Monday, December 31, 2012

Gender Considerations in Healthcare

“Among Christian physicians there should ever be a striving for the maintenance of the highest order of true refinement and delicacy, a preservation of those barriers of reserve that should exist between men and women.” Counsels on Health, p. 363

“The light given me of the Lord regarding this matter is that as far as possible lady physicians should care for lady patients, and gentlemen physicians have the care of gentlemen patients. Every physician should respect the delicacy of the patients. Any unnecessary exposure of ladies before male physicians is wrong. Its influence is detrimental.” Counsels on Health, p. 363

“Delicate treatments should not be given by male physicians to women in our institutions. Never should a lady patient be alone with a gentleman physician, either for special examination or for treatment. Let the physicians be faithful in preserving delicacy and modesty under all circumstances.” Counsels on Health, p. 364

“In our medical institutions there ought always to be women of mature age and good experience who have been trained to give treatments to the lady patients. Women should be educated and qualified just as thoroughly as possible to become practitioners in the delicate diseases which afflict women, that their secret parts should not be exposed to the notice of men. There should be a much larger number of lady physicians, educated not only to act as trained nurses, but also as physicians. It is a most horrible practice, this revealing the secret parts of women to men, or men being treated by women.” Counsels on Health, p. 364

“Women physicians should utterly refuse to look upon the secret parts of men. Women should be thoroughly educated to work for women, and men to work for men. Let men know that they must go to their own sex and not apply to lady physicians. It is an insult to women, and God looks upon these things of commonness with abhorrence.” Counsels on Health, p. 364

“While physicians are called upon to teach social purity, let them practice that delicacy which is a constant lesson in practical purity. Women may do a noble work as practicing physicians; but when men ask a lady physician to give them examinations and treatments which demand the exposure of private parts, let her refuse decidedly to do this work.” Counsels on Health, p. 364

“It is not in harmony with the instructions given at Sinai that gentlemen physicians should do the work of midwives. The Bible speaks of women at childbirth being attended by women, and thus it ought always to be. Women should be educated and trained to act skillfully as midwives and physicians to their sex. It is just as important that a line of study be given to educate women to deal with women’s diseases, as it is that there should be gentlemen thoroughly trained to act as physicians and surgeons. And the wages of the woman should be proportionate to her services. She should be as much appreciated in her work as the gentleman physician is appreciated in his work.” Counsels on Health, p. 365

“Let us educate ladies to become intelligent in the work of treating the diseases of their sex. They will sometimes need the counsel and assistance of experienced gentlemen physicians. When brought into trying places let all be led by supreme wisdom. Let all bear in mind that they need and may have the wisdom of the Great Physician in their work.” Counsels on Health, pp. 365, 366

“We ought to have a school where women can be educated by women physicians, to do the best possible work in treating the diseases of women.” Counsels on Health, p. 366

"It is the Lord's plan that men shall be trained to treat men, and the women trained to treat women. In the confinement of women, midwives should take the responsibility of the case. In the Bible times it was not considered a proper thing for men to act in this capacity; and it is not the will of God that men should do this work today. Very much evil has resulted from the practice of men treating women, and women treating men. It is a practice according to human devising, and not according to God's plan. Long has the evil been left to grow, but now we voice in protest against that which is displeasing to God." Loma Linda Messages, p. 574

"It is not in harmony with the instructions given at Sinai that gentlemen physicians should do the work of midwives. The Bible speaks of women at childbirth being attended by women, and thus it ought always to be. Women should be educated and trained to act skillfully as midwives and physicians to their sex. This is the Lord's plan. Let us educate ladies to become intelligent in the work of treating the diseases of their sex. We ought to have a school where women can be educated by women physicians to do the best possible work in treating the diseases of women." Testimonies, Vol. 9, p. 176

"Our institutions should be especially thorough in giving to women a training that will fit them to act as midwives. There should be in our sanitariums lady physicians who understand well their profession, and who can attend women at the time of childbirth. Light has been given me that women instead of men should take the responsibility in such cases. I was directed to the Bible plan, in which at such times women acted the part of the physician. This plan should be carried out by us; for it is the Lord's plan." Medical Ministry, p. 61

"In the medical missionary work to be done, women should give treatment to women. . . . When women who are sick are treated and cared for by women, a door through which Satan tries to enter is closed against him." Medical Ministry, p. 140

"Subtle, dangerous temptations will come to the physician who believes the truth for these last days. That which would be condemned in a worker of another class is supposed to be admissible in him. Thus a multitude of sins are covered up, sins which are registered in the books of heaven as a departure from Bible principles." Medical Ministry, pp. 140, 141

"The time has come now when there are to be -- and there should have been long ago -- sensible changes. Men have their appointment to take care of the men, and women are to take care of the women. But when it comes to bringing the men and women together in private practices of childbirth and such cases -- to have them associated right together -- I say it is not right nor to be justified. Women had their appointed work in the Bible times and these women took charge of the women, and there was a special understanding that this was the way it should be. And that is the way it should be now in childbirth. Let the women be as thoroughly trained as the men, and let them take charge of these matters. I speak intelligently. I speak because I understand what I am speaking about, that there is too great a commonness." Manuscript Releases, Vol. 13, p. 113

"I have had this before me time and time again. I have put it in writing for fear I might be taken away. But I want to say that we must step up onto a higher plane of action, and if we will do this, the Lord will let His blessing rest upon us. I have had so many letters from women and from men about their falling right under the temptations of the devil as they were brought in connection with the childbirth of women. I do not need to argue this because your own sense will tell you that we are in a world of temptation and trial. And we are to purify ourselves from every such thing. God help us. You have no need to have me dwell upon this any longer. The light given me is that we open the door to temptation and for transgression. Let us have just as much a duty to take the burden that rests upon the women for the women in childbirth as it is possible for us to do." Manuscript Releases, Vol. 13, p. 116

