In Amos 4:12, we are told to “prepare to meet thy God.” Are we prepared to meet Jesus? Are we ready for probation to close? In this article, the foundation will be laid for Part II, in which the subject of the image to the beast will be presented. We will discover how near is the close of human probation. There is coming a time when our sins will either be blotted out of the book of life or will remain there as a witness that we are guilty against the government of heaven. That very subject should be uppermost in our minds as we prepare to meet Jesus.
Psalm 11:3 asks, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” If the foundations are being destroyed in a country or in a church, what should the righteous do? There is only one thing to do! We must stick to the original foundation. We must not get off that foundation. We must not leave it!
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 3:10, 11, says: “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” There is no other foundation; there is only One. There are not many foundations upon which we can build; there is only One. If the foundations are being destroyed, Jeremiah 6:16 counsels, “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where [is] the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.”
A Different Foundation
Since the beginning of earth’s history, the devil has constantly been trying to lay a different foundation. Think back to the Garden of Eden. The devil tried to lay a different foundation than that which had been laid through God. Knowing that God had told Adam and Eve that if they ate of this one special tree they would die, the devil laid another foundation. He said, “You shall not surely die.” Genesis 3:4. The devil has been constantly, from generation to generation, trying to lay a different foundation than that which has been laid in God’s Word.
Luke 19:41, speaking of Jesus, says, “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, ‘If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things [which belong] unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.’ ” The Jews did not understand the time of their visitation. Have you asked yourself why they did not know?
The Rejected Foundation
A foundation was laid in Daniel 9:24–27, and God gave a probationary time to the Jewish nation. “God first sent His prophets to ancient Israel, but their message was not heeded, and as a last resort He sent His Son . . . .” Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, 94. God had been sending prophet after prophet to keep His people on the foundation. As a last resort, at the end of the 490-year period of Daniel 9, Jesus came to His people Himself to show them the foundation platform that they should be on, because they had left it. Jesus told them that they did not know the time of their visitation. Should this be a warning to us also? Should we be asking ourselves whether or not we know that the time of our visitation is near?
Why did the Jews not know the time of their visitation? They had started laying a different foundation. All of those lambs that they were killing pointed to Jesus, the Lamb of God, but they had started laying a different foundation that became a very lucrative business for them. Did the Jews understand salvation? No, they did not understand the principles of salvation through Christ.
In The Desire of Ages, Ellen White says that the Jews misapplied prophecy. They were taking the prophecies of Jesus’ Second Coming and applying them to His first coming. (See, for example, pages 30, 387, and 458.) They were taking prophecies of His glorious coming and the conquering of all enemies and applying them to His first coming. The devil laid a different foundation there, did he not? So, when Jesus came and walked among them, they said that He could not be the Messiah, because what they had studied did not fit the description of what they could see with their eyes.
Ought we be careful as to how we study prophecy? Do you suppose we could fall into the same trap as the Jews did? You better believe it! We better be careful that we do not become like the Jews and become so dogmatic in our understanding of prophecy that we think our understanding is the way it has to happen. We could walk into the same trap as did the Jews of old.
When Jesus came, He told them that they did not know the time of their visitation. Their probationary period was about to close, and they did not even realize it. The temple upon which they had put so much emphasis was about to be destroyed, and they did not even know it. They laid a different foundation.
So, if the foundation be destroyed, what are the righteous supposed to do? They are to stick with the foundation that has already been laid. Do not move off that foundation. Ask for the old paths. “The trials of the children of Israel, and their attitude just before the first coming of Christ, have been presented before me [Ellen White] again and again to illustrate the position of the people of God in their experience before the second coming of Christ . . . .” Selected Messages, Book 1, 406.
Do you suppose the devil would like to lay a different foundation for Seventh-day Adventists today, so that we would repeat what happened to the Jews in the time of Christ? His tactics worked then. Things that work in this world we continue to repeat, do we not? It is the same thing with the devil today. His foundation caused a whole nation to go down in ruin, and the devil would like to see that happen again today.
How the enemy sought every occasion to take control of the minds of the Jews! He was successful in taking control of the minds of the Jews through false prophets, false doctrines, and false prophecies; he laid a different foundation. He controlled their minds by misapplying Scripture.
Today, the devil is seeking to blind the minds of God’s servants that they might not be able to discern the precious truth. God is telling us, through His prophet, that the devil is going to try to lay a different foundation for you and me. We will now see that the devil is indeed trying to lay a different foundation, but we should not be pointing fingers at anyone or any church. We need to point to ourselves to make sure that we are on the firm and true foundation.
In the May 2, 2002, Adventist Review, an article was published that sanctioned Sunday worship. It reads, at the end of the article, “There’s no question that the seventh day is holy time. But when you’re hungering for something more, there’s nothing wrong with worshiping on Sunday too.” Kay Kuzma, “Challenges and Changes,” 14. Do you suppose the devil would like to lay a different foundation here?
The author continued, “Just don’t give up one for the other. Plus, it’s a great way to witness to others about the Bible truth you’ve found.” Is that not a keen way of witnessing, going and worshiping on Sunday? Is that how we are supposed to witness? Absolutely not! Do you suppose the devil is trying to lay a different foundation here?
