Every time I see the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor or see its picture in a book or in a magazine, I feel moisture gathering in my eyes and a heartbeat in my throat. For in America, the land that I love, its citizens will soon lose, and even now are losing, many of their freedoms. When people lose their freedom, one of the first segments to be curtailed is religious liberty—freedom to worship God and to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.
America is represented in Revelation 13 as the lamb-like beast, but we are aware as well, that Revelation 13 also pictures America as becoming a persecuting dragon who will, through the papal power, set up and enforce the image of the beast. Soon there will come a time in America when true Christians will lose all their religious freedom.
There is a growing movement today within the United States for people control. This is hidden under the guise of such terms as a one-world order or a global government. Most Americans are unaware of the ultimate goals of these movements. Silently the stage is being set by the forces of evil to gain power to persecute those who obey the Commandments of God, including the fourth commandment.
Those who teach that Christ’s soon coming will end this world of sin and usher in an everlasting kingdom, not on this earth but in heaven above, will be targeted. On the other hand are the nominal churches who believe that when Christ comes He will set up His kingdom on earth and bring peace upon this world for a thousand years. These will not be subject to persecution. The real issue will be over the Sabbath day.
As the end draws near, under the leadership of the antichrist, an unstoppable movement is developing to enforce Sunday worship in the place of God’s command to keep holy the seventh-day Sabbath. Turning to the Spirit of Prophecy, we read, “In this warfare the Sabbath of the fourth commandment will be the great point of issue; for in the Sabbath commandment the great Lawgiver identifies Himself as the Creator of the heavens and the earth.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 983.
“In America, laws to exalt the false Sabbath will be passed.… all who will not bow to the decree of the national councils, and obey the national laws to exalt the sabbath instituted by the man of sin to the disregard of God’s holy day, will feel, not the oppressive power of popery alone, but of the Protestant world, the image of the beast.” Selected Messages, book 3, 385.
Sabbath laws and persecution will spread over the entire world. “The decree enforcing the worship of this day is to go forth to all the world. As America, the land of religious liberty, shall unite with the papacy in forcing the conscience and compelling men to honor the false sabbath, the people of every country on the globe will be led to follow her example. Foreign nations will follow the example of the United States. Though she leads out, yet the same crisis will come upon our people in all parts of the world.” Maranatha, 214. All nations and tongues and peoples will be commanded to worship this spurious sabbath.
Revelation 13:8 says, “All that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Beloved, we need divine power to comprehend the fulfilling prophecies that are now taking place in preparation of accomplishing this hellish goal. In this article we will discuss the warnings of coming persecutions to all who will stand for the right though the heavens fall. We will look at the subtle changes that are taking place.
In the Scriptures, we find that Jesus spoke of this end time when great persecutions would face His followers. “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Matthew 24:9-13.
In 2 Timothy 3:12, 13, Paul writes, “…all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.”
Once again, let us read from the Spirit of Prophecy. Mrs. White says the great deceiver’s “…principle concern is to silence this sect of Sabbath keepers….we will finally have a law to exterminate all who will not submit to our authority.” Testimony to Ministers, 473.
And again, “It is the purpose of Satan to cause them to be blotted from the earth, in order that his supremacy of the world may not be disputed.” Ibid., 37.
These messages are speaking of the end time battle between God’s true Sabbath and Satan’s false “Sunday sabbath” which is so soon to burst upon us. Since the first Advent of Christ there have been periods of persecutions directed against the followers of Christ. No sooner had Jesus Christ started His Christian church than persecutions began and continued for the next three hundred years.
This was Satan’s gigantic effort through apostate Judaism and pagan Rome to exterminate Christianity. During these years thousands upon thousands of Christians were beheaded, buried alive, fed to lions, boiled in oil, crucified and, by other means, tortured and put to death. Then some years later, through papal Rome, Satan made his greatest attack yet against Christians for 1,260 years.
