In recent years the world witnessed one disaster after another. Droughts, floods, devastating cyclones and earthquakes have followed each other in steady succession. Thousands lost their lives by dreadful accidents on land, sea and air; while millions more are starving to death, nations are bankrupt, unable to repay their debts. Wars, national uprisings, population explosion and the continual destruction of nature causes man to look fearfully into the future. Many of these events are clearly prophesied in the Bible (Matt. 4:4-31; Luke 21:25-28; Rev. 6:12-17; 16; 17; 18). God always has warned the world of coming judgments, which were the results of their ungodliness (Isa. 24:5-20; 46:9-10; Amos 3:7 Rev. 1:1).
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"And now I have told you before it came to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe." John 14:29
"And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." Luke 21:28
"The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto His servants
things which must shortly come to pass;
"...Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand." Revelation 1:1,3.
For example, God told Noah of the coming flood, Abraham and Lot of the future destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and Moses of the plagues of Egypt. These events were recorded for us today as a warning to help us understand clearly that all prophecies recorded in the Bible have met their fulfillment and will come to pass in the future. (I Cor. 10:6-12; 2 Pet. 2:5-9; Heb. 4:11). Therefore, we find God's urgent warning message to the last generation, represented by
1. "Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters."
2. "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication."
3. "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; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name." Rev. 14:6-11.
This warning is of vital importance to every person! But how can we avoid worshipping the Beast or receiving its Mark if we don't know who or what the Beast and its Image is? The lack of knowledge in this area has fatal consequences. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." (Hos. 4:6, compare Isa. 29:13-14).
However, God has promised understanding to the upright (Prov 2:1-7; Dan. 12:4, 10; Matt. 7:7-8).
"...As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" Eze. 33:11 (compare 2 Peter 3:10-11; Mal. 3:16-18).
Before we discuss the Beast itself, we must understand the historical background preceding the Beast. The best place to begin is in the book of Daniel, which deals greatly with prophecy from the 6th century B.C. down to the end of time.
The interpretation of the symbols used in Bible prophecy has not been left to human guesswork. Prophecy is history written in advance. The Bible itself gives us the key of understanding (2 Pet. 1:20-21).
A beast in prophecy symbolizes a king or a kingdom. This is clearly taught in Dan. 7:17, 23: "These great beasts are four kings. ...The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth...."
In Dan. 7:3 is written: "And four great beasts came up from the sea....""Sea" or "Water" represents "peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues." Rev. 17:15 (compare Isa. 8:7).
In chapter 7 of Daniel the prophet sees the coming world empires represented as beasts. A parallel description we find in Dan. 2:27-45 (see illustration above/right) where individual parts of a statue are symbolizing, in an accurate manner, the future course mankind will take.
1. It came up "among" the 10 horns (kingdoms), and three of the original 10 horns were uprooted in its rise to power.
2. In Dan. 7:24 it is reported: The little horn shall rise after the 10 horns. There is only ONE power in all history that fits this description. In Rome itself, in the very center of the fractured empire, there arose after 476 A.D. the Papacy, the one-man government of the Catholic Church. In its rise to power three of the Gothic tribes, (the Heruli, the Vandals, and the Ostrogoths), "were plucked up". By the decree of the east Roman emperor Justinian (Codex Justinianus) in 533 A.D., the Roman bishop was installed as the head of all Christian churches. When the last of the three Arian tribes (the Ostrogoths) resisted this decree in 538 A.D. they were destroyed and chased out of Rome by the imperial general Belisarius. This was also the time that papal Rome fully established its political power for a prophesied period. (See later explanation).
3. In Dan 7:25 it says that he "will wear out the saints of the most High", which is referring to the great persecution of the Christians. No reader of history will deny that this statement, too, found its fulfillment in the papacy. The dreadful persecutions of the Dark Ages (the stake, the burning of heretics, the crusades) are well known and have indeed blackened the pages of history.
