A few years ago, while I was pastoring in Kentucky, United States, my wife, Daniela, was owner and director of a small nursing home for veterans of war. The social workers in charge of that district came monthly to see how well she cared for the veterans. The social workers would always call and announce their inspection. But each year, there was an annual inspection—and that visit was never announced.
About five people from the state came. They inspected everything related to the care of the veterans: the quality of food and medication charts, the house and water temperatures, and the fire extinguishers and smoke detectors. Business owners were afraid of this inspection because invariably the state inspectors found something to be corrected. Large errors would result in a fine or even closure of the facility.
“He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.” Matt. 25:31-32, NKJV
Every time they came to inspect my wife’s business, the process was the same—and so was the result. After checking every detail thoroughly, they would express appreciation for her work. For many consecutive years, she received certification and recognition for running the best state facility in its class. They would remark, “We don’t understand how you do things so well. Weren’t you anxious about the inspection?”
“No,” Daniela would reply, “because I make sure I prepare for it.”
They would ask, “How do you prepare for the inspection, since you don’t know when we are coming?”
She would respond, “I prepare as if every day is the day of inspection. We treat our veterans with love and respect.”
When I read the first of the three angels’ messages comprising the eternal gospel, I can understand why some may be anxious about an inspection. “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water’ ” (Rev. 14:6, 7, NKJV).1
This passage mentions preaching, but it is not limited to preaching. “Much more than mere sermonizing is included in preaching the gospel.” “You are with one hand to reach up and by faith take hold of the mighty arm which brings salvation, while with the other hand of love you reach the oppressed and relieve them.”2
Revelation 14 also mentions a judgment, but it is based on an inspection taking place now. “When the nations are gathered before Him [Christ], there will be but two classes, and their eternal destiny will be determined by what they have done or have neglected to do for Him in the person of the poor and the suffering.”3
So I understand why Jesus’ words may cause fear: “ ‘Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect’ ” (Matt. 24:44, NKJV). But I also understand why John’s words may bring hope: “There is no room in love for fear. . . . Fear of death, fear of judgment” (1 John 4:18, The Message).
Love and care for the vulnerable have always been a priority for God. They are key to what it means to worship Him—and key to passing the final inspection.
- See p. 28, Dateline, “Renewed Emphasis on the Three Angels’ Messages.”
- Ellen G. White, Welfare Ministry (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1952), 32, 31.
- Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 2002), 637. Matt. 25:31-46.