XXII 7(89)


what of the night?”

"The hour has come, the hour is striking and striking at you,
the hour and the end!"          Eze. 7:6 (Moffatt)

A National Sunday Law
Part 2 Excerpted from WWN July 1989

During the crucial years of 1901-1903, Ellen G. White introduced three factors into the events of the last days. Not only did she indicate that we would have to remain many more years in this world because of insubordination (Ms. 184, 1901), but she also wrote immediately following the 1903 General Conference session that - "In the balances of the sanctuary the Seventh-day Adventist church is to weighed." (8T:247) In simple terms this was telling the Church, that it, too, as a corporate entity had to pass the review of the Judgment. The Church could not take for granted that its status, as the recipient in trust of "the last warning message for a perishing world" (9T:19), would place it beyond accountability as to how it ministered that sacred trust. If it did not prove true to that trust, it would be "found wanting." (8T:247)

Further, in 1902, Ellen White wrote - "All need wisdom to carefully search out the mystery of iniquity that figures so largely in the winding up of this world's history." (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 118) The working of "the mystery of iniquity" in the final affairs is not going to be as simple as 2+2=4, but must be "carefully searched out." Simply printing a national Sunday Law booklet and urging its distribution is not searching out "the mystery of iniquity," but is rather lulling the unsuspected into a fatal delusion that the final issues will be very obvious. While it is true that "the day of the Lord" is not to overtake us "as a thief in the night," it is conditioned upon the premise that we must be "children of the light." (I Thess.5:1-6) One cannot be a child of the light, following the principles set forth to understand that light - "time and place;" and yet be the devotees of the hawkers of the sensational who are soliciting through that means a "fast buck." Not only did Ellen G. White call attention to the  working of "the mystery of iniquity;" but in 1901, she observed that Christ connected specific historical events with the scenes that were to take place "just prior" to His return a second time. It would be a new "signal" as the Sunday Law was intended to be in the preceding decade. She wrote:

In the twenty-first chapter of Luke, Christ foretold what was to come upon Jerusalem and with it He connected the scenes which were to take place in the history of this world just prior to the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Counsels to Writers and Editors, pp. 23-24, emphasis mine)

By specifying Luke 21, rather than Matthew 24 or Mark 13 which are parallel chapters, Ellen G. White was focusing on a specific prophecy in Luke concerning Jerusalem which the other two gospel writers did not. All the synoptic writers - Matthew, Mark and Luke - call attention to the prophetic sign Jesus gave in regard to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, but only Luke records that Jesus also said - "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles (nations) until the times of the Gentiles (nations) be fulfilled" (21:24) This Ellen White wrote would signal the time "just prior" to Christ's return. This time we have reached. It is the "now" time for us!

This factor does not exclude an "oppressive" Sunday Law, but it does place it as an "International Sunday Law" rather than the emphasis on a "National" Sunday Law. In the same year - 1901 - Ellen White wrote:

The substitution of the false for the true is the last act of the drama. When this substitution becomes universal, God will reveal Himself. When the laws of men are exalted above the laws of God, when the powers of earth try to force men to keep the first day of the week, know that the time has come for God to work. He will arise in majesty, and will shake terribly the earth. (R&H. April 23, 1901)

Observe this statement carefully. Note and retain in memory the words - "exalted" and "substitution." We will see them again in use. Carefully consider that the final issue is not some "Sunday Closing Law" but a forcing by law the observance of "the first day of the week." At that point in time, God "will arise in majesty, and shake terribly the earth."

What persuasive power will overcome all "pluralistic" factors which now stand as a barrier to "oppressive" religious legislation? Observe carefully this paragraph from a letter written in 1893: 

Fallen angels upon earth form confederations with evil man. In this age antichrist will appear as the true Christ, and then the law of God will be fully made void in the nations of our world. Rebellion against God's holy law will be fully ripe. But the true leader of all this rebellion is Satan clothed as an angel of light. Men will be deceived and will exalt him to the place of God. and deify him. But Omnipotence will interpose, and to the apostate churches that unite in the exaltation of Satan, the sentence will go forth, "Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning. and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her." (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 62)

It should be obvious that these two quotations - one written in 1901, and the other in 1893 following "a national Sunday Law"2 - end with a focus on the same point of time, a time when God "will arise in majesty" thus interposing His "Omnipotence." The future "oppressive" Sunday Law coincides with the deification of Satan by the "apostate churches." In the final drama, it is to be a universal Sunday Law originating at the instigation of Satan as "an angel of light."

[In this schema of events as portrayed by Ellen G. White, one obtains the answer as to the decision made in the Sanctuary when the Church was weighed in the balances. For many it will be too late. She wrote commenting on Ezekiel 9 - "Here we see that the church - the Lord's sanctuary - was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God." (5T:211) The "first stroke" is upon those that "had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image." (Rev. 16:2)

The issue is far more than "a national Sunday Law" for many of those "who profess to keep the Sabbath" will not be "sealed." (5T:213-214) And if one is not sealed with the seal of God, with what is he marked? But today, Satan is using his agents to profiteer and to deceive concerned Adventists in agitation over a National Sunday Law issue instead of studying the Writings as to "time and place."]

Interestingly, Ellen G. White places the setting of the "oppressive" Sunday law in the context of Luke 21:24. She wrote:

After the truth has been proclaimed as a witness to all nations [in other words, the times of the nations was fulfilled], every conceivable power of evil will be set in operation, and minds will be confused by many voices crying, "Lo, here is Christ, Lo, he is there. This is the truth, I have a message from God. He has sent me with great light." Then there will be a removing of the landmarks, and an attempt to tear down the pillars of our faith. A more decided effort will be made to exalt the false Sabbath, and to cast contempt upon God himself by supplanting the day He has blessed and sanctified. This false Sabbath is to be enforced by an oppressive law. (R&H, Dec. 13, 1892)

This prophetic warning, again written after a National Sunday Law, can serve several purposes. It not only tells us about the nature of the coming "oppressive" Sunday Law, but also alerts sincere seekers of truth as to what they face in this "now" time of the fulfilled prophecy of Luke 21:24.

