The Final WarningBy Dan Vis
September 28, 2020
If last week we talked about how the church has largely lost its prophetic voice in this time of intense political polarization by stooping to merely parrot the words of one political party or the other--this week we look at what God's message for our day should be. Buckle up...
The Bible predicts one final message to planet earth. And it's a message that is especially urgent right now. But it's also a message that has been largely overlooked in the confusion taking place all around us. I want to explore that message today.
The message itself, can be found in Revelation 18, where it is symbolized by an angel coming down from heaven with great power--just before the return of Christ described in the very next chapter. This angel, comes and unites its message with the message of the three angels in Revelation 14, adding renewed power and glory to their work. The introduction of this other angel brings such glory in fact, that the whole earth is lit up at last.
And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.
We've studied various facts about this event at various times here at FAST. We know it triggers a great worldwide revival among God's people. We know it includes a solemn final appeal, calling every person to decision for or against Christ. And we have many terms for the event: the loud cry, the latter rain, finishing the work, etc. But I don't think I've really written much about the actual content of that message.
Looking at what's happening in our world, I think it's time now, more than ever, to understand this warning. In fact, I suspect it is the exact message the church should be proclaiming right now, in this moment of crisis.
To be honest, I've been reluctant to share this study for some time--for that exact reason. Because it is so relevant. Because it is taking place so forcefully before our eyes right now. Because the obvious implications are so profound. But I'm reminded of a quote from the chapter in the Great Controversy actually entitled The Final Warning:
Many reformers, in entering upon their work, determined to exercise great prudence in attacking the sins of the church and the nation... But the Spirit of God came upon them as it came upon Elijah, moving him to rebuke the sins of a wicked king and an apostate people; they could not refrain from preaching the plain utterances of the Bible—doctrines which they had been reluctant to present. They were impelled to zealously declare the truth and the danger which threatened souls. The words which the Lord gave them they uttered, fearless of consequences. GC, p 606.
Yes, we look to the final revival with great anticipation. It's going to be an incredibly exciting time, and I can't wait for it, knowing it means the return of Christ is imminent. But the message that brings us into these final scenes is a solemn message, a stern rebuke of both church and state. Much like Elijah did, and then John the Baptist after him. Sharing that message will not be easy.
An Angel's WarningThe actual warning of this angel, that creates this illumination, is found in the next two verses, followed immediately by "another voice from heaven", making what I call earth's final appeal: to "come out of her my people". We frequently study the events surrounding the arrival of the angel in verse 1, and the appeal to come out of Babylon in verse 4, but we rarely study the actual message of this mighty angel in the verses between.
Here's what that angel actually says. Follow closely:
2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. 3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
The book of Revelation, among other things, is a tale of two women. The pure woman in Revelation 12 is a symbol of God's faithful people through the ages. The corrupt woman, Babylon, described in Revelation 17, represents a corrupt system of worship, which along with her many daughters (Revelation 17:5And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.) is condemned by God. Those who study Bible prophecy have long connected this woman with the Roman Catholic system of worship, and her daughters as those apostate Protestant churches who follow her unbiblical ways.
The final warning is thus one last attempt to expose the whole corrupt system. And it will be God's true endtime church who gives this warning.
The words of this message parallel those of the second angel in Revelation 14, which are similarly a reproof of both church and state. There, that angel says "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication" (Revelation 14:8And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.). But this last angel expands on that message, adding additional detail. Apparently, after more than 170 years of those first three angels circling the globe and doing their work, this other angel is dispatched to announce Babylon's condition has worsened.
When we see Babylon and her daughters reach this worsened condition, we know the plagues are about to fall. Probation is about to close.
What is that condition, specifically?
First the church. We're told in Revelation 14 the church has already fallen. And for some time now, it has been evident most Christian denominations are indeed "fallen" from Bible truth. The prophet Daniel predicted the Antichrist power would "cast down the truth the ground", that it would "propser, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people" (Daniel 8:12,24And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered. . . . And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.). And historically, the Roman Catholic system abandoned fidelity to the Word of God long ago. And virtually all Protestant denominations today follow one or more of her false interpretations of the Bible.
But in Revelation 18, we see she has further become the "habitation of devils" and that she is filled with "every unclean and hateful bird". These words indicate most churches at the end of time are not only confused about what the Bible teaches, but they are actively being led astray by demonic influences. Paul of course, warned this would happen: "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and the doctrines of devils" (I Timothy 4:1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;).
The unlean birds in this warning bring to mind the parable of the sower, where when "some seeds fell by the way side ... the fowls [birds] came and devoured them up" (Matthew 13:4And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:). And it's true. Today, when you share some biblical insight with a member of another church, leaders from those churches come and immediately "catcheth away that which was sown in his heart" (Matthew 13:19When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.). The churches are filled with strong advocates for error.
