1. THE FOCAL POINT OF THE CONFLICT
a. Revelation 13 and 14 are closely related, shedding light upon the end-time conflict between truth and error. How does the third angel’s message announce the outcome of this conflict? Revelation 14:9–12; 15:2.
b. What commandment of the law of God is under fierce attack in the last conflict? Exodus 20:8; Mark 2:27, 28. Upon what authority does Sundaykeeping rest? Matthew 15:9, 13, 14.
“The United States shall enforce Sunday observance, which Rome claims as the special acknowledgment of her supremacy. But in this homage to the papacy the United States will not be alone. The influence of Rome in the countries that once acknowledged her dominion is still far from being destroyed. And prophecy foretells a restoration of her power. . . . In both the Old and the New World, the papacy will receive homage in the honor paid to the Sunday institution, that rests solely upon the authority of the Roman Church.”—The Great Controversy, p. 579.
2. THE INTENDED CHANGE
a. How does our way of thinking determine our attitude and our actions? Matthew 6:21; 12:34; Proverbs 23:7.
“We shall reveal what is in our hearts by the words we speak. The connection between the heart and the words of our mouth is very intimate, and by our words we shall be individually judged in the last day.”—The Voice in Speech and Song, p. 52.
“If the thoughts are wrong the feelings will be wrong, and the thoughts and feelings combined make up the moral character.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 310.
b. What intent of Rome, as revealed in Daniel 7:25, is the key issue in the final conflict? How will the lamblike nation’s enforcing of Sunday observance be a mark of association with, or submission to, Rome? Revelation 13:12.
“Not one is made to suffer the wrath of God until the truth has been brought home to his mind and conscience, and has been rejected. There are many who have never had an opportunity to hear the special truths for this time. The obligation of the fourth commandment has never been set before them in its true light. He who reads every heart and tries every motive will leave none who desire a knowledge of the truth, to be deceived as to the issues of the controversy. The decree is not to be urged upon the people blindly. Everyone is to have sufficient light to make his decision intelligently.”—The Great Controversy, p. 605.
“The special characteristic of the beast, and therefore of his image, is the breaking of God’s commandments. Says Daniel, of the little horn, the papacy: ‘He shall think to change times and the law’ (Daniel 7:25, RV). And Paul styled the same power the ‘man of sin,’ who was to exalt himself above God. One prophecy is a complement of the other. Only by changing God’s law could the papacy exalt itself above God; whoever should understandingly keep the law as thus changed would be giving supreme honor to that power by which the change was made. Such an act of obedience to papal laws would be a mark of allegiance to the pope in the place of God.
“The papacy has attempted to change the law of God. . . . The change in the fourth commandment exactly fulfills the prophecy. For this the only authority claimed is that of the church. Here the papal power openly sets itself above God.”—Ibid., p. 446.
3. THE LORD’S DAY
a. What Bible verse has modern Protestantism wrongfully used in defense of Sundaykeeping? Revelation 1:10.
“The Lord’s day mentioned by John was the Sabbath, the day on which Jehovah rested after the great work of creation, and which He blessed and sanctified because He had rested upon it. The Sabbath was as sacredly observed by John upon the Isle of Patmos as when he was among the people, preaching upon that day. By the barren rocks surrounding him, John was reminded of rocky Horeb, and how, when God spoke His law to the people there, He said, ‘Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy’ (Exodus 20:8).”—The Sanctified Life, p. 74.
“Notwithstanding all the efforts to establish Sunday sacredness, papists themselves publicly confessed the divine authority of the Sabbath, and the human origin of the institution by which it had been supplanted. In the sixteenth century a papal council plainly declared: ‘Let all Christians remember that the seventh day was consecrated by God, and hath been received and observed, not only by the Jews, but by all others who pretend to worship God; though we Christians have changed their Sabbath into the Lord’s day.’ (Thomas Morer, Discourse in Six Dialogues on the Name, Notion, and Observation of the Lord’s Day, pp. 281, 282). Those who were tampering with the divine law were not ignorant of the character of their work. They were deliberately setting themselves above God.”—The Great Controversy, p. 577.
