Is it really coming soon as speculated?
In a Nutshell
Seventh-day Adventists (SDAs) teach a national Sunday law will someday occur in the United States. They believe the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution will be set aside and everyone will be forced to recognize Sunday as a holy day. Once this law is enacted, SDAs believe they will be persecuted for refusing to recognize the sacredness of the first day of the week. In some cases, they believe there will be torture and even death.
1. Seventh-day Adventists use the following logic to reach this conclusion: First, they teach the Roman Catholic Church is the first beast mentioned in Revelation 13.
2.Since the Bible predicts this particular beast will make war against God's saints and impose false worship upon the world (Revelation 13:5-8), SDAs conclude the Catholic Church will someday war against those who observe God's seventh-day Sabbath.
3. SDAs also teach the Roman Catholic Church altered the Ten Commandments by eliminating the second commandment and transferring the holiness of God's seventh day from Sabbath to Sunday.
4. SDAs interpret this assault on God's law as a mark (as in a trademark) of the Church's presumed authority.
5. Therefore, SDAs conclude the mark of the beast will occur when a national Sunday law is enacted. This law, they teach, will require everyone to respect Sunday as a holy day.
6. Next, SDAs teach the second beast in Revelation 13 is the United States.
7. They believe the Roman Catholic Church and Protestants in the United States will "join hands" at some point in the future for the purpose of imposing a national Sunday law.
8. United, these two powers will then impose a universal Sunday law on all nations.
The church's prophet, Ellen White (1827-1915), wrote: "As America, the land of religious liberty, shall unite with the papacy in forcing the conscience and compelling men to honor the [Catholic Church's] false Sabbath, the people of every country on the globe will be led to follow her example.
9. She also wrote: "The decree enforcing the worship of this day [Sunday] is to go forth to all the world. . . . Trial and persecution will come to all who, in obedience to fourth commandment, refuse to worship this false Sabbath."
10. Finally, SDAs teach the enactment of a national Sunday Law in the United States will usher in a "time of trouble" for the whole world.
11. They believe that God will test all mankind to see who will acquiesce through persecution and honor Rome's false Sabbath and thus receive the mark of the beast. They believe God's saints will resist these laws by standing firm in their faith and obeying the fourth commandment which declares the seventh day of the week holy.
12. How Can This Be Possible? Ever since the Seventh-day Adventist Church formed in 1863, non-SDAs have been puzzled by the Church's anticipations. For example, what will cause the United States Congress to abolish the First Amendment? What will cause Protestants and Catholics to "join hands," supporting the elimination of religious freedom in the United States?
Will the United States and the Catholic Church be able to impose a universal Sunday law on seven billion people? These are valid questions and one would think that after 145 years, the SDA Church should have some answers.
Think about this: The current war in Iraq proves that the outcome of any war is hard to predict. The world's most powerful army has sacrificed thousands of lives in Iraq. The world's richest nation has spent trillions of dollars and invested six hard years setting up a fledgling democracy in a tiny country of twenty-five million people. (California has a population of about thirty-six million.)
If establishing a democracy in tiny Iraq has been this expensive and lengthy, how will the United States and the Catholic Church impose the holiness of Sunday on billions of devout Moslems, Hindus, Jews, Pagans, and Communists? This is a valid question that deserves an answer. Many SDAs are also asking this question because 93%* of Church members live outside the United States. (*Source: Nationmaster.com)
The Remnant Church of Bible Prophecy
Revelation 13:8 indicates that worship will become a matter of salvation during the Great Tribulation. Unfortunately, SDAs have misinterpreted the identity of the two beasts in Revelation 13, as well as the mark of the beast.
The first beast cannot be the papacy, the second beast cannot be the United States, and the mark of the beast cannot be Sunday worship. The historical position defended by SDAs is not defensible when the specifications given in the Bible are given full consideration. To better understand the problem, consider the following:
Revelation 12:17 is a very important text to SDAs. "Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest [remnant] of her offspring those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus." (Insertion mine) SDAs use this verse to identify themselves as "the remnant church of Bible prophecy."
