Clinton Wahlen is an Associate Director of the Biblical Research Institute.

As Adventists, we too often skip over the early chapters of Daniel and Revelation 1 in order to get to the “more important parts.” But in fact these early chapters are foundational in understanding how to be ready for the final events, which seem closer now than ever before, with governments toppling down, earthquakes increasing in power and frequency, tsunamis, nuclear worries, uncertainty, and fear.

Jesus warns of such things with remarkable clarity and precision: “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:25–28).

In the early chapters of the book of Daniel, we see faith being tested and people occupying strategic positions as witnesses to the true God. In chapter 1, Daniel and his three friends are tested but refuse to defile themselves with the food and wine of Babylon, and God rewards their faith (Dan 1:8–17). They had purposed in their hearts to remain faithful in “little” things. Next, Daniel and his friends together and separately face larger tests of faith, demonstrating the indispensable role of prayer (Dan 2:17–18; 6:10–11) and the importance of true worship (Dan 3:16–18; 5:22–23). In the first three chapters of Revelation, God’s people, represented by the seven churches, face similar tests in connection with food (Rev 2:14, 20), worship (Rev 2:4; 3:8), and their relationship to truth (Rev 2:24–25; 3:8–9; cf. Dan 12:9–10). These words provide indispensable counsel from Jesus about how our faith can survive the tests ahead.

Like Daniel and Revelation, the early chapters of The Great Controversy have a similar purpose. Church history becomes a guide for surviving the end time. Here are just a few vital lessons drawn from the opening chapters of these three important end-time books:

1. Our resolve must be developed before the test comes. While prophecy is sometimes predictive, the predictive element is given not to satisfy our curiosity about the future, but because we need to know the tests that will come in order to prepare for them. Like Daniel and his friends, we should anticipate them and resolve in advance how we will respond (Dan 1:8).

2. Deception may arise even from within the church. Jesus warns the seven churches about those who claim to be something they are not (Rev 2:9; 3:9), and others who try to deceive those in the church through false doctrine and false prophecy (Rev 2:14–15; 3:20). We need to be able to distinguish truth from error.

3. We must study the Bible for ourselves. We can learn our present duty only through prayerful searching of the Bible for ourselves.2 “The Holy Scriptures have treasures of truth that are revealed only to the earnest, humble, prayerful seeker.”3 “It expands the mind, sharpens the perceptions, and ripens the judgment.”4

God has shown us how to survive the end time through the lives of His people in past ages. We can find no better guide for these times than the opening chapters of Daniel, Revelation, and The Great Controversy.

1 Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers, 112–15, urges study of these books as especially pertinent to our time.
2 See Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, 93.
3 Ibid., 69.
4 Ibid., 94.

Clinton Wahlen is an Associate Director of the Biblical Research Institute.