In other words, the churches today are not just fallen from the truth, they are being actively led by demonic influences, and they are full of unclean birds. Their condition, some 170 years later, has become desperate, and apparently irreversible.
Now notice the political side of things. In Revelation 14, we're told all nations had drunk of the wine of this woman's unfaithfulness to God. That is, they had been influenced by the church into holding distorted views of true Christianity. But in Revelation 18, we see their situation too has worsened. Now, the nations have not only drunk of that wine but they have personally engaged in fornication with the woman. That is, while earthly governments have had confused ideas about religion for years, church and state are now fully in bed together. "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is emnity with God?" (James 4:4Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.). The separation of church and state has become so eroded, there is now an active partnership between the two to control world events.
And leading business men, are involved too. The "merchants of the earth are waxed rich" by supporting this illicit relationship, suggesting much of this corruption revolves around money. And fabulous amounts of it. Today, for example, the world's 8 wealthiest people own more collectively than the bottom half of the world's population--an extreme inequality unlike anything that has come before! And God is incensed at this injustice. The book of James describes it this way: "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you ... Ye have "heaped treasure together for the last days" (James 5:1-31 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. 2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. 3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.). And largely through exploitation: "Behold, the hire of the labourers ... which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them ... are entered into the ears of the Lord of hosts" (James 5:4Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth., margin). Clearly God is set to intervene. Actually most of Revelation 18 describes the destruction of all that fabulous wealth.
Clearly, government has become hopelessly corrupt, joining hand in hand with big business at the expense of the people. Rather than striving to serve the public, "public service" has become a farce, masking the pursuit of personal self-enrichment.
To sum up the message of this last angel again briefly, church and state are both now facing the judgment of God. Apostate Christianity has not only fallen from truth, but she is riddled with spiritualism (demonic influences), and she is full of unclean birds (advocates of error). Similarly earthly governments are not only drunk with false teachings, but they have leapt into bed with the church, and are engaged in active fornication (the merger of church and state), partnering together with big business in pursuit of massive self-enrichment (extreme economic inequality).
When we see this situation in our world, we know we are at the very end. And that it will be time like never before for God's people to arise and shine. To expose these corruptions, these illicit relationships--that's the final warning!
The Final ProgressionThe Great Controversy describes how this combination of church and state will lead to the final crisis in great detail. And to a swelling of this final warning. Notice:
Predictions that religious intolerance would gain control in the United States, that church and state would unite to persecute those who keep the commandments of God, have been pronounced groundless and absurd. It has been confidently declared that this land could never become other than what it has been—the defender of religious freedom. But as ... the event so long doubted and disbelieved is seen to be approaching [the third angel's] message will produce an effect which it could not have had before. GC 605
In other words, when we start to see church and state uniting, it will inspire men and women to expose that merger which God is so opposed to:
Men of faith and prayer will be constrained to go forth with holy zeal, declaring the words which God gives them. The sins of Babylon will be laid open. The fearful results of enforcing the observances of the church by civil authority, the inroads of spiritualism, the stealthy but rapid progress of the papal power—all will be unmasked. By these solemn warnings the people will be stirred. Thousands upon thousands will listen who have never heard words like these. GC 606
This is the final warning.
The next few paragraphs, make it clear that thinking people, observing these exact things taking place before their eyes, will be convicted of the truth in these messages. There will be an incredible "power attending the message" that "will only madden those who oppose it". Religious leaders unable to defend their actions will "stir up the sin-loving multitudes to revile and persecute those who proclaim it". The more this merger of church and state is exposed, the more enraged they will become.
"By every means at their command they will endeavor to suppress the discussion of these vital questions. The church appeals to the strong arm of civil power, and, in this work, papists and Protestants unite." Specifically, it is this fury against those denouncing the linking of church and state that leads to "bold and decided" moves for Sunday legislation, as a way to silence these "commandtment keeping" messengers. Many will be "arraigned before the courts" and "make a strong vindication of the truth, and ... thus light will be brought before thousands who otherwise would know nothing of these truths" (GC 607).
"As the opposition rises to a fiercer height, the servants of God are again perplexed; for it seems to them that they have brought the crisis." They realize it was their efforts to speak out against church and state that brought this persecution upon themselves. "But conscience and the word of God assure them that their course is right". "The enthusiasm which animated them is gone; yet they cannot turn back ... They remember that the words which they have spoken were not theirs, but His who bade them give the warning. God put the truth into their hearts, and they could not forbear to proclaim it." (GC 610, 608).
And thus a very difficult time commences:
Some of them will be thrust into prison, some will be exiled, some will be treated as slaves. To human wisdom all this now seems impossible; but as the restraining Spirit of God shall be withdrawn from men, and they shall be under the control of Satan, who hates the divine precepts, there will be strange developments. The heart can be very cruel when God's fear and love are removed.
