Sabbath School Lesson for June 9-15, 2018
We’ve had success in identifying the main characters in the drama that unfolds in the final chapter of earth’s history, and even become convinced that the events will happen soon. The power portrayed as the sea beast in Revelation 13 accurately fits the description of papal Rome; and the land beast appears to be the United States.
Both of these powers will join hands to enforce the worship of the dragon, or Satan. Those in this group will have been deceived by a false system of worship, which includes many confusing doctrines. This system, called Babylon, will make it very difficult for many of God’s people to escape destruction for receiving the mark of the beast.
What we may still be wondering is how we will be identified as being on God’s side of the conflict. Just as soldiers wear uniforms to identify themselves when the battle gets thick and ugly, we must have something that will distinguish ourselves from the enemy, those having the mark of the beast.
This week we discover that the only thing that will keep us from having the beast’s mark in those final hours is to have God’s seal. Is it any wonder that so many Christians aren’t even aware that God has a seal though?
God knew from the beginning that this seal would be needed. He even knew that most would forget what it was. But thankfully there are some who would remember. When God said to remember to worship Him on a certain day, they took it seriously.
Focus Text: “…Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.” Revelation 15:3
This verse points to God as our Creator and Judge. It aptly expresses the praise given when we see our salvation unfolding before us at Christ’s Second Coming. God’s people are found singing it as they stand on the sea of glass; they are the ones who have had victory over the beast. Theirs is the song of Moses and the Lamb (Revelation 15:2, 3)
Sunday: God’s Sign Identifying His People
Sometimes we forget that God has had more than one way to distinguish His people from those in the world. He established circumcision as a way to identify Jewish males. This symbolic gesture, which was a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham, was given to him and all in his household, just prior to Isaac’s birth. See Genesis 17. It pointed forward to the Seed that would be born of Abraham’s descendants, the Messiah.
Baptism has also been called a sign in the New Testament of God’s covenant, and has replaced circumcision as a means of identifying the followers of God. See Acts 2:38.
But there is another sign of God that goes beyond the rainbow, Gideon’s fleece, or Samson’s long hair, signs which had limited meaning and application. This is a sign of both God’s creation and redemption which was introduced to mankind at the beginning of our creation.
Yes, the Sabbath has been called a sign or seal of a perpetual covenant (Exodus 31:16, 17). “Perpetual” is just another way of saying it is everlasting, continuous, and unlimited. Paul could safely say in Hebrews 4:9, “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.” NKJV
Read Genesis 17:9-11 and Deuteronomy 30:6. What was God’s purpose for circumcision? What did it represent?
Read Romans 2:28, 29, 6:3. 4. How are circumcision and baptism similar? What is their goal?
Read Mark 2:27, Exodus 31:13, 17, and Ezekiel 20:12, 20. Why would the Sabbath be a fitting symbol of both creation and re-creation, or redemption?
Monday: The Beast and False Worship
As we’ve discovered, the prophecies in Daniel match many of the predictions found in Revelation. One very important hint at the identity of the beast is in Daniel 7:25…
“He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, AND SHALL INTEND TO CHANGE TIMES AND LAW. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time.” NKJV
This description fits exactly those features found in the book of Revelation, with one distinct addition: its intention to “change times and law”. Has there already been an attempt to change times and law in the church?
We don’t have to look far to see the change of the Sabbath as a fulfillment of this prophecy. It’s the perfect commandment in God’s law for Satan, working through the beast, to target. Because it involves worship.
Notice Satan INTENDS to make this change, but the truth is…it’s all a sham. Only God, who is holy, can make something (or someone) holy. Satan, symbolized by a dragon, has moved through the beast, the power of papal Rome, to declare another day holy. And most of the Christian world has bought into this incredible deception.
False worship is already under our noses. So, what will we do about it? We can only follow God, as the Holy Spirit convicts us as individuals. And then share the truths of God’s Word to as many as we are able. Remember that most of God’s people have not experienced the joys of true Sabbath worship, and have no idea what they are missing. Thankfully, at this time, God winks at their ignorance (Acts 17:30).
Read Daniel 7:25 and Revelation 13:5-7. What clues are there here that indicate it’s talking about the same power system? How does the papacy fit these descriptions?
Read Revelation 14:7, 9, 10 and 13:4. Why is the issue of worship so important in the last days?
Read Revelation 14:12 and 12:17. How are the saints described in these verses? What part do the Ten Commandments play in the Christian world today? Which of the Ten Commandments deals most specifically with worship?
Tuesday: The Seal of God
We have noticed over the years that the packaging of commercial products has become more and more tight, making some of them sealed so tightly one can hardly open them without a tool of some kind, or at least quite a bit of strength. (The older you get, the more you notice this, by the way.)
A seal provides
- protection, keeping the contents free from contamination, but also
- indicates ownership by the manufacturer, the one who made the product.
This example shows us the reason a seal of God is required, especially at the end of time. Satan is frantically working to contaminate as many people as he can. So, God has offered to seal us tightly to protect and declare His ownership of us.
This provision of a seal is now available. It comes in the form of a day of worship. God uses the Sabbath to help us continue growing in our relationship with Him. It provides safety in the midst of life’s stormy waters, giving us the peace we need to survive in this world.