Not merely thousands but millions were persecuted and put to death during this long period of papal supremacy. In The Great Controversy, Ellen White shares the inspired revelation of the terrible atrocities hurled against the Waldenses, the Hussites, the Lutherans, the Calvinists and the Anabaptists. You will further discover there how the Church of England persecuted and burned at the stake, the Pilgrims and the Puritans, a people who believed and taught the Scriptures.
The Inquisition banned the Bible and forbade the people to read the Scriptures. Yet what was the result of all these persecutions? “Notwithstanding all these continued persecutions and horrible punishment, the church daily increased.” Storm Warnings, 12
You may be surprised to learn that in the day in which we live millions of Christians have been, and are being, persecuted and many martyred by the enemies of Christianity. This is happening in Communistic countries such as China and Cuba, and in Socialistic Regimes such as Africa.
In a book published in 1999 entitled, Storm Warnings, the author, Don Mac Elvaney, states “Today millions of Christians are being persecuted, imprisoned or martyred in Communist China, while 2.1 million Christians have been martyred in Southern Sudan by the followers of Islam in 1990 alone. Over a million Christians have been martyred in Burundi, the Central African Republic, and in the Marxist front line states of Southern Africa in recent years. About one thousand Christians a day are being martyred somewhere in the world today. The greatest number since the beginning of the Christian Church.” (see page 10.)
The reality of such a truth should be very alarming. I have received word that Christians who recently emerged from such persecutions in Russia are now preparing to go back to underground organizations in order to serve God. The hundreds of letters that I receive from around the world reveal that great changes are sweeping the entire globe and from the Adventist Network of February 1, 2000, pages 7, 8, is evidence of the persecution of Seventh-day Adventists in Mexico where thousands were baptized despite ongoing persecutions:
“In Chiapas, Mexico, 33 pastors baptized more than 3,600 people in the ocean off Puerto Madero on Sunday, January 23, 2000. The Adventist church leader in this region reports that the baptisms were the result of a week–long evangelistic campaign held in the area in mid-January. At least 10,000 from across the region crowded on the shore to watch the event.
“The baptisms came at a time of increasing difficulty for Adventists in a nearby village. Since 1994 ongoing conflict between different Christian groups in the region has forced at least 20 Adventist families to leave the area and ten homes have been burned down. The current dispute results from plans by the five remaining Adventist families to build a new church in the village on land donated by church members.
“The general assembly, a local governing power, has refused to allow the building to go ahead and is threatening to evict the Adventists from the village. In spite of the persecutions the brethren have continued to spread the gospel while working to establish better relations and mutual respect with the locals who have persecuted them for their beliefs.”
Here in America the prosperity that has been ours since the end of World War II has caused millions of professed Christians to believe that the good life will continue forever. But a small remnant have not succumbed to this deep sleep. They are aware of a growing political power of anti-Biblical sentiments that are taking control of our country. Christian standards and beliefs are ridiculed and belittled on the television and in the movies.
Christianity is being attacked in popular books and even by the media in newscasts. “The decline of America should be obvious to any thinking American. The explosion of crime, gang warfare and drive-by shootings in our cities; the disintegration of the American family with proliferating divorce, infidelity, child abuse, single-parent families and teen age rebellion; the explosion of drug usage, the highest in the world; the rampant spread of promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality and sexually transmitted diseases; the gross immorality and corruption at the highest levels of
U. S. government are all irrefutable evidence of a country whose culture, morality conditions and spiritual life are in a free fall.” Storm Warnings, 23-24. (please note that this author is writing from a non-Adventist perspective.)
Faced with this reality, is it any wonder that the judgments of God have been steadily increasing, especially in the past two decades? God is endeavoring to awaken the inhabitants of our country to their sins and to their need of repentance. We have become so accustomed to hearing and seeing on TV the results of earthquakes, storms, fires, and other disasters, that I feel it necessary to summarize the catastrophic events that have taken place recently.
Beginning in the early 1980s America suffered a terrible drought followed by severe flooding in the Midwest and in California, which destroyed huge amounts of crops. Then came Hurricane Hugo in 1989 which caused great damage in South Carolina. Soon after, in 1992, a very powerful earthquake rocked San Francisco followed by four powerful earthquakes in California.
