Author Topic: SDA Sabbath School Lesson 11--2nd Quarter 2018--God’s Seal or the Beast’s Mark?  (Read 1066 times)

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Wally

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Lesson 11 June 9-15





God’s Seal or the Beast’s Mark?






Commentary in Navy                  Inspiration in Maroon







So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Wally

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Thursday •  June 14

The Sabbath as the Seal

As we have seen, the seventh-day Sabbath has been a sign of God’s true people throughout history, beginning with Adam and Eve and continuing during the time of Israel. We also see it perpetuated in the New Testament church with the practice of Jesus and the apostles, and as a distinguishing sign of God’s last-day people who “keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12) .

Why is the Sabbath so important, and what special significance does it have for Christians? Exod. 20:8-11; Heb. 4:9, 10 .

The Sabbath appears in the heart of the Ten Commandments. It was given by the Creator as a sign or seal of His authority. It identifies Him by name, “The LORD your God”. It identifies the realm over which He has jurisdiction, “the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them”. It also identifies the basis of His authority, “for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, . . . and rested the seventh day”.

The New Testament identifies Jesus as the One through whom God made all things (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:1, 2) . It is Jesus who created our world in six days and rested on the seventh day. Therefore, it is highly significant that as Jesus hung on the cross that Friday afternoon, He cried out, “It is finished!” (John 19:30, NKJV) . Just as He rested on the Sabbath after finishing His work of Creation, so Jesus rested in the tomb over the Sabbath after finishing His sacrificial work by dying in our place for our redemption. So, the Sabbath is doubly blessed, first at Creation and then at the cross. That is why, according to the book of Hebrews, in resting on the Sabbath the Christian shows that he “has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His” (Heb. 4:10, NKJV) . The Sabbath is a perfect symbol of the fact that we cannot save ourselves, that from start to finish it is Christ’s work made possible through faith (compare Heb. 12:2) .

If the Sabbath symbolizes resting from our works, what does the keeping of Sunday represent, and how does this fit right in with the basic character of Babylon?

Friday •  June 15

Further Thought: “Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads — it is not any seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved — just as soon as God’s people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come. Indeed, it has begun already; the judgments of God are now upon the land, . . . that we may know what is coming”. — Ellen G. White, The Faith I Live By , p. 285.

“The Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty, for it is the point of truth especially controverted. When the final test shall be brought to bear upon men, then the line of distinction will be drawn between those who serve God and those who serve Him not. While the observance of the false sabbath in compliance with the law of the state, contrary to the fourth commandment, will be an avowal of allegiance to a power that is in opposition to God, the keeping of the true Sabbath, in obedience to God’s law, is an evidence of loyalty to the Creator. While one class, by accepting the sign of submission to earthly powers, receive the mark of the beast, the other choosing the token of allegiance to divine authority, receive the seal of God”. — Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 605.

Discussion Questions:

    What are ways we can reveal to others the truth about the mark of the beast and the seal of God that don’t cause unnecessary controversy? For instance, why must we emphasize the fact that no one now has the mark of the beast?

    How are the Sabbath and the sealing of the Holy Spirit related?

    Reflect on the above idea of the seal as “a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually”. What does that mean?

    Discuss what characterizes spiritual Babylon, its values and methods. How do they differ from the values of God’s kingdom? How might some of Babylon’s values be creeping into our own church even now? How can we learn to recognize what they are and seek to deal with them, but in a Christian manner, one that reflects the values of God’s kingdom?

So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Richard Myers

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Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study: Gen. 17:9-11; Exod. 31:13, 17; Rev. 13:17; Eph. 1:13, 14; Heb. 4:9, 10.

Memory Text: “Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints” (Revelation 15:3).

The Song of Moses and the Lamb begins with the words of our memory text this week. It is sung by “them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name”, as they stand on the sea of glass in heaven (Rev. 15:2) . How can we be among that number?

