2018 Quarter 2

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Second Quarter 2018 April • May • June


Week 11: June 9–15
COMMENTARY ON "God's Seal or the Beast's Mark?"


Following is a combined commentary on the material included in the Bible Study Guide with references as necessary to the supplemental passages included in the E. G. White Notes for the Sabbath School Lessons.

Note: Unless otherwise stated, all biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version (ESV).



Sabbath afternoon, June 9, God’s Seal or the Beast’s Mark

This week’s lesson is on one aspect of Adventist theology, the mark of the Beast and the seal of God. On each day’s lesson, we will identify the problem passage and carefully explain it scripturally.

On this day’s lesson, the author jumps right out of the frying pan into the fire. In the second paragraph (on page 88 of the Standard quarterly) he blatantly states that:

One of the most telling signs of God’s true last-day people is their proclamation of the third angel’s message, which warns against receiving the mark of the beast.

With the stroke of a pen the author condemns every Christian church that does not teach the Third Angel’s Messages, saying that they are not a part of God’s “true last-day people”. The author is essentially stating that every Christian church that does not teach the Third Angel’s Messages, as understood by Adventism, are in open apostasy. The third angel’s message is found in Revelatioon 14:9-12 (English Standard Version) and reads:

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name." 12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

The Adventist message of the Third angel is not completely true to the text.. They entirely miss the eternal torment taught by verses 10 and 11: “… he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night,…” No Adventist would agree with the plain reading of that portion of scripture. In Adventism there is never an emphasis that those with the mark of the beast “have no rest, day or night.”

The author then states, “However, despite there being no more serious warning in all the Bible,…”. There are numerous warnings given in scripture that are as serious as the warning to not receive the beasts mark. For instance, the warning God gave to Adam after his creation, in Genesis 2:17 is very serious:

...but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (ESV)

Jesus gave a very serious warning to those who would cause one of his “little ones” to sin in Mark 9:42: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (ESV)

God’s warning to those who would add or subtract to or from the words of scripture is also a very serious warning. Rev. 22:18, 19 states:

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (ESV)

This is a very serious warning indeed. The lesson author cannot, therefore, simply state, with no scriptural support that the warning of the mark of the beast is the most serious of all warnings found in the Bible. It is a totally speculative idea with no scriptural foundation.

God’s warnings to Israel, found throughout the Old Testament prophets, (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, and the twelve minor prophets) are very serious warnings as well. Simply being the last warning to the saints in scripture does not automatically indicate that it is the “most important” warning ever given. It is the most important warning given to those who are alive on the earth during the tribulation, but that’s the limit, or scope, of the warning.





Sunday, June 10, God’s Sign Identifying His People

Circumcision and Sabbath were the two identifying marks of God’s people. Circumcision was a one-time physical act for each Israelite male, indicating an inward reality of a circumcised heart. In the New Covenant, Baptism has replaced the physical sign of circumcision, and is an indication of an inward reality of having died, been buried and raised in Christ

The Sabbath, which was not given in Genesis as a command for man to keep, was the weekly, on-going “remembrance” of what God had done in bringing Israel out of slavery in Egypt, not a memorial of creation. Deuteronomy explains why God gave the Sabbath. Deut. 5:15 states:

You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

This is why we do not find the Sabbath command in scripture until the time of the exodus from Egypt, in Exodus 16. Exodus 16:29 tells us:

See! The LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day." (ESV)

The Sabbath was not given as a day of worship for Israel, it was given as a day of rest. No one was to leave their “place” on the seventh day. “Sabbath keepers” today, typically leave their places of rest, home, and travel to church to conduct worship services. This is a clear violation of the Sabbath commandment. There were no synagogues in which Israelites conducted worship, until the intertestamental times. It was an invention of those Israelites who lived just before Christ came. Remember that when Jesus attended synagogue services, it was because it was his “custom” to do so, never the following of any law.

The New Covenant command to remember comes from Christ himself at the last supper. As Paul states in 1st Corinthians 11: 24-25

...and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." (ESV)

New Covenant Christians no longer remember the Sabbath day, but look to the gift of salvation through the body and blood of Jesus as symbolized by the eating of bread and drinking of wine, doing so in “remembrance” of Christ.

The lesson author then states on page 89 of the Standard Edition Quarterly:

… although Paul says that circumcision is no longer important, he argues that keeping God’s commandments (which includes the Sabbath) still is important (see Heb. 4:9)

Hebrews 4:9 is completely taken out of context and the rest of what the author of Hebrews states about “Today” is ignored. This is proof-texting at its worst. One must read the entire passage from Hebrews 4:1-11. Upon reading the entire passage one understands that as long as it is called “Today” it is time to enter that rest that God promised, which is the salvation of our souls. Verse 10 is key to understanding verse 11. Verse 10 reads, “for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” We rest because of the work of Christ, which was completed on the cross, is “finished.”





