A FLASH is coming to our world, a FLASH as great and awesome and wonderful as the unsurpassed suffering and darkness that soon will follow. This FLASH includes spiritual, and material prosperity. If we are watchful and prayerful, the FLASH will strengthen us for the trying ordeal ahead. If not, we will be deceived by it and likely lose our very souls!
flash v.i. 1. To burst forth suddenly into brilliant light or fire. 2. To move suddenly or with lighting speed. –v.t. 3. To emit bursts of (light, fire, etc.). 4. To send or communicate with lightning speed. 5. informal To show suddenly or abruptly; also to make an ostentatious display of. n. 1. A quick blaze of light or fire, lasting an instant. 2. A sudden, brilliant manifestation, as of wit or talent. 3. An extremely brief space of time; instant.
FLASH is a phenomenon in life, nature, history, and Scriptures, in which a brief period of extraordinary positive input happens, usually before a calamity or dark, heavy experience. It has a specific timing and purpose, if ignored or used improperly, it can result in untold hardship, misery, or death. It is not always predictable, but when it occurs, there is no mistaking it.
FLASHES OF NATURE
Just before the night settles upon us, Nature momentarily spreads her fiery colors over the evening sky. The beauty and awesomeness of a sunset has often revived a weary soul. To brave the long, dark night. Another FLASH occurs in the fall, before winter encloses the countryside with her icy embrace. This is most noticeable in the eastern US with the brilliant fall colors briefly washing the hillsides.
There is the flash of energy just before childbirth, the latter rain just before harvest, the runner’s spurt of energy just before the finish line, the flash of light just before a light bulb burns out, the surge of electrical activity of the brain just before awaking. FLASHES are abundant in nature—even at a fireworks display. Don’t you enjoy that final burst of celestial glory at the very end?
FLASHES OF HISTORY
FLASHES are not always loud nor brilliant. Sometimes they are the “calm before the storm”. When one is going through hard times, there most always comes a brief period of relief, refreshment, hope, encouragement. Then the crisis hits with fierceness. What one does during times of FLASH often determines the outcome of the battle.
It was the fall of 1776. the American Revolution was well underway, but George Washington was having a most distressing trial with most of the Revolutionary War still ahead of him. He and his troops had just tried to root out the British from New York and failed. Their rations and ammunition were quickly diminishing, and the warm supplies for winter were meager. Washington’s troops were dropping off about as fast as the falling leaves. Most of the men sent from New York to reinforce him had not re-enlisted, and their enlistments all came up at the end of the year. If Washington was to recover the morale of the nation, he would have to do it before the year’s end.
Then the FLASH happened.
It was Christmas night. A violent snow and hailstorm hit the Trenton, New Jersey area where a strong Hessian garrison was settling in for the night. The Hessians, heavily trained German troops hired by England to quench the revolutionary spirit of the Americans, and British were still in the throes of the New York victory. The relief from battle, the warmth from the bitter cold outside, the customary flow of Christmastide schnapps, lulled the fierce and heartless Hessians into a fateful sleep. Washington, however, always a man of prayer, recognized this FLASH as his moment of opportunity. Quickly he ordered his devoted soldiers into small boats and, under the blanket of the storm, crossed the Delaware unnoticed. Within 45 minutes the battle was over. The stupefied Hessians could not believe what was happening. Almost a thousand prisoners were taken in that brief time, with only three Americans wounded. However, two men froze to death on the march. Washington took the offensive and the nation revived!
FLASHES IN BIBLE TIMES
One of the most notable FLASHES of Scripture is in the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage. Before their desert wanderings, which some thought was worse than death itself (Exodus 16:3), God worked marvelously in behalf of His people. The miracles of ten plagues, crossing the Red Sea, annihilation of a whole Egyptian army, were all designed to teach these former slaves of God’s paternal watchcare and omnipotence. Had they accepted these lessons and benefited from the many FLASHES, Canaan would have been only a few steps away!
Another FLASH is the destruction of Jerusalem foretold by Christ Himself. The nation’s cup of impenitence was full. The night of eternal loss was about to fall. Yet, mercifully, God provided a FLASH for those prayerful watchers.
When the Christians saw Jerusalem compassed with armies (Luke 21:20) and the idolatrous standards of the Romans set up on holy ground (Matthew 24:15), which extended some furlongs outside the city walls, they knew it was their moment of escape, relief, deliverance—and they acted!