That is a wonderful and important question that deserves an honest answer. First, what does it mean to get "the victory over the beast"? What is victory? Is it just not accepting the Sunday? Or is it gaining victory over smaller matters, little sins? Do we think we can stand against the "beast" when we cannot overcome our temper?  "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much." Luke 16:10.  "If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?" Jeremiah 12:5.


One of the most telling signs of God’s true last-day people is their proclamation of the third angel’s message, which warns against receiving the mark of the beast. However, despite there being no more serious warning in all the Bible, many confusing ideas as to what this mark is have been suggested over the years: a bar code in the forehead, a credit card number, or some biometric identification.

We should not be surprised at the proliferation of confusing ideas in Babylon. After all, its name means “confusion”. But God’s remnant people need a clear understanding of this topic in order to proclaim the third angel’s message with power. This week, we’ll try to understand better what the mark of the beast is and how to avoid it — by receiving the seal of God.

The question remains "how do we get the character that will prepare us to stand against the "beast" and the whole world? In 1844 Jesus entered the Most Holy Place and began work in two areas. He began the work of judgment and also the work of preparing a people to stand without a Mediator when going through a time of trouble such as never was. What does He tell us to do in order to be able to stand against the "beast"?


Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, June 16.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Sunday •  June 10

God’s Sign Identifying His People

In Old Testament times there were two outward signs as identifiers of God’s true people. One of them was circumcision. To whom was this sign first given? Gen. 17:9-11.

God commanded Abraham and his descendants to be circumcised as a sign of the covenant of salvation. Males were to be circumcised on the eighth day (Lev. 12:3) . However, this ritual had a deeper significance. It was meant to symbolize the need for “circumcision” or renewal of the heart (see Deut. 30:6) . That is why Paul writes: “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God.” Rom. 2:28, 29.

Amen! The Letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. Do we understand what Paul is teaching? Many in the church in their attempt to protect obedience to the law misunderstand, and often at the expense of salvation. Paul (Saul) was a good Pharisee and was blameless in regards to the commandments. But, he did not have eternal life. We must be fully surrendered and filled with the Holy Spirit in order to have eternal life. God looks upon the heart. He wants the whole heart. If we give Him our sin polluted hearts, He will cleanse them whiter than snow. This is the "new heart" which Jeremiah speaks of on 36:26. The law of God it written upon it, meaning our motives are pure and holy and we walk in all of the light we understand.


Texts such as 1 Corinthians 7:19, Galatians 5:6, and 6:15 show that in the New Testament circumcision is replaced by baptism, which symbolizes conversion, a “new creation”, a dying to sin and rising to a new life (see Rom. 6:3, 4) . That is why Paul says circumcision is no longer important and that it is “faith working through love” and “keeping the commandments of God” that really matter.

What was the second outward sign that God gave to identify His people, and why was it given? (Exod. 31:13, 17; Ezek. 20:12, 20).

Notice that the Sabbath as a sign goes all the way back to Creation (see also Gen. 2:2, 3) , whereas circumcision began only with Abraham. Thus Jesus said, in referring to Genesis, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.” Mark 2:27. It shows that we belong to God, by creation because He made us and by redemption because He justifies and sanctifies us. Thus, though Paul says that circumcision is no longer important, he argues that keeping God’s commandments (which includes the Sabbath) still is important (see Heb. 4:9).

Yes, but the point he makes is that it is not the outward action of keeping the commandments, but the transformation of the moral character that must take place before we can keep the commandments from the heart. It is the intent of the obedience that God looks at. The Jews were to sacrifice the Lamb, not to earn salvation, but to recognize that Jesus would die for their sins. God wants us to be transformed into His image. How is that done? Read 2 Corinthians 3:18 and John chapter three, verses one through fourteen. What must we do in order to be saved (transformed)?


How do your thoughts and intentions reveal whether or not you have truly been circumcised in the heart?

Or, how do your thoughts and intentions reveal if you are in a converted state (saved)? Are they selfish thoughts and intentions? Or, are they unselfish?
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Monday •  June 11

The Beast and False Worship


Read the following texts.

