Scripture points forward to a time when the announcement of the fall of Babylon, as made by the second angel of Revelation 14:8, is to be repeated.
"I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of eveny unclean and hateful bird." "And I heard another voice from heaven, saving, Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Revelation 18:1, 2, 4).
God still has a people in Babylon. Before the visitation of His judgments these faithful ones must be called out, that they partake not of her sins and "receive not of her plagues." Hence the movement symbolized by the angel coming down from heaven, lightening the earth with his glory and crying mightily with a strong voice, announcing the sins of Babylon. Connected with this message is the call: "Come out of her, My people." These announcements, uniting with the third angelís message, constitute Godís final warning to earth. That warning will be given in the fullness of the Holy Spiritís power.
Uniting to war against the commandments of God, the powers of earth will decree that "all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond" (Revelation 13:16), shall conform to the customs of the church by the observance of the false sabbath. All who refuse compliance will be visited with civil penalties, and it will finally be declared that they are deserving of death. On the other hand, the law of God enjoining the Creatorís rest day demands obedience and threatens wrath against all who transgress its precepts.
With the issue thus clearly brought before him, whoever shall trample upon Godís law to obey a human enactment receives the mark of the beast; he accepts the sign of allegiance to the power which he chooses to obey instead of God. Heavenís warning is: "If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation" (Revelation 14:9, 10).
But not one is made to suffer the wrath of God until the truth has been brought home to his mind and conscience, and has been rejected. Many have never had an opportunity to hear the special truths for this time. The obligation of the fourth commandment has never been set before them in its true light. He who reads every heart and tries every motive will leave none in ignorance who desire a knowledge of the truth. Everyone is to have sufficient light to make his decision intelligently.
The Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty, for it is the point of truth especially controverted. 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 Godís 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.
Babylon is the church, fallen because of her errors and sins, because of her rejection of the truth sent to her from heaven. As the people go to their former teachers with the eager inquiry, "Are these things so?" the ministers present fables, prophesy smooth things, to soothe their fears and quiet the awakened conscience. But since many refuse to be satisfied with the mere authority of men and demand a plain "Thus saith the Lord," the popular ministry, like the Pharisees of old, filled with anger as their authority is questioned, denounce the message as of Satan and stir up the sin-loving multitudes to revile and persecute those who proclaim it (see 2 Timothy 3:12).
The church appeals to the strong arm of civil power, and in this work, Catholics and Protestants unite. As the movement for Sunday enforcement becomes more bold and decided, the law will be invoked against commandment keepers. Their steadfast answer is: "Show us from the word of God our error" óthe same plea that was made by Luther under similar circumstances. Those who are arraigned before the courts strongly vindicate the truth, and some who hear them are led to take their stand to keep all the commandments of God. Thus light will be brought before thousands who otherwise would know nothing of these truths.
As the defenders of truth refuse to honor the Sunday-sabbath, some of them will be thrust into prison, some will be exiled, some will be treated as slaves. To human wisdom all this now seems impossible; but as the restraining Spirit of God shall be withdrawn from men, and they fall under the control of Satan, who hates the living precepts, there will be strange developments. The heart can be very cruel when Godís fear and love are removed.
But so long as Jesus remains manís intercessor in the sanctuary above, the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit is felt by rulers and people. It still controls to some extent the laws of the land. Were it not for these laws, the condition of the world would be much worse than it now is. While many of our rulers are active agents of Satan, God also has His agents among the leading men of the nation. Thus a few men will for a time hold in check a powerful current of evil. When the final warning shall be given, it will arrest the attention of these leading men through whom the Lord is now working, and some of them will accept it, and will stand with the people of God through the time of trouble.
This angelís message is to lighten the whole earth with his glory. A work of world-wide extent and extraordinary power is here foretold. The work will be similar to that of the Day of Pentecost.
