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The Christian Counter

   

Worship The Beast or Die
Study 6
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A Time of Testing

Someone has said that truth can be stranger than fiction. If this is true, then there is a truth that could be stranger than fiction: The Bible predicts the final generation will face a life and death controversy over the question of worship. Many people think worship means “going to church,” but worship involves far more than going to a worship service. Worship means submission and obedience to God – as in fulfilling a divine obligation or duty out of love for God. A terrible controversy over worship will occur during the Great Tribulation because salvation will come through the worship of Jesus Christ (John 5:23,24) and condemnation will come through the worship of the Antichrist. (Revelation 14: 9,10)

When Abel sacrificed the required lamb, he worshiped God. When Cain offered fruit to God, he did not worship God – he offended God because he did not do what God commanded. Often, worship is considered a causal matter. When and how (or if) an individual worships is a personal matter for the most part. Worship is sometimes described as a celebration service or meditation. Worship is regarded as an expression of devotion to God and each religious body is free to worship according to what it believes is God’s will. When the Great Tribulation begins, the topic of worship will suddenly change from that of personal taste to that of corporate responsibility. Suddenly, the issue of how God is to be worshiped will be debated because people will assume that they can appease God’s wrath by worshiping Him properly. According to Revelation, the people of Earth will become sharply divided over the worship of God during the Great Tribulation. Ultimately, there will be two camps of worshipers, one will worship the Lamb (the sheep) and the other will worship the lamb-like beast (the goats.)

The Bible predicts the first four trumpet judgments of God will kill 25% of the world’s population. (Revelation 6:8) As a result, despair, anxiety and depression will be pandemic. In this awful and desperate setting, consider the simplicity of these words: “All inhabitants of the Earth will worship the beast [Babylon] all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8, insertion mine) The words “all inhabitants of the Earth” are inclusive. The only people who refuse to worship the beast will be the saints. It is hard to believe that millions of people will rebel against God and submit to the authority of Babylon, but it is true. When the devil appears on Earth, he will consolidate the diversity of Babylon’s religions into a one-world church/state. At that time, wicked people rebelling against both God and the devil will have no choice but to worship the devil or die. Notice the horrible consequences that will befall the people who worship the devil: “If anyone worships the [lamb-like] beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.” (Revelation 14:9,10, insertion mine) This verse contains one of the most solemn warnings found in the entire Bible. God means what He says and we can be sure that death by burning sulfur will not be a pleasant experience.

The other side of the controversy will have deadly consequences also. Many saints will be tortured and killed by the devil’s forces for refusing to worship the beast! “…He [the lamb-like beast] ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.” (Revelation 13:14,15, insertion mine)

Revelation says a huge number of saints will be killed during the Great Tribulation. “When he [the Lamb] opened the fifth seal, I saw under the alter the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’” (Revelation 6:9,10) When the devil gains control of Earth, he will not tolerate rebellion against his authority. The devil will be more cruel and ruthless than Hitler. Millions will be martyred. John writes, “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” (Revelation 14: 12) God will give a martyr’s faith to everyone facing a martyr’s death. Jesus said, “…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) “All this I have told you that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.  They do such things because they have not known the Father or me.” (John 16:1-3)

While we are considering the coming martyrdom of saints, consider God’s wrath upon those who kill His saints: “The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: ‘You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; for they shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.’”  (Revelation 16:4-6) This verse describes the third bowl that occurs during the seven last plagues (God’s destructive wrath). God pours the third bowl of His wrath – full strength – upon those people who participated in killing His saints during the Great Tribulation. God avenges the innocent blood of His saints by giving these bloodthirsty people blood to drink. These evil people will suffer horribly for their crimes against humanity. In addition to this horrible suffering, their lives will be sustained so that they might perish in burning sulfur. The wrath of God is far worse than anything man can do. Jesus warned, “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” (Like 12:5)

Powerful Irony

When God’s judgments begin, God’s servants, the 144,000, will tell a dazed and reeling world that God is angry because there is no respect for His laws or His authority. They will remind everyone that God’s Ten Commandments are ten demands the Creator imposes on all creation. Specifically, the fourth commandment requires the cessation of work on God’s seventh day Sabbath. Ironically, the leaders of the religious coalition will say the same thing! The problem will be that Babylon’s Sabbath and God’s Sabbath will be on two different days! This disparity will make the issue of “worship” very interesting. The religious leaders of Babylon will say with a united voice that God has sent judgments upon mankind because Earth’s inhabitants have sinned greatly and have become degenerate. They will call for immediate action to appease God. The religious leaders of Babylon will sincerely demand laws from their legislators requiring everyone to honor and worship the God of Heaven. Hindu and Buddhist leaders will solve the worship problem by imposing their views upon their nations. Jewish rabbis, Catholic priests and Protestant clergy will all do the same.