4. Further, it states: "he will think to change times and laws...." The papal system actually changed the law of God, the 10 commandments: it removed the second commandment from the catechism, which prohibits the worship of images. It also changed the fourth commandment, the keeping of the Sabbath (the only commandment dealing with time), by moving God's day of rest from the seventh day to the first day of the week. (Compare 2 Thess. 2:3-4; Ps. 94:20).
He changed the "time" of worship. A false day of worship was set up. Instead of the original, unchangeable Sabbath of the 7th day (see Ex. 20:8-11; 31:13, 16, 17; Eze. 20:12; Isa. 56:2-7; Ps. 89:34; Heb. 4: 1-11; James 2:10), which was kept by Christ and the apostles (Luke 4:16; Matt 24:20; Acts 13:42; Heb. 4:10-11), the first day of the week (the pagan "day of the sun") was set up, which God never commanded to be kept holy. He had warned His people not to accept this day of worship. (Rev. 14:9-11; 16:2; 19:20; see Eze. 8:16-18).
5. "And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies... And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven." Rev. 13:5-6. (Compare Dan. 7:8, 25; 11:36; 2 Thess. 2:3-4). How does the Bible define blasphemy? During a plot against Jesus He was accused of blasphemy "...because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God" John 10:33. Another type of blasphemy we find in Luke 5:21: "who is this which speaketh blasphemies? who can forgive sins, but God alone?" Both forms of the mentioned blasphemies fit the papacy. ("On this earth we are holding the place of Almighty God" Encyc. Pope Leo XIII 6/20/1894). Frequently, the pope is called "Holy Father", even though Jesus forbade this form of address towards any man (Matt. 23:9), because it is reserved exclusively for the Father in Heaven (John 17:11).
6. In Dan. 7:25; 12:7; and Rev. 12:14, even the period of the papal supremacy is being prophesied as three and a half times; in Rev. 11:2; 13:5 as 42 months; and as 1260 days in Rev. 11:3 and 12:6 respectively.
The biblical measurement for prophesied periods as 1 day equaling 1 year (Eze. 4:6; Num. 14:34) makes it plain that in all these references it is referring to the same period of time of 1260 actual years. One "time" by their understanding was meant to mean one year. In those days, they calculated in lunar years of 360 days per year. One lunar month consisted of 30 days (see time of flood in Gen. 7:11, 24; 8:4; here 150 days 5 months). Accordingly we find that 3½ times (3½ years) multiplied by twelve months equals 42 months. And 42 months, multiplied by 30 days, equals 1260 days, or 1260 actual years in history.
We find that this prophesied time period found its actual fulfillment in the history of the papacy. The final destruction of the East Gothic Empire, around 538 A.D. (which was the last power, or "Horn" that withstood Rome), is generally being understood as the beginning of the political dominating position of the papacy. When we start counting 1260 years from this period of history, we arrive at the year 1798 A.D.. Exactly during this year, Pope Pius VI was taken captive under the leadership of the French general Berthier. Pope Pius VI died in prison. The following prediction was fulfilled: "He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity." Rev. 13:10. Never again, to this date, had the papacy such clear supremacy and influence. A democratic constitution was established, Rome became a republic, and the political power of Rome came to an end - exactly after 1260 years, as prophecy had foretold it. In Rev. 13:1-10, the history of the papal power is briefly recorded as it arose out of the pagan Roman empire, as it reigned for 1260 years, and in the end received a deadly wound.
7. In Rev. 13:3 it says: "And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast" This shows clearly that this power will exist until the return of Christ. (Compare Dan. 7:21-22).
8. During the time of the deadly wound and the regaining of its power, another beast comes to
view: "And I beheld another beast
coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like
a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And 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." Rev.