"Midwives -- it was their practice, their work, to take charge of the women in childbirth. Now I lay it open before you, and tell you that we want to be prepared in thought, in word, in action, as you are about to work changes here and enlarge and have greater responsibilities come upon you. We want that you should every one feel the responsibility of searching the Scriptures that you may stand firmly upon the true foundation and not be drawn from it. It will be quite a work to do that. As you are now enlarging, give the women such education that they can come in and that they can deal with these cases." Manuscript Releases, Vol. 13, p. 117

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Testimonies and Today

Do time and circumstances change the application of inspired counsel? Is it possible to be in keeping with the intent of the Lord's counsel while violating the specific wording of it? How are Ellen White's writings to be interpreted in the twenty-first century? This study on the spirit of prophecy looks at just what is meant by the statement that "time and place must be considered."  Read more . . .

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Harnessing a Horse

"Ellen White said every girl needs to know how to harness and drive a horse."

That's what we often hear from those who would like to prove that Ellen White's writings need to be culturally translated because, as they were written, they are not relevant to us anymore.

But the problem with that line of reasoning is that it sets up a convenient excuse for not following much of the wise counsel with which God has blessed His church. By misrepresenting what Ellen White said on this minor point, many have generalized that her clear, direct instructions on more important matters may be ignored.

So, let's see what she actually did say about this.

"And if girls, in turn, could learn to harness and drive a horse, and to use the saw and the hammer, as well as the rake and the hoe, they would be better fitted to meet the emergencies of life." Ed 216, 217 (1903)

Let's notice a few things about this statement.

1.  Ellen White wrote this only one time. It does not come with the emphasis of something that is repeated over and over again.

2.  This is not a command for all girls to learn to harness and drive a horse. It simply mentions the advantages "if" they could. It's a suggestion, not a moral obligation.

3.  How to harness and drive a horse is not a bad thing for people to know. So the statement is not untrue today.

I know that people are anxious to turn her statement into a principle that can be applied to modern technology. And that's fine also. But my point is that such an application does not negate her statement as it stands. The identification of principles in an inspired statement is for the purpose of expanding, not limiting, the application of its message.

Friday, December 7, 2012


The subject of bicycles is often raised in discussions about the use of Ellen G. White's writings. It is part of an attempt to say that her writings are not always applicable to us at face value. I reject that reasoning. I maintain that what she wrote about bicycles is just as true today as it was when she wrote it.

"What," you say, "we shouldn't ride bicycles?"

It may surprise you to learn that Ellen White never said we shouldn't ride bicycles. She simply condemned an obsession with bicycling that wastes time and money. Wouldn't such an obsession be just as wrong today?

Read what she says about bicycles.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Seventh Trumpet

The events of the seventh trumpet cover a broad period of time.

"And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth." Revelation 11:18

"I saw that the anger of the nations, the wrath of God, and the time to judge the dead were separate and distinct, one following the other, also that Michael had not stood up, and that the time of trouble, such as never was, had not yet commenced. The nations are now getting angry, but when our High Priest has finished His work in the sanctuary, He will stand up, put on the garments of vengeance, and then the seven last plagues will be poured out." Early Writings, p. 36

The wrath of God takes place after probation closes. The time of the dead to be judged follows that, so that would be the judgment of the wicked during the 1000 years. The ultimate reward of the saints and the destruction of the wicked after the 1000 years is described in the last half of Revelation 11:18. So the seventh trumpet events extend from the anger of the nations during probationary time until the final rewards and punishments are given after the 1000 years.

Overall, the seventh trumpet is more about the spiritual conquests of truth than it is about military conquests. The first six trumpets were God's initiatives in history to prevent the complete takeover of catholicism (Roman and Eastern). And in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, God's truth fully triumphs.

Three scenes are presented in Revelation 11:15-19 in connection with the sounding of the seventh trumpet:

  • Great voices in heaven declare what is accomplished during this period (verse 15).
  • The twenty-four elders worship God in words of praise to Him (verses 16-18).
  • The temple of God is opened in heaven (verse 19).

In verse 15 we see the final, uncontested establishment of God's universal kingdom. In verses 16-18 the twenty-four elders celebrate that accomplishment. And in verse 19 the heavenly sanctuary and the law of God are opened to the view of all. These three scenes sum up God's final moves in the war against error as it comes to its conclusion in the seventh trumpet. Unlike the specific markers listed in verse 18, these broader scenes are not events to be charted on a timeline, but rather are a summary of the effect of God's work during this period. If we had to identify a focal point, I would suggest the culmination of the investigative judgment and its results.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Seven Heads of Revelation 17

Revelation 17 has been a continual challenge to Bible students down through time. I don't profess to have a perfect understanding of it, but I'll offer some suggestions. Points of discussion include the identity of the beast, its heads and horns, and its rider. I covered the subject of the horns in my October 9 post. As for the woman who rides the beast, her name is Babylon. I discussed the identity of Babylon in my October 17 post.

Currently my comments in The Patmos Papers offer three options for the identity of the seven heads. Here I'm presenting a fourth option. The main difference lies in the placement of the "is not" phase of the beast. In The Patmos Papers I was attempting to limit the career of the beast to the time frame of the seven heads. I made no provision for an eighth head. Now I'm viewing the beast as Satan working historically through the various earthly kingdoms represented by the seven heads, himself being the eighth after the fall of all earthly kingdoms. The bottomless pit of verse 8 can be understood to line up with Revelation 20:3.