First, let us note in passing the "red" alert this warning gives. One has only to mark the date of the complete fulfillment of Luke 21:24 in 1980 when Jerusalem was proclaimed by the Knesset of Israel to be the Capital of its government, to see that after that date there came on the periphery of Adventism, the "many voices" as foretold. Ellen G. White indicated these "voices" would be confusing voices which would deceive. Ask yourself when you listen to tapes sent to you, when did that voice begin its ministry, or when you receive a newsletter, check the date of first publication of that journal or paper, and you will have a key that will keep you from deception no matter how good it looks or sounds.

We need to consider next the implications of the words describing the nature of the "oppressive" Sunday Law which is to occur in this "now" time. It states that there will be a "more decided effort to exalt the false Sabbath, and to cast contempt upon God Himself by supplanting the day He blessed and sanctified." Now go back to the reference from the Review & Herald, April 23, 1901, (p. 2) and compare these same words, and the synonym used for "supplanting" - "substitution." It should be obvious that these two quotations are referring to the same Sabbath law that is to be enacted.

While we do not believe in verbal inspiration, nevertheless words give thought as perceived by the writer. In the paragraph preceding the one quoted from the Review and Herald, Dec. 13, 1892, Ellen G. White speaks of -Sunday as a "rival Sabbath," a "spurious Sabbath." But "after" the truth has been proclaimed as a witness to all "nations," this rival and spurious Sabbath is "exalted" and made to "supplant" the true in seeking to cast contempt upon God. Supplant means "to take the place of and serve as a substitute for especially by reason of superior excellence of power." Thus the exaltation leads to supplanting. There is an interesting calendar in use today in various parts of the world which alters the arrangement of the week, and gives to Sunday the place which God assigned for the true Sabbath - the seventh day.

The details of the future are not open before us, and will be known only as the scroll unfolds. Today, we can see only the broad outlines. However, one has only to do a minimum of thinking to grasp the implications if this calendar form should become universal, and a world-wide law were enacted enforcing the observance of the seventh-day as outlined in this calendar. Do not forget there are forces within society today who would return to such "Sabbath regulations." See WWN XX-6; "Now You Can Hear the Thunder".

The concept from Puritanism giving to Sunday the status of the seventh-day Sabbath and robing "the Lord's day" with the sanctity of the Sabbath is firmly held by the Lord Day Alliance. The cover of Sunday (Jan./March, 1989), the official organ of the LDA in the United States, reads - "May God's JOY of the Sabbath Enter Your Heart THIS SUNDAY!" Of import is the theology of Pope John Paul II on this point. During his 1987 visit to the United States, the Pope observed concerning Sunday:

Today is Sunday: the Lord's Day. Today is like the "seventh day" about which the Book of Genesis says that "God rested from all the work he had undertaken." (Gn 2:2) Having completed the work of creation, he "rested." God rejoiced in his work; he "looked at everything that he had made, and found it very good." (Gn 1:31) So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy" (Gn 2:3).

On this day we are called to reflect more deeply on the mystery of creation, and therefore our own lives. We are called to "rest" in God, the Creator of the universe. Our duty is to praise him: "My soul, give thanks to the Lord ... Give thanks to the Lord and never forget all his blessings." (Ps. 102 (103):1-2) Quoted in Sunday, op. cit, p.23)

How then can we relate to the present agitation for Sunday Closing Laws that have become issues in some parts of the world?3

1 For full context cf. WWN 6(89) & WWN 8(89)

2 On May 21, 1888, Senator H. W. Blair introduced a National Sunday-Rest Bill into Congress. It was opposition to this and subsequent religious legislation which catapulted A. T. Jones to the forefront of Adventism. However, out of this agitation for Sunday legislation, Congress finally voted into an appropriations bill for the Columbian Exposition of 1892, a Sunday closing amendment which was signed into law by President Benjamin Harrison on August 5, 1892.

Rightly or wrongly, A. T. Jones perceived this law as giving life to the image of the beast of Revelation 13, and that the mark of the beast had been established. Coupling this Congressional action with the Message of 1888, Ellen G. White could write - "The time of test is just before us" indicating that God's people had reached the time for the fulfillment of Revelation 18; and "the loud cry of the third angel had already begun." (R&H, Nov. 22, 1892) ( WWN 6(89), P. 4)

3 There is not a single Sunday Closing Law on the statute books of the various states of the United States of America with which one observing the Sabbath would be troubled unless there are some remnants of the Puritan Blue Laws remaining from the Colonial Period. Even if the present Sunday Closing laws should be rigidly enforced, one who would make adequate use of the preparation day would find no trouble living through till Monday. In other words, the current Sunday Closing Law agitation in Puerto Rico is not the enforcement of an oppressive law against those who desire to observe the Sabbath of the Ten Commandments. To exploit the issue whether its being agitated in Puerto Rico, or elsewhere, as a means of soliciting for personal promotion, is as questionable as the Sunday laws. . .

If the case should go to the Supreme Court, it must be remembered that, that Court in 1961 approved Sunday laws which were on the statute books of both Maryland and Pennsylvania.(See Bible Students' Source Book, Commentary Series, articles #1669 & #1670) ( WWN 8(89), P. 1)