By Pastor Hal Mayer
Dear friends, thank you for sticking with me during my recent health crisis. I really appreciate your faithfulness as we sent sermons that bear repeating. Your gifts are really important as I get back to ministry again. Thank you for your support. We’ll get back to the messages on Esther, but right now the coronavirus takes precedence. I still have some deficit, but as you can see, this will be my first sermon since my recovery began. I will get stronger and recover more, but if I don’t use my voice, I will never get it back. Besides, the Lord wants me to use my gifts in His cause as soon as I can. I hope you gain much from this message.
The deadly coronavirus is a current and rapidly developing story, so some of the facts will be outdated before you receive this message. But the principles are what I want you to think about, especially the spiritual ones.
Try to imagine. The city is eerily quiet. The streets that were teaming with people and cars every day are deserted. People stay in their homes, scared and afraid of catching the deadly virus. The authorities have quarantine restrictions in place, affecting 170 million people. That means they stay at home. They don’t go to work. They don’t go to school. They can’t travel by any mode of transportation. Big cities in China are essentially in lockdown under martial law.
Sporting events are canceled, and so are large gatherings of any kind. Public transportation is at a standstill because the government shut them down. Besides, nobody wants to ride on the buses and subways anyway for fear of the invisible plague. Airlines have canceled schedules to and within China and have parked their airplanes because there’s nobody that wants to fly. Airline employees have been forced to take leave without pay.
Shops and shopping malls are closed. Manufacturing plants are shuttered. And production of goods from cars to washing machines to toys and clothing is at a standstill. Tourist attractions are closed, including the Forbidden City and traditional temple fairs.
Preschools, primary schools, secondary schools, universities, and other academic institutions have been shut down and will remain so until the end of March for now, maybe indefinitely.
Big cities with millions of residents are ghost towns, including Beijing and Shanghai. The only place where people gather is at hospitals, which are overwhelmed with patients trying desperately to get treatment. Bodies pile up, while some collapse and die in the streets.
This is describing what is happening in many cities in China. It’s not imaginary. The city of Wuhan and many other major cities in China have been quarantined. Few people are allowed to come in or go out of the city.
In a twist that is typical of Chinese communism, all social media, as well as Skype and other communications channels, are blocked. China has expelled journalists who don’t tow the party line and has employed 1,600 online “trolls” to scrub the Internet of “sensitive” information related to coronavirus. Apparently, the Chinese government doesn’t want anyone to know what’s really going on with the pandemic. This is dangerous for the rest of the world as well.
On the evening of Dec. 30, 2019, a young doctor in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the 7th largest city in China with 11 million people, sent a short text message to a group of colleagues. “Seven cases of SARS have been confirmed at the seafood market in Huanan,” he wrote. SARS, the viral disease that broke out in November 2002, claimed 774 lives.
But the coronavirus has already claimed over 2,000 lives at the time I prepared this message, and the disease is just getting started and threatens to spread around the world and become a global pandemic. The American Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say that it is inevitable that community outbreaks will come to America and presumably to other countries as well.
“It was clear to me that we were dealing with a public health issue,” the doctor said. The name of the doctor and the hospital where he works have not been made public. But the story that he told the Beijing Youth Daily newspaper has been shared tens of thousands of times online in China. At 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 31, the municipal health commission summoned the doctor and questioned him several times throughout the day.
Where did he get his information? Officials wanted to know. Did he realize he was breaking the law? Did he understand that spreading that kind of information was a punishable offense? “Understood,” he wrote on a form, signing his statement with his fingerprint. But the doctor never got punished. Instead, he got sick.
“On Jan. 10, around noon, I began to cough. The next day, my fever rose. That was when I knew I was in trouble,” he said. On Jan. 16, he started having trouble breathing. On Jan. 24, he was transferred to the intensive care unit. From there, he typed out his story on his phone on Jan. 27. He couldn’t speak and could only breathe with the help of a respirator. He later died.
