Bible Study Guides – The Midnight of the World

October 24, 2010 – October 30, 2010

Key Text

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” Hosea 4:6.

Study Help: The Great Controversy, 60–62; The Desire of Ages, 413, 414.


“For centuries, truth and error struggled for the mastery.” The Great Controversy, 265.

1 What condition existed in the Dark Ages and why was there little progress in the arts and sciences during this time? Isaiah 60:2; 59:12, 13; Hosea 4:1, 2; Ezekiel 33:32.

Note: “For centuries Europe had made no progress in learning, arts, or civilization. A moral and intellectual paralysis had fallen upon Christendom.” The Great Controversy, 60.

2 What only could be expected from the people when even priests were quite ignorant of the Word of God? Hosea 4:6, 9; Malachi 2:7.

Note: “ ‘The noon of the papacy was the midnight of the world.’—J. A. Wylie, The History of Protestantism, b. 1, ch. 4. The Holy Scriptures were almost unknown, not only to the people, but to the priests. … Fraud, avarice, and profligacy prevailed. Men shrank from no crime by which they could gain wealth or position. The palaces of popes and prelates were scenes of the vilest debauchery. Some of the reigning pontiffs were guilty of crimes so revolting that secular rulers endeavored to depose these dignitaries of the church as monsters too vile to be tolerated. … The condition of the world under the Romish power presented a fearful and striking fulfillment of the words of the prophet Hosea: [Hosea 4:6, 1, 2 quoted]. Such were the results of banishing the word of God.” The Great Controversy, 60.

3 Why did the priests and papal leaders hate the light of God’s Word? John 3:19, 20. What was the eventual result?

Note: “Like the Pharisees of old, the papal leaders hated the light which would reveal their sins. God’s law, the standard of righteousness, having been removed, they exercised power without limit, and practiced vice without restraint.” The Great Controversy, 60.

“For centuries, truth and error struggled for the mastery. At last the evil triumphed, and the truth of Heaven was thrust out. ‘This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.’ John 3:19. The nation was left to reap the results of the course which she had chosen. The restraint of God’s Spirit was removed from a people that had despised the gift of His grace. Evil was permitted to come to maturity. And all the world saw the fruit of willful rejection of the light.

“The war against the Bible, carried forward for so many centuries in France, culminated in the scenes of the Revolution. That terrible outbreaking was but the legitimate result of Rome’s suppression of the Scriptures. It presented the most striking illustration which the world has ever witnessed of the working out of the papal policy—an illustration of the results to which for more than a thousand years the teaching of the Roman Church had been tending.” Ibid., 265, 266.

4 What prophecy foresaw that the Lord would have His faithful witnesses even through this time of spiritual darkness? Isaiah 43:5, 6, 10.

Note: “Amid the gloom that settled upon the earth during the long period of papal supremacy, the light of truth could not be wholly extinguished. In every age there were witnesses for God—men who cherished faith in Christ as the only mediator between God and man, who held the Bible as the only rule of life, and who hallowed the true Sabbath. How much the world owes to these men, posterity will never know. They were branded as heretics, their motives impugned, their characters maligned, their writings suppressed, misrepresented, or mutilated. Yet they stood firm, and from age to age maintained their faith in its purity, as a sacred heritage for the generations to come.” The Great Controversy, 61.

5 What example did Rome follow to conceal the writings which would be a testimony against her? Jeremiah 36:22, 23.

Note: “The history of God’s people during the ages of darkness that followed upon Rome’s supremacy is written in heaven, but they have little place in human records. Few traces of their existence can be found, except in the accusations of their persecutors. It was the policy of Rome to obliterate every trace of dissent from her doctrines or decrees. Everything heretical, whether persons or writings, she sought to destroy. Expressions of doubt, or questions as to the authority of papal dogmas, were enough to forfeit the life of rich or poor, high or low. Rome endeavored also to destroy every record of her cruelty toward dissenters. Papal councils decreed that books and writings containing such records should be committed to the flames. Before the invention of printing, books were few in number, and in a form not favorable for preservation; therefore there was little to prevent the Romanists from carrying out their purpose.” The Great Controversy, 61, 62.

6 What kind of persecution did the British Christians receive—and for many years, from what kind of corruption did they manage to escape? Matthew 23:15.

Note: “No church within the limits of Romish jurisdiction was long left undisturbed in the enjoyment of freedom of conscience. No sooner had the papacy obtained power than she stretched out her arms to crush all that refused to acknowledge her sway, and one after another the churches submitted to her dominion.

“In Great Britain primitive Christianity had very early taken root. The gospel received by the Britons in the first centuries was then uncorrupted by Romish apostasy. Persecution from pagan emperors, which extended even to these far-off shores, was the only gift that the first churches of Britain received from Rome. …

“When the Saxons invaded Britain, heathenism gained control. The conquerors disdained to be instructed by their slaves, and the Christians were forced to retreat to the mountains and the wild moors. Yet the light, hidden for a time, continued to burn.” The Great Controversy, 62.

7 As the faithful Christians in England were persecuted by the pagans, what instruction did they follow, and with what result? Matthew 10:22–24.

Note: “Many of the Christians, fleeing from persecution in England, found refuge in Scotland; thence the truth was carried to Ireland, and in all these countries it was received with gladness.” The Great Controversy, 62.

8 Name some of the activities of the courageous missionaries from Ireland.

Note: “From Ireland came the pious Columba and his colaborers, who, gathering about them the scattered believers on the lonely island of Iona, made this the center of their missionary labors. Among these evangelists was an observer of the Bible Sabbath, and thus this truth was introduced among the people. A school was established at Iona, from which missionaries went out, not only to Scotland and England, but to Germany, Switzerland, and even Italy.” The Great Controversy, 62.

9 Describe the contrast seen between the missionaries of Columba and the papal leaders who began their own conquest of Britain. Matthew 10:7–10; 11:8; 23:1–7.

Note: “Rome had fixed her eyes on Britain, and resolved to bring it under her supremacy. In the sixth century her missionaries undertook the conversion of the heathen Saxons. They were received with favor by the proud barbarians, and they induced many thousands to profess the Romish faith. As the work progressed, the papal leaders and their converts encountered the primitive Christians. A striking contrast was presented. The latter were simple, humble, and Scriptural in character, doctrine, and manners, while the former manifested the superstition, pomp, and arrogance of popery. The emissary of Rome demanded that these Christian churches acknowledge the supremacy of the sovereign pontiff. The Britons meekly replied that they desired to love all men, but that the pope was not entitled to supremacy in the church, and they could render to him only that submission which was due to every follower of Christ.” The Great Controversy, 62, 63.

10 To what principle did the believers in Britain cling? Matthew 23:8–10. What reaction did they then have to face?

Note: “Repeated attempts were made to secure their allegiance to Rome; but these humble Christians [in Britain], amazed at the pride displayed by her emissaries, steadfastly replied that they knew no other master than Christ. Now the true spirit of the papacy was revealed. Said the Romish leader: ‘If you will not receive brethren who bring you peace, you shall receive enemies who will bring you war. If you will not unite with us in showing the Saxons the way of life, you shall receive from them the stroke of death.’—J. H. Merle D’Aubigné, History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, b. 17, ch. 2. These were no idle threats. War, intrigue, and deception were employed against these witnesses for a Bible faith, until the churches of Britain were destroyed, or forced to submit to the authority of the pope.” The Great Controversy, 63.

11 While Christian believers in Europe were struggling against papal tyranny throughout these centuries, what could be found in other parts of the world? Zephaniah 3:12, 13.