There is no question that the Sabbath will be the specific test, which determines every man's fate. But it seems clear that the final warning outlined in Revelation 18:2-32 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. 3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. is the spark that sets off the whole series of endtime events. The warning against the mixing of church and state. A message desperately hated because it disrupts their pursuit of wealth and power.
Are We There?It's unwise to state dogmatically exactly where we are in this progression. But a few observations strike me as significant.
First, we know things will progress rapidly, and irreversibly, once the church gets its first taste of political power.
Let the principle once be established in the United States that the church may employ or control the power of the state; that religious observances may be enforced by secular laws; in short, that the authority of church and state is to dominate the conscience, and the triumph of Rome in this country is assured. GC 581
Second, it's quite clear the Christian right has been pursuing control of the various branches of government for decades, in an attempt to try and impose its view of morality on the country. And in particular, its explicit goal has been control of the Supreme Court. Now, with the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the appointment of another strong Roman Catholic to the Supreme Court, it seems their triumph in this area is virtually assured. That suggests time is short indeed.
In a campaign speech while running for president, Donald Trump made this exact bargain with leading evangelicals:
Christianity is under tremendous siege ... The power of our group of people together, I mean, if you add it up ... it could be 240, 250 million. And yet we don't exert the power that we should have ... But you know the fact is that there is nothing the politicians can do to you if you band together. You have too much power... I'll tell you one thing: I get elected president ... you're going to have plenty of power. You don't need anybody else. You're going to have somebody representing you very, very well. Remember that.
Evangelicals proceeded to elect him, and continue to defend him. And he has rewarded them, with hundreds of judicial appointments. The explicit merger of church and state is clearly well under way.
But I would argue this has cost the church more than she has gained. During that same time period, Christianity has lost significant moral authority. In its effort to partner with one political party, it has silenced all dissenting policy positions, however biblical they might be.
- Efforts to revoke health care, despite a biblical mandate to care for and heal the sick (Luke 9:2And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.).
- Disruptive immigration policies despite biblical instructions to care for the strangers among us (Exodus 22:21Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.).
- Rejection of environmental priorites despite God's promise to destroy those who destroy the earth (Revelation 11:18And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.).
- Reductions in benefits to the poor despite biblical admonitions to remember them always (Galatians 2:10Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.).
I'm not advocating for or against any any of these positions. Rather, my point is this: the merger of church and state muzzles the church on any topic that does not fully align with whatever political party it chooses to support.
In times past, Christians were largely divided on political issues, with some advocating for one issue, some on another. And as long as the church retained its independence from politics, she could fulfill her duty to be a moral voice rebuking all unbiblical policies--regardless of the party that espoused them.
But when Christianity began to ally itself with one specific party and become invested in its success, it became necessary to remain silent on all moral failures of that party, and its leaders. And to find justifications for the villification of every position in the opposing political party--however biblical those positions might be. Or to put it differently, a lust for power in the church caused ideology to supplant theology. And self-deception set in.
It's hard not to see this pattern in our current political context. Today, the vast majority of evangelicals, somewhere between 80% and 90%, have blindly rallied around one deeply flawed political leader--in a way we've never seen before. Why? Because of his willingness to give them political power. It was an adulterous partnership focused on allowing both to achieve their own selfish purposes.
In my mind, this marks one of the most solemn developments in the prophetic timetable. It's what we've been waiting for, and its happening right before our eyes.
Looking AheadThis is by no means an encouragement to vote for candidate or another. We are given clear counsel on that topic:
Those who teach the Bible are not at liberty to unite in making apparent their prejudices for or against political men or measures, because by so doing they stir up the minds of others, leading each to advocate his favorite theory. There are among those professing to believe present truth, some who will thus be stirred up to express their sentiments and political preferences, so that division will be brought into the church.
The Lord would have His people bury political questions. On these themes silence is eloquence. Christ calls upon His followers to come into unity on the pure gospel principles which are plainly revealed in the word of God. We cannot with safety vote for political parties; for we do not know whom we are voting for. We cannot with safety take part in any political scheme. CCh 316
My point is simply that the merger of church and state severely weakens the moral authority of the church. Allowing its message to be compromised destroys any influence the church might have on those thinkers trying to understand what is happening in our world. I actually suspect this is the real reason for the decline in biblical values in this country. It parallels exactly the pursuit of power by the church. The younger generation has long seen through this charade, and as a result the church has little influence remaining to stay the degeneration of society. And mandating morality will only engender further hostility against true religion.