There are a number of varieties of the coronavirus; most of them cause mild symptoms. The Wuhan Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), however, is an ongoing viral epidemic that can cause severe symptoms and death. For the moment the Wuhan Coronavirus is affecting Mainland China primarily. But it is only just the beginning. It has already been detected in 32 other countries and territories. As of February 19, 2020, China has reported 76,000 confirmed cases, and at least 2,236 deaths have been attributed to the virus. The current rate of transmission is 2.4%. But these totals are certain to be far less than the actual total. The Chinese government has not been upfront and has tried to hide the truth. Therefore, accurate information is impossible to get. Plus, there are people that are dying before they have even been diagnosed, further skewing the numbers. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the U.S., said, “The number of cases have steeply inclined each and every day.” Scientists are predicting a worst-case scenario that 650 million people will contract the disease before the virus is finished.
Fauci said “that while it was previously unknown if an infected person could transmit the disease to another person if they did not exhibit any symptoms, ‘now we know from a recent report from Germany that that is absolutely the case.’” The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
Vietnam quarantined 10,000 people in the city of Son Loi about 40 miles from Hanoi even though Vietnam had only 20 confirmed cases of the virus. It was the first city to be quarantined outside of China. And it meets the definition of a pandemic.
The Westerdam cruise ship spent two weeks at sea after five ports rejected it over coronavirus fears. Finally, Cambodia allowed it to disembark and more than 2,000 passengers were allowed to scatter all over the world. Then, one American passenger was diagnosed with the disease upon landing in Malaysia. The passenger is in isolation in Malaysia. But health officials are struggling to know how to deal with the situation. People that were still incubating the disease could have been spreading it to hundreds of others in many different parts of the world.
Friends, there is no stopping it. It’s only a matter of time. The virus can be transmitted from person to person prior to the onset of symptoms. And the virus has a long period when the patient is asymptomatic. There are now questions about whether it can be transmitted by previously infected people after symptoms stop. In other words, the virus, even though symptoms have gone, is still contagious.
Five million people left Wuhan prior to the officials locking down the city for the Chinese New Year. Some left preemptively because of the spreading virus. Some of them were no doubt infected and can spread the disease in other cities all over China and elsewhere before they know they are infected.
In China and around the world, public health authorities are trying desperately to contain the spread of the outbreak. Governments are banning travel to China and gearing up their own medical systems. And at least some are preparing their militaries to impose martial law. Airports and train stations in some places around the world have implemented temperature checks and health declarations in an attempt to identify coronavirus carriers.
Travelers who have visited Mainland China were asked by U.S. authorities to monitor their health for at least two weeks—a really feeble attempt to prevent spread of the coronavirus.
The Chinese New Year holiday was extended. And workplaces were instructed not to open until the holiday is officially over. These regions represent 80% of the country’s GDP and 90% of its exports. When the holiday was over and the government ordered everyone to go back to work, factories were short of workers because of the coronavirus. And people, some infected no doubt, came to work, raising fears of another surge of victims.
China is on a war footing. And the battle is raging on many fronts all at once. The epidemic has eclipsed everything else. All available resources have been commandeered to battle the disease.
Hong Kong has raised its infectious disease response to the highest level and declared an emergency, closing all schools until March and canceling its Chinese New Year celebrations.
The epidemic is worrying scientists, politicians, and entrepreneurs alike. The virus has also begun to change people’s everyday lives, the way they do business, and how they travel. The fear of new infections has made its way around the world. Sports events have been postponed. British Airways and Lufthansa were the first airlines to cancel all flights to China. But others quickly followed suit. Cathay Pacific stopped handing out pillows, blankets, and magazines on its aircraft to prevent the virus from spreading.
Hospitals are overwhelmed. The people go to them for testing and treatment and are getting neither because the hospitals in China don’t have enough testing kits nor beds to put patients in. People are expiring in the hallways and in their homes. And in America, the CDC announced the second week of February that the testing kits are giving many false negatives. That may be what prompted the top doctor at the CDC, Nancy Messonnier, who is in charge of all matters relating to the coronavirus, to announce that the virus is going to get a foothold in the U.S. It’s only a matter of time. The U.S. has 16 confirmed cases and 110 potential cases that are being tested.
