FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
Biblical Numerology: NUMBER THREE- Part XLII
The Beast, His Image, and the Mark of the Beast
Throughout these series on end-time prophecies the word “church” refers to the host of worshippers, generally the Christian churches of America but more specifically the once-Protestant churches of once-Protestant America while “Church,” even as the secular media constantly alludes to, is the Church of Rome, or in specified instances, state churches such as the Church of England. Below we continue quoting fromThe Great Controversy by Ellen G. White, 1911 ed., pp. 443-458. Comments and emphasis by this compiler are so indicated and/or enclosed in brackets.
“In order for the United States to form an image of the beast, the religious power must so control the civil government that the authority of the State will also be employed by the church to accomplish her own ends.” – Great Controversy, p. 443.
Historical Precedent. “Whenever the church has obtained secular power, she has employed it to punish dissent from her doctrines. Protestant churches that have followed in the steps of Rome by forming alliance with worldly powers, have manifested a similar desire to restrict liberty of conscience. An example of this is given in the long-continued persecution of dissenters by the Church of England During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, thousands of non-conformist ministers were forced to leave their churches, and many, both pastors and people, were subjected to fine, imprisonment, torture, and martyrdom [in Christian, not Muslim countries!]
What prompted the early church to seek the aid of civil government, and its result? “It was apostasythat led the early church to seek the aid of civil government; and this prepared the way for the development of the papacy—the beast. Said Paul, There shall ‘come a falling away first and the man of sin be revealed.’ 2 Thessalonians 2: 3. So apostasy in the church will prepare for the image to the beast. The Bible declares that before the coming of the Lord there will exist a state of religious declension similar to that in the first centuries. [2 Timothy 3: 1-5 and 1Timothy 4: 1, K.J.V. quoted]. Satan will work ‘with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness.’ And ‘all that receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved,’ will be left to accept ‘strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.’ 2 Thessalonians 2: 9-11. When this state of ungodliness shall be reached, the same results will follow as in the first centuries.” – Ibid, pp. 443, 444.
“The wide diversity of belief in the Protestant churches is regarded by many as decisive proof that no effort to secure a forced uniformity can ever be made. But there has been for years [since 1888], in the churches of the Protestant faith, a strong and growing sentiment in favor of a union based upon common points of doctrine [the ecumenical movement]. To secure such a union, the discussion of subjects upon which all were not agreed—however important they may be from a Bible standpoint—must necessarily be waived.
“Charles Beecher, in a sermon in the year 1846, declared that the ministry of ‘evangelical Protestant denominations’ is ‘not only formed all thy way up under a tremendous pressure of merely human fear, but they live, and move, and breathe in a state of things radically corrupt, and appealing every hour to every baser element of their nature to hush up the truth, and bow the knee to the power of apostasy. Was not this the way things went with Rome? Are we not living her life over again? And what do we see just ahead?—Another general council! A world’s convention! Evangelical alliance, and universal creed!’ – Sermon on ‘The Bible a Sufficient Creed,’ delivered at Fort Wayne, Indiana, Feb. 22, 1846. When this shall be gained, then, in the effort to secure complete uniformity, it will be only a step to the resort of force.” pp. 444, 445.
The Movement to watch out for. “When the leading churches of the United States, uniting upon suchpoints of doctrine as are held by them in common, shall influence the State to enforce their decrees and sustain their institutions, then Protestant America will have formed an image of the Roman hierarchy, and the infliction of civil penalties upon dissenters will inevitably result.”- Ibid. p. 445.
NOTE: An interesting read is “Vatican II and Seventh-day Adventists – So much in Common” by Neil C. Livingston. See at: http://omega77.tripod.com/NeilChap15.html
“The beast with two horns [nothing in Revelation suggests it resembled an American bison to John] ‘causeth [commands] all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads; and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast [not of the image of the beast], or the number of his [the beast’s] name.’ Rev. 13: 16, 17.
“The third angel’s warning is, ‘If any man WORSHIP [obeys] the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.’ The ‘beast’ mentioned in this message, whose worship is enforced by the two-horned beast, is the first, or leopard-like beast of Revelation 13,–the papacy.
Who and how is the “image of or to the beast” formed? “The ‘image to the beast’ represents that form ofapostate Protestantism which will be developed when the Protestant churches shall seek the aid of the civil power for the enforcement of their dogmas. ‘The ‘mark of the beast’ still remains to be defined. [see below]
“After the warning against the worship of the beast and his image, the prophecy declares, ‘Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’ Rev. 14: 12. Since those who keep the commandments are thus placed in contrast with those that worship the beast and his image and receive his mark, it follows that the keeping of God’s law, on the one hand, and its violation, on the other, will make thedistinction between the worshippers of God and the worshippers of the beast.
“The special characteristic of the beast, and therefore his image, is the breaking of God’s commandments. Says Daniel, of the ‘little horn,’ the papacy, he ‘shall think to change the times and the law.’ Daniel 7: 25, R.V. And Paul styled the same power the ‘man of sin,’ who was to exalt himself above God. 2 Thess. 2: 3, 4. One prophecy is a complement of the other. Only by changing God’s law could the papacy exalt itself above God; whoever should understandingly keep the law as thus changed would be giving supreme honor to that power by which the change was made. Such an act of obedience to papal laws would be a mark of allegiance to the pope in the place of God.” – Ibid, pp. 445, 446.
