The Hour of Temptation
The following excerpt was taken from a discourse entitled “The Hour of Temptation” by Brother L.H.
Norby which I believe pertains quite profusely to our times and to what is to be expected next in the
course of events.
“As you might have assumed, our text is Rev 3:10: "Because thou hast kept the word of my
patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon the world, to
try them that dwell upon the earth." We learn from the 7th verse that this is addressed to the church
of Philadelphia, and I think that most Bible Students, as well as Bible scholars in general, would agree that
the church of Philadelphia is the sixth stage of the church, the next to the last--and it preceded the
second presence of our Lord. The church of Philadelphia is assured that they would escape the hour of
temptation. The implication, then, is that the last stage of the church, Laodicea, would catch the
full brunt of this experience, this hour of temptation. But, as we have witnessed, there are
compensating blessings, too--a special feast which God has prepared to sustain the church of Laodicea
which would be in this great time of distress and trouble which shall come upon the whole world.
One of the last articles that the Pastor wrote, "The Hour of Temptation," is dated November 1, 1916,
one day after his death. I always thought there was special significance in this article and also something
of great importance to the church. I would commend the entire article. (R 5981) In it he starts out with
the trouble upon the world--and our text does say that this hour of temptation "shall come upon the
entire world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." So while writing about the conditions in the
world peculiar to this time, he then goes on to a description of the temptations coming upon the church,
which is of most interest to us and most important. We will follow his cue and start by considering the
effect upon the world.
Brother Russell made certain predictions concerning the trouble that would develop in the world. These are
briefly summarized in R2334:
"The four exhibitions of the Lord given to Elijah (1 Kings 19:11, 12), represent, we believe, four
manifestations in which the Lord is about to reveal himself to mankind--the first three of which
will prepare men for the final one in which will come the desired blessing, to all the families of
(1) The mighty winds rending the very rocks. Blowing winds seem to be used in Scripture as a
symbol for wars. And Revelation (7:1-3) teaches us that the wars, whose dark clouds have threatened
the civilized world so ominously for the past century, have been miraculously hindered to give opportunity
for "sealing" the Lord's consecrated people in their foreheads (intellectually) with the present truth. We
are therefore to expect that when these winds of war shall be let loose, it will mean a cataclysm of warfare
which shall divide kingdoms (mountains)—prefigured by the mighty wind shown to Elijah, which rent the
rock. But God's Kingdom will not follow the epoch of war: the world will not thus be made ready
for the reign of Immanuel. No, a further lesson will be needed and will be given. It is
(2) An earthquake. Throughout the Scriptures an earthquake seems always to represent revolution, and
it is not unreasonable to expect that an era of general warfare would so arouse the lower classes of
Europe and so discontent them with their lot (and especially with the conditions which would follow such a
war) that revolution would be the next thing in order. One such revolution occurred shortly following the
first Great War, (the First Plague), and that was the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 (the Second
Plague), however we believe the Lord’s thought here encompasses a far greater and worldwide
revolution to come, “a great earthquake”, a revolution unprecedented larger than any preceding it. If
so, the earthquake made known to God's people is the one referred to in Rev 16:18. But severe
though all these revolutionary experiences including this last will be to the world they are not
sufficient enough to prepare men to hear the voice of God. It will require
(3) The fire from heaven;--an epoch of divine judgments and chastisements upon a maddened but
unconverted world wild in anarchy, as other Scriptures show us. The results of their wars and
revolutions and anarchy--the failure of their schemes (attempts at various forms of self
government) and the lessons of divine judgments (the troubles befalling them) will however, have
an exhausting and humbling effect and prepare mankind for God's revelation of himself in
(4) The still small voice. Yes, he who spoke to the winds and waves of the Sea of Galilee will, in due
time, "Speak peace to the peoples." He will speak with authority, commanding the observance of his
long neglected law of Love. "And it shall come to pass that whosoever will not hear that Prophet
shall be cut off from among his people."--Acts 3:23.
Mark the harmony of Psalm 46 with these thoughts drawn from Elijah's lesson. After portraying in symbol
the dashing of the kingdoms of this world, the shaking of society by revolution and the figurative melting
of society under the fire of God's judgments, and after every hope of man in his own power is gone, the
still small voice is heard, commanding,--"Be still and know that I am God! I will be exalted among
the people; I will be exalted in the earth." Verse 10
Bible Students are all quite familiar with that interpretation of the vision to Elijah, and this episode has
caught the attention of even secular writers. You often hear about the wind, the earthquake, the fire, and
the still small voice even thou they don't make an accurate application of it, yet it is such a graphic picture
of revolutionary conditions. So we should certainly pay even more attention to it, shouldn't we? And I
think as we do we will find that it is rich in meaning for us.
Specifically, the Pastor had pointed out that Socialism would be the second phase of the trouble.
I am afraid that a lot of brethren have missed this--they have missed this peaceful revolution, this
Socialism that the Pastor spoke of so frequently. Some places he said, "War, revolution and anarchy."
Other places he said, "War, Socialism and anarchy." In other words, Socialism is synonymous with the
earthquake or revolution. Maybe we think of revolution as only being violent-but that is not
That is not the basic thought in the word "revolution". Revolution simply means "to turn over." A
wheel revolves. That does not mean that the spokes fall out. You turn any-thing over, what was on top is
now on the bottom--that's a revolution. And it does not necessarily imply violence either. There have also
been a number of violent revolutions in this period.
