FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
Biblical Numerology: NUMBER FOUR & FORTY– Part XIII
The Four Beasts Lead the Heavenly Worship of the Son, Never of the Sun
 
It’s that time of year.  So, as true believers and loyal disciples of Christ, let us do His bidding, which, in itself, is a divine enabling to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world,” to which He added: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matt. 5: 13-16.
 
What is it? An urgent reminder of a pressing, present truth, thus, expectedly unpopular and unsavory to far too many now in these waning days of year 2016 but more critically, in these closing hours of earth’s probation—the antitype of Noah’s days.

 
Jesus, supposedly the birthday Celebrant of the December 25 Christmas, warned His first disciples-in-training and all others since then: “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matt. 24: 4; cf. Eph. 5: 6); Paul continues, “Let no man deceive himself” (1 Cor. 3: 18; cf. 1 John 1: 8). Let none bewail the repetition of these familiar warnings. They were given in order to save, not condemn. But those who reject these warnings of divine tough love condemn themselves for such message are a part of the everlasting gospel designed to save us from Satan’s unnumbered deceptions and schemes.
 
Let us embrace such warnings at this time of the year, this year. We will be eternally grateful after all is said and done and earth’s harvest of souls are finally gathered into heaven. But those who do otherwise will be numbered among the lost multitudes who will be “weeping/wailing and gnashing their teeth” (Matt.8: 12; 13: 42, 50; 22: 13; 25: 51; 25: 30). Of such finally-impenitent rejecters of present truth, were shown to John in vision at Patmos at the opening of the sixth seal: “And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free men, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Rev. 6: 15-17.  
 
Our Savior Jesus Christ, is “the Lord of the Sabbath,”—not the Sabbath Himself, warned:  “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, and marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark [7 days before the end of the 120 year-probation time], and did not know until the flood came and took them away, so also will the coming of the Son of man be.” Matt. 24: 37-39.  
 
     “There is in itself no sin in eating and drinking, or in marrying and giving in marriage. It was lawful to marry in the time of Noah, and it is lawful to marry now, if that which is lawful is properly treated and not carried to sinful excesses [intemperance]. But in the days of Noah men married without consulting God or seeking His guidance and counsel . . . .
     “The fact that all the relations of life are of a transitory nature should have a modifying influence on all we do and say. In Noah’s day it was the inordinate, excessive love of that which in itself was lawful, when properly used, that made marriage sinful before God. There are many who are losing their souls in this age of the world by becoming absorbed in the thoughts of marriage and in the marriage relation itself.
     “The marriage relation is holy, but in this degenerate age it covers vileness of every description. It is abused and has become a crime which now constitutes one of the signs of the last days, even as marriages, managed as they were previous to the Flood, were then a crime . . . . When the sacred nature and the claims of marriage are understood, it will even now be approved of Heaven; and the result will be happiness to both parties, and God will be glorified.”- E. G. White, Adventist Home, pp. 121, 122.
 
     “The Bible declares that in the last days men will be absorbed in worldly pursuits, in pleasure and money-getting. They will be blind to eternal realities. Christ says, ‘As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. [Matt. 24: 37-39, K.J.V. quoted]. So it is today. Men are rushing on in the chase for gain and selfish [“selfies,” too!] indulgence as if there were no God, no heaven, and no hereafter. In Noah’s day the warning of the flood was sent to startle men in their wickedness and call them to repentance. So the message of Christ’s soon-coming [not “birthday”] is designed to arouse men from their absorption in worldly things. It is intended to awaken them to a sense of eternal realities, that they may give heed to the invitation to the Lord’s table [in Christ’s Parable of the Great Supper, Luke 14:1, 12-24].“- Ibid,Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 228.  
 
This present truth, and all truths “as it is in Jesus” (Eph. 4: 21) are based on His unconditional perfect love for the sinner and His unconditional utter hatred for sin—the latter being the unconditional separator between Creator and creature—becomes more urgent and  sobering each day that passes onto eternity because of the ongoing, progressive pre-advent/investigative judgment so clearly taught in the Holy Scriptures both in the Old Testament typical or symbolical system of sacrifices, earthly priesthood, and feasts that find their antitypical fulfillment in the New Testament Christian Era, included in the grand plan of redemption that ends the great controversy between Christ and Satan. Many Christians no longer believe in a literal “Satan, the great dragon, that old serpent called the devil” (Rev. 12: 9)—the fallen covering cherub Lucifer who led the first rebellion and war in heaven. Indeed, as someone said: “The greatest deception Satan has deceived mankind into believing is that he doesn’t exist.”
 
The four beast-creatures, special order of perhaps the highest-ranking class of angels (compare to seraphim, celestial beings seen in vision before God’s throne by the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 6: 2, 6; and cherubim) ministering to the four corners of the whole universe, particularly to fallen earth, are constantly in the immediate presence of the Father in His great white throne. They are also the worship-leaders followed by the  twenty-four elders in the adoration of God. This is the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary where Christ finally entered into at the termination of the 2300 day/years prophecy of Daniel 8: 14 after ministering in the first apartment or holy place as the merciful High Priest and Mediator after His ascension. He has been performing His closing work of atonement and judgment in addition to His continual mediating and advocating in behalf of penitent sinners, pleading His atoning blood to the Father.
 
