Gen 1:27,28 says, "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'" Here the word "subdue" and "have dominion" involves religion, and also politics. Religion has to do with God's relations with men; The dominion God gave to man involves politics.
1) The intrusion of sin has brought about religious and political complications, am I right?
Answer: Yes. Under Satan's temptation, man lost self-control, no longer trusted and respected God, but followed the devil's lead to disobey God's command. So Satan usurped man's first dominion. As this grave situation developed, God countered with an effective
plan, saying to the serpent, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel." Gen. 3:15. Although man had yielded to Satan in disobeying God, God would not permit Satan to attain to complete accord with man. If he did, all mankind would be enlisted in the forces of rebellion against God. Through the Holy Spirit, God brings about the rebirth to save all that do not want to be slaves of Satan. The Holy Spirit causes men to hate sin, and receive strength to overcome it, thus the Seed of the woman inflicts the death wound on the serpent's head.
2) The first dominion was a theocracy, but after man's rule was usurped by Satan, he set up his own theocracy. Is that right?
Answer: Yes. But God holds His fortress--His Church--in this revolted world. Up to a certain point Christ calls Satan "ruler of this world," saying, "Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." John 12:31,32. God first wins men with His love, using the cross of Christ to draw them to Himself, isolating the devil, who uses force to enslave the world. Finally God will cast him out. So with His precious blood Christ regains the first dominion lost by man, obtaining complete victory over Satan.
3) So far you have dealt with religion and politics. Aside from a theocracy, there are monarchies, constitutional monarchies and republican forms of government. Can you tell us what the Bible says about them?
Answer: The Bible is our study, so we will talk less politics and study the effect of politics on religion. When God established His theocracy at Sinai, He used Moses as His agent to govern Israel. Egypt and Babylon were theocracies of false deities. But because the majority of Israelites were not born again people who truly loved God, the theocracy conducted by Moses failed to fully implement God's rules of government. On divorce, Jesus said, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so." Matt 19:8. In some cases God made allowances for weaknesses of man's fallen nature.
Joshua and the judges who succeeded Moses, led the people as tribal heads, and prophets spoke to them in God's name. When Samuel led them, the people asked for a king, "Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, 'Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day--with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods--so they are doing to you also. Now therefore, heed their voice . However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who shall reign over them.'" 1 Sam. 8:6-9. Samuel told them how the king would oppress them.
4) Rev. 17:2 speaks of a harlot "with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication." Does that refer to a union of church and state forming a theocracy of a false religion?
Answer: Yes. But strictly speaking, it will not be a true theocracy, but a church controlling the government for religious aims. In the Middle Ages the Vatican ruled over nations in Europe for 1260 years. Such a situation fulfilled Rev 13:5. It resulted in the church controlling the courts and prisons of the state to arrest, imprison, persecute and kill all who rejected the beliefs and rites of the church. According to conservative estimates, Christians slain in this manner in the Dark Ages numbered 50 million. This union of church and state was a great threat to the religious freedom of the people. Victims of such cruelty were not confined to Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, who suffered oppression under state religions, but included England, which after throwing off the Roman yoke, formed her own state church and persecuted dissenters. Hence many Puritans fled to the American colonies to escape persecution.
5) Does that mean that the American people enjoy full religious liberty?
Answer: The first amendment of the U.S. Constitution says that Congress shall make no laws "respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." But Rev 13:11-17 foretells that the U.S. will one day follow in the steps of Rome in instituting a union of church and state, and pass a Sunday law, restricting the religious liberty of the people. (See Dialog 34)Then all who resolve to keep God's commandments will be empowered by the Holy Spirit to risk their lives to spread the Sabbath truth.
"The Lord will work through humble instruments, leading the minds of those who consecrate themselves to His service. The laborers will be qualified rather by the unction of His Spirit than by the training of literary institutions. Men of faith and prayer will be constrained to go forth with holy zeal, declaring the words that 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. In amazement they hear the testimony that Babylon is the church, fallen because of her errors and sins, because of her rejection of the truth sent to her from heaven. As the people go to their former teachers with the eager inquiry, Are these things so? the ministers present fables, prophesy smooth things, to soothe their fears and quiet the awakened conscience. But since many refuse to be satisfied with the mere authority of men and demand a plain "Thus saith the Lord," the popular ministry, like the Pharisees of old, filled with anger as their authority is questioned, will denounce the message as of Satan and stir up the sin-loving multitudes to revile and persecute those who proclaim it." The Great Controversy, 606,607.
6) Is it true that Rev 13:11-17 foretells that Protestants will unite with Catholics to oppose all who preach the Sabbath truth?
Answer: Yes. The first beast in Rev 13:1-10 is the Roman church. The second beast in Rev 13:11-17 is the union of Protestant churches in the U.S. Their making an image of the first beast is to follow Rome in a church-state union to enforce a global Sunday law. "As the controversy extends into new fields and the minds of the people are called to God's downtrodden law, Satan is astir. The power attending the message will only madden those who oppose it. The clergy will put forth almost superhuman efforts to shut away the light lest it should shine upon their flocks. 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. As the movement for Sunday enforcement becomes more bold and decided, the law will be invoked against commandment keepers. They will be threatened with fines and imprisonment, and some will be offered positions of influence, and other rewards and advantages, as inducements to renounce their faith. But their steadfast answer is: "Show us from the word of God our error"--the same plea that was made by Luther under similar circumstances. Those who are arraigned before the courts make a strong vindication of the truth, and some who hear them are led to take their stand to keep all the commandments of God. Thus light will be brought before thousands who otherwise would know nothing of these truths. " Op. cit. 607.
