Heavenly Visit

A HEAVENLY VISIT

There have been times throughout history when Jesus or angels have visited with the children of men. Indeed, that was God’s original purpose for all His created beings, for He designed them for fellowship with Himself and other holy beings. Thus we find Him visiting daily with Adam and Eve at the cool of the day, and no doubt enjoying the recitation of events and pleasures that they would have after a busy day in their garden home.

Even after the fall of man, we see heavenly beings visiting with various ones to give instruction, hope, direction and encouragement. Many times these beings were angels; but on some occasions, the Son of God Himself entered the picture and showed His interest in and involvement with His children and their concerns. These visits generally signified that something special was about to happen, and that God’s messengers needed special light and encouragement or instruction.

Heavenly visits are often precipitated by the approach of a prophetic fulfillment. For example, Abraham and Sarah were visited by two angels and Jesus when the conception of Isaac was to be announced. Similarly, both Zechariah and Mary were visited by Gabriel to announce the conceptions of John the Baptist and Jesus. Of course, there are numerous other occasions which are recorded in Scripture when celestial beings visited and talked with people, some with prophets, but also with common people as well.

But what about today? Does God still breach the silence of space to contact His people with messages of encouragement, hope and counsel? Probably many of you have heard of people who have been blessed by visits from angels, or perhaps even from Jesus. Perhaps you, yourself, have had such an experience. Mission reports sometimes include stories of this nature, and even the recitation of these stories are encouraging to those who hear them.
Ellen White has some specific things to say about this subject. Here are a few:

“Think you not that Christ values those who live wholly for Him? Think you not that He visits those who, like the beloved John, are for His sake in hard and trying places? He finds His faithful ones, and holds communion with them, encouraging and strengthening them.” TD 159.

“ How few realize that Jesus, unseen, is walking by their side!… And how many hearts would burn with holy joy if they only knew that the Savior was by their side, that the holy atmosphere of His presence was surrounding them…. How pleased the Savior would be to hear His followers talking of His precious lessons of instruction, and to know that they had a relish for holy things!” TM 88.

“From the Holy of Holies, there goes on the grand work of instruction. The angels of God are communicating to men. Christ officiates in the sanctuary. We do not follow Him into the sanctuary as we should. Christ and angels work in the hearts of the children of men. The church above united with the church below is warring the good warfare upon the earth, in harmony with Christ’s cleansing of the sanctuary in heaven.” Maranatha 249.

“It is impossible to give any idea of the experience of the people of God who will be alive upon the earth when past woes and celestial glory will be blended. They will walk in the light proceeding from the throne of God. By means of the angels there will be constant communication between earth and heaven.” 9 T. 16.

“Christ is ever sending messages to those who listen for His voice.” MLT 15.

“The Lord will teach us our duty just as willingly as He will teach someone else. If we come to Him in faith, He will speak His mysteries to us personally. Our hearts will often burn within us as One draws nigh to commune with us as He did with Enoch.” DA 668.

“There have been times when the blessing of God has been bestowed in answer to prayer, so that when others have come into the room, no sooner did they step over the threshold than they exclaimed, ‘The Lord is here!’ Not a word had been uttered, but the blessed influence of God’s holy presence was sensibly felt. The joy that comes from Jesus Christ was there; and in this the Lord had been in the room just as verily as He walked through the streets of Jerusalem, or appeared to His disciples when they were in the upper chamber, and said, ‘Peace be unto you.’” ML 51.

“The Lord has determined that every soul who obeys His word shall have His joy, His peace, His continual keeping power. Such men and women are brought near Him always…. He has prepared for them an abiding place with Himself…. By this unbroken communion with Him, they are made colaborers with Him in their lifework.” Ibid.

“When the love of Christ is enshrined in the heart,…His presence will be felt.” ML 50.

“With a sense that Jesus is by your side, you will have cheerfulness, hope, courage, and joy…. Never, never separate from Jesus. He never separates from us. By the cross of Calvary He has given evidence of His deep love for us. He does not leave us to fight the battle in our own finite strength. He says, ‘I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.’ Heb. 13:5. Jesus does not cast us off, even when we grieve Him; He clings to us still. Let your heart be animated by the love of Jesus to ardent activity for His glory.” OHC 147.

