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01. The End-Time Prophetic Catalyst

Norman McNulty
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As believes in the soon return of Jesus, Seventh-day Adventists have long looked at prophecy to best understand what signs will precede the coming of Jesus. In this presentation, we will look at the prophetic catalyst that will usher in the point of no return for the final events of Earth's history. It is the National Sunday Law that will be the trigger. This presentation forms the foundation for the topics that come afterward as we seek to understand end-time prophecy and to be ready for Christ's soon return.

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Norman McNulty

Neurologist at Southern Tennessee Regional Health System, Lawrenceburg, TN

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Recorded

  • June 3, 2020
    9:00 AM
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Greetings, everyone! I want to welcome you to a new series that we are starting here on AudioVerse over the next 10 episodes entitled “Last Day Events Explained.”

We're going to look at a lot of different things. We're going to look at: what triggers last day events; what are the signs that we should be looking for? We're going to go through a number of different ideas: 

  • What is the abomination of desolation?
  • What are the different stages of the Sunday law?
  • What is the new world order?
  • How should we be preparing?
  • When does the little time of trouble start?
  • When should we flee the cities?
  • When is the latter rain going to be poured out?
  • When does the death decree occur?
  • What happens during Jacob's time of trouble?
  • What does the current pandemic mean for all of us? 

These are things that we are going to be addressing during these series of talks, and I just hope that you'll tune in, and you'll continue to come back on a weekly basis for these episodes. We're going to try to keep them brief within about 30 minutes. And if you have questions, if questions are generated by what I share, or if you have other questions that you would like to have addressed, please feel free to send those in as well to AudioVerse. You can email: contact@audioverse.org. We will have these things going forward and so I'm excited about the series. I want to encourage you to be studying, praying, and preparing. 

I also want to let you know, if you haven't seen it already, I have a book on Daniel that I wrote: “Daniel Practical Living in the Judgment Hour.” You can get a copy from Remnant Publications if you're interested in that as well. The first episode is entitled “End-Time Prophetic Catalyst.” 

I'm going to start with a word of prayer and then we will get right into our first presentation, so let's pray. Father in heaven, we thank You for this opportunity to consider last day events. I pray that as these events are explained that You would speak through me that things would be clear, and that we would all have an understanding of what is happening in the world around us, and how we should be prepared for what is coming. We thank You and we pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

As Seventh-day Adventists, there is always a desire among God's people to be looking at the signs around us to see what is happening at the present time, and how that fits in with our understanding of last day events. We're going to look today at the catalyst for end time events, for end time prophecy. What is it that will trigger the end of the world? Because there's a lot of different things that are being said--people are saying that once specific events take place, once the pope does this, or the president does that--then that would be the sign that the world is about to end. What does the Bible say? What does the Spirit of Prophecy say? What can we have confidence in with respect to the end-time trigger that everything else is dependent upon? 

Let's consider some things. I want to start off by reading a statement in “Testimonies,” Volume 9, page 11. Now this should be a very familiar statement to all of us as Seventh-day Adventists. In the times that we're living in right now (I'm recording this on Sunday, May 31), while we are living in momentous times with this Covid-19 pandemic, with the tragic death of George Floyd (an African American gentleman who was killed at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota), with the civil unrest that has followed, we can see the signs around us that Jesus is coming soon. I want to read the statement from “Testimonies,” Volume 9, page 11: 

“We are living in the time of the end. The fast fulfilling signs of the times declare that the coming of Christ is near at hand. The days in which we live are solemn and important. The Spirit of God is gradually but surely being withdrawn from the earth.”

 Now friends, if you can’t see the Spirit of God is being withdrawn, you're sound asleep to reality right now. Clearly, we see the Spirit of God being withdrawn from the earth and the quote continues:

“Plagues and judgments are already falling upon the despisers of the grace of God. The calamities by land and sea, the unsettled state of society, the alarms of war, are portentous. They forecast approaching events of the greatest magnitude.”