We are on the six thousandth year since the yet sinless but character-untested Adam and Eve, created by God in His own image and likeness as free moral agents, disobeyed His clear, straightforward, and simple command by yielding to Satan’s subtle temptation. Thus they yielded their free will to Satan, “the father of lies and murderer from the beginning,” failing the very first test of their love, loyalty, faith, and trust in their Creator that underwrites true, willing obedience to His word of law. By their lack of faith and  trust that resulted in disobedience, the father and mother of mankind introduced sin to the fair earth, rendering them and their posterity—all mankind, subject to disease, decay, and death—the wages of sin.
 
The next millennium of “a thousand years” that completes the 7,000 years of the septenary cycle, begins at Christ’s second Advent in all His luminescent glory ten times brighter than the sun which He had with the Father before His incarnation—signaled by His humble birth in Bethlehem—the occasion the Christian world is supposedly “celebrating” as “Christmas.” He is coming again, no longer as a helpless Babe, rejected by His own people but as the King of kings and Lord of Lords —which is drawing nearer each day as the signs of the times declare in trumpet tones this joyous yet sacred keynote of the whole Bible.
 
Christians who diligently study God’s word, “hungering and thirsting after righteousness” (Matt. 5: 6, 10) humbly rid themselves of preconceived ideas, pray for the Holy Spirit to enlighten their minds, soften their hearts, and guide their search for truth. They are acquainted with Biblically-relevant history and know with humble yet unshakeable certainty that December 25 never was Christ’s birthday. One can read the 66 books of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and, like Sunday-keeping, erroneously called the “Lord’s Day” or the “Christian Sabbath” or even the “American Sabbath,” Christmas was celebrated over half a century yearsbefore Christ was born as the birthday of Mithra or Mithras, the sun god, the greatest deity of the pagan religion of the Roman empire.  Note the following excerpts from Facts of Faith (FF) by Christian Edwardson:
       “Mithraism, an outward refined sun worship, invaded the Roman Empire in B.C. 67, and made way for itself by gathering under its wings all the gods of Rome, so that ‘in the middle of the third century A.D.  Mithraism seemed on the verge of becoming a universal [catholic] religion.’”—Encyclopedia Brittanica, Vol. XVIII, art. ‘Mithraism,’ p. 624, 11th edition, 1911/ FF 97.    
     “That which made Mithraism so popular was the fact that the Roman Caesars adopted it, and the soldiers planted its banners wherever they went. The higher schools of Greek learning also accepted it, as did also the nobility, or the better classes of society, which gave it great prestige. Its ‘Mysteries’ had a bewitching and fascinating influence on the people. And Sunday, ‘the venerable day of the sun,’ was the popular holiday of Mithraism.
     “On the other hand the primitive Christian religion appeared to the learned Greek scholastics and their followers of eminent nobility only as ‘foolishness’ (see 1 Corinthians 1: 18-23), and the Romans looked down upon the Christians with disdain and utter contempt. After the Jews had rebelled against the Roman government (Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed by Titus in A.D. 70, and multitudes of the Jews were sold as slaves), hatred and contempt for them had become quite general among the Romans, and everything Jewish was despised. Thus, Sunday, in the Roman world, stood for what was eminent and popular, while the Sabbath, kept by the Jews, stood for what was despised and looked down upon. The temptations placed before an aspiring man, therefore, lay all in one direction. Dr. J.L. Mosheim says:
      ‘The profound respect that was paid to the Greek and Roman mysteries, and the extraordinary sanctity that was attributed to them, were additional circumstances that induced the Christians to give their religion a mystic air, in order to put it upon an equal footing, in point of dignity, with that of the Pagans. For this purpose they gave the name of mysteries to the institutions of the Gospel, and decorated particularly the holy sacrament with that solemn title.  They used in that sacred institution, as also in that of baptism, several of the terms employed in the Heathen mysteries, and proceeded so far, at length, as even to adopt some of the ceremonies of which those renowned mysteries consisted . . . . A great part, therefore, of the service of the Church, in this century, had a certain air of the Heathen mysteries, and resembled them considerably in many particulars.’ –‘History of the Church’ (2-vol. ed.) Vol. I, Cent.2, part 2, chap. 4, par. 5, p. 67. New York: 1871. FF 98  . . .
     “It would be too long a story to trace the doctrines of Mithraism that were brought into the church. We must confine ourselves to our subject, Sunday-keeping [in connection with December 25].
Franz Cumont (who is probably the best informed man of our age on the subject of Mithraism) says further:
          ‘The ecclesiastical authorities purified in some degree the customs which they could not abolish.’
           ‘The pre-eminence assigned to the dies Solis [Sunday] by Mithraism also certainly contributed to the general recognition of Sunday as a holiday [among Christians]’ – ‘Astrology and Religion Among the Greeks and Romans,’ pp. 171, 162, 163, New York: 1912.
      “Sunday, over which the Sun presided, was especially holy . . . .[The worshippers of Mithra held Sunday sacred, and celebrated the birth of the Sun on the twenty-fifth of December.’ –‘The Mysteries of Mithras, pp. 167, 191. Chicago: Open Court Pub. Co., 1911. “Professor Gilbert Murray, M.A., D.Litt., LL.D., F.B.A., Professor of Greek in Oxford University, says:  ‘”It [Mithraism] had so much acceptance that it was able to impose on the Christian world its own Sun-Day in place of the Sabbath, its Sun’s birthday, twenty-fifth December, as the birthday of Jesus.”- ‘History of Christianity in the Light of Modern Knowledge,; Chap. III; cited in ‘Religion and Philosophy,’ pp. 73, 74. New York: 1929.  
                                                              (To be continued next week)