Preparing for the final crisis
The Bible speaks of a time of trouble before us that is worse than anything that has ever been seen in the history of the world. This will be the final crisis that God’s people will face just before deliverance at the second coming of Christ. We are told:
“and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” (Dan. 12:1).
For many people, life is fairly normal but it will not necessarily remain that way for very long. Trouble is brewing in the world and it is all pointing in the direction that has been prophesied. We do not know when the crisis will break, but the systems are slowly but surely being put in place. The final crisis is described as one in which no one will be able to buy or sell unless they have the Mark of the Beast. Eventually, those who do not conform to that system will be put to death. The Bible speaks of a super power in the world that will enforce the system of the Mark of the Beast as follows:
“And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth 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, or the number of his name.” (Rev. 13:15-17).
Now more than ever
There was never a time in the history of the world when the available technology made it as possible for persons to be tracked and for people’s ability to buy and sell to be controlled. There has never been as much worldwide fear of terrorism and a willingness of persons to fall in line with the systems of this world in order to secure their own safety. The Mark of the Beast involves a system of conformity worldwide in breach of at least one of God’s Commandments. The main characteristics of those who will overcome the Mark of the Beast are that they “keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12).
There is only one commandment that is universally breached in a manner that fits the description. It is the fourth of the Ten Commandments that involves keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. We are told:
“The Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty, for it is the point of truth especially controverted. When the final test shall be brought to bear upon men, then the line of distinction will be drawn between those who serve God and those who serve Him not. While the observance of the false Sabbath in compliance with the law of the state, contrary to the fourth commandment, will be an avowal of allegiance to a power that is in opposition to God, the keeping of the true Sabbath, in obedience to God’s law, is an evidence of loyalty to the Creator. While one class, by accepting the sign of submission to earthly powers, receive the mark of the beast, the other, choosing the token of allegiance to divine authority, receive the seal of God.” (Ellen G. White, Great Controversy pg. 605)
It has been customary among Sabbath-keepers to identify the Mark of the Beast by a two-step process. First, they would use the characteristics given in Revelation 13 to identify the Beast and then they would look among the distinguishing features of that system to see what its mark is. This approach may become less and less palatable as time goes by as the world is moving in a direction that frowns upon anything that appears to speak against other religions. They see it as intolerance and hate speech. But the message must be presented. We must find creative ways of presenting the same message. Another approach has been used in a small 20-page booklet by Colin A. Gyles entitled “The Love Which Overcomes the Mark of the Beast”. It identifies the Mark of the Beast based on the commandment involved, without getting into the matter of who the Beast is. This approach may become more and more useful as time progresses.
God’s people in the last days
God’s people in the last days were given the name Seventh-day Adventists because it identifies the two distinctive features of faith in the last days –
“We are Seventh-day Adventists. This is a fitting name, for we keep the Seventh-day Sabbath, and look for the second advent of our Lord in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. Even with respect to the name indicating some of the peculiar points of faith distinguishing us from other Christians, we are denominational. In keeping the Sabbath that God declares should be kept holy as a sign between Himself and His people, we show to the world that we are His peculiar people, chosen people – a people whom He has denominated.” (Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases Vol. 19 pg 40)
“Do not these words point us out as God’s denominated people? And do they not declare to us that so long as time shall last, we are to cherish the sacred, denominational distinction placed on us? The children of Israel were to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations ‘for a perpetual covenant.’ The Sabbath has lost none of its meaning. It is still the sign between God and His people, and it will be so forever.” (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, 8/4/1904)
Quite distinct from God’s denominated people, the wine of Babylon, which identifies the other side of the controversy, is specifically the doctrines of Sunday sacredness and the immortality of the soul. We are told:
“The wine of Babylon is the exalting of the false and spurious sabbath above the Sabbath which the Lord Jehovah hath blessed and sanctified for the use of man, also [it is] the immortality of the soul. These kindred heresies, and the rejection of the truth, convert the church into Babylon.” (Ellen G. White, Selected Messages Vol. 2 pg. 68).
Press together and respect religious liberty
Based on these clear distinctions, the Seventh-day Adventist Movement is clearly not Babylon. We must recognise this and unite around the things that are important in these last days. The Bible says that “there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.” – 1 Cor. 12:15. There are those who would insist that all evangelistic work must be done under one administrative structure but this posture is not supported in Scripture. In fact, Jesus, in responding to a situation that was brought to His attention clearly says otherwise – “And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.” (Luke 9:49, 50).
As believers in the Third Angel’s Message, we need to recognize that when the crisis breaks, which we are told by the prophet Ellen G. White will come as “an overwhelming surprise”, it will be against all Sabbath-keeping Adventists. No distinction will be made. Efforts at quenching the zeal of those who would advance the message are contrary to the principles of religious liberty and can only divide us and make us more vulnerable to be overcome by the powers of the world. We are admonished:
“The great work from which the mind should not be diverted, is the consideration of our safety in the sight of God. The storm is coming, relentless in its fury. Are we prepared to meet it? Are our feet on the Rock of Ages? Are we one with Christ, as he is one with the Father?” (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, Dec. 27, 1898; Mar. 108)
“The watchmen must sound the alarm. If men are at ease in Zion somebody must be awake to give the trumpet a certain sound. Let the blaze of the beacon light be seen everywhere. Let the ease-loving awake, the tranquil be disturbed, and let them labor for religious liberty. And after we have done all we can, then leave our Lord to do His work. (Ellen G. White, Manuscript releases Vol. 16 pg. 239.)
May the Lord help us to play our part in advancing His cause.
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).
- Zerubbabel (Zech. 4:6)
Previous presentations can be found at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/