Uncover the master counterfeit that challenges God’s authority and learn how we can avoid deception
Uncover the master counterfeit that challenges God’s authority and learn how we can avoid deception
Amedeo Modigliani was an Italian painter and sculptor who became famous after his death at age 36, a death helped along by excessive drinking and drug use.
Around 1912, eight years before he died, Modigliani spent a summer in the Italian city of Livorno, where he pursued his sculpture. According to one story, he brought one of his sculptures to a cafe in order to show friends, who mocked it.
Upset, Modigliani tossed it into a river outside the cafe. So ashamed at the ridicule, Modigliani, it was rumoured, then took a wheelbarrow with three more sculptures and dumped them all, wheelbarrow included, into a canal.
Well, in 1984, the curator of a museum in Livorno wanted the city to dredge the canal. They were celebrating the centenary of Modigliani’s birth, and uncovering these works would be an incredible artistic coup. The city council agreed and, much to everyone’s astonishment, an old wheelbarrow and three sculptures were brought out of the water – right in the spot where he had supposedly dumped them!
Not only did all the sculptures have all the special characteristics of Modigliani’s work, they were suitably blackened in mud, showing apparently the decades of immersion. The experts agreed – these were real! One critic burst into tears upon seeing them. Prominent art historians declared them treasures, magical faces, splendid primitive heads, even a resurrection.
Only one problem. Weeks later, three local students said that they had built the counterfeits themselves, using hammers, chisels, screwdrivers, and a Black and Decker electric drill. They also explained what they did to age the fakes.
The art critics, not ready to give up, demanded that the students prove it. That was a mistake, because right on television the forgers reconstructed the Modiglianis in about four hours. The critic who had burst into tears upon first seeing the statues collapsed and had to be hospitalised. The experts – despite all their knowledge, authority and expertise – looked like fools. The big winner was Black and Decker, which ran an ad based on the stunt. It said: It’s easy to be talented with a Black and Decker.
All this fits in very closely with a theme that runs through these booklets – that of the great controversy between Christ and Satan. As we have seen, we are all in a real battle, a real struggle for hearts and minds, and there are eternal consequences.
And, at the heart of this battle is deception, such as the kind pulled off by these art students.
And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Who deceives the whole world? That’s an incredibly heavy, even frightful thought. Of course, for a deception to work, those being deceived must not know it. Had the students not come forward, the fakes would be sitting in some museum as thousands of mesmerised visitors gaze at the fantastic masterworks of the great Modigliani.
What, then, about Satan’s deceptions, the ones through which he deceives the entire world? Can we know what they are, and how to avoid being deceived ourselves? God warned us that the lawless one would come. See 2 Thessalonians 2:9.
The Law and the Gospel
So far, in these lessons, we have seen that salvation is by faith in Jesus alone, not by the works of the law. You’d have more chance of bringing a statue to life by stuffing food and water into its mouth than you do working your way to heaven.
At the same time, we can’t forget Paul’s words that, even though we are saved by grace, we cannot now sin with impunity:
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.
Or the words of John:
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
1 John 5:3
For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, Do not commit adultery, also said, Do not murder. Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.
No question, grace does not nullify the law. On the contrary, the law which defines sin shows us our need of grace. Thus the law and the gospel are inseparable.:
The Great Irony Revisited?
As we have also seen, included in the heart of God’s law is the Sabbath, the commandment to keep the seventh day – Saturday – holy.
The great irony is: Why is keeping the one commandment to rest, to refrain from works, deemed as salvation by works, when obedience to the other nine isn’t?>
The issue of Sunday as the day of worship, as opposed to Saturday, gets even more interesting when many who keep Sunday admit that nothing in the Bible teaches that Sunday – the first day of the week, was to replace or to supersede Saturday – the seventh day.
Writing in a book entitled The Lord’s Day, which promoted the keeping of Sunday, Samuel A. Cartledge conceded:
We must admit that we can point to no direct command that we cease observing the seventh day and begin using the first day.
Concerning the change of Sabbath to Sunday, James Westberry – at one time the head of an organisation devoted to the promotion of Sunday worship – confessed: There is no record or statement on the part of Jesus authorising such a change, nor is there recorded such a statement on the part of the apostles.
