The Trumpet Herald is a commentary on certain current events in the light of inspired prophecy.
Pope Visits St. Louis
On January 25, 1999, Pope John Paul II swept into the American heartland following a whirlwind trip to Mexico, meeting first an adoring crowd of 20,000 Catholic youth, and then 100,000 who attended mass the following morning. Despite the pontiff's noticeable aging and rigid conservative views, his reception on what could well be his final American visit was enthusiastic to the point of worship. One young person interviewed for the CBS Evening News exclaimed, "He's almost like God!"
Another significant development, reported by the Associated Press January 23 on the Internet, was a meeting of Protestant ministers representing nine different denominations, discussing unity. The proposal indicated that "the denominations would continue to exist but would recognize each other's basic doctrine, clergy, and sacraments as constituting one united church."
Perhaps most significant of all were the observations of CNN political analyst Bill Schneider, who analyzed the political views of American Catholics on the January 27 edition of CNN's "Inside Politics." Schneider observed that those Catholics who regularly attend church tend to support the pope's views on social and political issues, while those who don't attend church disagree with the pontiff. Schneider observed, "If the pope could only get Catholics to come back to church, he could change the course of American politics."
The book of Revelation tells us that after the papacy's deadly wound was healed, "all the world wondered after the beast" (Rev. 13:3). The adoring concourses of humanity which continue to attend the pope on his travels give evidence that this prophecy is still being fulfilled.
The worshipful awe surrounding the pope, and his acceptance thereof, demonstrates how far the papacy has wandered from the commands of Scripture. The apostle Peter, from whom the pope claims spiritual descent, forbade the centurion Cornelius to bow before him (Acts 10:25-26). Even the angel with whom John conversed in the final chapters of Revelation forbade the apostle to worship him, saying, "I am thy fellow servant, . . . worship God" (Rev. 19:10; 22:9).
The comments of analyst Bill Schneider about the pope's potential influence on United States politics reminds us of the following inspired prediction:
"Let the principle once be established in the United States that the church may employ or control the power of the state, that religious observances may be enforced by secular laws; in short, that the authority of church and state is to dominate the conscience, and the triumph of Rome in this country is assured" (The Great Controversy, p. 581).
The different denominations discussing unity remind us of another inspired forecast:
"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" (The Great Controversy, p. 445)
The January 18, 1999 cover story of Time magazine featured the headline, "The End of the World!?!," featuring analysis of the Y2K computer problem as well as various predictions of how the world might end. From businesses and government entities seeking to beat the millennium bug to survivalists and "reconstructionists" awaiting America's demise, the article tries to quiet all the varied forms of panic. Examples of similar past predictions, such as William Miller's, are cited by the article as proof that none need fear now any more than before. The report concludes with. the smooth assurance:
"Apocalyptic imaginings are fun, but they're wishful thinking. It's more likely that the world will just churn on as it is" (p. 70).
The words of Jesus had best be kept in view by all of us as the millennium approaches. Not only His warning that "of that day and hour knoweth no man" (Matt. 24:36), but also His statement that "in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (verse 44).
But not only is time expectation forbidden by our Lord; the Bible is also clear that what God is really waiting for is the spiritual preparedness of His people. Revelation speaks of how the winds of strife are held in check until God's servants are sealed (Rev. 7:1-3). Elsewhere we read of how the holiness of God's saints causes them to hasten the coming of the day of God (II Peter 3:10-14). This, not the year 2000, is what God is truly waiting for.
The live and let-live spirit of the Time article noted above reminds us of the words of Peter:
"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation" (II Peter 3:3, 4).
We cannot know the exact time of our Lord's return, but we can observe the accelerating signs of global chaos and natural disasters, which even the hardened skeptic is hard pressed to casually explain. But what such events truly tell us is that God is waiting ever more urgently on the readiness of His people. Which may be why the modern prophet declares:
"Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own" (Christ's Object Lessons, p. 69).
Nature's Continuing Convulsions
1999 began with more unnatural weather savaging the United States, from unusual cold to killer tornadoes, altogether accounting for nearly 50 deaths in the first weeks of the new year. Then, on January 25, a devastating earthquake struck the region near Bogota, Columbia, destroying whole villages and leaving a death toll in the thousands, which at press time is still untallied.
The recent "El Niño" and current "La Niña" weather patterns remind us of Jesus' statement of how the final events will observe "the sea and the waves roaring" (Luke 21:25). "Earthquakes in divers places" are also predicted by our Lord (Matt. 24:7). Inspiration offers the following prediction in harmony with the words of Christ:
Even now he [Satan] is at work. In accidents and calamities by sea, and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hail storms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. . . . These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous" (The Great Controversy, pp. 589, 590).