Note: “In lands beyond the jurisdiction of Rome there existed for many centuries bodies of Christians who remained almost wholly free from papal corruption. They were surrounded by heathenism and in the lapse of ages were affected by its errors; but they continued to regard the Bible as the only rule of faith and adhered to many of its truths. These Christians believed in the perpetuity of the law of God and observed the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Churches that held to this faith and practice existed in Central Africa and among the Armenians of Asia.” The Great Controversy, 63.

Additional Reading

“ ‘Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.’ I Corinthians 3:11. ‘Upon this rock,’ said Jesus, ‘I will build My church’ [Matthew 16:18]. In the presence of God, and all the heavenly intelligences, in the presence of the unseen army of hell, Christ founded His church upon the living Rock. That Rock is Himself—His own body, for us broken and bruised. Against the church built upon this foundation, the gates of hell shall not prevail.

“How feeble the church appeared when Christ spoke these words! There was only a handful of believers, against whom all the power of demons and evil men would be directed; yet the followers of Christ were not to fear. Built upon the Rock of their strength, they could not be overthrown.

“For six thousand years, faith has builded upon Christ. For six thousand years the floods and tempests of satanic wrath have beaten upon the Rock of our salvation; but it stands unmoved.

“Peter had expressed the truth which is the foundation of the church’s faith, and Jesus now honored him as the representative of the whole body of believers. He said, ‘I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’ [Matthew 16:19].

“ ‘The keys of the kingdom of heaven’ are the words of Christ. All the words of Holy Scripture are His, and are here included. These words have power to open and to shut heaven. They declare the conditions upon which men are received or rejected. Thus the work of those who preach God’s word is a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. Theirs is a mission weighted with eternal results.” The Desire of Ages, 413, 414.

©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – Religious Intolerance

October 17, 2010 – October 23, 2010

Key Text

“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” John 7:17.

Study Help: The Great Controversy, 293–295; Testimonies, vol. 6, 402, 403.


“In all ages Satan has persecuted the people of God.” The Acts of the Apostles, 576.

1 When the three Hebrews were miraculously delivered in the time of Daniel, how did the king err, even as he acknowledged God’s greatness? Daniel 3:28, 29.

Note: “It was right for the king to make public confession, and to seek to exalt the God of heaven above all other gods; but in endeavoring to force his subjects to make a similar confession of faith and to show similar reverence, Nebuchadnezzar was exceeding his right as a temporal sovereign. He had no more right, either civil or moral, to threaten men with death for not worshiping God, than he had to make the decree consigning to the flames all who refused to worship the golden image. God never compels the obedience of man. He leaves all free to choose whom they will serve.” Prophets and Kings, 510, 511.

2 In all ages, how have unconverted religionists dealt with dissenters? Acts 4:1–3, 15–18.

Note: “[In the first centuries] it required a desperate struggle for those who would be faithful to stand firm against the deceptions and abominations which were disguised in sacerdotal garments and introduced into the church. The Bible was not accepted as the standard of faith. The doctrine of religious freedom was termed heresy, and its upholders were hated and proscribed.” The Great Controversy, 45.

3 How does God describe the type of scene that fosters religious intolerance and triggers persecution against the faithful? Isaiah 65:2–5.

Note: “The Cain-spirit, which leads men to accuse, condemn, imprison, and put to death their fellow-men, has waxed strong in our world. The transgressors of God’s plain commands are inspired by the spirit of Satan to harm their fellow-men, because they differ from them in religious belief. They disregard God’s law, enacting man-made laws, and trying, by their cruel inventions, to compel men to blaspheme God, as they themselves are doing. But they have been given no right to do this. Those who pass sentence of pain and death upon their fellow-men because of a difference of religion, will have just such sentence passed upon them if they continue to transgress. By their works they bear testimony that should Christ come the second time as He came the first time, they would reject Him and put Him to death.” The Signs of the Times, March 21, 1900.

4 What teachings of Christ strike at the heart of intolerance? Matthew 7:12; John 14:15.

Note: “It is no part of Christ’s mission to compel men to receive Him. It is Satan, and men actuated by his spirit, that seek to compel the conscience. Under a pretense of zeal for righteousness, men who are confederate with evil angels bring suffering upon their fellow men, in order to convert them to their ideas of religion; but Christ is ever showing mercy, ever seeking to win by the revealing of His love. He can admit no rival in the soul, nor accept of partial service; but He desires only voluntary service, the willing surrender of the heart under the constraint of love. There can be no more conclusive evidence that we possess the spirit of Satan than the disposition to hurt and destroy those who do not appreciate our work, or who act contrary to our ideas.” The Desire of Ages, 487.

“The character of God is expressed in His law; and in order for you to be in harmony with God, the principles of His law must be the spring of your every action.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 391.

5 With what words did Christ seek to correct the bitter intolerance found even among His beloved disciples? Luke 9:54, 55.

6 What contrast did He present to those who use force? Revelation 3:20; John 6:66–69.

7 What can we learn from Christ’s methods of reaching hearts and enlisting workers? Revelation 3:18; Matthew 4:17–20.

Note: “Our ministers and teachers are to represent the love of God to a fallen world. With hearts melted in tenderness let the word of truth be spoken. Let all who are in error be treated with the gentleness of Christ. If those for whom you labor do not immediately grasp the truth, do not censure, do not criticize or condemn. Remember that you are to represent Christ in His meekness and gentleness and love. We must expect to meet unbelief and opposition. The truth has always had to meet these elements. But though you should meet the bitterest opposition, do not denounce your opponents. They may think, as did Paul, that they are doing God’s service, and to such we must manifest patience, meekness, and long-suffering.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 120.

8 What attitudes must we steadfastly avoid when discussing sacred truth with those whose views may differ from our own? Luke 11:52–54.

Note: “There are some who indulge in levity, sarcasm, and even mockery toward those who differ with them. Others present an array of objections to any new view; and when these objections are plainly answered by the words of Scripture, they do not acknowledge the evidence presented, nor allow themselves to be convinced. Their questioning is not for the purpose of arriving at truth, but is intended merely to confuse the minds of others.

“Some have thought it an evidence of intellectual keenness and superiority to perplex minds in regard to what is truth. They resort to subtlety of argument, to playing upon words; they take unjust advantage in asking questions. When their questions have been fairly answered, they will turn the subject [and] bring up another point to avoid acknowledging the truth. We should beware of indulging the spirit which controlled the Jews.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 108.

9 How does the prophet illustrate the manner of preaching the Word during the long period when religious intolerance was predominant? Revelation 11:1–3.

Note: “ ‘They shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.’ Revelation 11:3. During the greater part of this period, God’s witnesses remained in a state of obscurity.” The Great Controversy, 267.

10 Why does the Lord permit such terrible persecution and trials to come upon His people? I Peter 1:7; II Timothy 3:12.

Note: “ ‘The Lord is not slack concerning His promise.’ 11 Peter 3:9. He does not forget or neglect His children; but He permits the wicked to reveal their true character, that none who desire to do His will may be deceived concerning them. Again, the righteous are placed in the furnace of affliction, that they themselves may be purified; that their example may convince others of the reality of faith and godliness; and also that their consistent course may condemn the ungodly and unbelieving.” The Great Controversy, 48.

“In all ages Satan has persecuted the people of God. He has tortured them and put them to death, but in dying they became conquerors. They bore witness to the power of One mightier than Satan. Wicked men may torture and kill the body, but they cannot touch the life that is hid with Christ in God. They can incarcerate men and women in prison walls, but they cannot bind the spirit.” The Acts of the Apostles, 576.

11 What experiences reveal the character of God in His true followers? Matthew 3:11, 12; 20:22.

Note: “Through trial and persecution the glory—the character—of God is revealed in His chosen ones. The believers in Christ, hated and persecuted by the world, are educated and disciplined in the school of Christ. On earth they walk in narrow paths; they are purified in the furnace of affliction. They follow Christ through sore conflicts; they endure self-denial and experience bitter disappointments; but thus they learn the guilt and woe of sin, and they look upon it with abhorrence. Being partakers of Christ’s sufferings, they can look beyond the gloom to the glory, saying, ‘I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.’ Romans 8:18.” The Acts of the Apostles, 576, 577.