Evangelical author Harold Lindsell, writing in the prestigious magazine Christianity Today, said: There is nothing in the Scriptures that requires us to keep Sunday rather than Saturday as a holy day.
And Roman Catholic James Cardinal Gibbons wrote: You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorising the sanctification of Sunday.
The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify.
The Prophecy of Daniel
Why, then, do most Christians keep the first day of the week when even those who keep it admit there’s no biblical basis for the change from the seventh day to the first?
The key is found in the Old Testament book of Daniel, which, in an amazing prophecy, predicted many years beforehand that there would be an attempted change.
In Lesson 3, we studied a bit of Daniel 2, a prophecy covering the sweep of world history, starting in ancient Babylon and then finally ending with God’s eternal kingdom.
To summarise the fulfilment of Daniel 2, the sequence of kingdoms was:
In the book of Daniel, this sequence of kingdoms is repeated in Chapter 7. But Chapter 7 gives more details, especially concerning the fourth kingdom, almost universally understood by Bible students through the centuries as Rome.
In Daniel 7, the prophet has a dream in which he sees four beasts rise out of the sea.
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts. Daniel spoke, saying, I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.
Later in the chapter, he is told that these four beasts represent four kings (Daniel 7:17), or kingdoms that will arise over the centuries – and these are the same four kingdoms of Daniel 2: Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome. The chapter then ends with God’s eternal kingdom, as did Daniel 2.
Daniel 7, however, spends a great deal of time on the fourth kingdom, Rome, and especially the little horn power that arises out of it:
Thus he said: The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, trample it and break
it in pieces. The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; he shall be different from the first ones, and shall subdue three kings. He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law.
The Little Horn
There’s so much in these texts worth exploring, but for now we will touch on only a few points.
Firstly, this little horn power, as it is called in Daniel 7:8, is a Roman power.
It is not a separate beast, a separate power, as were the three beasts that preceded the fourth. This little horn power is, simply, another phase of Rome, and remains part of it.
The fourth beast is described earlier in the chapter as having ten horns. Daniel 7:7 The above verses interpret them as ten kings, or kingdoms, that will arise out of this fourth beast.
This is reminiscent of the feet of Daniel 2 – ten toes. Daniel 7, as did Daniel 2, is predicting the breakup of the great pagan Roman Empire here. And, according to the text, this little horn power is described as uprooting three of those kingdoms in order to attain power.
It is also described as speaking pompous words against the Most High. This shows a religious dimension to this power, a dimension not emphasised in any of the other kingdoms.
This little horn will be different from the other kingdoms.
The little horn power will persecute the saints of the Most High. And it will intend to change times and law.
Finally, this little horn power is described in the chapter as being in existence until the end of time, when God establishes His eternal kingdom, the same one described in Daniel 2:
Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast
… and the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up, before which three fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance was greater than his fellows. I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favour of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.
Thus, because the little horn power is destroyed at the end of time, it must exist until the end of time.
Solely, Totally and only Rome
What one power alone fits this description? Only one – Papal Rome. It is a Roman power, coming directly out of pagan Rome. As political philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote in one of the great political treatises of all time, The Leviathan: If a man considers the origin of this great ecclesiastical dominion, he will easily perceive that the papacy is no other than the ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, sitting crowned on the grace thereof.
History shows that the papacy uprooted three kings in order to consolidate its position.
The papacy certainly was different from the other kingdoms. The papacy is a religious power. The papacy has persecuted people, such as in the Inquisition.
And it is still in existence today. And it would have to be, because according to the texts above it will exist until the end of this world.
Then, finally, another crucial characteristic is that it would think to change times and law. Daniel 7:25
Did the papacy do that as well? Though historically the change of the Sabbath to Sunday is rather involved, these few quotes – all from Roman Catholic sources – answer the question:
Question – Which is the Sabbath day?
Answer – Saturday is the Sabbath day.
