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The Time of Trouble
In Ellen White’s presentation of end-time events, God’s people are sustained by Heavenly power and protection as they go through the time of trouble (tribulation). The time of trouble begins when Jesus makes the pronouncement in heaven: “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.” Revelation 22:11.
This solemn announcement is heard when Jesus stops his work of presenting His blood on behalf of confessing sinners, for everyone has made their final decision—those who would ever repent of their sins and give their lives fully to God have done so, never to choose to sin again, and those who would not repent up to this time have fully hardened their heart. Now those who have chosen to keep their loyalties on Satan’s side feel the wrath of God:
When Christ ceases His intercession in the sanctuary, the unmingled wrath threatened against those who worship the beast and his image and receive his mark (Revelation 14:9, 10), will be poured out. The plagues upon Egypt when God was about to deliver Israel were similar in character to those more terrible and extensive judgments which are to fall upon the world just before the final deliverance of God’s people. Says the revelator, in describing those terrific scourges: “A foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.” The sea “became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.” And “the rivers and springs of water . . . became blood.” Terrible as these inflictions are, God’s justice stands fully vindicated. The angel of God declares: “You are righteous, O Lord, . . . because You have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.” Revelation 16:2-6. By condemning the people of God to death, they have as truly incurred the guilt of their blood as if it had been shed by their hands. In like manner Christ declared the Jews of His time guilty of all the blood of holy men which had been shed since the days of Abel; for they possessed the same spirit and were seeking to do the same work with these murderers of the prophets.
In the plague that follows, power is given to the sun “to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat.” Verses 8, 9. [See also Joel 1:10-12, 17-20; Amos 8:3.]
These plagues are not universal, or the inhabitants of the earth would be wholly cut off. Yet they will be the most awful scourges that have ever been known to mortals. All the judgments upon men, prior to the close of probation, have been mingled with mercy. The pleading blood of Christ has shielded the sinner from receiving the full measure of his guilt; but in the final judgment, wrath is poured out unmixed with mercy.
The Great Controversy, p. 627-629
Although words cannot fully describe how terrible it will be when the plagues of God are being poured out upon the earth, those who remain steadfastly loyal to God will not be destroyed:
The people of God will not be free from suffering; but while persecuted and distressed, while they endure privation and suffer for want of food they will not be left to perish. That God who cared for Elijah will not pass by one of His self-sacrificing children. He who numbers the hairs of their head will care for them, and in time of famine they shall be satisfied. While the wicked are dying from hunger and pestilence, angels will shield the righteous and supply their wants. To him that “walks righteously” is the promise: “Bread will be given him, his water will be sure.” Isaiah 33:15, 16.
The Great Controversy, p. 629
You’ll find more encouraging promises in Psalm 121:5-7; Psalm 91; Isaiah 41:17; and Habakkuk 3:17, 18.
When the protection of human laws shall be withdrawn from those who honor the law of God, there will be, in different lands, a simultaneous movement for their destruction. As the time appointed in the decree draws near, the people will conspire to root out the hated sect. It will be determined to strike in one night a decisive blow, which shall utterly silence the voice of dissent and reproof.
The people of God—some in prison cells, some hidden in solitary retreats in the forests and the mountains—still plead for divine protection, while in every quarter companies of armed men, urged on by hosts of evil angels, are preparing for the work of death. It is now, in the hour of utmost extremity, that the God of Israel will interpose for the deliverance of His chosen. Saith the Lord, “You shall have a song as in the night when a holy festival is kept, and gladness of heart as when one goes . . . to come into the mountain of the Lord, to the Mighty One of Israel. The Lord will cause His glorious voice to be heard, and show the descent of His arm, with the indignation of His anger and the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, tempest, and hailstones.” Isaiah 30:29, 30.
With shouts of triumph, jeering, and imprecation, throngs of evil men are about to rush upon their prey, when, lo, a dense blackness, deeper than the darkness of the night, falls upon the earth. Then a rainbow, shining with the glory from the throne of God, spans the heavens and seems to encircle each praying company. The angry multitudes are suddenly arrested. Their mocking cries die away. The objects of their murderous rage are forgotten. With fearful forebodings they gaze upon the symbol of God’s covenant and long to be shielded from its overpowering brightness.
The Great Controversy, p. 635-636
The chapters from which we have quoted reveal more supernatural signs that will be manifested at this time—all of which bring comfort to God’s people and terror to the wicked. Soon, the first sign appears that signals the second coming of Jesus.
All Scriptures are quoted from the New King James Version, including those originally quoted by Ellen White from the King James Version.—Editors