Best-selling author Clifford Goldstein has written another book for friends of Adventist Review readership. Small, inexpensive, and provided as the Adventist Church’s Missionary Book of the Year, it continues where Mark Finley left off with the church’s last two missionary books of the year, Hope for Troubled Times, for 2021, and before that, The Power of Hope, for 2020, which reached a distribution of 35 million copies.
These “HOPE books” are written against the backdrop of a global plague that has already killed almost 3½ million people worldwide. What Goldstein’s latest shows is that optimism about the future is realistic and sane, when we live in the light—the light of the Bible’s last message to the world, identified in Revelation 14:6-12 as the three angels’ messages.
Available in bulk from Adventist Book Centers or through the Adventist Church’s Publishing Department, Goldstein’s twenty-first book is put together in six divisions called sections, rather than the usual, chapters. Sections themselves comprise as many as eight or as few as three subsections.
Goldstein confronts the mentality that a godless and accidental theory of existence inspires, viz., that life can have no ultimate meaning since existence is a temporary fluke. He invites us to consider the mind that built our universe—an entity 50 billion light-years wide and containing 2 trillion galaxies, each one containing its own hundreds of millions of stars. Reading Goldstein’s numbers reminds of a competing claim: the universe is 93 billion light-years wide (Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael A. Strauss, J. Richard Gott, Welcome to the Universe). Goldstein’s numbers—as well as competing and incompatible others—show how far humans are from fathoming just the vastness around and beyond us in the place that is our home. For Goldstein, such scope hardly comports with mere chance as an explanation of existence. Purposeful intelligence is the context considering the three angels’ messages: our lives and those messages are about sense, not about nonsense.
Message One, “Fear God,” introduced in section 3, page 47, continues through sections 4 and 5, and shows that there is an audience observing and caring about outcomes on earth; also, that the biblical teaching of accountability for our behavior and life record is normal “should not be surprising” (p. 60); also, that humans, by our own selfish choices and actions through life, are hopelessly doomed to damnation.
Oddly enough, establishing humans’ total corruption takes two lengthy quotations of the same eight verses of Scripture (Rom. 3:11-18: p. 35 and pp. 61, 62)—in a book with little or no room for redundant repetition. Be that as unusual as it may, the author also shows that “the everlasting gospel” is God’s specific provision for any who are despairing because they see themselves in that repeated list of shame. The miracle is that whosoever we be, we can receive divine exoneration in the time of judgment the first angel announces (p. 62). No doubt we get his point when he says, No, we aren’t sinless; we simply believe that the Father accepts Christ’s righteousness as ours. It should nevertheless be insisted that Goldstein is not obliquely accusing God of self-deception in thinking we are what everybody knows we are not. God does not speak untruth when He declares us innocent and/or perfect.
Those reflections and comments on message one of three occupy nearly half this book (46 percent, or 41 of 89 pages of text) and five of its six sections. This does strike one as odd, even out of balance. Hopefully these unusual proportions will be vindicated by the hope found by a multitude of despairing readers who encounter this little book because of your sharing.