The Scriptures tell us that when something important involving His children is about to happen, He becomes personally involved:

“I foretold the former things long ago, my mouth announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.” Isa. 48:3.

“From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret; AT THE TIME IT HAPPENS, I AM THERE.” Verse 16.

It is for this reason that I share with you a story of my own experience. I hope and pray it will encourage some of you as it has encouraged me. In telling this story I want to emphasize that I do not know whether these heavenly visits are a direct visit from Jesus, or if it is a special manifestation of the presence of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Either way, it shows to me the love and watch care of our Savior over His earthly children.

Many years ago, I experienced a special manifestation of the presence of Jesus. It was on a Christmas eve after the meal was finished and the packages unwrapped. Everyone had gone to bed except me. As I looked around at the mounds of dishes, wrapping paper, bows and boxes and streams of brightly colored ribbon, I began to feel that my heart would break. Earlier that day one of my children had told me something that crushed my soul. I forced myself to go through the motions of a happy family evening, but I knew that the mourning would begin when I was alone. Standing there in the kitchen, I began to wretch with inconsolable grief.

And suddenly, HE was there. I knew instantly that it was the presence of Jesus, because an overpowering sense of peace filled the room. Nothing that I had ever felt even began to compare with it. No words were spoken; I saw no visible form. But in that sublime Presence, I felt complete comfort and instant resolution to my problems.

He did not stay long, but there was silent communication between us that everything would be all right, and that I had no need to grieve. I could trust Him with my future, and the future of my family members. And I did. No tears were needed, no grieving or sadness. For the Prince of Peace had visited our humble abode.

Another time His visit was in a public setting. It was at prayer meeting, and our small group was meeting in the church school. When the pastor asked for prayer requests, my petition was for this same child. As we knelt and began to pray, He came. We all felt His presence – the incredible peace. He stayed longer this time, but the message was the same. He is in control of our lives. He can be trusted. We were all so blessed by the experience that the Pastor spoke about it the following Sabbath during His sermon.

Since then, the years have rolled by. I have grown to know His voice so much better. I know He is walking with me day by day through the angels and the presence of the Holy Spirit. My heart often burns within me as I study His Word, and hear the still small voice of His instruction, guidance and comfort.

But recently, He visited me again. And this time I believe He had a message for all who will hear my testimony.

On Sabbath, September 13, I was in a pensive mood as I prepared for church. For several weeks we had been hearing of serious rumors about the instability of the economy. Some had been saying that we should prepare immediately for a complete financial breakdown, anarchy, marshall law, persecution, etc. But according to Revelation 7 & 18, the winds are to be held until God’s people are sealed and the loud cry is given. Satan surely would be pleased to take everything down before then, but God is still in control, and His work must be finished, just as He promised it would be.

I was pondering these things as I walked to our little church next door. When I arrived, the Sabbath School circle was already in progress. My pensive mood continued as I listened to the teacher, and the comments of others. Suddenly I was aware of the presence of Jesus. This time I could see His form in my mind’s eye. I felt Him standing slightly behind me at my right side. It seemed that His left arm was around my shoulder, and His right hand holding mine. His robe was white, and His hair appeared to be black. I could not see His face. Then He said to me, “The descent has begun. I will be with you and hold your hand and guide you.”

I sensed what He meant by “the descent.” Years ago before “Black Monday” happened in 1987, God had impressed me and others that something would happen in the stock market in the fall of that year. When the day came and the stocks went down, I asked the Lord, “Is this it? Are they going down permanently?” I felt His answer in my mind, “No, it is only a warning of what is coming.”

Then again in the fall of 1997, the stock market began to plunge again. This time I didn’t pay much attention to it, until I felt the Lord impressing me to fast and pray throughout the day, and to call other friends to do the same. I did so, and the stocks continued to fall until about half an hour before the close of the day, when they miraculously pulled up at the end. The next morning the newspaper headlines touted the last-minute turnaround, and stated that no one knew why it happened. Isn’t God good?

But this time there is an ominous feel about the whole state of the world, and our country in specific. People sense it everywhere. Like a rocket out of control, our nation seems about to plunge into a dive from which there is no return. We want to ignore the whole situation and go on with our lives as usual, but the warning signs that something is about to crack are insistent. So where do we turn for help? To whom do we go for counsel? Is it not the Mighty One who has seen His people through every crisis throughout the ages of time?

