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Sabbath: The Seal of God and Mark of the Beast ~ Part 2 — 11 Comments

  1. I think we need to be very careful about the identification of persecuting powers with particular organisations. I grew up on a diet of stories of the Waldensians and the Huguenots. We had “reading course” books about their persecution that were pretty scary reading for a 10-year old. It wasn’t until I was in my late 30s that I started to read other secular history books. Then I found out that I had read only half of the story.

    I found the Lutherans, once they had separated from Roman Catholicism, used persecution tactics against minority religious groups, particularly the Anabaptist Mennonite communities.

    Calvin thought it was necessary to persecute theologians who did not agree with him and his followers rather cruelly persecuted several people and killed them grotesquely.

    Protestant Queen Elizabeth 1 of England allowed the persecution of Roman Catholics and priests were frequently burned at the stake. Roman Catholic families often hid priests in carefully hidden rooms known as priest holes. There are whole lists of Catholic martyrs from this period.

    I mention this for two reasons. We sometimes hold the reformers in high esteem because they separated from the Roman Catholic Church. That fits our story. But they adopted the same tactics of persecution to ensure that their followers towed the doctrinal line. If we fail to understand this, we can be accused of cherry-picking the bits of the story that fit our beliefs.

    The other issue that needs to be mentioned is that throughout the history of the Papacy, there were periods of tolerance as well as times of persecution. And when persecution was used, it was often used indiscriminately. The Jews and Muslims were particularly the subjects of persecution. There were also several periods where the factions of the papacy persecuted one another. Read about the great Eastern schism and just about any European religious war.

    I submit that "the Beast" is any power, religious, or secular, that uses persecution and denial of freedom as a tool to control the beliefs and activities of others.

    • The beast is not any Beast brother. As much as history will show you even Protestantism persecuted the Catholics, Revelation and Daniel says it's a specific beast with characteristic specific to it's actions. Re-read

    • Perhaps a point of clarification might be helpful:

      I am not John Dillinger, the famous American bank robber from the 1920s and 1930s. The name on my driver's license, my birth certificate, and my passport do not read "John Dillinger." I look nothing like the man in John Dillinger's prison mug shots. If you were to compare my fingerprints to Dillinger's prints on file with the FBI, they would not match. Also, there is the fact that John Dillinger was shot to death in Chicago in 1934, more than two decades before I was born. Thus it is an incontrovertible fact that I am not John Dillinger, the epitome of bank robbers.

      And yet if I were to go out and rob a bank tomorrow, and when the police caught me (as they surely would), could I go free by explaining that I cannot be the person they are looking for, because I am not John Dillinger? Would any law enforcement officer accept that argument? Would any judge? Any jury?

      John Dillinger was never under condemnation of the law because his name was "John Dillinger", or because of his appearance, or because of his fingerprints. Those were merely identifying characteristics, published by law enforcement so that citizens might recognize him and beware. But what got John Dillinger in trouble with the law was the fact that he was robbing banks. Lots of banks. If I started robbing banks then I, too, would get in trouble with the law, and deservedly so.

      In the same way, the identifying characteristics of the sea beast in Revelation 13 are pretty clear. We should recognize those characteristics and beware. But what makes the sea beast dangerous is not that it resides in a city with seven hills, or that it was in power for 1260 years, or even that it received a deadly wound that has begun to heal. What makes the beast power dangerous is that it insists that it has authority to define righteousness, that the Holy Spirit preserves it from error in faith and doctrine, that the Bible can rightly be interpreted only through that power's traditions, that God can be approached only through its mediation, and that it has a God-given right to coerce and persecute those who disagree. All these tenets attempt to put the beast on God's throne. Not everyone who associates with the beast holds those tenets, but the beast itself does, as amply documented in its official publications.