“This outbreak is unfolding rapidly, and we are rapidly looking at how that impacts our posture at the border,” said Messonnier. “I expect that in the coming days, our travel recommendations will change.”
China built two dedicated hospitals in about 10 days for 1,000 and 1,600 patients. Now, that’s record time. But they are already filled. Convention centers and sports stadiums are being used as temporary facilities for those experiencing mild symptoms.
But it gets worse. The people in Wuhan, along the Yangtze River, are being checked from door to door for fever. Those who have the fever are being taken to quarantine camps. And those who came into contact with someone who has the disease are also being quarantined in the same places as the sick people.
Multiple reports say that the whistle blowers, the journalists who reported on the situation in China, have disappeared. Maybe they are in hiding or their devices have been confiscated, but it is likely to be much worse than that.
A Jan. 27 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that human-to-human transmission had begun around early to mid-December. But authorities repeatedly claimed that the disease was containable and not contagious until Jan. 20—when Zhong Nanshan, the nation’s leading respiratory scientist, acknowledged that a patient had infected 14 medical workers.
On Jan. 3, Wuhan police issued warnings to eight local medical professionals for “spreading rumors” about the illness online. One of them, Doctor Li Wenliang, later contracted the virus while treating a patient. His parents also fell ill while caring for him. The city’s mayor later blamed central authorities for withholding information about the disease.
A study published in The Lancet on Jan. 31 estimated that as many as 75,815 individuals in Wuhan could have been infected, with the number of infections likely to double every 6.4 days. That suggests that by February 7 there were 150,000 cases, and by February 14 there were 300,000 cases; February 21, 600,000; and by the end of February, 1.2 million cases, all in a city that has a medical system that is overwhelmed and has about 100,000 hospital beds. That’s far beyond any capacity to recover by human means. And that’s only one city of 11 million people, all of them dependent on the government to care for them from cradle to grave. What about other big cities in China, like Beijing or Shanghai, which are currently under some form of quarantine—or the rest of the world, for that matter?
Der Spiegal, the German daily, ran an article saying how coronavirus has made globalization deadly. Anybody with a little common sense would have seen it coming. And students of Bible prophecy were clued in long ago that deadly pestilences in large cities are like a bushfire in a field of tall, dry grass. Keep the Faith has even done a past sermon on the cities being as death traps.
The economic impact could be dramatic. China, the world’s most populous country and its second-largest economy, is facing a “complicated and serious” crisis, according to a group of Chinese officials headed by Prime Minister Li Keqiang. The country exports more than $2.3 trillion worth of goods annually and is responsible for about one-third of global economic growth.
This epidemic has disrupted countless supply chains around the world, both big and small. Textiles, electronics, white goods, auto parts, etc.—all the stuff China makes—is now way behind, and it will take time to ramp up business. Businesses in America, Europe, Australia, and countless other nations depend on China for various supplies. When these are disrupted they can’t just go to another country to manufacture. That requires a lot of logistics and integration. It takes a long time and is expensive. Some companies will go bankrupt waiting for supplies. This is going to shock the economic system of the world.
The pandemic has already shown just how vulnerable our interdependent 21st century economy really is. China boasts the world’s largest manufacturing industry.
Tech giant Apple, which has a production facility in Wuhan, quickly began looking for alternate suppliers “to make up any expected production loss,” CEO Tim Cook said. The French carmaker PSA, which has several factories in Wuhan, is facing a similar situation.
China exports more than 80 percent of that which it produces—including industrial and consumer goods, raw materials, and food—by sea. If the ports were closed, it would lead to a massive disruption of global trade comparable to a stop in oil deliveries from Saudi Arabia. To a certain extent, China has “swing capacity” in the manufacturing industry. But an interruption in production could bring a large part of the global economy to a standstill.
