Identifying the Three Angels—Christ is coming the second time, with power unto salvation. To prepare human beings for this event, He has sent the first, second, and third angels’ messages. These angels represent those who receive the truth, and with power open the gospel to the world (Letter 79, 1900).
(Revelation 18:1-5.) A Loyal Company—The churches have become as described in the eighteenth chapter of Revelation. Why are the messages of Revelation fourteen given? Because the principles of the churches have become corrupted…. [Revelation 14:6-10 quoted.]
Apparently the whole world is guilty of receiving the mark of the beast. But the prophet sees a company who are not worshiping the beast, and who have not received his mark in their foreheads or in their hands. “Here is the patience of the saints,” he declares; “here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus”
Large Numbers Accept the Truth—The time of God’s destructive judgments is the time of mercy for those who have no opportunity to learn what is truth. Tenderly will the Lord look upon them. His heart of mercy is touched; His hand is still stretched out to save, while the door is closed to those who would not enter. Large numbers will be admitted who in these last days hear the truth for the first time (The Review and Herald, July 5, 1906).
Giving Glory to God—To give glory to God is to reveal His character in our own, and thus make Him known. And in whatever way we make known the Father or the Son, we glorify God (Manuscript 16, 1890).
World Drunk With Wine of Babylon—God denounces Babylon “because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” This means that she has disregarded the only commandment which points out the true God, and has torn down the Sabbath, God’s memorial of creation.
God made the world in six days and rested on the seventh, sanctifying this day, and setting it apart from all others as holy to Himself, to be observed by His people throughout their generations.
But the man of sin, exalting himself above God, sitting in the temple of God, and showing himself to be God, thought to change times and laws.This power, thinking to prove that it was not only equal to God, but above God, changed the rest day, placing the first day of the week where the seventh should be. And the Protestant world has taken this child of the papacy to be regarded as sacred. In the Word of God this is called her fornication.
God has a controversy with the churches of today. They are fulfilling the prophecy of John. “All nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” They have divorced themselves from God by refusing to receive His sign. They have not the spirit of God’s true commandment-keeping people. And the people of the world, in giving their sanction to a false sabbath, and in trampling under their feet the Sabbath of the Lord, have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication (Letter 98, 1900).
The Real Issue in the Final Conflict—[Revelation 14:9, 10 quoted.] It is for the interest of all to understand what the mark of the beast is, and how they may escape the dread threatenings of God. Why are men not interested to know what constitutes the mark of the beast and his image? It is in direct contrast with the mark of God. [Exodus 31:12-17quoted.]
The Sabbath question will be the issue in the great conflict in which all the world will act a part. [Revelation 13:4-10 quoted.] This entire chapter is a revelation of what will surely take place [Revelation 13:11, 15-17quoted]
What Is the Mark of the Beast?—John was called to behold a people distinct from those who worship the beast and his image by keeping the first day of the week. The observance of this day is the mark of the beast
(Revelation 13:16, 17.) Warning Against Mark of the Beast—The third angel’s message has been sent forth to the world, warning men against receiving the mark of the beast or of his image in their foreheads or in their hands. To receive this mark means to come to the same decision as the beast has done, and to advocate the same ideas, in direct opposition to the Word of God. Of all who receive this mark, God says, “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.”
If the light of truth has been presented to you, revealing the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, and showing that there is no foundation in the Word of God for Sunday observance, and yet you still cling to the false sabbath, refusing to keep holy the Sabbath which God calls “My holy day,” you receive the mark of the beast. When does this take place? When you obey the decree that commands you to cease from labor on Sunday and worship God, while you know that there is not a word in the Bible showing Sunday to be other than a common working day, you consent to receive the mark of the beast, and refuse the seal of God.
If we receive this mark in our foreheads or in our hands, the judgments pronounced against the disobedient must fall upon us. But the seal of the living God is placed upon those who conscientiously keep the Sabbath of the Lord (The Review and Herald, July 13, 1897).
A Life and Death Question—This message embraces the two preceding messages. It is represented as being given with a loud voice; that is, with the power of the Holy Spirit.Everything is now at stake. The third angel’s message is to be regarded as of the highest importance. It is a life and death question. The impression made by this message will be proportionate to the earnestness and solemnity with which it is proclaimed (Manuscript 16, 1900).
Not a Visible Mark—In the issue of the great contest two parties are developed, those who “worship the beast and his image,” and receive his mark, and those who receive “the seal of the living God,” who have the “Father’s name written in their foreheads.” This is not a visible mark.
(Revelation 18:1-18; 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12.) Guard Against Mystery of Iniquity—The third angel’s message increases in importance as we near the close of this earth’s history.
God has presented to me the dangers that are threatening those who have been given the sacred work of proclaiming the third angel’s message. They are to remember that this message is of the utmost consequence to the whole world.They need to search the Scriptures diligently, that they may learn how to guard against the mystery of iniquity, which plays so large a part in the closing scenes of this earth’s history.
