I was challenged by an Adventist brother over a previous article where I have expressed the view that the National Sunday Law does not constitute the mark of the beast. I was expecting a response like this because I know that this is not the orthodox view of the Sabbath-keeping community in general and the Seventh-day Adventist in particular.
The general view is that the National Sunday Law will become the mark of the beast, but is not the mark of the beast today. Their arguments stems from the idea that the beast of Revelation 13 is a symbol of the papacy, and because the papacy declared Sunday to be the mark of their ecclesiastical authority, they conclude Sunday observance to be the mark of the beast.
When I was first introduced to this view, it sounds valid. The reason why I accepted it to some degree was because of the glaring evidence (both historically and at the present) of a conspiracy to exalt Sunday keeping at the expense of the Sabbath. Statements and declarations like the one I referred to above was enough for me to at least conclude that where the National Sunday Law is concerned, the way is being paved for future developments.
We need to give the SDA’s some credit for their thoughtful analysis of Bible prophecy to be able to arrive at a conclusion like this where there is not a precise mention of any such thing as a Sunday legislation in the Bible. I believe that certain conclusions can be arrived at by deductive reasoning. This is what the SDA did why they are now predicting such an event.
While I remain a firm believer in the National Sunday Law prediction, since I did some Biblical research on this matter in connection with end-time prophecy in general, I began to have second thoughts about its application to the mark of the beast. And this is where I believe Sabbath keepers should do some research work and don’t just be satisfied that what they generally believe is without error.
In my research of the subject I have identified several factors that led to my change of opinion. They are listed below:
The idea that Sunday observance is the mark of the beast but it is not the mark of the beast today.
I now realized that there is a serious problem with this view. You cannot be teaching to two things that are opposite in the same breath. If you are saying that the National Sunday Law is the mark of the beast on account of the papal claim that it is the mark of their authority, then we cannot turn around and say Sunday keeping is not the mark of the beast today. It either is or is not the mark of the beast. We cannot have it both ways. And then on top of that we have the difficulty of explaining why it will be the mark of the beast in the future but not today!
It is based on flawed interpretation of who or what the beast is a symbol of
While I accept that the papacy will play a dominant role in the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, I believe we are ignoring the precise instruction of the scriptures concerning what the solution is to the beast symbol. It is too loose an interpretation to just say that the beast is the papacy. All we need to do is to implicitly accept what the Bible interprets and we will all be on track. Because we do not do this we end up with inaccurate deductions. When a doctrine is built on false premise we can be sure that it is not the truth.
The mark of the beast is treated as a symbol without setting forth what the Bible’s interpretation is
Many theologians both in and outside the Sabbath-keeping community do not fully appreciate the principle of allowing the Bible to provide the interpretation for every symbol. The practice has always been to paraphrase what the Bible interprets and/or to arbitrarily determine an element in a prophecy to be a symbol to be interpreted. This is the kind of thinking that produces the idea that a National Sunday Law will be the mark of the beast.
When I consider this interpretation, two questions always come to mind:
1. How do we know that the mark of the beast is a symbol to be interpreted, and not literal?
2. Having determined the mark of the beast to be a symbol, how do we know that it is supposed to be interpreted to mean Sunday observance since we are not supposed to know the interpretation of any symbol unless we are so informed by the word of God (Gen. 40:8)?
The SDAs have always been championing the mantra, ‘The Bible is its own interpreter’. If they are to hold true to this mantra they would have to reconsider their position on the mark of the beast issue.
A symbolic interpretation of what the mark of the beast is just cannot fit into John’s description of how people will relate to it
John clearly tells us that the people will take the mark of the beast in their foreheads and in their right hands. How do we take the National Sunday Law in our foreheads and right hands?
The Adventists have an interpretation for this. They claim that it is when you knowingly consent to Sunday keeping that you take the mark in your forehead, while taking it in your right hand means you conform to the law just to get by (I am still aware of these old arguments). But if you are a firm believer that the scriptures interpret themselves you will realize that this position has nothing to do with what the Bible has instructed.
While the validity of a National Sunday Law is beyond question we must be careful lest we damage the credibility of the arguments in its support. By associating it with other elements in Bible prophecy that does not carry with it the weight of Bible instructions, we run the risk of damaging the fundamental truth that the Bible must be allowed to interpret itself.