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Texts for this Week: Rev. 14:6–12; Eccles. 12:13, 14; Prov. 28:9; Dan. 7:25.

One of the things that received a lot of careful attention as the result of careful Bible study among those who founded the Adventist movement, was the law of God. They saw it as a major element at least in part because it was a transcript of God’s character and desires, and it was also the basis upon which judgment would be rendered. A passage of scripture that was of particular interest to them was Revelation 14:6-12 where the remnant of the faithful would be characterized by keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus which they linked to the phrase “the spirit of prophecy” found in Revelation 19:10. Since their movement came at the end of prophetic time as they calculated it, and because they were serious about keeping the commandments of God, they called themselves the Remnant Church, an appellation that is still part of Adventist identity.

As the early Adventists looked at the Law, they noticed the 4th Commandment in particular because it identified God as the earth’s Creator and Sustainer. Sabbath was a day set aside by God at creation as a holy day to be revered and preserved from the common things of life like working for a living. For the early Adventists, then, the Sabbath, which they understood to be the 7th day of the week, became an item of particular concern and focus especially since most of the Christian world did not revere the 7th day of the week as the Sabbath. They read how God made the Sabbath a sign of the covenant he had between himself and those who followed him.

Another aspect of thought that developed back then was a link between the Sabbath and the sanctuary. Believers noted that in the tabernacle, the law of God was to be found on the mercy seat, the covering of the ark itself. They saw this to be something of great significance, the law in the most holy place on the ark, the holiest of furnishings.

With all these elements in play, early Adventists went out of their way to proclaim the eternality of the law of God. They saw no provision of it abridged or negated. The whole of it, including the Sabbath commandment, was binding on all humans. Further, the acceptance of the Sabbath necessitated an acceptance of the meaning of the sanctuary services, and the acceptance of the sanctuary services meant the acceptance of the law of God. Taken together – the law of God including the Sabbath – came to be understood as a symbol of loyalty to the Creator and Redeemer. It was a regular reminder of God’s creative acts and of his saving grace. Revering the Sabbath created a link between creation and salvation. And it also looked forward to the re-creation that comes after Jesus second coming.

The 12th and 13th chapters of Revelation speak of a great and final conflict between the forces of good and evil. The language is quite figurative having to do with beasts and an image to the beast vs. angels bearing final messages and believers who are caught in a real bind over ultimate loyalties. Very clearly, Revelation 12 and 13 depict a great power at war with God and saints, and the central point of focus has to do with loyalty and worship. And, because the Sabbath is part of the commandments that are now abridged by so many people, moved to Sunday, and because it shows God to be the Creator who is worthy to be worshiped, the issue of Sabbath vs. Sunday sacredness came to be seen as a crucial element in the final struggle.

People may argue over various possible interpretations of these two chapters in Revelation but let one thing be very clear. There is coming a great struggle, and the central piece will be the willingness to worship God who made the heavens and the earth. Opposite that are those who give their ultimate loyalties to a power that opposes God and abrogates His law. Who all the players in this final drama are going to be remains to be seen, but the issue of ultimate loyalty is very clear. As the end of history comes, every person will have to make their final and irrevocable decision, either to give their allegiance to God at what ever cost, or else to the powers at work under the guidance of Satan.

An interesting observation is that the faithful at the end of time are said to have the faith “of” Jesus. This would be a resilient faith that does not allow whatever circumstances may prevail to be the description of reality. The eye of a resilient faith will allow the faithful to see beyond their current circumstances to the greater reality of God’s kingdom.

  • What could be done to make the Sabbath more of a day to be celebrated rather than a day focused on restrictive rules?
  • How would you define worship?
  • What does a person have to do in order to have a resilient faith?

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