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The Third Angel's Message
and the Mark of the Beast

The Third Angel's Message is an end-time declaration of judgment upon all who refuse to acknowledge and worship God, but who, instead, choose to obey and worship man's system. This is figuratively represented as "the beast and his image" (Rev 14:9-11).

The beast depicts the civil government which requires implicit obedience to its edicts, even if they contravene God's laws. The image of the beast is a reflection of that corrupt human system in the major religions of the world.

The Catholic Church dominates the religion of the West and will do so even more in the days ahead when miraculous power draws more converts (Rev 13:13,14). Challenging this idolatrous system will be two witnesses (Rev 11) who will also draw on God's supernatural power to oppose the corrupt Universal Church.

It may well be that the publicity coming from raising the dead will take the issue of the Sabbath into full prominence throughout Europe and prompt legislation against it by the pro-Catholic lobby. Another factor triggering this legislation may be hard economic times (probably as a result of the earthquake to decimate London). It would not surprise me if a law was passed to make six-day work compulsory, with the day of rest being Sunday. This would outlaw Sabbatarians from society and would constitute one aspect of the mark of the beast. (This aspect of obedience is represented as in one's "right hand" through work, and "forehead" by a conscious decision.) 7th day believers have traditionally interpreted the mark of the beast to be this infringement of the right to obey the Sabbath.

While it may include that in the West, the imposition of the mark of the beast may be a different infringement of human rights in the East. The Three-Self Patriotic Church in Communist China is already a state-controlled church which denies religious freedom and requires Christians to bow down to the authority of the state in place of God. True believers have to resort to meeting in (illegal) house churches. As a result, the "underground church" in China and other Communist countries is extensive, and the government considers it a real threat. The Sabbath may not figure at all as an issue testing the loyalty of believers in the East. Other state-controlled criteria are in command.

There are many persecuted Christians in China today. Thousands are imprisoned and tortured for their faith. Thousands die, refusing to relinquish their faith in Christ for a human substitute.

Our correspondent is right that not all Christians are held accountable now for keeping the Sabbath because that truth is not revealed to all believers at the moment. When this truth becomes more widely known, then all those who understand it will be held accountable. Judgment will fall upon those who refuse to obey God.

Whatever the issues involved, the underlying principle to do with the mark of the beast is whether believers are prepared to worship God and suffer for doing so, or whether they will compromise their faith for expedience and give their loyalties to man.

The third angel's pronouncement of punishment is against those who do the latter.

Malcolm B Heap

Copyright: Midnight Ministries, PO Box 29, Aylesbury, HP17 8TL, UK