Had scholarly theologians been faithful watchmen, diligently and prayerfully searching the Scriptures, they would have known the time. The prophecies would have opened to them the events about to take place. But the message was given by humbler men. Those who neglect to seek the light when it is within their reach are left in darkness. But the Saviour declares, “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12. To that soul some star of heavenly radiance will be sent to guide him into all truth. { HF 194.2 } 

At the time of Christ’s first advent the priests and scribes of the Holy City might have discerned “the signs of the times” and proclaimed the coming of the Promised One. Micah designated His birthplace, Daniel, the time of His advent. Micah 5:2; Daniel 9:25. The Jewish leaders were without excuse if they did not know. Their ignorance was the result of sinful neglect. { HF 194.3 } 

With profound interest the elders of Israel should have been studying the place, the time, the circumstances, of the greatest event in the world’s history—the coming of the Son of God. The people should have been watching that they might welcome the world’s Redeemer. But at Bethlehem two weary travelers from Nazareth traversed the length of the narrow street to the eastern extremity of town, vainly seeking a shelter for the night. No doors were open to receive them. In a wretched hovel prepared for cattle, they at last found refuge, and there the Saviour of the world was born. { HF 194.4 } 

Angels were appointed to carry the glad tidings to those prepared to receive it and who would joyfully make it known. Christ had stooped to take upon Himself man’s nature, to bear infinite woe as He should make His soul an offering for sin. Yet angels desired that even in His humiliation the Son of the Highest might appear before men with a dignity and glory befitting His character. Would the great men of earth assemble at Israel’s capital to greet His coming? Would angels present Him to the expectant company? { HF 195.1 } 

An angel visited the earth to see who were prepared to welcome Jesus. But he heard no voice of praise that the period of Messiah’s coming was at hand. The angel hovered over the chosen city and temple where the divine presence had been manifested for ages, but even there was the same indifference. The priests in pomp and pride offered polluted sacrifices. The Pharisees with loud voices addressed the people or made boastful prayers at the corners of the streets. Kings, philosophers, rabbis, all were unmindful of the wondrous fact that the Redeemer

 of men was about to appear. { HF 195.2 } 

In amazement the celestial messenger was about to return to heaven with the shameful tidings, when he discovered a group of shepherds watching their flocks. As they gazed into the starry heavens, they contemplated the prophecy of a Messiah to come and longed for the advent of the world’s Redeemer. Here was a company prepared to receive the heavenly message. Suddenly celestial glory flooded all the plain, an innumerable company of angels was revealed; and as if the joy were too great for one messenger to bring from heaven, a multitude of voices broke forth in the anthem which all the nations of the saved shall one day sing: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” 

Luke 2:14. { HF 195.3 }


What a lesson is this wonderful story of Bethlehem! 

How it rebukes our unbelief, our pride and 

self-sufficiency. How it warns us to beware, lest we also fail to discern the signs of the times and therefore know not the day of our visitation. { HF 196.1 } 

It was not alone among lowly shepherds that angels found watchers for Messiah’s coming. In the land of the heathen also were those that looked for Him—rich, noble wise men—the philosophers of the East. From the Hebrew Scriptures they had learned of the Star to arise out of Jacob. With eager desire they awaited His coming who should be not only the “Consolation of Israel,” but a “Light to lighten the Gentiles,” and “for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” Luke 2:25, 32; Acts 13:47. The Heaven-sent star guided Gentile strangers to the birthplace of the newborn King. { HF 196.2 } 

It is “unto them that look for him” that Christ is to “appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:28. Like the tidings of the Saviour’s birth, the message of the second advent was not committed to the religious leaders of the people. They had refused light from heaven; therefore they were not of the number described by the apostle Paul: “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” 1 Thessalonians 5:4, 5. 

{ HF 196.3 }


The watchmen upon the walls of Zion should have been the first to catch the tidings of the Saviour’s advent, the first to proclaim Him near. But they were at ease, while the people were asleep in their sins. Jesus saw His church, like the barren fig tree, covered with pretentious leaves, yet destitute of precious fruit. The spirit of true humility, penitence, and faith was lacking. There were pride, formalism, selfishness, oppression. A backsliding church closed their eyes to the signs of the times. They departed from God and separated themselves from His love. As they refused to comply with the conditions, His promises were not fulfilled to them. { HF 196.4 } 

Many of the professed followers of Christ refused to receive the light from heaven. Like the Jews of old, they knew not the time of their visitation. The Lord passed them by and revealed His truth to those who, like the shepherds of Bethlehem and the Eastern Magi, had given heed to all the light they had received. { HF 197.1 }