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The final message begins by emphasizing “the everlasting gospel” because the context is an international final effort by Satan, the “dragon,” to impose his religious system on the world through the beast from the sea whose "deadly wound was healed," supported by the beast from the earth. These are the final manifestations of the system that ruled the world for 1260 years during the Middle Ages (see 12:12-17). The persecution of the saints was a prominent feature of this rule, and in chapter 13 we saw that there was also a fierce attack on God’s law and on the everlasting covenant. But  the most subtle and dangerous of the dragon’s attacks is on the everlasting gospel.

The messages to the seven churches (chapters 2 and 3) is the story of Satan’s steady infiltration and corruption of the church. His purpose in this was to pervert the gospel. In the book of Daniel this is presented as an attack on “the daily sacrifices.” “Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn [the papacy] to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground.” “And forces shall be mustered by him…then they shall take away the daily sacrifice” (Daniel 8:12, 11:31).

The Hebrew word “tamid,” translated “daily sacrifices” in the book of Daniel, means daily or continual—the whole round of services that were performed every day in the ancient Hebrew sanctuary. These services graphically symbolized the gospel. They included the morning and evening sacrifice of a lamb (Exodus 29:38,39), the continuous presence of the bread (Exodus 25:30, Leviticus 24:5-9), the trimming and continuous burning of the lamps (Exodus 27:20,21, Leviticus 24:1-8), the burning of incense every morning and evening (Exodus 30:1-9) and the continual burnt offering (Leviticus 6:9-13). The papal system of theology that was developed in the Middle Ages “takes away” every phase of the daily:

  1. The daily sacrifice of the lambs symbolized the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.  (1 Peter 1:18,19). This was “taken away” by the mass, in which the priest supposedly “creates” the body and blood of Christ in a “renewed sacrifice”[1] and gives it to the worshipers to eat for their salvation. 

  2. The continual presence of the bread represented Jesus as He is found in the Word of God that His people are to continually feed upon.[2] But God’s Word was superseded by the “holy tradition” and writings of the “fathers”.

  3. The ever-burning lamps represented the Holy Spirit working in every born-again believer, giving him gifts to bless the church.[3]  But the gifts of the Spirit became the propriety of the professional clergy, and set liturgies were introduced, which ruled out the moving of the Spirit and the active participation of the worshipers. 

  4. The daily offering of incense represented Christ’s mediation, mingling His prayers with ours and interceding for us.[4] But this was obscured by the  mediation of the priests, the saints and the Virgin Mary. 

  5. The continuous burnt offering represented the transforming, refining, sanctifying work of God in the life of the believer, purging him of his sinfulness as he repents and confesses his sins to God.[5]  But this was replaced by confession to the priest and works of penance to “atone” for sins, by ritualized prayers such as the rosary, by pilgrimages and the lighting of candles, and with purgatory after death if penance was inadequate.[6]

These doctrines and practices did not pop up overnight as the result of an assault by evil schemers. They were infused gradually by Satan himself as he inspired and prompted decisions that seemed good and honorable at the time, but which struck at the heart of the gospel. The powerful messages of the three angels begin by clarifying this most basic and crucial teaching—“the everlasting gospel.” We are saved, not because of what we do or what the priest does or what the “saints” do. Jesus Himself is the good news, because salvation is 100% of Christ. Even the faith that believes the gospel is a gift from Him. 

Continue to next section:    14:7  FEAR GOD AND GIVE GLORY TO HIM 

[1]  Joseph Pohle, “The Sacrifice of the Mass,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent.ort/cathen/10006a.htm accessed August 30, 2014.

[2]  Isaiah 54:10,11, Matthew 4:4, Amos 8:4, John 6:33,41

[3]  Revelation 4:5, 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, 14:26-31

[4]  Revelation 5:8, 8:3,4

[5]  1 John 1:9, Malachi 3:2,3, 1 Peter 1:6,7

[6]  The Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory teaches that the temporal penalty for sins committed after baptism must be paid through acts of penance. If these have not been adequate, purgatory, a “middle state” of torment between heaven and hell, exists where these debts will be settled. Prayers for the departed or indulgences granted by the pope can help the suffering soul finish his penance more quickly and move on to heaven. See Edward Hanna, "Purgatory," The Catholic Encyclopedia http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12575a.htm Accessed August 30, 2014.

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