13. They reach this position by concluding the writings of Ellen White are "The Spirit of Prophecy" and they often apply this title to her works. Next, SDAs believe the phrase "God's commandments" in verse 17 refers to the "God's [Ten] Commandments."
Since the SDA Church is the only church upholding the obligatory nature of all ten commandments and possessing the testimony of Jesus (The Spirit of Prophecy), they conclude that they are the remnant church of Bible prophecy. I make this point so you can see why SDAs believe their church will someday be the object of the dragon's wrath.
Seventh-day Adventists teach the dragon in Revelation 12:17 primarily represents the devil, but "in a secondary sense, a symbol of pagan Rome."
14. Using this logic, they conclude Rome [which morphed from a pagan power into the papal power] is preparing to make war against them. Consequently, there is a great deal of concern within the SDA Church about the activities of the Catholic Church in general and the Jesuits in particular. (The Jesuits are a secret society within the Catholic Church formed by Ignatius Loyola in the sixteenth century.)
15. This militant order was established during the Spanish Inquisition and its initial endeavor was the forced conversion of the Moors (Moslems) to Catholicism. Later, Jews and Protestants became targets of the Jesuits and some SDAs believe the Jesuits will once again persecute those who refuse to submit to the pope's authority.)
The Forty-Two Months Problem
Remember that Adventists believe the first beast in Revelation 13 is the Roman Catholic Church. SDAs support their interpretation, in part, by saying that the forty-two months mentioned in Revelation 13:5 is the same time period as the 1,260 days in Revelation 12:6 and the time, times and half a time in Revelation 12:14 and Daniel 7:25. They claim all four references point to papal supremacy during the Dark Ages. (A.D. 538 to 1798)
16. Please read the following passage carefully and especially notice how the forty-two months fits into the story: "And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea [waiting to make war on the remnant of the woman]. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea.
He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon [who had been waiting to make war on the remnant] gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.
One of the heads [actually, the sixth head] of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed [when the beast came up out of the sea]. The whole world was astonished [at the appearing of the beast] and [voluntarily] followed the beast. . . .
The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer [defeat] them.
And he [the leopard-like beast] was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth [seven billion people] will worship [obey] the beast all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world." (Revelation 13:1-3, 5-8, italics and insertions mine)
These verses present several problems for SDAs, but to keep this short, we will focus on the forty-two months. SDAs insist that a day must equal a year in Bible prophecy, so they have to place the forty-two months mentioned in verse 5 between A.D. 538 and 1798.
16 (42 months x 30 days = 1,260 day/years) This conclusion is flawed for two reasons. First, the leopard-like beast has no power except during the forty-two months described in Revelation 13:5. If the forty-two months belong in the past, so does this beast!
Second, the Bible says this beast will exercise authority for forty-two months after the leopard-like beast rises from the sea. When does this beast rise from the sea? The Bible doesn't explicitly answer this question. However, it does say that when leopard-like beast rises from the sea, the head that had received the deadly wound is healed.
Consider this: History says the power of the papacy was deeply wounded in 1798 when the pope was taken prisoner and placed in exile. This means the healing of the deadly wound has to occur after 1798. Since the deadly wound is healed when the leopard-like beast rises from the sea, the leopard-like beast has to arise after 1798 and the forty-two months will occur after the beast rises to power!
Again, the Bible says: "One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. . ." (Revelation 13:3) These facts force the forty-two months in Revelation 13:5 after 1798. Shoving the forty-two months backward into the Dark Ages is going in the wrong direction because the Bible puts them in the future.
Revelation 12:17 does indicate the dragon is preparing to make war against the remnant of the woman and the Bible highlights this war in verse 13:7. "He [the leopard-like beast] was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given [as a gift] authority over every tribe, people, language and nation." (Revelation 13:7, italics and insertion mine) When and how does this war occur?
SDAs have unwittingly destroyed an essential portion of Revelation's end time story by forcing the seven trumpets into ancient history. If we put the seven trumpets where they belong, the seven trumpets will explain how, why, and when false worship will become a great controversy throughout the world! The seven trumpets explain many things which SDAs know nothing about!
