Sabbath School Lesson for May 26-June 1, 2018
As we take our first look at the second angel’s message, we must recognize what Babylon is. The angel speaks of it this way:
“And another angel followed, saying, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’ “ Revelation 14:8 NKJV
The same cry about Babylon falling was given in the book of Isaiah (ch. 21, v. 9). It was an accurate prediction of the actual fall of the Babylonian Empire, when the Medes and Persians seized their capital city during the reign of Belshazzar. This occurred just after Daniel interpreted the mysterious handwriting on the wall at Belshazzar’s riotous feast (Daniel 5).
So, what does Babylon refer to in our day, the last days before Christ’s return? What constitutes Babylon’s fornication? Isaiah 21:9 mentions “the carved images of her gods”. Could these images be related to the image more fully described in the third angel’s message?
This week we will study the deceptions Satan has been craftily using to infiltrate God’s church. These deceptions represent the same idolatry of pagan religions of the past. But they now look so similar to the truth and have been around so many centuries that it is very hard for the followers of God to detect their presence.
“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.” Revelation 12:9 NKJV
John makes it abundantly clear in this verse who the dragon refers to in his recorded visions in the book of Revelation. He also exposes Satan’s plot to deceive the whole world. And yet, the world today, for the most part, either downplays his presence (relegating him to a mythical creature, with horns and tail), or refuses to acknowledge Satan’s existence at all. Perhaps this is one of his most clever deceptions, which allows his other deceptions to go undetected.
Sunday: The Grandest Deception
2 Corinthians 2:11 says, “lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.” NKJV Unfortunately today, many are not only ignorant of his devices, they even doubt that he exists at all. At best, they view him an entity that represents evil and suffering in our world, but they don’t see him as the literal, supernatural being who is described in the Bible.
This refusal to see Satan as a real being makes it difficult to have a conversation about the great controversy between Christ and Satan that has thrown our planet into such an upheaval. Without knowledge of this controversy, the plan of salvation is never fully understood, which is just what Satan desires. Without understanding the full implications of our salvation, we are also hindered in understanding God’s character, and are less likely to give Him the praise and worship He deserves.
Read 2 Corinthians 2:11. How has much of the world come to disregard the existence of Satan, and how does this affect their ability to recognize the power he has over their lives?
Read Revelation 2:12, 13, Ephesians 6:17, and Hebrews 4:12. How is the Bible one of our greatest tool in not being deceived by Satan’s deceptions?
Read Revelation 12:11. The Bible helps us know Satan, but what helps us not be defeated by him?
Monday: The Two Great Errors
There were two errors in what the serpent told Eve in the Garden of Eden, as he attempted to get her to disobey God. He said…
- You will not die. (Genesis 3:4)
- You will be like God. (Genesis 3:5)
Pagan religions, including Egypt, also believed that…
- we don’t die, that we are immortal (thus the massive pyramids were built to house their dead monarchs in the afterlife).
- we are created by our own powers (like the beetle they worshiped, which crawled out of dung, and apparently created itself out of nothing).
Most modern religions, including Christianity, likewise believe…
- that our soul is immortal, that it goes on living immediately after our body dies (eventually leading to spiritualism and New Age beliefs)
- that we evolved over long periods of time and/or came from lower forms of life (encompassed in the theory of evolution)
As Christians, we must hold fast to these truths…
- death is a temporary sleep, our resurrection occurs at the Second Coming (” ‘Our friend Lazarus sleeps…’ John 11:11 and “…many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake…” Daniel 12:2)
- God created us and the world in six, literal days (“…It is God who has made us, and not we ourselves;” Psalm 100:3)
Read Genesis 2:4, 5. What two lies were told Eve in the Garden, and how has Satan promoted them over and over throughout human history?
Read Matthew 24:4, 5 and 2 Corinthians 11:13-15. How does Satan infiltrate the ranks of God’s people and how has God’s message of salvation been altered by their influence? How has modern religion, for the most part, promoted belief in these two lies?
Read Revelation 20:7-10. What is Satan’s final attempt to deceive, and how will it seal his fate?
Tuesday: The Immortality of the Soul
The state of the dead is a critical issue that must be understood in these last days. Proponents of New Age religions, which developed toward the end of the twentieth century, were largely noted for their spiritualistic leanings and practice of channeling. Even scientists, depending on logic and reason, were impressed by the many reports of near-death experiences (called NDEs) by people of all ages and religions all over the world.
It has been hard not to be enticed into believing that our soul, or spirit, goes somewhere upward to heaven immediately when we die, making us actually immortal (1 Timothy 6:15, 16 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-54). With that belief, we also are led into believing that our loved ones are capable of returning to us in spirit form. Spirits do exist, but the Bible teaches us that they are not the spirits of the dead, but of wicked, evil angels bent on turning us away from God (Ephesians 6:12 and 2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
Thus, God denounces witches and spirit mediums for their dangerous work of calling the dead up from the grave (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). Keep in mind that even the devil can transform himself into an angel of light. We mustn’t be fooled by the false premise that we go immediately to our reward after we die. The Bible clearly teaches that when Jesus comes again, His reward is with Him (Revelation 22:12).
Read Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, Psalm 115:17 and Daniel 12:2. What is the state of the dead, according to these verses?
Read Psalm 146:4, Ecclesiastes 12:7, and Genesis 2:7. What is the spirit that departs and returns to God?
Read Deuteronomy 18:10-12 and Ephesians 6:12. Why are occult practices condemned by God? Who do they lead us to worship?