Praise God, His hand is steady on the wheel, His eyes are upon His people, His arm is strong to protect and guide us all the way through. We must remember His eternal promises, “Surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matt. 28:20. “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Heb. 13:5.

“I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand I will not be shaken.” Ps. 16:8.

“God is present in the company of the righteous.” Ps. 14:5.

“While they were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you…. Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?’” Lu. 24:36-38.

You see, when Jesus is among us, we can have peace in our hearts, even when Satan stirs up the storms which threaten to sink our little boats, as he did on the sea of Galilee. And the same Jesus who calmed the sea for the disciples will guide us safely through all that is ahead of us.

But back to my story of the Sabbath visit. The sense of Jesus’ presence stayed with me all throughout the service, and although I gave no clue to my friends of what I was experiencing, people kept commenting about the incredible sense of peace they were feeling. Only later did I divulge to them the details of my experience.

Perhaps some of you may recall what happened on September 15, when several large institutions went down, and the tumbling economy began to crack at the seams. The government is still struggling to plug up the dike with billions or even trillions of dollars, but only God can stay the tide now as He deploys His mighty angels to hold the winds yet a little while longer for His work to be finished.

To add one more piece to the story, on September 30 during my worship, as I was pondering all these things, I heard the Lord’s voice speak clearly to my mind, “I am here for the duration.” To me this means, He will be personally involved in a special way wherever and whenever He is needed as the Captain of the Lord’s host, to oversee the battle and to protect and guide His children through the difficult days ahead.

How long will it be before the final crises of events which have been foretold in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy? Soon, I am sure. But we must not give way to fear and leave the battlefield prematurely, as some are suggesting. A great work must be done in a short period of time. Jesus will pave the way for us. He will protect and guide and guard us. He will open doors before us so that His last warning message may be proclaimed to every soul on earth. With His faithful Gideon’s band, He will finish the work of the gospel in a blaze of celestial light and glory. Satan and his hosts of darkness will be defeated, as is prophesied in Isaiah 60:1-3:

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and His glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”

Of course, angels will be working mightily to push back the forces of evil who want to destroy the effectiveness of God’s people and hedge up their way. Satan’s hosts will try to get us to flee before the time appointed so that there will be no voice to contest his lies and delusions. But God has not left Himself without faithful witnesses, just as in all prior history. God and His people will triumph.

“Four mighty angels hold back the powers of this earth till the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads. The nations of the world are eager for conflict; but they are held in check by the angels. When this restraining power is removed, there will come a time of trouble and anguish. Deadly instruments of warfare will be invented…. All who have not the spirit of truth will be united under the leadership of Satanic agencies. But they are to be kept under control until the time shall come for the great battle of Armageddon.

Angels are belting the world refusing Satan his claims to supremacy,…keeping the armies of Satan at bay till the sealing of God’s people shall be accomplished…. The Lord is a refuge for all who put their trust in Him. He bids them hide in Him for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. He is soon to some out of His place to punish the world for its iniquity.” 7 BC 967.

“The four angels are holding the four winds, that they shall not blow upon the earth. But human passions are reaching a high pass, and the Spirit of the Lord is being withdrawn from the earth. Were it not that…angelic agencies…control the satanic agencies that are seeking to break loose and destroy, there would be no hope. But the winds are to be held until the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads.” IHP 96.

“No man can serve God without enlisting against himself the opposition of the hosts of darkness…. But so long as Jesus remains man’s intercessor in the sanctuary above, the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit is felt by rulers and people. It still controls, to some extent, the laws of the land….

“The enemy moves upon his servants to propose measures that would greatly impede the work of God; but statesmen who fear the Lord are influenced by holy angels to oppose such propositions with unanswerable arguments. Thus a few men will hold in check a powerful current of evil. The opposition of the enemies of truth will be restrained that the third angel’s message may do its work.” GC 610, 11.

“The Lord God of heaven will not send upon the world His judgments for disobedience and transgression until He has sent His watchmen to give the warning.” 6 T. 19.

“He will restrain the forces of darkness, until the warning is given to the world, and all who will heed it are prepared for the conflict.” 5 T. 453.