13:11-12. Which power is being described?
|The Symbols:||The Meaning:|
|1. Arises out of the earth (Rev. 13:11).||1. Arises in some new or sparsely populated land.|
|2. Arises about the time that the seven-headed, ten-horned beast receives its deadly wound (1798 AD, Rev. 13:1,3,10).||2. Grows into a nation about the time of Papal overthrow (1763-1800).|
|3. Has two lamb-like horns (Rev. 13:11).||3. Two Christ-like principles give it strength: civil & religious liberty.|
|4. Has no crowns on its horns (Rev. 13:11)||4. Not a monarchy - some form of republic.|
|5. Exercises power equal to the first beast (Rev. 13:12).||5. Becomes a formidable, if not supreme, world power.|
Only one power in history meets these five prophetic specifications, namely the United States of America, which united during the years of 1763- 1800. We see from Rev. 13:11-18 that it began with a humble nature, but it will grow to be a dominating world power at the time of the end. It is foretold that America will make an "image to the beast" that will force mankind to "worship" the Beast whose wound was healed. This image is an exact copy of what the papacy was during its 1260 year rule. This described worship shows clearly that it is referring to a religious - political power.
In Daniel 3:5,10,14,18, and 28, it is clearly taught that religious reverence of human images and power symbols are equal to idolatry and are in contradiction to the second commandment. (Ex. 20:4-6).
Sunday worship is a sign of power, a sign of the papal authority, to substitute their own laws. (See below under Catholic authority from their own sources!)
Prophecy reveals that America will force Sunday observance ("Mark of the Beast") by setting up an "image".
This Image is nothing else but apostate Protestantism, an ecumenical union of churches, which will unite with the government to enforce religious laws. The whole world will obey the law of Sunday sacredness. It is the pride of the papacy to think that it can change the 10 commandments, the law of God. It will be the deciding question of the future, a decision between life and death (Rev. 13:14-15) to obey God or the commandments of man. (Mal. 3:16-18; Rev. 16:2).
Please note that at this time America will do "great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men..." (Think of the Atomic bomb in 1945 over Hiroshima, the Air war of 1991 in Iraq, or the increase of false revivals of the charismatic movements which started in America.) "...and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast, (compare Matt 24:24) saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast (the papacy) which had the wound by a sword, and did live." (Rev. 13:13-14).
The papacy claims the change of the Sabbath to the first day of the week was her act and is the "Mark" of her authority in religious things (compare Dan. 7:25).
"The Sunday is a Catholic institution, and its claim for sacredness can be defended only on Catholic authority....In Holy Scripture from the beginning to the end we find not one single text which justifies the transfer of the weekly public worship service from the last to the first day of the week." Catholic Press, Sidney, 8/25/1900.
"We celebrate Sunday instead of Saturday, because the Catholic Church has transferred the sacredness from Saturday to Sunday at the council of Laodicea in the year of 364 AD." ("The Converts Catechism of Catholic Doctrine "from P. Geiermann, the work of Pope Pius X, on 1/25/1910, who received the apostolic blessing).
"It pleased the church of God to transfer the celebration of the Sabbath to Sunday." (The published Roman Catechism, page 247, after the decision of the council of Trent by order of Pope Pius V)
"The seventh-day Sabbath was kept by Christ and the apostles and was celebrated by the first Christians and acknowledged as such until it was abolished by the Laodicean Council. This council first sealed the question about the Lord's day and forbade the keeping of the seventh-day Sabbath under the issue of an Anathema (Curse)." William Prynne, a famous English Theologian, from his work "Dissertation on Lord's Day", p.32)
"The Sabbath, the best known day of the law, was changed into the Lord's day. These and others have not ceased because of instructions received from Christ, (because he himself says, I have not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it) but because due to the authority of the church they have been changed." (Archbishop of Rheggio, Sermon on 1/18/1562, Mansi XXIII, p.526)
"It was the holy Catholic Church who transferred the rest day from Saturday to Sunday, the first day of the week.... Which church does the whole civilized world obey? The Protestants... acknowledge great reverence towards the Bible, and yet by celebrating the Sunday they acknowledge the authority of the Catholic Church. The Bible says "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy"; but the Catholic Church says: "No, keep the first day of the week holy! - and the entire world obeys her!" (Pater Enright on 12/15/1889)
"Question: How can you prove that the church has the power to institute holidays? Answer: By the fact that she has transferred the Sabbath to Sunday, which the Protestants approve of; an obvious contradiction is when they strictly keep Sunday and then disregard most of the other holidays, which were instituted by the same Church." (From "Abridgement of Christian Doctrine" of H. Tuberville, Donay-Kolleg, 1649, p.58)
"The celebration of Sunday has always been a man made
arrangement" (Neanders Church History, VoL 1, p.399.)