I know as I've seen these events taking place in the last few months, there is definitely this unsettling feeling that events of great magnitude are about to take place. The quote continues in the next paragraph:

“The agencies of evil are combining their forces, and consolidating. They are strengthening for the last great crisis. Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones.” 

We know that in this statement a certain trigger will come, and when that trigger comes, the final movements will be very rapid. Now the next paragraph isn't read as often, but it's so fitting for what's happening right now. 

“The condition of things in the world shows that troublous times are right upon us. The daily papers are full of indications of a terrible conflict in the near future.”

Now this was written about 100 years ago or longer. Now she would talk about social media, the internet, television, and so forth. 

“Bold robberies are a frequent occurrence. Strikes are common. Thefts and murders are committed on every hand. Men possessed of demons are taking the lives of men, women, and little children. Men have become infatuated with vice, and every species of evil prevails.” 

We can see this. Every species of evil is prevailing at this time, and innocent people are being murdered without hardly a thought being given to it. These are clear signs that we are living in the time of the end, and that great changes are soon to take place in this world, and the final movements will be rapid ones. Things can change very quickly. That’s the thing that we've seen through this Covid-19 pandemic. Now with the civil unrest that has been taking place even this last week, that very quickly changed the world we live in. Who would have thought back at Thanksgiving time or Christmas time or over New Years that we would be in the midst of a global pandemic just a few short months later, and that civil unrest would start to overtake the United States of America? This is truly an unprecedented time to be alive. We certainly didn't anticipate these specific events. Yes, as Seventh-day Adventists we have said: Yes, we believe Jesus is coming soon. Yes, we believe the signs are around us. But until these things actually start happening, we couldn't have predicted specifically that a pandemic would have taken the world over the way it has. Now the civil unrest that has taken place is a very unsettling time to be alive if you don't have faith in the Lord. But because of our trust in the Lord, we can have confidence to face the crisis that is happening now.

Let's look at another statement. This is from “2 Selected Messages,” page 402. This is a very clear statement that we need to consider as well.

“We are rapidly approaching the end of this earth’s history; and as we realize that Jesus is indeed coming soon, we shall be aroused to labor as never before. We are bidden to sound an alarm to the people. And in our own lives we are to show forth the power of truth and righteousness. The world is soon to meet the great Lawgiver over His broken law. Those only who turn from transgression to obedience can hope for pardon and peace.”

Now one of the things I want to point out about that statement is that we are to be aroused to labor as never before, and that the people should see the power of truth and righteousness in our own lives. Otherwise our witness will not be what it should be.  The quote continues in the next paragraph into the next page:

“We are to raise the banner on which is inscribed, ‘The commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’ Obedience to God's law is the great issue. Let it not be put out of sight. We must strive to arouse church members, and those who make no profession, to see and obey the claims of the law of Heaven. We are to magnify this law and make it honorable.”

So friends, right now we need to be magnifying the law of God, and exemplify Him by the grace of God: how the law of God is strengthening our lives; how we love the law of God; how we understand the transcript of God's character strengthening us to meet this final crisis, because we are living in very unsettling times. We are living in times that are causing great unease and anxiety in the world around us. As God’s people, we need to have answers for the world around us. Now let's move forward. 

What is the catalyst? There are many different theories about what will bring the end of the world. I hear lots of different things: about how the pope is going to have a secret meeting with the president of the United States; or if he follows certain time prophecies as to when Sunday law will take place (even though we've been clearly shown that there's no time prophecy between 1844 and the second coming). Adventists throw a lot of theories around. I've even seen the idea that Covid-19 is the siege of Jerusalem (which we've always understood to be the Sunday law), but people are now saying that Covid-19 is the siege, and so there's a lot of ideas. There's actually a lot of confusion right now among some people about what the end time catalyst would be.