SDAs and evangelicals have a serious problem. Both groups have embraced a prophetic paradigm that denies the importance of the seven trumpets. The SDA Church teaches the seven trumpets happened long ago and evangelicals believe the seven trumpets will occur after a pre-tribulation rapture.
The end result is the same. Both groups believe the seven trumpets of Revelation are prophetically insignificant. This is a horrible mistake because the seven trumpets are about to begin and they explain how Revelation's story will unfold! The bitter Millerite disappointment of 1844 proves that a failed prophetic schematic can be spiritually fatal. I offer this observation because I think several hundred million Christians are about to be bitterly disappointed and there is no need for this.
God's wrath is about to break out on this rebellious planet. A series of carefully choreographed judgments will soon fall and thousands of notoriously wicked cities will be burned up (just like Sodom and Gomorrah) or washed away in a violent ocean.
More than 1.75 billion people will soon die as a result of God's wrath. After the nations of the world are in ruins and the survival of every government is questionable, martial law will be imposed in every nation. It is in this dire context that Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Pagans and Atheists will unite.
Everyone will see God's wrath and everyone will agree that God must be appeased or He will destroy everyone. Here in the U.S., Congress will set aside the Bill of Rights and enact a national day for repentance and worship. This is how a national Sunday law will occur. The papacy will play an important role in end time events, but not as SDAs anticipate.
End Time Scenario
Here is a short overview of coming events as I understand them. A few years ago, the seven angels who stand before God were given seven trumpets. (Revelation 8:2) Each trumpet is associated with a horrible judgment. When a trumpet sounds, a specific judgment occurs on Earth. The overall purpose of the seven trumpets is to awaken the whole world to the authority and reality of Jesus Christ, His wrath against degenerate behavior, His generous offer of salvation, and His imminent return.
When the seven angels received their trumpets, four of them immediately left God's throne to destroy Earth. Before they could harm the Earth, they were told, "Hurt not the Earth, neither the seas, nor the trees," until God selects and seals 144,000 people. (Revelation 7:1-8) So, four angels are prepared to unleash God's wrath (first four trumpets) at this very moment, but they are waiting for the appointed time to arrive.
When the appointed time arrives, Jesus will terminate their delay (Revelation 10:6) and the four angels will sound their trumpets and a carefully choreographed series of judgments will occur. These judgments will cause great tribulation. Because of fear of more judgments, the 144,000 will be able to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and surprisingly, the world will listen for a while!
The first four trumpets will occur over a period of about sixty days and the results will be overwhelming and catastrophic. The first trumpet judgment will be a meteoric shower of burning hail that burns up a third of Earth! Notoriously wicked places all over the world will be burned up just like Sodom and Gomorrah. The second trumpet judgment will be an asteroid impact on an ocean. The resulting tsunami (several hundred feet high) will quickly destroy thousands of coastal cities.
The ocean will roil with great turbulence for months. (Luke 21:25) The tsunami that suddenly destroyed 230,000 people in southeastern Asia (December 26, 2004) is a small prophetic sample of how this huge tsunami will destroy thousands of coastal cities. The third trumpet will be an asteroid impact on a wicked continent.
This impact will cause all kinds of seismic havoc. Rivers and underground aquifers will become contaminated with buried sewage and toxic waste. Millions of people will die from drinking poisonous water. The fourth trumpet will affect the Sun, moon and stars.
Even though the Bible does not explain how darkness will cover a third of Earth, I believe there is a simple answer. Hundreds of volcanos will erupt and their ash and ejecta, carried by the jet stream, will darken the middle third of the world for months. Crops will perish and famine will overtake the world. In all, 1.75 billion people will die as a result of God's wrath. God's coming wrath is beyond calculation, but so is His mercy.
