June 19 - 25
The Last Fight for Human Freedom
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: 2 Cor. 11:14, 15; Rev. 12:17; 13:11-15; 22:12-14.
MEMORY TEXT: "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38, 39, NKJV).
KEY QUESTIONS: What will Satan's last efforts consist of? What basic human needs will he appeal to? And exactly how will he try to accomplish his goals?
TURMOIL IN THE LAST DAYS. We must not forget that we are nearing the end of time when each follower of Christ will be tested to see whose side he or she is on. But we must not become so preoccupied with this testing time that we lose sight of Jesus.
The issue in the great controversy is the Lordship of Christ and the loyalty of those who claim to love Him. But we do not have the resources within ourselves to stand up to all the pressures that will be brought to bear on us. Even our own faith will not sustain us. Such help is ours only if we grasp the Saviour's hand, which He readily offers us. He alone is the object of our faith and the author and finisher of it (Heb. 12:1, 2). Thus we look beyond ourselves, not within ourselves, for victory. We look to the true Source of moral strength and steadfast faith. He is the One who will present us faultless before the Father.
As we studied earlier, Satan produced the appearance of Samuel at the request of the witch of Endor. He is able to impersonate just as easily the form of Samuel as that of an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).
"Little by little he [Satan] has prepared the way for his masterpiece of deception in the development of spiritualism. He has not yet reached the full accomplishment of his designs; but it will be reached in the last moment of time . . . Except those who are kept by the power of God, through faith in His word, the whole world will be swept into the ranks of this delusion."The Great Controversy, pp. 561, 562.
Beside the personations given below, what other kinds of personations might Satan assume? Where else could he appear (see 2 Cor. 11:14 and Rev. 16:14)?
We should anticipate four kinds of personations:
1. Loved Ones. "It is Satan's most successful and fascinating delusion . . . Evil angels come in the form of those loved ones and relate incidents connected with their lives, and perform acts which they performed while living."Last Day Events, p. 161.
2. Saints or Sinners. "It is not difficult for the evil angels to represent both saints and sinners who have died. . . . These manifestations will be more frequent, and developments of a more startling character will appear as we near the close of time."Evangelism, p. 604.
3. Apostles. "The apostles, as personated by these lying spirits, are made to contradict what they wrote at the dictation of the Holy Spirit when on earth."The Great Controversy, p. 557.
4. Christ. "As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ. . . . In different parts of the earth, Satan will manifest himself among men as a majestic being of dazzling brightness, resembling the description of the Son of God given by John in the Revelation. Revelation 1:13-15. . . . The shout of triumph rings out upon the air: 'Christ has come! Christ has come!' The people prostrate themselves in adoration before him. . . . In gentle, compassionate tones . . . he claims to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and commands all to hallow the day which he has blessed."The Great Controversy, p. 624.
How would you respond to Satan's personations of a loved one?
Apparitions are somewhat different from personations. They are communications and manifestations of dead persons in an unusual way such as a voice speaking through a bright light or the statue of a saint shedding tears or oozing blood from its hands or feet. These kinds of apparitions have become more frequent, particularly among Christians, and are preparing the way for people to accept the workings of modem spiritualism.
Some Christians believe that "through the current deluge of apparitions and locutions, . . . we are witnessing the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven and true beacon for all Christians. It is now part of God's plan to have the 'Woman Clothed with the Sun' (Rev. 12:1) appear throughout the world, to offer people a safe haven in her Immaculate Heart."Ted and Maureen Flynn, The Thunder of Justice (Sterling, Va.: Maxkol Communications, 1993), pp. 4, 5.
Compare Revelation 12:1-5 with verses 6-17. Explain the meaning of these texts in light of the quote given above.
What are the reasons for these apparitions of Mary? The Flynns say the central point of many of these warnings is to prepare people for the second coming of Christ and to stress that at the core of our problems is the breaking of the Sabbath (Sunday) commandment. In the Old Testament it was God's intention for the seventh-day Sabbath to be a day of rest and worship, teaching and praise. But the Flynns believe that in the New Testament, the day do to so is the Christian Sabbath, or Sunday. They state that to be ready for Christ's return, people must stop abusing this day. (See Ted and Maureen Flynn, The Thunder of Justice, pp. 4, 389.)
Discuss how Deuteronomy 13:1-5 applies to the above statement.