9. In Rev. 13:18 we find another sign, the number of the Beast: "Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man, and his number is six hundred three score and six."
One of the official titles of the pope is "Vicarius Filii Dei", which is translated, "Representative of the Son of God." In reply to questions from readers, the Catholic newspaper Our Sunday Visitor of 4/18/1915 said: "The engraved letters on the popes Mitre (or better, Tiara) are as follows: 'Vicarius Filii Dei'."
V - 5 I - 1 C - 100 A - 0 R - 0 I - 1 *In Latin 'U' and U* - 5 'V' have the same S - 0 numerical value. F - 0 I - 1 L - 50 I - 1 I - 1 D - 500 E - 0 I - 1 666
This designation (which, by itself is blasphemy, as it places itself above the Holy Spirit [John 16:12-15; 14:26; Rom 8:26], the true representative of Christ on earth) is the name of the Beast (verse 17). According to the information found in verses 17 and 18, we find the number of his name, 666. Since in Latin certain letters have numerical values, we only need to add them up. This is the prophecy which points out the Antichrist. (Compare 2 Thess. 2:3-12; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 7; Rom. 8:3). The Greek word "Antichrist" means someone who "places himself in the position of the Lord's Anointed, (from anti' - instead and 'crio' - anointing)" (Concordance NT p.371). In other words, the Antichrist is the alleged representative of Christ - exactly what the pope claims to be! If the pope would have to introduce himself in the language of the New Testament, he would have to say: "I am the Antichrist."
Jesus Christ is the true, and only, High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary after His ascension, "a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man." Heb. 8:1-2. Here Jesus daily procures for us the way to the mercy seat of His Father through His blood (John 14:6,13,14; Rom. 8:34), whom we can approach any time by prayer without the intervention of man, only by faith and trust in the atoning blood of Christ (Heb. 4:14; 5:10; 7:25; Matt 6:6-15). The teaching of an added mediation by man or "departed saints" represents a "blasphemy of the beast" against God and "His tabernacle" of reconciliation in heaven according to Rev. 13:6.
THE MARK OF THE BEAST
It is not an outward symbol which is being forced upon every man against his will. If you could not refuse to accept that Mark, then God's warning to not accept it would be meaningless. Those who refuse to accept the Mark of the Beast (the sign of authority or affiliation) are described as: "...they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Rev. 14:12. It is those that have received the seal of God (Rev. 7:3,4; 14:1), and they are victorious over the Mark of the Beast ( Rev. 15:2; compare Dan. 3). The Mark of the Beast includes the transgression of God's law (compare James 2:10), because the Seal of God, His sign of authority, is found in the 10 commandments (See below).
The Mark of the Beast will be received on the forehead or in the hand (see Rev. 13:17; 14:9). The forehead symbolizes awareness (belief, knowledge). The hand symbolizes man's actions, (keeping or not keeping the commandments). This is also shown in Deut 11:8, 18 (compare Deut 13:1-6) where it talks about the keeping of all 10 commandments.