The first four trumpets will achieve two impressive goals. First, the world will unanimously agree that there is a living God and that He is definitely angry with all mankind. Every nation on Earth will reel from God's judgments. The nations of Earth will experience communal suffering and as a result, mankind will find it rather easy to unite as one family, begging Almighty God to stop the judgments. Out of anguish and fear, the nations of the world will repeat the words of ancient Israel, Whatever you want Oh God, we will do! (Exodus 19:8)
Religious and political leaders from every nation will meet to discuss ways of appeasing God. During this meeting, world leaders will create a new religious government that will be given authority over the nations of Earth. This coming government is called Babylon in Revelation.
It will be given power over every nation without firing a single bullet. Babylon is the leopard-like beast that rises out of the sea in Revelation 13. It represents mankind's response to the first four trumpets. Babylon's mission will be simple: The appeasement of God. The leaders of Babylon will decide what must be done within each nation to appease God. Because no one wants to offend God, political leaders will dutifully carry out Babylon's demands for legislation.
The Deadly Wound Healed
I believe religious leaders of the world will nominate and elect the pope as the leader of Babylon. The pope will be selected because the Catholic Church is the only church that has diplomatic relations with most of the world (179 nations currently). Once the pope is exalted by the religions of the world to lead Babylon, the deadly wound will be healed.
Bear in mind, the pope will not be put in a position where he can impose the doctrines of the Catholic Church on the nations of Earth. Instead, the pope will lead a diverse religious government in an effort to appease God so that His anger will cease.
Our world has seven diverse religious systems and each system differs on the will of God. Thus, Babylon's approach to appeasing God in one nation will be different than in other nations. For example, the pope and his diverse cabinet of religious leaders, will direct lawmakers in every nation to establish a day for repentance and to worship God.
This explains how a national Sunday law will occur in the United States. This also explains how Moslem nations will implement Friday laws and how the modern nation of Israel will honor Saturday as its holy day. In fact, every nation on Earth will enact laws mandating respect for God so that His judgments will cease.
Each nation will also implement and enforce laws forbidding sinful behaviors such as homosexuality, gay marriage, gay clergy, abortion, sexual immorality, gambling, drinking, etc. A large assortment of "sin-less" laws will be forthcoming. Babylon's effort to appease God through legislation explains how everyone, in every nation, will be affected. This also explains how persecution will face those who insist on obeying the fourth commandment.
Babylon Is the Leopard-like Beast
Babylon is represented in Revelation 13:1-8 as a leopard-like monster that rises out of the sea. When this monster beast rises, it will have seven heads and ten horns. The seven heads represent the seven religious systems of the world and the ten horns represent ten kings that Lucifer will appoint shortly before the Second Coming.
The papacy is the sixth head of the leopard-like beast. This is the head who received the fatal wound. This head will be healed when the pope is selected as the leader of Babylon and the forty-two months of persecution begins. The sea in Revelation 13:1 represents "a multitude of nations, peoples and languages." (See Revelation 17:15.)
In other words, Babylon will rise up from within all of the nations of Earth and Babylon will be given authority over every nation without going to war or firing a single bullet! The Bible speaks clearly about this amazing event: ". . . And he [the leopard-like beast] was [freely] given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation." (Revelation 13:7, insertions and italics mine) The chaotic events due to the first four trumpets causes Babylon to form.
Today, it is outrageous to say that the world's political leaders will voluntarily submit to Babylon's authority! In today's society, this submission is unthinkable and impossible, but the Bible predicts it will surely occur.
When world leaders see and experience the magnitude and scope of God's wrath on thousands of notably wicked places and realize that God has killed about two billion people, everyone will tremble at God's awful wrath. If the wrath of Almighty God (actually, Jesus Christ) can do this, He can easily humble the egos of clergy and politicians.
During the gloomy and foreboding darkness of the fourth trumpet, the political leaders of the world will readily agree with their "religious experts" that God's wrath must be promptly appeased or everyone will die. Like the jailer in Philippi, the all-important question will be, "What must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30)
The formation of Babylon will prove that the religious leaders of the world do not understand God, His Word, or His plans. Ironically, they will think they are doing good, but their actions will only make matters worse. Instead of appeasing God, they will actually insult God!
I have to bring this study to a close. I hope you can see how worship will become a hotly contested issue in coming days.
~compiled by Larry W. Wilson