When Shall These Things Be?
The Disciples Ask Christ About His Return
Christ's words [Matt. 24:2] had been spoken in the hearing of a large number of people,
but when He was alone, Peter, John, James, and Andrew came to Him as He sat upon the Mount
of Olives. "Tell us," they said, "when shall these things be? and what
shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?"
Jesus did not answer His disciples by taking up separately the destruction of Jerusalem
and the great day of His coming. He mingled the description of these two events. Had
He opened to His disciples future events as He beheld them, they would have been unable to
endure the sight. In mercy to them He blended the description of the two great crises,
leaving the disciples to study out the meaning for themselves.--DA 628 (1898).
Time of Christ's Return Not Known
Many who have called themselves Adventists have been time-setters. Time after time has
been set for
Christ to come, but repeated failures have been the result. The definite time of our
Lord's coming is declared to be beyond the ken of mortals. Even the angels, who minister
unto those who shall be heirs of salvation, know not the day nor the hour. "But of
that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father
only."--4T 307 (1879).
We are not to know the definite time either for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit or
for the coming of Christ. . . . Why has not God given us this knowledge?--Because we would
not make a right use of it if He did. A condition of things would result from this
knowledge among our people that would greatly retard the work of God in preparing a people
to stand in the great day that is to come. We are not to live upon time excitement. . . .
You will not be able to say that He will come in one, two, or five years, neither are
you to put off His coming by stating that it may not be for ten or twenty years.--RH March
We are nearing the great day of God. The signs are fulfilling. And yet we have no
message to tell us of the day and hour of Christ's appearing. The Lord has wisely
concealed this from us that we may always be in a state of expectancy and preparation for
the second appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds of heaven.--Letter 28, 1897.
The exact time of the second coming of the Son of man is God's mystery.--DA 633 (1898).
Ours Is Not a Time-setting Message
We are not of that class who define the exact period of time that shall elapse before
the coming of Jesus the second time with power and great glory. Some have set a time, and
when that has passed, their presumptuous spirits have not accepted rebuke, but they have
set another and another time. But many successive failures have stamped them as false
prophets.--FE 335 (1895).
God gives no man a message that it will be five years or ten years or twenty years
before this earth's history shall close. He would not give any living being an excuse for
delaying the preparation for His appearing. He would have no one say, as did the
unfaithful servant, "My lord delayeth his coming," for this leads to reckless
neglect of the opportunities and privileges given to prepare us for that great day.--RH
Nov. 27, 1900.
Time-setting Leads to Unbelief
Because the times repeatedly set have passed, the world is in a more decided state of
unbelief than before in regard to the near advent of Christ. They look upon the failures
of the time-setters with disgust, and because men have been so deceived, they turn
from the truth substantiated by the Word of God that the end of all things is at hand
.--4T 307 (1879).
I understand that Brother [E. P.] Daniels has, as it were, set time, stating that the
Lord will come
within five years. Now I hope the impression will not go abroad that we are
time-setters. Let no such remarks be made. They do no good. Seek not to obtain a revival
upon any such grounds, but let due caution be used in every word uttered, that fanatical
ones will not seize anything they can get to create an excitement and the Spirit of the
Lord be grieved.
We want not to move the people's passions to get up a stir, where feelings are moved
and principle does not control. I feel that we need to be guarded on every side, because
Satan is at work to do his uttermost to insinuate his arts and devices that shall be a
power to do harm. Anything that will make a stir, create an excitement on a wrong basis,
is to be dreaded, for the reaction will surely come.--Letter 34, 1887.
There will always be false and fanatical movements made by persons in the church who
claim to be led of God--those who will run before they are sent and will give day and date
for the occurrence of unfulfilled prophecy. The enemy is pleased to have them do this, for
their successive failures and leading into false lines cause confusion and unbelief.--2SM
No Time Prophecy Beyond 1844
I plainly stated at the Jackson camp meeting to these fanatical parties that they were
doing the work of the adversary of souls; they were in darkness. They claimed to have
great light that probation would close in October, 1884. I there stated in public that the
Lord had been pleased to show me that there would be no
definite time in the message given of God since 1844.--2SM 73 (1885).
