But what is the “image to the beast”? and how is it to be formed? The image is made by the two-horned beast, and is an image to the beast. It is also called an image of the beast. Then to learn what the image is like and how it is to be formed we must study the characteristics of the beast itself—the papacy.
When the early church became corrupted by departing from the simplicity of the gospel and accepting heathen rites and customs, she lost the Spirit and power of God; and in order to control the consciences of the people, she sought the support of the secular power. The result was the papacy, a church that controlled the power of the state and employed it to further her own ends, especially for the punishment of “heresy.” In order for the United States to form an image of the beast, the religious power must so control the civil government that the authority of the state will also be employed by the church to accomplish her own ends.
Whenever the church has obtained secular power, she has employed it to punish dissent from her doctrines. Protestant churches that have followed in the steps of Rome by forming alliance with worldly powers have manifested a similar desire to restrict liberty of conscience. An example of this is given in the long-continued persecution of dissenters by the Church of England. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, thousands of nonconformist ministers were forced to flee from their churches, and many, both of pastors and people, were subjected to fine, imprisonment, torture, and martyrdom.
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 Bible declares that before the coming of the Lord there will exist a state of religious declension similar to that in the first centuries. “In the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” 1 Timothy 4:1. Satan will work “with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness.” And all that “received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved,” will be left to accept “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11. When this state of ungodliness shall be reached, the same results will follow as in the first centuries.
The wide diversity of belief in the Protestant churches is regarded by many as decisive proof that no effort to secure a forced uniformity can ever be made. But there has been for years, in churches of the Protestant faith, a strong and growing sentiment in favor of a union based upon common points of doctrine. To secure such a union, the discussion of subjects upon which all were not agreed—however important they might be from a Bible standpoint—must necessarily be waived.
Charles Beecher, in a sermon in the year 1846, declared that the ministry of “the evangelical Protestant denominations” is “not only formed all the way up under a tremendous pressure of merely human fear, but they live, and move, and breathe in a state of things radically corrupt, and appealing every hour to every baser element of their nature to hush up the truth, and bow the knee to the power of apostasy. Was not this the way things went with Rome? Are we not living her life over again? And what do we see just ahead? Another general council! A world’s convention! Evangelical alliance, and universal creed!”—Sermon on “The Bible a Sufficient Creed,” delivered at Fort Wayne, Indiana, Feb. 22, 1846. When this shall be gained, then, in the effort to secure complete uniformity, it will be only a step to the resort to force.
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 GC 443.1 – GC 445.1
The beast with two horns “causeth commands all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Revelation 13:16, 17. The third angel’s warning is: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.” “The beast” mentioned in this message, whose worship is enforced by the two-horned beast, is the first, or leopardlike beast of Revelation 13—the papacy. The “image to the beast” represents that form of apostate Protestantism which will be developed when the Protestant churches shall seek the aid of the civil power for the enforcement of their dogmas. The “mark of the beast” still remains to be defined.
After the warning against the worship of the beast and his image the prophecy declares: “Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Since those who keep God’s commandments are thus placed in contrast with those that worship the beast and his image and receive his mark, it follows that the keeping of God’s law, on the one hand, and its violation, on the other, will make the distinction between the worshipers of God and the worshipers of the beast.
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, R.V. 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 second commandment, forbidding image worship, has been dropped from the law, and the fourth commandment has been so changed as to authorize the observance of the first instead of the seventh day as the Sabbath. But papists urge, as a reason for omitting the second commandment, that it is unnecessary, being included in the first, and that they are giving the law exactly as God designed it to be understood. This cannot be the change foretold by the prophet. An intentional, deliberate change is presented: “He shall think to change the times and the law.” 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.
While the worshipers of God will be especially distinguished by their regard for the fourth commandment,—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 (see Appendix); and its first resort to the power of the state was to compel the observance of Sunday as “the Lord’s day.” But the Bible points to the seventh day, and not to the first, as the Lord’s day. Said Christ: “The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” The fourth commandment declares: “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord.” And by the prophet Isaiah the Lord designates it: “My holy day.” Mark 2:28; Isaiah 58:13.
The claim so often put forth that Christ changed the Sabbath is disproved by His own words. In His Sermon on the Mount He said: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven,” Matthew 5:17-19.
It is a fact generally admitted by Protestants that the Scriptures give no authority for the change of the Sabbath. This is plainly stated in publications issued by the American Tract Society and the American Sunday School Union. One of these works acknowledges “the complete silence of the New Testament so far as any explicit command for the Sabbath Sunday, the first day of the week or definite rules for its observance are concerned.”—George Elliott, The Abiding Sabbath, page 184.
Another says: “Up to the time of Christ’s death, no change had been made in the day;” and, “so far as the record shows, they the apostles did not … give any explicit command enjoining the abandonment of the seventh-day Sabbath, and its observance on the first day of the week.”—A. E. Waffle, The Lord’s Day, pages 186-188.
Roman Catholics acknowledge that the change of the Sabbath was made by their church, and declare that Protestants by observing the Sunday are recognizing her power. In the Catholic Catechism of Christian Religion, in answer to a question as to the day to be observed in obedience to the fourth commandment, this statement is made: “During the old law, Saturday was the day sanctified; but the church, instructed by Jesus Christ, and directed by the Spirit of God, has substituted Sunday for Saturday; so now we sanctify the first, not the seventh day. Sunday means, and now is, the day of the Lord.” GC 445.2 – GC 447.4
By RIVKAH LAMBERT ADLER
Published: MARCH 8, 2022 05:46
Updated: MARCH 8, 2022 05:48
A Christian family celebrates Shabbat
(photo credit: The Isaiah Projects)
A new book examines Shabbat as the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy.