The Bible says this seal is to be placed on our foreheads AND on our hands. Symbolically, of course, this would be in our thoughts and our actions. It’s therefore important that our beliefs match what we practice.
Read Ephesians 1:13, 14, 4:30, 2 Timothy 2:19, Revelation 7:1-4. For what purposes and how are we sealed by God?
Read Revelation 7:3, 14:1, 9. Why does a seal include a name? Why can the mark of the beast be on either the forehead or the hand?
Read Revelation 13:15, 17. What are the consequences of not having the mark of the beast right before Jesus comes?
Wednesday: The Mark of the Beast
Clearly there is much interest in what constitutes the mark of the beast. The results of having it, as outlined in the third angel’s message of Revelation 14, are extremely unpleasant, to say the least.
The first angel’s message in the same chapter, however, actually holds the key to how to avoid the beast’s mark. In order not to be on Satan’s side, we must be clearly on the Lord’s. We must be sealed or identified as one of His.
The first angel directs us to worship God as our Creator and our Judge. The same passage closes with a description of the saints. It says in verse 12 of chapter 14 that they keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
In reviewing God’s Ten Commandments, one can’t fail to notice that one of them speaks quite forcibly about how to worship God. It reveals who, why, and when we are to worship. What better way to show our allegiance to God than by keeping the seventh day holy?
What then has caused so many of God’s people to worship on another day? There is absolutely no Bible support for this obvious change in God’s law. Satan has been working for centuries to mask his efforts to “change times and law”, and he’s had great success. For nearly all now are worshipping on Sunday without thought or conviction that is wrong.
But in the final hours, when civil and religious authorities try to enforce worship on something other than God’s holy seventh day, all the world will have made their choice as to whom they wish to serve and obey. Those who don’t submit to God’s way will have the mark of the beast.
Read Exodus 20:8-11. According to the fourth commandment, who are we to worship? Why are we to worship? When are we to worship? How are we to worship?
Read Revelation 14:9 and Matthew 24:24. If God’s seal involves Sabbath observance, then what might Satan use to cause his followers to worship him and receive HIS mark? How has a new day of worship deceived many of God’s elect?
Read Matthew 5:19 and 15:9. Why are all the commandments important? Is there any place for tradition in God’s church? How does tradition affect our worship?
Thursday: The Sabbath as the Seal
God finished His work of creating our world by resting on the seventh day and blessing that day, calling it holy. Jesus, who was the One responsible for our creation (John 1:3), also declared, “It is finished” (John 19:30) just before His death on the cross. He then rested in the tomb over the Sabbath hours, from sunset to sunset, on the seventh day.
Therefore, the Sabbath is a day to commemorate our creation AND our redemption. Jesus is indeed the author (Creator) and finisher (Redeemer) of our faith. See Hebrews 12:2.
Just as God rested from His work of creation and re-creation (when we are “born again”) on the seventh day, He asks us to do the same every Sabbath. By ceasing our earthly labors, we are reminded that our works do not provide our salvation.
Jesus invites us to…
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28 NKJV
Resting on the day that God has commanded, in the way He has prescribed, is the perfect way to indicate our loyalty to Him. And in the end, it will be the only means of escaping the mark of the beast. We must be sealed as God’s people. Hebrews 4:9 says, “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.” NKJV
Read John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:16, and Hebrews 1:1, 2. Why is it important to remember Jesus as our Creator?
Read Luke 23:54-56 and Matthew 5:17, 18. Did Jesus, even after His resurrection, give any indication that His day of worship would be changed? How has the world lost sight of the Creator by worshiping Him on another day?
Read John 19:30, Hebrews 12:2, and Philippians 2:10, 11. Why must Jesus be the focus of our Sabbathkeeping? How is it possible for those who do worship on the seventh-day Sabbath to still lose salvation?
This week the focus was on the third angel’s message, found in Revelation 14. We looked at…
- why God needs a sign to identify His people (Sunday)
- how the beast encourages false worship (Monday)
- what God’s seal is (Tuesday)
- what the mark of the beast is (Wednesday)
- how the Sabbath acts as a seal for God’s people (Thursday)
Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. Therefore, He must be the focus of everything we do and believe. The Sabbath is designed to remind us that we have been born twice. Jesus created us, but He also re-created us, when we were “born again”. Therefore, in a sense, the Sabbath has been doubly blessed.
Those who worship on the first day, Sunday, miss out on God’s full blessing, because only Jesus’ resurrection is given as a reason for its observance.
Let’s remember that no one presently has the mark of the beast. It is only when God decides that the world is ready, things start to fall apart, and a death decree is issued for those who don’t keep Sunday (Revelation 13:15) that we are either sealed by God or marked by Satan.
This planet is still under God’s grace. So long as decisions are being made, our probation is open. Let’s also remember that the final issue will not be the Sabbath, but who we worship. Our worship now will help us make the right choice then.
Next Week’s Lesson: Babylon and Armageddon
To read the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly or see more resources for its study, go to https://www.absg.adventist.org/
All Outlook blogposts by Teresa Thompson, are at http://outlookmag.org/author/teresathompson/