How do I anticipate things playing out, given the upcoming American election? Despite polls to the contrary, the following statement suggests to me this next election will not reverse this trend. Rather, my guess is this merger of church and state will only accelerate:
The fast-fulfilling signs of the times declare that the coming of Christ is near at hand. The days in which we live are solemn and important. The Spirit of God is gradually but surely being withdrawn from the earth. Plagues and judgments are already falling upon the despisers of the grace of God. The calamities by land and sea, the unsettled state of society, the alarms of war, are portentous. They forecast approaching events of the greatest magnitude. The agencies of evil are combining their forces and consolidating. They are strengthening for the last great crisis. Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones. 9T 11
We are certainly in the difficult times described above. Were God to raise up individuals exposing the corruption of this alliance between church and state, (ie: to give earth's final warning), we could see things progress very rapidly. So far, is mostly just a few secular thinkers sounding the alarm. But the stage is clearly set for the final scenes. And we're told it will all come together rapidly.
On the other hand, government could remain gridlocked, or there could be a sweep in the opposite direction. A pendulum swing like that might delay the final scenes a few more years, only to come crashing back the opposite direction in the next election cycle. Or Christians might puruse a dramatic change in alliances and seek power through a new political party--though that seems unlikely at present given the many institutional alliances that have been forged over the decades. Still, anything is possible.
Rather than using prophecy to predict the future, my advice is to use it to know what to look for. The real evidence we are moving into the final scenes is not the coronavirus. It's not the stock market. It's not protests in the streets. Nor is it about gun rights, abortion, gay marriage, or immigration reform. It's not about any of those things, that people get so worked up about--however important they may be.
No, what we should be watching first and foremost, is what's happening in the relationship between church and state. And especially over these next few months. It is a momentous time, indeed, because things so closely match the description given in the final warning of Revelation 18.
Everything is in place, and God need only raise up a few men here and there to start giving that message, and the final scenes could all start to unfold. Keep your prophetic eye fixed, right there.
CommentsHow well does Revelation 18 describe our world today? How can politics compromise the moral authority of the church? What does history tell us about what happens when the church attains political power? How can we best prepare for the crisis just ahead?
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/11/20|
|Hey Carlos! So good to hear from you. I only wish I could be closer to everyone back in Illinois. Please give my greetings to all. Just glad we can at least connect in this small way. Send my kind wishes to your family!|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/04/20|
|Yes Anita, there are many direct allusions we often miss to those OT prophetic books. That verse you mentioned was a good one I've either missed or forgotten about! Nice to get it added to the memo here! :)|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/04/20|
|Wow, what a great cross reference Anita, and one I don't remember noticing before! And I think it fits in here perfectly. Thanks so much for sharing. Definitely!!!|
|Posted by Anita Huffman on 10/03/20|
|Jeremiah 5:27As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich. says that as a cage is full of birds, so wicked men have their house full of deceit. The angel says Babylon has a cage of unclean and hateful birds. Perhaps it alludes to the many deceits in Babylon.|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 09/29/20|
|Thanks so much for sharing Carla! And yes let's keep reading, studying, and praying. So important. And let's not forget memorizing!|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 09/29/20|
|Yes Krystal , the enemy certainly does pursue his goals from multiple sides, with their interplay all contributing to his ultimate goal. So protests against racial injustice for example, lead to the inevitable militarization of our police system--which will then be used in the enforcement of the mark. And opposition to climate change mitigation leads to increasing natural disasters which are then used as justification for a mandatory day of rest.
But on the issue of climate change, it's worth noting that up to this point, evangelicalism has largely been silent about or hostile to any kind of mitigation--the expected consequence of its strict alliance with one political party. And exactly my point in this article--that the merger of church and state mutes the voice of the church, more than magnifying it.
Nor does it seem likely this alliance is going to change. We read in the Great Controversy that these "calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms" (all predicted by climate change) are "to become more and more frequent and disastrous" (GC 589). But rather than attributing these disasters to climate change, "the great deceiver will persuade men that those who serve God" (by exposing the merger of church and state) "are causing these evils". And rather than acknowledging climate change, religious leaders will repeat the lie "that those who present the claims of the fourth commandment , thus destroying reverence for Sunday, are troublers of the people, preventing their restoration to divine favor and temporal prosperity" (GC 590). Sadly, it seems the church will never really acknowledge her complicity in contributing to these natural disasters, but rather view them as judgments sent from God, and throw their guilt on command keepers.
Astonishing thought, really. I suspect this is part of the reason God promises to "destroy them which destroy the earth" (Revelation 11:18And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.).
|Posted by Carla Phillips on 09/29/20|
|prepare by reading the bible daily and be in earnest in prayer, and to have faith. I pray my faith will grow daily.
I will print out a copy of this and pass to my boss here at work.
|Posted by Dan Vis on 09/28/20|
|No problem John! I also tweaked the article just a bit to make the connection more clear. Questions like this help me communicate better. Much appreciated!|
|Posted by Will Marcoux on 09/28/20|
|And after all that uniting between church and state, the state realizes the deception as the message of Rev 18 and 14 sinks in and they turn against her.
Revelation 17:16And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.
Revelation 17:17For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.
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