Individuals who professed to believe in the ‘complete and correct’ biblical doctrine of the Mark of the Beast, as essentially expounded in chapters 13 & 14 of Revelation in the King James Version, ought to exercise serious thoughtfulness and precaution with the use of and the reliance on the internet (www.World Wide Web).
There is no question about the value and the extent of information technology, as this fact becomes most evident and relevant with the unprecedented ‘global lockdown’ problems due to the COVID-19 epidemic. However, the inducement and fascination of social media and on-line activities including for congregational purposes, can lead to addiction and destruction of the mind, body and soul.
During this testing time of the pandemic, the Holy Spirit must be earnestly implored for direction and fortitude to live in this world but without transforming and conforming to its provisions, practices and ploys; Rom. 12 : 1 – 2, Jn. 17 : 15 – 17, 1 Jn. 2 : 15, Col. 3 : 2, James 4 : 4, Matt. 6 : 24, and 1 Peter 2 : 9.
Adventist Christians, especially those of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) church, would boast about firmly having the sacred truth of the Creator God and about rightly addressing the realities on the revelations of biblical prophecies, on the unfolding of end time events and on the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
The SDA church attests that the Mark of the Beast is an end time spiritual event involving acceptance and adherence to the papal system with its “false” Sunday worship as a pivotal element; the scriptures of Daniel and Revelation identify this “antichrist” papal system of the historic Roman Empire.
Head of the SDA world church, Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson speaks on the pandemic of COVID-19, “….we are living in the very end of time. Now this crisis is not the final crisis; it is not the end, but …. it is leading up. It is a precursor to the very end of time”. He then encouraged everyone to sign-up via a mentioned website to join for participation in a previously planned 100 Days of Prayer (March 27 – July 4, 2020).
Pastor Wilson did not exemplify and stress that the issue of the Mark of the Beast may well be integral of the pandemic scenario, neither did he remind his fellow Sabbath-keepers that the final crises will be of rapid succession and intensity.
According to Ellen G. White; “….The agencies of evil are combining their forces and consolidating. They are strengthening for the last great crisis. Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones.—Testimonies for the Church 9:11 (1909).
Anyhow, it is imperative for every Christian to acknowledge the lessons of the Day of Atonement and the Close of Probation, within the context of spiritual preparations for the final crisis and the final judgment (Daniel, 8 & 12).
The internet-circulated article, “Grenada Seventh Day Adventists Contravene And Discredit Their Religious Faith” may have aroused the displeasure of the executive of the GCSDA and which could lead to its pursuit for punitive actions.
Quite striking however, are the intolerance, insults, obscenities, threats and venom delivered against the article by some stalwart members of the GCSDA on NowGrenada, as well as on its corresponding face-book page.
Those devoted affiliates show their resoluteness, and preach on what or in whom they have a relationship and responsibility; church or Christ. Indeed; the conviction and bearing of those ‘active religious churchgoers’ on the account of the Christian reformers such as Martin Luther who criticised the Catholic Church, as presented in the SDA’s cherished “Great Controversy”, have been exposed and tested.
Whilst the focus was opining, justifiably so or not, on the “spiritual strength and standard shepherding” of the GCSDA’s executive, considering its “hasty decision” made in response to the national request for Social Distancing to combat the spread of COVID-19, the article was not advocating disobedience, carelessness, irresponsibility and foolishness concerning the government, laws of the land and the welfare, security and the faith vs work of believers.
The referred article also try to raise the consciousness that the aftermath of the pandemic will be a drastically new world socio-economic era of extraordinary paradigm with far-reaching changes (‘including challenges for religious denominations’).… key features of the new reality and normality would be digital currencies, electronic transactions with artificial intelligence, virtual assemblies, biometric registrations and tracings with Personal Identification Numbers; all evolving toward uniform life processes under the United Nations and the universal Mark of the Beast …. on-line worship and the use of Information Technology for important meetings (‘and various occupations’) …. is on a very dangerous slippery slope .… for smoothly accepting and worshipping the Mark of the Beast ‘in the Web’.
The executive and members of the GCSDA hold the view that there was no threat to their religious faith and/or to their form of worship, and that they have the privileged ‘on-line’ alternate avenue for church services. What exploded then was the elation, glorification and idolising of this versatile contemporary technological mechanism.
Despite there was no direct attack on Sabbath worship, the ardent and faithful Adventist Christians should not be complacent and in denial, but must perceive that the ‘writing is on the wall’. The pertinent arguments, theories, falloffs, interruptions and regulations about the pandemic must be treated as orchestrated test-pieces to blind, divert, soften and weaken the spiritual resistance for the actuality of the Mark of the Beast.
It should be the urgency of the GCSDA, not merely to rise in proclaiming the Present Truth, especially in light of the global pandemic, but for it to recognise the intensifying spiritual pitfall of the internet and to advise accordingly its congregations about the so-called On-Line worshipping. The spiritual and soothing worth of the Old Time Religion is irrefutable.
Although access is taken for granted, the ‘general people’ do not have any serious control using the internet, transactions and information operations are processed in cyberspace. All of the internet apparatus and platforms, as well as its architectural and application software have restrictions and regulations, service infrastructure, extra accessories and entry password are typical.
Security, integrity and privacy on the internet is challenged and being compromised, personal invasion is evident with viruses, hacking, pop-up forms of allurement, advertisement, entertainment, pornography, propaganda, false doctrine, etc.
In fact, an individual can experience a sudden shock by a ‘lock-down’ of or by a ‘lock-out’ from the internet, with much more inconvenience and instability as brought on by the pandemic.
The Mark of the Beast must be viewed holistically, in its widest context and sense, it is about personal survival, psychological strength and spiritual faith. Its ‘licensing effects’ would not be limited to trade but include other issues such as service, travelling and socialising – all features of on-line shopping.
There are ‘radical and stringent’ initiatives and developments along with the pandemic, formulation of digital currency, implementation of digital identification, introduction of digital injection, marketing of 5G frequency radiation, authentication for Sunday Law, advancement of economic unification, curtailment of rights and freedom.
Securing the Bible and referencing material such as gospel songs and spiritual commentaries on smart-phones would soon be ‘no more a luxury’, and thus having the prophetic Amos 8: 11 becomes a reality with a ‘longing and searching’ for the word of God but it cannot be found.
The pandemic has brought much ‘uncertainty and anxiety’ even for professed Christians, and various church and civic organisations have been arranging programmes of Love, Peace, Kindness and Joy to cope.
Some have been calling for and engaging in “prayer and fast” but this rewarding spiritual endeavour can be degraded to a ‘futile style’ rather than be of ‘meaningful substance’, as admonished in Isaiah 58 and John 4: 24.
Moreover, it behooves everyone to pray without ceasing, in season and out of season (1 Thess. 5: 17 & 2 Tim. 4: 2). Critical for Bible believers and churchgoers is the need for spiritual reflection and revival, with renewed hope in the Creator and Saviour, considering the global epidemic as a sign of the times and with On-line worshipping/evangelising/witnessing/reaching-out only as a secondary alternative mode in showing reverence to and reliance on God as the one in control.