Artists have consistently painted this beast as having seven heads all at the same time. But verse 10 indicates that these heads appear sequentially. I'd like to think that its lion head, for example, was replaced by the head of a bear, which was later supplanted by that of a leopard, etc.

"Babylon" as it appears in Revelation is understood as Satan's counterfeit religion, and it has three historical aspects:  Paganism, Catholicism, and Apostate Protestantism. With the woman (Babylon) riding the beast, we identify the seven heads as the leading world kingdoms mentioned in Scripture that carry and endorse the Babylonian religion in one of its three forms. The United States Constitution allows no state-established religion, so America cannot function as a head of the beast until it repudiates the principles of its Constitution.

I have identified the sixth head as the power existing in John's day. That's because the angel's words to John in verse 10 are not part of the vision itself, but are part of the angel's post-vision explanation to John. In the vision itself (verses 3-6) John was shown the situation as it would appear centuries afterwards. But when the vision ended, the angel explained things to John from his own first-century perspective.

Based on clues from the book of Daniel, I consider the medieval kingdoms as divisions of the Roman empire rather than as a separate head.

The Babylonian religion dates back to the time of Nimrod and the tower of Babel. That early Mesopotamian civilization was the first to carry the great whore in her original pagan phase. The first call to come out of Babylon was given to Abram and his family. From that separation we may trace the two lines of religion that ultimately appear as the two women of Revelation.

The second world power to pick up the religion of Babylon was the ancient civilization on the Nile. And God had to call His people to come out of Egypt. The third great kingdom was the Chaldean or Neo-Babylonian empire of Nebuchadnezzar. And from that point we follow the sequence of kingdoms outlined in prophecy.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Old Covenant, New Covenant

Here's an overview of God's covenant with His people down through time:  Two Covenants or One?  (A seven-page Word download)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Does God Destroy?

In 1985 Frank Holbrook wrote a critique of a printed sermon by Dr. Elliot Douglin on this subject. An extract of Elder Holbrook's critique is posted on the Biblical Research Institute website. Read the extract.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Only One Covenant

Twenty-five years ago I believed that the old covenant was a covenant of works and the new covenant was a covenant of grace. I prepared a booklet on that subject that I intended to include in my These Last Days Bible study series. Then I had the wonderful privilege of getting my lessons reviewed by Elder Frank Holbrook at the Biblical Research Institute of the General Conference. He made some practical suggestions on how to improve my lessons. One of the things he said I needed to fix was my view of the two covenants. Click here to read what he said.

So I carefully studied it out, and concluded that he was right. God never offered man a covenant of works.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Feast Days

The question of whether or not to observe the Old Testament festivals should not be a point of contention in the church. I appreciate the balanced viewpoint expressed by Dr. Jacques Doukhan in his two-part analysis entitled, "Should We Observe the Levitical Festivals?: A Seventh-day Adventist Perspective" published in Ministry magazine in April and June of 2010. Here are the links to those articles:   Part 1   Part 2

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mystery Babylon

"And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." Revelation 14:8

The word Babylon is used six times in the book of Revelation (14:8; 16:19; 17:5; 18:2, 10, 21). In each case the adjective "great" is used to describe it. Although usually referred to as a city, Babylon is also pictured as a harlot. Revelation touches mainly on its final condemnation and fall.

Because the ancient city of Babylon now lies in ruins, our usual approach to the concept of Babylon in Revelation is to treat it as a symbol. We speak of "spiritual Babylon" in contradistinction to "literal Babylon." We assume that the application of the term at the end of time requires Babylon to have a different identity than it had in the days of Daniel. But that's because we're only seeing Daniel's Babylon as a geopolitical kingdom that has long since passed away. But if we turn our attention to the religion of ancient Babylon, there we have something that can point today to the very thing that existed in Daniel's day. As a religious influence, the Babylon of Revelation is the direct continuation of the ancient Chaldean worship. It is one and the same.

Babylonian worship is characterized both in Scripture and in history by the term "mystery."

"And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT. . . ." Revelation 17:5

"I will tell thee the mystery of the woman. . . ." Revelation 17:7

According to Alexander Hislop in his book, The Two Babylons (page 4), the grand distinguishing feature of the ancient Babylonian system was the Chaldean "mysteries," that formed so essential a part of that system. All the Satanic religions of antiquity in fact participated in what we call the "ancient mysteries" that date back to the period of the tower of Babel.

The apostle Paul referred to these pagan doctrines and customs as the "mystery of iniquity," which even in his day began to creep into the church (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Of that, Ellen White writes:

"Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, the mystery of iniquity carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism found their way into the Christian church. The spirit of compromise and conformity was restrained for a time by the fierce persecutions which the church endured under paganism. But as persecution ceased, and Christianity entered the courts and palaces of kings, she laid aside the humble simplicity of Christ and His apostles for the pomp and pride of pagan priests and rulers; and in place of the requirements of God, she substituted human theories and traditions. The nominal conversion of Constantine, in the early part of the fourth century, caused great rejoicing; and the world, cloaked with a form of righteousness, walked into the church. Now, the work of corruption rapidly progressed. Paganism, while appearing to be vanquished, became the conqueror. Her spirit controlled the church. Her doctrines, ceremonies, and superstitions were incorporated into the faith and worship of the professed followers of Christ." GC 49, 50.