We would like to read some excerpts here. There are many others, but these few will suffice. This is taken
from the Fourth Volume, Page 486:
"We have reason to believe that Socialism will make great progress during the next few years.
But frequently it will not be wisely or moderately advanced: success will intoxicate some of its advocates,
and failure render others desperate, and as a result impatience will lead to calamity…Rulers, capitalists
and clergymen, with few exceptions, will seize upon the first extremes of Socialism to assault it
and brand it with infamy, and temporarily throttle it, encouraging themselves with specious
arguments which self-interest and fear will suggest. (We want to call attention to the fact that he
doesn't say that people are opposing these changes entirely from self-interest, though that is a big part
of it. It is also a fear--a fear of our whole way of life being destroyed, particularly religion if the world goes
Communist. So there is a basis for genuine fear, and the Pastor always recognized these different
elements and motives.) As intimated the movement will be crushed under the combined power of
Church, State and Capital and later lead to the great explosion of anarchy, in which, as indicated
in the Scriptures, all present institutions will be wrecked;-- 'a time of trouble such as was not
since there was a nation.'"
Notice Socialism will fail or be crushed, and reform being thwarted along that line, the result will
be "the great explosion of anarchy." You see there will be a period of time between the
revolution and the anarchy and it is during anarchy that all present institutions will be wrecked.
True Socialists don't want to destroy the system. They want to reform it-- modify it.
This is another reference, the 1910 Foreword to the Fourth Volume, Page XVI: "The masses will
seek relief through the ballot and the peaceful readjustment of earth's affairs for the elimination
of evil (corruption in government), for the placing of monopolies and utilities and the supplies of
nature in the hands of the people for the public good. The crisis will be reached when the
hitherto upholders of the law shall become violators of the law and resisters of the will of the
majority as expressed by the ballot. Fear for the future will goad the well-meaning masses to
desperation, and anarchy will result when Socialism fails."
Who are the "hitherto upholders of the law"? At the time this was written the laws were mainly to
protect property rights and the upper classes, what we call the "have" classes. They were strong for the
law to protect their interests. Now laws have been changed. We have laws protecting human rights more
now. There is more emphasis on that than on property rights. We see the change in emphasis during the
riots. They often forget about the damage to property-- just don't kill anybody. So we have laws now
that have benefited the masses, the “have nots”.
The Pastor says the crisis will be reached when the hitherto upholders of the law (the privileged classes,
those in control, government officials appointed to uphold the law, the will of the people) shall become
the violators of the law (corrupt), seeking to set aside these laws, liberal laws, civil rights, and things of
that nature, getting around it in one way or another. That's when we reach the danger point. In another
place he calls it "sitting on the safety valve." (Foreword to the Fourth Volume, Page XV) If you do
that without turning off the heat, you know what's going to happen. Even you sisters know about that
with the pressure cooker. And they are not turning off the heat, but they are beginning to sit on the
safety valve--but we are getting ahead of our lesson.
Notice, "anarchy will result when Socialism fails." That is the sequence of events. Socialism will be
tried to a large extent. It will fail--it will be sabotaged and frustrated, and the result will be
violent revolution, destruction, anarchy.
We have another reference, Reprints 4144, Col 2 par.11. I believe this gives us the best outline of
how the time of trouble will develop of anything that I have come across. Getting down to the
pertinent part we read:
"Then Socialism will appear to the masses the only peaceable way (the words "only peaceable
way" are in italics so the Pastor is stressing the fact that this will be a peaceful movement) for obtaining
social and financial equality; then Socialism will spread like wildfire. But Socialism will fail;
because money and brains will cooperate against it from selfishness and fear. Then, maddened
by their failure, Socialists will en masse turn anarchists (as begins to be evidenced by some during
the recent union protest in Wisconsin), and the direct results will ensue: 'A time of trouble such as
was not since there was a nation.'"
Socialism is not the remedy: "Our reason for keeping track of the progress of Socialism now is,
that we expect that it, or something akin to it, is about to deceive the world into looking for a
Millennium of its own, and lead them unconsciously to, and then over the brink into the anarchy
and 'time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation.' We cannot wonder that this 'will O'
the wisp' should attract and ensnare many of 'the groaning creation'…We sympathize...but after
seeing the divine plan... (Paraphrase) we deem it dangerous to become engulfed in Socialism."
R 3141 par. 5
In 1915 the Pastor envision that they were experiencing the first of the four manifestations in which the
Lord was to reveal himself to mankind, “the mighty winds rending the very rocks”, viz. "The present
step is the war of the nations. The next step will be Socialism--an attempted Socialism--among
the people. Then the third step, anarchy will gradually come on." R 5632:2
It pays for all the Lord’s consecrated to keep abreast of these things that they be not overtaken nor
surprised at the turn of events now occurring around them.
“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that aught be written
unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the
night. When they are saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as
travail upon a woman with child; and they shall in no wise escape. But ye, brethren, are not in
darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief: for ye are all sons of light, and sons of
the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep, as do the rest, but let
us watch and be sober. For they that sleep, sleep in the night: and they that are drunken are
drunken in the night.”(1 Thess 5:1-7)