“Already kingdom is rising against kingdom. There is not now a determined engagement. As yet the four winds are held until the servants of God shall be sealed in their foreheads. The powers of earth will marshal their forces for the last great battle. How carefully we should improve the little remaining period of our probation.” R&H, Nov. 27, 1900.

“Only a moment of time, as it were, yet remains. But while already nation is rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, there is not now a general engagement. As yet the four winds are held until the servants of God shall be sealed in their foreheads. The powers of earth will marshal their forces for the last great battle.” 6 T. 14.

“Angels are now restraining the winds of strife, that they may not blow until the world shall be warned of its coming doom; but a storm is gathering, ready to burst upon the earth; and when God shall bid His angels loose the winds, their will be such a scene of strife as no pen can picture.” Ed. 179, 80.

“Just before we entered (the Time of Trouble) we all received the seal of the living God. Then I saw the four angels cease to hold the four winds. And I saw famine, pestilence and sword. Nation rose against nation, and the whole world was in confusion.” 7 BC 968.

“The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out – the chaff separated from the precious wheat. This is a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place.” 2 SM 380.

“When the storm of persecution really breaks upon us, the true sheep will hear the true Shepherd’s voice. Self-denying efforts will be put forth to save the lost, and many who have strayed from the fold will come back to follow the great Shepherd. The people of God will draw together, and present to the enemy a united front. In view of the common peril, strife for supremacy will cease; there will be no disputing as to who will be accounted greatest…. Thus will the truth be brought into practical life, and thus will be answered the prayer of Christ…(John 17:21).

The love of Christ, the love of our brethren, will testify to the world that we have been with Jesus and learned of Him. Then will the message of the third angel swell to a loud cry, and the whole earth will be lightened with the glory of the Lord.” 6 T. 401.

“The bright beams of the sun of righteousness shining through His church will gather into His fold every lost, straying sheep, who will come unto Him and find refuge in Him.” 7 BC 968.
“Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain. Gather the host of the Lord, with sanctified hearts, to hear what the Lord will say unto His people; for He has increased light for all who will hear. Let them be armed and equipped, and come up to the battle – to the help of the Lord against the mighty.” TM 410.

“A storm is coming, relentless in its fury. Are we prepared to meet it?… The perils of the last days are soon to come upon us. Already they have come. We need now the sword of the Lord to cut to the very soul and marrow of fleshly lusts, appetites, and passions…. The thoughts must be centered upon God. Now is the time to put forth earnest effort to overcome the natural tendencies of the carnal heart.

“Our efforts, our self-denial, our perseverance, must be proportionate to the infinite value of the object of which we are in pursuit. Only by overcoming as Christ overcame shall we win the crown of life.” 8 T. 315.

Of course, the Bible is full of relevant counsel for those who live in the last days of earth’s history. We must study diligently to gather these gems for our edification and counsel, and be prepared to share them with all who are seeking to know how to live at this special time of preparedness for Jesus’ coming. Our hearts must not be filled with gloom and fear. It is time to look up and lift up our heads, for our redemption draws near!

“The history of the wilderness life of Israel was chronicled for the benefit of the Israel of God to the close of time…. The varied experience of the Hebrews was a school of preparation for their promised home in Canaan. God would have His people in these days review with a humble heart and teachable spirit the trials through which ancient Israel passed, that they may be instructed in their preparation for the heavenly Canaan….

“Why should we be ungrateful and distrustful? Jesus is out Friend; all heaven is interested in our welfare; and our anxiety and fear grieve the Holy Spirit of God. We should not indulge in a solicitude that only frets and wears us, but does not help us to bear trials. No place should be given to that distrust of God which leads us to make a preparation against future want the chief pursuit of life, as though our happiness consisted in these earthly things. It is not the will of God that His people should be weighed down with care.” PP 293, 4.

“I saw that God will in a wonderful manner preserve His people through the time of trouble.” 1 T. 353.

“Fearful tests and trials await the people of God. The spirit of war is stirring the nations from one end of the earth to the other. But in the midst of the time of trouble that is coming, – a time of trouble that has not been since there was a nation, – God’s chosen people will stand unmoved. Satan and his host cannot destroy them, for angels that excel in strength will protect them.” 9 T. 17.

“The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. Though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely.” Isa. 32:17-19.

“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Heb. 13:20, 21.