So we find that the term "mystery of iniquity" refers to the heathen beliefs and practices that permeated the ancient world. What held back paganism's influence on Christianity for a time was the persecution of the church. Persecution kept the church relatively pure until the reign of Constantine. Then the mystery cult of Babylon penetrated and perverted the Christian religion.

The book of Revelation declares that the Babylonian mysteries, adopted into the imperial church in the fourth century, have ultimately spread to all nations (14:8; 18:3). Even the daughters of the great whore of Revelation 17 are described as harlots. With this information we are now prepared to identify the "three parts" (16:19) of Babylon as the "dragon," the "beast," and the "false prophet" (16:13).

The fundamental manifestation of Babylon is paganism, signified in Revelation 16:13 as "the dragon." This is the religion of Satan, the great dragon (12:9). When paganism was incorporated into the Roman church, "the beast" was formed. This is the second manifestation of Babylon. And to whatever extent the churches of Protestantism are influenced by the other two, they form the third manifestation of Babylon, "the false prophet."

Presented under the two symbols of a "city" and a "woman," the term Babylon in Revelation is not just a symbol. It is exactly what it always has been, the religious apostasy of Babel.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Seven Trumpets in Context

The book of Revelation unfolds the story of the great controversy between Christ and Satan. Significant confrontational episodes of that drama are told in the two segments of Revelation that flank the central chapter. These two corresponding sections outline God's initiatives in His war against error. The seven trumpets in Chapters 8-11 form one of those sections. Chapters 13-16 provide the sequel. Let me offer a suggested approach to understanding these passages.

The War Against Error:

Revelation 8 - When 4th-century Christianity is corrupted by imperial patronage and pagan influences, God sends Arian barbarians swarming into Roman territory, bringing down the western empire and checking the advancement of the state religion.

Revelation 9 - When the eastern emperor overthrows the barbarian hindrance and asserts the supremacy of the Roman bishop, God sends Arabs and Turks to overtake the eastern empire.

Revelation 10, 11, & 13 - When the beast from the sea blasphemes God and makes war with the saints, God's two witnesses prophesy in sackcloth until the beast receives a deadly wound and a remnant is raised up to exalt the truths of God's word.

Revelation 13-16 - When the beast from the earth makes an image of the first beast and enforces the mark of the beast, God's three angel's messages are proclaimed with power throughout the world until probation closes and the seven last plagues fall on all who have spurned God's merciful appeals.

The Outcome:

"And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." Revelation 11:15

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ten Horns of Revelation 17

"And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast." Revelation 17:12

Unlike those mentioned in Revelation 13:1, these horns have no crowns. These are powers that have received no kingdom as yet, so at this point at least they are not really kings. They will someday, however, be given power "as" kings for one hour with the beast. They will then exercise political influence.

These ten horns are not regular political heads of state. It looks instead like these are the leading evangelical churches which for a short time will enjoy king-like power. They will help to form the image of the beast, replicating the authority exercised by the papacy during the dark ages.

The word "hour" here is the same word used in Revelation 14:7 where it says, "the hour of his judgment is come." It indicates a limited but unspecified period of time.

"These have one mind...." Revelation 17:13

It has become increasingly popular for churches to ignore doctrinal differences and focus on common beliefs. Denominationalism is now considered outdated as believers flock to non-denominational worship centers. The "unity of the body of Christ" is the all-important concern.

Speaking of "the evangelical Protestant denominations," Charles Beecher in the nineteenth century said, "And what do we see just ahead? Another general council! A world convention! Evangelical alliance, and universal creed!"

"When the leading churches of the United States, uniting upon such points of doctrine as are held by them in common, shall influence the state to enforce their decrees and to sustain their institutions, then Protestant America will have formed an image of the Roman hierarchy, and the infliction of civil penalties upon dissenters will inevitably result." Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 445.

"...And shall give their power and strength unto the beast." Revelation 17:13

Just as the Roman ecclesiastical system received its medieval power by the support of the ten horns of Daniel 7, so its endtime rejuvenation is accomplished by the support of the ten horns of Revelation 17. As the barbarians changed the nature of the Roman Empire, so the Evangelicals will change the nature of America.

"These shall make war with the Lamb...." Revelation 17:14

When the evangelical churches abandon the principles of Protestantism to the extent that they seek the aid of the civil power for the enforcement of their dogmas, when they push for legislation that would ultimately compel people to violate a commandment of God, they are making war with the Lamb. This hasn't happened yet, but it is predicted in Revelation 13:16, 17. See commentary on those verses.

"These shall hate the whore...." Revelation 17:16

When the vials of God's wrath are poured out upon those who have rejected God's commandments in order to keep the laws of man, it will finally be seen that the great religious union was all a counterfeit. The true character of the symbolic "woman" will be unmasked. Those who supported her will turn from her in disgust, pouring out their contempt upon her.

"For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree...." Revelation 17:17

That is, among themselves. "There has been for years, in churches of the Protestant faith, a strong and growing sentiment in favor of a union based upon common points of doctrine. To secure such a union, the discussion of subjects upon which all were not agreed--however important they might be from a Bible standpoint--must necessarily be waived." The Great Controversy, p. 444.

"...And give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled." Revelation 17:17

"What is it that gives its kingdom to this power? Protestantism." 7BC 983.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Except Those Days Be Shortened

In my last post I pointed out that the predicted period of tribulation has already happened. Now I'd like to look at the statement Jesus made about those days being shortened.

"And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." Matthew 24:22.

By comparing scriptures we found out that "those days" were to last 42 prophetic months, or 1260 actual years. Documentation on the dating of the 1260 years is given in The Patmos Papers. That period extended from AD 538 to 1798.

