Three Angels Messages Part 65

Thanks again for joining us as we study the Three Angel’s! The third angel’s message contains the most startling language in Scripture, highlighting a prophetic beast, its image and mark, and warning against receiving the mark on pain of death. Over the last several segments, it is become clear that the beast of the third angel’s message is the system (not the people) of the Roman Catholic Church. This discover is not new; it was embraced by virtually all the Protestant Reformers, who centuries ago strived to bring God’s people back to God’s Word, the Holy Bible.
Because their preaching had such an impact, Catholic scholars went to work to devise alternate interpretations of prophecy, declaring that the Church could not be the Antichrist, for it came and went long ago or that it had not yet come but would come at some future time. It is with sadness that we now recognize that, within the last century or so, what was invented (counter-reformation theology) to forestall the Protestant Reformation has now been embraced and promoted by Protestant scholars, schools, preachers and teachers. It is truly amazing!

Those who today, though they be a remnant, hold to the views carved out by the Reformers of yesteryear at such a great sacrifice, that the beast of Revelation 13 and 14 is the system of the papacy, are today’s true Protestants. In our current culture of “acceptance,” these views may be regarded by some as being harsh and hateful, but let us be reminded that they touch the very core of the battle between Christ and Satan: the authority of Scripture.

Let us continue in our examination of the third angel’s message. The angel said with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark in his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation.”

The beast is the papacy. The word “image” (Greek: ikon, from which we derive “icon”) means “copy” or “duplicate.” In this case, in the primary sense, the “image” is the copy of the Middle Age’s style of coercing conscience in matters of faith and doctrine which characterized the Church during the dark ages. During those long centuries, the Church applied her heavy hand in forcing you how to practice your religion. Freedom of choice was not favored. If you disagreed, severe penalties were enacted, with many, perhaps 50 to 100 million martyrs giving their final testimony with their lives because they could not agree with the policies, theology and practices of the Church.

There is also a secondary application of the word “image,” as it pertains to the concept of something “copied,” but we will leave that discussion for a little later. For now, we will focus on the word “image” as it relates to the return of stiff penalties to enforce religious dogma, a practice which flourished during the Middle Ages, sponsored by the Church. The Bible is telling us that that methodology will be revived in this last time period.
But what is the “mark” of the beast? Having established what the beast power represents and having studied the identifying clues, understanding the “mark of the beast” is very simple. You might have already figured it out.

Let’s begin by posing this question. What is the issue that is brought to light in Revelation 13 and 14? It is the issue of worship, a word that appears no fewer than eight times in these two chapters. To what does the papacy point, as being proof of her superiority over Scripture? It is the changing of the Ten Commandments, written by God’s own finger in stone. To give proof of her authority in ecclesiastical matters the papacy boldly gestures to her modification of the fourth commandment, transferring by her action the day of worship from the seventh day, the day that God ordained, to the first day of the week, a change for which, according to her own words, there is no scriptural basis. She made this change by her own authority. Hardly anyone questions her in so doing.

We have noted the articles that were printed in the September, 1893, edition of the Catholic Mirror, in which Rome challenged the professed Protestant world as to why they worship on Sunday. This practice, states the papacy, has no biblical basis. It was done by the Church. If one claims to be a “sola scriptura” Protestant, then he must follow the Bible in this most important matter of when to worship. If on the other hand, he chooses to continue to worship on Sunday, then be honest and acknowledge to whose authority you are bowing. It is Church Tradition, not Scripture. You are accepting the word of man and setting aside the Word of God.

In identifying the “mark” to which the prophecy points, guesswork is not needed. The Church has made her own confession in this matter. The attempt to transfer the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday, an act which was predicted by Daniel; an act which is accepted by nearly all the Christian world, is the mark of her authority, according to her own testimony. “Sunday is our mark of authority….The Church is above the Bible, and this transference of Sabbath observance is proof of that fact.” Catholic Record, September 21, 1923.

From the rectory of St. Catherine’s newsletter of May 21, 1995 we read, “Perhaps the boldest thing, the most revolutionary change the Church ever did happened in the first century. The holy day, the Sabbath, was changed from Saturday to Sunday…not from any directions noted in the Scriptures, but from the Church’s sense of its own power.”

No one has the mark of the beast yet, for it has not yet become law. Not yet has Babylon “made (coerced by legislation) all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” That event is still future today. But it will come, rest assured. Don’t be lulled to sleep with the thought that, “Something like this could never happen in America. We have constitutional guarantees; we have freedom of religion. We can worship as we choose.” We are quite sure that if you had interviewed Eve the morning of the Fall and asked her, “Are you planning to disobey your Creator, despite all that He’s done for you?” she would have replied, “Absolutely not!” But Satan caught her off-guard and deceived her.

Hazael protested against the word of the prophet Elisha, that he would do something unthinkable. He had been sent to Elisha to find out if his king, Ben-Hadad of Syria was going to recover from his illness. In somewhat cryptic language the prophet replied, “Go, say to him, ‘You shall certainly recover. However, the LORD has shown me that he will really die.’ Then he set his countenance in a stare until he was ashamed; and the man of God wept. And Hazael said, ‘Why is my lord weeping?’ And he answered, ‘Because I know the evil that you will do to the children of Israel: their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword; and you will dash their children, and rip open their women with child.’ So Hazael said, ‘But what is your servant--a dog, that he should do this gross thing?’” II Kings 8:10-13.

