Ron Woolsey is the speaker/pastor of The Narrow Way
, a Seventh-day Adventist Supporting Ministry in Tilly, AK. This is from the February 2002 newsletter.
"A Shaking Among God's People"
Is it just I, or is anyone else noticing the heat of the refining process of God's people being turned up in the past few months...? On September 11, America came under the attack of terrorists with the airliner missiles used against the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Our country and our society will probably never be the same again as drastic new measures are being taken to prevent such atrocities from recurring in the future.
At the same time, at least on my own home front, it seems that the terrorist leader Satan has launched a spiritual attack against God's people that is testing our resolve as stewards in the kingdom of God to stand as true to duty as the needle to the pole. But we, God's people, have been blessed with foreknowledge about the shaking that is to take place among God's people. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. And God, in His love for us, wants us to be prepared for what is coming that we might be victorious and triumphant in the end.
Ezekiel gives such warning in Eze. 38:19 - "For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the lad of Israel."
In the parable of the Wheat & Tares of Matthew 13: 24-30 we read of a separation to take place among God's people at the end of probationary time: "...Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares? [Why is not the church only the true and faithful...? Why does God's church have within it tares...?] He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? [Cause a Separation...] But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers [not to us, but to the reapers, the angels], Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn."
Reading on we are told the meaning of the parable, that the Sower represents the Son of Man (vs37); the Field is the world (vs38), or "those who are born of the word of God, the truth" (COL 70); the tares are the children of the wicked one (vs 38), "a class who are the fruit or embodiment of error, of false principles"(COL 70); the Enemy is the devil (vs39); the Harvest is the end of the world (vs39), or "the end of probationary time" (COL 71); the Reapers are the angels (vs39).
"The Son of Man shall send froth his angels, and they shall gather OUT of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;... THEN shall the righteous shine forth as the sun." Matthew 13: 41, 43. [For further reading, see "Tares," COL 70-75]
The parable of The Net, (Matthew 13: 47-50), also tells of a separating process to come. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they... gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just."
In Revelation 14 we read of the three angels' messages, which produce the harvest of the saved, (vss.6-12), followed by another three angels who actually reap the harvest, the first one reaping the saints, the second and third reaping the lost. (vss. 14-20)
In 2 Thessalonians 2:2, Paul warns "That ye be not soon shaken in mind," and Hebrews 12:27 speaks of "...the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain."
To get a better understanding of what is to take place it is good to check out the Hebrew meaning of the word translated "shaking": uproar, commotion, shaking (among other definitions)
And the Greek translates: to waver, i.e. agitate, rock, topple or destroy, to disturb, incite: move, shake (together)
With this introduction in mind, let us examine this issue of the shaking that is to come among God's people. What causes it, and what is it? What is it not? Why is it necessary? And When is it to come?
WHAT IS IT NOT?
Sometimes defining what something is not helps to clarify what it really is. So, let us first look at what inspiration tells us the shaking is not.
It is not a coming out from the church of a purer, holier people...
"Satan is working in many ways, that the very men who ought to preach the message may be occupied with fine drawn theories which he will cause to appear of such magnitude and importance as to fill the whole mind; and while they think they are making wonderful strides in experience, they are idolizing a few ideas, and their influence is injured, and tells but little on the Lord's side.
"Let every minister make earnest efforts to ascertain what is the mind of Christ. Unless your mind becomes better balanced in regard to some things, your course will separate you from the work, and you will not know at what you stumble. You will advance ideas which you might better never have originated.
"There are those who pick out from the Word of God, and also from the Testimonies, detached paragraphs or sentences that may be interpreted to suit their ideas, and' they dwell upon these, and build themselves up in their own positions, when God is not leading them. Here is your danger.
"You will take passages in the Testimonies that speak of the close of probation, of the shaking among God's people. and you will talk of a coming out from this people of a purer, holier people that will arise. Now all this pleases the enemy. We should not needlessly take a course that will make differences or create dissension. We should not give the impression that if our particular ideas are not followed, it is because the ministers are lacking in comprehension and in faith, and are walking in darkness.
"Your mind has been on an unnatural strain for a long time. You have much truth, precious truth, but mingled with suppositions. Your extreme ideas and strong language often destroy the effect of your best efforts. Should many accept the views you advance, and talk and act upon them, we would see one of the greatest fanatical excitements that has ever been witnessed among Seventh-day Adventists. This is what Satan wants." (1SM179)
In light of this counsel, what do we do about the prayer of Jesus in John 17 in which He repeatedly prays for unity among His followers?
