Can Adventists be around if there is a slaughter?
One of the questions that sooner or later comes up is, how can Adventists be around to persecute their own brethren during the time of the Mark of the Beast decree when they are all dead from the slaughter of Ezekiel Nine? The concern is brought about because of several statements made by Sister White. However, there are a couple of things we should bear in mind before we delve into the subject.
Ellen White's Visions are Not Always in Chronological Order
The introduction to her book, The Great Controversy, God's servant made this statement:
“As the Spirit of God has opened to my mind the great truths of His word, and the scenes of the past and the future, I have been bidden to make know to others that which has thus been revealed–to trace the history of the controversy in past ages, and especially so to present it as to shed a light on the fast approaching struggle of the future. In pursuance of this purpose, I have endeavored to select and group together events in the history of the church in such a manner as to trace the unfolding of the great testing truths that at different periods have been given to the world . . . .
”In other words, books like The Great Controversy and Early Writings, were not records of one long vision but many visions which she and others helped to group together to convey the order of history and the future. In fact, in the case of The Great Controversy, she even asked for history books to aid this work.
Tell Mary, Ellen White wrote, to find me some histories of the Bible that would give me the order of events. I have nothing and can do nothing in the library here [Basel, Switzerland].
This is not to say that she was not guided by the Holy Spirit, or that the visions are any less true, because she said that the “Holy Spirit traced these truths upon my heart and mind as indelibly as the law was traced by the finger of God upon the tables of stone . . .
”Please do not misunderstand. These books were a compilation of the great truths that God revealed to her, but that does not mean that they convey the precise chronological order. This is very important to understand. W.C. White, Ellen White’s son and assistant who worked closely with her, made this statement in 1928 in a letter to Elder L.E. Froom:
The great events occurring in the life of our Lord were presented to her in panoramic scenes as also were the other portions of the Great Controversy. In a few of these scenes chronology and geography were clearly presented, but in the greater part of the revelation the flashlight scenes, which were exceedingly vivid, and the conversations and the controversies, which she heard and was able to narrate, were not marked **geographically or chronologically,** and she was left to study the Bible and history. . . .”
This is the reason why so many attempts to map a precise chronology of last day events using only her writings have failed.
Books Were Arranged According to the Common Understanding of her Time
Since no one prophet is given the light on all truth, it is natural that once her visions were grouped or arranged, they would be ordered according the common understanding of the time. (See Sections 3,4 for more information). That is, it was the common understanding that there was one sealing, one group, one probation, and so on. However, we have seen from the both the Bible and her writings, that there are two sealings, two groups, two probations and two times of trouble. Thus when her visions were grouped together in order, anything that pertained to a close of probation would have been presumed to have been the final close of probation. And any reference to the “people of God” would be presumed to be exclusively Seventh-day Adventists and not the great multitude.
So, although all her visions were perfectly true, as stated earlier, they were not marked “geographically or chronologically.” In other words, like every other messenger before her, Ellen White was not shown every particular and could not have stated it in terms other than those then familiarly comprehended. No wonder she wrote, “we have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn.”
“No truth is more clearly taught in the Bible,” she wrote, “than that God by His Holy Spirit especially directs His servants on earth in the great movements for the forwarding of the work of salvation. Men are instruments in the hand of God, employed by Him to accomplish His purposes of grace and mercy. Each has a part to act; to each is granted a measure of light, adapted to the necessities of this time, and sufficient to enable him to perform the work which God has given him to do. But no man, however honored of Heaven, has ever attained to a full understanding of the great plan of redemption, or even to a perfect appreciation of the divine purpose in the work for his own time. Men do not fully understand what God would accomplish by the work which He gives them to do; they do not comprehend, in all its bearings, the message which they utter in His name.”
Church Members Who Will Persecute Their Own
“As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angels’ message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition. . . They become the most bitter enemies of their former brethren.”
With a superficial glance, this statement taken from The Great Controversy would give the impression that the servant of the Lord is speaking about the close of the loud cry period. So the questions naturally arises, if the unfaithful Adventists were slain by the angels of Ezekiel Nine before the Loud Cry, then how could they be alive afterwards to persecute the faithful?