Question – Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
Answer – We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea A.D. 364, transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday. Peter Geiermann, C.S.S.R., The Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, p.50, 3rd Edition, 1957
Most Christians assume that Sunday is the biblically approved day of worship. The Catholic Church protests that it transferred Christian worship from the biblical Sabbath (Saturday) to Sunday, and that to try to argue that the change was made in the Bible is both dishonest and a denial of Catholic authority. If Protestantism wants to base its teachings only on the Bible, it should worship on Saturday. Rome’s Challenge, www. immaculateheart.com/maryonline, December 2003
Regarding the change from the observance of the Jewish Sabbath to the Christian Sunday, I wish to draw your attention to the facts: 1) That Protestants, who accept the Bible as the only rule of faith and religion, should by all means go back to the observance of the Sabbath.
The fact that they do not, but on the contrary observe the Sunday, stultifies them in the eyes of every thinking man.
2) We Catholics do not accept the Bible as the only rule of faith. Besides the Bible we have the living Church, the authority of the Church, as a rule to guide us. We say, this Church, instituted by Christ to teach and guide man through life, has the right to change the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament and hence, we accept her change of the Sabbath to Sunday. We frankly say, yes,
the Church made this change, made this law, as she made many other laws, for instance, the Friday abstinence, the unmarried priesthood, the laws concerning mixed marriages, the regulation of Catholic marriages and a thousand other laws. It is always somewhat laughable, to see the Protestant churches, in pulpit and legislation, demand the observance of Sunday, of which there is nothing in their Bible. Peter R. Kraemer – Catholic Church Extension Society, 1975, Chicago, Illinois
Many quotes like this exist, which show the origin of Sunday keeping, a practice that has no sanction in the Bible.
Does it Matter?
For starters, this is not an attack on individuals, particularly on those in the Roman church. This study is simply on what the Bible teaches about a religio-political system that has gone awry, and that has sought to usurp the authority belonging only to God.
Look at these texts:
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4
Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God..
Paul here warns about a deception in which a power claims the prerogatives that belong only to God. This is what is meant by Anti-Christ, which means not merely against Christ but in place of Christ, usurpation of Christ – and what could be a greater usurpation than seeking to change God’s law, especially the part that specifically points to Him as the Creator?
As we already saw, the seventh day is the biblical symbol, the biblical sign, the foundational sign of God as God Himself! In the creation story, embedded deep in it, is this sign of that work of creation, the seventh day. You can’t get any farther back, without going to God Himself.
And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made..
Genesis 2: 2-3
Thus, to usurp that sign of God as Creator is to usurp the role of God Himself!
Of course, the millions of folks who go to church on Sunday are not consciously seeking to usurp the role of God as Creator. Most simply don’t know. But that shouldn’t be surprising, because, as we have read, Satan manages to deceive the whole world.
During the 2008 presidential election in the United States, the Obama campaign caused a ruckus when someone had created for candidate Obama his own version of a presidential seal – the sign, the symbol of the presidency.
Why the fuss? Because even though it was a fake – not even looking exactly like the real thing – it came close enough in symbolising the power, the authority, and office of the President of the United States, and at that time Barak Obama didn’t have that power, authority or office.
Imagine, though, if the Obama campaign had made one that looked real and tried to pawn it off that way?
This is what has happened with the seventh-day Sabbath, the original sign of God’s creative power and authority, being replaced with the first day, which is symbolic of another power, one seeking to usurp the place of God Himself.
Thus, the issue isn’t merely about a day. Instead, it is about loyalty to the God who has called upon us to worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water. Revelation 14:7
This is language taken almost directly from the Sabbath commandment itself (Exodus 20:11) and, as such, is further reason why we should keep it, and by so doing, enjoy the rest in Christ that the seventh-day Sabbath has offered since the foundation of the world.
So how does this counterfeit fit into the epic story, this great controversy between Christ and Satan that is unfolding around us? Many major events in this epic story are already history, but there are more to come.
This counterfeit undermines God’s authority, and it strikes at the very foundations of worship – who to worship, when to worship and why to worship. We are going to see how these issues of worship are played out on a global scale in the final warning, and the final struggle between right and wrong, truth and error, before Jesus comes the second time.
Is it important? Is this a serious matter?