12 To what did Paul direct the attention of believers when strengthening their faith for the time of persecution before them? Acts 14:22.

13 When men allow the spirit of Satan to lead them to persecute and attempt to force the conscience, what should we always remember? Matthew 10:28; 5:11, 12.

Additional Reading

“ ‘Remember your church covenant, in which you have agreed to walk in all the ways of the Lord, made or to be made known unto you. Remember your promise and covenant with God and with one another, to receive whatever light and truth shall be made known to you from His written word; but withal, take heed, I beseech you, what you receive for truth, and compare it and weigh it with other scriptures of truth before you accept it; for it is not possible the Christian world should come so lately out of such thick antichristian darkness, and that full perfection of knowledge should break forth at once.’—Martyn, vol. 5, pp. 70, 71.

“It was the desire for liberty of conscience that inspired the Pilgrims to brave the perils of the long journey across the sea, to endure the hardships and dangers of the wilderness, and with God’s blessing to lay, on the shores of America, the foundation of a mighty nation. Yet honest and God-fearing as they were, the Pilgrims did not yet comprehend the great principle of religious liberty. The freedom which they sacrificed so much to secure for themselves, they were not equally ready to grant to others. ‘Very few, even of the foremost thinkers and moralists of the seventeenth century, had any just conception of that grand principle, the outgrowth of the New Testament, which acknowledges God as the sole judge of human faith.’—Ibid., vol. 5, p. 297. The doctrine that God has committed to the church the right to control the conscience, and to define and punish heresy, is one of the most deeply rooted of papal errors. While the Reformers rejected the creed of Rome, they were not entirely free from her spirit of intolerance. The dense darkness in which, through the long ages of her rule, popery had enveloped all Christendom, had not even yet been wholly dissipated. Said one of the leading ministers in the colony of Massachusetts Bay: ‘It was toleration that made the world antichristian; and the church never took harm by the punishment of heretics.’—Ibid., vol. 5, p. 335. The regulation was adopted by the colonists that only church members should have a voice in the civil government. A kind of state church was formed, all the people being required to contribute to the support of the clergy, and the magistrates being authorized to suppress heresy. Thus the secular power was in the hands of the church. It was not long before these measures led to the inevitable result—persecution.

“Eleven years after the planting of the first colony, Roger Williams came to the New World. Like the early Pilgrims he came to enjoy religious freedom; but, unlike them, he saw—what so few in his time had yet seen—that this freedom was the inalienable right of all, whatever might be their creed. He was an earnest seeker for truth, with Robinson holding it impossible that all the light from God’s word had yet been received. Williams ‘was the first person in modern Christendom to establish civil government on the doctrine of the liberty of conscience, the equality of opinions before the law.’—Bancroft, pt. 1, ch. 15, par. 16. He declared it to be the duty of the magistrate to restrain crime, but never to control the conscience. ‘The public or the magistrates may decide,’ he said, ‘what is due from man to man; but when they attempt to prescribe a man’s duties to God, they are out of place, and there can be no safety; for it is clear that if the magistrates has the power, he may decree one set of opinions or beliefs today and another tomorrow; as has been done in England by different kings and queens, and by different popes and councils in the Roman Church; so that belief would become a heap of confusion.’ Martyn, vol. 5, p. 340.” The Great Controversy, 292–294.

©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – The “ Little Horn ”

October 10, 2010 – October 16, 2010

Key Text

“I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.” Daniel 7:8.

Study Help: The Great Controversy, 444, 445; Life Sketches, 96.


“Through half-converted pagans, ambitious prelates, and world-loving churchmen he [Satan] accomplished his purpose.” The Great Controversy, 53.

1 What vision was given to Daniel concerning four beasts and which of the beasts especially left a deep impression on his mind? Daniel 7:1–4, 7, 8.

2 Name at least four of the characteristics mentioned in Daniel 7:7.

3 As Daniel was observing the ten horns, what did he see? Daniel 7:8.

4 How many of the characteristics previously mentioned show that the little horn represents the papal power? Compare Daniel 7:8, 20, 21, 25, 26 and Revelation 13:2, 5–7, 10. See also Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6 for the year/day principle used in calculating prophetic time.

  1. a blasphemous power
  2. makes war against the saints and overcomes them
  3. a mouth which speaks great things
  4. “the little horn power” appears when the three powers remaining from the pagan Roman government are removed
  5. was to continue for the same length of time, 1260 years
  6. this power was to be terminated

Note: “The forty and two months are the same as the ‘time and times and the dividing of time’ [Daniel 7:25], three years and a half, or 1260 days, of Daniel 7—the time during which the papal power was to oppress God’s people. This period … began with the supremacy of the papacy, A.D. 538, and terminated in 1798. At that time the pope was made captive by the French army, the papal power received its deadly wound, and the prediction was fulfilled, ‘He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity’ [Revelation 13:10].” The Great Controversy, 439.

“A French army entered Rome and made the pope a prisoner, and he died in exile. Though a new pope was soon afterward elected, the papal hierarchy has never since been able to wield the power which it before possessed.” Ibid., 266.

5 In what year was the temporal power of the papacy established?

Note: “The 1260 years of papal supremacy began in A.D. 538.” The Great Controversy, 266.

6 Where did the faithful find a refuge when persecuted for not accepting papal heresies? Revelation 12:6.

Note: “The papal power sought to hide from the people the word of truth, and set before them false witnesses to contradict its testimony. When the Bible was proscribed by religious and secular authority; when its testimony was perverted, and every effort made that men and demons could invent to turn the minds of the people from it; when those who dared proclaim its sacred truths were hunted, betrayed, tortured, buried in dungeon cells, martyred for their faith, or compelled to flee to mountain fastnesses, and to dens and caves of the earth—then the faithful witnesses prophesied in sackcloth. Yet they continued their testimony throughout the entire period of 1260 years. In the darkest times there were faithful men who loved God’s word and were jealous for His honor. To these loyal servants were given wisdom, power, and authority to declare His truth during the whole of this time.” The Great Controversy, 267, 268.

7 What was the true nature of the teachers who did not use the Bible? II John 7, 9.

Note: “Satan well knew that the Holy Scriptures would enable men to discern his deceptions and withstand his power. It was by the word that even the Saviour of the world had resisted his attacks. At every assault, Christ presented the shield of eternal truth, saying, ‘It is written.’

“To every suggestion of the adversary, He opposed the wisdom and power of the word. In order for Satan to maintain his sway over men, and establish the authority of the papal usurper, he must keep them in ignorance of the Scriptures. The Bible would exalt God and place finite men in their true position; therefore its sacred truths must be concealed and suppressed. This logic was adopted by the Roman Church. For hundreds of years the circulation of the Bible was prohibited. The people were forbidden to read it or to have it in their houses, and unprincipled priests and prelates interpreted its teachings to sustain their pretensions. Thus the pope came to be almost universally acknowledged as the vicegerent of God on earth, endowed with authority over church and state.” The Great Controversy, 51.

8 What plan did Satan have to gain the allegiance of the whole world, and what institutions did his agents continually attack? II Thessalonians 2:4.

Note: “The archdeceiver had not completed his work. He was resolved to gather the Christian world under his banner and to exercise his power through his vicegerent, the proud pontiff who claimed to be the representative of Christ. Through half-converted pagans, ambitious prelates, and world-loving churchmen he accomplished his purpose. Vast councils were held from time to time, in which the dignitaries of the church were convened from all the world. In nearly every council the Sabbath which God had instituted was pressed down a little lower, while the Sunday was correspondingly exalted. Thus the pagan festival came finally to be honored as a divine institution, while the Bible Sabbath was pronounced a relic of Judaism, and its observers were declared to be accursed.