Whoever understands the requirements and the institution of the fourth commandment, of which God states is the sign of His authority, and yet rejects it, and instead honors what Rome has established as its sign of authority, the same accepts the sign of affiliation with Rome, the Mark of the Beast. Not until the establishment of a national Sunday law, when man will have to choose between the commandments of God and the commandments of men, will those that continue in transgression receive the Mark of the Beast. For the sincere Sunday keeper the following applies: "the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent." (Acts 17:30).
THE SEAL OF GOD
A sign or seal is used with the same meaning in the Bible. (Rom. 4:11). An official seal
must show three things:
The seal of God is connected with His law and is found in the fourth commandment (Ex. 20:8-11); "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy, Six days a shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it" (Compare Ex. 31:13,17,18).
Even though all commandments are of equal importance in the sight of God (James 2:10),
we find the mark of the Seal of God only in the fourth commandment:
The Bible speaks of the Sabbath as the everlasting sign of God: "...verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a [eternal] sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you." Ex. 31:13. (Compare verses 16 and 17; Eze. 20:12, 20).
Jesus says "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill, For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Matt. 5:17, 18.
There was someone who came to Jesus and asked Him: "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" Jesus answered "...if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments ...thou shalt not murder, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness...." Matt 19:16-19.
The seventh-day Sabbath is an integral part of God's law, a weekly reminder of Christ as our Creator and Redeemer.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... All things were made by him... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth." John 1:1-3,14.
Similar to the promised rest of Israel at their entrance into the land of Canaan, the Sabbath is a reminder of the promised "Sabbath rest" at the entrance into the heavenly Canaan, (2 Pet 3:13; Heb. 11:10,16, 39, 40; Rev. 21:2), which will take place at the return of Christ, (Heb. 3:10-19; 4:1-1 1; compare Deut 4:1-2; 1 Con 10:1-11), after the wandering of 6000 years in the "desert of human history" since the fall of man in Paradise.
If you go through the trouble of adding the time span for each mentioned generation recorded in the Bible, starting with Adam, you will come up with a total of about 4000 years arriving at the time of Christ. (See Atlas of World History, 1990 by K. Thienemanns Press, Stuttgart - Vienna). Herewith we can also see clearly that we are in the completion of the 6th millennium of the history of mankind as has been foretold by God.
Regarding the return of Christ, the Bibles says "...one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." (2 Pet 3:8). Do you realize now "...that it is near, even at the doors"? (Matt 24:33).
In the New Testament, God's people are called spiritual Israel, which by faith has received a spiritual circumcision of the heart. (Compare Col. 2:11- 12; Rom. 2:28-29; Gal. 3:6-9,28,29; 5:6; 6:15; Rom. 11:25; 1 Pet 2:9-10). The new covenant with Christ causes in each person a new creation through His creative power. By the prophet Jeremiah this very fact was foretold: "...but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people." Jer. 31:31-33. Consequently, God's people will always uphold His law: "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" Rev. 12:17. The pure woman in prophecy symbolizes a pure church, a harlot- a fallen church. (Compare 2 Cor. 11:2; Eze. 16; Rev. 17:18).
We can receive this power, which overcomes sin, only as we believe (John 6:28, 29) in Jesus' exemplary righteousness (a sinless life in a fallen nature. Compare Rom. 8:3; Heb. 4:15), and as we personally accept in faith His substitutionary sacrifice (John 3:16; 1:29). Jesus did not die for His own sins. We read: "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." 2 Cor. 5:21. (Compare 1 John 3:5; John 8:46). This will mean that we repent of our unrighteousness, acknowledge it, and turn from sin (the transgression of God's law) and obey Him. (Prov. 28:13; 1 John 1:6-10; 2:3-5; 3:3-10; 1 Pet 2:21-25; Matt 10:34- 39). Faith and repentance are gifts of God for those who seek them with an upright heart. God will work both in us by His Holy Spirit whenever we give Him the opportunity. Faith is the result of the proclamation and the study of the word of God (Rom. 10:17). Jesus said, "Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me." John 5:39; (compare Luke 24:25-27; John 2:22; Acts 17:11). The study of accurately fulfilled divine prophecy, (concerning world history foretold and the appearance of His Son), will strengthen our faith in the divine plan of redemption through Jesus Christ and form a secure foundation for our faith. (2 Pet 1:19-21).
