The Trumpet Herald is a commentary on certain current events in the light of inspired prophecy.
Istook Amendment Passes Judiciary Committee
On March 6, 1998, the House Judiciary Committee passed the so-called Religious Equality Amendment by a margin of 16 to 11. The measure now goes to the House floor, where it could well be voted on as this issue of Trumpet Herald goes to press.
As reported in previous issues of this newsletter, this proposed amendment to the Constitution would legalize prayer and worship services as part of the public school curriculum, and would make governmental acknowledgment of religion permissible in any number of ways. The way would be opened for civil recognition and promotion of whatever religion is preferred by the majority of citizens. Conversely, the way would likewise be opened for the suppression of those faiths deemed to be dangerous and offensive by the majority.
Few expect the measure to achieve the two-thirds majority essential for passage in both houses of Congress, not to mention being ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures. But whether it wins or loses for now, it places the national spotlight on the efforts of religious conservatives to legislate religious observance.
Jesus declared to Pontius Pilate: "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence" (John 18:36). Inspiration has described the misguided efforts of Christians to establish Christ's kingdom by legislation:
"But today in the religious world there are multitudes who, as they believe, are working for the establishment of the kingdom of Christ as an earthly and temporal dominion. They desire to make our Lord the ruler of the kingdoms of this world, the ruler in its courts and camps, its legislative halls, its palaces and market places. They expect Him to rule through legal enactments, enforced by human authority. Since Christ is not now here in person, they themselves will undertake to act in His stead, to execute the laws of His kingdom. The establishment of such a kingdom is what the Jews desired in the days of Christ. They would have received Jesus, had He been willing to establish a temporal dominion, to enforce what they regarded as the laws of God, and to make them the expositors of His will and the agents of His authority. But He said, 'My kingdom is not of this world.' John 18:36. He would not accept the earthly throne. ...
"Not by the decisions of courts or councils or legislative assemblies, not by the patronage of worldly great men, is the kingdom of Christ established, but by the implanting of Christ's nature in humanity through the work of the Holy Spirit" (The Desire of Ages, p. 509).
Again we cite the inspired prediction of a religious amendment to the United States Constitution:
"If the people can be led to favor a Sunday law, then the clergy intend to exert their united influence to obtain a religious amendment to the Constitution, and compel the nation to keep Sunday" (Review & Herald, Dec. 24, 1889).
School yard Shootings
The recent shooting of school children at the hands of other children in Jonesboro, Arkansas, evoked grief and shock throughout America. According to recent news reports, at least seven or eight such slayings have occurred in our land during the past year alone, from Alaska and Utah to Kentucky and Mississippi.
Many have observed that while such violence is expected to occur in large cities like New York and Los Angeles, people living in small, rural, deeply religious parts of the country generally feel removed from such tragedies. Jonesboro has helped to shatter such confidence.
The apostle Paul foretold long ago:
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good," (2 Timothy 3:1).
The extreme waywardness of children in our society, and the failure of many parents to instill proper values, reminds us of the following words of Scripture:
"Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Ecclesiastes 8:11).
The March 23, 1998 issue of U.S. News & World Report described the recent tremors in the scientific community of the possible approach of a killer asteroid on October 26, 2028. At first it was reported that this shard of cosmic debris could come within 30,000 miles of earth, or perhaps hit us directly. The very next day the networks soothed everyone's fears with the scientists' new assessment: that the asteroid would pass no closer than 600,000 miles away from the earth (Charles Petit, "Okay, So They Were a Little Off," U.S. News, March 23, 1998).
Christians shouldn't be especially worried about 2028, except to hope that long before then we will find ourselves on the streets of gold. But we are nevertheless reminded of some fascinating inspired predictions. While we cannot be sure that the following statements are talking about asteroids, the possibility is there:
"Last night a scene was presented before me. I may never feel free to reveal all of it, but I will reveal a little.
"It seemed that an immense ball of fire came down upon the world, and crushed large houses. From place to place rose the cry, 'The Lord has come! The Lord has come!' Many were unprepared to meet Him, but a few were saying, 'Praise the Lord!'
"'Why are you praising the Lord?' inquired those upon whom was coming sudden destruction.
"'Because we now see what we have been looking for.'
"'If you believed that these things were coming, why did you not tell us?' was the terrible response. 'We did not know about these things. Why did you leave us in ignorance? Again and again you have seen us; why did you not become acquainted with us, and tell us of the judgment to come, and that we must serve God, lest we perish? Now we are lost!''' (Reflecting Christ, p. 243). (See also Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 28.)
"In the night I was, I thought, in a room but not in my own house. I was in a city, where I knew not, and I heard expression after expression. I rose up quickly in bed, and saw from my window large balls of fire. Jetting out were sparks, in the form of arrows, and buildings were being consumed, and in a very few minutes the entire block of buildings was falling and the screeching and mournful groans came distinctly to my ears. ...
"I cried unto the Lord, What does it mean? These representations of destruction were repeated. Where am I? 'In scenes I have represented that which will be; but warn My people to cease from putting their trust in men who are not obedient to my warnings and who despise My reproof, for the day of the Lord is right upon the world when evidence shall be made sure. Those who have followed the voices that would turn things upside down will themselves be turned where they cannot see, but will be as blind men'" (Manuscript Releases, vol. 11, p. 361).
Asteroids or no, may we heed the warning of the Lord before it is too late!
The Counterfeit Revival
The April 13, 1998 issue of Newsweek featured a cover article titled "Living in the Holy Spirit," detailing the widespread growth of the charismatic movement across denominational lines. According to David Barrett, a religion demographer at Regent University in Virginia, 460 million Christians around the worldfrom Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox traditionsare caught up in this so-called "Spirit-filled" movement (p. 56).
The movement is characterized not only by tongues-speaking and faith-healing, but by intense physical gyrations, "holy laughter," and what author Kenneth Woodward calls "the kind of buildup usually reserved for rock stars" (drums, dancing, etc.) (p. 59).
As in previous articles on contemporary religion, Ken Woodward (himself not a Christian) observes these events with greater discernment than many who bear the Lord's name. Describing the various aberrations being associated with the Spirit's working, he writes: "None of this happened at the original Pentecost" (p. 59). He goes on to say that charismatic worship is "a constricted and ultimately misleading understanding of the Spirit and His work. In the long history of Christianity, the Holy Spirit has never been just a sporadic visitor, much less one needful of musical introductions" (p. 59).
The Spirit of Prophecy has clearly foretold the present false revival:
"Before the final visitation of God's judgments upon the earth there will be among the people of the Lord such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children. At that time many will separate themselves from those churches in which the love of this world has supplanted love for God and His word. Many, both of ministers and people, will gladly accept those great truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time to prepare a people for the Lord's second coming. The enemy of souls desires to hinder this work; and before the time for such a movement shall come, he will endeavor to prevent it by introducing a counterfeit. In those churches which he can bring under his deceptive power he will make it appear that God's special blessing is poured out; there will be manifest what is thought to be great religious interest. Multitudes will exult that God is working marvelously for them, when the work is that of another spirit. Under a religious guise, Satan will seek to extend his influence over the Christian world" (The Great Controversy, p. 464).
We are likewise reminded of the same author's prediction of this false revivalwith its drums, dancing, and noiseinvading the Seventh-day Adventist Church itself, "just before the close of probation" (Selected Messages, vol. 2, p. 36).