1. GREAT DECEPTION THROUGH MIRACLES
a. What prophecy shows that miracles will be used to deceive people in the last days? Matthew 24:24; 2 Corinthians 11:14.
“Through spiritualism, Satan appears as a benefactor of the race, healing the diseases of the people, and professing to present a new and more exalted system of religious faith.”—The Great Controversy, p. 589.
“As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will attempt to personate Christ. . . . [He] will manifest himself among men as a majestic being of dazzling brightness.”—Ibid., p.624.
b. How can we discern between true and false miracles? Deuteronomy 13:1–3; Isaiah 8:19, 20.
“Those who claim to have the great power of God can only be discerned by the great detector, the law of Jehovah.”—Faith and Works, p. 45.
2. MIRACLES NOT A TEST
a. What prophecy was partially fulfilled in the days of Christ and is to be fulfilled again in these last days? Malachi 4:5, 6; Luke 1:17; Matthew 11:11–14.
“John separated himself from friends and from the luxuries of life. The simplicity of his dress, a garment woven of camel’s hair, was a standing rebuke to the extravagance and display of the Jewish priests and of the people generally. His diet, purely vegetable, of locusts and wild honey, was a rebuke to the indulgence of appetite and the gluttony that everywhere prevailed. . . . [Malachi 4:5, 6 quoted.] Here the prophet describes the character of the work. Those who are to prepare the way for the second coming of Christ are represented by faithful Elijah, as John came in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way for Christ’s first advent. The great subject of reform is to be agitated, and the public mind is to be stirred. Temperance in all things is to be connected with the message, to turn the people of God from their idolatry, their gluttony, and their extravagance in dress and other things.”—Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 62.
b. What lesson from John the Baptist (who worked in the spirit and power of Elijah) is of great value for us today? John 10:41.
“Satan is a diligent Bible student. He knows that his time is short, and he seeks at every point to counterwork the work of the Lord upon this earth. It is impossible to give any idea of the experience of the people of God who shall be alive upon the earth when celestial glory and a repetition of the persecutions of the past are blended. They will walk in the light proceeding from the throne of God. By means of the angels there will be constant communication between heaven and earth. And Satan, surrounded by evil angels, and claiming to be God, will work miracles of all kinds, to deceive, if possible, the very elect. God’s people will not find their safety in working miracles, for Satan will counterfeit the miracles that will be wrought. God’s tried and tested people will find their power in the sign spoken of in Exodus 31:12–18. They are to take their stand on the living word: ‘It is written.’ This is the only foundation upon which they can stand securely. Those who have broken their covenant with God will in that day be without God and without hope.”—Ibid., vol.9, p. 16.
3. A CHANGE IS COMING
a. What do the two horns on the lamblike beast represent? Revelation 13:11.
“The ‘two horns like a lamb’ well represent the character of the United States government, as expressed in its two fundamental principles, Republicanism and Protestantism. These principles are the secret of our power and prosperity as a nation. Those who first found an asylum on the shores of America rejoiced that they had reached a country free from the arrogant claims of popery and the tyranny of kingly rule. They determined to establish a government upon the broad foundation of civil and religious liberty.”—The Signs of the Times, November 1, 1899.
b. How will this lamblike nation offend God by enacting oppressive, anti-biblical laws? Revelation 13:14 (last part).
“A time is coming when the law of God is, in a special sense, to be made void in our land. The rulers of our nation will, by legislative enactments, enforce the Sunday law, and thus God’s people be brought into great peril. When our nation, in its legislative councils, shall enact laws to bind the consciences of men in regard to their religious privileges, enforcing Sunday observance, and bringing oppressive power to bear against those who keep the seventh-day Sabbath, the law of God will, to all intents and purposes, be made void in our land; and national apostasy will be followed by national ruin.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 7, p. 977.
c. What threefold union will prepare the world to be deceived by Satan? Isaiah 8:9, 10, 12; Revelation 16:13, 14.
“When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 451.
4. THE IMAGE OF THE BEAST
a. What is the image of the beast, and who has the power to give life to this image? Revelation 13:15 (first part).
“When the leading churches of the United States, uniting upon such points of doctrine as are held by them in common, shall influence the state to enforce their decrees and to sustain their institutions, then Protestant America will have formed an image of the Roman hierarchy, and the infliction of civil penalties upon dissenters will inevitably result.”—The Great Controversy, p. 445.
“The same masterful mind that plotted against the faithful in ages past is still seeking to rid the earth of those who fear God and obey His law. Satan will excite indignation against the humble minority who conscientiously refuse to accept popular customs and traditions. Men of position and reputation will join with the lawless and the vile to take counsel against the people of God. Wealth, genius, education, will combine to cover them with contempt. Persecuting rulers, ministers, and church members will conspire against them. With voice and pen, by boasts, threats, and ridicule, they will seek to overthrow their faith. By false representations and angry appeals they will stir up the passions of the people. Not having a ‘Thus saith the Scriptures’ to bring against the advocates of the Bible Sabbath, they will resort to oppressive enactments to supply the lack. To secure popularity and patronage, legislators will yield to the demand for a Sunday law. Those who fear God cannot accept an institution that violates a precept of the Decalogue. On this battlefield comes the last great conflict of the controversy between truth and error. And we are not left in doubt as to the issue. Now, as in the days of Mordecai, the Lord will vindicate His truth and His people.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 450, 451.
b. How did the early Christian church fall into the trap of Satan? 2 Timothy 3:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:10–12.
“It was apostasy that led the early church to seek the aid of the civil government, and this prepared the way for the development of the papacy—the beast. Said Paul: ‘There’ shall ‘come a falling away, . . . and that man of sin be revealed’ (2 Thessalonians 2:3). So apostasy in the church will prepare the way for the image to the beast.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 443, 444.
5. THE DEATH DECREE
a. Those who fear God and live a godly life, what must they expect? Matthew 14:3–10; 2 Timothy 3:12. Give a scriptural example. 1 Kings 22:8, 27.
“It is natural for the wrongdoer to hold the messengers of God responsible for the calamities that come as the sure result of a departure from the way of righteousness. Those who place themselves in Satan’s power are unable to see things as God sees them. When the mirror of truth is held up before them, they become indignant at the thought of receiving reproof. Blinded by sin, they refuse to repent; they feel that God’s servants have turned against them and are worthy of severest censure.”—Prophets and Kings, pp. 139, 140.
“The true and faithful follower of Christ must suffer persecution. There is no way of avoiding it.”—The Review and Herald, April 19, 1898.
b. What will happen to those that do not worship the image of the beast and refuse to receive the mark of the beast? Revelation 13:15 (last part), 16, 17.
“It will be declared that men are offending God by the violation of the Sunday sabbath; that this sin has brought calamities which will not cease until Sunday observance shall be strictly enforced. . . .
“The miracle-working power manifested through spiritualism will exert its influence against those who choose to obey God rather than men. Communications from the spirits will declare that God has sent them to convince the rejecters of Sunday of their error, affirming that the laws of the land should be obeyed as the law of God.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 590, 591.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
a. How can we discern between true and false miracles?
b. How does the life of John the Baptist show that miracles will not be the sign by which to identify God’s remnant?
c. What role will spiritualism increasingly play in the United States?
d. What is the image of the beast, and how is it formed?
e. What must we expect from those who knowingly reject the truth?