There will be more and still more external parade by worldly powers.Under different symbols, God presented to John the wicked character and seductive influence of those who have been distinguished for their persecution of His people.The eighteenth chapter of Revelation speaks of mystic Babylon, fallen from her high estate to become a persecuting power. Those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus are the object of the wrath of this power [Revelation 18:1-8 quoted]
The Time of Test Makes the Issue Clear—The work of the Holy Spirit is to convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. The world can only be warned by seeing those who believe the truth sanctified through the truth, acting upon high and holy principles, showing in a high, elevated sense, the line of demarcation between those who keep the commandments of God and whose who trample them under their feet. The sanctification of the Spirit signalizes the difference between those who have the seal of God and those who keep a spurious rest day.
When the test comes, it will be clearly shown what the mark of the beast is. It is the keeping of Sunday.Those who, after having heard the truth, continue to regard this day as holy bear the signature of the man of sin, who thought to change times and laws.
The Last Act in the Drama—The substitution of the false for the true is the last act in the drama. When this substitution becomes universal, God will reveal Himself. When the laws of men are exalted above the laws of God, when the powers of this earth try to force men to keep the first day of the week, know that the time has come for God to work. He will arise in His majesty, and will shake terribly the earth. He will come out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the world for their iniquity (The Review and Herald, April 23, 1901).
(Revelation 19:1-4; Revelation 7:2, 3; Revelation 13:13, 16; Exodus 31:13-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4.)The Mark of Distinction—We are nearing the close of this earth’s history. Satan is making desperate efforts to make himself god, to speak and act like God, to appear as one who has a right to control the consciences of men. He strives with all his power to place a human institution in the position of God’s holy rest day. Under the jurisdiction of the man of sin, men have exalted a false standard in complete opposition to God’s enactment. Each Sabbath institution bears the name of its author, an ineffaceable mark showing the authority of each. The first day of the week has not one particle of sanctity. It is the production of the man of sin, who strives in this way to counterwork God’s purposes.
God has designated the seventh day as His Sabbath. [Exodus 31:13, 17, 16 quoted.] 7BC 981.1
Thus the distinction is drawn between the loyal and the disloyal.Those who desire to have the seal of God in their foreheads must keep the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Thus they are distinguished from the disloyal, who have accepted a manmade institution in place of the true Sabbath. The observance of God’s rest day is a mark of distinction between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not (The Review and Herald, April 23, 1901).
God’s Denominated People—Who are these? God’s denominated people—those who on this earth have witnessed to their loyalty. Who are they? Those who have kept the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ; those who have owned the Crucified One as their Saviour.
(Exodus 31:13-17.) What Is God’s Sign?—The sign of obedience is the observance of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. If men keep the fourth commandment, they will keep all the rest.
(Revelation 7:2, 3; Ezekiel 9:4.)The Mark of the Holy Sabbath—There is to be a mark placed upon God’s people, and that mark is the keeping of His holy Sabbath.
Loyal to Whom?—God has declared that it means much to discard the Word of the living God, and accept the assertions of those who seek to change times and laws.[Exodus 31:12-17 quoted.]
Those who in the face of these specifications refuse to repent of their transgressions will realize the result of disobedience. Individually we need to inquire, In observing a day of rest, have I drawn my faith from the Scriptures, or from a spurious representation of truth?Every soul who fastens himself to the divine, everlasting covenant, made and presented to us as a sign and mark of God’s government, fastens himself to the golden chain of obedience, every link of which is a promise. He shows that he regards God’s Word as above the word of man, God’s love as preferable to the love of man. And those who repent of transgression, and return to their loyalty by accepting God’s mark, show themselves to be true subjects, ready to do His will, to obey His commandments. True observance of the Sabbath is the sign of loyalty to God.
Fidelity Grows With the Emergency—In Revelation 14 John beholds another scene. He sees a people whose fidelity and loyalty to the laws of God’s kingdom, grow with the emergency. The contempt placed upon the law of God only makes them reveal more decidedly their love for that law. It increases with the contempt that is placed upon it.
(Psalm 119:126, 127; Malachi 3:18.) It Is Time to Fight!—Let no one yield to temptation and become less fervent in his attachment to God’s law because of the contempt placed upon it; for that is the very thing that should make us pray with all our heart and soul and voice, “It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law.” Therefore, because of the universal contempt, I will not turn traitor when God will be most glorified and most honored by my loyalty.
What! shall Seventh-day Adventists relax their devotedness when all their capabilities and powers should be placed on the Lord’s side; when an unflinching testimony, noble and uplifting, should come from their lips? “Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.”
When the law of God is most derided and brought into the most contempt, then it is time for every true follower of Christ, for those whose hearts have been given to God, and who are fixed to obey God, to stand unflinchingly for the faith once delivered to the saints. “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.” It is time to fight when champions are most needed (The Review and Herald, June 8, 1897).
SDA Bible Commentary