To human sight it will appear that Godís people must soon seal their testimony with their blood as did the martyrs before them. They themselves begin to fear that the Lord has left them to fall by the hand of their enemies. It is a time of fearful agony. Day and night they cry unto God for deliverance. Exultant, the wicked mock: "Where now is your faith? Why does not God deliver you out of our hands if you are indeed His people?"
Beyond human sight companies of angels that excel in strength are stationed about those who have kept the word of Christís patience. With sympathizing tenderness, angels await the word of their Commander to snatch them from their peril. But they must wait a little longer. As people of God endeavor to wait trustingly for the Lord to work, they are led to exercise faith, hope, and patience, which have been too little exercised during their religious experience. Yet for the electís sake the time of trouble will be shortened.
The end will come more quickly than men expect. The wheat will be gathered and bound in sheaves for the garner of God; the tares will be bound for the fires of destruction (see Matthew 13:36-43).
At midnight God manifests His power for the deliverance of His people. In the midst of the heavens is one clear space of indescribable glory, whence comes the voice of God like the sound of many waters, saying: "It is done" (Revelation 16:17).
That voice shakes the heavens and the earth. There is a mighty earthquake, "such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great" (vv. 17, 18). Graves are opened, and "many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth ... awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:2). All who have died in the faith of the third angelís message come forth from the tomb glorified.
A marvelous change comes over those who have held fast their integrity in the face of death. Suddenly delivered from the dark tyranny of men transformed to demons, their faces now glow with wonder, faith, and love. In triumphant joy they sing: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear (Psalm 46:1-3).
Against the sky a hand appears holding two tables of stone folded together. "The heavens shall declare His righteousness: for God is judge Himselfí (Psalm 50:6). That holy law, Godís righteousness, proclaimed from Sinai as the guide of life, is now revealed to men as the rule of judgment. The hand opens the tables, and there, traced as with a pen of fire, are the precepts of the Decalogue. The words are so plain that all can read them. Godís ten words, brief, comprehensive, and authoritative, are presented to everyoneís view.
Indescribable horror and despair grip those who have trampled upon Godís holy requirements. The Lord gave them His law; they might have compared their characters with it and learned their defects while there was opportunity for repentance and reform; but in order to secure the favor of the world, they set aside its precepts and taught others to transgress. They strove to compel Godís people to profane His Sabbath. Now condemned by that law they have despised, they see that the Sabbath of the fourth commandment is the seal of the living God. They find that they have been fighting against God. Religious teachers have led souls to perdition while professing to guide them to the gates of Paradise.
Soon a small black cloud appears in the east, about half the size of a man hand. The people of God know this to be the sign of the Son of man. They gaze upon it as it draws nearer the earth, becoming lighter and more glorious, until it is a great white cloud, its base a glory like consuming fire, and above it the rainbow of the covenant. Jesus rides forth, a mighty conqueror. "Faithful and True," "in righteousness He doth judge and make war." And "the armies which were in heaven" (Revelation 19:11, 14) follow Him. With anthems of celestial melody the holy angels, a vast, unnumbered throng, attend Him on His way. "His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise. And His brightness was as the light" (Habakkuk 3:3,4). "And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords" (Revelation 19:16). In joyful strains the saints exclaim: "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us" (Isaiah 25:9).
Looking upon the graves of the righteous, the Son of God raises His hands to heaven, and cries: "Awake, awake, awake, ye that sleep in the dust, and arise!" Throughout the length and breadth of the earth the dead shall hear that voice, and they that hear shall live. And the whole earth shall ring with the tread of the exceeding great army of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. From the prison house of death they come, clothed with immortal glory, crying: "0 death, where is thy sting? 0 grave, where is thy victory" (1 Corinthians 15:55)? And the living righteous and the risen saints unite their voices in a long, glad shout of victory.
The living righteous are changed "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." At the voice of God they were glorified; now they are made immortal and with the risen saints are caught up to meet their Lord in the air. Angels "gather together His elect" from all parts of earth. Little children are borne by holy angels to their mothersí arms. Friends long separated by death are reunited and with songs of gladness ascend together to the City of God.
Before entering the City, the glittering ranks gather about their King, whose form rises in majesty high above saint and angel. His countenance beams upon them full of love. Every eye is fixed upon Him to behold His glory whose "visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men." Upon the heads of the overcomers, Jesus with His own right hand places the crown of glory. For each there is a crown, bearing his own "new name" (Revelation 2:17), and the inscription, "Holiness to the Lord." In every hand are placed the victorís palm and the shining harp. Then, as the commanding angels strike the note, every hand sweeps the harp strings with skillful touch, awaking rich, melodious music. Rapture unutterable thrills every heart, and each voice is raised in grateful praise: "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever" (Revelation 1:5, 6).
Jesus opens wide the pearly gates of the Holy City, and the nations that have kept the truth enter in. There they behold the Paradise of God, the home of Adam in his innocency. Then that voice, richer than any music that ever fell on mortal ear, is heard, saying: "Your conflict is ended." "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."