If the apparitions of Mary become more frequent and begin to influence someone you know, how would you share with that person the biblical evidence that Mary is resting in the grave and that these apparitions are from another source?
|How would you explain from the Bible that the seventh-day Sabbath has not changed, why it is just as important now as it was in the Old Testament, and that it will continue to be so for all peoples in all places?|
|Match the following items to the texts:|
|1. Rev. 13:1, 2||_______ A. The United States/Protestantism|
|2. Rev. 13:11||_______ B. Satan|
|3. Rev. 12:7||_______ C. Spiritualism|
|4. Rev. 13:14||_______ D. The papal institution|
|5. Rev. 16:13||_______ E. World unity|
The beast in Revelation 13:1, 2 represents the papal institution. The beast in verse 11 represents the United States/Protestantism. The dragon represents Satan (Rev. 12:9), who is determined to unite the world (Rev. 13:14) and bring it under his control through spiritualism (Rev. 16:13). (See the SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, pp. 816-824.)
Explain how Revelation 17:1-6 and 13:1, 2 relate to each other.
Commenting on Revelation 17:1-6, Dave Hunt writes, "The most significant event in nearly 500 years of church history was revealed as a fait accompli on March 29, 1994. On that day leading American evangelicals and Catholics signed a joint declaration titled 'Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the 3rd Millennium.' The document, in effect, overturned the Reformation and will unquestionably have far-reaching repercussions throughout the Christian world for years to come."Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides the Beast (Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House Publishers, 1994), p. 5.
Read about this woman and the beast in Revelation 18:1-4, 11-19; 14:8; 16:19; 13:16, 17.
Ancient Babylon symbolizes global unity. This symbolic city is ruled by spiritualism, Catholicism, and political Protestantism. The glue holding these parts together is a global economy dedicated to unity and world peace (Rev. 18:11-19).
|How will you respond when economic restrictions are placed on those who persist in keeping the commandments of God, including the seventh-day Sabbath? What can you do now to increase your faith and decrease your attachment to things of the world? How can returning our tithes and offerings prepare us emotionally for what is coming?|
Compare what Paul said in Romans 13:1-7 with what Peter said in Acts 4:19, 20; 5:29; 1 Peter 2:13-17; 4:15, 16.
In Romans 13:1-7, Paul calls the state "God's servant" meaning that it has the responsibility to commend those citizens who do good and punish those who break the law. But its responsibility and laws should not extend to the spiritual realm.
When Peter and John were arrested after the Sanhedrin instructed them not to teach in the name of Jesus, Peter defended their actions by saying, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:19, NKJV). They then continued their work. When the chief elders summoned them a second time to ask them why they disobeyed their orders, Peter said, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29, NKJV). Likewise, we should be law abiding citizens as long as a law does not go against one of God's commands (James 2:10, 11).
Explain how the experience recorded in Daniel 3:13-18 fits into the last days.
The Greek translation of the Old Testament (Septuagint) used in Jesus' day does not have the word if in verse 17 as does the Hebrew text, which contains the whole statement (vv. 16-18) as a declarative statement: "O king, we have no need to answer thee concerning this command. For God in the heavens is our one Lord, whom we fear, and who is able to deliver us out of the furnace of fire; and out of your hands, O king, he will deliver us; and then it shall be manifest to thee that we will serve neither thy idol, nor worship thy golden image." (See SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 784.)
Compare the events of Daniel 3:1-25 with what will happen to God's people in the time of the end. Does verse 25 imply that we will escape unharmed? Explain your answer.
|Why do you think the three Hebrews were strong enough to disobey the king's command? Based on verse 25, what hope of victory and deliverance do we have?|
In Matthew 24:23-27, Jesus encompassed all of Satan's deceptions to the end of time. People will be invited to isolated places and secret rooms to listen to and communicate with false teachers and christs. With prophetic insight into the future, Jesus knew that Satan would personate His second coming. He also knew that Satan would deceive, if he could, the very elect (Matt. 24:24).
Compare Satan's attempt to counterfeit Christ's second coming with what Jesus said about His return. Matt. 24:25-27; 1 Thess. 4:16-18; Rev. 1:7.
Christ will come for all to see, even those who were responsible for his death such as Annas, Caiaphas, Pilate, and members of the Sanhedrin who pronounced Him guilty. Yet, not only will they mourn, but "all peoples of the earth" will eventually mourn as well.
