Pioneer Stories of the Second Advent Message
by Spalding, Arthur W
One day, very long ago, a little company of young men gathered around their Teacher on a high hill that looked over the great city of Jerusalem. The hill was called the Mount of Olives, because a great many olive trees grew on its sides. It was a beautiful place then, with thick-leaved trees and grassy slopes and flowers sprinkled everywhere; for this was in the springtime, and everything was fresh and green.
And the men sat there and looked down on the city, with its dazzling white-and-gold temple, and thought how beautiful it was. But they were very sad; for they had just heard that that strong and glorious temple should sometime be thrown down and utterly destroyed. They knew the temple had been made for God, and He was worshiped there every day; and they thought it surely never could be thrown down until the end of the world, when everything would be destroyed.
It was Jesus, their Teacher, who had told them it would be destroyed; and now four of them, whose names were Peter and Andrew and James and John, came close to Him, to ask Him more about it. Jesus was sitting on the hill, looking, oh, so sad, as He gazed down upon the temple and the city; for He knew that the people would have to suffer awful things, and He was sorry for them, sorrier than you or I could be. The men came softly up and sat down around Him, and they said: “Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?”
Now Jesus knew that the world would not come to an end when Jerusalem and the temple should be destroyed. But He knew that these men, His disciples, could not understand if He should tell them all that would happen before the end of the world, and so He did not try. But He thought, “The poor people will have to suffer so much when Jerusalem is destroyed, that it will be a great deal like the end of the world, and I will tell them about both those times together.” And so He told them the story of what was going to come. You can read it in the very words He used in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, but I am to tell the story very much as Jesus might have told it to you.
“Be careful,” He said, “not to let any one deceive you. There will be many men who say they are Christ, and a great many people will believe them, and do what they tell them to. But if you hear that Christ is over in Bethel, or over in Jericho, or somewhere else, or out in the country, or hiding Himself in some house, don’t believe it. Do you want to know how you can tell when I really come again? Well, you remember how some dark night you have seen the lightning flash? Though it was away ever so far, you could see it, and its light would be seen from the east away to the west. Just as clearly as that will everybody see Me when I come again, with all the holy angels.
“You will hear of many wars,” He went on, “but don’t be troubled; for before the end comes, many nations will have terrible wars, and there will be famines and earthquakes in different places. But these are only small troubles; for you will be hated by everybody because you love Me. Even some whom you have loved will hate you, and give you up to be killed. But whoever will endure to the end, he shall be saved. And the good news of My coming again shall be told in all the world, so that all nations will hear of it, and then shall the end come.”
The men were listening very closely to what Jesus was telling them; and now, when He told them that the “gospel” or the “good news” must be carried everywhere to all the world before He should come again, they could see something they had to do in bringing the end. And there is just the same thing now for every one to do who loves Jesus and wants Him to come.
Then He told them the signs He would give after these things, so that they might know His coming was near. I am going to give you the exact words He said, and it is well for you to learn them, for they are famous words of prophecy: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
Down the hill a little way was a fig tree growing. It was yet early spring, and the trees were putting out their leaves. The fig tree had brought out its small green figs, and now the leaves were beginning to show.
And Jesus said, “Learn a lesson from the fig tree, and all the trees. When it puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. Just so, when you see all these signs I have told you of, know that the end is very near.”
Jesus’ disciples sat there listening and thinking. Some of them sat gazing into His face, while some of them were looking down upon the city and the temple. And they all were very quiet, for what Jesus had told them seemed very wonderful and very awful. You can see Peter’s face, dark and troubled; and John’s, full of eagerness as he watches his Teacher’s eyes. They all thought the future seemed very dark. But Jesus was good to them in not telling them all the terrible things He knew were really coming; for they could not have endured hearing them.
Away beyond the city, in the west, the sun was going down, and the night was drawing near. Just so, it seemed to the disciples, Jesus had been bringing to their minds a night that was coming on all the world; for the things He had been telling were very dark. And so they were; and the hundreds of years in which the things happened that He told of, men still call the “Dark Ages.” We are hardly out of that night yet, but we are very near the morning, as you shall find out soon. Jesus’ coming will be the breaking of the day.
The next few days after Jesus told this story to His disciples were the most wonderful and the most terrible and the most glorious days that have ever been on this earth. For in those days was settled the fate of this world and of you and me and of every other person living or who has ever lived. In those days Jesus, the Son of God, gave up His life to save the world, and that was the most wonderful thing ever known. And in those days wicked men, driven by the devil, crucified the Son of God, and that was the most terrible of all the terrible things that have ever been. And in those days, through the sacrifice of Jesus, good triumphed over evil, life triumphed over death, God triumphed over Satan; and that was the most glorious thing that ever was. For though Jesus entered into death, God raised Him again the third day, to live forevermore, and to give life eternal to those who follow Him.
Some forty days afterward, Jesus led His disciples again to the Mount of Olives. And He said to them: “You are to give to the whole world the good news of salvation through My death and life. Begin at Jerusalem, and go out to the utmost parts of the earth.” Then He lifted up His hands and blessed them. And as He blessed them, He was taken from them up into the air, and a shining cloud of angels received Him. While the disciples stood gazing steadily after Him, and wondering if He had left them indeed, Jesus sent back two angels to give them again His message. The angels, clad all in white, stood by the disciples, and said: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall come again, come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven.”
That is the sure promise of Jesus. He is coming again. The signs that He gave to show His coming near have most of them been fulfilled. It is now the time of the end of the world and of the second advent of Jesus. God’s great clock of time keeps longer hours than those we have. A little day sometimes seems long to us, a little year may seem an age; but to God a thousand years are but as a day. So, though the time of the end is here, and the time when Jesus shall appear in His glory, it may not be at just the time when we expect it. But it will come, and in God’s thought it will come soon.
Over a hundred years ago men were moved by God to start the message of Jesus’ soon coming. A hundred years is more than you have lived, it is more than I have lived, it is more than almost any person now lives. And still, after a hundred years, the work is not finished, and Jesus has not come. Yet He is coming; for He has promised; and a hundred years in His sight may be but as a moment. Day by day and year by year the signs show ever more clearly that His coming is very near. Now I shall tell you stories of the men and the women who were pioneers in this great message of Jesus’ coming again, pioneers of the second advent message.
End of preview.
Here is the Table of Contents of the complete book:
I - Coming Again
II - Preparing a Messenger
III - The Message Begins
IV - The Message Spread
V - In the West
VI - In the South
VII - In the North
VIII - Herald to England
IX - Missionary to the World
X - Children in Sweden
XI - Children in America
XII - The Midnight Cry
XIII - The Disappointment
XIV - Light on the Sanctuary
XV - The Sabbath
XVI - The Spirit of Prophecy
XVII - The Opening Heavens and the Unchanged Law
XVIII - Two New Workers
XIX - Printing the Truth
XX - Moving to Michigan
XXI - Preaching in Poverty
XXII - The Health Work
XXIII - Camp Meeting
XXIV - The First Foreign Mission
XXV - Selling the Books
XXVI - Visiting an African Chief
XXVII - The Pitcairn
XXVIII - What You Were Born For