Three Angels Messages Part 66

Welcome once more, and thanks again for joining us as we continue to explore 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.
We’ve seen that, in harmony with the testimony of the Protestant Reformers, the beast of the third angel’s message is the system (not the people) of the Roman Catholic Church. We’ve seen that the word “image” means “copy,” and that the “image of the beast” will be the last-day reenactment of the harsh policies of the Middle Ages, when the Church compelled the conscience in matters of faith. We’ve seen that the “mark” of her authority, by her own confession, is the attempt to change the day of worship from the one of divine direction, the seventh day of the week in commemoration of God’s Creation, to the first day of the week, a change for which there is no scriptural authority.

Here’s a question that deserves utmost scrutiny, and one which needs to be studying the Scriptures, rather than the tabloids. Will the mark of the beast or the seal of God be visible to the human eye? Will it be something like a tattoo or bar-code planted on the forehead or hand? Why is the mark of the beast spoken of as being received in the hand or forehead, while the seal of God is mentioned only as being received in the forehead? These are all good questions! If one relies on the answers and graphics in modern books, magazines and movies, the focus is on something that is visible. But is that the message God is giving to us through the Sacred Writings? Are we safe in placing our faith on what artists conceive, rather than faithfully turning the pages of Scripture, comparing passage with passage, to arrive at truth?
           
Providentially, our Bibles provide sufficient background material so that these questions can all be answered. Some digging is required, but what treasure isn’t worth the effort? Remember that the book of Revelation, in which we find the prophecy of the seal of God and the warning against mark of the beast, is a collage of pictures garnered from the past, stitching together the pictures of God’s activities throughout history into a marvelous pattern. To try to understand the book of Revelation without being familiar with the Old Testament is like trying to read a map while being blindfolded.
           
What does the Old Testament tell us that can help us understand this matter of God’s seal and the beast’s mark? There are three passages we’ll look at briefly that will assist greatly in our understanding. Going all the way back to the book of Exodus, the second book of the Bible, we find this remarkable passage, given in the context of the instruction regarding the blood of the Passover lamb being splashed on the doorposts of the house to save the firstborn male from the destroying angel. When future generations would ask why the Passover was being held, they were told, “And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, ‘This is done because of what the LORD did for me when I came up from Egypt.’ It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the LORD’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt.” Exodus 13:8, 9.
           
This is a most important text. It introduces the concept of something being as a sign on our forehead and hand. Notice very carefully the word “as” in this instruction, given twice. “It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes.” Was it intended that this information literally be placed on their hand and forehead? The wording of the passage denies that application. It was to be as a sign, or mark or seal, on their hand or forehead. When Revelation speaks of God’s seal being in the forehead of the saints, or the mark of the beast being in the forehead or hand of the lost, will this be some kind of tattoo or bar-code planted visibly on their person? Not according to the evidence of Scripture.
           
Why was it to be as a sign on their hand? It is because the “hand” represents what we do; our behavior and actions. Why was it to be as a memorial on the forehead, between the eyes? It is because that represents where our thinking takes place. That is where remembering (“as a memorial”) and decision-making happen. What was the overall purpose of this being “on the hand and forehead”? It was so “That the LORD’s law may be in your mouth;” in other words, that they be in a right relationship with Him in obedience to His will.
           
What part of God’s law stands as a “memorial” and stresses remembering? “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and all that is in them.” The “memorial” that God’s people in the last days will have in their “foreheads” will be God’s law. His Sabbath, which is a memorial of His creation, will become the focus of attention, the last day test, in contrast to the image and mark of the beast. We can see very clearly, in just the first occurrence of this idea, that what God is really saying by this is that His law will be remembered in how you think and characterized by what you do. That’s it in a nutshell. It’s not really that difficult. The concept is that His law will be the guiding principle is your thoughts and actions, your “ways and doings.”
           
That phrase, “ways and doings” is repeated some 11 times through the Bible. We saw earlier that the phrase “ways and deeds” occurs another 8 times. “Ways and doings” is another way of saying “head and hand.” It describes your thinking and actions. God desires that our minds be committed to Him, which will result in our behavior being righteous. If we have the principles of His kingdom written internally in our hearts and minds, which is the goal of the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:8-10), then our external lifestyle will also exhibit godly features. The fruitage of the life will be reflective of Christ living in the heart. Because of this emphasis on the thinking and decision-making aspect, in Revelation the stress is on the seal of God being in the forehead. In this instance, the companion phrase “in the hand” is not included, because if God’s law is in our mind and heart, it will also be in our hand.
           
Why is the mark of the beast described as being received on the forehead or hand, while the seal of God is described only as being placed on the forehead? It is because when the image of the beast is erected and Sunday worship is made a matter of law with harsh proscriptions attached to it, there will be some who will abide by the law and keep Sunday “with their mind;” that is, they will believe, erroneously, that they are doing the right thing. They will be in agreement mentally with the law. For them, the mark is received in the forehead, because they have subscribed to the principle of it in their minds. The ones who receive the mark in their hand we’ll speak of in a moment.
           