Must one separate from the church structure, (organization), in order to, in word and deed, obey His commands...?
Does such separation facilitate ones obedience to His commands in word and deed...?
Is not such separation in fact blatant disobedience to His instruction and counsel...?
Friends, the shaking appears to be quite the opposite of what many people would expect it to be. Let us make certain that we do not make the mistake warned against in the above passage. Let us make certain that we fall on the right side during the process.
WHAT IS THE SHAKING, AND WHAT CAUSES IT?
It will be the result of refusing truth:
"There is a time of trouble coming to the people of God but we are not to keep that constantly before the people, and rein them up to have a time of trouble beforehand. There is to be a shaking among God's people; but this is not the present truth to carry to the churches. It will be the result, of refusing the truth presented." (2SM13)
In other words, calling for a shaking and calling for a separation is not the present truth to carry to the churches. The shaking and separation will come automatically as truth is presented in its fullness, being accepted by some and rejected by many.
The shaking comes, by the introduction of false theories:
"God's Spirit has illuminated every page of Holy Writ, but there are those upon whom it makes but little impression, because it is imperfectly understood. When the shaking comes, by the introduction of false theories, these surface readers, anchored nowhere, are like shifting sand. They slide into any position to suit the tenor of their feelings of bitterness...." (1IMR 206, "The Sanctuary Doctrine and the Shaking")
What is the truth that is presented and refused?
I) Daniel & Revelation and the other prophecies of the Old and New Testaments
Regarding "The Study of the Books of Daniel and the Revelation--God's Spirit has illuminated every page of Holy Writ, but there are those upon whom it makes little impression, because it is imperfectly understood. When the shaking comes, by the introduction of false theories, these surface readers, anchored nowhere, are like shifting sand. They slide into any position to suit the tenor of their feelings of bitterness.... Daniel and Revelation must be studied, as well as the other prophecies of the Old and New Testaments. Let there be light, yes, light, in your dwellings. For this we need to pray. The Holy Spirit, shining upon the sacred page, will open our understanding that we may know what is truth." (Testimonies to Ministers, 112)
2) The straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness of the Laodiceans
Early Writings, 269-272 & Maranatha, 201 give a view of the Shaking and its cause:
"Eze. 38:19 For in my jealousy [and] in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel."
I saw some, with strong faith and agonizing cries, pleading with God. Their countenances were pale and marked with deep anxiety, expressive of their internal struggle. Firmness and great earnestness was expressed in their countenances, large drops of perspiration fell from their foreheads. Now and then their faces would light up with the marks of God's approbation, and again the same solemn, earnest, anxious look would settle upon them.
"Evil angels crowded around, pressing darkness upon them to shut out Jesus from their view, that their eyes might be drawn to the darkness that surrounded them, and thus they be led to distrust God and murmur against Him. Their only safety was in keeping their eyes directed upward. Angels of God had charge over His people, and as the poisonous atmosphere of evil angels was pressed around these anxious ones, the heavenly angels were continually wafting their wings over them to scatter the thick darkness.
"As the praying ones continued their earnest cries, at times a ray of light from Jesus came to them, to encourage their hearts and light up their countenances. Some, I saw, did not participate in this work of agonizing and pleading. They seemed indifferent and careless. They were not resisting the darkness around them, and it shut them in like a thick cloud. The angels of God left these and went to the aid of the earnest, praying ones. I saw angels of God hasten to the assistance of all who were struggling with all their power to resist the evil angels and trying to help themselves by calling upon God with perseverance. But His angels left those who made no effort to help themselves, and I lost sight of them.
"I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth of the counsel of the True Witness of the Laodiceans. This will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver, and will lead him to exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth. Some will not bear this straight testimony. They will rise up against it. and this is what will cause a shaking among God's people.
"I saw that the testimony of the True Witness has not been half heeded. The solemn testimony upon which the destiny of the church hangs has been lightly esteemed, if not entirety disregarded. This testimony must work deep repentance; all who truly receive it will obey it and be purified....
"My attention was then turned to the company I had seen, who were mightily shaken.... The company of guardian angels around them had been doubled, and they were clothed with an armor from their head to their feet. They moved in exact order, like a company of soldiers. Their countenances expressed the severe conflict which they had endured, the agonizing struggle they had passed through. Yet their features, marked with severe internal anguish, now shone with the light and glory of heaven. They had obtained the victory, and it called forth from them the deepest gratitude and holy, sacred joy.
