XXXII - 3(99)


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)

The End-Time Crisis

The Scripture clearly indicates that the end-time crisis Involves worship. The "image of the beast" is to cause all that would not "worship the image" of itself "should be killed" (Rev.13:15). God's message of warning - the Third Angel's Message - declares that "If any man worship the beast and his image ... the same shall drink of the wine" of His wrath (14:9-10). Interestingly, that in this announcement of things to come, the "mark in his forehead, or in his hand" follows the worship of the beast and the image (v. 9). The question arises - Does the act of worship bring "the mark"? It is obvious, if the order as given in Scripture has any meaning, "the mark" does not precede the act of worship.

This concept and the factors involved are emotionally charged issues in the Community of Adventism. It must be asked, If Sunday is the "mark," then what is the nature of the worship which precedes it? How does that "worship" place a "mark" on one? Further, is the object of worship, a "what" or is it a "who"?

The issue of Sunday observance did not originate with Constantine. A. Paiva, a Portuguese writer on the subject of Mithraism, stated that "the first day of the week, Sunday, was consecrated to Mithra since times remote, as several authors affirm. Because the sun was god, the Lord par excellence, Sunday came to be called the Lord's day, as was later done in Christianity." (Sunday in Roman Pa­ganism, p. 149) The Sun god of Mithraism, as well as the chief god in all pagan religions, was the fallen angel, Lucifer (I Cor. 10:20). The issue in Old Testament times was who was to be worshipped. The Sabbath was the day for the worship of Jehovah. It was not the day that was wor­shipped, but the God who designated the day as His day. The line was clearly drawn. In Ezekiel the apostates of Judah "turned their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east, and they worshipped the sun toward the east" (8:16). The day is not mentioned, but the symbol of whom was worshipped is! And his day was Sunday. You can have a Sunday Law, but unless It is followed by a worship dictum, and that dictum is heeded, no "mark" is received.

The crisis could come in one of two ways: 1) Forbidding worship on the Sabbath, or 2) Mandating attendance at a Eucharistic service on Sunday. The first in some form will occur. We have been warned of Satan's intents. He plans:

"I will so control the minds under my power that God's Sabbath shall be a special object of contempt. A sign? - I will make the observance of the seventh day a sign of disloyalty to the authorities of earth. Human laws will be made so stringent that men and women will not dare to observe the seventh-day Sabbath." (Prophets and Kings, p. 184)

This is exactly a part of the plan as outlined by Rome at the very time when God raised up this Movement. Louis Veuiilot in his book, The Liberal Illusion, wrote:

When the time comes and men realize that the social edifice must be rebuilt according to eternal standards, ... Catholics will arrange things to suit said standards.... They will make obligatory the religious observance of Sunday on behalf of the whole of society, and for its own good, revoking the permit for free-thinkers and Jews to celebrate, incognito. Monday or Saturday on their own ac­count. (p. 63)

The second is envisioned In the Pope's recent Apostolic Letter, Dies Domini. The emphasis "to ensure that civil legislation respects" the Christian's "duty to keep Sunday holy" is connected with the celebration of the Roman Eucharist. The next sentence reads - "In any case, they are obliged in conscience to arrange their Sunday rest in a way which allows them to take part In the Eucharist." (Par. 67) Why? "This mystery [the Eucharist] is the very center and culmination of Christian life. It is the 'source and the summit of all preaching of the Gospel...the center of the assembly of the faithful."' (Handbook for Today's Catholic, p. 34) And what is worshipped? A "day"? No! A piece of bread, a "what" declared to be a "who" - God incarnate by the word of the priest. Blasphemy!

A further note on this point goes to the heart of Rome's objective. In explaining "How to Receive Communion," today's Catholic is told:

Holy Communion may be received on the tongue or in the hand and may be given under the form of bread alone or under both species. When the minister of the Eucharist addresses the communicant with the words "The Body of Christ," "The Blood of Christ," the communicant re­sponds, "Amen." When the minister raises the eucharistic bread or wine, this is the invitation for the communicant to make an Act of Faith, to express his or her belief in the Eucharist, to manifest a need and desire for the Lord, to accept the good news of Jesus' paschal mystery. A clear and meaningful "Amen" is your response to this invitation. In this way you profess your belief in the presence of Christ in the eucharistic bread and wine as well as in his Body, the Church. (ibid., p. 42)