Monday, June 11, The Beast and False Worship

The lesson author then asks us to read the following scriptures and answer “Read the following texts. What do they teach us about the importance of avoiding “the mark of the beast”? Rev. 13:17; 14:9, 10; 16:2.

Note that in none of the texts is there a reference to the keeping of a day. The issue in the end-times will not be on which day we worship, but to whom do we give our worship. Sunday is as valid a day to worship God as any other day.(See Romans 14, and Colossians 2.)

Linking Daniel 7:25 to Revelation 13, 14, and 16, is poor exegesis of the word of 
God; it is eisegesis. If the keeping of a day of worship, the Sabbath, were so important, then why do we not find a single verse in the New Testament directly addressing this issue? Who we worship, give our allegiance to, love unconditionally, is the Lord Jesus Christ, the very image of the unseen God.

The lesson author then makes a bold statement (pg. 90 of the Standard Quarterly):

In other words, proclamation of these three messages separates all of humanity into two groups: those who worship the Creator by keeping all of His commandments, including the seventh-day Sabbath command, and those who worship the beast and his image. This false form of worship, then, offers an alternative to worshiping the Creator by keeping the Sabbath commandment.

Jesus stated that in Matt. 5:18 “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” If what Jesus said is true, the entirety of the law should remain, not just the so-called “Moral law” as found in the ten commandments; not a dot will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Jesus was not just referring to a portion of the Old Covenant law, not even to the dietary law, but to its entirety.

The concept that one can divide the law up into separate categories is unscriptural. It was an invention of Roman Catholicism, and many Christians today are misled when it comes to the understanding of the OT Law, and the establishment of the New Covenant Law given through Christ and his apostles as found in the New Testament.

Not a dot will pass until all is accomplished. For Christians who believe that Christ completed the atonement on the cross, that was when “all was accomplished”. Jesus even affirmed it by saying from the cross “It is finished.”

When scripture says “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12), it is referring to the New Covenant commandments which have not faded away as the Old Covenant law has (Read 2 Corinthians, ch. 3 for a clear statement about the temporality of the law that was given at Sinai.)





Tuesday, June 12, The Seal of God

The lesson author then states that:

The book of Revelation describes another sealing just prior to the Second Advent. This final seal is given to the 144,000 at the time of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. They have God’s name (or signature) written in their foreheads. Through the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives, they come to reflect God’s character. (Pg. 91 of Standard Quarterly)

This statement assumes three things that are not found in the scriptures. The “outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain,” God’s … (signature) on their foreheads (it is God’s name that is on their foreheads), and that they have come to “reflect God’s Character.” There are some specific truths, however, that are known about the 144,000 from scripture. They are found in Revelation 14:2-5:

And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, 3 and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4 It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, 5 and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless. (ESV)

The specific truths we know definitely is that the 144,000 sing a new song which no one could learn except the 144,000; they have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins; they follow the Lamb wherever he goes; and no lie was found in their mouth, for they are blameless.

The “seal of God” is given to every believer in Christ when he is born again. This seal is the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13. 14 is clear:

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (ESV)

The lesson author states that, “The seal is given only in the forehead, indicating a definite choice of the mind to worship God in the way that He has commanded.”

The Sabbath is not the seal of God, the Holy Spirit is.





Wednesday, June 13, The Mark of the Beast

The lesson author begins today’s study with a statement that is incorrect on two accounts.

He states:

As we have seen already, one law that it thought to change was the Sabbath, or the fourth commandment—the only commandment that points directly to God as the One who “made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day” (Exod. 20:11).

First, the fourth commandment, the Sabbath day, has never been changed by anyone. Simply because the Roman Pontiff states that the sacredness of the Sabbath is now transferred to Sunday, does not mean that he changed it. On the contrary, no one has ever changed any of God’s laws; they all remain as originally given to Moses on Mt. Sinai.

Secondly, the Sabbath commandment was not to memorialize the Creator. As the fourth commandment so clearly states in Deuteronomy 5:15 the Sabbath was a memorial of the Jews having been delivered from bondage in Egypt. Deut. 5:15 tells us:

You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. (ESV, emphasis mine)

It was Israel’s deliverance from Egypt that was to be remembered on the Sabbath day, not the creation of the heavens and the earth.

Next, the author asks us to:

Read Revelation 14:12. Given the immediate context, how does this depiction of God’s faithful people help us to understand why the Sabbath is so central to final events?

The Sabbath is not “so central to final events[.]” Nowhere in the Old Testament or in the New is there ever an explicit teaching about the Sabbath being the dividing line between those who worship the true God and those worshipping a false god, or idol.

Does this mean that Christians who worship God on Sunday have the mark of the beast now? No. According to Revelation 13:15, those who refuse to join in this false worship of the beast will be killed. It will eventually become a life-or-death issue. Obviously, though, events have not yet reached that point, and the mark of the beast will not be given until this final test does come. Therefore, no one has yet received the mark of the beast.

