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work is finished, Christ's glorious appearing will end the reign of sin and error.
And while the closing judgment work is proceeding in heaven, this message of the judgment hour lifts up on earth the standard of truths trodden underfoot, and the Lord utters His last warning against sin and apostasy. It is a terrible word that He speaks. Bengelius described it as"that threatening pronounced which is the greatest in all the Scriptures, and which shall resound powerfully from the mouth of the third angel." -"Introduction to Apocalypse," Preface xxix (London, 1757).
The Lord is in earnest with men in this hour when the judgment, now passing on the dead, must also soon seal the eternal destiny of all the living. Hence the message challenges every soul to a decision.
Looking forward to the time when this message should be due, John Wesley wrote:
"Happy are they who make the right use of these divine messages."-"Notes on New Testament," on Revelation 14.
These warnings are part of the "everlasting gospel.' Whosoever, therefore, preaches the full gospel of Christ in these last days must sound this solemn call.
3. A Call to Loyalty to God
'Fear God," is the call, "Worship Him." In the preceding vision of the thirteenth chapter, the Lord had shown the prophet the work of an ecclesiastical power, symbolized by a leopardlike beast, that was to speak great things, and that was to persecute believers through long centuries, warring against God's truth and His sanctuary. "All the world wondered after the beast." The prophet said,
"All that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb." 13:8.
While worldly influence and the voice of popular religion exalt this ecclesiastical power and give glory to it, the gospel message calls all men to worship God.
"Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him. . . If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark,* the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God."
The issue, it is clear, involves the question of authority. Shall God be recognized as supreme? or shall this ecclesiastical power, whose rise and work were foretold in the prophecy, be recognized as the great authority?
The Work of the Papal Power
Any comparison between this leopard beast of Revelation 13 and the "little horn" of the fourth beast of Daniel 7, shows plainly that the same power is represented in each. The same voice is heard "speaking great things," the same persecuting spirit is shown, the same warfare against God's truth. It is the Roman Papacy, in its exaltation of human authority above the divine, that "lawless one" of Paul's prophecy, setting itself forth as God in the temple of God, treading underfoot the word and the law of the Most High, as foretold by Daniel:
The use of a mark, or sign, to designate the divinity worshiped, is common in non-Christian religions. One may see the Hindu returning from the temple with the mark of Vishnu or other deity freshly painted upon the forehead. Of the ancient usage, from which this Bible symbol of the mark " is taken, Dr. John Potter says, in his "Antiquities of Greece: "
Slaves were not only branded with stigmata for a punishment of their offenses, but (which was the common end of these marks) to distinguish them, in case they should desert their masters; for which purpose it was common to brand their soldiers; only with this difference, that whereas slaves were commonly stigmatized in their forehead, and with the name or some peculiar character belonging to their masters, soldiers were branded in the hand, and with the name or character of their general. After the same manner, it was likewise customary to stigmatize the worshipers and votaries of some of the gods whence Lucian, speaking of the votaries of the Syrian goddess, affirms, They were all branded with certain marks, some in the palms of their hands. and others in their necks: whence it became customary for all the Assyrians thus to stigmatize themselves.' And Theodoret is of opinion that the Jews were forbidden to brand themselves with stigmata [Lev. 19: 28], because the idolaters by that ceremony used to consecrate themselves to their false ueities. "The marks used on these occasions were various. Sometimes they contained the name of the god, sometimes his particular ensign; such were the thunderbolt of Jupiter, the trident of Neptune, the ivy of Bacchus: whence Ptolemy Philopater was by some nicknamed Gallus, because his body was marked with the figures of ivy leaves. Or, lastly, they marked themselves with some mystical number, whereby the god's name was described. Thus the sun, which was signified by the number DCVIII, is said to have been represented by these two numeral letters XH (Conf. Martianus Capello). These three ways of stigmatizing are all expressed by St. John in the book of Revelation And he causeth all. both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.'"-Vol. I, pp. 65, 66 (London, 1728).