“There are other statements from the author . . . which bear even more positive evidence that God. . . will have a church pure and true,” Wrote Houteff (We have seen a number of them in previous sections. See also The Great Controversy p. 425, Prophets and Kings, p. 725; Testimonies Vol. 5, p. 80), “As these several statements,” Houteff continued, “with reference to a preliminary purification are just as true as the one here which seems to negate a purification, one cannot honestly disregard them and give consideration only to it. Let us remember always to observe the inviolable rule that an interpretation of one inspired statement must harmonize with all other related statements.”
The answer is that this “storm” and its attendant persecution is actually before the slaughter of Ezekiel nine. We should keep in mind that there are two probations and two troubles. The Rod’s message teaches in harmony with the Scriptures, that there will be a specific political trouble referred to as the “Assyrian confederacy” which will affect the church and the world prior to the judgment of Ezekiel nine, the enforcement of the Mark of the Beast and the loud cry. It is during this time that “a large class” of professed church members will “abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition.” We cannot now expound upon the subject of the Assyrian Confederacy. (For more information, please order our study ).
But you say, from the context of the chapter Sister White is speaking about the time of the final warning or loud cry, so she could not be speaking about a time before the loud cry.
But it can be. During the Assyrian Confederacy, the 144,000 will proclaim a warning message. (See Isaiah 8:8-13). Although it is not the loud cry message, it is in many ways very similar. To Ellen White in a vision it would appear to be the same as the loud cry or the last warning to the world. So it would only be logical to place the “storm” around the time of the Loud cry especially if God did not then provide explicit information of the Assyrian Confederacy, the two probations, two sealings, and the two groups, etc. Remember, not everything shown to her was necessarily in geographic or chronological order. That is why she wrote that we have “many, many lessons to unlearn.”
There is also another dimension to the answer to this question of professed Adventists or Sabbath believers being around after Ezekiel nine—the fact is that there will be a certain class of Sabbath believers who will not be affected by the judgment of Ezekiel nine. Victor Houteff explains:
“The Srod does not claim that all those professing to be S.D.As “who have step by step yielded to worldly demands,” will fall under the slaughter weapons of Ezekiel’s vision, but rather that every active member who does not receive the “mark” (or seal of Eze. 9), excluding those who have departed from the organized work, but who yet claim to be Seventh-day Adventists–a class at the present time numbering thousands.”
“. . .In the second place there will be S.D.A. parents who will have with them their children who being in a Seventh-day Adventist home and having an understanding of the message, though not rightfully members of the church, will be in one sense of the word called Seventh-day Adventists.”
Thus, there will be “Seventh-day Adventists” or Sabbath believers around at the time of the loud cry to persecute God’s faithful children, both before and after the judgment of Ezekiel nine.
Will the Church Be Around in the Time of the Mark of the Beast?
The Rod’s message teaches that the church will be purified before the Mark of the Beast decree is enforced world-wide. This apparently brings about a controversy since Ellen White seems to place both good and bad in the church during the time of the Mark of the Beast. Perhaps the most notable of these statements is found in the Testimonies.
“The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The mark of the beast will be urged upon us. . . . The contest is between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. In this time the gold will be separated from the dross in the church. True godliness will be clearly distinguished from the appearance and tinsel of it.”
The issue here is, if the church with both good and bad are still around during the time of the mark of the beast, then how could they have been slaughtered?
It is important that the reader keep in mind what we have already covered in this chapter, but we will add one other crucial point: The mark of the beast will begin to be urged before the judgment of Ezekiel nine. Yes, it is true that the image of the beast will be fully established after the judgment in Ezekiel nine, but we also know that the mark of the beast could be urged, although not in full, before the judgment of Ezekiel nine. Speaking about the sealing of the 144,000 and the blowing of the winds, which is figurative of the mark of the beast, Houteff put it this way:
“You notice here that the angels are not told to hold the winds until Ezekiel 9, has all been fulfilled, but until the servants of God are sealed. Therefore, if there is any intervening time between the close of the sealing and the slaughter of Ezekiel 9, there is a possibility that the winds [mark of the beast] could start blowing during that time. If the nations had everything ready, it would not necessarily take long to bring the trouble that is represented by the four winds.”
