Three Angels Messages Part 76

The messages of the Three Angels close with this encouraging announcement. “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Last time, we looked at the beautiful Gospel promise that the Lord wants to impart to us Him image, His likeness, which He can do if we allow Him to give us the faith of Jesus. Having the “mind of Christ,” we can have His faith also.

In these last segments, we’ll take a moment to look back at what we’ve studied and come to some final conclusions. We have seen that God has a message of invitation and warning that must go to the entire world before He returns in glory. This message includes a call to “Fear God,” which means to cultivate an attitude of deepest respect, humility and obedience; to recognize that He is the Sovereign Monarch of the universe, and that we as His creatures rightfully owe Him this homage. We are told to “give Him glory,” which includes praising Him with our lips, but also honoring Him by how we live. Our lifestyle, our diet and our life patterns should reveal that we are God’s sons and daughters. “Whatever you eat, drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31.

We saw that this message has special urgency because the “hour of His judgment has come.” Since 1844, the last date on the prophetic calendar, the process of the Investigative Judgment, reviewing the books of record in heaven as described in Daniel 7, has been underway. This is a necessary precursor to the coming of Jesus, since He comes “with His reward.”

This message commands that we “worship Him Who made heaven and earth,” a call to return to the simple obedience of the Ten Commandments, the fourth of which declares that God’s day of rest, the only day blessed and sanctified by Him, is the seventh day of the week. This day, according to the testimony of Scripture and even Catholic theologians has never been changed. It remains as God’s sacred memorial of creation. We are greatly blessed in keeping it, not as a way of earning God’s favor, but in appreciation of all He’s done. It not only points to Him as the Creator, but illustrates salvation by faith and evinces His ability to re-create us in His image, His eikon.

The second angel declares that “Babylon is fallen, is fallen.” Babylon in Scripture is a symbol of God’s enemies. Satan has worked through human agencies, as he did at the very beginning, to bring about his deceptive policies. The Christian church, established in truth and purity, fell away as Paul predicted. History confirms that the Church of the Middle Ages, the system (not the people) of the Roman Catholic Church corrupted nearly every teaching of Jesus, banned the Bible and persecuted those who chose to defy her.

Rising in protest, just before and then culminating in the 16th century were stalwart pioneers who led the effort to return to the Scriptures as the source of authority. The Protestant movement, which understood clearly the prophetic symbols which pointed to the papacy as the Antichrist, though beginning with great promise, likewise fell from its position of honor. Refusing to advance in the light given by Inspiration, they too “fell,” and lost the momentum with which they had begun. For nearly all of Protestantism, views cherished by their forefathers, including the deciphering of the prophetic symbols identifying the papacy, have been discarded and replaced by a system of interpretation conceived in the minds of papal theologians for the very purpose of squelching Protestantism.

Satan’s goal has been to marshal all the world under his banner of defiance and rebellion against God, epitomized by the false sabbath, Sunday. Though it has not yet come to be, someday soon it will be true that Babylon will make all nations drink the potion of her false teachings, including the worship of Sunday. This coercive policy will be a resurrection of the practices of the past, described as being the image, or copy of the beast, and will be enjoined by the arm of the state, forming an illicit relationship between church and government, identified by Scripture as spiritual “fornication.”

This will lead directly to the circumstance of which the third angel warns, the implementation of the mark of the beast. The “beast” is the first beast of Revelation 13, the historical papacy. The mark of her authority is the change of the Bible Sabbath to the first day of the week, Sunday. When a person, with full knowledge, chooses to accept the word of man instead of the Word of God; when a person decides to bow to the commandment of man instead of the commandment of God; when a person chooses to pay homage to the authority of the papacy and give honor to the first day of the week instead of honoring the Sabbath of the Lord, the seventh day of the week, then that person will receive the mark of the beast. This has not yet come to pass, but soon will when legislation is passed including proscriptions against dishonoring the Sunday sabbath.

Conversely, those who choose to honor the day of God’s designation, having walked in the light of God’s Word and having been transformed by His Spirit, will receive the seal of God in their foreheads. This seal, placed in the mind of the one who is impressionable to the Spirit’s promptings and leadings, is like God’s signature, indicating His ownership, authorship, authority and approval. The seal will protect His followers in two ways; from the contamination of sin, and after the close of human probation, from death.