Over the past 21 years, David Nekrutman, an Othodox Jew who lives in Israel, has been nurturing both personal and professional relationships with Christians. His newest project aims to encourage Christians to reconsider the role that Shabbat (the biblical Sabbath) plays in their Christian lives.
Nekrutman is currently on an 18-stop US book tour sharing this idea and introducing his new book on the topic.
Your Sabbath Invitation is based on a prophecy from Isaiah that proclaims that, in the future, all of humanity will celebrate Shabbat as an occasion to connect to God.
“‘And it will be that from New Moon to New Moon, from Shabbat to Shabbat, all of humanity will worship before Me,’ says The Eternal” (Isaiah 66:23).
“I think most people have a very negative view of Sabbath. [Thus] the primary mission of the book is an invitation. This was an invitation from the dawn of creation and it exists today for all,” Nekrutman explained.
He shared that, for most Christians, “the concept of Sabbath has been totally lost,” and he spoke about how, in the United States, there used to be blue laws that shut down most commerce on Sundays, in order to encourage citizens to observe Sunday as a day of rest. In the days when blue laws were enforced, Sunday was seen as the Sabbath. But those days are long past, to the point that, “anyone who is 30 or less definitely doesn’t even understand that their church service is viewed as a Sabbath,” he said.
Roman Catholics acknowledge that the change of the Sabbath was made by their church, and declare that Protestants by observing the Sunday are recognizing her power. In the Catholic Catechism of Christian Religion, in answer to a question as to the day to be observed in obedience to the fourth commandment, this statement is made: “During the old law, Saturday was the day sanctified; but the church, instructed by Jesus Christ, and directed by the Spirit of God, has substituted Sunday for Saturday; so now we sanctify the first, not the seventh day. Sunday means, and now is, the day of the Lord.”
As the sign of the authority of the Catholic Church, papist writers cite “the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of; … because by keeping Sunday, they acknowledge the church’s power to ordain feasts, and to command them under sin.”—Henry Tuberville, An Abridgment of the Christian Doctrine, page 58. What then is the change of the Sabbath, but the sign, or mark, of the authority of the Roman Church—”the mark of the beast”? GC 447.4 – GC 448.1
One of the book’s teachings that surprises most Christians is that Psalm 92, which explicitly mentions the Sabbath, was written by Adam.
“That really takes Christians a few minutes to process,” he said. Most people don’t realize how ancient that chapter of Psalms is.
Additionally, he said that for most Christians, “Sabbath is usually viewed from the point of view of legalism – do’s and don’ts.”
That is a perception his book and his presentations about the Sabbath consciously work to change.
“I went out of my way to specifically talk about a Sabbath that is beyond do’s and don’ts. I’m not advocating for an Orthodox Jewish practice of Sabbath [for Christians] in any shape, way or form. I don’t want to be viewed as Judaizing Christianity in any way,” he explained.
Book author David Nekrutman (Credit: Courtesy of David Nekrutman)
Did Jesus Honor Shabbat?
“I always say to a Christian, ‘I know you believe 100% in the divinity, but you also believe 100% in the humanity of Jesus and this human was born into a Jewish household, in what would be called a Pharisaic household of some influence, within the many Pharisaic movements of the day. He honored the Sabbath,’” Nekrutman said.
He backs up this assertion with quotes from Christian scripture.
So why don’t Christians honor the Sabbath today?
According to Nekrutman, Church Fathers basically separated Shabbat from Christianity when they proclaimed, “for your identity, who you are as a Christian, you can’t do Shabbat.”
Shabbat As Fulfillment of Messianic Prophecy
Romanists declare that “the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the Catholic Church.”—Mgr. Segur, Plain Talk About the Protestantism of Today, page 213. The enforcement of Sundaykeeping on the part of Protestant churches is an enforcement of the worship of the papacy—of the beast. Those who, understanding the claims of the fourth commandment, choose to observe the false instead of the true Sabbath are thereby paying homage to that power by which alone it is commanded. But in the very act of enforcing a religious duty by secular power, the churches would themselves form an image to the beast; hence the enforcement of Sundaykeeping in the United States would be an enforcement of the worship of the beast and his image GC 448.3
Your Sabbath Invitation focuses on the prophecy in Isaiah 66.
“The prophecy is very open,” Nekrutman said. “All humanity is doing something for Shabbat, whatever that form looks like. We don’t know exactly, because Isaiah doesn’t really expound on it.”
Christians celebrate Shabbat (Credit: The Isaiah Projects)
He emphasized that honoring Shabbat is not a conversion to Judaism, but rather the fulfillment of Isaiah’s vision is that, “one day this is going to be a messianic Sabbath, Jew and Gentile together. My argument is, why can’t we promote a positive way of looking at the Sabbath [now]?”
Nekrutman emphasized that many End of Days prophecies are “doom and gloom.” But he believes, in contrast, “there is a very positive way to move redemptive history through the paradigm of Shabbat, which is never talked about. That’s the reason why I’m bringing up the conversation. There is a partnership that we have to do so that when Messiah comes, we will make sure he doesn’t have too much to do.
“My argument is, ‘Why can’t we begin to go ahead and promote a very positive way of looking at Sabbath, that there’s a partnership with people who wish and desire to do this, without putting [Jewish] laws on Christians.’ That’s the argument of the book,” he continued.
Only in the final chapter of Your Sabbath Invitation does he even present an array of customs that a Christian can adopt into their lifestyle.
Nekrutman emphasized that Shabbat is not a vacation. It’s not a time to unplug. Rather it’s a kind of “active rest” where people are plugged in, where they are busy opening up to God.
“I want them to be ambassadors on the concept that Shabbat is beautiful and not legalistic,” he said.
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