"He shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws." Dan. 7:25.
Against the recognition of the assumed authority of this power, the gospel message of Revelation 14 sounds its solemn warning: "If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark."
The Image to the Papacy
What is this image? Plainly an image to the Papacy must be some religious authority or federation not organically of the Papacy itself, but adopting papal principles and seeking to enforce these principles by civil power, just as the Papacy has ever done, where possible. This development in likeness of the Papacy was shown the prophet in the latter part of the vision of Revelation 13. He saw the image formed, and in vision witnessed its determined efforts to enforce upon men the mark, or sign, of the Papacy:
"He exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. . . . And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast." Rev. 13: 12-17.
The Mark, or Sign, of Papal Authority
The Roman Papacy sets forth the Sunday institution as the mark of the authority of the church to substitute ecclesiastical tradition and custom for the Word of God. Thus, Monsignor Ségur, in "Plain Talks about the Protestantism of Today," says:
"The observance of Sunday by Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the church.”—Page 213.
It was to this change in the Sabbath by tradition, contrary to the plain command of God to keep holy the seventh
day, that the famous Council of Trent appealed when it gave Rome's answer to the Reformation cry of "The Bible and the Bible only." The council had long debated the ground of its answer. The historian says:
"Finally, at the last opening on the eighteenth of January, 1562, their last scruple was set aside; the archbishop of Rheggio made a speech in which he openly declared that tradition stood above Scripture. The authority of the church could therefore not be bound to the authority of the Scriptures, because the church had changed Sabbath into Sunday, not by the command of Christ, but by its own authority. With this, to be sure, the last illusion was destroyed, and it was declared that tradition does not signify antiquity, but continual inspiration.”— Dr. J. H. Holtzman, "Canon and Tradition," p. 263.
Ever since this memorable council, the Sunday institution has been held forth as the mark of the power of the church to command religious observances. Thus, again Keenan's "Doctrinal Catechism" says:
"Question. Have you any other way of proving that the church has power to institute festivals of precept?
"Answer. Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her,— she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority."- Page 174.
The prophecy of Daniel declared that this power would "think" to change the times and laws of the Most High; and the change of the Sabbath commandment is set forth as the mark of the church's authority above the written law of the Most High.
Most remarkable of all, Protestant organizations are defending the unscriptural observance of the humanly established first-day sabbath in contradiction to the law of God, which declares that "the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God." And these organizations, in denial of the Protestant principle of religious liberty, are seeking power to enforce Sunday observance by civil law. But this is to make a very image to the Roman Papacy-a church using the power of the state to enforce religious observance.
It was all foretold in the prophetic word. The prophet was shown (Rev. 13: 11-17) this likeness or image to the Papacy ecclesiastical organizations not of the Papacy itself, but following papal principles in this matter-seeking to compel men to receive the mark of the papal apostasy.
Against the workings of both the Papacy and this image to the Papacy, the last message of the "everlasting gospel" lifts its warning cry:
"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."
It is the time of the judgment hour, when God was to lift up the standard of truths long trodden underfoot. In the heavenly sanctuary Christ's closing judgment work is going forward, preparatory to His coming in consuming glory to end the reign of sin. On earth the Lord is sending the last gospel message to men, warning against sin and error, and calling all men to worship God, and to keep "the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."
The Sign of Jehovah's Authority
God also has His sign, or mark, of authority. He bases His claims to supreme authority upon the fact of His creative power. As Creator, His is the authority and the power.
"The Lord is the true God. . . . He hath made the earth by His power." Jer. 10: 10-12.
And the divinely established memorial of this creative power is the holy Sabbath. The Sabbath is the mark, or sign, of the true God:
"Hallow My Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between Me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God." Eze. 20: 20.
On one side is the mark, or sign, of apostasy from God; on the other the mark, or sign, of loyalty to God. Which mark will men receive, as the issue is pressed upon every soul