“The great apostate had succeeded in exalting himself ‘above all that is called God, or that is worshipped.’ II Thessalonians 2:4. He had dared to change the only precept of the divine law that unmistakably points all mankind to the true and living God.” The Great Controversy, 53.

9 What is a sign of the major characteristic of the great deceiver and particularly of his human agent? Revelation 14:9.

Note: “The special characteristic of the beast, and therefore of his image, is the breaking of God’s commandments.” The Great Controversy, 446.

10 What must characterize the children of God, and what is the sign of this? Ezekiel 20:12, 20; II John 6.

Note: “In the fourth commandment, God is revealed as the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and is thereby distinguished from all false gods. It was as a memorial of the work of creation that the seventh day was sanctified as a rest day for man. It was designed to keep the living God ever before the minds of men as the source of being and the object of reverence and worship. Satan strives to turn men from their allegiance to God, and from rendering obedience to His law; therefore he directs his efforts especially against that commandment which points to God as the Creator.” The Great Controversy, 53, 54.

“As the Sabbath was the sign that distinguished Israel when they came out of Egypt to enter the earthly Canaan, so it is the sign that now distinguishes God’s people as they come out from the world to enter the heavenly rest.” Maranatha, 244.

Additional Reading

“But the beast with lamblike horns was seen ‘coming up out of the earth’ [Revelation 13:11]. Instead of overthrowing other powers to establish itself, the nation thus represented must arise in territory preciously unoccupied and grow up gradually and peacefully. It could not, then, arise among the crowded and struggling nationalities of the Old World—that turbulent sea of ‘peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues’ [Revelation 17:15]. It must be sought in the Western Continent.

“What nation of the New World was in 1798 rising into power, giving promise of strength and greatness, and attracting the attention of the world? The application of the symbol admits of no question. One nation, and only one, meets the specifications of this prophecy; it points unmistakably to the United States of America. Again and again the thought, almost the exact words, of the sacred writer has been unconsciously employed by the orator and the historian in describing the rise and growth of this nation. The beast was seen ‘coming up out of the earth;’ and, according to the translators, the word here rendered ‘coming up’ literally signifies ‘to grow or spring up as a plant.’ And, as we have seen, the nation must arise in territory previously unoccupied. A prominent writer, describing the rise of the United States, speaks of ‘the mystery of her coming forth from vacancy,’ and says: ‘Like a silent seed we grew into empire.’—G. A. Townsend, The New World Compared With the Old, 462. A European journal in 1850 spoke of the United States as a wonderful empire, which was ‘emerging,’ and ‘amid the silence of the earth daily adding to its power and pride.’ ”—The Dublin Nation. Edward Everett, in an oration on the Pilgrim founders of this nation, said: “Did they look for a retired spot, inoffensive for its obscurity, and safe in its remoteness, where the little church of Leyden might enjoy the freedom of conscience? Behold the mighty regions over which, in peaceful conquest, … they have borne the banners of the cross!”—Speech delivered at Plymouth, Massachusetts, December 22, 1824, page 11.

“ ‘And he had two horns like a lamb’ [Revelation 13:11]. The lamblike horns indicate youth, innocence, and gentleness, fitly representing the character of the United States when presented to the prophet as ‘coming up’ in 1798. Among the Christian exiles who first fled to America and sought an asylum from royal oppression and priestly intolerance were many who determined to establish a government upon the broad foundation of civil and religious liberty. Their views found place in the Declaration of Independence, which sets forth the great truth that ‘all men are created equal’ and endowed with the inalienable right to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ And the Constitution guarantees to the people the right of self-government, providing that representatives elected by the popular vote shall enact and administer the laws. Freedom of religious faith was also granted, every man being permitted to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience. Republicanism and Protestantism became the fundamental principles of the nation. These principles are the secret of its power and prosperity. The oppressed and downtrodden throughout Christendom have turned to this land with interest and hope. Millions have sought its shores, and the United States has risen to a place among the most powerful nations of the earth.

“But the beast with lamblike horns ‘spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed;… saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.’ Revelation 13:11–14.” The Great Controversy, 440–442.

©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – The Dark Ages

October 3, 2010 – October 9, 2010

Key Text

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12.

Study Help: The Great Controversy, 55–60. The Acts of the Apostles, 265–268.


“ ‘There is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.’ Hosea 4:1.” The Great Controversy, 60.

1 What special truth is laid aside by the papal teaching that exalts Mary and the so-called “saints”? I Timothy 2:5.

Note: “The accession of the Roman Church to power marked the beginning of the Dark Ages. As her power increased, the darkness deepened. Faith was transferred from Christ, the true foundation, to the pope of Rome. Instead of trusting in the Son of God for forgiveness of sins and for eternal salvation, the people looked to the pope, and to the priests and prelates to whom he delegated authority. They were taught that the pope was their earthly mediator and that none could approach God except through him; and, further, that he stood in the place of God to them and was therefore to be implicitly obeyed.” The Great Controversy, 55.

2 What does the papacy use to create new unscriptural doctrines, and what does God’s Word say of such things? Matthew 15:1–3, 7–9.

Note: “When the Scriptures are suppressed, and man comes to regard himself as supreme, we need look only for fraud, deception, and debasing iniquity. With the elevation of human laws and traditions was manifest the corruption that ever results from setting aside the law of God.” The Great Controversy, 55.

3 What did Jesus say concerning the experience of those who choose to obey God’s Word rather than human teachings? Luke 21:16, 17.

Note: “Christians were forced to choose either to yield their integrity and accept the papal ceremonies and worship, or to wear away their lives in dungeons or suffer death by the rack, the fagot, or the headsman’s ax. Now were fulfilled the words of Jesus: ‘Ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake.’ Luke 21:16, 17. Persecution opened upon the faithful with greater fury than ever before, and the world became a vast battlefield.” The Great Controversy, 54, 55.

“Often those who suffer reproach or persecution for their faith are tempted to think themselves forsaken by God. In the eyes of men they are in the minority. To all appearance their enemies triumph over them. But let them not violate their conscience. He who has suffered in their behalf, and has borne their sorrows and afflictions, has not forsaken them.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 172.

“The servants of God must expect that they will be reviled, misrepresented, maligned, persecuted, and oppressed; for all who ‘will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution’ [II Timothy 3:12]. The people of God will stand firm to the faith only through the grace of God.” The Signs of the Times, November 14, 1895.

4 What event established the power of the papacy and marks the beginning of the Dark Ages? Revelation 13:2, last part, 5–7; Daniel 7:25.

Note: “In the sixth century the papacy had become firmly established. Its seat of power was fixed in the imperial city, and the bishop of Rome was declared to be the head over the entire church. Paganism had given place to the papacy. The dragon had given to the beast ‘his power, and his seat, and great authority.’ Revelation 13:2. And now began the 1260 years of papal oppression foretold in the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation. Daniel 7:25; Revelation 13:5–7.

“The accession of the Roman Church to power marked the beginning of the Dark Ages. As her power increased, the darkness deepened.” The Great Controversy, 54, 55.

5 What means were used by the teachers of Rome to uphold the spiritual power of the bishops and the authority of the church? John 8:44.

Note: “Notwithstanding that vice prevailed, even among the leaders of the Roman Church, her influence seemed steadily to increase. About the close of the eighth century, papists put forth the claim that in the first ages of the church the bishops of Rome had possessed the same spiritual power which they now assumed. To establish this claim, some means must be employed to give it a show of authority; and this was readily suggested by the father of lies. Ancient writings were forged by monks. Decrees of councils before unheard of were discovered, establishing the universal supremacy of the pope from the earliest times. And a church that had rejected the truth greedily accepted these deceptions.” The Great Controversy, 56.