As the "former rain" was given, in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the opening of the gospel, to cause the upspringing of the precious seed, so the "latter rain" will be given at its close for the ripening of the harvest. "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth" (Hosea 6:3, cf. Joel 2:23). "In the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh." "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:17, 21). The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than marked its opening (see Acts 3:19, 20). Thus the inhabitants of the earth will be brought to take their stand.
Jesus is the Originator and Perfecter of our faith (see Hebrews 12:1).
Faith, a fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22,23), is the means by which God saves us through the gospel (see Ephesians2:8-l0; Colossians 1:22, 23).
Faith is the divinely imparted power that enables us to believe Godís word and obey it (see Romans 16:25-27; Galatians 5:6; Hebrews 10:35-39).
Faith is the power by which we overcome sin and every force that would prevent us from full restoration to the image and fellowship of God (see Romans 1:16, 17; Ephesians 6:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:11, 12; Hebrews 11:33-38; 2 Timothy 4:7, 8; 1 John 4:4; 5:4).
Faith is the power that enables Godís final generation to resoundingly triumph over the mark of the beast (see Revelation 12:17; 14:12; 15:1-3).
Faith is the spiritual hand that touches the infinite.
The message will be carried by the deep conviction of the Spirit of God. Prophetic truth has been presented. The seed has been sown, and now it will spring up and bear fruit. Now the rays of light penetrate everywhere, the truth is seen in its clearness, and the honest children of God sever the bands which have held them. Family connections, church relations, are powerless to stay them now. Truth is more precious than all besides. Notwithstanding the agencies combined against the truth, a large number take their stand upon the Lordís side.
The Time of Trouble
An angel returning from the earth announces that his work is done; the final test has been brought upon the world, and all who have proved themselves loyal to the divine precepts have received "the seal of the living God." Then Jesus ceases His intercession in the sanctuary above. He lifts His hands and with a loud voice says, "It is done;" and all the angelic host lay off their crowns as He makes the solemn announcement: "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still" (Revelation 22:11). Every case has been decided for life or death.
The restraint which has been upon the wicked is removed, and Satan has entire control of the finally impenitent. Godís long-suffering has ended. The world has rejected His mercy, despised His love, and trampled upon His law. The wicked have passed the boundary of their probation; the Spirit of God, obstinately resisted, has been at last withdrawn. Unsheltered by divine grace, they have no protection from the wicked one. Satan will then plunge the inhabitants of the earth into one great, final trouble. As the angels of God cease to hold in check the fierce winds of human passion, all the elements of strife will be let loose.
The power attending the last warning has enraged the wicked; their anger is kindled against all who have received the message, and Satan will excite to still greater intensity the spirit of hatred and persecution.
When the irrevocable decision of the sanctuary has been pronounced and the destiny of the world has been forever fixed, the inhabitants of the earth will know it not. The forms of religion will be continued by a people from whom the Spirit of God has been finally withdrawn; and the satanic zeal with which the prince of evil will inspire them for the accomplishment of his malignant designs, will bear the semblance of zeal for God.
"Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time" (Revelation 12:12).
Satan's wrath increases as his time grows short, and his work of deceit and destruction will reach its culmination in the time of trouble.
Fearful sights of a supernatural character will soon be revealed in the heavens, in token of the power of miracle-working demons. The spirits of devils will go forth to the kings of the earth and to the whole world, to fasten them in deception, and urge them on to unite with Satan in his last struggle against the government of heaven. These agencies will deceive rulers and subjects alike. Persons will arise pretending to be Christ Himself, and claiming the title and worship which belong to the worldís Redeemer. They will perform wonderful miracles of healing and will profess to have revelations from heaven contradicting the testimony of the Scriptures.