For a sincere study of the word of God, we are promised an unseen divine Teacher: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you ...he will guide you into all truth ...thy word is truth." John 14:26; 16:13; 17:17. Whosoever rejects God's offer of mercy and knowingly does not listen to the word of truth, does not read it, and does not test it, will not receive from God the saving power of faith and will eventually be among those who are eternally lost. (Jer. 6:17-19; 9:12-15; Hos. 4:6).
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." James 1:5. Jesus tells us: "Ask, and it shall be given you... If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" Matt. 7:7,11. So let us ask, as did David: "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." Ps. 51:10 (Compare Ps. 139:23-24). Whosoever will sincerely believe and pray will realize the experience: "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me." Phil. 4:13. Only as we follow Jesus with a sincere heart, and as we trust Him as our living Redeemer, can we develop a character like His, and thereby be prepared for His return. "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them." Heb. 10:16. (Compare Jer. 31:33) Do you remember that the obedience of man was tested in the garden of Eden by a fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17)? Again, in the last days, the obedience of man will be tested with a special commandment of God (James 2:10). In the garden the deceptive serpent asked "Did God really say...?" What catastrophic consequences did mankind reap from his disobedience?! (See Gen. 3).
Doubt towards a plain command of God is again being sown into the hearts of mankind in this age by the arch enemy of God suggesting "Is God really that serious about the seventh-day Sabbath?" When it will be discovered that Sunday observance is nothing other than a man-made commandment, we must be reminded of the words of Jesus: "Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites... Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men... Ye reject the commandments of God, that ye may keep your own tradition." Mark 7:6-9. Through His prophet Ezekiel, God admonishes His people "...Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments (traditions), nor defile yourselves with their idols. I am the Lord your God, walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them. And 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. 20:18-20.
The commandments of men and their traditions do not free us from the Christian principle "We ought to obey God, rather than men." Acts 5:29; 4:19; Jer. 9:12, 13.
(See Jer. 10:2; 1 Kings 18:21; 1 Sam. 15:22, 23).
The Holy Spirit admonishes us "...Today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts... For he that is entered into his rest he also bath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that (sabbath) rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief." Heb. 4:7,10-11. Only those will be redeemed and saved of whom the Bible 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.
Terrible plagues and judgments will soon fall upon mankind who have received the Mark, the name, or the number of the Beast, or who will worship the Beast and his Image (who submit to an antichristian, religious-political authority), and who, by that act have taken a position against the clear will and warning of God. (Rev. 13:16-18; 14:9-11; 16:2; 18; 19:19-21).
This judgment hour message may cause fear in some. But in reality, it is a message of salvation - a message from a loving God, "...not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." 2 Pet 3:9.
Every sincere individual will experience that: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." Prov. 1:7. (Compare Luke 12:4, 5; Ex. 20:20). Fear is being created only by sin. (See Gen. 3:10, 11). However, after we have accepted forgiveness through the love of God in Jesus Christ we will experience, that "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear..He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us." 1 John 4:18-19.
The feeling of being lost is changed into an assurance of salvation, and the fear of God into respect and love. The hopelessness is being changed into a singleness of purpose, and general fear into a joyful expectation of the fulfillment of a divine promise. God's offer, the time for repentance and return, will last only for a little while. Use this time to seriously examine your own condition and to turn around as the time of probation will soon end before the return of Christ. The signs of the times tell us that we are in the very last hour of this earth's history! "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up...be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless." 2 Pet 3:10, 14. (Compare Isa. 55:6-9; Mal. 4:1-4). "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." Eccel. 12:13- 14.
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