Our position has been one of waiting and watching, with no time-proclamation to
intervene between the close of the prophetic periods in 1844 and the time of our Lord's
coming.--10MR 270 (1888).
The people will not have another message upon definite time. After this period of time
[Rev. 10:4-6], reaching from 1842 to 1844, there can be no definite tracing of the
prophetic time. The longest reckoning reaches to the autumn of 1844.--7BC 971 (1900).
Ellen White Expected Christ's Return in Her Day
I was shown the company present at the Conference. Said the angel: "Some food for
worms, some subjects of the seven last plagues, some will be alive and remain upon the
earth to be translated at the coming of Jesus."--1T 131, 132 (1856).
Because time is short, we should work with diligence and double energy. Our children
may never enter college.--3T 159 (1872).
It is really not wise to have children now. Time is short, the perils of the last days
are upon us, and the little children will be largely swept off before this.--Letter 48,
In this age of the world, as the scenes of earth's history are soon to close and we are
about to enter upon the time of trouble such as never was, the fewer the marriages
contracted the better for all, both men and women.--5T 366 (1885).
The hour will come; it is not far distant, and some of us who now believe will be alive
upon the earth, and shall see the prediction verified, and hear the voice of the archangel
and the trump of God echo from mountain and plain and sea to the uttermost parts of the
earth.--RH July 31, 1888.
The time of test is just upon us, for the loud cry of the third angel has already begun
in the revelation of the righteousness of Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer.--1SM 363
The Delay Explained
The long night of gloom is trying, but the morning is deferred in mercy, because if the
Master should come so many would be found unready.--2T 194 (1868).
Had Adventists after the great disappointment in 1844 held fast their faith and
followed on unitedly in the opening providence of God, receiving the message of the third
angel and in the power of the Holy Spirit proclaiming it to the world, they would have
seen the salvation of God, the Lord would have wrought mightily with their efforts, the
work would have been
completed, and Christ would have come ere this to receive His people to their reward. .
. . It was not the will of God that the coming of Christ should be thus delayed. . . .
For forty years did unbelief, murmuring, and rebellion shut out ancient Israel from the
land of Canaan. The same sins have delayed the entrance of modern Israel into the heavenly
Canaan. In neither case were the promises of God at fault. It is the unbelief, the
worldliness, unconsecration, and strife among the Lord's professed people that have kept
us in this world of sin and sorrow so many years.--Ev 695, 696 (1883).
Had the church of Christ done her appointed work as the Lord ordained, the whole world
would before this have been warned and the Lord Jesus would have come to our earth in
power and great glory.--DA 633, 634 (1898).
God's Promises Are Conditional
The angels of God in their messages to men represent time as very short.[1. SEE ROMANS
13:11, 12; 1 CORINTHIANS 7:29; 1 THESSALONIANS 4:15, 17; HEBREWS 10:25; JAMES 5:8, 9; 1
PETER 4:7; REVELATION 22:6, 7.] Thus it has always been presented to me. It is true that
time has continued longer than we expected in the early days of this message. Our Saviour
did not appear as soon as we hoped. But has the Word of the Lord failed? Never! It should
be remembered that the promises and threatenings of God are alike conditional.[2. SEE
JEREMIAH 18:7-10; JONAH 3:4-10.]. . .
We may have to remain here in this world because of insubordination many more years, as
did the children of Israel, but for Christ's sake His people should not add sin to sin by
charging God with the consequence of their own wrong course of action.--Ev 695, 696
What Christ Is Waiting For
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.