Consider a point or two of what you have just read: 1) The celebrant of the Mass is not designated as a "priest" but as a "minister," for the new Catholic; 2) The wafer may be received in "the hand." Note, that one of the "or's" in Rev. 14:9 is "or in his hand." 3) The wafer also can be placed on the tongue. Is there any connection between this and the fact that the fifth plague on "the seat of the beast" caused those of "his kingdom" to gnaw their tongues because of the pain? (Rev. 16:10) As stated above to Rome a simple "amen" signifies not only one's acceptance of "Jesus' paschal mystery," but also one's

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"belief in" the Roman "Church," designated in the text just noted as "his kingdom"?

In this same Handbook, It cites the Vatican II document, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, as stating that the Eucharist is a "sign of unity" (p. 34). It needs be only re­called that at the 1991 seventh Assembly of the WCC in Canberra, Australia, Cardinal Cassidy, then an archbishop, forbade the Catholics present from joining in the Assembly's communion service. As his reason, he stated that he "judged that sharing the eucharist is the 'ultimate sign and seal' of church unity, and thus a step with many and major doctrinal implications." (EPS 91.02.74) Already at that time, there was in the "works" a program to find common doctrinal grounds by which visible Christian unity might be expressed. The Faith and Order Commission, with 12 Catholic theologians "on board," was pursuing the acceptance of a common confession of faith the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of AD 381. [This we discussed in some detail in the Special issue of WWN sent out in January. See article, "Whither Bound?"] The key word, in this attempt for visible unity is the "Apostolic" faith.

In his Apostolic Letter, Dies Domini, what the Pope did not say is as important to consider as what he did say. Gone were the proud boasts and challenges to Protestants. Nowhere did the Pope after setting forth the Sabbath as given in the Decalogue (Par. 16), challenge - "Who gave you the authority to tamper with the fourth?" - as was done in the Clifton Tracts. Nowhere did the Pope claim that the change in the day of worship was "a mark of her ecclesiastical power and authority in religious matters" as did the Chancellor of Cardinal Gibbons in 1895. Now the voice of Cardinal Edward Cassidy, president of the Vatican Council for Promoting Christian Unity, declares the Eucharist to be the "ultimate sign and seal." Nowhere did the Pope declare as was done in The Convert's Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, that "the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea (A.D. 336) transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday" (p. 50). instead John Paul II sought to place the observance of Sunday as close as possible to the Apostolic age (par. 23). He cited the timing of the Resurrection and Pentecost to Sunday, along with various "first day" references as evidence of its "apostolic" origin (Par. 19-21) He was but echoing the discussion on the Sabbath Commandment in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church (pp. 581-582).

This new approach of the Roman Church to the Sabbath question dare not be overlooked in our zeal to emphasize that John Paul II suggested Pope Leo XIII's dictum that "Sunday rest" is "a worker's right which the State must guarantee" (par. 66), and that "Christians will naturally strive to ensure that civil legislation respects their duty to keep Sunday holy" (par. 67). But what does keeping Sun­day "holy" mean to John Paul II? "The Sunday assembly Is the privileged place of unity: it is the setting for the celebration of the sacramentum unitatis which profoundly marks the Church as a people gathered 'by' and 'In' the unity of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (par. 36). Placed together in this one statement are the concepts covered by "Apostolic," "visible unity," "Trinity," "Eucharist," and "Sunday." Let us be very careful lest our traditional emphasis blind our eyes to any of these facets of the end-time crisis.

"Sunday is coming," but let us not be so naive as to think that the devil is going to seek to accomplish his agenda in a way that will be openly obvious to the professed people of God. Christ has warned us that the delusions of the final crisis will be such that, if possible, "they shall deceive the very elect" (Matt. 24:24). Further, let it be understood that a "Sunday Law" per se, is not the "mark" or "sign" of anything. We have had "Sunday closing laws" among the legal statutes of various states and city ordinances regulating Sunday commerce on the community level. This is not the aspect of Sunday laws that should concern us. It is as Louis Veulliot defined such legislation that we should be watching. His call was for the "religious observance" of Sunday. This Involves the Eucharist in the end time crisis as has been stated in the recent Papal Apostolic Letter.