6 What kinds of workers were raised up by God during this period of time when false teachings and persecution prevailed? II Timothy 2:3; II Corinthians 4:16–18.

Note: “Workers were raised up who ably defended the faith once delivered to the saints. History bears record to the fortitude and heroism of these men. Like the apostles, many of them fell at their post, but the building of the temple went steadily forward. The workmen were slain, but the work advanced. The Waldenses, John Wycliffe, Huss and Jerome, Martin Luther and Zwingli, Cranmer, Latimer, and Knox, the Huguenots, John and Charles Wesley, and a host of others brought to the foundation material that will endure throughout eternity.” The Acts of the Apostles, 598.

7 What is needed today if we will withstand the hour of temptation? Revelation 14:12; Matthew 24:12, 13.

Note: “The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.” Education, 57.

8 During the period of papal persecution from 538–1798 (1260-day prophecy of Daniel 7:25 and Revelation 12:6), millions were martyred for their faith in the Word of God. In the thirteenth century, following the description given by Christ in Matthew 24:22, 23, what institution was created by the papacy?

Note: “In the thirteenth century was established that most terrible of all the engines of the papacy—the Inquisition. The prince of darkness wrought with the leaders of the papal hierarchy. In their secret councils Satan and his angels controlled the minds of evil men, while unseen in the midst stood an angel of God, taking the fearful record of their iniquitous decrees and writing the history of deeds too horrible to appear to human eyes. ‘Babylon the great’ was ‘drunken with the blood of the saints’ [Revelation 17:5, 6]. The mangled forms of millions of martyrs cried to God for vengeance upon that apostate power.

“Popery had become the world’s despot. Kings and emperors bowed to the decrees of the Roman pontiff. The destinies of men, both for time and for eternity, seemed under his control. For hundreds of years the doctrines of Rome had been extensively and implicitly received, its rites reverently performed, its festivals generally observed. Its clergy were honored and liberally sustained. Never since has the Roman Church attained to greater dignity, magnificence, or power.” The Great Controversy, 59, 60.

“Every indignity, reproach, and cruelty that Satan could instigate human hearts to devise, has been visited upon the followers of Jesus. And it will be again fulfilled in a marked manner; for the carnal heart is still at enmity with the law of God, and will not be subject to its commands. The world is no more in harmony with the principles of Christ today than it was in the days of the apostles. The same hatred that prompted the cry, ‘Crucify Him! crucify Him!’ [Luke 23:21] the same hatred that led to the persecution of the disciples, still works in the children of disobedience. The same spirit which in the Dark Ages consigned men and women to prison, to exile, and to death, which conceived the exquisite torture of the Inquisition, which planned and executed the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, and which kindled the fires of Smithfield, is still at work with malignant energy in unregenerate hearts. The history of truth has ever been the record of a struggle between right and wrong. The proclamation of the gospel has ever been carried forward in this world in the face of opposition, peril, loss, and suffering.” The Acts of the Apostles, 84, 85.

9 While the papacy claims to represent Christ on earth, what contrast exists between them? Matthew 20:25–28.

Note: “The Lord Jesus came to our world full of mercy, life, and light, ready to save those who should come unto him. But he can save no one against his will. God does not force the conscience; he does not torture the body that he may compel men to compliance with his law. All this work is after the order of Satan. Through the papacy Satan has carried out his decree by compelling men to acquiesce to his will, and in this way will seek to restrict religious liberty. But God deals with men after a different plan. He will give the sinner sufficient evidence to convict his conscience, and then if, of his own free will, he yields to the winning invitation of Jesus, he will receive the Spirit of God.” The Youth’s Instructor, August 17, 1893.

10 Even before the time of Martin Luther, whom did God raise up to bring light to the people?

Note: “In the Netherlands the papal tyranny very early called forth resolute protest. Seven hundred years before Luther’s time the Roman pontiff was thus fearlessly impeached by two bishops, who, having been sent on an embassy to Rome, had learned the true character of the ‘holy see’: God ‘has made His queen and spouse, the church, a noble and everlasting provision for her family, with a dowry that is neither fading nor corruptible, and given her an eternal crown and scepter; … all which benefits you like a thief intercept. You set up yourself in the temple of God; instead of a pastor, you are become a wolf to the sheep.’ Gerard Brandt, History of the Reformation in and About the Low Countries, b. 1, p. 6.” The Great Controversy, 237.

Additional Reading

“The accession of the Roman Church to power marked the beginning of the Dark Ages. As her power increased, the darkness deepened. Faith was transferred from Christ, the true foundation, to the pope of Rome. Instead of trusting in the Son of God for forgiveness of sins and for eternal salvation, the people looked to the pope, and to the priests and prelates to whom he delegated authority. They were taught that the pope was their earthly mediator and that none could approach God except through him; and, further, that he stood in the place of God to them and was therefore to be implicitly obeyed. A deviation from his requirements was sufficient cause for the severest punishment to be visited upon the bodies and souls of the offenders. Thus the minds of the people were turned away from God to fallible, erring, and cruel men, nay, more, to the prince of darkness himself, who exercised his power through them. Sin was disguised in a garb of sanctity. When the Scriptures are suppressed, and man comes to regard himself as supreme, we need look only for fraud, deception, and debasing iniquity. With the elevation of human laws and traditions was manifest the corruption that ever results from setting aside the law of God.

“Those were days of peril for the church of Christ. The faithful standard-bearers were few indeed. Though the truth was not left without witnesses, yet at times it seemed that error and superstition would wholly prevail, and true religion would be banished from the earth. The gospel was lost sight of, but the forms of religion were multiplied, and the people were burdened with rigorous exactions.

“They were taught not only to look to the pope as their mediator, but to trust to works of their own to atone for sin. Long pilgrimages, acts of penance, the worship of relics, the erection of churches, shrines, and altars, the payment of large sums to the church—these and many similar acts were enjoined to appease the wrath of God or to secure His favor; as if God were like men, to be angered at trifles, or pacified by gifts or acts of penance!” The Great Controversy, 55.

©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – The Mystery of Iniquity

September 26, 2010 – October 2, 2010

Key Text

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” II Thessalonians 2:3, 4.

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 33–43. The Great Controversy, 49–54.


“The special characteristic of the beast, and therefore of his image, is the breaking of God’s commandments.” The Great Controversy, 446.

1 Next to Christ, who was the most exalted among the angels and what do we know of his position? Ezekiel 28:12–14.

Note: “Sin originated with him who, next to Christ, had been most honored of God and who stood highest in power and glory among the inhabitants of heaven. Before his fall, Lucifer was first of the covering cherubs, holy and undefiled.” The Great Controversy, 493, 494.

2 What led this anointed cherub on the course that separated him from the privileges of heaven? Ezekiel 28:6, 15–17.

Note: “Lucifer might have remained in favor with God, beloved and honored by all the angelic host, exercising his noble powers to bless others and to glorify his Maker. … Instead of seeking to make God supreme in the affections and allegiance of His creatures, it was Lucifer’s endeavor to win their service and homage to himself. And coveting the honor which the infinite Father had bestowed upon His Son, this prince of angels aspired to power which it was the prerogative of Christ alone to wield.” The Great Controversy, 494.

3 How does the prophet Isaiah contrast the original position of Lucifer with his later condition perpetuated throughout history? Isaiah 14:12–14.

Note: “Little by little Lucifer came to indulge the desire for self-exaltation. … Though all his glory was from God, this mighty angel came to regard it as pertaining to himself. Not content with his position, though honored above the heavenly host, he ventured to covet homage due alone to the Creator.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 35.