Next came Hurricane Andrew striking Southern Florida with the most expensive disaster in our nation’s history, some $33 billion in damage. This was followed in Los Angeles by the worst rioting in our country since the Civil War. Then in 1993 another record storm hit the East Coast followed by the worst terrorist attack in American history in New York at the World Trade Center. This was soon followed by the bombing of a government building in Oklahoma City, which killed scores of innocent men, women and children.
Incredible disasters continued. In 1994 with temperatures the lowest since recording began in 1890, a vast portion of the Midwest sustained a wind chill of 90 degrees below zero. Next, the state of Pennsylvania was hit by the strongest earthquake ever recorded in that state, centering in Reading. Two days later a large earthquake struck Los Angeles, creating some $10 billion in damage and leaving thousands homeless.
During the year 1994, America crossed the line from being the world’s largest creditor nation to being the world’s largest debtor nation. Almost 1.5 million personal bankruptcies took place in 1998 alone, a record since the great depression. Now, friend, do not miss the facts by looking at this total picture. I believe God is permitting these tragic events to happen because America is following and tolerating a lifestyle which, the Bible clearly states, removes God’s blessings.
Sins such as fornication, adultery, sodomy, sexual perversions and the shedding of blood of the unborn are everyday occurrences. Do you realize that America aborts 1.6 million babies a year, that since 1973, some forty million children have been killed in the womb? (See Storm Warning, 30.)
Morally this nation hit the bottom with its 1998 gay-lesbian celebration at the Disney World in Orlando, Florida. “A review of the gay days, 1998, scheduled events was amazing. On June 3 from 9pm to 3am was an event titled, ‘Who Is Your Daddy?’ The description of the event followed: A leather, latex and bondage party featuring live flogging and spanking; masters and slaves; plus piercings. Sponsored by the Absolute Leather ED and SM group of Florida. There were two events called Seductive Dancing. There were male strippers and female impersonators. Gay days ended on June 7 with a Sunday Gospel brunch from 10:15am until 3:30pm, an event entitled ‘Sin Tonight, Repent Tomorrow.’ And wonder of wonders, the President of the United States sent a letter of congratulations for events like this!” Ibid., 41.
Listen, friend, America cannot continue in this direction and remain a great nation. Proverbs 14:34 reads, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” I totally agree with the following found in Storm Warning, 46. “The Bible states that ‘If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?’ Psalm 11:3. The foundations of America have been destroyed. The husband and wife family unit, which is ordained by God, is being replaced with a term ‘domestic partners,’ and homosexuals are being allowed to adopt children. America is becoming unglued. The nation is full of violence as innocent blood is being shed from coast to coast. It seems every week a mass murderer kills several people. This was virtually unheard of before 1963. The violence started against children in the womb has spread like a cancer throughout the entire society. It is truly ironic that America has developed the technology to allow men to walk safely in space, yet in most of our cities it is unsafe to walk the streets.”
The Bible speaks, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20. Woe to those who acquit the guilty but deny justice to the innocent.
And now Ellen White speaks. “The earth groans under the burden of accumulated guilt, and everywhere dying mortals are compelled to experience the wretchedness included in the wages of unrighteousness. I was shown that men have carried out the purposes of Satan by craft and deceit, and a dreadful blow has recently been given. It can be truly said: ‘Justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter,’ ‘and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey.’ In some of the free states the standard of morality is sinking lower and lower. Men with depraved appetites and corrupt lives have now an opportunity to triumph. They have chosen for their rulers those whose principles are debasing, who would not check evil, or repress the depraved appetites of men, but let them have full sway. If those who choose to become like the beasts, by drinking liquid poison, were the only sufferers; if they alone would reap the fruit of their own doings, then the evil would not be so great. But many, very many, must pass through incredible suffering on account of others’ sins. Wives and children, although innocent, must drain the bitter cup to its dregs. Without the grace of God, men love to do evil. They walk in darkness, and do not possess the power of self-control. They give loose reign to their passions and appetites until all the finer feelings are lost and only the animal passions are manifested. Such men need to feel a higher, controlling power, which will constrain them to obey. If rulers do not exercise a power to terrify the evildoer, he will sink to the level of the brute. The earth is growing more and more corrupt.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 362.