GC88 30 Signs and wonders appeared, foreboding disaster and doom. In the midst of the night an unnatural light shone over the temple and the altar. Upon the clouds at sunset were pictured chariots and men of war gathering for battle. The priests ministering by night in the sanctuary were terrified by mysterious sounds; the earth trembled, and a multitude of voices were heard crying, “Let us depart hence.” The great eastern gate, which was so heavy that it could hardly be shut by a score of men, and which was secured by immense bars of iron fastened deep in the pavement of solid stone, opened at midnight, without visible agency.
This FLASH proved a blessing to the watching and praying ones.
GC88 30 The promised sign had been given to the waiting Christians, and now an opportunity was afforded for all who would to obey the Saviour’s warning. Events were so overruled that neither Jews nor Romans should hinder the flight of the Christians. Upon the retreat of Cestius, the Jews, sallying from Jerusalem, pursued after his retiring army, and while both forces were thus fully engaged, the Christians had an opportunity to leave the city. At this time the country also had been cleared of enemies who might have endeavored to intercept them.
To the careless, however, this FLASH was their fate.
GC88 31 It was with great difficulty that the Romans succeeded in making their retreat. The Jews escaped almost without loss, and with their spoils returned in triumph to Jerusalem. Yet this apparent success brought them only evil. It inspired them with that spirit of stubborn resistance to the Romans which speedily brought unutterable woe upon the doomed city.
FLASH BEFORE DEATH
The terminally ill often have a brief (apparent) recovery or intense activity precede the final descent. My wife was caring for an elderly lady dying of cancer. The family was expecting her to pass away any time. After coming home from an unsuccessful cancer surgery, the lady had spent nearly all of her time in bed. Suddenly, after weeks of inactivity, she became very energetic, demanding to be put in her wheelchair and join the family in the livingroom. Her mind seemed to come alive again, noticing all the dust and dirty windows and spiderwebs that had accumulated over the weeks (she had always been very meticulous). Then she became talkative, rambling on and on about all kinds of things. This went on for a day, a night, and another day… until she slipped into a coma from which she never awoke.
WATCH AND PRAY
When Jesus tells us to “watch and pray” (Matthew 26:41) He tells why—that we enter not into temptation. Temptation comes with opportunity. We are not to watch and pray to keep from opportunity, but from the temptations that come with opportunity! Temptations come from Satan. Opportunities come from God.
PK 486 God gives opportunities; success depends upon the use made of them.
I had gone into a used clothing store several times looking for a “good buy” on a nice winter coat, but did not find in the men’s section the style I had in mind. On the last visit, on the way out, I noticed a rack of ladies’ coats. I tarried before it, arguing with myself that not all ladies’ coats look feminine. During that brief moment my eye caught the style of one I had hoped to find in the men’s section. I immediately checked the size. SMALL. I wore MEDIUM to LARGE. But something encouraged me to try it on anyway. To my amazement it fit!
I have this habit—its source I do not know—of always checking the pockets when I try something on, even if it is brand new. To my surprise a roll of money was in one of the vest pockets! The coat was ½ price (meaning it had not sold for awhile), so I bought it and told the clerk to inform the owner of the coat [it was a consignment shop] to get in touch with me. Several days later a retired doctor came into my shop and identified himself as the father of the original owner, but knew nothing of his daughter’s leaving any money in it before leaving for college. It had been hanging in her closer for several years after wearing it on a ski trip. The moment of opportunity and temptation had come. He did not know that there was $300 in that pocket! But the money wasn’t rightfully mine, just the coat. My watching and praying was for this moment, this miniscule FLASH. The watching would help me see the opportunity and the praying would keep me from the temptation. I handed him the money, confessing that Christ’s honor was more important to me than the dollars. He was overwhelmed and handed me back $50.
A TIME OF PREPARATION
Concerning the time just before the terrible calamity of Jerusalem’s destruction, Jesus admonished His people.
Matthew 24:20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day.
FLASHES are not usually associated with nights or winters or Sabbaths.
John 9:4 The night cometh when no man can work.
Exodus 20:9-10 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord they God: in it thou shalt not do any work.
FLASHES are designed to prepare God’s people for the times ahead. Their associations are with sunsets and harvest seasons (with their pretty fall colors)… and Fridays. These are preparatory times.
Exodus 16:29 See, for that the Lord hath given you the Sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days…
If we fail to take advantage of the FLASH, we must work under much more difficult circumstances later, if we can work at all! We are not to wait until the crisis hits before we act, Jesus says. We are to use the opportunities during the FLASH to prepare for the winter or Sabbath rest. Remember the 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom to return from the wedding? Half of them had prepared for the event and they were able to join in the celebrations. The other five had left to get more oil when the bridegroom came and arrived too late for the party.
Before the great tribulation hits God’s people in the last days, they will need the spiritual reviving of the Loud Cry and Latter Rain.
