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THE THIRD ANGEL
In contrast to those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus, the third angel points to another class, against whose errors a solemn and fearful warning is uttered: “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.” Rev. 14:9, 10.
The line of prophecy in which these symbols are found begins with Revelation 12, with the dragon that sought to destroy Christ at His birth. The dragon is said to be Satan (Rev. 12:9); but the agent of Satan was the Roman Empire.
In chapter 13 is described another beast, “like unto a leopard,” to which the dragon gave “his power, and his seat, and great authority.” This symbol, as most Protestants have believed, represents the papacy, which succeeded to the power and seat and authority once held by the ancient Roman Empire.
“The beast” mentioned in this message, whose worship is enforced by the two-horned beast, is the first, or leopardlike beast of Revelation 13-the papacy. The “image to the beast” represents that form of apostate Protestantism which will be developed when the Protestant churches shall seek the aid of the civil power for the enforcement of their dogmas.
After the warning against the worship of the beast and his image the prophecy declares: “Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Rev 14:12. Since those who keep God's commandments are thus placed in contrast with those that worship the beast and his image and receive his mark, it follows that the keeping of God's law, on the one hand, and its violation, on the other, will make the distinction between the worshipers of God and the worshipers of the beast.
Says Daniel, of the little horn, the papacy: “He shall think to change times and the law.” Dan. 7:25, R.V. One prophecy is a complement of the other.
Only by changing God's law could the papacy exalt itself above God; whoever should understandingly keep the law as thus changed would be giving supreme honor to that power by which the change was made. Such an act of obedience to papal laws would be a mark of allegiance to the pope in the place of God.
The papacy has attempted to change the law of God. The fourth commandment has been so changed as to authorize the observance of the first day as the Sabbath.
It is a fact generally admitted by Protestants that the Scriptures give no authority for the change of the Sabbath.
Romanists declare that "the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the Catholic Church." --Mgr. Segur, Plain Talk About the Protestantism of Today, page 213.
The enforcement of Sunday keeping on the part of Protestant churches is an enforcement of the worship of the papacy - of the beast. In the act of enforcing a religious duty by secular power, the churches form an image to the beast; hence an enforcement of the worship of the beast and his image.
But Christians of past generations observed Sunday, supposing that in so doing they were keeping the Bible Sabbath; and there are now true Christians in every church, not excepting the Roman Catholic communion, who honestly believe that Sunday is the Sabbath of divine appointment. God accepts their sincerity of purpose and their integrity before Him. But when Sunday observance shall be enforced by law, and the world shall be enlightened concerning the obligation of the true Sabbath, then whoever shall transgress the command of God, to obey a precept which has no higher authority than that of Rome, will thereby pay homage to Rome. As men reject the institution which God has declared to be the sign of His authority, and honor in its stead that which Rome has chosen as the token of her supremacy, they will thereby accept the sign of allegiance to Rome-”the mark of the beast.“ And it is not until the issue is thus plainly set before the people, and they are brought to choose between the commandments of God and the commandments of men, that those who continue in transgression will receive “the mark of the beast.”
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Created: 11/13/02 Updated: 5/25/04