I would submit to you that what helps me to understand the trigger or the catalyst that will wake up the Church (and help us to understand that the end of the world truly has arrived), is the picture that Jesus paints in Matthew, chapter 25. Now we understand that the 1260-year prophecy takes us to 1798 which identifies the time of the end of the 2300 a prophecy. That takes us to 1844 which is the beginning of the hour of God's judgment. But when it comes to the end of the world, the end of all things, Matthew 25 paints a fairly clear picture of what causes the Church to be aware that Jesus is actually at the door. In Matthew chapter 25, we see Jesus telling a parable that the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven, which is this church, is like 10 virgins. If you haven't heard a sermon that I've given on this before, you can go to AudioVerse and find the sermon, “Sleeping at Midnight,” where I go through this in great detail, but I'm just giving you a few highlights here. The Church is sleeping. You have five wise virgins. You have five foolish virgins. They both have lamps which represent the Word of God, but only the wise have the oil which represents the Holy Spirit. Everybody is sleeping. The entire Church is sleeping. Even though based on their study of Scripture, they go forth to meet the bridegroom--meaning they expect Jesus to return. The entire Church expects Jesus to return. This is the Seventh-day Adventist Church that believes in the Second Coming of Jesus, but then they fall asleep because there is a delay. Matthew 25, verse 5 says while the bridegroom tarried or was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But verse 6 shows us something very fascinating. Verse 6 of Matthew 25 says at midnight there was a cry made, “Behold the bridegroom cometh. Go ye out to meet him.” So, it is the midnight cry that wakes up the sleeping Church. The midnight cry tells the Church that Jesus is at the door. There is no speculation. There is no guessing. The entire Church wakes up and says, “Behold the bridegroom cometh. Jesus is at the door. He is here,” and then you see the rest of the parable of the wise. They go out, and the foolish are trying to find the oil. The wise take the oil in the vessels or their lamps, and they meet the bridegroom. They go in with Him to the marriage, and the door is shut. Probation closes shortly after that--meaning probation closes shortly after the midnight cry, and it closes when the door is shut. So, there's a period of time between the midnight cry and the door’s shut or the close of probation. But here's the thing, the midnight cry makes it clear to the wise and the foolish, to the entire Church, that Jesus is at the door. 

So, what is the midnight cry? How is it that the midnight cry is the prophetic catalyst that lets us know? Well, the midnight cry of Matthew 25, verse 6 is synonymous or equal to the loud cry of Revelation 18. The entire Church wakes up to the message of Revelation 18. Another way of looking at it is that the latter rain is poured out on the wise virgins because the wise virgins have the experience of the early rain--meaning that they have the fruits of the Holy Spirit in their lives and now they are prepared to receive the outpouring of the latter rain. When the midnight cry is given, “Behold the bridegroom cometh. Go ye out to meet him.” This is synonymous with the loud cry of Revelation 18 when the loud cry is given. Before the wise virgins go into the marriage when the door shuts and probation closes, they give the loud cry message first under the power of the latter rain. So, what is the midnight cry and what is the loud cry specifically? How is that the prophetic catalyst for the end of the world? When we look at the message of Revelation 18 (the message of the loud cry), we see an angel coming down from heaven having great power. The earth is lightened with its glory and the message says, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen.” When you get to verse 5, it says, “For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” So, the midnight cry message in the parable is analogous to the loud cry message where the glory of God’s character illuminates the earth with its glory, and also identifies that Babylon is fallen, and that her sins have reached unto heaven. 