A Holy Day Mystery

God has clearly expressed in the Bible how His subjects are to worship Him. This is not a matter left to human design, for if it was, humans would have greater authority than God. The one dictating the time and manner of worship has highest authority. Unfortunately, the devil has obscured God’s truth about worship and implemented false religion around the world. During the end time, Babylon will face a peculiar problem. Each religious system in Babylon will demand that God be worshiped in a variety of ways. For example, Moslems, regard Friday as a holy day, Jews regard Saturday as a holy day and Christians regard Sunday as a holy day! Therefore, each religion will ask its lawmakers to enact laws exalting their day of worship. The Bible says that when people obey the laws of Babylon, they will be worshiping the devil because the devil is the power within Babylon. “Men worshiped the dragon [devil] because he had given authority to the beast [Babylon], and they also worshiped the beast [Babylon] and asked, “Who is like the beast [Babylon]? Who can make war [rebel] against him?” (Revelation 13:4)

The story of Cain and Abel is recorded in the Bible because it illustrates the primary difference between true worship and false worship. Both men built altars. Abel worshiped God by obediently sacrificing a lamb according to God’s instructions. Cain refused to obey God. Instead, he chose to do what he thought was best. In effect, Cain presumed to tell his Creator how He would be worshiped. By doing this, Cain insulted God and God rejected Cain’s offering. (Genesis 4: 1-6)

Cain’s rebellious heart led to Cain’s rejection. Because of rejection, Cain became violently angry and killed his brother. John warns, “Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.” (1 John 3: 12,13) John says Cain’s “act of worship” was evil! In fact, God considered it a blasphemous act because Cain assumed the prerogatives that only belong to God. Cain thought he could tell God how or when He should be worshiped! Look at this from God’s perspective for a moment. If a created being can tell his Creator how or when He is to be worshiped, then the created being is greater than his Creator. Remember, the one dictating the time and manner of worship has highest authority. The crux of the matter is this: God accepts our worship if we worship Him in Spirit and in truth; that is, if we honestly worship God according to all we know to be right and true. At the present time, many people worship God thinking they are doing the right thing, when in reality they are not worshiping God as He commands. God kindly winks at our ignorance. However, during the Great Tribulation, God has determined that the whole world must be informed about worship. This is why worship will become the central issue during the Great Tribulation. The 144,000 will preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred and tongue as a testimony to all nations. (Matthew 24:14) and the gospel of Jesus Christ contains specific information about the worship of Jesus. The 144,000 will proclaim “…Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, Worship him who made the Heavens, the Earth, the sea and the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:7) The 144,000 will present the first message that will be “fear God” and “worship the Creator” because the vast majority of the world’s population does neither. God understands Earth’s spiritual darkness and He has winked at our ignorance for a ling time, but overnight, He will remove the darkness that covers the subject of worship by display of awesome power, He will have everyone’s attention. Then, He will send His servants throughout the world and with Holy Spirit power; they will expel the darkness that Satan has placed around the subject of worshiping God on His holy Sabbath, the seventh day of the week. The honest in heart within every religion will hear the call to worship Jesus and they will receive Christ as their Savior and worship Jesus according to our Creator’s demands.

Worship the Creator

This may come as a surprise, but 95% of the references about God in the Bible refer to Jesus. The Father rarely speaks in the Bible. Jesus is the God of the Old Testament and He is the God of the New Testament. (Isaiah 45; John 5:39,40; 8:58) Jesus is the Creator of Heaven and Earth. (John 1:1-14; Colossians 1:16-19; Hebrews 1:1-3) These facts are presented because Jesus is not a lesser God than the Father as many suppose. (John 5:23; Colossians 2:9) Jesus is fully God and He did not leave worship to human design. Jesus clearly explains in the Ten Commandments how He is to be worshiped. Carefully review His first four commands. They are found in Exodus 20: 3-11)

Commandment 1. “You shall not have no gods before me.”

Commandment 2. “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on Earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to thousands who love me and keep my commandments.”

Commandment 3. “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

Commandment 4. “ Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the Earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

These four commandments outline the basics of worship. They explain the reverence and respect due our Creator. We are not to obey and reverence any other God. We are not to create an idol and bow down before it. We are not to use or represent the name of God in a careless way. In addition, we are to observe the seventh day of the week as a memorial to our Creator and our Redeemer by resting from our labors on Saturday, just as He rested from His.