By examining the accounts of Matthew and Mark, it seems clear that it was not the days that were shortened, but rather the tribulation of those days that was cut short.

Matthew's account says,

"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened...." Verse 29.

Luke's account says,

"But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened...." Verse 24.

So, evidently the tribulation of those days would not extend all the way to the end of the days. We should look for a relief from affliction prior to the end of the 1260 years. What would cause that relief?

Some people might suggest the Protestant Reformation as bringing relief from persecution. But it didn't really. The Zwinglians killed the Anabaptists. The Calvinists executed Michael Servetus. The Church of England persecuted the Puritans. The Puritans banished Roger Williams.

The Bible says that "the earth helped the woman" (Revelation 12:16). We understand that to mean that the relief to the church came from the establishment of the United States of America as a country of religious liberty for the individual. That was accomplished by the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

So, let's use 1776 as the end of the tribulation of those days. Jesus said, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened." So we should look for the sun to be darkened shortly after 1776. Mark's account says, "In those days (538-1798), after that tribulation (after 1776), the sun shall be darkened." This gives us a short window of time, between 1776 and 1798, in which to have the sun darkened. And the word "immediately" would suggest such an event would occur closer to the beginning of that window. True to Jesus' prediction, in the very land where Bible prophecy was pointing, the sun was mysteriously darkened on May 19, 1780.

Historical Documentation on the Dark Day

Friday, October 5, 2012


Jesus' prophetic forecast, recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, may be divided into five chronological periods:

Early Signs (Mt 24:4-14; Mk 13:5-13; Lk 21:8-19)
The Destruction of Jerusalem (Mt 24:15-20; Mk 13:14-18; Lk 21:20-24a)
The Church Under Persecution (Mt 24:21-28; Mk 13:19-23; Lk 21:24b)
Signs of the End (Mt 14:29; Mk 13:24, 25; Lk 21:25, 26)
The Coming of Christ (Mt 14:30, 31; Mk 13:26, 27; Lk 21:27)

Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70. The signs of the end came in 1780 and 1833. The part we are focusing on here is the period between those two points, a period I am calling "The Church Under Persecution."

The key expressions to look for in this section are "tribulation," "affliction," "those days," and "the times of the Gentiles." By comparing the three gospel accounts, we find that these expressions all refer to the same period.

Matthew's account:

"For then shall be great tribulation... And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened."

Mark's Account:

"For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation... And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved."

Luke's Account:

"And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."

Luke's wording differs from that of Matthew and Mark, but in context this is the only description he gives of the period between the destruction of Jerusalem and the signs of the end. So we have to conclude that "the times of the Gentiles" is the same period as "those days" mentioned in Matthew and Mark.

Notice carefully that there is no predicted period of time called "The Tribulation." Jesus is simply saying that tribulation and affliction would come to the church during those days.

By comparing Luke 21:24 with Revelation 11:2 we learn that "the times of the Gentiles" is a particular period of time that lasts forty-two months.

So, now we've compared the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and we've learned that the period of tribulation or affliction happens during the times of the Gentiles, which lasts 42 months. Popular Dispensationalist theory places the tribulation after the times of the Gentiles, but the Bible is clear that the tribulation of the church that Jesus was talking about was to happen during the times of the Gentiles.

Revelation 11:2 says that for 42 months the Gentiles would tread the holy city under foot. Revelation 13:5-7 says that for 42 months the Beast would make war with the saints. So "Gentiles" in the prophecy must mean the same thing as "the Beast," whose war with the saints takes place during the same 42 months. And the "holy city" of Revelation 11:2 must equate with the "saints" of Revelation 13:7.

Forty-two months of 30 days each is 1260 days. Applying the year-day principle (Num. 14:34; Eze. 4:6), we find that those days of affliction were to last for 1260 years. This period covered the major portion of church history.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


The word "antichrist" is found in only four verses of the Bible. Here they are:

"Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time." 1 John 2:18

"Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son." 1 John 2:22

"And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." 1 John 4:3

"For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist." 2 John 1:7

You have just read every reference to "antichrist" in the Bible. No mention is made of "the Antichrist" as a singular title. And to speak of "the Antichrist of Revelation" is incorrect, because the book of Revelation never uses the term. Notice that there are actually "many antichrists." What seems to distinguish "an antichrist" more than anything else is doctrinal error regarding the Father and the Son. The "spirit of antichrist" is identified with an erroneous teaching about Jesus.

If applied to anyone in particular, the word "antichrist" must describe Satan, for he is the great adversary of Jesus. The popular notion of the rise of an individual human in the last days identified as "the Antichrist" is an innovation not found in the Bible. The warning here is that we not be deceived by false doctrine.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Revelation Chapters 4 & 5

The seven seals in Revelation are introduced in chapters 4 and 5. In order to understand the scene there, it is helpful to compare it with Daniel 7:9-14.
  1. Central to both scenes is the throne of God.
  2. Both prophets mention additional thrones.
  3. Daniel 7:10 says, "A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him." Revelation 4:5 says, "Out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne."
  4. In both stories the participants have gathered for the opening of books.
  5. Jesus comes to the Father in both Daniel 7:13 and Revelation 5:7.
  6. The same number of heavenly attendants is mentioned in Revelation 5:11 as in Daniel 7:10.
  7. Christ receives glory at the end of both scenes. Daniel 7:14; Revelation 5:12.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ellen White's Writings in the Pulpit

Are the writings of a contemporary prophet intended for our own personal reading only, or do they have a public role in the church?

"And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea." Colossians 4:16.

