The claim that salvation is by grace through faith, as important as it is, will not be the last issue of the great controversy between Satan and Christ. The last issue is going to be on obedience just as it was in the Garden of Eden. Therefore, Satan is going about trying to deceive as many as he can about the object of this test, the word of God as reflected in the Ten Commandments. Of all the commandments, as Ellen White stated, the fourth is going to be the object of this test as it is the one most controverted.
For that reason, Satan brings in deceptions from various angles to deceive as many as he possible can. One of these areas of deception is the identification of the lamb-like beast of Revelation 13 and its role in end time events as it pertains to the fourth commandment. Praise God, He did not leave His people without safeguards; one of which is the Spirit of Prophecy writings He gave to His remnant church. But of course, Satan has been successful in having most of Christendom to reject these writings and currently many in God’s remnant church. For this reason many now want to advance their own private interpretations as we are on the border of the heavenly Canaan. Below is a list the author’s concerns noted in quotations followed by my responses:
“…[Our] interpretation of America as a beast is framed around a very limited set of current events during the pioneers’ period. The creative reading of a time-bound context into an ancient text makes a universal or timeless application questionable.’ – For most Adventists, America still fits all the description of the second beast of Revelation 13, even though the pioneers had “limited set of current events” on which to draw this conclusion. Our basis for believing as the pioneers did is because no other country fits the descriptions depicted in Revelation 13 and not because we feel compelled to believe as the pioneers did.
“[Goldstein] ignores that while the pioneers predicted America’s speaking as a dragon, they did not in any way dismiss the idea that its existence was an act of providence.” – The establishment of Israel, that was divinely ordained, resulted in the destruction of many nations. The establishment of America as a republic also, unfortunately, resulted in the destruction of a group of people. God sets up nations and removes them. We will get a better understanding of why when we get to heaven. Until then, we have to live by faith, believing that God knows best, and His ways are beyond searching out. As God said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55: 8-9)
“Why are we not allowed to be as contextual as our pioneers? Why can’t we employ the same tools and frameworks to read our context into the biblical text?” – New light should not contradict old established truth. We are SDA Christians, and one of our fundamental beliefs is that we believe that God has blessed His remnant church with the gift of prophecy through the writings of Ellen White. She, along with the other pioneers, noted that the second beast is America. I am not aware of the church promoting the idea that today we can’t employ the same tools and frameworks used by the pioneers to read our context into the biblical text. I believe that the church is just saying that doing so should not contradict old established truth confirmed by God Himself through His prophet.
“Views of American exceptionalism are stubborn…This warped apocalypticism is not only demeaning but continues to reduce the Global South, where Christianity is a majority, to hapless agents.” -,The first book of the Bible focuses on Abraham and his descendants through the line of Isaac. This is not because God is a respecter of persons. This is because the Bible focuses on individuals, peoples and nations that have relevance to God’s salvation plan.
“However America fits into providential plans, in our sin-sick world, our prophetic message should provide the impetus for us to challenge racism, xenophobia, greed, and corruption—among other evils.” – The first angel message should take care of all these issues. The gospel message includes love to God and to our fellow mankind. It is within this context that the church usually address social issues.
“We have for years used apocalyptic themes to desensitize ourselves to the conditions around us…. At the present moment, we have been breeding escapists and conspiracy theorists whose eyes are on America more than their neighbors. This is why we end up throwing news headlines at each other to validate ourselves or discredit each other”. – This is because we are the church of Laodicea that God counsels to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, many of us know more about the beasts of Revelation than we know about the Lamb. Let’s pray for a revival of primitive godliness amongst us.
“Clearly, an interpretation of Revelation 13 highlighting America as the stage for a Sabbatarian remnant hunted by Americans who want to kill everyone who doesn’t keep Sunday holy sounded plausible to some in the past. But it does not today.” - The events of the last days will be unpredictable and sudden. We have a prelude of this with the toppling of the Soviet Union, attack on the twin towers, the attack on the Capital building, and the Covid-19 pandemic. The fact that one cannot see how the enforcement of a Sunday law can become a reality based on the ways things are now should not be a valid reason to reject the long-held belief of the our church that was confirmed by the SOP.
“Our pioneers read prophecy as an extension of their time, and so did Ellen White in her predictions. Our danger is in binding God to our calendar without being open to contesting views and critiques about America. Ignoring shifts in geographic relevance dangles Adventism’s witness on an irrelevant edge.” - Ellen White had no private predictions pertaining to prophecies; they were revelations from the Lord. Therefore, the claim that God is being bound to our calendar is not valid. God does not contradict Himself.
“But for now, there’s no greater scam than suggesting someone outside America must forget everything else and watch out for the fulfillment of a national Sunday law in the United States under conditions that no longer exist.” - I am not sure who is asking anyone to forget what is happening in other parts of the world in order to continue to identify America as the lamb-like beast. We are a global community and what happens in any part of the world can trigger an event in another part of the world.
“More than ever, we need to open up a conversation on this topic. Doing so is not a threat to Adventism but rather a challenge to our obsession with a national identity that borders on idolatry.” – I can imagine that the scoffers in Noah’s day accused him of making the ark an idol and pleaded with him to give up the idea of building one. Praise God that he did not acquiesce.