And what about Communism which has wrought such brutality and wickedness in past years? Do not be misled. Communism, even in America, is not dead but is much alive. Mikhail Gorbechev is still one of the most powerful leaders of the New World Order and he has headquarters in the Presidio, formerly the U. S. Army or government military base in San Francisco, California. That is amazing!
There are literally scores of organizations with papal cooperation who are pushing for a New World Order or a Global Government. When this happens, freedom will be a thing of the past. Never forget, it was through 1,260 years of papal rule by cruel persecution that the papacy once controlled the nations of earth.
One way to accomplish this goal again would be the passage of laws to punish hate crimes. A hate crime would be defined as anything derogatory that might be said of religious groups, races, lifestyle, etc. The Word of God identifies the Roman religious system as an enemy of the Law of God and of His Holy Sabbath Day. If the law against hate crimes should be passed, then if one were to teach Bible truths regarding this power or if he should pass out a book like The Great Controversy written by Ellen White or other literature that would identify the papacy and expose her sins and aims, he could be accused of breaking the law. He might be imprisoned and fined for simply sharing God’s Word.
The near future could very well bring such persecutions upon God’s people. Yet we have the divine commission to teach all the truths of God’s Word to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. In Revelation 13:15-18 God foretold that terrible persecutions will be executed under the reign of the image of the beast, “And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth 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. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six.”
Concerning this time Jesus warns, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake.” Matthew 24:9. “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” John 16:2.
Now let us conclude by reading the inspired instructions God has given to His remnant, those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, as found in the book The Great Controversy, Chapter 35, “Liberty of Conscience Threatened.” “In the movements now in progress in the United States to secure for the institutions and usages of the church the support of the state, Protestants are following in the steps of papists. Nay, more, they are opening the door for the papacy to regain in Protestant America the supremacy which she has lost in the Old World. And that which gives greater significance to this movement is the fact that the principal object contemplated is the enforcement of Sunday observance—a custom which originated with Rome, and which she claims as the sign of her authority. It is the spirit of the papacy—the spirit of conformity to worldly customs, the veneration for human traditions above the commandments of God—that is permeating the Protestant churches and leading them to do the same work of Sunday exaltation which the papacy has done before them.
If the reader would understand the agencies to be employed in the soon-coming contest, he has but to trace the record of the means which Rome employed for the same object in ages past. If he would know how papists and Protestants united will deal with those who reject their dogmas, let him see the spirit which Rome manifested toward the Sabbath and its defenders.” Ibid., 573.
“Romanism is now regarded by Protestants with far greater favor than in former years. In those countries where Catholicism is not in the ascendancy, and the papists are taking a conciliatory course in order to gain influence, there is an increasing indifference concerning the doctrines that separate the reformed churches from the papal hierarchy; the opinion is gaining ground that, after all, we do not differ so widely upon vital points as has been supposed, and that a little concession on our part will bring us into a better understanding with Rome. The time was when Protestants placed a high value upon the liberty of conscience which had been so dearly purchased. They taught their children to abhor popery and held that to seek harmony with Rome would be disloyalty to God. But how widely different are the sentiments now expressed! [Even by some of our own church leaders.]
“The defenders of the papacy declare that the church has been maligned, and the Protestant world are inclined to accept the statement. Many urge that it is unjust to judge the church of today by the abominations and absurdities that marked her reign during the centuries of ignorance and darkness. They excuse her horrible cruelty as the result of the barbarism of the times and plead that the influence of modern civilization has changed her sentiments.