A panel of experts from the World Bank and the WHO wrote of a “world at risk” when they examined the economic consequences of a serious global health emergency last year. A pandemic like the Spanish flu, which killed as many as 50 million people between 1918 and 1920, would depress global economic output today by around $3 trillion (2.7 trillion euros), the experts calculated. Even a comparatively mild epidemic could cause damages adding up to more than 2 percent of GDP. “The world is not prepared for a fast-moving, virulent respiratory pathogen pandemic,” the report states.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has compared the virus to a “demon,” thus stirring up one emotion that spreads even more quickly than the virus itself: fear. In Malaysia, South Korea, and Singapore, hundreds of thousands of people have signed petitions demanding entry bans for Chinese. In France, people of Asian origin have taken to Twitter to complain about discrimination under the hashtag (translated) “I am not a virus.” Some people have even refused to be served by Asians in supermarkets. In France, there have been 12 confirmed cases as of Friday, February 21. In South Korea, there have been 204; in Malaysia, 22; and in Singapore, 86.
The story of the coronavirus is about more than just medicine and China. It is a lesson on the increasing interdependence—and the political, economic, and social dimensions—of today’s world. It is a story about the globalization of danger.
But if the virus spreads for weeks or months, as almost all epidemiologists predict it will, the damage will also amass quickly—especially for companies that have significant dealings in China. Apple, which is based in the U.S., produces parts for its computers and smartphones in Wuhan, the center of the pandemic. And Starbucks, the American coffee chain, operates around 4,100 stores in China, half of which are currently closed.
Many businesses have issued travel bans for their employees, and the airlines and hotels are taking a big hit in the millions of dollars and euros daily. Many companies are so intertwined with China that even a minor downturn in productivity has an outsized impact on their bottom line. Serious delays in supplies will impact discount chains, online sales, drugs, and other medical supplies.
In Wuhan, the place where it all began and where new infections and deaths have been increasing from one day to the next, the coming weeks will show whether the new virus can be stopped—or whether the world will simply look on helplessly as the virus jumps around from country to country and continent to continent.
Researchers around the world are racing against the clock to come up with a vaccine. And one lab claims to have come up with the vaccine in three hours of knowing the genetic code. But it will take time—at least three months—for human testing of any vaccine to begin because of the protocols involved. Then, once a vaccine is approved, it will take a lot more time to ramp up production and distribute it globally.
No drug has yet proven to be effective against the virus. If the virus were to spread uncontrollably, the world would have few means of protecting itself, and the result would be far more infections and deaths than we have seen up to this point.
What has been particularly worrying is that it is not yet clear what scientists and doctors are up against. It is not clear how contagious or how deadly the new pathogen really is. “At the moment, we’re dealing with things as they come,” University of Marburg virologist Becker says, summing up the situation.
But people seem to be overwhelmed by fear. Fears about the fate of the people in and around Wuhan have been exported to the rest of the world.
Friends, this is huge. Your life could change dramatically. Have you thought about that? Have you perhaps already begun to implement some changes to take precautions? Just buying a face mask is difficult to impossible already. Maybe the prophecies and counsel to get out of the cities (and out of harm’s way of the coming pestilences and disasters) was prescient after all.
And that raises a point that I want to emphasize. It isn’t very popular today among the ministers in the pulpit who say that Christ was our obedience and therefore we don’t have to obey. But the counsel of the Lord to get out of the cities was prophetic intelligence that was really relevant. He gave us that instruction to preserve us and to move his people out of harm’s way, don’t you think? Of course, that counsel was given for plenty of other very good spiritual reasons as well. But some ministers still teach that we can ignore this counsel.
Everything goes on day after day. Today is like yesterday, which is like the day before. And, still, God’s people are quite satisfied. The calamities get worse and worse until they perish for disobedience. Even if Christ were to come to them and say, “Escape for thy life. Look not behind thee,” I fear they would hesitate and disobey that instruction.