An article was published in The Signs of the Times, June 1999, about who the antichrist is. Is the devil trying to get Seventh-day Adventists off the foundation of who the antichrist is? In this article, the writer is following the line and the thinking of evangelical Christians today that the antichrist is going to arise in the future during the seven-year tribulation.
The Signs of the Times has, for years, been the witnessing missionary magazine of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I was pretty excited when I found this article, because when I looked at the front cover of the issue in which it appeared, I said to myself, “They are going to expose who the antichrist is in this witnessing magazine!” But as I started reading, my mind became confused, because the article did not agree with the Bible and with what I had been reading and studying.
In one part, the author says that the antichrist teaching is only a New Testament teaching. When I read that, I said, “Wait a minute! What have I read in Daniel 7?” As I continued reading through the article, I had the feeling that something was wrong.
Something is desperately wrong with what is being taught in this magazine. The devil is trying to lay a different foundation from what has already been laid in the Word of God and in the Spirit of Prophecy.
As time progresses, we are going to see a general departure from the truth, from the foundation that has already been laid in the Bible and in the Spirit of Prophecy. To what is all of this leading? It is leading to the image of the beast. As Christians today have misapplied Scripture in applying the antichrist to the future, they are going to accept the mark of the beast, and they are not going to know it, just as the Jews were unaware that they were about to be destroyed and have probation close on them. This teaching is going to do the same to Seventh-day Adventists as it will do to all other Christians. This is what the devil is trying to lead people to do.
Only a Part
Let us go back in history and study this image to the beast, so we may understand just how close we are. The following statement was written by Ellen White: “It was apostasy . . .”; what is apostasy? It is a rejection of the truth. It is what Paul calls a falling away; when you turn your back on the truth. When you turn your back on the truth, you accept something false in its place. You fall off the foundation. “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.’ 11 Thessalonians 2:3. So apostasy in the church will prepare the way for the image to the beast.” The Great Controversy, 443, 444.
So, “apostasy in the church will prepare the way for the image to the beast.” As the church departs from the truth and turns its back on it, it accepts false teachings. This is what prepares the way for the image to the beast. I want you to remember that even at that early time, Paul saw “creeping into the church, errors that would prepare the way for the development of the papacy.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 51. At that time, idolaters were led to receive a part of the Christian faith. Is a part good enough?
I have been studying with some people who were once a part of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, but they fell away and became Pentecostal. At the time they became Seventh-day Adventists, the pastor with whom they were studying led them to receive a part of the gospel message. After they were baptized, the church put them into a teaching position. Then, further truth, which had not been presented to them before, was sprung on them. As a result, they became so discouraged that they left the church and became Pentecostals. You see, it is not enough for us to teach a part of the Seventh-day Adventist message. We must teach it all or not teach it at all. We must not be ashamed of the truths that we know.
A brother recently came into the Seventh-day Adventist Church through a prophecy seminar that was held in Vancouver, Washington. He was so excited! He began to read Ellen White’s books and started sharing with the other members of the church what he was reading in her writings, but the brethren in the church he was attending told him, “Do not talk about those things here.”
He questioned this, asking, “Is this not the prophet of your church?”
They replied, “Well, yes, but we do not talk about it, and we do not read from her writings from the pulpit.”
When the new brother asked, “Why not?” the answer was given, “She was a prophet for her time; she is not a prophet for now.” He soon left that church and began attending a Sunday-keeping church. It is not enough to have and believe just a part of the message. We cannot be ashamed of anything that we believe.
It does not matter whether or not the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses say that they have prophets; their prophets are counterfeits. We have a prophet, and she is a true prophet. We are not to be ashamed that she is a true prophet. Now, that is easy for us as Seventh-day Adventists talking about Ellen White to say among ourselves, but state that in an evangelistic series and see what happens. If we start telling others about Ellen White, the point will come that she is the best thing that the church could ever have. Do not ever be ashamed of her writings; they are essential.
“Idolaters were led to receive a part of the Christian faith, while they rejected other essential truths. They professed to accept Jesus as the Son of God and to believe in His death and resurrection, but they had no conviction of sin and felt no need of repentance or of a change of heart. With some concessions on their part they proposed that Christians should make concessions, that all might unite on the platform of belief in Christ.” The Great Controversy, 42.
So the idolaters were led to receive a part of the Christian faith while they rejected other parts. They amalgamated together, and those things that the pagans would not accept, the Christians left off. As the Christians left the foundation of truth, they accepted fables and false doctrines. It was proposed that Christians should make concessions. In other words, they were to capitulate on what they believed; they were to compromise that all might unite on a platform or foundation of belief in Jesus. Sounds good, does it not? But Jesus has some specific teachings. Doctrines are important.
However, the pagans said, “Let us join together and unite on a platform of belief in Jesus.” As good as that may sound, it is not enough. We must accept the teachings of Jesus, and that is what the Jews did not do. Their probationary period was fast closing in around them, and they did not know it.
As we continue in this study, we will come to see how close we are to the image to the beast and the close of human probation.
To be continued . . .
Pastor Mike Bauler serves as pastor of the Historic Message Church in Portland, Oregon. He may be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.