Before we do that a question arises: if they, who receive the mark in their forehead, really believe that this is right, how can God be fair in punishing them? This is a question that deserves attention. It is true that in times of ignorance “God winked.” Acts 17:30, KJV. God does not hold people accountable for what they do not know. James says, “To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17. Jesus stated, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore you sin remains.” John 9:41. He later declared, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.” John 15:24. The punchline of Daniel's interpretation of the cryptic letters on Belshazzar’s palace wall which indicted Babylon was, “You...have not humbled have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this.” Daniel 5:22. With knowledge comes accountability.
           
But what if a person chooses to remain ignorant? Will that provide an excuse? No. There is a clear difference between mere ignorance and willful ignorance. Peter describes the scoffers of the last days as being “willingly ignorant” of the Creation and the Deluge. II Peter 3:5, KJV. The NKJV says, “they willfully forget.” Those who of their own volition choose to remain in darkness when God has made available a flood of light will be held responsible for the truth they could have acquired. Concerning those who will be swept away by Satan's last delusions Paul wrote that they will perish because “they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. II Thessalonians 2:10.
           
God is just in condemning them because He has revealed to all His truth in His Holy Word. Today many are still in ignorance of the messages of the Three Angels. But the time will come when everyone on earth will have had an opportunity to know the issue at stake. Does it seem impossible that the whole world would become aware of such an issue? We have seen recently, with the Covid-19 pandemic, that with a very short time, perhaps just a few days, the entire globe became aware of the threat of disease. Where on this planet could you go where people would be unaware of Covid-19?

So it will be, and even more, when this issue of obedience to God’s law or man’s law will be thrust into the public spotlight so that everyone has an opportunity to make an intelligent choice. At that time in this world’s history, every single person on the globe will have had a chance to make a decision on this great issue focusing on God's commandments and the day of worship. At that time it will be abundantly clear that to choose the first day of the week and honor it as a holy day is contrary to the express will of God, written by His finger in stone within the Ten Commandments. The issue will be clear that the choice is between God’s Word and man’s word; God’s commandments and man’s commandments; God’s day, the Sabbath, or man’s day, Sunday.
           
What about those who are deceived by Satan? Is God fair to judge them if they have been tricked by the devil's sleight of hand, his “behind the back” approach? Yes. We are told that in the Garden of Eden Eve was “deceived” but “fell into transgression.” I Timothy 2:14. Just because she was tricked didn't excuse her sin. That is because she had heard the word of God but didn't obey it. She put her faith in another source, the talking snake, rather than the Creator God.
           
Thus it will be at the end. God reveals to us His truth, which will be a shield against the deceptions of the devil. If we fail to take up the shield and use it, if we fail to study and receive the warnings and promises of the Scriptures, we will be left to the whims and wiles of the evil one.

At the end of time, to willfully and knowingly, or by deception choose Sunday over Sabbath will bring to full and complete fulfillment the prophecy of the Apostle Paul who wrote, “For the mystery of iniquity is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless on is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send (or, allow to come to) them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” II Thessalonians 2:7-12.
           
In this letter Paul clarifies why it is that some who “sincerely” believe something that is false will be lost. Notice carefully the usage of the article “the” in Paul’s writing. We find that there is a contrast between “the truth” and “the lie.” These people are lost because they “did not receive the love of the truth.” “The truth” in this time context includes all the revealed will of God, but it emphasizes and highlights “the truth” that is brought to light by the messages of the Three Angels, which includes the invitation to “worship Him Who made,” and warns against receiving the “mark of the beast.”
           
They are lost because they “did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” “The truth” was revealed to them. Truth was made plain before their eyes, but they chose to believe “the lie,” the instrument of deception. Satan has been the disseminator of falsehood from the beginning. He is the “father of lies.” John 8:44. “The lie” that he has promoted among the human family denies God’s existence, His ways and His law. In advancing “the lie,” the devil has been remarkably successful.
           
At the time of the end, with the issue drawn in such clear and distinct lines, those who choose to believe “the lie” and refuse to believe and love “the truth” will exclude themselves from the favor of God. They will place themselves under the dark banner of the general of wickedness, Satan. They will receive the mark of the beast in the forehead. Even though they “sincerely believe” what they are doing, they will be judged as being wicked because the knowledge of “the truth” was made available to them and they preferred “the lie.” Neither willful ignorance, sincerity nor deception will provide an excuse for them on that day.
           
On the other hand, there will be those who don’t necessarily buy into the idea of worshiping God on the first day of the week, but to avoid the penalties that violation would bring; to be able to continue to “buy and sell,” they will do what the law requires, though their hearts are not fully in harmony with the legislation. They will go along with it though they don’t believe the principles imbedded in the new law. By so “doing,” these will receive the mark of the beast in the hand.
           
To review: there have been instances when ignorance was excusable in God’s sight and people were judged accordingly. But in the context of the last days, when this issue will be placed in a spotlight that is unmistakable, when the entire globe will be lightened by His truth, ignorance will not at that time be acceptable. “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:30, 31.
           
At that time, no one will be ignorant of the issue and the choice that it demands. If they are ignorant, it will be because of willful ignorance. There will be no neutrality, no fence-sitters. By refusing to assemble under the banner of Christ and His Sabbath, people will automatically have placed themselves under the flag of the enemy. “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.” Matthew 12:30. Next time, we will continue to explore the Bible background of marks and seals. Please join us then!

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