God's People Delivered

Chapter 43

When mild measures fail to move those who remain faithful to God's Word to give up their loyalty to the Bible Sabbath, more coercive laws are passed. Economic sanctions are put in effect, restricting their ability to buy or sell (see Revelation 13:16–17), and they are deprived of all earthly support. Their only hope is now in the promises of God. No longer protected by human laws, they are driven from their homes; some of them are imprisoned. There will then be a world-wide movement to destroy the relatively small number who continue to serve and honor the Lord above all else. See Revelation 13:15. As the time approaches for the law that condemns the faithful to death to take effect, the people will mobilize forces to root out the hated sect. They determine to strike in one night a decisive blow.

All the plans of frail men notwithstanding, at midnight God reveals His power for the deliverance of His people. Suddenly, the sun appears, shining in its strength. The wicked look on the scene with terror and amazement, while the righteous behold with joy the evidence of their deliverance. Everything in nature seems turned out of its course. The streams no longer flow. Dark, heavy clouds clash against each other. In the midst of the angry heavens is one clear space of indescribable glory, through which is heard the voice of God like the sound of many waters, saying: "It is done." Revelation 16:17

There is a mighty earthquake, "such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great." Verse 18. The glory of God is seen flashing through the heavens. The mountains shake like a reed in the wind, and ragged rocks are scattered on every side. (See Isaiah 24:20.) There is a roar as of a coming storm. The sea is lashed into fury. The whole earth heaves and swells as its very foundations seem to be giving way. Mountain chains are sinking. Inhabited islands disappear. The seaports that have become like Sodom for wickedness are swallowed up by the angry waters. Babylon the great has come in remembrance before God, "to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath." Great hailstones, every one "about the weight of a talent," are doing their work of destruction. Verses 19, 21. The proudest cities of the earth lay in ruins. The architectural wonders, upon which the world's great men have lavished their wealth, crumble to ruin before their eyes. Prison walls crumble, and God's people who have been prisoners for their faith are set free.

Said the prophet of old, as in vision he saw 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 every one 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 his idols of silver, and his idols of 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

It is impossible to describe the terror and despair of those who have rejected God's holy Law. In order to secure the favor of the world, they set aside its precepts and taught others to sin. They have made every effort to force God's people to defile His Sabbath. Now they are condemned by that Law which they have despised. With terrible clearness they see that they are without excuse. They chose whom they would serve and worship.

Soon a small dark cloud appears in the east. It is the cloud which surrounds the Saviour and which seems in the distance to be hidden in darkness. In solemn silence the people of God watch as it draws nearer the earth, becoming lighter and more glorious, until it is a great white cloud, its base having the appearance of fire and above it the rainbow of the covenant. Jesus comes, not now a "Man of Sorrows," to drink the bitter cup of shame and woe, but as a victor in heaven and earth, to judge the living and the dead. The holy angels, a vast, unnumbered throng, attend Him on His way. The sky seems filled with radiant forms. No human pen can picture the scene; no mortal mind fully imagine its magnificence. 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 those who have rejected God's mercy falls the terror of eternal despair. "The heart melteth. . . and the faces of them all gather blackness." Nahum 2:10. The righteous cry with trembling: "Who shall be able to stand?" The angels cease their singing, and there is a period of awful silence. Then the voice of Jesus is heard, saying: "My grace is sufficient for thee." The faces of the righteous light up with happiness and joy fills every heart.

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 free man, 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

As the earth is trembling to its very foundations, in the midst of the flash of lightning and the roar of thunder, the voice Son of God calls forth the sleeping saints. Raising His hands to heaven, He cries: "Awake, awake, awake, you that sleep in the dust, and arise!" Throughout the length and breadth of the earth the righteous dead shall hear that voice, and they that hear shall live. And the whole earth will ring with the tread of the exceeding great army of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. From the prison house of death they come, clothed with immortal glory, crying: "O death, where is thy sting? 0 grave, where is thy victory?" 1 Corinthians 15:55. And the living righteous and the risen saints unite their voices in a long, glad shout of victory.

The living righteous are changed "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." I Corinthians 15:52. They are made immortal and with the risen saints are caught up to meet their Lord in the air. Angels "gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Matthew 24:31. Little children are carried by holy angels to their mothers' arms. Friends long separated by death are united, never to part again, and with songs of gladness rise together to the City of God.

Now is fulfilled the Saviour's prayer for His disciples: "I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am." John 17:24. Christ presents His followers to His Father, declaring: "Those that thou gavest me I have kept." John 17:12. The Father, looking upon the saved, will see His image reflected in each. Sin will be no more, its mar removed, and the human once more in harmony with the divine!

In all ages, God's people have learned lessons through the trials they have experienced. For Jesus' sake they endured opposition, hatred, and slander. They endured self-denial and experienced bitter disappointments. By their own experience, they learned the evil of sin; and they look upon it with hatred. A sense of the great sacrifice made for its cure humbles them and fills their hearts with gratitude which beings who have never fallen cannot fully understand. They love much because they have been forgiven much. Having shared in Christ's sufferings, they are prepared to share in His glory.

The children of God have come from dungeons, mountains, deserts, and the desolate places of the earth. Millions went down to the grave loaded with shame because they firmly refused to yield to the deceptive claims of Satan. By human courts, they were pronounced the worst of criminals. But now, "God is judge Himself." Psalm 50:6. Now the decisions of earth are reversed. "The rebuke of His people He will take away." Isaiah 25:8. Now they are crowned with crowns more glorious than were ever worn by an earthly king. The days of pain and sorrow are forever ended. The King of glory has wiped the tears from all faces; every cause of grief has been removed. They pour forth a song of praise: "Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb! saying: Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen." Revelation 7:10, 12