As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ. The church has long professed to look to the Saviorís advent as the consummation of her hopes. Now the great deceiver makes it appear that Christ has come. In different parts of the earth, Satan will manifest himself among men as a majestic being of dazzling brightness, resembling the description of the Son of God given by John in Revelation 1:13-15. He is surrounded by magnificent glory. Many triumphantly shout: "Christ has come! Christ has come!" In adoration, the people prostrate themselves before him, while he lifts up his hands and pronounces a blessing upon them, as Christ blessed His disciples when He was on earth. His voice is soft and subdued, yet full of melody. In gentle, compassionate tones he presents some of the same gracious truths which the Savior uttered; he heals the diseases of the people. Then, in his assumed character of Christ, he claims to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and commands all to hallow the day which he has blessed. He declares that those who persist in keeping holy the seventh day are blaspheming his name by refusing to listen to his angels sent to them with light and truth. This is the strong, almost overmastering delusion. Like the Samaritans who were deceived by Simon Magus, the multitudes, from the least to the greatest, give heed to these sorceries, saying: This is "the great power of God" (Acts 8:10).
But the people of God will not be misled. The teachings of this false christ contradict Scripture. His blessing is pronounced on the worshipers of the beast and his image, the very class upon whom the Bible declares that Godís unmingled wrath shall be poured out.
Furthermore, Satan is not permitted to counterfeit the manner of Christís advent. The Savior has warned His people against deception upon this point, and has clearly foretold the manner of His second coming. "There shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.... Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, He is in the desert; go not forth; behold, He is in the secret chambers: believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be"(Matthew 24:24-27, 31; 25:31; Revelation 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17). All the world shall simultaneously see Christís coming.
Only diligent students of the Scriptures who have received the love of the truth will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive. By the Bible testimony these will detect the deceiver in his disguise. The genuine Christian will be revealed in taking the authority of Scripture over Satanís power, signs and lying wonders.
As the decree issued by the various rulers of Christendom against commandment keepers shall withdraw the protection of government and abandon them to those who desire their destruction, the people of God will flee from the cities and villages and associate together in companies, dwelling in the most desolate and solitary places.
But many of all nations and of all classes, high and low, rich and poor, black and white, will be cast into the most unjust and cruel bondage. The beloved of God pass weary days, bound in chains, shut in by prison bars, sentenced to be slain, some apparently left to die of starvation in dark and loathsome dungeons. No human ear is open to hear their moans; no human hand is ready to lend them help.
But, in earthís darkest hour, God shall gloriously intervene (see Isaiah 54:10-17; Psalms 119:126; 126:1-6; 9:1-20).
Surrounded by enemies bent on their destruction, Godís people would not shrink from torture or death if only they could be sure they have no unremedied defects of character that would bring reproach on Godís holy name.
They afflict their souls before God, pleading His promise: "Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me" (Isaiah 27:5). But while they have a deep sense of their unworthiness, they have no concealed wrongs. Their sins, having gone beforehand to judgment, are blotted out, and they cannot bring them to remembrance.
Fierce and determined are the assaults of Satan, his delusions are terrible; but the Lordís eye is upon His people, and His ear listens to their cries. But it is needful for them to be placed in the furnace of fire; their earthliness must be consumed, that the image of Christ may be perfectly reflected.
In that time of trial, every soul must stand for himself before God (see Ezekiel 14:20). We should now acquaint ourselves with God by proving His promises. We must take time to pray.
We are to separate from sin, through faith in Christís atoning blood. Our precious Savior invites us to join ourselves to Him, to unite our weakness to His strength, our ignorance to His wisdom, our unworthiness to His merits, and thus be conformed in character to the divine model.
If the blood of Christís faithful witnesses were shed at this time, it would not, like the blood of the martyrs, be as seed sown to yield a harvest for God. Their fidelity would not be a testimony to convince others of the truth; for the obdurate heart has beaten back the waves of mercy until they return no more. If the righteous were now left to fall a prey to their enemies, it would be a triumph for the prince of darkness. Says the psalmist: "In the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me" (Psalm 27:5). Glorious will be the deliverance of those who have patiently waited for His coming and whose names are written in the book of life.