The question is, when do Babylon's sins reach unto heaven? Ellen G. White says in the “Signs of the Times,” June 12, 1893 (you can find this in “Last Day Events,” page 198), “When do her sins reach unto heaven?” She says, “When the law of God is finally made void by legislation.” So, here's the thing, the Sunday law (the national Sunday law) is when Babylon’s sins reach heaven, and when Babylon's sins reach heaven, there is this loud cry from heaven. It’s the loud cry message where God’s character illuminates the earth with its glory and simultaneously God's character is seen through the lives of His people. His people are giving a loud cry message that the Sunday law has shown that the sins of Babylon has reached heaven, and it’s time to come out of Babylon. Here's the key point. Up until the national Sunday law, we can speculate as to how much time there is left on this earth. In fact, we shouldn't be speculating about how much time there is specifically. We should know that time is short, but we don't put a time period on it. What we can say is, because there are no time prophecies between 1844 and the second coming, there are event prophecies. Here's the thing, the key event that we are waiting for prophetically, to know that the end of the world is here, and that Jesus is at the at the door and that we can proclaim, “Behold the bridegroom cometh. Go ye out to meet him.” That key prophetic event is the national Sunday law. When the national Sunday law comes, there will be no more questions as to whether or not the world will be ending sometime soon. When the national Sunday law comes, that is the sign that the end of the world has come. The wise virgins go forth to meet the bridegroom and the foolish virgins are not ready. That's the end time catalyst. That is the catalyst that we should be looking for in addition to making sure that we are wise virgins with the extra oil in our lamps--meaning we have the fruits of the Spirit. You can speculate about the meaning of Covid-19 and the civil unrest that is taking place. Those are signs of what we would describe as pestilences, wars, and rumors of wars where Jesus says, “These are signs of my coming, but the end is not yet.” When we see the national Sunday law, we know the end is here. 

Let's look at some key points. The midnight cry of the parable in Matthew 25 is synonymous with the loud cry of Revelation 18 and the national Sunday law. The entire Church wakes up at that point. No matter what you're doing--if you're in school, if you have a job, whatever it is--your priorities, your focus, and your long range plans will all come to a screeching halt when you realize that Jesus is at the door. Everything that we're doing in our lives right now should be with a purpose that is going to advance God's kingdom, helping us to be prepared for His coming, and helping others to be prepared for His coming. The national Sunday law is the catalyst. It is synonymous with the midnight cry. The midnight cry can be given because there is a national Sunday law. Ellen White made some statements about this national Sunday law. I’m going to read these statements from “Testimonies,” Volume 5, pages 464-465. There are two slides for this quote. Notice where she says here:

“It is no time now for God's people to be fixing their affections or laying up their treasures in the world. The time is not far distant, when, like the early disciples we shall be forced to seek refuge in desolate and solitary places. As the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman armies was the signal for flight to the Judean Christians, so the assumption of power on the part of our nation in the decree enforcing the papal sabbath will be a warning to us.”

The Covid-19 pandemic is not the siege of Jerusalem. It’s not. The Blair Bill of 1888 was not the siege of Jerusalem. It’s the papal sabbath being enforced by a decree. That's the national Sunday law--that is the siege of Jerusalem and the quote continues on the next page:

“It will then be time to leave the large cities preparatory to leaving the smaller ones for retired homes in secluded places among the mountains. And now instead of seeking expensive dwellings here, we should be preparing to move to a better country, even a heavenly. Instead of spending our means in self-gratification, we should be studying to economize. Every talent lent of God should be used to His glory and giving the warning to the world.” 

The Sunday law is your last chance to flee the city and we're going to talk about this as the series progresses. But I would tell you when I was watching some live streams of the news last night, I was reminded of Ellen White’s statement, “Out of the cities! Out of the cities” is to be our message. I'm thankful that I live in the country. You might be living in the city right now, and you might be comforted by the idea that you have until the national Sunday law to leave the city. That's true but I wouldn't want to be in the city right now. The way this world is going, the sooner you can get out with a clear safe plan, I would encourage you to leave. But again, the siege of Jerusalem which we're going to talk about, and the abomination of desolation, as the series progresses as well, is analogous or synonymous with a national Sunday law. It is not Covid-19 or something else, so be mindful of that as well. We want to be clear in how we describe end time events. Let’s look at a couple of other statements. There's going to be an agitation for a Sunday law, so when things start happening in this world where the Sunday law begins to be agitated, then we know that we're really at the end. Notice the statement from “Great Controversy,” pages 578-579:              

“In both the old and the New World, the papacy will receive homage in the honor paid to the Sunday institution, that rests solely upon the authority of the Roman Church.”