How about those who have rejected the seventh-day Sabbath and now attend church on Sunday? According to Ellen White, these people will be cursed by God. As stated in Signs of the Times, she says:

Never give up the Sabbath. … but if they disobey his holy statutes his curse will fall upon them. {ST, February 28, 1878 par. 21}

She also states that it is “apostasy” in Manuscript Releases:

When brought into strait places, they will give up the Sabbath and its powerful endorsement, and the more they are opposed in their apostasy, the more self-sufficient and self-deceived they become. They have lifted up their souls unto vanity … {Manuscript Releases 10, pg. 46 para. 4}

Many, if not all, of those who have given up the seventh-day Sabbath and the other errors of Adventism, and have become or remain Christian, are more reliant upon the Lord and are less self-deceived. We have not lifted our souls up to vanity. It is the opposite: we have humbly acknowledged that we are unable to keep the law and are therefore trusting wholly on Christ and his merits, and his death on the cross, for our salvation. We are unable to keep the Sabbath, but in Christ we have perfect rest. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28,

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

The true Sabbath is found only in Christ. Only in him do we rest from all our works, including the work of keeping one of Israel’s holy days holy.





Thursday, June14, The Sabbath as the Seal

The Sabbath was a shadow, pointing to the true Sabbath rest found in Christ our Savior. All who have found their rest in Jesus, have entered the true Sabbath to which the 7th day Sabbath pointed forward. Colossians 2:16-18 tells us:

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind,

These are a “shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”

Neither are we to go on “in detail about visions” which happens often when one reads Ellen G. White, the Spirit of Prophecy. We are also not to pass judgment on others “in question of food and drink” for these are also a shadow.

These three verses completely rip apart the neat little package that Adventism has created to trap people into subjection under the Old Covenant, with all its laws (613 laws according to a Jewish rendering of the law.) The law, in its entirety, not just the ceremonial, was nailed to the cross, ending the shadow and placing every believer safe into the security of salvation in Christ alone. Colossians 2:13, 14 tells us:

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

The lesson author finishes with the following false dichotomy (pg. 142 of Teachers Edition of the Quarterly):

If the Sabbath symbolizes resting from our works, what does the keeping of Sunday represent, and how does this fit right in with the basic character of Babylon?

The issue is not Sabbath versus Sunday; there is no competition for calling people to keep a day. So the Sabbath is just a “symbol” of resting from our works. “Keeping of Sunday” is not what most Christians do. We don’t ”keep” a day. Most of us treat all days alike, some (mostly those churches from the Reformed tradition) treat Sunday as holy, which is completely in line with Scripture found in Romans 14 and Colossians 2.

The lesson author again uses Hebrews 4 to try to introduce the keeping of the 7th day Sabbath:

That is why, according to the book of Hebrews, in resting on the Sabbath the Christian shows that he “has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His” (Heb. 4:10, NKJV)

Hebrews never suggests that the keeping of the Sabbath is still to be a sign of resting from our works of salvation. Hebrews 4:9, 10 tells us:

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

“Entering God’s rest” is not the keeping of the Sabbath. It is the act of being saved by Christ himself and entering into the “promised land” of rest. Heb. 4:3 tells us that “those who have believed enter that rest.” It reads:

For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, "As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest,'" although his works were finished from the foundation of the world.

Hebrews 4:9, 10 is not about the seventh-day Sabbath. You need the while context. Read Hebrews 4:1-11 for the complete understanding of the fact that it is not the 7th day Sabbath, but the “rest of salvation” that we enter “today” when we believe.





Friday, June 15, Further Thought

The two Ellen White quotes provided for Friday’s lesson, Further Thought, are each problematic.

“Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads—it is not any seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved—just as soon as God’s people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come.

Scripture never, not once, talks about “a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved.” When one is saved, he is immediately transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his beloved son. And at the same time, he has “qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” We do nothing else to be qualified for the kingdom of God, including the keeping of the Sabbath. Colossians 1:12-13 tells us:

giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,

Both actions (verbs) are past tense. We have already been qualified to receive the inheritance and we have already been transferred into the kingdom of his beloved son.

The next Ellen White quote is just as problematic. She states:

“The Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty, for it is the point of truth especially controverted.

Nowhere in the New Covenant (Testament) is it taught that we are to be tested on the Sabbath issue. If this were the point “especially controverted,” we should expect Jesus, Luke, Paul, Peter, James, Jude or John to have warned us. Yet there is nothing in the Gospels, Acts, Epistles or the Apocalypse where Christians are warned that the Sabbath will be the “great test of loyalty” for end-time Christians. It is simply absent. All of Ellen White’s emphasis on the fourth commandment, the Sabbath law, come from a reading of the Old Testament that is simply absent of good hermeneutics (relating to or consisting in the interpretation of texts, especially the Bible.) Exegesis (Analysis and interpretation of specific text, especially a religious one) is also absent from EGW’s way of looking at scripture. She practices eisegesis, which is adding meaning to a text that is not found in the text itself.





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