Explain the close of probation in light of Revelation 22:7-17. When will it take place?
How does the context of these verses define "righteous" and "holy," on the one hand and "unjust" and "filthy" on the other?
In verse 17, the Holy Spirit is making one last appeal to people everywhere to accept Jesus as their Saviour. There will come a time when probation will close and the moral character of each human will be forever fixed. Now human nature can still be changed. The effects of sin are still reversible, but once probation closes, a person's basic human nature, be it good or bad, will remain as it is.
How would you answer the questions posed by the following passage quoted
from The Great Controversy?
"Are the people of God now so firmly established upon His Word that they would not yield to the evidence of their senses? Would they, in such a crisis, cling to the Bible and the Bible only?"The Great Controversy, p. 625.
|How would you apply the questions from the above passage to your daily Christian experience? What would help you become more established in God and His Word in these last days?|
FURTHER STUDY: Read the glorious outcome of our destiny if we remain faithful to Christ in Revelation 19-22.
Read any or all of the following: Prophets and Kings, "The Fiery Furnace," pp. 503-513; The Acts of the Apostles, "At the Temple Gate," pp. 57-69; The Great Controversy, "The Controversy Ended," pp. 662-678.
"In the Bible the inheritance of the saved is called 'a country.' Hebrews 11:14-16. There the heavenly Shepherd leads His flock to fountains of living waters. The tree of life yields its fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree are for the service of the nations. There are ever-flowing streams, clear as crystal, and beside them waving trees cast their shadows upon the paths prepared for the ransomed of the Lord. There the wide-spreading plains swell into hills of beauty, and the mountains of God rear their lofty summits. On those peaceful plains, beside those living streams, God's people, so long pilgrims and wanderers, shall find a home."The Great Controversy, p. 675.
SUMMARY: Satan's last efforts to make void the gospel and take away human freedom will revolve around spiritualism. economics. and persecution. He will focus on such basic aspects of human nature as our spiritual interests, monetary needs, safety, and security. To accomplish his ends, he will personate Christ, influence lawmakers to enact laws that will withdraw the privileges of liberty from those who keep God's commandments, and influence governments to reserve buying and selling only for those who conform to worldly standards.
But God will rescue His people. Then there will be a new heaven and a new earth, populated with recreated people. God's original purpose in creating the earth will be fulfilled. It will become the home of the redeemed throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. One reminder alone will remain: Jesus will ever bear the marks of His crucifixion. As eternity rolls on, the redeemed will comprehend more and more the love of God as seen in their Saviour and Lord.
J. H. Zachary
The pastor asked his church members in Sucavita, Romania, to support the upcoming evangelistic meetings by praying and inviting their friends. One man, Mircea Gainescu, agreed to invite some friends, but during the week he became busy with work and other activities and forgot his promise.
His pastor asked a second time, but the pressures of family and work crowded the promise from his mind, and the week slipped by before he remembered to invite someone.
On Friday night Brother Gainescu had a dream. He seemed to be looking toward the gate that led from his front door to the street. As he looked, a stranger approached the gate. Gainescu noted that he was short and thin with curly hair. The stranger stopped and asked Gainescu if he could go to church with him.
Gainescu woke up and remembered his promise to invite people to the meetings. He prayed that it was not too late to keep his promise.
Shortly after daybreak he looked out his window toward the front gate. To his surprise he saw a stranger standing at the gate. He was short and thin with curly hair. Gainescu recognized him as the man he had seen in his dream.
Mircea hurried to the gate and welcomed the man into his home. The stranger asked him, "I want to understand the Bible. May I go to church with you today?"
Mircea whispered a thank-You prayer to God and told the man about the evangelistic meetings. This man faithfully attended the remaining meetings. He was thrilled with the messages and accepted each new truth with joy. Following Bible studies he was baptized.
After his baptism he invited his neighbors to come to his home to study the Bible. Some 40 persons accepted his invitation and came to his studies. Only God knows the final outcome of this man's conversion, but Mircea thanks God that He cares about one soul enough to send a dream to a neglectful Adventist to remind him to invite someone to church.
Is God reminding you to invite someone? Does He have to send a dream before you will remember?
J. H. Zachary is international evangelism coordinator for The Quiet Hour in Redlands, California.
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