      There is only one sea beast of Revelation 13, but I respectfully submit that anyone else who commits those same crimes will fall under the same condemnation, whether they be Protestants, or Muslims, or secular humanists, or whatever. To the extent that even we Seventh-day Adventists, either corporately or individually, commit those crimes, we will to that same extent be just as guilty. The message of Revelation (and the Great Controversy, for that matter) is not given for us to pat ourselves on the back in smug superiority or to indulge in religious prejudice. It is given to warn us not to submit to that beast and--even more important--not to behave like that beast. We must embrace the love of Christ instead: love towards sinners, love towards "heretics", and even love towards those who seek to persecute us.

    • Amen Maurice and it may not necessarily be a religious institution. This is why studying history is so important.

    • Brother Maurice, you speak very well.

      This is my thoughts only: While we are busy watching the Roman Catholic church, the dragon "may be" using all kinds of other means to bring about the mark of the beast to the world.

      We need to go back and re-read Daniel 7 and Revelation 13, the entire chapters. For example, you may notice that in Revelation 13, there are two beasts; the second beast in Revelation 13:11. This beast, the lamb looking beast (another counterfeit) appears to not demand the world to worship him, or this can be interpreted that it is not a religious power. But this same lamb looking beast demands that the world worship the first beast; instead, it demands the world to make an image to the beast, which is very interesting. We, as SDA, have been preaching that this lamb beast is the USA. But what if it's not? In my opinion, it is any power that believes in, or tries to establish "one-world order". While our founding fathers may have had good intentions for leading us to focus on only the Roman Catholic Church as the first beast, and the USA as the second beast, it may not be as cut and dry as that (don't stone me for saying this). I just think we should watch and pray for any power or institution that implements its beliefs as the absolute system of worship that will cause all the world to worship the first beast.

      I am not saying that the beast in Revelation 13 and Daniel 7 is NOT the Roman Catholic church. I'm saying that it may be the beast or it may not; but the bible doesn't explicitly say that the Roman Catholic church is the beast. I'm just saying to not concentrate on this church only. There's a reason why in the middle of this chapter, John says "If any man have an ear, let him hear.", Revelation 13:9, this means to me, you must really listen and learn what I'm trying to say to you, this is very important, and it may not be so obvious; but if you study, watch, and pray, you will get it. These are my opinions only. "But as for me and my house", and as I teach my class to do, I will be watchful and prayerful of any "false system of worship", whether it is religious or not.

      God's blessings to you all.

  2. One issue that concerns me is that we tend to interpret Bible prophecy to events that took place in a small corner of the world and to one ethnic group. Do the millions of people in North, Central and South America, Asia, Africa and Australia who were killed for their religious beliefs by non-Catholics matter to God? Our church is silent on these issues and tends to be defensive when questions like these arise.

  3. I suppose accepting or refusing the sign of the beast will become the ultimate evidence of the person's choice. What is strong enough to motivate one to join one side or the other? What could motivate one to decide which way to go? Fear to lose one’s life is certainly a strong motivator.

    When all is said and done, I think those who remain faithful and accept to suffer for the sake of righteousness accept the seal of God because they value the new life promised to them more than the life they live now. Those who accept the mark of the beast decide to keep their life out of fear, knowing the decision was forced through violence, coercion, and threat. Their faith is either not strong enough or they value the promised life not enough to remain faithful.

    Ultimately, maybe this is where the focus of our ‘learning’ should be placed – preparing us for how to stay faithful even when the ease of our life here is threatened to be taken away by unjust forces. Why not include the possible future circumstances in our preparation to keep our faith strong? We might need to strength our faith through developing a deeper conviction and commitment to love God with all our heart – acting more honorable as we humbly walk with Him – Micah 6:8.

  4. I agree ultimately, the focus should be on preparing us to stay faithful even when the ease of our life here is threatened to be taken away by unjust forces. The focus is to be firmly grounded in Christ and His truth.

    But there is also the point that this whole controversy is going to narrow the world into two distinct sides. In human reasoning we can divide the world into numerous groups, atheists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Communists, Sunday church going Protestants, Saturday church going Protestants, Catholics and spiritists, etc. Yet we are told the world will be narrowed down to two sides. Will we be able to distinguish which is the right side?