God tells us He is going to destroy the big cities. Here is one such statement from Evangelism, page 27: “The Lord will not suddenly cast off all transgressors, or destroy entire nations; but He will punish cities and places where men have given themselves up to the possession of Satanic agencies. Strictly will the cities of the nations be dealt with, and yet they will not be visited in the extreme of God’s indignation, because some souls will yet break away from the delusions of the enemy, and will repent and be converted, while the mass will be treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath.”
Notice the emphasis on the wicked cities. Where have men given themselves over to satanic agencies the most? In the cities. Wickedness is concentrated in the cities. It’s even disproportionate in the cities compared to the population, for men potentiate each other and make the sin greater.
“The time is near when large cities will be swept away.” That’s Evangelism, page 29.2.
Swept way? That’s incredible. What does that mean? Does it mean millions of people are dead? I don’t think it means that they will be just empty cities. I think it means the cities will be destroyed. So, a disease such as the coronavirus will not be the worst thing to come upon the cities. That’s only the start.
Do you think God is appealing to Wuhan and, for that matter, all of China? China was given the gospel message by many Protestants in the 18th and 19th centuries. But China has turned her back on God and taken a strong stand against Christianity. China has been more or less hostile to God for the last 70 years. But recently China really cracked down on Christian worship with repressive measures and continues to demand that Christians worship the state in various ways. Could it be that God is sending them a warning?
China does not have freedom of speech or of the press. This make it easier to control public opinion unless the circumstances get out of control, as they have with the coronavirus. The Daily Mail, one of Britain’s newspapers, ran a story on this and postulated that free speech would have alerted the people and the medical community much earlier, and the virus would have been contained. But since free speech is stifled, the virus gained a foothold; and the rest is history unfolding.
Here is how the Guardian put it:
The death of the whistleblower Chinese doctor Li Wenliang has aroused strong emotions across China. Social media is awash with posts mourning the death of a martyr who tried to raise alarm over the coronavirus but was taken into a police station instead for “spreading false rumours” and “disrupting social order.”
Grief quickly turned into angry demands for free speech. The trending topic “we want freedom of speech,” which attracted millions of views, and links to “Do You Hear the People Sing,” a song popularized in recent Hong Kong protests, were quickly censored by police.
In an unusual move, the Communist party’s powerful internal discipline enforcement agency swiftly announced it would dispatch investigators to Wuhan to look into “questions raised by the masses” associated with Li. The Chinese authorities are starkly aware that anger and raw emotions could easily boil over and spill on to the streets.
Unless Chinese citizens’ freedom of speech and other basic rights are respected, such crises will only happen again. With a more globalized world, the magnitude may become even greater—the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has already far exceeded the total SARS death toll.
Human rights in China may appear to have little to do with the rest of the world, but as we have seen in this crisis, disaster could occur when China thwarts the freedoms of its citizens. Surely it is time the international community takes this issue more seriously.
But the real problem is freedom of religion. If China had freedom of religion, they would have freedom of speech. They go hand in hand and are like siblings. If China is going to allow one, it has to allow the other. And those two sisters in this case would have spared the lives of many of those who died. Of course, the Chinese government doesn’t have that much concern for its citizens. Its primary concern is for the party, as evidenced by the authoritarian efforts to cover up the outbreak.
A case can be made that freedom of religion is good for your health, and that nations who give freedom of religion to their citizens have less problems with health crises.
Keeping the law of God brings all manner of blessings in its train. China has rejected God’s law, and though it has been economically successful, it has become wealthy by defrauding its citizens on a massive scale. Because true freedom doesn’t exist in China and the people are not permitted to express certain things, in this case it brought a plague to China.
