Lesson 21 - The Seal of God or the Mark of Apostasy
Lesson 21 - (downloadable pdf file)
In Revelation 14 we find the most solemn warning given to men that can be found anywhere in the Bible. It is given to us that we might know how God views those who receive the “mark of the beast,” and that we might choose not to receive this mark. With the warning so pointed and the stakes so high, does it not become vitally important to each one of us to know what this mark is so we might avoid receiving it?
1. Against what does the third angel of Revelation 14 warn? Revelation 14:9, 10
2. With whose voice does the power enforcing this mark speak? Revelation 13:11, 16; 12:9
NOTE: We see that it is really Satan working through the governments of men to turn all people away from the worship of God.
3. What punishment is ordered for those who do not accept this mark of apostasy? Revelation 13:15-17
4. How many will worship the beast? Revelation 13:8
5. What characterizes those who refuse this mark of apostasy? Revelation 14:12
NOTE: If obedience to God’s commandments is characteristic of those who do not go along with the rest of the world in receiving this mark, then there must be something about the “mark” that causes men to break God’s law.
6. What is on the forehead of those who refuse the mark? Revelation 14:1
NOTE: The faithful few who have remained loyal to God are represented as having His name in their foreheads. The word “mark” (see Revelation 14:9) comes from the same Greek word as “character.” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.
7. What else is this mark in the forehead called? Revelation 7:2-4
8. What sign has God given His people by which to show their loyalty to Him? Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20:11, 12
A seal may be used to authenticate a signature and it attests to the genuineness of the article. (Proves that the signature is really the signature of the person whose name is signed.) The seal must contain three things: 1) The name of the person by whose authority it is applied; 2) His official title or authority, and thus his right to have jurisdiction in this area; 3) The extent of his dominion and jurisdiction. The seal of the President of the United States would be an example. That seal states his name, the fact that he is the President, and that it is of the United States that he is President. In God’s Holy Law, only in the Sabbath commandment do we find the three elements of a seal: 1) His name - God; 2) His Title - Creator; 3) His area of rule - the heavens and the earth.
9. What distinguishes God from all false gods? Psalms 96:5; Isaiah 45:18
It is God’s power to create that sets Him apart from all false gods, and the Sabbath is the sign of His creatorship. We may then know with certainty that any false religion will seek to replace the Sabbath with another day as a sign or mark of its own authority. If the Sabbath were not a point of controversy, it would stand alone, unchallenged, as the sign of God’s authority and right to man’s worship.
Has any power or organization sought to change the Sabbath of the fourth commandment as a sign of its power and authority? Yes, the Roman Catholic Church attempted to change God’s law, as shown in the writing of the church itself.
“This observance of the Sabbath*--in which, after all, the only Protestant worship consists—not only has no foundation in the Bible, but it is in flagrant contradiction with its letter, which commands rest on the Sabbath, which is Saturday.
“It was the Catholic Church which, by the authority of Jesus Christ, has transferred this rest to the Sunday in remembrance of the resurrection of our Lord. Thus the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the Church.” Plain Talk About Protestantism of Today, p. 213, by Monsignor Segur, Thomas B. Noonan & Co., Boston, 1868.
*By “the Sabbath”, Monsignor Segur obviously means Sunday. He is therefore using the term in the popular but not the biblical sense.
“Question: Which is the Sabbath Day?
“Answer: Saturday is the Sabbath.
“Question: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
“Answer: We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea (A.D. 336), transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.” The Converts Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, p. 50, by Peter Geiermann, London, 1934. Sanctioned by the Vatican, January 25, 1910.
“What Bible authority is there for changing the Sabbath from the seventh to first day of the week? Who gave the Pope authority to change a command of God? If the Bible is the only guide for the Christian, then the Seventh-day Adventist is right in observing the Saturday with the Jew…. Is it not strange that those who make the Bible their only teacher should inconsistently follow in this matter the tradition of the Church?” The Question Box Answers, p. 179, by Bertrand L. Conway, with a preface by Cardinal Gibbons. The Paulist Press, New York, 1923.
10. How does Jesus view worship that follows tradition instead of God’s commandments? Mark 7:7, 9
11. Following this warning against apostasy, whom did John see in vision? Revelation 14:14
12. What does He do at this time? Revelation 14:16
13. What is the reaping time or harvest called? Matthew 13:39
14. What is the reward of those who refuse to accept the mark? Revelation 15:2, 3