Here's a lesson from the year 1855:

     "Recognizing the prejudice many of his peers had against visions and dreams, James White decided in 1851 not to publish any of his wife's visions in the Review. . . . Yet the failure of the Review over the next few years to publish more than a handful of Ellen White articles, and these of a general inspirational nature, did not free the emerging church from the criticism that it followed a prophet, not the Bible. In 1855 Elder White exploded. 'There is a class of persons who are determined to have it that the Review and its conductors make the views of Mrs. White a test of doctrine and Christian fellowship. . . . What has the Review to do with Mrs. White's views? The sentiments published in its columns are all drawn from the Holy Scriptures. No writer of the Review has ever referred to them as authority on any point.'
     "If failure to publish Ellen White's visions did not spare sabbatarian Adventists from criticism, it did seem to decrease their own interest in this supernatural method of God's leading. At the same time the visions became 'less and less frequent.' Ellen decided that her work was almost done. Not so. At a conference in Battle Creek in November 1855 the participants became convinced that the languishing condition prevailing in the infant church was due to a failure to properly appreciate divine leading through Mrs. White's visions." Richard Schwarz, Light Bearers to the Remnant, p. 180.

     "During the four-year period, 1851-55, there had appeared in the Review only four articles of general exhortation from Mrs. White's pen. No reference had been made to the visions. This was one of the items to be considered at the Battle Creek conference, for it was obvious to some that the progress of the work had suffered since little attention was being given to revelations from God. As a result of the conference a decided change was made in attitudes toward the visions and their publication in the paper." T. H. Jemison, A Prophet Among You, p. 317.

     "At our late Conference at Battle Creek, in Nov. God wrought for us. The minds of the servants of God were exercised as to the gifts of the Church, and if God's frown had been brought upon His people because the gifts had been slighted and neglected, there was a pleasing prospect that His smiles would again be upon us, and He would graciously and mercifully revive the gifts again, and they would live in the Church, to encourage the desponding and fainting soul, and to correct and reprove the erring." Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, Jan. 10, 1856.

     "Of her experience at a meeting on the day following the close of the conference, Mrs. White wrote:  'November 20, 1855, while in prayer, the Spirit of the Lord came suddenly and powerfully upon me, and I was taken off in vision.' Testimonies, vol. I, p. 113. The matters seen in the vision were written out and read to the church at Battle Creek. . . .
     "While it was not known at the time that this was to be the first of many testimonies to be sent to the church and to individuals, and later published, in due time it came to be designated as Testimony Number One. With the eight pages of this testimony were bound eight additional pages of testimony matter, making a sixteen-page pamphlet." Jemison, p. 318.

     "No one among the men and women receiving those little pamphlets could have envisioned the nine volumes of Testimonies for the Church that would eventually achieve such a wide circulation in the church as they enjoy today. . . .
     "In the spring of 1856 another annual conference was held at Battle Creek, and again important matters were revealed to Mrs. White in vision. Again she wrote out what had been shown her, and read it to the group. Once more those to whom it was read felt that it should be printed and distributed for the benefit of others. At the close of this second testimony for the church is this note of explanation by two local church leaders:
     " 'To the Saints Scattered Abroad
     " 'The foregoing testimony was given in the presence of about one hundred brethren and sisters assembled in the House of Prayer, on whose minds it apparently made a deep impression. It has since been read before the church at Battle Creek, who gave their unanimous vote in favor of its publication for the benefit of the Saints scattered abroad.' " Jemison, p. 319.

On March 1, 1898, Marian Davis, Ellen White's assistant, wrote:

     "I have been gathering out the precious things from those new manuscripts on the early life of Jesus. Sent a number of new pages to California by the Vancouver mail, and shall send more for later chapters by the next mail. Two of these articles on Christ's missionary work I let Brother James have to read in church. Last Sabbath he read the one which speaks of the Saviour's denying Himself of food to give to the poor. These things are unspeakably precious." Jemison, p. 348.

From these brief accounts we must conclude that it is acceptable for the testimonies of God's last-day prophet to be read in the church.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Making the Sabbath a Delight

Here are a few suggestions for making the Sabbath a special day:
  1. All week we look forward to the Sabbath and make plans for it, scheduling our week so that all secular activities will be completed before sundown on Friday.
  2. Friday is called the preparation day. We try to avoid extra activities on Friday that would hinder our Sabbath preparation. On that day we do our final housecleaning. We make sure all the food and clothing we will need on Sabbath is in readiness. The shoes are shined, the shirts are ironed, and the car is cleaned and filled with gas. As the children help in Sabbath preparation, the Sabbath becomes more special to them.
  3. At sundown on Friday the Sabbath begins. Before that time all secular papers and other matters have been laid aside in order to welcome God's happy day. The opening of the Sabbath finds the family, bathed and in clean clothes, gathered for worship and singing.
  4. In the winter, the longer Friday nights provide a special time for the family. Turn on some soft Sabbath music; or better yet, get out the instruments, or stand around the piano and sing. Gather by the fire and read stories of missionaries and our early church workers. Play a Bible game, or let each one recite his memory verses.
  5. Sabbath morning begins early with personal prayer, Bible study, and consecration to God. This is not a morning to sleep in. A special Sabbath breakfast has been prepared the day before. Sabbath music is playing as the family prepares for church.
  6. At Sabbath school and church, our dress and conversation and behavior show that we are there to worship God. We show reverence in God's house.
  7. Sabbath afternoons may be spent:
    • Walking in nature
    • Singing gospel hymns and playing instruments
    • Participating in church activities
    • Reading Sabbath books
    • Doing missionary work
    • Visiting the sick and elderly
    • Having a Bible study
    • Playing Bible games
    • Drawing or illustrating Bible stories
    • Finding and sharing spiritual object lessons
  8. At sunset, we close the Sabbath with worship. We praise God for the happy Sabbath we have enjoyed and ask for His blessing on the coming week.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Largest Global Protestant Organization

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is the largest, worldwide Protestant church with a single membership body that is united in doctrine and has a recognized, central leadership.