Satan has mastered some of the elements of nature. “Satan works through the elements also to garner his harvest of unprepared souls. He has studied the secrets of the laboratories of nature, and he uses all his power to control the elements as far as God allows. When he was suffered to afflict Job, how quickly flocks and herds, servants, houses, children, were swept away, one trouble succeeding another as in a moment…”
Job is an end-time prototype. His trust in God was remarkable when under the pressure of loss and pain. But God was with him through it all. God shielded him until Satan accused him. And though God provoked Satan to challenge Him, He knew Job’s heart. The same is true with God’s people at the end of time. They will be so loyal, so one with Christ, that He can trust them to be loyal even though they are under pressure. It’s the same argument now as in Job’s day. I’ll read on:
“It is God that shields His creatures and hedges them in from the power of the destroyer. But the Christian world have shown contempt for the law of Jehovah; and the Lord will do just what He has declared that He would—He will withdraw His blessings from the earth and remove His protecting care from those who are rebelling against His law and teaching and forcing others to do the same. Satan has control of all whom God does not especially guard. He will favor and prosper some in order to further his own designs, and he will bring trouble upon others and lead men to believe that it is God who is afflicting them.”
Did you hear that? “Satan has control of all whom God does not especially guard.” That makes most people on the planet vulnerable to Satan’s attack.
“While appearing to the children of men as a great physician who can heal all their maladies…” Is the coronavirus a malady? “…he will bring disease and disaster, until populous cities are reduced to ruin and desolation.”
Notice the emphasis on the cities again. The cities become epicenters of disease, crime, war, and corruption. If you live in a city, do you still justify it in some way or another? Do you still linger there in hopes of some worldly advantage? I’ll read on.
“Even now he is at work. In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence.”
Is the coronavirus a deadly taint in the air—and on surfaces?
“These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous. Destruction will be upon both man and beast.” The Great Controversy, page 589.
We haven’t seen the worst of it. More pestilences of a worse nature will come. If you live in the city, you are vulnerable in spite of what some ministers say.
Here is a statement that speaks to the present. It’s from The Review and Herald, April 14, 1904. “Troublous times are before us. The judgments of God are abroad in the land. Calamities follow one another in rapid succession. Soon God is to rise out of his place to shake terribly the earth, and to punish the inhabitants for their iniquity. Then he will stand up in behalf of his people, and will give them his protecting care. He will throw his everlasting arms around them to shield them from all harm.”
Consider the calamities happening one after another since January 1. Australia burns with the most devastating fires ever. Locusts destroy huge crops in Africa. Now, the coronavirus plague rips through China. These calamities happened all in rapid succession, each overlapping another. Do you think the statement is accurate?
That raises a question. How can God stand up for His people and protect them if they don’t obey Him and live in the light He has given them. You know. Are you still watching movies? Do you still get angry with your spouse and speak unkind words to him or her? Do you still eat what God has forbidden for these last days, like chicken and fish or even red meats or deli meats? Are you still eating what God has cautioned us against eating, like dairy and eggs? What about that excessive sugar in all those sweets? And what about that chocolate addiction? You know you are going to need an immune system like the Great Wall of China.
Listen to this next statement: “If such scenes as this are to come, such tremendous judgments on a guilty world, where will be the refuge for God’s people? How will they be sheltered until the indignation be overpast? John sees the elements of nature—earthquake, tempest, and political strife—represented as being held by four angels…” Would pestilence be included in that? Let’s read on. “These winds are under control until God gives the word to let them go. There is the safety of God’s church. The angels of God do His bidding, holding back the winds of the earth, that the winds should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree, until the servants of God should be sealed in their foreheads. The mighty angel is seen ascending from the east (or sunrising). This mightiest of angels has in his hand the seal of the living God, or of Him who alone can give life, who can inscribe upon the foreheads the mark or inscription, to whom shall be granted immortality, eternal life. It is the voice of this highest angel that had authority to command the four angels to keep in check the four winds until this work was performed, and until he should give the summons to let them loose.” Testimonies to Ministers, page 444.
Are you being sealed? Are you overcoming all known sin? That’s what it means. This is the experience of those who will succeed in gaining heaven in these last days when the fullness of light is shining upon God’s people. Those who gain this experience will be under the protection of God. They are the ones who experience the following verse: “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” Psalm 91:7-11.