“While the worshipers of God will be especially distinguished by their regard for the fourth commandments—since this is the sign of His creative power and the witness to His claim upon man’s reverence and homage—the worshipers of the beast will be distinguished by their efforts to tear down the Creator’s memorial, to exalt the institution of Rome. It was in behalf of the Sunday that popery first asserted its arrogant claims; and its first resort to the power of the state was to compel the observance of Sunday as ‘the Lord’s day.’ ”—Ibid., pp. 446, 447.
b. Which day is in reality the Lord’s day? Mark 2:28; Isaiah 58:13; Ezekiel 20:12.
“Because the Sabbath was made for man, it is the Lord’s day. It belongs to Christ. . . . The Sabbath is a sign of Christ’s power to make us holy. And it is given to all whom Christ makes holy. As a sign of His sanctifying power, the Sabbath is given to all who through Christ become a part of the Israel of God.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 288.
4. SERVING A CHANGELESS GOD
a. How did God consider Sabbathkeeping in ancient Israel? What were the blessings, and what were the curses? Jeremiah 17:19–27.
“[Jeremiah 17:24, 25 quoted.] This promise of prosperity as the reward of allegiance was accompanied by a prophecy of the terrible judgments that would befall the city should its inhabitants prove disloyal to God and His law. If the admonitions to obey the Lord God of their fathers and to hallow His Sabbath day were not heeded, the city and its palaces would be utterly destroyed by fire.”—Prophets and Kings, pp. 411, 412.
b. How did Jesus clearly explain that He did not come—as the man of sin did—to change the law of God? Matthew 5:17–19; Luke 16:17.
“It was because the law was changeless, because man could be saved only through obedience to its precepts, that Jesus was lifted up on the cross. Yet the very means by which Christ established the law Satan represented as destroying it. Here will come the last conflict of the great controversy between Christ and Satan.
“That the law which was spoken by God’s own voice is faulty, that some specification has been set aside, is the claim which Satan now puts forward. It is the last great deception that he will bring upon the world. He needs not to assail the whole law; if he can lead men to disregard one precept, his purpose is gained. For ‘whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all’ (James 2:10). By consenting to break one precept, men are brought under Satan’s power. By substituting human law for God’s law, Satan will seek to control the world.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 763.
“It is not by abolishing one jot or tittle of the law of God that salvation is brought to the fallen race. If God were a changeable being, no confidence could be placed in His government. If He retracted what He said, we could not then take His Word as the foundation of our faith. Had He changed His law to meet fallen men, Satan’s claim that man could not keep the law would have been proved true. But God did not alter His law. The death of Christ testifies to the heavenly universe, to the worlds unfallen, and to all the sons and daughters of Adam, that the law of God is immutable, and that in the judgment it will condemn everyone who has persisted in transgression.” —The Signs of the Times, April 7, 1898.
5. “COME OUT OF HER”
a. Why do we say today that there are multitudes of honest Sundaykeepers who have not received the mark of the beast? Acts 17:30; James 4:17; John 15:22. When will Sunday observance be enforced?
“There are many who have never had the light. They are deceived by their teachers, and they have not received the mark of the beast. The Lord is working with them; He has not left them to their own ways. Until they shall be convicted of the truth, and trample upon the evidence given to enlighten them, the Lord will not withdraw His grace from them.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, p. 103.
“God has given men the Sabbath as a sign between Him and them, as a test of their loyalty. Those who, after the light regarding God's law comes to them, continue to disobey and exalt human laws above the law of God in the great crisis before us will receive the mark of the beast.”—Evangelism, p. 235.
“At present Sundaykeeping is not the test. The time will come when men will not only forbid Sunday work, but they will try to force men to labor on the Sabbath, and to subscribe to Sunday observance or forfeit their freedom and their lives. But the time for this has not yet come, for the truth must be presented more fully before the people as a witness. What I have said about this should not be understood as referring to the action of old Sabbathkeepers who understand the truth.”—The Review and Herald, April 6, 1911.
b. What must happen before Sunday observance is enforced by a death sentence? What call must be heard by the world just prior to the end of time? Revelation 14:9, 10; 18:1, 4.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
a. What characterizes the work of the third angel of Revelation 14?
b. Explain the “intent” of the Roman hierarchy as revealed in Daniel 7:25.
c. How can you prove that, not the first day of the week, but the seventh-day (Sabbath) is the Lord’s day?
d. Explain Matthew 5:17–19; Luke 16:17; Matthew 22:36–40, and James 2:10 in connection with the outcome of the conflict (Revelation 14:12).
e. Why does the final conflict between truth and error require a separation from the nominal churches?