“The desire for self-exaltation had brought strife into the heavenly courts, and had banished a multitude of the hosts of God. Had Lucifer really desired to be like the Most High, he would never have deserted his appointed place in heaven; for the spirit of the Most High is manifested in unselfish ministry. Lucifer desired God’s power, but not His character. He sought for himself the highest place, and every being who is actuated by his spirit will do the same. Thus alienation, discord, and strife will be inevitable. Dominion becomes the prize of the strongest. The kingdom of Satan is a kingdom of force; every individual regards every other as an obstacle in the way of his own advancement, or a steppingstone on which he himself may climb to a higher place.” The Desire of Ages, 435, 436.

4 On what were Lucifer’s ambitions focused?

Note: “Pride in his own glory nourished the desire for supremacy. The high honors conferred upon Lucifer were not appreciated as the gift of God and called forth no gratitude to the Creator. He gloried in his brightness and exaltation, and aspired to be equal with God.” The Great Controversy, 495.

5 Where was Lucifer cast when his rebellion was overcome, and how many angels joined him in rebellion? Isaiah 14:15; Revelation 12:4, 7–9.

Note: “When through his rebellion he [Lucifer] was cast out of heaven, he determined to make man his victim, and the earth his kingdom. He cast the blame of his rebellion upon Christ, and in determined hatred of God, sought to wound Him through the fall of man.” The Bible Echo, November 1, 1892.

6 Having been cast out of heaven, how has Lucifer continued his destructive work? Revelation 12:12; I Peter 5:8, 9.

Note: “From the very beginning of the great controversy in heaven it has been Satan’s purpose to overthrow the law of God. It was to accomplish this that he entered upon his rebellion against the Creator, and though he was cast out of heaven he has continued the same warfare upon the earth. To deceive men, and thus lead them to transgress God’s law, is the object which he has steadfastly pursued. Whether this be accomplished by casting aside the law altogether, or by rejecting one of its precepts, the result will be ultimately the same.” The Great Controversy, 582.

7 How may the particular representative of Satan in this world be positively identified, and what sign will identify the national pawn he will use? Revelation 13:1, 2, 17, 18.

Note: “In [Revelation] chapter 13 (verses 1–10) is described another beast, ‘like unto a leopard,’ to which the dragon gave ‘his power, and his seat, and great authority’ [verse 2]. This symbol, as most Protestants have believed, represents the papacy, which succeeded to the power and seat and authority once held by the ancient Roman empire. Of the leopardlike beast it is declared: ‘There was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies. … And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations’ [verses 5–7]. This prophecy, which is nearly identical with the description of the little horn of Daniel 7, unquestionably points to the papacy.” The Great Controversy, 439.

“The prophecy of Revelation 13 declares that the power represented by the beast with lamblike horns shall cause ‘the earth and them which dwell therein’ [verse 12] to worship the papacy—there symbolized by the beast ‘like unto a leopard.’ The beast with two horns is also to say ‘to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast;’ and, furthermore, it is to command all, ‘both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond,’ to receive the mark of the beast [verses 14, 16].” Ibid., 578, 579.

8 What do the Scriptures say of the ambitions of the antichrist? Daniel 7:25.

Note: “The special characteristic of the beast, and therefore of his image, is the breaking of God’s commandments. Says Daniel, of the little horn, the papacy: ‘He shall think to change times and the law.’ Daniel 7:25, R.V. And Paul styled the same power the ‘man of sin’ [II Thessalonians 2:3], who was to exalt himself above God. One prophecy is a complement of the other. Only by changing God’s law could the papacy exalt itself above God; whoever should understandingly keep the law as thus changed would be giving supreme honor to that power by which the change was made. Such an act of obedience to papal laws would be a mark of allegiance to the pope in the place of God.” The Great Controversy, 446.

“Those who become confused in their understanding of the Word, who fail to see the meaning of antichrist, will surely place themselves on the side of antichrist. There is no time now for us to assimilate with the world. Daniel is standing in his lot and in his place. The prophecies of Daniel and of John are to be understood. They interpret each other. They give to the world truths which every one should understand. These prophecies are to be witnesses in the world. By their fulfillment in these last days they will explain themselves.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 949.

9 What did Paul reveal concerning the “mystery of iniquity,” and what Old Testament prophecy foreshadowed this? II Thessalonians 2:3–5; Ezekiel 28:1, 2.

Note: “Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, ‘the mystery of iniquity’ [II Thessalonians 2:7] carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism found their way into the Christian church. The spirit of compromise and conformity was restrained for a time by the fierce persecutions which the church endured under paganism. But as persecution ceased, and Christianity entered the courts and palaces of kings, she laid aside the humble simplicity of Christ and His apostles for the pomp and pride of pagan priests and rulers; and in place of the requirements of God, she substituted human theories and traditions.” The Great Controversy, 49.

10 What special warning did Paul give to the Ephesian church in his farewell to them? Acts 20:28–30.

Note: “The dangers that would assail the church at Ephesus were revealed to the apostle. [Acts 20:29, 30 quoted.] Paul trembled for the church as, looking into the future, he saw the attacks which she must suffer from both external and internal foes.” The Acts of the Apostles, 395.

11 When did the attempt to change God’s law (Daniel 7:25)—particularly the Sabbath—begin to take place? II Thessalonians 2:7.

Note: “Protestants now urge that the resurrection of Christ on Sunday made it the Christian Sabbath. But Scripture evidence is lacking. No such honor was given to the day by Christ or His apostles. The observance of Sunday as a Christian institution had its origin in that ‘mystery of lawlessness’ (II Thessalonians 2:7, R.V.) which, even in Paul’s day, had begun its work. Where and when did the Lord adopt this child of the papacy? What valid reason can be given for a change which the Scriptures do not sanction?” The Great Controversy, 54.

Additional Reading

“Even at that early date he saw, creeping into the church, errors that would prepare the way for the development of the papacy.

“Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, ‘the mystery of iniquity’ carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism found their way into the Christian church. The spirit of compromise and conformity was restrained for a time by the fierce persecutions which the church endured under paganism. But as persecution ceased, and Christianity entered the courts and palaces of kings, she laid aside the humble simplicity of Christ and His apostles for the pomp and pride of pagan priests and rulers; and in place of the requirements of God, she substituted human theories and traditions. The nominal conversion of Constantine, in the early part of the fourth century, caused great rejoicing; and the world, cloaked with a form of righteousness, walked into the church. Now the work of corruption rapidly progressed. Paganism, while appearing to be vanquished, became the conqueror. Her spirit controlled the church. Her doctrines, ceremonies, and superstitions were incorporated into the faith and worship of the professed followers of Christ.

“This compromise between paganism and Christianity resulted in the development of ‘the man of sin’ foretold in prophecy as opposing and exalting himself above God. That gigantic system of false religion is a masterpiece of Satan’s power—a monument of his efforts to seat himself upon the throne to rule the earth according to his will.

“Satan once endeavored to form a compromise with Christ. He came to the Son of God in the wilderness of temptation, and showing Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, offered to give all into His hands if He would but acknowledge the supremacy of the prince of darkness. Christ rebuked the presumptuous tempter and forced him to depart. But Satan meets with greater success in presenting the same temptations to man. To secure worldly gains and honors, the church was led to seek the favor and support of the great men of earth; and having thus rejected Christ, she was induced to yield allegiance to the representative of Satan—the bishop of Rome.

