The final struggle in the controversy between Christ and Satan is fast approaching. The Bible says, “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” Revelation 12:12.
1. What is the devil’s attitude toward God’s people in the last generation?
“And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17.
NOTE: The dragon here represents the devil. The woman is God’s church and the “remnant” of the woman’s seed is the latter end of the church. The are identified by two characteristics: they are commandment keepers and they have the “testimony of Jesus” which is interpreted to be the “spirit of prophecy” in Revelation 19:10.
2. What is God’s seal, His or sign mark of authority?
“Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you.” Exodus 31:13.
“Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.” Ezekiel 20:12
“Hallow My Sabbaths, and they will be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.” Ezekiel 20:20.
3. How does the Bible foretell the great counterfeit of Christianity that was to arise?
This is foretold in prophecy by the use of many name. It is spoken of as “antichrist” (1 John 4:3), “that man of sin” (2 Thessalonians 2:3), the “falling away” (2 Thessalonians 2:3), “the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3), “the mystery of iniquity” (2 Thessalonians 2:7), he “who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped” (2 Thessalonians 2:4), and “mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth” Revelation 17:5.
4. Through whom was it predicted the devil would work to bring disloyalty to God and His law?
“He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.” Daniel 7:25.
NOTE: In the prophecies of Daniel there is pictured the rise of four world empires – Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. Rome was finally divided into ten kingdoms. Finally, another kingdom arose in the midst of the ten by doing away with three kingdoms. (See Daniel 7:24)
5. What are some of the characteristics of this apostate power?
Like a man. “Eyes like the eyes of a man.” Daniel 7:8. “A mouth speaking pompous words.” Daniel 7:8; Revelation 13:5. “Man of sin.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
Opposed to truth. It would “cast down the truth.” Daniel 8:12. It would flourish when there would be a “falling away” from truth in the church. 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
Opposed to God and Christ. “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High” Daniel 7:25. “He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host [Christ].” Daniel 8:11. “He shall even rise against the Prince of princes [Christ].” Daniel 8:25. “Opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:4. He will blaspheme God and His name (Revelation 13:6).
Opposed to Christ’s mediation in the heavenly sanctuary. He would take away the “daily” or the continual ministration of Christ in the sanctuary (Daniel 8:11). He would sit “in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:4. And he would blaspheme God’s tabernacle (Revelation 13:6).
Opposed to God’s law. He will “think to change times and laws.” Daniel 7:25. “The mystery of lawlessness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:7
A persecuting power. He would make “war with the saints” persecuting them for a “time and times and half a time” or three and one-half times. (In the Bible a time is a year of 360 days and three and one-half times would be 1,260 days.) Daniel 7:21, 25.
6. As a result of the “falling away” from the truth as predicted by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 what two important things took place in the second century?
The church began to lose sight of the gospel
The church began to turn from the Sabbath
NOTE: Relative to the gospel three trends developed. (1) Meritorious works began to be proclaimed. In the Epistle of Barnabas written about A.D 100 is the statement: “By thy hands thou shalt labour for the redemption of thy sins.” – Chapter 19. (2) God’s grace began to be associated with the work of the Holy Spirit rather than with the person Jesus Christ. (3) Finally, grace was associated with the church. They reasoned that since the church is the temple of the Holy Spirit and since grace is imparted though the Holy Spirit the church is the channel of grace. And further because the bishop is the leader of the church, grace particularly resides in him. And in harmony with this reasoning Ignatius wrote early in the second century: “To al them that repent, the Lord grants forgiveness, if they turn in penitence to the unity of God, and to communion with the bishop.” – Epistle to the Philadelphians, chapter 8.
NOTE: Relative to God’s Sabbath this too was cast to the ground. Rather gradually. Justin Martyr wrote in A.D. 155: “On the day called Sunday, all who live in the cities or in the country gather together in one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read… Sunday is the day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.” -First Apology, chapter 67.
7. How was Sunday exalted in place of the Bible Sabbath?
The first recorded attempt to assert power over other churches was in A.D. 195 when a man by the name of Victor excommunicated a group of several thousand Christians in Asia Minor who taught that Easter should be observed according to the Jewish calendar, but Victor felt the celebration should be held only on Sunday. Tertullian, a prominent Christian at the beginning of the third century, taught that Sunday should be a day of at least partial rest. The first civil Sunday legislation was ordered in A.D. 321 by Emperor Constantine.
8. What prompted Constantine to make the first Sunday law?
Willy Rordorf, A Swiss church historian, gives the following evaluation of Constantine:
“Like the majority of both his contemporaries and also more particularly of his predecessors on the imperial throne, Constantine was warmly disposed towards sun-worship. We have already mentioned that the cult of Mithras was at that time widespread, particularly among the soldiers, and the emperor was the supreme commander. It is, therefore, possible that Constantine promulgated legislation to make Sunday an obligatory day of rest in order to unite the empire under montheistic sun-religion. Constantine did, of course, know about the Christian day of worship, and it is possible that by means of this step he wished to win for himself the support of the Christian minority, which has already grown considerably in size and to which he had granted toleration.” – Sunday, pp. 163, 164.
