Sabbath, February 22, 2014

The time is coming when God’s people will feel the hand of persecution because they keep holy the seventh day. Satan has caused the change of the Sabbath in the hope of carrying out his purpose for the defeat of God’s plans. He seeks to make the commands of God of less force in the world than human laws. The man of sin, who thought to change times and laws, and who has always oppressed the people of God, will cause laws to be made enforcing the observance of the first day of the week. But God’s people are to stand firm for Him. And the Lord will work in their behalf, showing plainly that He is the God of gods.” –Counsels for the Church, p. 317.

Power of the beast that speaks like a dragon

1. Who gives power to the image of the beast to speak and act with such violence?

Revelation 13:11 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.

Revelation 13:15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

“The prediction that it will speak ‘as a dragon’ and exercise ‘all the power of the first beast’ plainly foretells a development of the spirit of intolerance and persecution that was manifested by the nations represented by the dragon and the leopardlike beast.” –The Great Controversy, p. 442.

2. How will the two-horned beast act in this case? What powers will unite in this destructive undertaking?

Revelation 13:16 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.

“The beast with two horns ‘causeth

[commands] 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.’ Revelation 13:16, 17. The third angel’s warning is: ‘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.’ ‘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. The ‘mark of the beast’ still remains to be defined.” –The Great Controversy, p. 445.

Attack by the image of the beast

3. What frontal attack will the image make against God’s children? What will His people then do with the goods the Lord has entrusted to them?

Revelation 13:17 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.

“There is a time coming when commandment-keepers can neither buy nor sell. Make haste to dig out your buried talents. If God has intrusted you with money, show yourselves faithful to your trust; unwrap your napkin, and send your talents to the exchangers, that when Christ shall come, He may receive His own with interest. In the last extremity, before this work shall close, thousands will be cheerfully laid upon the altar. Men and women will feel it a blessed privilege to share in the work of preparing souls to stand in the great day of God, and they will give hundreds as readily as dollars are given now. If the love of Christ were burning in the hearts of His professed people, we would see the same spirit manifested today. Did they but realize how near is the end of all work for the salvation of souls, they would sacrifice their possessions as freely as did the members of the early church. They would work for the advancement of God’s cause as earnestly as worldly men labor to acquire riches. Tact and skill would be exercised, and earnest and unselfish labor put forth to acquire means, not to hoard, but to pour into the treasury of the Lord.” –Maranatha, p. 183.

Identity of the beast which rose from the sea

4. What is the number of the beast, and how is this calculated?

Revelation 13:18 Here is wisdom. 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 threescore and six.

“An interpretation that gained currency in the period following the Reformation was that 666 stood for Vicarius Filii Dei, meaning ‘vicar of the Son of God,’ one of the titles for the pope of Rome. The numerical value of the component letters of this title totals 666 as follows:

“V     I     C    A     R     I     U     S        F     I     L     I     I       D     E     I

“5     1     100 0     0     1      5      0       0     1      50  1     1        500 0     1 = 666”

–[By Commentary writers] Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 823.

“The pope claims to be the vicar of Christ; but how does his character bear comparison with that of our Saviour? Was Christ ever known to consign men to the prison or the rack because they did not pay Him homage as the King of heaven? Was His voice heard condemning to death those who did not accept Him?” –The Great Controversy, p. 570.

Difference between the mark of the beast and God’s seal

5. What have various institutions done with God’s law? Habakkuk 1:4, first part. Are God’s children indifferent to this change?

Habakkuk 1:4, Jubilee Bible 2000, first part Therefore the law is weakened, and the judgment does not go forth true…. 

Psalm 119:126 It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law.

“As noted above, God’s sign of power is His holy Sabbath of the fourth commandment. The Papal interpretation of that law does not vary from the Word, save only in respect to this command. The law of the Lord declares that ‘the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.’ The Roman Catholic Church declares that to keep holy that command is ‘to spend Sunday [the first day] in prayer and other religious duties.’ –Butler’s Catechism. In proving that that ‘church has power to institute festivals of precept,’ the ‘Doctrinal Catechism’ says: ‘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.’” –The Desire of Ages, Appendix to 1898 Edition, Note 1 to p. 122.

6. While the beast and its image intend to impose their dogmas, what does the message of the third angel proclaim?

Revelation 14:9-11 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, 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.