1T 353 As the members of the body of Christ approach the period of their last conflict, “the time of Jacob’s trouble,” they will grow up into Christ, and will partake largely of His spirit. As the third message swells to a loud cry, and as great power and glory attend the closing work, the faithful people of God will partake of that glory. It is the latter rain which revives and strengthens them to pass through the time of trouble.
5T 463 The work which the church has failed to do in a time of peace and prosperity she will have to do in a terrible crisis under most discouraging, forbidding circumstances.
To endure the assaults of an enemy with 6000 years of experience, to stand before accusers bent on our destruction, to make it through famine, pestilence, deprivation, we will need minds that are clean, clear, and convicted. God promises the mental input needed for that hour.
Daniel 12:4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
Concerning the experience of Daniel and his companions:
PK 486 They placed themselves where God could bless them. They avoided that which would weaken their powers, and improved every opportunity to become intelligent in all lines of learning. They followed the rules of life that could not fail to give them strength of intellect. They sought to acquire knowledge for one purpose–that they might honor God. They realized that in order to stand as representatives of true religion amid the false religions of heathenism they must have clearness of intellect and must perfect a Christian character.
FLASHES are associated not only with spiritual and mental blessings, but also with physical or material ones as well.
Genesis 41:28-31 This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh. Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt: And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land; And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous.
What was the divine counsel on how to relate to this time of prosperity?
Genesis 41:33 Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.
We all know that in time Joseph was the one chosen to fill that position. To Joseph it was a time of watching and praying.
PP 222 It was a position of high honor, yet it was beset with difficulty and peril. One cannot stand upon a lofty height without danger. As the tempest leaves unharmed the lowly flower of the valley, while it uproots the stately tree upon the mountaintop, so those who have maintained their integrity in humble life may be dragged down to the pit by the temptations that assail worldly success and honor. But Joseph’s character bore the test alike of adversity and prosperity.
God wants to so perfect our characters that He could bless us in any area and we would still give honor to His name.
3 John 2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
The word for “prosper” (Strongs #2137) means “to help on the road, succeed in reaching, to succeed in business affairs, (have a) prosper (-ous journey).” Our heavenly Father is pleased when we press toward the high mark in any area, but for the glory of His name. To be in health (Strongs #5198) refers to wellness of body, trueness of doctrine. Having a sound body and mind are also among God’s wish for His people—but only in proportion to our advancement in spiritual things. We need the latter to know how to wisely use the former.
Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
THE PURPOSE OF PROSPERITY
As was mentioned before, what we do with the FLASH determines our destiny. This is true with all God’s timely gifts, including prosperity. We are not to shun them, only humbly use them for the blessing of others and the advancement of the kingdom of God.
RH, March 1, 1887 The desire to accumulate wealth is an original affection of our nature, implanted there by our Heavenly Father for noble ends.
AH 372 Money is not necessarily a curse; it is of high value because if rightly appropriated, it can do good in the salvation of souls, in blessing others who are poorer than ourselves.
And of all the things God had originally planned, He will in the end return to usefulness.
PK 678 In the time of the end every divine institution is to be restored.
This is not without risk (as was mentioned in the case of Joseph). Prosperity has always been a great danger to God’s people, even a greater risk than poverty.
CS 148 It is not the empty cup that we have trouble in carrying; it is the cup full to the brim that must be carefully balanced. Affliction and adversity may cause much inconvenience, and may bring great depression; but it is prosperity that is dangerous to spiritual life.
AH 372 When the heart leans to its own preferences and inclinations, when the thought is cherished that money can confer happiness without the favor of God, then the money becomes a tyrant, ruling the man; it receives his confidence and esteem and is worshiped as a god.
Does this mean that prosperity in all its aspects is to be avoided? No more than the latter rain! The conditions for receiving God’s gifts, whether they be material or spiritual blessings, are clear:
2T 240 In money getting there is always danger unless the grace of God is the ruling principle of the soul. When Christians are controlled by the principles of heaven, they will dispense with one hand, while the other gains. This is the only rational and healthy position a Christian can occupy while having and still making money.
A FLASH is usually brief, quick, short-lived. Prosperity will not always be for God’s people. Its purpose is only to prepare them for the trial ahead. The time is just before us when we will not be able to buy or sell (Revelation 13:15-17)
AH 373 Educate our people to get out of the cities into the country, where they can obtain a small piece of land and make a home for themselves and their children.
CS 257 Make a solemn covenant with God that by His blessing you will pay your debts and then owe no man anything if you live on porridge and bread.