7) You have dealt with Protestants and Catholics, what has it to do with people who have no religion? Does Christ not care for the existence of the broad masses of people and let the end come without giving them a chance to understand the truth?
Answer: Long before you asked this, Jesus said, "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come." It will be preached to "every nation, tribe, tongue and people." Rev 14:6. The message will reach all the world after the mark of the beast is enforced in the U.S. Rev 13:8 says, "All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" will worship the beast. Jesus warns that "false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." Matt 24: 24.
"As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ. The church has long professed to look to the Savior's advent as the consummation of her hopes. Now the great deceiver will make it appear that Christ has come. In different parts of the earth, Satan will manifest himself among men as a majestic being of dazzling brightness, resembling the description of the Son of God given by John in the Revelation (Rev 1:13-15). The glory that surrounds him is unsurpassed by anything that mortal eyes have yet beheld. The shout of triumph rings out upon the air: "Christ has come! Christ has come!" The people prostrate themselves in adoration before him, . ." Op. cit., p. 624.
Before this, people spread the belief that the Christ of the Bible is the same as Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism and also Mohammed of the Muslims, as well as Krishna of the Yoga faith. They will then lead all those who do not keep God's commandments to worship the beast and receive his mark, isolating those who keep the commandments of God.
8) When religious organizations of the world force all to keep Sunday, will Sabbath keepers still be free to spread their faith?
Answer: Yes, but with difficulty. After Christ's resurrection, when the disciples went out to preach the gospel, they met strong opposition from the Jewish religious leaders. King Herod, a Roman vassal, slew James the apostle and imprisoned Peter. See Acts 12:1-19. When the nations of the world enforce the Sunday law under the pressure of religious organizations, history will be repeated.
The work of preaching the Sabbath truth "will be similar to that of the Day of Pentecost. As the 'former rain' was given in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the opening of the gospel, to cause the springing up of the precious seed, so the 'latter rain' will be given at its close for the ripening of the harvest. 'Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.' Hosea 6:3.
"The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than marked its opening. The prophecies which were fulfilled in the outpouring of the former rain at the opening of the gospel are again to be fulfilled in the latter rain at its close. Here are 'the times of refreshing' to which the apostle Peter looked forward when he said: 'Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus.' Acts 3:19, 20. Servants of God, with their faces lighted up and shining with holy consecration, will hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from heaven. By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given. Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will follow the believers. Satan also works, with lying wonders, even bringing down fire from heaven in the sight of men. Revelation 13:13. Thus the inhabitants of the earth will be brought to take their stand
"The message will be carried not so much by argument as by the deep conviction of the Spirit of God. The arguments have been presented. The seed has been sown, and now it will spring up and bear fruit. The publications distributed by missionary workers have exerted their influence, yet many whose minds were impressed have been prevented from fully comprehending the truth or from yielding obedience. Now the rays of light penetrate everywhere, the truth is seen in its clearness, and the honest children of God sever the bands which have held them. Family connections, church relations, are powerless to stay them now. Truth is more precious than all besides. Notwithstanding the agencies combined against the truth, a large number take their stand upon the Lord's side." Op. cit., 612
9) In such a crisis, what should be the attitude of one who truly fears God? Should he let things take their natural course, or do his best to prevent it?
Answer: We should do our best to make known our position to men in power, helping them to stand on the right side. We should help them see that in order to preserve religious liberty, a nation should not compel people to keep a religious day against their beliefs. Satan's activities will intensify. "While appearing to the children of men as a great physician who can heal all their maladies, he will bring disease and disaster, until populous cities are reduced to ruin and desolation. Even now he is at work. In accidents and 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, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous. Destruction will be upon both man and beast. "The earth mourneth and fadeth away," "the haughty people . . . do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant." Isaiah 24:4, 5.
"And then the great deceiver will persuade men that those who serve God are causing these evils. The class that have provoked the displeasure of Heaven will charge all their troubles upon those whose obedience to God's commandments is a perpetual reproof to transgressors. It will be declared that men are offending God by the violation of the Sunday sabbath; that this sin has brought calamities which will not cease until Sunday observance shall be strictly enforced; and 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
10) As the efforts of religious organizations to employ political means to fulfill their own aims reach the final stage, will the words of Rev 13:15 materialize in a decree to kill all who refuse to worship the beast?
Answer: Yes, formerly, "under the rule of Rome, those who suffered death for their fidelity to the gospel were denounced as evildoers; they were declared to be in league with Satan; and every possible means was employed to cover them with reproach, to cause them to appear in the eyes of the people and even to themselves as the vilest of criminals. So it will be now. While Satan seeks to destroy those who honor God's law, he will cause them to be accused as lawbreakers, as men who are dishonoring God and bringing judgments upon the world. Those who honor the Bible Sabbath will be denounced as enemies of law and order, as breaking down the moral restraints of society, causing anarchy and corruption, and calling down the judgments of God upon the earth. Their conscientious scruples will be pronounced obstinacy,
stubbornness, and contempt of authority. They will be accused of disaffection toward the government. Ministers who deny the obligation of the divine law will present from the pulpit the duty of yielding obedience to the civil authorities as ordained of God. " Op. cit. 591, 592. Their reply will be from words of Scripture, "We ought to obey God rather than men." Acts 5:29.