But what did he do, despite his own vehement protest? Hazael went home to his master and delivered the message from Elisha, then “it happened on the next day that he took a thick cloth and dipped it in water, and spread it over his face so that he died; and Hazael reigned in his place.” II Kings 8:10-13, 15. Hazael denied the unthinkable, but it happened.

The Lord told his disciple Peter that before the rooster crowed twice, he would deny Him three times. Peter protested against the prophetic word of Jesus. “No, my Lord! Why, I’m willing to die for You!” And yet, caught off-guard in the pressure of the moment, Peter did exactly that. We are quite certain that if you had interviewed certain citizens of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago and asked, “Are you planning to crucify your Messiah? Are you planning to put God on a cross?” they likewise would have recoiled in horror. “Of course not!” Yet, caught up with the demon-led mob, they did just that! Under Satan’s leadership, the unthinkable happened.
Don’t think that what prophecy predicts can’t happen. Don’t think that when Satan inspires men who are not founded on the Word of God that the unthinkable can’t become reality. Don’t think that this picture of the revival of persecution on the scale of the Middle Ages is an impossibility. When under the control of the master of evil, without the controlling and restraining power of the Holy Spirit, men will do unimaginable things.
Someday exactly what Revelation 13 predicts will become reality. This will be brought about by fallen Protestantism of America joining hands with Catholicism and causing the United States to enact laws restricting freedom; specifically to give honor to the first day of the week as a national rest day. It could sneak in the back door posing as a “National Family Day,” or a “National Worker Rest Day.” It could come about as an economic measure to restrict the purchasing of gasoline or other commodities on the first day of the week. It could begin by a seemingly innocuous restriction on certain activities on Sunday, but later requiring Sabbath desecration. By whatever means, the Lord has revealed that in the closing hours of earth’s history this will most certainly happen.
Along with the mark of the beast, we need to study the seal of God, for they are contrasting signs. At the last day, every person on this earth will have either the seal of God or the mark of the beast. There will be no middle ground, no fence sitters. It makes sense that the mark of the beast is the willing and knowledgeable worship of Sunday, a violation of God’s law. As we have seen, the papacy has averred that that is the “mark of her authority.”
Allegiance and loyalty are expressed by obedience. Obedience is the highest form of worship. God is looking to populate His kingdom with subjects who obey Him. How could He possibly take to heaven those who persist in open rebellion? That would perpetuate the sin problem forever. Just as it was a simple test in Eden by which our first parents were given opportunity to express their loyalty to God, so at the end of the age it will be a simple test by which we can demonstrate our allegiance to our Creator God. It will be whether we choose to obey all of His commandments, and worship on the day of His choosing.
Notice how this fits together like a dove-tailed joint. In contrast to those who receive the mark of the beast, the sign of disobedience, the third angel points to those who are loyal to God and declares, “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. Obedience to God is contrasted with those who receive the mark of the beast. The ones who listened to the message of the angel heard and responded to the invitation to “worship Him Who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”
It is God’s creatorship that uniquely qualifies Him to be the One we worship. Proclaimed the twenty-four elders, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:11.  God’s creatorship and worship are inseparable. “Thus you shall say to them; ‘The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens.’ He has made the earth by His power, He has established the world by His wisdom, and has stretched out the heavens at His discretion.” Jeremiah 10:10-12.
Wrote the psalmist, “For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the people are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. Give to the LORD, O kindreds of the people, give to the LORD glory and strength. Give to the LORD the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come into His courts. Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth.” Psalm 96:4-9. If you can see it, the 96th Psalm is an Old Testament precursor to the three angels' messages, containing references to nearly every aspect brought to light in Revelation 14.
What could possibly be more appropriate? Giving God the glory and worship He is due, by observing the day that is the divine reminder of Jehovah’s creatorship and thus declaring ones loyalty by obeying His commandments! Just as disobedience to God in the matter of worship results in the reception of the mark of the beast, the mark of authority claimed by the papacy, so obedience to God in the matter of worship prepares one to receive the seal of God.
In giving consideration to the terms “mark of the beast” and “image of the beast,” we see a parallel between the worship of the image of the beast and Old Testament idolatry. What is the essence of idolatry? It is the worship of an object made by human hands. “Your carved images I will also cut off, and your sacred pillars from your midst; you shall no more worship the work of your hand.” Micah 5:13. The book of Isaiah is saturated with the contrast between the worship of the works of men’s hands and the worship of the Creator God. See Isaiah 40:18-22; 42:5-8; 44:9-20, etc.
Here are some questions to consider: Does it make any difference from Heaven’s point of view, if man falls down before some thing, some tangible object he formed with his hands made from wood or stone, or if he bows before an institution made by his own hand, specifically, the first day of the week proclaimed to be the sabbath? Is man less guilty for violating the fourth commandment than the second? Is not the violation of each a form of idolatry?
Something happened 35 centuries ago that may well have deep relevance to our world today. While he was receiving the Decalogue on the top of Mt. Sinai, Moses was absent from the camp of Israel longer than the patience of the Israelites could bear, and so the people induced Aaron to shape for them a golden calf, before which they bowed. “And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’ So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD.’” Exodus 32:4, 5. Could it be that modern Christianity is doing the same thing? In a form of idolatry, disregarding the day that God blessed, the seventh day, could they be in the shoes of Aaron announcing, “Tomorrow (Sunday) is a feast to the LORD.”