The old world is Europe, the new world is America, and of course the whole world will be involved in this. The statement continues on page 579 of “Great Controversy”:

“Since the middle of the 19th century, students of prophecy in the United States have presented this testimony to the world. In the events now taking place is seen a rapid advance toward the fulfillment of the prediction. With Protestant teachers there is the same claim of divine authority for Sunday keeping, and the same lack of scriptural evidence, as with the papal leaders who fabricated miracles to supply the place of a command from God.”

The assertion that God’s judgments are visited upon men for their violation of the Sunday Sabbath will be repeated. Already it is beginning to be urged in a movement to enforce Sunday observance. It is fast gaining ground so when you start to see Sunday observance being agitated, you will know that we're getting close. 

There's this very interesting statement from “Review and Herald,” September 17, 1901, paragraph 9. This makes it even clearer as to how the Sunday law movement will be agitated. Notice what Ellen White says here:

“When the angel of mercy folds her wings and departs, Satan will do the evil deeds he has long wished to do. Storm and tempest, war and bloodshed,--in these things he delights, and thus he gathers in his harvest. And so completely will men be deceived by him that they will declare that these calamities are the result of the desecration of the first day of the week.”

Isn't this ironic. Satan is the one who brings the calamities, and then he will deceive men to declare that these calamities that he created are because people have been desecrating Sunday. Now the quote continues, listen to this:

From the pulpits of the popular churches will be heard the statement that the world is being punished because Sunday is not honored as it should be. And it will require no great stretch of imagination for men to believe this. They are guided by the enemy, and therefore they reach conclusions which are entirely false. 

When you hear the leading Sunday ministers of our time--I'm talking about Jerry Falwell Jr., Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Rick Warren--I'm not trying to cast dispersion on their character. Maybe some of these men will respond to God’s last day message. I'm not judging their hearts, but I'm just saying when you hear leading ministers agitating, and calling for Sunday worship because God has been pouring judgments out on America, you'll know that Jesus is at the door, and that a Sunday law is about to come. 

Now I want to share something very interesting with you, and this is a short little sermon entitled “Why God Took Sunday Away” by Pastor Robert Field. He's the pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church in Montreal, Quebec in Canada. I’ve put the link up on the screen (https://4the10.net/why-god-took-sunday-away.html) and I'm going to read some highlights from this message. You can write this link down as you look here at the video on the screen. You can go to that link yourself and listen to it. It's only 12 minutes long. You can just put it in your Google browser, or whatever browser you use: “Why God Took Sunday Away” and the name, “Robert Field,” and you should find this link. It's very fascinating to listen to. I'm just going to give you a few highlights, and this is what he said about six to eight weeks ago. 

He said that Sunday has been taken away. Gatherings have been taken away by God. You know we meet by live streams, but it's not the same. Something is missing. These live streams are a poor replacement for a gathering on the Lord's day. (Of course, Sunday is not the Lord’s day, but that’s what he thinks). Then he asks what God is trying to teach His church? Why would God take away Sunday?  So many venues for sharing the Gospel have been reduced. (And he has some reasons for this. This is very fascinating). Listen to this. He says that there are several reasons why God has taken Sunday away. He says that this is a judgment on His people. He says the Church, the Sunday churches, need to wake up and hear His voice. He says that a key reason for this is (in looking at the present condition), the virus is a judgment on the Christian Church. The Church is closed. God has eradicated worship on His day. He has taken Sunday away. He is sending a message that He is not pleased with what the Christian Church has done to His day of worship. (Now look, Sunday is not God's day of worship, but this is the take of this Sunday minister). Then notice what he says: Do we really think we have been honoring this day? We have not been following the fourth commandment” (and again I find that ironic. You know, they have not been following the fourth commandment). He says Israel lost their day of worship by sending them to exile. The Lord's day has been turned into the Lord's hour. We don't abstain from work and play. Sunday has become optional for Christians. We can opt out of church to go to hockey games (referring to Montreal’s games), or to do lawn work. He talks about how the church burned to the ground while the fourth commandment is violated. (Now isn't that fascinating because the fourth commandment is being violated, but not for the reasons that he thinks). He says we're teaching the next generation that Sunday is not important. He says perhaps with the loss of Sunday in the weeks ahead, we will s­ee if it’s a necessity. Then he goes on to Isaiah 58:13-14 to talk about the Sabbath. (I'm like, wow! That’s about the seventh day, not the first day).  He asks, will we repent and chan­ge, or will we stay as a lukewarm Church? God is speaking, but are we listening to His sermon? He's a sincere man, but he's deceived as to which a day has been dishonored. That's rather fascinating!