These marks are not bar-codes or tattoos, but indicators seen by heaven that reveal the condition and choices of the souls of men. The book of Revelation opens with the explanation that these important matters are communicated through “signs.” Revelation 1:1. The forehead stands for our thinking and decisions; the hand stands for what we do and how we behave. Through their patient endurance and unbending obedience to God’s commandments, by the grace and faith of Christ, God’s people, the “saints” of the last generation will have conquered the beast and his image.

It is character that God is interested in, not the outward appearance. Ultimately, the first two words of Jesus response to the Pharisees and Herodians who asked Him about paying tax, “Whose image?” will depict the two classes that comprise all of humanity at the close of time. Each person will either have the image, the eikon, of the beast, or the image, the eikon, which is the character of God. “Whose image” will you chose to bear? Let those two words, “Whose image?” burn their significance into your mind, and encourage you to submit to the Holy Spirit's ministry.

Those who have allowed God to change their way of thinking so they reflect the divine image will be prepared to receive His name, which is a symbolic way of saying His character, on their foreheads. Revelation 14:1. Solomon said, “A good name is better than precious ointment.” Ecclesiastes 7:1. Through the saints, the perfume of God’s name, His character of selfless love will permeate through the world in one last exhibition of righteousness to call the world to a love relationship with Him, just as the aroma of Mary’s ointment “filled the house” when she bathed the Savior’s feet.

Those who receive the mark of the beast are left unprotected when the seven last plagues fall and will receive the final outpouring of His “wrath,” a term which means that He ultimately permits men and women to receive the consequences of their choices. They will be forever separated from the Source of life and destroyed in the lake of fire, the second death. Sinners will not be tortured in flames that never go out; they will be consumed, burned up and destroyed in the purifying fires that will go on to cleanse this earth, its atmosphere and wherever sin has reached, in preparation of God’s re-creating this planet into the “earth made new,” the home of the redeemed forever.

As unthinkable as it might seem now, our country of America, founded on the twin powers of religious and civil freedom, will take a leading role in the implementation of the image and mark of the beast. Laws will be passed enforcing the worship of the first day of the week, copying the behavior (that’s what the “image” is) of the Church of the Middle Ages. Following in quick succession will be the test given to God’s people, whether to bow to the “image” (the copy) or face the consequences. God’s faithful, gifted by the power of His Spirit, will say “no” to the temptation to yield and will stand firmly for God and His truth, just as the three Hebrews refused to “bow to the image” of Nebuchadnezzar 2500 years ago.

Obtaining, through Christ’s strength, the victory over the test, God’s people will be “sealed,” their sins “blotted out,” and they will be invested with the Spirit's energy to declare God’s truth in a more powerful way than ever before, attested by signs and miracles, even overshadowing the evangelism of the Day of Pentecost recorded in the book of Acts. This is called the “refreshing,” the “latter rain,” or the “outpouring of the Holy Spirit,” which enables the saints to give the “loud cry,” which is the declaration of the Three Angels’ Messages, a warning against receiving the mark of the beast, in a more complete way than has ever been given before.

Satan, of course, will have engineered his own “revival,” complete with false signs and wonders, even calling “fire down from heaven.” Revelation 13:13. As a crowning touch, Satan will impersonate Christ, resembling the descriptions of Jesus given in Scripture, speaking some of the same blessings that Jesus gave, speaking words confirming the establishment of the false sabbath.

When all have had an opportunity to make an intelligent decision whether to serve and obey God, by accepting His true Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, or to reject the Word of God and accept the false sabbath, then all those who have decided for God will receive the “seal of God,” and those who reject His message of last day truth and follow the “beast” will receive his “mark.” At that time probation for the entire planet will come to a close.
 
Following the close of probation, the world is hurled into chaos and calamity that has never been seen before. It will be the time of the two harvests, when the saints will have fully matured into God's eikon of righteousness, and Satan's followers will have ripened into his eikon of wickedness. The Holy Spirit's restraining influence will be withdrawn from those who rejected Him.

This will be the “time of trouble such as never was,” making the hundreds of ferocious and deadly tornadoes, the earthquakes and tsunamis we’ve seen recently seem tame. The seven last plagues will be poured out. It will be the time of God’s “wrath,” His “indignation.” Though God’s people will not have it easy, their lives will be protected. After the close of probation for the entire world, no child of God will lose his or her life. Then will come the great day of God’s deliverance, the day to which His people have looked for centuries. Christ will split the sky and split the graves. His children will be resurrected to immortality, and those living will be changed and translated to meet Him in the air, together with the ones who have risen from dusty graves. What a wonderful prospect for those who commit their lives to Him!
             

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