“It is one of the leading doctrines of Romanism that the pope is the visible head of the universal church of Christ, invested with supreme authority over bishops and pastors in all parts of the world. More than this, the pope has been given the very titles of Deity. He has been styled ‘Lord God the Pope’*, and has been declared infallible. He demands the homage of all men. The same claim urged by Satan in the wilderness of temptation is still urged by him through the Church of Rome, and vast numbers are ready to yield him homage. …

“God has never given a hint in His word that He has appointed any man to be the head of the church. The doctrine of papal supremacy is directly opposed to the teachings of the Scriptures. The pope can have no power over Christ’s church except by usurpation.” The Great Controversy, 49–51.

* For the title “Lord God the Pope” see a gloss on the Extravagantes of Pope John XXII, title 14, ch. 4, Declaramun. In an Antwerp edition of the Extravangantes, dated 1584, the words “Dominum deum Nostrum Papam” (“Our Lord God the pope”) occur in column 153. In a Paris edition, dated 1612, they occur in column 140. In several editions published since 1612 the word “Deum” (“God”) has been omitted.

©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Recipe – Barley-Pea Casserole

3 cups hot water

1 cup cashew pieces

1 cup whole barley

1 onion, chopped

1 Tbsp chicken-like seasoning

2 carrots, grated

1 Tbsp oil (option)

1-16 oz. pkg. frozen peas, thawed

Place all into casserole dish, except peas. Cover and bake for 1 ½ hours at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and top with peas.

Food – Smoking and Your Health

True temperance teaches us to dispense entirely with everything hurtful and to use judiciously that which is healthful.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 562. The purpose of this article is to give a greater understanding of some of the dangerous effects that smoking has on the cardiovascular system.

Solomon said in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” This is very true. The heart and the associated system of arteries and veins are responsible for taking oxygen and nourishment to all parts of the body and bringing back the waste products for removal. The heart is located in the left center of the chest, weighs less than one pound and is approximately the size of a fist. It pumps about 100,000 times per day, releasing 7,000 quarts of blood. During times of exercise or need the output can be increased by six times. The pumping phase of the heart is about 1/3 of the heart cycle and the resting phase about 2/3. It is made up of four distinct chambers making two independent pumps to pump blood to the lungs and to the body. It has four directional valves to help the blood flow in the right direction and contains electrical tissue and tracts that spread the contraction impulse throughout the heart. The heart is assisted in its role by 100,000 miles of arteries, veins and capillaries. Despite this huge vascular system, it only takes 10–15 seconds for blood to circulate through the entire system.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and in high income countries worldwide. It is second only to lower respiratory infections in lower income countries and stroke/cerebral vascular disease in middle income countries. Heart disease, stroke and cerebral/cardiovascular diseases are intimately related to lifestyle: diets high in fat and sugar and low in fiber, smoking, obesity, sedentary habits, and stressful lifestyle. It is also closely associated to family history, age, sex, high blood pressure (over 130/70), and other diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease, and thyroid problems.

Smoking is very closely related not just to lung problems, but also heart disease. Smoking causes a whole host of problems for the heart: abnormally increases the heart rate both during and after smoking and it increases the blood pressure. It affects the arteries by causing holes and roughness of the lining of these very important tubes. Cholesterol formation is increased in these damaged areas. This causes both narrowing and hardening of the arteries, thus further increasing blood pressure and causing more stress on the heart. It affects the platelets in the blood by increasing their stickiness. This increases the likelihood of blood clots forming in the arteries and blocking blood flow to parts of the body. (Ultimately the heart is enlarged, right side that pumps blood into lungs damaged by smoking, and the left side that pumps into damaged, narrowed, stiff arteries throughout the body.)

Some of the risk factors for these problems are unavoidable: stress, family history, age, sex, but we can choose to not smoke. Smoking is clearly a risk factor for our hearts that we can avoid or stop. Won’t you ask God for power to overcome this habit or share this information with someone else who needs it?

Nature – Sand Tigers

The beetles represent the largest Order of insects, with over 250,000 described species. Within this Order is a family known as the tiger beetles, containing about 2,000 species worldwide. Tiger beetles are closely related to the ground beetles but differ from them by having the head wider than the thorax. They also have large bulging eyes, long slender legs and antennae, and large sickle-like mandibles. Many tiger beetles are quite elegant in their appearance, having intricate patterns on their elytra (modified wing covers). Others are iridescent bronze, blue, purple, or green and rival butterflies for their beauty. Their iridescent colors are the result of structural pigments and a secretion that gives an effect similar to a film of oil on water. Tiger beetles are found worldwide except in Antarctica, Hawaii, the Maldives and Tasmania. They prefer sandy or well drained soils in open areas where they run around on bare ground in search of prey. Some species are nocturnal but most are diurnal, preferring sunny, hot, environments.

Like their namesake, tiger beetles are voracious predators, preying on other insects and invertebrates, which they run down and capture with their enormous mandibles. They are fluid feeders and use what is called pre-oral digestion where they secrete digestive juices onto their prey while it is held and crushed by the mandibles, which have a special molar-like tooth to aid in this mastication. As the digestive juices break down the crushed tissues of its prey, it sucks in the juices. Tiger beetle larvae are also predators and live in holes in the ground where they ambush passing prey by popping out of the hole like a Jack-in-the-box, grabbing the prey and dragging it down deep into the hole where it is eaten.

Tiger beetles, at only .5 to 1.5 inches in length, are the fastest land insects on earth. One Australian species of tiger beetle was clocked at 5.6 miles per hour. Many of the species can run about 5 miles per hour. It is estimated that if a tiger beetle were the size of a human, it would be able to run 200–300 miles per hour. For their size, they are technically the fastest running land animals. Tiger beetles have large compound eyes, which give them a wide area of view for locating the movement of their prey. As the tiger beetles pursue their prey, they often stop to get their bearings and then proceed with the chase. This stop-and-go pursuit is necessary, as the tiger beetle’s vision shuts down after it accelerates toward prey. Moving too fast causes the beetles to not gather enough photons (illumination into their eyes) to form an image of their prey. So, the high speeds cause the tiger beetles to go blind, temporarily.

Unlike the tiger beetles that lose sight of their goal, we Christians are to fix our eyes on Christ and proceed forward without hesitation. “Will not our church members keep their eyes fixed on a crucified and risen Saviour, in whom their hopes of eternal life are centered? This is our message, our argument, our doctrine, our warning to the impenitent, our encouragement for the sorrowing, the hope for every believer. If we can awaken an interest in men’s minds that will cause them to fix their eyes on Christ, we may step aside, and ask them only to continue to fix their eyes upon the Lamb of God. … He whose eyes are fixed on Jesus will leave all. He will die to selfishness. He will believe in all the Word of God, which is so gloriously and wonderfully exalted in Christ.” Maranatha, 99.

David Arbour writes from his home in De Queen, Arkansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at:

Health – Flax, a Marvelous Little Seed

Flax is one of the oldest known textile fibers. Both flaxseed and linen cloth have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. It has been cultivated in all temperate and tropical regions for so many centuries that it is found semi-wild in almost all countries in which it is cultivated.

Cotton is only mentioned in the Bible once and wool has limited use in the hot climates of Bible countries; linen was used most of all for domestic purposes and it was a very important crop of Egypt. The most ancient mummies of Egypt were wrapped in linen shrouds, and Greek and Hebrew burials also included winding sheets made of it.

The priests serving in the temple were commanded to wear strictly linen clothes, and part of the Law of Moses forbade the mixing of linen and wool.

When Joseph was promoted to second-in-command in Egypt, he wore robes of linen. Among the offerings of the tabernacle were articles made of linen. Esther wore robes of linen when she became queen, and the robes of kings, rich men and the temple choir were made of this fabric. The veil of the Temple itself was made of linen. There are many more references to this fine-twined linen, which, however, compared to the fine fabrics of today, was still rather a coarse article. However, it is a high-vibrating fabric, much to be preferred to the synthetic fibers of today, and more people would feel healthier and less nervous if they were to wear linen or other natural fabrics.