Terrible times are just before us; and there is much to do to prepare for them. Do not be surprised to find an upswing in the economy or in your personal life—an unexpected surge of peace and prosperity—before the final crisis hits. Many will interpret this as our entering upon a new order, a fulfillment of prophecy, a settling in of the kingdom of God where love and peace reigns. Ease and self-indulgence will be the theme. And at this time our “doomsday” message will have little effect. But soon, oh so soon, sudden destruction, anarchy, bloodshed, worldwide strife; during this time of extreme suffering and misery riches will come to naught, gold and silver will have no value (Revelation 18). Only those who have prepared for the crisis will be able to bear it.
8T 28 We who know the truth should be preparing for what is soon to break upon the world as an overwhelming surprise.
Those who have fortified their minds with Scripture, prepared their fields for harvest, and invested time and means to spread the good news of salvation, are symbolized as the five wise virgins who had EXTRA OIL for their lamps and were ready when the bridegroom came. May that be the experience of the reader of these pages!
A TIME OF TESTING
The FLASH often includes a time of testing, a tarrying time.
PP 98-99 For seven days after Noah and his family entered the ark, there appeared no sign of the coming storm. During this period their faith was tested. It was a time of triumph to the world without.
Another tarrying time was when Jesus was laid in the grave. Satan and his subjects triumphed while the disciples gathered in the upper room to “sort things out”.
In the destruction of Jerusalem, however, (as I understand it) it was 3 ½ years after the Christians fled Jerusalem before the city was destroyed! Imagine fleeing for your life—not even going back into the house to get a few extra clothes—and then seeing nothing happen for 3 ½ years. Their friends and loved ones still seemed to enjoy peace and prosperity. Did they act in haste? Were the prophets really on target? Here, too, faith was severely tested.
And so it shall be in these last days. Presently all the world is expecting the worst to happen with all the wars, pestilences, pollution, crime, recessions, natural disasters, violence. Even the Godless talk about “the end” as a natural progression… unless we mend our ways; so societies are formed, marches are made, laws are passed to turn the current of our present self-destruction. At this time the end would not come as an OVERWHELMING surprise. There must first come the FLASH, the brief release of pressure, the unexpected swing toward prosperity, peace. Though crime, want, and suffering will not be completely resolved, they will not be the focus as we have today. Pleasures, peace, and safety will be the theme in papers and pulpits. This will be our time of greatest danger, when “the end” is least expected.
2Timothy 3:1-5 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, … lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.
It is during this FLASH that we must be especially on guard this will be the last opportunity to resolve debts (if we have any), secure a country shelter where we can in safety raise our family and provide a haven for the poor and homeless, and pour any extra into the treasuries of the mission work. A feverish urgency will consume God’s people as they prepare for the “flood” soon to come. Slowly, surely, the “ark” will form, a testimony to their urgent cries to “come out from among them.”
But their “ark-building” will be a source of great ridicule and derision by the careless and Godless. It has always been this way. When everyone else is living sumptuously, the watching ones are living frugally. When pleasure and self-indulgence are the daily routine of the worldly-minded, God’s faithful few will be sober, duty-bound, and ever reaching out to the misery around them. They will be storing up “oil” for the dark night ahead.
And then the end will come; not likely in a sudden earthquake or a blast of nuclear weapons, but in a long, painfully dark period of famines, pestilences, disease, and disasters—the fuel of anarchy. The world will experience the terrible consequences of rejecting God’s mercy for mercy will no more temper man’s inhumanity to man. During these times of excruciating pain and impending doom, money will lose its value. Hunger and sickness will be the masters and violence the whips.
Only those who have fortified their body, mind, and soul with the goodness of God BEFOREHAND will be able to stand. During times of abundance the righteous chose to put their confidence in God, not materialism. And now, when gold and silver have no more benefit than the rocks of the mountains, only the watching and praying ones have that which is of true value, a Christlike character, a fellowship with the King of kings, the Creator of all things. They will have a peace and health and happiness that money cannot buy.
Dear Reader, a time of testing is just before us. In what are we going to put our confidence? Nature, history, experiences of life, and the Scriptures all foretell a FLASH just before the darkness. Watch for it. Expect it. Then pray for all you are worth to keep from the temptation of it! Do not let the world tell you that heaven has begun, that you can now relax and enjoy the “good life”. Do not let the preachers lull you into a spiritual stupor.
Use the abundance to resolve debts and fortify yourself and your family against the times ahead—not with strongholds of weapons and provisions (the only treasures the violent will die for). Fortify with strong bodies, renewed and invigorated from the pure, vitalized foods from your own gardens, fields, and orchards; wholesome minds, inspired and instructed by the beauties and demands of country life; and Christlike spirits—the fruitful harvest of earlier sowing seeds of kindness, compassion, and helpfulness to the poor and needy.
May God be glorified!