    Another contributor asked; do we " interpret Bible prophecy to events that took place in a small corner of the world"?

    The answer may give a clue as to how the whole world will be narrowed into two sides. Notice in scripture that the Bible itself seems to deal with only a small corner of the world. It doesn't seem to worry about the civilization that sprung up in China, India, Inter-America, Japan, during the same time the Bible stories took place. Why?
    Because the Bible focuses where the action concerning the things of God are taking place. It reveals how the nations that were entrusted with God's truth reacted.

    What are the two sides to which the world is brought (both seemingly worshipping God) in the end of time? Seems one side honors the creature, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men, while the other honors the Creator and His commandments.

    Now Maurice mentioned there were diverse groups persecuting, not just the papal armies. But consider:
    1. People have been killing each other since Cain and Abel.
    Jews killed Christians, Christians killed Jews, Muslims killed a lot of Christians, and Christians killed Muslims. Violence in the land has been the norm of history. But is that the basic issue prophecy is dealing with?

    2. Yes, Protestants were slow to unlearn the established belief that everyone in a given society had to believe the same way or the society would disintegrate. This was accepted as the norm in most societies (even ancient Israel) that society is held together by a religion to which all in that society are committed or be ostracized. Even in North America it took time for the fugitives of European persecution to realize this needed to stop. Protestants, as they broke away from the papal system, had a lot to unlearn.
    And remember, Protestant America will revert back, and "speak as the Dragon" getting the world to worship the beast. (Rev. 13)

    3. What group claiming to represent Christ, persecuted with the greatest consistency and organized fashion, and numbers, for the longest time period, as part of its very character?

    4. Jesus was very gentle with sinners, yet quite harsh to a certain group of people. Why? They were leaders, teachers sitting in the seat of authority, seen as representatives of God given truths, but teaching the people things that kept them from finding salvation.
    So prophecy concerns itself with the proclamation of the gospel, not about the cultures of different nations. What have those entrusted with the knowledge of the gospel done with it? Have they perverted it and filled it with deceptions that will lead to people's eternal ruin? Do they use force (subtle or overt) to impose those deceptions?

  5. The Bible is so clear and tells us who the beast is. It does not give the characteristics and leave the matter to us to decide who the beast can be. Let us trust God, trust His Word and His Holly Spirit.

    In my view Revelation 13 tells us WHO is the beast.

  6. I've been reading the comments under this post, and I'm wondering why we should have to choose between accepting the overwhelming evidence that the papacy is positively the sea beast of Revelation 13 (and Sunday-keeping American Protestantism the land beast), on the one hand, and facing the very real danger that, in principle, we ourselves (either corporately or individually) may be just as bad -- or at least subject to the same kinds of spiritual error -- on the other hand. In other words, does the need for humility and a healthy self-distrust really require uncertainty in our prophetic interpretation on this point?

    I freely confess that we Seventh-day Adventists have shown a decided tendency to pat ourselves on the back with self-congratulation that we've been righteous enough, or smart enough, to receive and implement the truth about the 7th-day Sabbath and the unconscious state of the dead. And we've very often made severe, self-righteous thrusts at other church denominations, contrary to Ellen White's counsel. Yet, as I see it, a mere profession of even the most correct religion, on our part, means nothing to God.

    I will submit that the interpretations handed down to us by our Seventh-day Adventist pioneers are not out of date, nor are they faulty, nor are they to blame for our own bad attitudes and behaviour. What I believe we need is a heart conversion to Christ and His principles, that will lead us to look for the best in others, and to suspect the worst concerning ourselves, while firmly relying on the merits and righteousness of Christ alone.

    If we get this backwards, we may be correct about being involved in the great controversy between good and evil, but we have no grounds for supposing that we are on the right side of it. Having the correct theory of truth will not save us, and the trouble that lies ahead will be severe enough to sweep away any attempt to beat the system by avoiding the mark of the beast without Jesus.


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