Thus Ellen White’s statement is correct. The church can be around with good and bad during the early stage or urging of the mark of the beast, and it is then that it will be purified by the judgment described in Ezekiel Nine–the time when the “gold will be separated from the dross in the church.” That is, we may have a Sunday law(s) before the fulfillment of Ezekiel nine. However, this does not negate the abundance of evidence that the church will be purified before the mark of the beast or Sunday laws are fully enforced.
Is the National Sunday Law the Test for Seventh-day Adventists?
The answer to this question is no. However, there are those who would refer to another statement by Ellen White:
“The Lord has shown me clearly that the image of the beast will be formed before probation closes; for it will be the great test for the people of God, by which their eternal destiny will be decided..”
We have already seen that the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy clearly teaches that there must be two groups to be sealed—first the 144,000 from the Seventh-day Adventists denomination, then a great multitude from the other churches and the world at large. The question is, what people of God is Inspiration referring to? The 144,000 or the Great Multitude?
Most Adventists immediately assume that she was referring to Adventists because we typically teach one sealing, one probation, and so on. However, we have seen that the 144,000 are sealed from the church before the winds blow (Revelation 7:1- 4) and the winds represent the mark of the beast decree. Since, therefore, the winds or mark of the beast decree is before the general close of probation, and the 144,000 are sealed before the winds, then it means that the 144,000 are sealed before the mark of the beast and it cannot be a test for them. Thus, the people of God Ellen White refers to, has to be the great multitude who will come from outside the Seventh-day Adventist Church. That is why Inspiration said:
"I saw that God had children who do not see and keep the Sabbath. They have not rejected the light upon it. And at the commencement of the time of trouble, we were filled with the Holy Ghost as we went forth and proclaimed the Sabbath more fully. . . .“the commencement of that time of trouble,” here mentioned, does not refer to the time when the plagues shall begin to be poured out, but to a short period just before they are poured out, while Christ is still in the sanctuary.”
That is why Jesus taught: “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also must I bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” (John 10:16).
Adventists Living Up To the Time of the Plagues?
“I saw that many were neglecting the preparation so needful,” wrote the servant of the Lord, “and were looking to the time of ‘refreshing’ and the ‘latter rain’ to fit them to stand in the day of the Lord and to live in His sight. . . Those who refuse to be hewed by the prophets and fail to purify their souls in obeying the whole truth, and who are willing to believe that their condition is far better than it really is, will come up to the time of the falling of the plagues, and then see that they needed to be hewed and squared for the building.”
This statement is usually taken to mean that Adventists will come up to the falling of the plagues and will not be prepared to meet God. However, keeping in mind everything we have discussed , you can see that she does not make either inference or specific reference to Seventh-day Adventists. But here again, it is not only Adventists who will not be prepared for the final close of probation and the subsequent falling of the plagues. Those who refused to accept the gospel as preached by the 144,000 and did not become a part of that Great Multitude, would have missed their opportunity to be “hewed and squared” and thus come to the time of the plagues and find themselves lost. Or as Victor Houteff put it:
“In the last analysis, the unrepentant sinners who are now in the church, may never see the seven last plagues, while others, who are now in the world, will in the time of the Loud Cry yet have the opportunity to be ‘squared’ for the building, and be treasured with the ‘living stones,’ or else to suffer the consequences of the plagues.”
Who Will Flee To the Mountains?
The question is often asked, if God’s people are in the Kingdom during the loud cry, how can they be put in prison or driven to the mountains during the time of trouble?
In addition to what has already been covered, the reader should keep in mind that:
“When it is understood that the 144,000 are but first fruits, the forerunners or advanced guard of a great multitude of second fruits, the difficulty in question is immediately resolved. The first fruits stand with the Lamb, safe on Mt. Zion (in the Kingdom). Thus those who shall find refuge in the mountains, and those who shall be put in prison, can only be from among the second fruits—those who shall accept the message during the Loud Cry, but who shall not yet at that time have reached the kingdom.”