 13:17   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. 

 14:9   And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive [his] mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 
 14:10   The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 

 16:2   And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and [upon] them which worshipped his image. 


What do they teach us about how important it is to avoid “the mark of the beast”?

It is the most fearful message in Scripture for those who receive the mark of the beast. But, these verses do not reveal why it is so very important for us to avoid the mark of Satan. We want to glorify our Savior, not bring reproach upon Him which we would do as professing Christians. We love Jesus and don't want to deny Him in such a way at such an important time. It would also bring reproach upon the Bible and His church.


Receiving the undiluted wrath of God, punished by the seven last plagues, and, in the end, cast into the lake of fire. What a contrast to those who refused the mark of the beast and stand on the sea of glass triumphantly singing praise to God and the Lamb!

What is this mark that no one would want to receive? Clearly, the above verses connect it with false worship. Also, as we saw in a previous lesson, the fourth beast power of Daniel 7, in its latter phase (also depicted as the sea beast of Revelation 13), would “think to change times and laws” (Dan. 7:25). One law that it thought to change was the Sabbath, the fourth commandment — the only one of the ten that refers to time and points directly to God as the One who “made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day” (Exod. 20:11) .

Significantly, the first angel’s message points us back to this commandment that the beast power tried to change and makes it clear that we are to worship the Lord alone as the Creator. In fact, of the seven verses referring to worship in Revelation 12-14, this (14:7) is the only one about true worship; the other six warn against falsely worshiping the beast and his image (Rev. 13:4, 8, 12, 15; 14:9, 11) . Immediately after the third angel’s description of the fate of those who engage in this false worship, the true worshipers of God are described: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12).

In other words, proclamation of these three messages separates all of humanity into two groups: those who worship the Creator by keeping all of His commandments, including the seventh-day Sabbath command, and those who worship the beast and his image. This false form of worship, then, offers an alternative to worshiping the Creator by keeping the Sabbath commandment.

Think more about the connection between worship and loyalty. What aspects of worship are essential in order to show our loyalty to God?

Do we love Him with the whole heart? If we do, then we must know Him and trust Him with all we have and all we are. How do we know Him? Where do we find out who He is? Faith is trust. Can we trust someone we do not know? Of course not. Abraham knew the voice of God when he offered his son. How have you learned about God? The Bible tells us that faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word. Why? Because the Word is a revelation of Jesus and Jesus is a reflection of the character of our heavenly Father. He said "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father." John 14:9.

We worship the God we know by obeying Him and praying to Him, and testifying of Him, and reflecting His character to a world soon to perish.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Tuesday •  June 12

The Seal of God

A seal, like a signature, is used to validate a document. In ancient times it was a stamp pressed onto soft wax or clay to show authenticity or ownership, having the authority of its owner behind it.

What is the seal of God, and how and when is it given? Eph. 1:13, 14; 4:30; 2 Tim. 2:19; Rev. 7:1-4; 14:1.

The seal of God is a sign of God’s ownership and protection of His people. Paul describes a sealing in connection with conversion and reception of the gift of the Holy Spirit. He calls this gift a “deposit” or “down payment” given to all believers as an assurance of the complete redemption and future inheritance they will receive when Jesus comes.

The book of Revelation pictures another sealing just prior to the second advent. This final seal is given to the 144,000 at the time of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. They have God’s name (or signature) written in their foreheads. Through the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives they come to reflect God’s character.

Contrast the seal of God with the mark of the beast. What differences between them are mentioned? Rev. 7:3, 14:9.
The seal is given to true worshipers of God while the mark is given to worshipers of the beast. The seal is given only in the forehead, indicating a definite choice of the mind to worship God in the way that He has commanded. The mark, on the other hand, is given either in the forehead or in the hand. This means that people may worship the beast for one of two reasons. Either in their minds they agree with it, thinking that they are truly worshiping God, or else they don’t agree with it but they go along because they are afraid of the serious consequences of not conforming: being unable to buy or sell and eventually being killed (Rev. 13:17, 15) .