9. When did the little horn power become dominant and for how long did it continue?
As the Western Roman Empire began to disintegrate the Bishop of Rome took over the leadership. However, this was not fully accomplished until the Heruli, the Ostrogoths, and the Vandals were uprooted. These powers were finally out of the way in 538. Then as the prophecy had indicated this system dominated the world for 1,260 years. This ended in 1798.
10. How does John in Revelation refer to this loss of power?
“And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded.” Revelation 13:3
11. Will there be a restoration of this power?
“And his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.” Revelation 13:3
NOTE: The restoration of this power is explained in great detail in Revelation 17. This will be accomplished by a great international confederation of powers symbolised by ten horns that “have one mind, and shall giver their power and strength to the beast.” Revelation 17:12, 13.
12. What power will be responsible for causing people to worship the beast, setting up an image to the beast, and causing people to receive the mark of the beast?
“Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.” Revelation 13:11, 12. Read also Revelation 13:14-18.
NOTE: The second beast of Revelation 13 is a prediction of the rise of a lamblike power that would come to the forefront around 1798. The United States did arise in the late 1700’s. It was lamblike, founded on the two great principles of civil and religious liberty.
13. How can an image to the beast be set up in the United States?
It will be accomplished by the enemies of liberty in America. The beast referred to is the religio-political power mentioned in Revelation 13:1-10. What is this image? It is a union of church and state with the church dominant. This prophecy suggests that the day will come when the religious element of the country will influence the state to enforce religious dogmas just as church and state functioned in the Middle Ages. For the state to enforce religious laws under penalty is for it to speak like a dragon, a persecuting power.
14. What is the mark of the beast which the enemies of liberty will seek to enforce upon all?
It is something that belongs to the power mentioned in Revelation 13:1-10. The person who receives the mark of the beast will be marked as a worshipper of that power. The mark of the beast will be some act by which this power is recognised.
15. What is the difference between those who worship God and those who worship the beast?
Read Revelation 14:9-12. Those who worship God keep all His commandments. Those who worship the beast do not keep all the commandments. A few endorse the Decalogue except on one basic point – the Sabbath.
16. What is the mark of this system’s authority?
The reformers of the 16th century claimed to stand on the Bible yet they continued to worship on Sunday. So the church called the Council of Trent that convened over a period of eighteen years beginning in March 1545. The question to be solved was: Could the tradition of the church be successfully defended against the powerful witness of the Reformation which stood for the Bible alone? It was a question of authority. This was debated for many years. Finally it was a speech by the Archbishop of Reggio that turned the tide in favour of tradition. Note his words:
“Such is the condition of the heretics of this age that on nothing do they rely more than that, under the pretense of the Word of God, they overthrow the authority of the church; as though the church, His body, could be opposed to the word of Christ, or the head to the body. On the contrary, the authority of the church, then, is illustrated most clearly by the Scriptures; for while on the one hand she recommends them, declares them to be divine, offers them to us to be read, in doubtful matters explains them faithfully, and condemn whatever is contrary to them; on the other hand, the legal precepts in the Scriptures taught by the Lord have ceased by virtue of the same authority. The Sabbath, the most glorious day in the law, has been changed into the Lord’s day….These and other similar matters have not ceased by virtue of Christ’s teaching (for He say He has come to fulfill the law, not to destroy it), but they have been changed by the authority of the church. Indeed, if she should be removed (since there must be heresies), who would set forth truth, and condemn the obstinacy of heretics?” – Mansi SC, Vol 33, cols. 529, 530. (Italics supplied)
Dr. H.J. Holtzmann, in his book Canon and Tradition, page 263, summarises this speech by saying,
“Finally at the last opening on the eighteenth of January, 1562, all hesitation was set aside: the Archbishop of Reggio made a speech in which he openly declared that tradition stood above Scripture. The authority of the church could therefore not be bound to the authority of the Scriptures, because the church has changed….the Sabbath into Sunday, not by the command of Christ, but by its own authority,” (Italics supplied.)
“Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are….I have given them Your word….Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” John 17:11-17. This Sabbath question is tremendously important. However, it will become of even greater importance. It will become the great test of loyalty to God, to the truth, and to the Bible. The decision is up to you. John was privileged to get a glimpse of the people of God just before the return of Jesus and he said, “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12.
If Moses were here what would he do? Read Hebrews 11:25-27.
What would Elijah do? Read 1 Kings 18:21
What would Solomon say? Read Proverbs 28:9
What would Jesus say and do? Read John 15:10; 8:29; 13:15; Matthew 16:25
What would Paul say? Read Romans 6:16
What would Peter say? Read Acts 4:19; 5:29
What would John say? Read Revelation 22:14
What shall we choose? “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15