“The most fearful threatening ever addressed to mortals is contained in the third angel’s message. That must be a terrible sin which calls down the wrath of God unmingled with mercy. Men are not to be left in darkness concerning this important matter; the warning against this sin is to be given to the world before the visitation of God’s judgments, that all may know why they are to be inflicted, and have opportunity to escape them. Prophecy declares that the first angel would make his announcement to ‘every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.’ The warning of the third angel, which forms a part of the same threefold message, is to be no less widespread. It is represented in the prophecy as being proclaimed with a loud voice, by an angel flying in the midst of heaven; and it will command the attention of the world.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 449, 450.

Triumph over the beast and its image

7. Despite the terrible conflict, what will happen to those who do not accept the mark and number of human powers? What is the secret of victory?

Revelation 15:2, 3 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.

Revelation 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

1 John 5:3, 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

“In the issue of the contest all Christendom will be divided into two great classes–those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and those who worship the beast and his image and receive his mark. Although church and state will unite their power to compel ‘all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond’ (Revelation 13:16), to receive ‘the mark of the beast,’ yet the people of God will not receive it. The prophet of Patmos beholds ‘them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God’ and singing the song of Moses and the Lamb. Revelation 15:2, 3….

“Faith is essential in order to the keeping of the law of God; for ‘without faith it is impossible to please Him.’ And ‘whatsoever is not of faith is sin.’ Hebrews 11:6; Romans 14:23.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 450, 435.

For meditation

Revelation 7:2, 3, 14-17; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4.

“… This is not a time to haul down our colors, to be ashamed of our faith. This distinctive banner, described in the words, ‘Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus’ (Revelation 14:12), is to be borne through the world to the close of probation.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 144.

“God has placed in our hands a banner upon which is inscribed: ‘Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’ Revelation 14:12. This is a distinct, separating message, a message that is to give no uncertain sound. It is to lead the people away from the broken cisterns that contain no water, to the unfailing Fountain of the water of life.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 150.


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Missionary Report

To be read on Sabbath, February 22, 2014

The Special Sabbath School Offering will be gathered
on Sabbath, March 1, 2014

Dear brothers and sisters in the faith around the world, I would like to greet you with the word of God found in Philippians 2:4, 5: “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”

With God’s help, the work here in Philippines is blessed and progressing. Every department is trying to do something to advance the work of God entrusted to His church.

Some years ago, we planned to help our people, Bible workers, and ministers gain more knowledge of how to help the work of God, not only in Philippines but also in other countries. To this end, we decided to start a small Missionary School; but many things were lacking, and there were many hindrances.

Then in 2005, I was elected the Education Leader and, along with the newly elected president, tried to start a missionary school in Davao despite many problems and empty pockets. The first year, thirteen students graduated from this Missionary School, and some of them are now working in the fields as part-time Bible workers. After that, thirteen students enrolled for a longer course, but the school was not able to continue because of the lack of funds to pay the teachers and erect a suitable facility.

In 2007, plans were made to construct a building for the Asia Missionary School. Land was acquired in Migkawayan, Davao, Philippines, a perfect place for such a project. We now own five hectares of land in a peaceful area suitable for missionary students. It is on the top of a mountain in the countryside surrounded by the beauty of nature, and in the evening one can see the lights of the city of Davao below. Of all the cities in Mindanao, this is the largest, and the people are well disciplined under a good mayor. This offers a wonderful place for students to do practical missionary training.

With great hope and faith, we started construction of a two-story building, but it is still not finished–not even the first floor–because of lack of funds. That’s why I am knocking on the doors of your hearts to ask for your support of the Asia Missionary School so we can again take up the task of training young people for service in the Lord’s vineyard, including in countries where, until now, there is little knowledge of the present truth.

On behalf of the Education Department here in the Philippines and the General Conference Missionary Department, I appeal to our brothers and sisters around the world to share your blessings so we can finish the Missionary School building in Philippines and continue conducting seminars and training sessions. It is our burning desire to invite young people from many countries especially in Asia to come here to be trained and equipped as Christian soldiers so the commission Jesus gave in Matthew 24:14–to preach the gospel in the whole world so the end will come–may soon be fulfilled.

I hope and pray that God will open your hearts to give generously and thus share the message with others through willing and well-trained men and women. Please also consider the needs of the other departments, such as the Education Department here in Asia. This is my wish and prayer in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.

–Arnolfo Cortez
Asian Division Secretary