“Those who are uniting with the world are receiving the worldly mold and preparing for the mark of the beast. Those who are distrustful of self, who are humbling themselves before God and purifying their souls by obeying the truth — these are receiving the heavenly mold and preparing for the seal of God in their foreheads”. — Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church , vol. 5, p. 216.


When we sin we are developing a character that is not fit for heaven. When we obey His law out of love for Him, we are developing a character which fits us for heaven. One gives strength of godly character, the other is hardening the heart against the truth and Jesus. In other words, one is preparing us to resist Satan and the beast, the other is preparing us to yield to the beast and receive his mark.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Wednesday •  June 13

The Mark of the Beast


What is this mark that we need to avoid getting? As we saw in an earlier lesson, the fourth beast power of Daniel 7, in its latter phase (also depicted by the sea beast of Revelation 13), would “think to change times and laws” (Dan. 7:25). As we have seen already, one law that it thought to change was the Sabbath, the fourth commandment, the only commandment that points directly to God as the One who “made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day” (Exod. 20:11).

Meanwhile, the first angel’s message — pointing the reader back to this same commandment, one that the beast power tried to change — makes it clear that we are to worship the Lord alone as the Creator. Then, after a warning about the fate of those who instead worship the “beast and his image” (Rev. 14:9), God’s faithful people are depicted in verse 12.

Read Revelation 14:12.

Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. 


Given the immediate context, how does this depiction of God’s faithful people help us understand why the Sabbath is so central to final events?

The text reads: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12). As we have seen, included in “the commandments of God” is the fourth commandment, the Sabbath, which points to God as the Creator and the one who alone should be worshiped. No wonder, then, that many see the issue of “the mark of the beast” as being directly tied to the question of Sunday worship, a counterfeit “sabbath” that is not commanded in the Bible, as opposed to keeping the fourth commandment, which is commanded in the Bible.

God blessed the seventh day after creation. It is a memorial to remind us of His love and creative power. Why would we not rest on His day? It is not hard to understand what the  commandment says. If we believe the Bible and love Him, then we will rest on the day He sanctified at creation. "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made." Genesis 2:1-3.


Does that mean that Christians who worship God on Sunday have the mark of the beast now? No. According to Revelation 13:15, those who refuse to join in this false worship of the beast will be killed. It will eventually become a life-or-death issue. Obviously, though, events have not yet reached that point, and the mark of the beast will not be given until this final test does come. Therefore, no one has yet received the mark of the beast.

Yes, but not all true believers will be killed. Those who have been settled into the truth and cannot be moved will not die, but live until the second coming without seeing death. They are the ones sealed that will go through a time of trouble such as never was without a Mediator.


Commandments of God. The faith of Jesus. Why are these traits, even now, crucial aspects of what it means to be a true Christian?

If we sin we are not filled with the Holy Spirit. If we have not faith to believe with the whole heart, then we have not the faith of Jesus and not enough faith to be saved. A true Christian reflects the character of Christ. His motives are pure and holy even if keeping the wrong day, eating the wrong food, and wearing wrong clothes. God looks upon the heart. He wants and gives to the repentant, perfection of moral character, not perfect understanding of His laws.

Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of the Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Glen

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...The Letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.

Certainly; until we receive our heavenly body, it is possible to be "in the flesh", i.e., as regarding our flesh and bones; however, the true Believer will constantly crucify the affections and lusts of the flesh, thereby abiding "in the Spirit": For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 2 Corinthian 4:11 It is by continual surrender of the will, by continual obedience, that the blessing of justification is retained. 1SM 397

Would it not be the safer plan, my brethren and sisters, to keep the commandments of God in the spirit and in the letter? Obedience to the first four, in which is enjoined supreme love for God, will lead us to love our neighbor as ourselves; “for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” It is because so many members of the church do not bring the commandments of God into the daily life that there is so little of the love of God manifested one toward another. And the absence of this love makes the church weak and inefficient. . The Review and Herald November 17, 1896, Art. A paragraph 10


Spirit and the Letter of the Law:
Spirit of the Law=obedience to the first four of the 10 Commandments
Letter of the Law=obedience to the last six of the 10 Commandments


...if we consent, (Christ) will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us. The Desire of Ages p. 668

Attempted obedience of the Decalogue without the indwelling Spirit of God, is legalism. As Believers continually depend on the strength endowed by the Spirit of God, they are sanctified BY obedience.