Confrontational Issue

When confronted with the demands of the fourth commandment, most Christians argue that the seventh day Sabbath was abolished or nailed to the cross. The implication is that when Jesus came to Earth, He did away with the Ten Commandments, including the “Sabbath of the Jews.” The Bible disagrees. The fourth commandment does not grant ownership of the Sabbath to the Jews. Rather, it says, “The seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.” The Bible indicates the seventh day was made holy long before there was any Jew on earth! In fact, the seventh day Sabbath was created and set apart as a special day at Creation. When properly understood, the beauty of God’s Sabbath shines from Creation’s week revealing a special gift that Jesus gave to mankind. Think of it – God’s Sabbath was the first full day of life for Adam and Eve! Jesus created the Sabbath, He made it holy at Creation and He gave it to man: “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:1-3) Four thousand years later Jesus said, “…The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath, so the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27,28)

If the topic of the seventh day Sabbath is a controversial subject in the best of times, what will it be during the worst of times? God’s seventh day Sabbath will prove to be highly controversial during the Great Tribulation for three reasons: First, our carnal nature is inherently opposed to obeying God’s law: “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to god’s law, nor can it do so.” (Romans 8:7) Second, few people have enough time to get everything done that needs to be done throughout the week. Asking most people to “give up” 24 hours each week to worship God seems to be asking too much. Last, God’s Sabbath has a very determined adversary. The devil has made sure that Saturday observance puts a person at odds with the social and religious orders of life. The observance of Sabbath interrupts every aspect of life. This is why God created the Sabbath in the first place. Jesus wanted to interrupt man’s relentless pursuit for money and pleasure every week with a whole day of rest. Because Jesus knew that mankind would stray from His Sabbath, God bound the observance of His Sabbath upon mankind with the authority of law. When these factors are added together, it is easy to see why most of the world prefers to worship God according to their own ideas. They believe that “Jesus wants too much.”

The Ten Commandments are divided into two groups, and therefore, they were written on two tablets of stone. (Exodus 34:29) The first four commandments deal with man’s relationship to God, and the last six deal with man’s relationship to his neighbor. Actually, the Ten Commandments summarize the two essential laws of life. Jesus summarized them saying, “…’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40; Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18.)

Love and faith are the foundation of salvation. Love makes submission a joy, and faith (believing God’s Word) is the basis for obedience. The two “love” commandments that Jesus mentioned are defined by the Ten Commandments. The meaning of love is not left to human definition. Unfortunately, the word “love” today, commonly means sex, lust or passion. What a perversion! According to Jesus, true love is a high and holy principle that produces joyful obedience! “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him….If anyone loves me, he will obey my teachings….He who does not love me will not obey my teaching….” (John 14:21-24)

As we would expect, Satan has effectively led the human race to diminish the importance of the Ten Commandments. The devil has especially tried to hide the requirement of the fourth commandment which contains instruction on how to worship an when to worship our Creator. Satan’s purpose for doing this is simple. Bible history confirms that when people ignore the Sabbath of their Creator, they also forget their Creator. When people forget their creator, they soon create false gods that are compatible with the carnal nature because mankind inherently needs something to exalt and worship. God created this desire within us. Satan has enjoyed enormous success displacing our Creator with false gods. Many people have no idea that god demands rest on the seventh day of the week. God has winked at man’s ignorance and darkness on this subject for a long time. This is not God’s loss; it is man’s loss because an all-knowing Creator created the Sabbath for man! Every violation of God’s law diminishes the quality of life that God wants for His children. Degeneracy is the result of rebellion and separation from the renewing power of God. If a person does not love and obey his or her Creator, he or she has broken the first commandment because that person will love and obey another god. “Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no other God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:21,22)

Jesus will use the first four trumpets to strip away our financial security and our foolish attraction for gods of wood, metal, stone, pleasure, materialism and self reliance. A $75,000 Mercedes will be of no value without fuel or roads on which to drive. A $500,000 house will be worthless if it is reduced to a pile of rubble by the first global earthquake. God is about to awaken people all over the world. Then everyone will get a chance to see how great our corporate rebellion is against Him. This rebellion will center on the issue of worship, specifically on the observance of our Creator’s Sabbath.

Jesus is Almighty God

Knowledge of an omnipotent and angry God will explode all over the Earth during the Great Tribulation! No one will be able to deny God’s wrath. God’s silence with the transgression of His law will end and all creation will know that He sits enthroned in Heaven. He is Almighty God. He is Sovereign over Heaven and Earth and He will send a clarion call throughout the earth to worship Him on His holy day – Saturday, the seventh day of the week. The call to worship Him as He dictates will separate the sheep from the goats.

Consider these three points:

1. God declared the seventh day of the week holy at Creation because He rested on the seventh day to commemorate His creation of this world! The word holy means “set apart.” God made the seventh day uniquely different from the other six days at Creation – not at Mount Sinai! It was God who set the seventh day apart from the others. (Genesis 2:2,3)

2.    Because foreknew that Satan would successfully lead the world to forget or deny the holiness of the seventh day Sabbath, the fourth commandment begins with the word “Remember.” (Exodus 20:8)

3. Contrary to what religious leaders say, god Himself declared the seventh day of the week to be holy and He has not rescinded this declaration. All other days, according to God, are for work and common activities. (Exodus 20:9)


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