You can find a list of the world's largest religious bodies at There are a few larger Protestant churches such as the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) which are not global, and a couple of larger global Protestant churches that are not centrally governed, thus their status as a single religious body is debatable. The Anglican Communion and the Assemblies of God, for example, are composed of a number of somewhat independent and autonomous bodies.

The Adventist Church is listed among the "Largest Highly International Religious Bodies," and is the only Protestant Christian church in the list of "Most Ubiquitous Religious Bodies."

There are a few million more Seventh-day Adventists in the world than there are Jews.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Trumpet Interlude

Between the sounding of the sixth and seventh trumpets of Revelation, two stories are inserted. Like chapter 7's pause in the narrative of the seven seals, the story of the trumpets also contains an interlude. The trumpet interlude is Revelation 10:1 through 11:13. The two stories told in that break are the unsealing of the book of Daniel and the French Revolution. You can read my Revelation 10 commentary in The Patmos Papers. I haven't prepared the chapter 11 commentary yet.

It may be observed that the French Revolution actually happened before the unsealing of the book of Daniel, yet the order is reversed in Revelation 10 and 11. Why is that?

Both stories are about the advancement of God's Word. In order to emphasize this theme, an interesting literary device is employed that can be illustrated in a circular diagram:

A second reason for the reversed sequence is the placement of these stories in the overal literary structure of the book. You can view the complete chiasm structure of Revelation in The Patmos Papers. We find that chapters 10 and 11 are in a mirror relationship with chapters 13 and 14. Christ's work, begun in a cloud in Revelation 10:1, is brought to completion in a cloud in Revelation 14:14. And the two witnesses in chapter 11 are presented in contrast to the two beasts of chapter 13. This mirror pattern calls for the stories in chapters 10 and 11 to be told in this order.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Silence in Heaven

"And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour." Revelation 8:1.

In understanding this, we first of all need to rule out the application of the year-day principle in this case. We don't need to try to calculate this as prophetic time. The reason is that it happens after 1844. Revelation 10:6 indicates that after the experience described in Revelation 10, there would be "time no longer." What does "time no longer" mean?

"This time, which the angel declares with a solemn oath, is not the end of this world's history, neither of probationary time, but of prophetic time, which should precede the advent of our Lord." 7BC 971.

 " 'Time no longer' (Rev. 10:5, 6). This message announces the end of the prophetic periods." 2SM 108.

So there are no prophetic time prophecies after 1844. This means that the "half an hour" of Revelation 8:1, which takes place at the second coming of Jesus, is not prophetic time, but must be literal time. What, then, is it describing?

Sequentially, the opening of the seventh seal immediately follows the sixth. The events that unfold at the opening of the sixth seal are described in Revelation 6:12-17. Chapter 7 is parenthetical, a thematic interlude in the narrative. So in real time, chapter 8 verse 1 immediately follows chapter 6 verse 17. The silence in heaven (8:1) comes right after the question is asked, "Who shall be able to stand?" (6:17).

Fortunately, we have some inspired commentary on these verses. This passage is explained in both The Great Controversy and in Early Writings:

"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." GC 641.

"Then all faces gathered paleness, and those that God had rejected gathered blackness. Then we all cried out, 'Who shall be able to stand? Is my robe spotless?' Then the angels ceased to sing, and there was some time of awful silence, when Jesus spoke: 'Those who have clean hands and pure hearts shall be able to stand; My grace is sufficient for you.' At this our faces lighted up, and joy filled every heart. And the angels struck a note higher and sang again, while the cloud drew still nearer the earth." EW 16.

Revelation 8:1 tells us that this period of silence and suspense will last about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How Chronological is Revelation?

The first half of the book of Revelation contains three, roughly parallel lines of prophecy (churches, seals, trumpets), each of which spans the period of Christian history. The last half consists of a single line of prophecy covering the last days. Scattered throughout the book are brief, non-chronological, thematic interludes. But apart from those, each individual line of prophecy is basically chronological in itself.

Below are the main scenes in the second half of the book, with their corresponding chapters in parentheses. Notice the chronological flow:

Beast from the sea (13)
Beast from the earth (13)
Three angels' messages (14)
The harvest (14)
Seven last plagues (15, 16)
Fall of Babylon (17, 18)
Second coming of Jesus (19)
Thousand years (20)
New earth (21, 22)

For greater detail visit The Patmos Papers.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Seven Spirits

The book of Revelation mentions seven spirits near the throne of God. They are not on the throne, but they are "before the throne." In this position of subjection to God, they are at His service. This cannot describe the Holy Spirit. Besides, the Bible says there is only one divine Spirit (Ephesians 4:4), not seven.

The best way to understand this Biblical expression is, as always, to compare Scripture with Scripture. In other words, find other verses that give us more information about it. I've done that, and I'd like to share what I found. Click on the link that follows for a comparison of verses from which we can conclude quite certainly that these spirits are seven angels who stand before God.

The Seven Spirits

Monday, September 24, 2012

Lesser Light

The Bible indicates that one of the characteristics of God's church in the last days is the presence of the gift of prophecy (Joel 2:28; Revelation 12:17; 19:10). Seventh-day Adventists believe that gift was manifested in the 70-year ministry of Ellen G. White.