It is the privilege of every Christian, not only to look for, but to hasten the coming
of our Lord Jesus Christ. Were all who profess His name bearing fruit to His glory, how
quickly the whole world would be sown with the seed of the gospel. Quickly the last great
harvest would be ripened, and Christ would come to gather the precious grain.--COL 69
By giving the gospel to the world it is in our power to hasten our Lord's return. We
are not only to look for but to hasten the coming of the day of God (2 Pet. 3:12,
margin).--DA 633 (1898).
He has put it in our power, through co-operation with Him, to bring this scene of
misery to an end.--Ed 264 (1903).
A Limit to God's Forbearance
With unerring accuracy the Infinite One still keeps an account with all nations. While
His mercy is
tendered with calls to repentance this account will remain open, but when the figures
reach a certain amount, which God has fixed, the ministry of His wrath commences.--5T 208
God keeps a record with the nations. The figures are swelling against them in the books
of heaven, and when it shall have become a law that the transgression of the first day of
the week shall be met with punishment, then their cup will be full.--7BC 910 (1886).
God keeps a reckoning with the nations. . . . When the time fully comes that iniquity
shall have reached the stated boundary of God's mercy, His forbearance will cease. When
the accumulated figures in heaven's record books shall mark the sum of transgression
complete, wrath will come.--5T 524 (1889).
While God's mercy bears long with the transgressor, there is a limit beyond which men
may not go on in sin. When that limit is reached, then the offers of mercy are withdrawn,
and the ministration of judgement begins.--PP 162, 165 (1890).
The time is coming when in their fraud and insolence men will reach a point that the
Lord will not permit them to pass and they will learn that there is a limit to the
forbearance of Jehovah.--9T 13 (1909).
There is a limit beyond which the judgements of Jehovah can no longer be delayed.--PK
417 (c. 1914).
Transgression Has Almost Reached Its Limit
Time will last a little longer until the inhabitants of the earth have filled up the
cup of their iniquity, and then the wrath of God, which has so long slumbered, will awake,
and this land of light will drink the cup of His unmingled wrath.--1T 363 (1863).
The cup of iniquity is nearly filled, and the retributive justice of God is about to
descend upon the guilty.--4T 489 (1880).
The wickedness of the inhabitants of the world has almost filled up the measure of
their iniquity. This earth has almost reached the place where God will permit the
destroyer to work his will upon it.--7T 141 (1902).
Transgression has almost reached its limit. Confusion fills the world, and a great
terror is soon to come upon human beings. The end is very near. We who know the truth
should be preparing for what is soon to break upon the world as an overwhelming
surprise.--8T 28 (1904).
We Should Keep the Great Day of God Before Our Minds
We must educate ourselves to be thinking and dwelling upon the great scenes of the
judgement just before us and then, as we keep the scenes of the great day of God before us
when everything will be revealed, it will have an effect upon our character. One brother
said to me, "Sister White, do you think the Lord will come in ten
years?" "What difference does it make to you whether He shall come in two,
four, or ten years?" "Why," said he, "I think I would do differently
in some things than I now do if I knew the Lord was to come in ten years."
"What would you do?" said I.
"Why," said he, "I would sell my property and begin to search the Word
of God and try to warn the people and get them to prepare for His coming, and I would
plead with God that I might be ready to meet Him."
Then said I, "If you knew that the Lord was not coming for twenty years, you
would live differently?"
Said he, "I think I would.". . .
How selfish was the expression that he would live a different life if he knew his
Lord was to come in ten years! Why, Enoch walked with God 300 years. This is a lesson for
us that we shall walk with God every day, and we are not safe unless we are waiting and
watching.--Ms 10, 1886.
The Shortness of Time
May the Lord give no rest, day nor night, to those who are now careless and indolent in
the cause and work of God. The end is near. This is that which Jesus would have us keep
ever before us--the shortness of time.--Letter 97, 1886.
When we shall stand with the redeemed upon the sea of glass with harps of gold and
crowns of glory and before us the unmeasured eternity, we shall then see how short was the
waiting period of probation.--10MR 266 (1886).