Said the prophets of old, as they beheld in holy vision the day of God:
"Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a
destruction from the Almighty." Isaiah 13:6. "Enter into the rock, and
hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His
majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of
men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.
For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon everyone that is proud and
lofty, and upon everyone that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low."
"In that day a man shall cast the idols of his silver, and the idols of
his gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles
and to the bats; to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of
the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty,
when He ariseth to shake terribly the earth." Isaiah 2:10-12, 20, 21,
Through a rift in the clouds there beams a star whose brilliancy is
increased fourfold in contrast with the darkness. It speaks hope and joy
to the faithful, but severity and wrath to the transgressors of God's law.
Those who have sacrificed all for Christ are now secure, hidden as in the
secret of the Lord's pavilion. They have been tested, and before the world
and the despisers of truth they have evinced their fidelity to Him who
died for them. A marvelous change has come over those who have held fast
their integrity in the very face of death. They have been suddenly
delivered from the dark and terrible tyranny of men transformed to demons.
Their faces, so lately pale, anxious, and haggard, are now aglow with
wonder, faith, and love. Their voices rise in triumphant song: "God is our
refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we
fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried
into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled,
though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof." Psalm 46:1-3.
While these words of holy trust ascend to God, the clouds sweep back, and
the starry heavens are seen, unspeakably glorious in contrast with the
black and angry firmament on either side.
The glory of the celestial city streams from the gates ajar. Then there
appears against the sky a hand holding two tables of stone folded
together. Says the prophet: "The heavens shall declare His righteousness:
for God is judge Himself." Psalm 50:6. That holy law, God's righteousness,
that amid thunder and flame was proclaimed from Sinai as the guide of
life, is now revealed to men as the rule of judgment. The hand opens the
tables, and there are seen the precepts of the Decalogue, traced as with a
pen of fire. The words are so plain that all can read them. Memory is
aroused, the darkness of superstition and heresy is swept from every mind,
and God's ten words, brief, comprehensive, and authoritative, are
presented to the view of all the inhabitants of the earth.
It is impossible to describe the horror and despair of those who have
trampled upon God's holy requirements. The Lord gave them His law; they
might have compared their characters with it and learned their defects
while there was yet opportunity for repentance and reform; but in order to
secure the favor of the world, they set aside its precepts and taught
others to transgress. They have endeavored to compel God's people to
profane His Sabbath. Now they are condemned by that law which they have
despised. With awful distinctness they see that they are without excuse.
They chose whom they would serve and worship. "Then shall ye return, and
discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God
and him that serveth Him not." Malachi 3:18. The enemies of God's law,
from the ministers down to the least among them, have a new conception of
truth and duty. Too late they see that the Sabbath of the fourth
commandment is the seal of the living God. Too late they see the true
nature of their spurious sabbath and the sandy foundation upon which they
have been building. They find that they have been fighting against God.
Religious teachers have led souls to perdition while professing to guide
them to the gates of Paradise.
Not until the day of final accounts will it be known how great is the
responsibility of men in holy office and how terrible are the results of
their unfaithfulness. Only in eternity can we rightly estimate the loss of
a single soul. Fearful will be the doom of him to whom God shall say:
Depart, thou wicked servant. The voice of God is heard from heaven,
declaring the day and hour of Jesus' coming, and delivering the
everlasting covenant to His people. Like peals of loudest thunder His
words roll through the earth. The Israel of God stand listening, with
their eyes fixed upward. Their countenances are lighted up with His glory,
and shine as did the face of Moses when he came down from Sinai.
The wicked cannot look upon them. And when the blessing is pronounced on
those who have honored God by keeping His Sabbath holy, there is a mighty
shout of victory. Soon there appears in the east a small black
cloud, about half the size of a man's hand. It is the cloud which
surrounds the Saviour and which seems in the distance to be shrouded in
darkness. The people of God know this to be the sign of the Son of man. In
solemn silence they gaze upon it as it draws nearer the earth, becoming
lighter and more glorious, until it is a great white cloud, its base a
glory like consuming fire, and above it the rainbow of the covenant. Jesus
rides forth as a mighty conqueror. Not now a "Man of Sorrows," to drink
the bitter cup of shame and woe, He comes, victor in heaven and earth, to
judge the living and the dead. "Faithful and True," "in righteousness He
doth judge and make war." And "the armies which were in heaven"
(Revelation 19:11, 14) follow Him.
With anthems of celestial melody the holy angels, a vast, unnumbered
throng, attend Him on His way. The firmament seems filled with radiant
forms--"ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands." No
human pen can portray the scene; no mortal mind is adequate to conceive
its splendor. "His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of
His praise. And His brightness was as the light." Habakkuk 3:3,4. As the
living cloud comes still nearer, every eye beholds the Prince of life. No
crown of thorns now mars that sacred head; but a diadem of glory rests on
His holy brow. His countenance outshines the dazzling brightness of the
noonday sun. "And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written,
King of kings, and Lord of lords." Revelation 19:16.
Before His presence "all faces are turned into paleness;" upon the
rejecters of God's mercy falls the terror of eternal despair. "The heart
melteth, and the knees smite together, . . . and the faces of them all
gather blackness." Jeremiah 30:6; Nahum 2:10. The righteous cry with
trembling: "Who shall be able to stand?" The angels' song is hushed, and
there is a period of awful silence. Then the voice of Jesus is heard,
saying: "My grace is sufficient for you." The faces of the righteous are
lighted up, and joy fills every heart. And the angels strike a note higher
and sing again as they draw still nearer to the earth.
The King of kings descends upon the cloud, wrapped in flaming fire. The
heavens are rolled together as a scroll, the earth trembles before Him,
and every mountain and island is moved out of its place. "Our God shall
come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before Him, and it
shall be very tempestuous round about Him. He shall call to the heavens
from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people." Psalm 50:3,4.
"And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the
chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every freeman,
hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to
the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that
sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day
of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" Revelation 6:15-17.
The derisive jests have ceased. Lying lips are hushed into silence. The
clash of arms, the tumult of battle, "with confused noise, and garments
rolled in blood" (Isaiah 9:5), is stilled. Nought now is heard but the
voice of prayer and the sound of weeping and lamentation. The cry bursts
forth from lips so lately scoffing: "The great day of His wrath is come;
and who shall be able to stand?" The wicked pray to be buried beneath the
rocks of the mountains rather than meet the face of Him whom they have
despised and rejected.
That voice which
penetrates the ear of the dead, they know. How often have its plaintive,
tender tones called them to repentance. How often has it been heard in the
touching entreaties of a friend, a brother, a Redeemer. To the rejecters
of His grace no other could be so full of condemnation, so burdened with
denunciation, as that voice which has so long pleaded: "Turn ye, turn ye
from your evil ways; for why will ye die?" Ezekiel 33:11. Oh, that it were
to them the voice of a stranger! Says Jesus: "I have called, and ye
refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded; but ye have
set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof." Proverbs
1:24, 25. That voice awakens memories which they would fain blot
out--warnings despised, invitations refused, privileges slighted.