The idea of having a modern prophet causes us to think about the nature of the gift of prophecy. Would the gift of prophecy in a modern person be the same as was experienced by ancient prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah? I say that it would.

Prophecy is mentioned in all three major New Testament listings of spiritual gifts, Romans chapter 12, 1 Corinthians chapter 12, and Ephesians chapter 4. The gift is described in passages such as Numbers 12:6; 1 Peter 1:10, 11; 2 Peter 1:21; and Revelation 1:1, 2. Whether in the Old Testament or in the New, the gift of prophecy was the same. A prophet is one to whom God speaks directly through a heavenly vision or supernatural dream. The message received does not come from the prophet's own mind, but is transmitted to the prophet by heavenly beings. We call this process divine inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16). That's how the Bible, written by such prophets, is actually the word of God.

There is no such thing as a half-inspired prophet whose message is only partially from God. Either a person is a prophet inspired by God or he is not. If a modern prophet was not just as much inspired as the ancient prophets, he would not be a prophet at all. We can't invent some new form of prophecy that is different from the kind the Bible describes, for it would have no biblical basis.

Certainly all claims to the prophetic gift must be tested by the Bible (Isaiah 8:20; 1 Corinthians 14:32; 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21). A message from God to a modern prophet will not contradict His previously written word. But once proven to be of God, the message bears the same divine authority.

Some people have been led to believe that Ellen White claimed to have a "lesser" quality of inspiration than the Bible writers had. That opinion is based on an incorrect understanding of a statement she made about greater and lesser light. But a more careful reading of her statement clears up the matter nicely. Here it is:  Greater and Lesser Light

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Alternative to Dating

Dating has become a recreational activity for many people. They do it for fun, with no intentions of marriage. But such a loose approach is the exact opposite of the principles necessary for the eventual development of a Christian home.

Here's a piece I wrote when I was working at an educational institution in the late 1980's. Although written specifically with the high standards of a school in mind, the theory is applicable to anyone who wants to follow a safe course in finding a lifelong husband or wife.

Prepared Courtship

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Judgment

Most people don't want to think about the judgment. Maybe that's because they imagine themselves as a criminal on trial. In this study I talk about the difference between a criminal trial and a civil trial, and I show that the judgment is not a criminal case at all. In fact, the judgment is an essential process in God's efforts to save you!

Listen to the message  (41 min)

If you'd like to get the powerpoint slides for this message, click here.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Faithful Souls and False Brethren

"From the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth." Acts of the Apostles, p. 11.

Many earnest people have cited that statement to prove that God's true church consists entirely of such faithful souls. But is that what Inspiration really teaches? The Bible does not describe the church of the last days as free from corruption, but actually in rather disgusting terms.

A backsliding church is just what Satan wants. The world looks on and gloats that the religion of the Bible doesn't make people any better than without it. And many of the faithful are tempted to turn away from the organized body as no longer being God's church. "By bringing into the church those who bear Christ’s name while they deny His character, the wicked one causes that God shall be dishonored, the work of salvation misrepresented, and souls imperiled." Christ's Object Lessons, p. 71.

Click on this link for a brief Bible study showing how Scripture depicts the church of the last days:  The Condition of God's True Church Today

"Even in her best estate the church was not composed wholly of the true, pure, and sincere." The Story of Redemption, p. 323.

“How was it with the early church? Ananias and Sapphira joined themselves to the disciples. Simon Magus was baptized. Demas, who forsook Paul, had been counted a believer. Judas Iscariot was numbered with the apostles. The Redeemer does not want to lose one soul; His experience with Judas is recorded to show His long patience with perverse human nature; and He bids us bear with it as He has borne. He has said that false brethren will be found in the church till the close of time.” Christ's Object Lessons, p. 73.

"God has promised that where the shepherds are not true He will take charge of the flock Himself. . . . In the mighty sifting soon to take place we shall be better able to measure the strength of Israel. The signs reveal that the time is near when the Lord will manifest that His fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor." Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 80.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Church History Tour

In the spring of 2009 I had the privilege of taking the great controversy tour from Rome to Paris with Dr. Gerard Damsteegt. To receive academic credit, we also had to do some reading and write a reflection paper on what we learned in the whole experience.

I'm pleased to share that paper with you. Read it here

You can see pictures by clicking here.

I couldn't figure out how to put captions on the pictures, so here's a separate file of notations: Slide comments

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It Matters

Two trees in the midst of the garden
Grew in the very same way.
But it mattered which tree Eve partook of,
And the difference is still felt today.

It mattered which type of an offering
Was brought by Abel and Cain.
The Lord had respect unto Abel's,
But Cain's substitute wasn't the same.

It mattered to Nadab and Abihu
which fire they offered with sin.
“Isn't one fire as good as another?”
They tragically reasoned within.

David well knew God's instructions
How the sacred ark should be moved,
But ignored the crucial specifics
As the death of Uzzah proved.

“Why must I dip in the Jordan?”
Naaman asked in a huff.
“Aren't the rivers of Damascus far better?”
No, Naaman, they're not good enough.
“And why must I dip seven times?
Won't dip number one do the trick?”
Had Naaman ignored the specifics,
He'd have returned to his home still sick.

When God gives specific instructions
For a task that we're to do,
He intends for us to perform it
The way He has asked us to.

When He tells us we are to do it
In a certain particular way,
He doesn't intend us to change it
To suit what others might say.

He often specifies details
Extremely important to Him,
That people regard far too lightly
And make alterations at whim.

There's a purpose for each of God's precepts,
The “why” we may never have heard.
And we, though we may not discern it,
Are safe only in following each word.