SDA Sabbath School Lessons
Monday August 26, 1996

What is the Mark of the Beast? (Rev. 13:16,17).

What is the sign or seal of God's creative and redemptive power? Exod. 31:13-17; Ezek. 20:12, 20; Matt. 24:20; Rev. 14:7.

In Scripture the words sign and seal are sometimes used synonymously. For example, speaking of Abraham, Paul wrote: "He received circumcision as a sign or seal of the righteousness which he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised" (Rom. 4:11, RSV). Abraham was not saved by circumcision; he was saved by grace, which he accepted by faith. But circumcision was the sign, or seal, of the saving experience. Of course, since the cross, circumcision as a religious rite is no longer necessary (Rom. 2:28, 29).

God's sign, or seal, of His creative and redemptive work is the seventh-day Sabbath. The Sabbath is a sign that He is the Creator (Gen. 2:1-3, Exod. 20:8-11).

The Sabbath is also a sign of sanctification or holiness (Exod. 31:13; Ezek. 20:12). The gift of holiness was made possible by Christ's death and His gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:2). Thus the Sabbath is a sign, or seal of the righteousness- and salvation-by-faith experience.

What sign or mark of its authority does the papacy claim?

Satan chose a counterfeit day of worship as the sign, or mark, of his authority. Sunday observance is claimed by the papacy as the mark of its religious authority.

"Roman Catholics acknowledge that the change of the Sabbath was made by their church, and declare that Protestants by observing the Sunday are recognizing her 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, 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 of the authority of the Catholic Church, papist writers cite 'the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of. . . .'--Henry Tuberville, An Abridgment of the Christian Doctrine, page 58. 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'?"-The Great Controversy, p. 447, 448.