I want to read the statement from “Christ Object Lessons,” page 412, as we look at what will eventually trigger the Sunday law: 

“It is in a crisis that character is revealed. When the earnest voice proclaimed at midnight, “Behold the bridegroom cometh. Go ye out to meet him,” and the sleeping virgins were roused from their slumbers, it was seen who had made preparation for the event. Both parties were taken unawares; but one was prepared for the emergency, and the other was found without preparation. So now, a sudden unlooked-for calamity, something that brings the soul face to face with death, will show whether there is any real faith in the promises of God. It will show whether the soul is sustained by grace. The great final test comes at the close of human probation, when it will be too late for the soul’s need to be supplied.”

There's going to be a sudden and unlooked for calamity that will trigger the Sunday law--the midnight cry. When we look at what's happening in the world around us (I don't know what the unlooked-for calamity will be), but what I do know is that there will be an unlooked-for calamity that will eventually bring on a Sunday law. Listen and I will say this, unless you're sound asleep to reality, what's happening with the Covid-19 pandemic and now with the civil unrest--is the type of thing that if it doesn't get better (I'm not making this as a prediction, but I'm just saying in a hypothetical sense), if we had a terrible second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, and civil unrest blew out of control, it's not hard to imagine how people could start calling for Sunday to be honored because we've been desecrating that day as a nation and it’s time to come back to God. We as Seventh-day Adventists would realize how Jesus truly is at the door. Certainly, there's the possibility that the Covid-19 pandemic is a wakeup call, but it's not the end of all things. It's just a clear sign of the coming of Jesus. As we move along here, we need to be awake to the reality that it could be a sign for the end of all things. 

I want to close by reading a passage from Luke 21:25-31. If you have your Bibles, I invite you to get them out and follow along as I read these passages starting at verse 25, Jesus says: 

“There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth. For the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”

 Certainly, we can see that men's hearts are failing them for fear right now. Verse 27-31:

“And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud, with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads: for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.”

Friends, as we see the Covid-19 pandemic, the civil unrest, the signs all around us, we see the summer fig tree (so to speak), we see clearly the signs of the coming of Jesus. We can have confidence that as others’ hearts are failing them for fear, we can look up knowing that our redemption draws near. This is good news that we have a friend in Jesus, and so I just want to encourage you. We want to have a clear understanding of the prophetic events that are going to come upon this world; we want to have a clear walk with the Lord, to realize that He is coming to save us; we want to use this window of opportunity to share the truths for this time with the world around us. Let's not get caught up in speculation. Let's just follow the clear, delineated prophetic signs that have been given to us--that the Sunday law is the trigger. It's the catalyst upon which all other end time events will fall into place based on this time of earth’s history. All of the things that are happening right now are setting the timetable for a Sunday law at some point. We don't know exactly when the Sunday law will take place but let us be mindful and aware of the times in which we are living in, and to be ready for the soon coming of Jesus. Let's be faithful. Let's do all that we can to share the message, and let's be ready for Him to come.

So, I am looking forward to our next presentation next week where we will talk about the abomination of desolation from Scripture. That is going to give us a clearer understanding of how things will come to an end.

As we bring this message to a close, I'm just going to offer a word of prayer, and then we will continue next week. Let's pray. Father in heaven, we thank You for the more sure word of prophecy. We thank You that You've given us clear warning signs for what is coming, and of what the trigger will be for the end of all things. Lord, I pray that we would have the extra oil in our lamps, so that we would be ready when the midnight cry comes. When the Sunday law comes, may we even be ready now as we see what is happening, and may we be faithful until You come. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen. Thank you and God bless.

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