The Lightning War

Posted on February 1, 2013

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?????????????????Author: Andrew Kerbs

During the summer of 1939, Europe rested in a tentative peace. Concern over the growing power and aggression of the Nazi state in Germany left many nations on edge. The horrors of the Great War remained fresh in the minds of Europe. Two decades removed and the costs of war were still being realized. It was presumed that any German efforts to step beyond their bounds would be met with quick Anglo-French intervention. The minds of Europe collectively hoped not only that this would be enough, but that they would never need find out. On September 1, 1939, these hopes were crushed beneath Nazi boots as the first of sixty divisions—nearly 1.5 million troops—poured into Poland. Spearheaded by swift Panzer divisions, the Third Reich implemented a shock and awe strategy that has since been remembered as the Blitzkrieg, or “lightning war.”

Though this assault came as a shock, it had its warnings. Hitler had already annexed Austria, an independent republic, as well as portions of Czechoslovakia. The signs of the times were clearly visible for those willing to look. However, fragile peace seemed more desirable than immediate confrontation. The world waited until time had run out. The last grains of sand had trickled through the hourglass. On the morning of September 1, 1939, their mistake was realized. In quick succession nations fell as the Wehrmacht rumbled across Europe.

We too, as Seventh-day Adventists see the signs of the times today in the twenty-first century. For those of us who are looking, we know the end is drawing near—but how many of us do not see? How many of us are not ready? How many of us are asleep amidst the comforts and distractions of this world? Again, there is a “lightning war” about to break upon this earth. Like Poland and Europe of 1939, we too are asleep. We know that we sit upon the precipice of great and terrible times, knowing something ought to be done but hoping someone else will do it. We are biding our time but our days are dwindling.

“All heaven,” says Ellen White, “Is astir. The scenes of Earth’s history are fast closing. We are amid the perils of the last days. Greater perils are before us, and yet we are not awake.” (1T 260) Penned around a century and a half ago, the words of Sister White poignantly describe the spiritual lethargy that not only existed in her church, but in our church today. This is not an issue of open sin and moral decline so much as it is an issue of complacency. We think we are rich, that we are ready for Christ’s return. In reality, we are wretched and naked, and no more ready to receive the truth than the world was in the days of Noah. Truly Laodicea is an era of self-reliance and lukewarm devotion that pervades and permeates the church in a deathlike stupor. It is an age where people honor God with their mouths, but their hearts are far from Him. “So then,” says Christ, “because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…” (Rev. 3:16,17)

Are we pursuing God with every ounce of our being, or are we resting upon our end-time theology to save us? Are we allowing the gospel of Christ to transform our hearts or are we waiting and pushing for others to “finish the work” while not realizing this work begins in our own hearts? Ellen White warned, “I was shown God’s people waiting for some change to take place—a compelling power to take hold of them. But they will be disappointed, for they are wrong. They must act, they must take hold of the work themselves and earnestly cry to God for a true knowledge of themselves.” (1T 261)

There is a great danger that even those of us who know the warning against Laodicea will be complacent and lukewarm. There is a danger that we will somehow equate our knowledge of Bible timelines with our salvation. The dangers that the Israelites faced in Ezekiel’s day are all the more relevant to our postmodern world. “Son of man, what is this proverb that you people have about the land of Israel, which says, ‘The days are prolonged and every vision fails’? Tell them therefore, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will lay this proverb to rest, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel.” But say to them, “The days are at hand, and the fulfillment of every vision…Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “None of My words will be postponed any more, but the word which I speak will be done,” says the Lord God’” (Ezekiel 12:22-23, 28).

Both testaments proclaim it. “The great day of the Lord is near; It is near and hastens quickly” (Zeph. 1:14), and “For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Heb. 10:37).

Ellen White echoes the prophets of old when she says, “We are standing on the threshold of great and solemn events. Many of the prophecies are about to be fulfilled in quick succession.” (TM 116)

“So you also,” warns Christ, “When you see all these things, know that it is near—even at the doors!” (Matt. 24:33)

A lightning war is about to break upon the world, but like Poland we are asleep. The psalmist says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Ps. 90:12 KJV). This verse also applies to the days of this earth. If Poland and greater Europe had known what would occur on September 1, would it have altered what they were doing in August? If we knew the day this world would end, would it alter what we do today?

Despite the spiritual lethargy of our Laodicean age, there is hope. There is still a remnant—even within the remnant. Though the majority may drift, God remembers His children. Paul says in Romans, “Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: ‘Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved’” (Rom. 9:27).

By the closing weekend of the 2010 General Conference session some 70,000 Seventh-day Adventists from around the world had descended upon the city of Atlanta. Members were present from England, Kenya, Brazil, Romania and countless more. On Sabbath morning the Georgia Dome was packed with a nearly capacity crowd of every kindred, tribe, tongue, and nation—all united in their zeal for God and the three angels’ messages.

This is where it hit me. The work of the three angels’ messages began in America, but it has gone out to the world to be finished. Soon it will be finished. In American churches, we often lament the lack of progress in finishing the work, oblivious to the fact that it is being finished and soon will be complete!

“For He,” says Paul, “Will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness…” (Rom. 9:28) The Holy Spirit is mightily at work in this world. He is working to set aside a peculiar people to meet a living God. Soon the time to prepare will be finished. Soon the door of the ark will be closed. As in the days of Noah, waiting until the storm clouds are on the horizon is waiting until it is too late. Soon the storm will break upon this world. Soon the lightning war will unleash with unmatched ferocity and quickness.

As Seventh-day Adventists living in this postmodern world we should remember the warning of Peter. “You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:17, 18).

May we not be counted with the five foolish virgins, who with the bridegroom’s delay became careless and were unprepared for his arrival.

“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly’” (Rev. 22:20).

May we all say with John, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”