I am willing to venture a guess that most Seventh-day Adventists are at least familiar with the following passage from the book “Early Writings”, page 270:
“I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to 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 like to analyze things--to take machines, gadgets and even sentences apart and “see how it works”. Letʼs take that passage apart a little:
1)The shaking is CAUSED by the straight testimony.
2) The “straight testimony” is called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the
Laodiceans. (Rev 3:14-21) (Did you know that this straight testimony includes the
health message? See: Counsels for the Church 235)
3) When received, the receiver will exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth.
4) This will result in some people rising up against this truth.
5) And, back full circle, this is what will CAUSE the shaking. Of course the counsel of the True Witness is found in Revelation 3:14-21, and is what we know as the Laodicean message. This counsel essentially says, “You think youʼre this, but youʼre really that, and hereʼs what you need to fix it.” What Iʼd like to analyze now is what I believe was Peterʼs experience with “the Laodicean message”.
Jesus knew what was coming--His own personal great tribulation! The disciples were blind to this reality, though Jesus had been trying to teach them about it for some time. Mark 14:29-31. Jesus had also warned them to watch and pray, but we know the results! The disciples had been given a “straight testimony” back in John 6:53-58, when the Lord presented the true standard of Christianity. They had apparently accepted it fully. But when Jesus put the finger directly on them in Matthew 26:31, “...all ye shall be offended because of Me this night...”, “In their self-confidence they denied the repeated statement of Him who knew”, especially Peter! Desire of Ages 673.
Tragically as a result, when Jesus most needed them they not only fell asleep, they abandoned Him. Peter denied even knowing Him--with swearing! Poor Jesus! How would you have felt? What will it be like to be abandoned by all your friends, and perhaps even have your best friend deny knowing you? And this, just when you most needed support!
Watch how Peter set himself up for this fall: “When Peter said he would follow his Lord to prison and to death, he meant it, every word of it; but he did not know himself. Hidden in his heart were elements of evil that circumstances would fan into life. Unless he was made conscious of his danger, these would prove his eternal ruin.
The Saviour saw in him a self-love and assurance that would overbear even his love for Christ. Much of infirmity, of unmortified sin, carelessness of spirit, unsanctified temper, heedlessness in entering into temptation, had been revealed in his experience. Christ's solemn warning was a call to heart searching. Peter needed to distrust himself, and to have a deeper faith in Christ. Had he in humility received the warning, he would have appealed to the Shepherd of the flock to keep His sheep. When on the Sea of Galilee he was about to sink, he cried, "Lord, save me." Matthew 14:30. Then the hand of Christ was outstretched to grasp his hand. So now if he had cried to Jesus, Save me from myself, he would have been kept. But Peter felt that he was distrusted, and he thought it cruel. He was already offended, and he became more persistent in his self-confidence.” Desire of Ages 673
And so, Peter-the stone-was shaken out. He was shaken out because he rose up against the straight testimony! Peter, one of Jesusʼ closest friends, who had been used by God to cast out demons, heal the sick, preach “present truth”. Are we stronger than Peter? Thank God there was time for him to be let back in by repentance. We may not have that luxury should we choose to follow his example.
He didnʼt know himself, ”faithful” as he was! Sound familiar? “Thou knowest not...” Can we not learn from Peter about what will come next in this parade if we keep marching? We must learn from his mistake to listen to the counsel of the True Witness and cry to Jesus to save us from ourselves. May we learn to plead for Jesus to search us! Psalm 139:23,24
I encourage a careful study of John 6, along with the chapter “The Crisis at Galilee” in the book Desire of Ages This will reveal, as mentioned earlier, that Jesus caused a shaking among his disciples well before Calvary. He did this, we are told, to strengthen His disciples for the crisis of Calvary. Consider: “When Jesus presented the testing truth that caused so many of His disciples to turn back, He knew what would be the result of His words; but He had a purpose of mercy to fulfill. He foresaw that in the hour of temptation every one of His beloved disciples would be severely tested. His agony in Gethsemane, His betrayal and crucifixion, would be to them a most trying ordeal. Had no previous test been given, many who were actuated by merely selfish motives would have been connected with them. When their Lord was condemned in the judgment hall; when the multitude who had hailed Him as their king hissed at Him and reviled Him; when the jeering crowd cried, "Crucify Him!"--when their worldly ambitions were disappointed, these self-seeking ones would, by renouncing their allegiance to Jesus, have brought upon the disciples a bitter, heart-burdening sorrow, in addition to their grief and disappointment in the ruin of their fondest hopes. In that hour of darkness, the example of those who turned from Him might have carried others with them. But Jesus brought about this crisis while by His personal presence He could still strengthen the faith of His true followers.” Desire of Ages 394
The purpose of the present shaking is the same as what Jesus did in John 6! And really, the straight testimony back then is the same as now. We must take the standard and life of Christ as our own. He is the essential ingredient to successful navigation through the experience of the shaking.
I believe we need to learn to pray like this: “Lord, I am blind and I donʼt know it--open my eyes. Lord, Iʼm wretched and I donʼt know it! Help me understand my wretchedness! Lord, I am poor. Please give me Your riches. Jesus, I am naked. Please clothe me!”
You know what will happen if we will learn to pray this way? Iʼll tell you what will happen! We will switch places in this story! We will no longer be identified with Peter, but with Jesus. We can then be among those who fill up the measure of His sufferings! (Colossians 1:24) And while to all appearances JESUS was shaken out, He was the only one whose faith survived that great tribulation, a type of that faithful remnant who will learn from the True Witness how to survive what lies ahead.
And why did Jesus make it? Because He was God? NO! He laid that aside. Why did He stand His ground when the crowd came after him? Why did He remain faithful when His friends abandoned Him? Why did His faith hold when God hid His face from Him? Go back to Gethsemane and watch Him agonize. “The humanity of the Son of God trembled in that trying hour. He prayed not now for His disciples that their faith might not fail, but for His own tempted, agonized soul.” Desire of Ages 690. Jesus understood the weakness of humanity, which He had taken. Jesus understood the need to watch and pray. Jesus understood His own weakness and He riveted Himself by faith through prayer and surrender to the Source of His strength. It was because of this that He was Himself not shaken out!!
“...Lord, teach us to pray...!” (Luke 11:1).
I can hear the crowds coming, friends. Indeed, I can see the whites of their eyes! The crowd of false doctrine. The crowd of worldliness. The crowd of ease. The crowd of the cares of this life. The crowd of self, rising against reproof. The crowd of self- deception. Everyone who is not riveted to Christ will be shaken out--like the stone! I believe Peter would echo the words of Jesus: “Watch and pray!”