“They overcame him,” we read, “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11). You may bear a testimony the opposite to that which Satan would have you bear. You may keep heart and mind sanctified by obedience to the truth. Look to Him, in the morning and at noon, and at night. Keep heart and mind fastened upon Christ. This is your privilege. The suffering and death of Christ has paid the price for your redemption, and through faith in Him you may overcome.—Manuscript 79, 1909, pp. 1-3

By His death we are reconciled to God; by His life, as it is wrought out in our life, we shall be saved.  The Signs of the Times June 17, 1903 paragraph 12


It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63
...Jesus...will live through (YOU), giving (YOU) the inspiration of His sanctifying Spirit, imparting to (YOUR) soul a vital transfusion of Himself. Sabbath-School Worker 02-01-96.03  ...as the blood is in the body, and circulate there as a vitalizing power... 7T 189.02

Glen

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If we sin we are not filled with the Holy Spirit. If we have not faith to believe with the whole heart, then we have not the faith of Jesus and not enough faith to be saved. A true Christian reflects the character of Christ. His motives are pure and holy even if keeping the wrong day, eating the wrong food, and wearing wrong clothes. God looks upon the heart. He wants and gives to the repentant, perfection of moral character, not perfect understanding of His laws.

..."keeping the wrong day, eating the wrong food, and wearing wrong clothes..." are all part of Babylon, which the Remnant in the last days are commissioned to call God's people "out of". "...eating the wrong food, and wearing wrong clothes..." are denial of the health message, are they not? Those of other faiths whose "motives are pure and holy", will indeed come to "reflect...the character of Christ" as He did none of those things because He, from a child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. Luke 2:40; ...from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:15
...Jesus...will live through (YOU), giving (YOU) the inspiration of His sanctifying Spirit, imparting to (YOUR) soul a vital transfusion of Himself. Sabbath-School Worker 02-01-96.03  ...as the blood is in the body, and circulate there as a vitalizing power... 7T 189.02

Glen

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He wants and gives to the repentant, perfection of moral character, not perfect understanding of His laws.

Brother Richard, where in Scripture OR Ellen White's writings, do you get the impression that God does NOT want to give the repentant "perfect understanding of His laws?"
...Jesus...will live through (YOU), giving (YOU) the inspiration of His sanctifying Spirit, imparting to (YOUR) soul a vital transfusion of Himself. Sabbath-School Worker 02-01-96.03  ...as the blood is in the body, and circulate there as a vitalizing power... 7T 189.02

Glen

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...what does it mean to get "the victory over the beast"? What is victory? Is it just not accepting the Sunday? Or is it gaining victory over smaller matters, little sins? Do we think we can stand against the "beast" when we cannot overcome our temper?

Yes; "victory over the beast" most definitely includes what day we keep holy, the food we eat, and and the clothes we wear, as they all have in common, "inherited or cultivated tendencies to wrong".

Those who put their trust in Christ are not to be enslaved by any hereditary or cultivated habit or tendency. Instead of being held in bondage to the lower nature, they are to rule every appetite and passion. God has not left us to battle with evil in our own finite strength. Whatever may be our inherited or cultivated tendencies to wrong, we can overcome through the power that He is ready to impart. Ministry of Healing 175.1
...Jesus...will live through (YOU), giving (YOU) the inspiration of His sanctifying Spirit, imparting to (YOUR) soul a vital transfusion of Himself. Sabbath-School Worker 02-01-96.03  ...as the blood is in the body, and circulate there as a vitalizing power... 7T 189.02