Think about it. The deadly plague shall not come near you. That’s why “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.” Psalm 91:5-6.
Doesn’t that sound sweet? That’s a promise of the Almighty God who can do anything. So it makes sense to live in the secret place. Listen.
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” Psalm 91:1-4.
He will do battle for you. All you need to do is become loyal to Him. That means follow all His commandments because you love Him. Don’t yield an inch to the enemy of your soul. And here’s what will happen. “The world [will] see the very class whom they have mocked and derided, and desired to exterminate, pass unharmed through pestilence, tempest, and earthquake. He who is to the transgressors of His law a devouring fire is to His people a safe pavilion.” The Great Controversy, page 654.
Do you know where the secret place of the most high is? Psalm 27:5 tells us: “For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.” The secret place, my friends, is in the tabernacle. It is in the most holy place where the rock of the Ten Commandments is—which is a statement of Jesus’ character. When you have a character like Jesus, and only when you have a character like Jesus, He will hide you in the secret of His tabernacle and protect you even with disease all around you.
“There will soon be a sudden change in God’s dealings. The world in its perversity is being visited by casualties—by floods, storms, fires, earthquakes, famines, wars, and bloodshed. The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power; yet He will not at all acquit the wicked. ‘The Lord hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.’ O that men might understand the patience and longsuffering of God! He is putting under restraint His own attributes. His omnipotent power is under the control of Omnipotence. O that men would understand that God refuses to be wearied out with the world’s perversity, and still holds out the hope of forgiveness even to the most undeserving! But His forbearance will not always continue. Who is prepared for the sudden change that will take place in God’s dealing with sinful men? Who will be prepared to escape the punishment that will certainly fall upon transgressors?” Fundamentals of Christian Education, page 356.
So, things are not going to go on as they always have. They won’t even gradually increase in intensity and ferocity. That’s just God giving the enemy more latitude to do his work of destruction. In the days of Noah, there was a sudden change in the way God dealt with the wicked, but the sudden change came when the door of mercy had closed and no man could open it. So shall it be in the last days of earth’s history. Men will be surprised and astonished at the plagues that fall on them.
“Ought men to be surprised over a sudden and unexpected change in the dealings of the Supreme Ruler with the inhabitants of a fallen world? Ought they to be surprised when punishment follows transgression and increasing crime? Ought they to be surprised that God should bring destruction and death upon those whose ill-gotten gains have been obtained through deception and fraud? Notwithstanding the fact that increasing light regarding God’s requirements has been shining on their pathway, many have refused to recognize Jehovah’s rulership, and have chosen to remain under the black banner of the originator of all rebellion against the government of heaven.” Prophets and Kings, page 276.
Now is the time to prepare for the end. It is sooner than you think. “There is a period of time just before us when the condition of the world will become desperate, when that true religion which yields obedience to a ‘Thus saith the Lord’ will become almost extinct. Our youth should be taught that wicked deeds are not forgotten or overlooked because God does not immediately punish the perpetrators with extreme indignation. God keeps a reckoning with the nations. Through every century of this world’s history evil workers have been treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath; and when the time fully comes that iniquity shall have reached the stated boundary of God’s mercy, His forbearance will cease. When the accumulated figures in heaven’s record books shall mark the sum of transgression complete, wrath will come, unmixed with mercy, and then it will be seen what a tremendous thing it is to have worn out the divine patience. This crisis will be reached when the nations shall unite in making void God’s law.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, page 523.
Friends, we are living amid the scenes of the last days. Perilous times have come upon us. God is appealing to us through fire, earthquake, pestilence, and the devourer. Won’t you heed His warning? If you are not under His protection, while this pestilence may not get you, another one will. Give your heart to Him now!
Let us pray. Our Father and Friend, give us the experience we need to come under your protection. Forgive us our sins. And give us power not to do them again. Bring us under the shadow of the Almighty, and bring us into the secret place of the Most High. In Jesus’ name, amen.