“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”—Luke 21:27
Christ had bidden His people watch for the signs of His advent and rejoice as they should behold the tokens of their coming King. “When these things begin to come to pass,” He said, “then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” He pointed His followers to the budding trees of spring, and said: “When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand” (Luke 21:28, 30, 31).
But as the spirit of humility and devotion in the church had given place to pride and formalism, love for Christ and faith in His coming had grown cold. Absorbed in worldliness and pleasure seeking, the professed people of God were blinded to the Saviour’s instructions concerning the signs of His appearing. The doctrine of the Second Advent had been neglected; the Scriptures relating to it were obscured by misinterpretation, until it was, to a great extent, ignored and forgotten. Especially was this the case in the churches of America. The freedom and comfort enjoyed by all classes of society, the ambitious desire for wealth and luxury, begetting an absorbing devotion to money-making, the eager rush for popularity and power, which seemed to be within the reach of all, led people to center their interests and hopes on the things of this life, and to put far in the future that solemn day when the present order of things should pass away.
When the Saviour pointed out to His followers the signs of His return, He foretold the state of backsliding that would exist just prior to His second advent. There would be, as in the days of Noah, the activity and stir of worldly business and pleasure seeking—buying, selling, planting, building, marrying, and giving in marriage—with forgetfulness of God and the future life. For those living at this time, Christ’s admonition is: “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.”—The Great Controversy, 308, 309.
Further Reflection: How much of my day today is planned with an eye on the second coming of Jesus?