"The numbers of this company had lessened. Some had been shaken out and left by the way. The careless and indifferent, who did not loin with those who prized victory and salvation enough to perseveringly plead and agonize for it, did not obtain it, and they were Left behind in darkness, and their places were immediately filled by others taking hold of the truth and coming into the ranks. Evil angels still pressed around them, but could have no power over them.
"I heard those clothed with the armor speak forth the truth with great power. It had effect. Many had been bound; some wives by their husbands, and some children by their parents. The honest who had been prevented from hearing the truth now eagerly laid hold upon it. All fear of their relatives was gone, and the truth alone was exalted to them. They had been hungering and thirsting for truth; it was dearer and more precious than life. I asked what had made this great change. An angel answered, ‘It is the latter rain, the refreshing from the presence of the Lord, the loud cry of the third angel."'
"Great power was with these chosen ones. Said the angel, ‘Look ye!' My attention was turned to the wicked, or unbelievers. They were all astir. The zeal and power with the people of God had aroused and enraged them. Confusion, confusion, was on every side. I saw measures taken against the company who had the light and power of God. Darkness thickened around them; yet they stood firm, approved of God, and trusting in Him. I saw them perplexed; next I heard them crying unto God earnestly. Day and night their cry ceased not: ‘Thy will, O God, be done! If it can glorify Thy name, make a way of escape for Thy people! Deliver us from the heathen around about us. They have appointed us unto death; but Thine arm can bring salvation. ...All seemed to have a deep sense of their unworthiness and manifested entire submission to the will of God; yet, like Jacob, every one, without an exception. was earnestly pleading and wrestling for deliverance."
Notice that, from the above article, reception of the Laodicean message leads to exalting the standard. So, evidently the standard will have been trailing in the dust.
This marked tendency within our church today is well stated by Anne Norman in the Australian Record back in September 8, 1982:
"Society and the church seem to have the same problem... All around people seem to be floundering in a fog of grey. When I was a child I knew the difference between right and wrong. There were no grey areas. Everything in my experience had been categorized by loving parents into either right or wrong. As I grew older the grey areas began to appear, situations and opportunities that refused to be categorized as right or wrong. And looking back it seems as if it was the situations down the wrong end of the scale that seemed to be giving me the trouble. They weren't really wrong, but they weren't really right either. It took me a long hard battle to realize that if something isn't right then it must be wrong. There are no grey areas once you are one with Jesus. Similarly, when the church was first founded, there were no grey areas. God's laws were strictly adhered to. Legalism I hear you say. If you have God's love I don't believe that you can be legalistic. Today, however, it is a different story. We are all loving Christians, but we compromise our principles and the truths that we should hold dear. The attitude seems to be: let the standards fall, get more people into the church. Surely what we are doing can't be wrong if we are winning souls for Christ? It may not be altogether right, but it can't be wrong... Christ did not compromise. He loved the sinner but He abhorred the sin. I am afraid we tend to love both the sinner and the sin equally."
According to our own Adventist sources and publications, (Review & Herald, and Spectrum, etc.), Adventists now have the highest rise in divorce, per capita, of all religious groups. Premarital sex is now taken for granted amongst the majority of us in spite of its classification in 1 Cor. 6:9, 10 with adultery, homosexuality, idolatry, etc. Homosexuality is now tolerated and membership retained. And "Adventist" homosexual camp meetings are conducted with Adventist ministers in attendance, some even declaring the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah to be that of"inhospitality"! "Adventists" now even consume alcoholic beverages or condone its use, and the trend is that of going backwards in our health message and practice.
It is high time for God's people to give as well as to pay heed to the testimony of the True Witness of the Laodiceans. (Revelation 3:14-22) It is time for deep repentance, revival, and reformation among us resulting in trusting obedience, and victory over all sin by faith in Him who promises, "My grace is sufficient for thee." (2 Corinthians 12:9)
3) Obedience, a condition of salvation
Salvation from sin is salvation from disobedience. How could one possibly be saved from sin, from disobedience, and not experience the resulting condition of trusting obedience!?
Friends, truly "We are in the shaking time, the time when everything that can be shaken will be shaken. The Lord will not excuse those who know the truth if they do not in word and deed obey His commands." The Faith I Live By, 336
In our next issue we will examine more closely the topics of "Why the Shaking Must Take Place," and "When the Shaking is to Come." Has it already begun? Is it now going on? Is the shaking something we have yet to look forward to? Stay tuned...
And may the God of all knowledge grant us each one spiritual discernment to see us through the perilous times before us.