“The papacy has attempted to change the law of God. The second commandment, forbidding image worship [Exo. 20: 4-6], has been [completely] dropped from the law, and the fourth commandment has been so changed as to authorize the first instead of the seventh day as the Sabbath. But papists urge, as a reason for omitting the second commandment, that it is unnecessary, being included in the first, and that they are giving the law exactly as God designed it to be understood. [If this is true, why then is the Vatican, their grand cathedrals, churches, and shrines worldwide literally filled to the rafters with images?] [However] “this cannot be the change foretold by the prophet. An intentional, deliberate change is presented: ‘He shall think to change the times and the law.’ The change in the fourth commandment exactly fulfills the prophecy. For this the only authority claimed is that of the Church. Here the papal power openly sets itself above God.
“While the worshippers of God will be especially distinguished by their regard of the fourth commandment, —since this is the sign of His creative power, and the witness to His claim upon man’s reverence and homage,–the worshippers of the beast will be distinguished by their efforts to tear down the Creator’s memorial, to exalt the institution of Rome. It was in behalf of the Sunday, that popery first asserted its arrogant claims; and its first resort to the power of the State was to compel the observance of Sunday as the ‘Lord’s day.’ But the Bible points to the seventh day, and not the first, as the Lord’s day. Said Christ, ‘The Son of man is the Lord of the Sabbath. Mark 2: 27, 28; [also, Matt. 12: 8; Luke 6: 5]. The fourth commandment [which the papacy changed to the third] ‘The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord.’ And by the prophet Isaiah the Lord designates it, ‘My holy day.’ Isa. 58: 13.”- Ibid, pp. 446, 447.
“The claim so often put forth, that Christ changed the Sabbath, is disproved by His own words. In His sermon of the mount He said: ‘Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am come not to destroy but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle [punctuation mark] shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. [See rest of Matt. 5: 17-19, quoted].
Protestants Generally Admit it. “It is a fact generally admitted by Protestants, that the Scriptures give no authority for the change of the Sabbath. This is plainly stated in publications issued by the American Tract Society and the American Sunday-school Union. One of these works acknowledges ‘the complete silence of the New Testament so far as any explicit command for the Sabbath (Sunday, the first day of the week) or defines rules for its observance are concerned.’ – George Elliott, The Abiding Sabbath, p. 184. Another says: ‘Up to the time of Christ’s death, no change had been made in the day;’ and, ‘so far as the record shows, they [the true apostles as there are many false apostles] did not give any explicit command enjoining the abandonment of the seventh-day Sabbath, and its observance of the first day of the week.’ – A.E. Waffle, The Lord’s Day.pp. 186-188.”- Ibid.
Roman Catholics Acknowledge it. “Roman Catholics acknowledge that the change of the Sabbath was made by their Church, and declare that Protestants [whether Evangelical, Pentecostal, Reformed, Methodist, Presbyterian, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc.], by observing the Sunday, are recognizing her [the papal Church’s] power. In the Catholic Catechism of Christian Religion, in answer to a question as to the day to be observed in obedience to the fourth commandment, this statement is made:
‘During the old law, Saturday was the day sanctified; but the Church, instructed by Jesus Christ [nowhere is this to be found in the Bible] and directed by the Spirit of God, has substituted Sunday for Saturday; so now we sanctify the first, not the seventh day. Sunday means, and now is, the day of the Lord.’
“As the sign [synonymous with mark, or seal] of the authority of the Catholic Church, papist writers cite ‘the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of . . . . because, by keeping Sunday strictly, they acknowledge the Church’s power to ordain feasts and to command them under sin.’ —Henry Tuberville, An Abridgement of the Christian Doctrine, p. 58.- Ibid.
“What then is the change of the Sabbath, but the sign or mark of the authority of the Roman Church—‘the mark of the beast’?” – Ibid.
“The Roman Church has not relinquished her claim to supremacy; and when the world and the Protestant churches accept a sabbath of her creating, while they reject the Bible Sabbath, they virtually admit this assumption. They may claim the authority of tradition and of the Fathers for the change; but in so doing they ignore the very principles which separates them from Rome,—that ‘the Bible, and the Bible only, is the religion of the Protestants.’ The papists can see that they are deceiving themselves, willingly closing their eyes to the facts of the case.
As the movement for Sunday observance gains favor, he rejoices, feeling assured that it will eventually bring the whole Protestant world under the banner of Rome. Romanists declare that ‘the observance of Sunday by Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the Church.’—Mgr. Segur, Plain Talk About Protestants Today, p. 213. The enforcement of Sunday-keeping on the part of the Protestant churches is an enforcement of the worship of the papacy—of the beast.
Those, who,understanding the claims of the fourth commandment, choose to observe the false instead of the true Sabbath; are thereby paying homage to that power by which alone it is commanded. But in the very act of enforcing a religious duty by secular power, the churches would themselves form an image to the beast; hence theenforcement of Sunday-keeping in the United States would be an enforcement of the worship of the beast and his image”- Ibid, pp. 448-450. Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” John 8: 32. “Sanctify them by Thy truth. Thy word is truth.” John 17: 17.
(Continued next week)