“Have these persons forgotten the claim of infallibility put forth for eight hundred years by this haughty power? So far from being relinquished, this claim was affirmed in the nineteenth century with greater positiveness than ever before. As Rome asserts that the ‘church never erred; nor will it, according to the Scriptures, ever err’ (John L. von Mosheim, Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, book 3, century II, part 2, chapter 2, section 9, note 17), how can she renounce the principles which governed her course in past ages?”
“The papal church will never relinquish her claim to infallibility. All that she has done in her persecution of those who reject her dogmas she holds to be right; and would she not repeat the same acts, should the opportunity be presented? Let the restraints now imposed by secular governments be removed and Rome be reinstated in her former power, and there would speedily be a revival of her tyranny and persecution.” Ibid., 563, 564.
“The Constitution of the United States guarantees liberty of conscience. Nothing is dearer or more fundamental. Pope Pius IX, in his Encyclical Letter of August 15, 1854, said: ‘The absurd and erroneous doctrines or ravings in defense of liberty of conscience are a most pestilential error—a pest, of all others, most to be dreaded in a state.’ The same pope, in his Encyclical Letter of December 8, 1864, anathematized ‘those who assert the liberty of conscience and of religious worship,’ also ‘all such as maintain that the church may not employ force.’ [Did you get that? That the church may not employ force?]
“The pacific tone of Rome in the United States does not imply a change of heart. She is tolerant where she is helpless. Says Bishop O’Connor: ‘Religious liberty is merely endured until the opposite can be carried into effect without peril to the Catholic world.’…The archbishop of St. Louis once said: ‘Heresy and unbelief are crimes; and in Christian countries, as in Italy and Spain, for instance, where all the people are Catholics, and where the Catholic religion is an essential part of the law of the land, they are punished as other crimes.’…
“Every cardinal, archbishop, and bishop in the Catholic Church takes an oath of allegiance to the pope, in which occur the following words: ‘Heretics, schismatics, and rebels to our said lord (the pope), or his aforesaid successors, I will to my utmost persecute and oppose.’” Ibid., 564, 565.
And what about the attitude of John Paul II? We should note that it is really not different from the above testimony of the archbishop of St. Louis when he said that heresy and unbelief are crimes. John Paul’s grand design is set forth by Malachi Martin in his book, The Keys of This Blood. This book, published only ten years ago, reveals John Paul’s grand design to bring the whole world under his control. Martin refers to this as the “coming global government.”
On page 287, he writes, “…to defend every person’s right to be wrong…sets [them] apart from John Paul.” He continues by saying, “…it is axiomatic for John Paul that no one has the right—democratic or otherwise—to a moral wrong; and no religion based on divine revelation has a moral right to teach such a moral wrong or abide by it.”
Now listen to me carefully. Is not Martin actually saying here that, according to the present pope, no one, including Seventh-day Adventists, has the right to believe or teach a different doctrine than that taught by the Roman pontiff? And is not this echoing the sentiment of the archbishop of St. Louis as documented in The Great Controversy? Frightening, is it not?
Should not such a statement as this awaken us as to what the purposes of Rome really are? Prophecy shows that the great day of God is right upon us. It hasteneth greatly. (See Testimonies vol. 1, 361.)
Can we not see that even now the deadly wound is almost fully healed? Soon the pope will be in a position to persecute those whose understanding of the Scriptures differ from his own. Turning again to The Great Controversy, 581 we read, “God’s Word has given warning of the impending danger; let this be unheeded, and the Protestant world will learn what the purposes of Rome really are, only when it is too late to escape the snare. She is silently growing into power. Her doctrines are exerting their influence in legislative halls, in the churches, and in the hearts of men. She is piling up her lofty and massive structures in the secret recesses of which her former persecutions will be repeated. Stealthily and unsuspectedly she is strengthening her forces to further her own ends when the time shall come for her to strike. All that she desires is vantage ground, and this is already being given her. We shall soon see and shall feel what the purpose of the Roman element is. Whoever shall believe and obey the Word of God will thereby incur reproach and persecution.”
And so, beloved, let us not wait until it is too late in order to escape her snare. We must understand what her purposes are now, right now.