Wednesday: Sabbath and the Theory of Evolution
Satan’s lies about our death, dating clear back to the Garden of Eden (“You shall not surely die.”), are further perpetrated in his next lie, which led to the substitution for God’s holy Sabbath. Calling God’s people away from the day that God established for our worship of Him as Creator made it all the easier for the theory of evolution to take root and grow.
The lie, “You shall be like God”, was behind the papal decree that declared the first day holy, instead of God’s Sabbath. The change of days has called us away from worshiping God as Creator, and has thus allowed the theory of evolution to be accepted as well.
Even a casual reader of Genesis notices two very important points about creation:
- The entire process was not random (it did not come about by chance), but was executed with precise planning and forethought.
- Each creature was made after its own kind and was distinctly different from the others (there was no common ancestry that naturally came from some primeval single cell).
The Sabbath, a day which commemorates God’s creation, has been abandoned and forgotten by most of Christianity. This has sadly led to creation, and thus our Creator, becoming merely a myth, not to be taken too literally or seriously. No one can deny that evolution has gone even further and caused many to be atheists as well, much to Satan’s delight.
Read Genesis 1:1-3, 26, 2:1-3 and John 1:1-5. How were the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit involved in the creation of our world?
Read Exodus 20:8-11. How important is the Sabbath to a full understanding of God?
Read Psalm 100:3-5. How does the acceptance of God as our Creator affect our worship?
Thursday: The Counterfeit Trinity
You may not have thought of Revelation 13 as portraying a counterfeit trinity of sorts. But we can’t overlook the fact that the three entities involved might very well represent, in some fashion, the three beings of the godhead. Examining their nature we find that…
- the dragon (clearly identified as Satan in Revelation 12:9) could correspond to the Father God, who seems to be the one in control
- the sea beast (receiving his authority from the dragon) might represent the Son of God,
- who “was given dominion and glory and a kingdom…which shall not pass away…” Daniel 7:13, 14 NKJV, Matthew 28:18
- this beast also was dead and “was healed”, Revelation 13:3, sounding like Jesus who was dead and raised to life again
- he exerted authority for “forty-two months” (v. 5), equaling the three-and-a-half years of Christ’s ministry
- the land beast (this beast performs signs and wonders, even calling down fire from heaven, v. 13, and promotes the interests of the sea beast, v. 12, 15-17) which one might see as representing the Holy Spirit
- the Holy Spirit’s work at Pentecost after Christ’s crucifixion involved fire: “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing wind…Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.” Acts 2:2, 3 NKJV
- “…He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak…He will glorify Me..” John 16:13, 14 NKJV
Keep in mind that these symbols do not represent the godhead (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), but they represent a counterfeit godhead. They are one of the many deceptions that Satan has created and promoted, in order to substitute himself as the object of worship, in place of the true God.
[Historically speaking, one might have another application for this particular chapter in Revelation. Some have seen the sea beast as papal Rome, receiving its power from the dragon. (Martin Luther and most of the Protestant reformers saw the pope as the anti-christ. Without going into detail, there are many passages in Daniel and Revelation which support this interpretation.) The land beast might also represent the Western Hemisphere, perhaps even the United States, beginning as a peaceable lamb-like country, but speaking more and more like the dragon, Rev. 13:11.]
Read Revelation 12:9, 17, 13:2. Who is clearly in charge of the sea and land beasts we see arising in chapter 13 of Revelation?
Read Revelation 13:3-5. How do many of these identifying marks sound like they might correspond to the life and ministry of Jesus?
Read Revelation 13:11-17, Acts 2, 3, and John 16:13, 14. What do the land beast and the Holy Spirit have in common?
Examining the second angel’s message in Revelation 14, we find that Babylon will promote Satan’s deceptions, and therefore, this week we look at what those deceptions are.
- The Babylonian Empire reminds us of the dangers of pride. We have only to read the book of Daniel to see how pride was connected with that regime.
- The tower of Babel (from which the name is derived) reminds us of the confusion of languages that ensued after the prideful act of building a tower to heaven after the flood.
Here’s how Satan has tried to confuse the nations of the world:
- He downplays his role and even his existence (Sunday)
- His first lies to Eve in the Garden have been promoted down through the ages (Monday)
- “You shall not die” is heard in the prevalent belief in the immortality of the soul (Tuesday)
- “You shall be like God” is found in the change of the Sabbath, and the belief in evolution that followed (Wednesday)
- Satan has endeavored to counterfeit the trinity through these deceptions, portrayed in the beasts of Revelation 13 (Thursday)
Let’s not forget that our best defense against Satan’s attacks is to rely on Jesus to fight our battles. Jesus gives us tools for this fight, such as faith, Bible study, and prayer. We are no match for Satan without the Son of God.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 NKJV
FAITH: Don’t trust your senses or your emotions. Both are targets of Satan. Our faith must be in God, not in how we feel or what we see.
“above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” Ephesians 6:16 NKJV
BIBLE STUDY: The Bible will arm you by revealing who Satan is and his deceptions.
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;” Ephesians 6:17 NKJV
PRAYER: Never stop praying for victory. They say nothing makes Satan tremble more than a saint of God on his knees.
“praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…” Ephesians 6:18 NKJV
Keep up the good fight by using these tools, and you won’t be fooled by Satan’s deceptions.
Next Week’s Lesson: America and Babylon
To read the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly or see more resources for its study, go to https://www.absg.adventist.org/
All Outlook blogposts by Teresa Thompson, are at http://outlookmag.org/author/teresathompson/