The custom of blanching the flax fibers by exposing them to the sun and air, often on the flat roofs of houses, is practiced to this day in many parts of Europe as well as in the Holy Land. Read the story of Rahab hiding the two spies among the flax on her roof-top. See Joshua 2:6. The failure of the flax crop is considered one of God’s punishments in Hosea 2:9. The manufacture of linen from the flax fibers was a domestic industry of Jewish women. It was made by them into the robes and aprons worn by the priests and temple attendants.

Linen was for centuries the only universal textile fabric, and in Biblical days one of the most important crops in Palestine. Only in modern times has it been superseded by cotton.

The flax capsules are often called bolls, and the expression, the flax was bolled, as in Exodus 9:31, means that it had arrived at a state of maturity. When the bolls are ripe, the flax plants are harvested and tied in bundles or sheaves. These are immersed in water for several weeks, which causes them to ret, that is, causes the fibers to separate from the non-fibrous portions of the stems. The bundles are then opened and the retted stems spread out to dry, as in Joshua 2:6, after which they are combined or hackled to remove the fibers. These processes are represented in Egyptian tombs and papyri, yet likely the cultivation of flax for its fiber did not start in Egypt; some consider that it began in Mesopotamia and India and then, very anciently, spreading over the world. Its fiber has been found in the ancient lake-dwellings of Switzerland.

Flax is grown today around the world, Holland, Russia, the United States, Canada, Argentina and India furnishing the principal supplies. The Russian or Dutch-grown of Russian origin is preferred for flax-growing, as it is hardier than the large southern seed from the warmer countries.

It is sad that most people wear little linen, probably because clothing made from it must be ironed. It is extremely durable and is very comfortable in most every climate.

Much of the flax consumed today is made into oil, and most of the medicine either originates with the seed itself or its expressed oil.

The flax seed can be made into an infusion, a tea. This is used for soothing the mucous membranes of the respiratory, digestive and urinary tracts, etc. It is often employed as an addition to cough medicines and as a domestic remedy for coughs and colds. By adding a little honey and lemon, where allowed, the tea is much more agreeable. Many herbalists prescribe equal portions of flax, chia, and psyllium seed, ground freshly, soaked overnight in double the amount of water, stirred and drunk the next morning, for a bulky laxative.

A poultice made from flaxseed is probably one of the most famous applications of the herb. The ground seed is mixed with boiling water until it is a thick mush. Other herbs may be added to it for specific conditions, such as hops, mullein, etc. This is one of the best poultices for old sores, boils, carbuncles, inflammations, and tumors. It is excellent for enlarged glands, joints, swellings, pneumonia, pleurisy, sprains, bruises, contusions, or inflammations of any part of the body. Apply as hot as possible; cover with waxed paper or plastic, and keep warm, reapplying hot poultices as needed. It allays irritation and pain and promotes discharging of pus; lobelia will help cure boils. It is commonly used for abscesses.

Flaxseed Nutrition

This seed is tiny but mighty. The flax seed carries one of the biggest nutrient payloads on the planet. And while it’s not technically a grain, it has a similar vitamin and mineral profile to grains, while the amount of fiber, antioxidants, and Omega-3 Fatty Acids in flax leaves grains in the dust. Additionally, flaxseed is very low in carbohydrates, making it ideal for people who limit their intake of starches and sugars. And its combination of healthy fat and high fiber content make it a great food for weight loss and maintenance—many dieters have found that flaxseed has been a key to keeping them feeling satisfied.

Flaxseed is high in most of the B vitamins, magnesium, and manganese, but this little seed is just getting started. There are three additional nutrient groups which flaxseed has in abundance, and each has many benefits.

Flaxseed is rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which are a key force against inflammation in our bodies. Mounting evidence shows that inflammation plays a part in many chronic diseases, including heart disease, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, and even some cancers.

Flaxseed is high in fiber and it would be hard to find a food higher in fiber, both soluble and insoluble, than flax. This fiber is probably mainly responsible for the cholesterol-lowering effects of flax. Fiber in the diet also helps stabilize blood sugar, and, of course, promotes proper functioning of the intestines.

Flaxseed is high in phytochemicals, many antioxidants. It is perhaps our best source of lignans, which convert in our intestines to substances which tend to balance female hormones. There is evidence that lignans may promote fertility, reduce peri-menopausal symptoms, and possibly help prevent breast cancer.

Since flax has such a high fiber content, it’s best to start with a small amount and increase slowly, otherwise cramping and a laxative effect can result. People with irritable bowel syndrome may have an especially strong reaction to it, and should be extra careful.

Drink plenty of water. There is so much soluble fiber in flax that it is important to drink plenty of water when eating flax products; otherwise constipation may result. Remember to start slowly if you are not used to a high fiber diet.

The oil in flax is highly unsaturated. This means that it is very prone to oxidation (rancidity) unless it is stored correctly. The very best way is nature’s own storage system—within the seed. Flax seeds not exposed to large amounts of heat stay safe to eat for at least a year. However, flax meals, and especially flax oil, are a different story. The meal, stored away from heat and light, will keep fresh for a few months, and the oil must be protected by refrigeration in dark containers, preferably being consumed within a few weeks of opening.

Actually, the surprising thing about flax is not that the oils go rancid, but that they don’t go rancid as quickly as we would think considering how unsaturated they are. The oils are quite stable when the seeds are used in baked foods, for example. Researchers theorize that this is due to the high levels of antioxidants in the seeds.

A good point to remember is that flax seeds need to be ground to make the nutrients available; otherwise they just pass through. Also, when flaxseed oil alone is used, it contains neither the fiber nor the phytochemicals of whole flaxseed meal.

Questions and Answers – Which Interpretation is Right?

Many people interpret the Bible. How do you know which interpretation is the right one?

To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20.

The Bible is our guide to lead us to heaven and we do not want to take anybody’s word, but go to the Scriptures for ourselves to seek light. We are individually accountable to God. When we accept somebody else’s word on what the Bible says, we have then put man over and above the Word of God. “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29.

“Especially should we entreat the Lord for wisdom to understand His Word. … Satan is an expert in quoting Scripture, placing his own interpretation upon passages, by which he hopes to cause us to stumble. We should study the Bible with humility of heart, never losing sight of our dependence upon God. While we must constantly guard against the devices of Satan, we should pray in faith continually, ‘Lead us not into temptation’ [Matthew 6:13].” The Faith I Live By, 331.

Many place their own interpretation on the Scriptures. Each of us, individually, needs to know what God’s Word says. We are to study “precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:13) so that we may understand what God is saying to us. Many people may interpret the Bible as to what they think the Word of God says, but the Bible will interpret itself.

Here is one example of how we may be led astray in the last days by listening to others. “Unfaithful watchmen hindered the progress of the work of God. As the people were roused, and began to inquire the way of salvation, these leaders stepped in between them and the truth, seeking to quiet their fears by falsely interpreting the Word of God. … The blood of these souls will be required at their hand.” The Story of Redemption, 361.

There are many religions, many interpreters, but what saith the Lord? When we sit down with the Word of God and humbly ask for God’s Holy Spirit to teach us, He will answer that prayer. You can then begin to search the Word of God for yourself. Using a Bible concordance, you can look up specific words which will lead you to all of the books of the Bible that may contain that subject, and as you bring all of those verses together, God will, through His Word, teach you what truth is and what error is. You need not follow anybody’s interpretation unless it is found in the Bible.

Let the truth be read by you, as it is in Jesus and not as it is according to what somebody else said. God, through His Holy Spirit, is our teacher. “Through thy precepts I get understanding.” Psalm 119:104. It does not say through the understanding of others.

If you have a Bible question you wish to have answered, please write to Steps to Life or e-mail it to: