was so deeply rooted among the people that God took drastic action to stem the tide of sin and degradation.
However, God did not do so without first announcing His decision to those who lived on the earth. He called Noah as His prophet to warn the people of the destruction to come. After 120 years of preaching by Noah (Gen. 6:3), God destroyed the world.
Liberation From Egyptian Captivity. After centuries of captivity in Egypt, the time for liberation had come. The people turned to God and cried out under their yoke of bondage (see Ex. 2:23). God decided to deliver His people from the yoke that plagued them, and He chose Moses as a prophet and leader to announce His plan and lead the deliverance of His people.
Warnings Against Idolatry. Having arrived at the Promised Land, the people still did not obey God. His love had not been internalized, and idolatry was rampant. Canaan was full of idols. People worshipped “the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made” (Isa. 2:8). In response, God chose a number of prophets to call His people away from their worship of idols. It’s important to note that God not only used men for this task; He also used women. He called a prophet named Deborah, and used her as His instrument to warn people away from idolatry.
The First Coming of Christ. The world needed the first advent of the Messiah. People needed to know and understand the true nature of God’s kingdom. Upon the Messiah the Spirit of the Lord would rest, and He would reign with wisdom and power, for He would reveal the Father (see Micah 5:2; Isa. 11:1, 2). Although the people did not know the hour of His coming, they should have been be prepared to receive Him.
Through John the Baptist they learned that the time to receive this mighty King had come. John implored them to repent of their sins, rather than seeking to justify themselves by proclaiming their religious pedigree (see Matt. 3:8-11). To announce the first coming of Christ, and to prepare the people for this special occasion, God sent several prophets: Micah, Isaiah, John the Baptist, as well as Anna.
Throughout the Bible we see a pattern, a twofold condition for safely navigating crises: seeking God with the whole heart, and believing His prophets (Jer. 29:13; 2 Chron. 20:20). This is how our sovereign Leader protected His people from destruction, and how He gave them opportunities to begin anew after great calamities.
Another Crisis, Another Voice
Is there anything about our time that justifies the presence of a prophet? The emphatic answer is yes! This double condition of seeking God and believing in His prophets is still a master line that runs through history. We believe the second coming of Jesus is near. We also expect another crisis before Jesus returns. If past crises are any indication, why would God fail to send a prophet to prepare His people now?
The second coming of Christ is the greatest event in human history since Christ’s death and resurrection! Before Christ returns, many of the devastating realities that preceded His first advent will be repeated in greater scope and destruction. Christ Himself declared that the behavior of humanity, and the events that preceded the Flood, would be repeated at His second coming (Matt. 24:37, 38).
The end of time will see a convergence of the characteristics that framed previous historical crises. This time these events will happen simultaneously. We will witness parallels between the behaviors of people who lived in the past and those who live today.
There is ample reason to believe that idol worship is an evil that plagues our time. Warnings to avoid this practice are few. Just as there are literal idols, people have to be warned about everything that stands between humanity and God, whether it’s secularism in all its forms or worship to the beast and his image—anything that makes us think of something other than worshipping God deserves reproof (Rev. 14:9, 10).
God’s people will serve Him wholeheartedly. One of the characteristics of the remnant is the observance of the “commandments of God” and the “testimony of Jesus” (Rev. 12:17), defined in Revelation 19:10 as the Spirit of prophecy. God has sent us a prophet to whom we must pay attention. Rejection of God’s prophets at crucial times in history has always had serious consequences for God’s professed people, because the rejection of a prophet implies, according to Luke 10:16, the rejection of He who sent him or her.
Ellen White was enlightened by God. She inspired God’s end-time people toward the most secure paths of Christian behavior. We must respect her relevance and take her teachings seriously. We are responsible for believing, living, and proclaiming this light.
The Adventist Church is going somewhere. Without a doubt, the Spirit of Prophecy belongs to this movement as it experiences the most critical days in human history. God, once again, has provided a way for His people to be led and delivered.
One day soon Christ will return for those who are His. May God help us to seek Him with our whole hearts, and listen to His prophets so that we might be ready for His soon return.
Valdecir Simões Lima is a professor at the Schools of Theology and Social Communication at Brazil Adventist University.