Ecc 3:15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.
1 Cor 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
The Bible gives the clearest evidence that the experiences of God’s people in the past serve as examples of what God’s people should expect in the last days. We need to exercise care in how we apply past experiences to our own experience. It can be very easy to simply imagine ourselves as one of God’s faithful, braving the persecution and trial of those against us, when it is possible that we bring a time of trouble upon ourselves by our over confidence in our righteous actions in correcting our brethren.
While we need to exercise caution we also need to heed the instruction of these stories because as 1 Cor 10:11 says – they are written for our admonition.
There are several statements in the Spirit of Prophecy concerning the time of Christ that I believe have special significance for us in these last days.
How did men treat Christ when He came? . . . "He came unto his own, and his own received him not" (John 1:11). Thus it is today. This history is being repeated, and will be repeated again and again before the Lord shall come in the clouds of heaven. The deceptions of Satan will be upon those who dwell on the earth.... That I May Know Him Page 54
The scenes of the betrayal, rejection, and crucifixion of Christ have been reenacted, and will again be reenacted on an immense scale. People will be filled with the attributes of Satan. The delusions of the archenemy of God and man will have great power. Those who have given their affections to any leader but Christ will find themselves under the control, body, soul, and spirit of an infatuation that is so entrancing that under its power souls turn away from hearing the truth to believe a lie. They are ensnared and taken, and by their every action, they cry, "Release unto us Barabbas, but crucify Christ." . . . 3SM 415
In quoting the prophecy of the rejected stone, Christ referred to an actual occurrence in the history of Israel. The incident was connected with the building of the first temple. While it had a special application at the time of Christ's first advent, and should have appealed with special force to the Jews, it has also a lesson for us. DA 597
As the light and life of men was rejected by the ecclesiastical authorities in the days of Christ, so it has been rejected in every succeeding generation. Again and again the history of Christ's withdrawal from Judea has been repeated. DA 232
From these statements we can be certain that
The history of the coming of Christ, His reception by the Church and the world, will be repeated on immerse scale. Jesus as the rejected cornerstone has lessons for us today. Frightfully, the rejection of Christ by ecclesiastical authorities is repeated by every succeeding generation.
If we lay out the main sequence of events in the life of Christ we find
- Christ is presented to the church by the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist. John 1:6-8
- Christ preaches the Gospel of the Kingdom. Mark 1:15
- Christ reveals Himself as the Son of God. John 5:17-39
- The church leaders reject Him. John 5:43
- A small feeble group within the church believe in Him. John 6:66-69
- A wider group follow him for self-interest. John 6:26,27
- A significant event confirms Christ as Son of God and gives Him greater authority amongst the people. The raising of Lazarus. John 11
- Church leaders plot the death of Jesus. John 11:57
- Jesus pronounces coming judgement on the Church. Matt 23,24
- Church leaders use state authority to put Jesus to death. John 18:28; 19:23
- The majority forsake Christ and his closest followers are overwhelmed with disappointment.
- Jesus rises from the dead and comforts His followers with gift of Holy Spirit. John 20:19,20
- While still members of the Church, the disciples aided by the gift of the Spirit engage the work of confession and repentance for 10 days. Acts 1:5-8
- Small band of disciples preach the Son of God with mighty power to the Church as part of the Church. Acts 2.
- Many leaders repent and accept the faith. Thousands added to the movement. Acts 2:41; Acts 6:7
- Church leadership persecutes the followers of the Son of God and rejects call to repentance. Acts 4:18
- Believers in the Son of God, with their new authority via the Spirit, begin evangelising the world. Acts 10-28
- Existing Church leadership rejected by God. Acts 13:46
- Gospel preached to every Creature under heaven. Col 1:23
- Rome destroys Jerusalem in AD 70.
As we look through the list of events, I am sure that many of us can see where aspects of this history have indeed been repeated. It is not my desire to pinpoint a complete reflection of the events listed but I do want to draw you attention to a few points.
A small group of believers in the Son of God go through a process of disappointment, repentance, receive the outpouring of the Spirit and preach the gospel while still being connected to the existing church.
The Holy Spirit is only poured out when those who believed that Jesus was the Son of God confessed their denial of him during the crucifixion. There is no receiving of the Holy Spirit without a process of repentance by all of the believers.
There were no heroes or great men of God between the death of Christ and the outpouring of the Spirit. All of them had failed and made mistakes and were not qualified to lead God’s people.
If you read the first chapter of Great Controversy we are told that the destruction of Jerusalem parallels the end of the world:
Let men beware lest they neglect the lesson conveyed to them in the words of Christ. As He warned His disciples of Jerusalem's destruction, giving them a sign of the approaching ruin, that they might make their escape; so He has warned the world of the day of final destruction and has given them tokens of its approach, GC 37
As we move towards that fearful day, let us learn the lessons of history and realise that no man will go through the final scenes without need for deep repentance and a realisation that his life to that point has been full of mistakes, failures and self-interest. Let us heed the warning to stay with the ship until it runs aground. Acts 27:41