The reason man worships God stems from two foundational facts. First is that God is the Creator who made us, and the second is brought forth from the first which is that as Creator He bought us again by redemption. Wherever, in the Bible, His claim to reverence and worship, above the gods of the heathen, is presented, there is cited the evidence of His creative power. “All the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.” Psalm 96:5. “ ‘To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?’ says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things.” “For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it . . . : ‘I am the Lord, and there is no other.’ ” Isaiah 40:25, 26; 45:18. Says the psalmist: “Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves.” “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” Psalms 100:3; 95:6. And the holy beings who worship God in heaven state, as the reason why their homage is due to Him: “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things.” Revelation 4:11.
In Revelation 14, men are called upon to worship the Creator; and the prophecy brings to view a class that, as the result of the threefold message, are keeping the commandments of God. One of these commandments points directly to God as the Creator. The fourth precept declares: “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. . . . For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:10, 11. Concerning the Sabbath, the Lord says, further, that it is “a sign, . . . that you may know that I am the Lord your God.” Ezekiel 20:20. And the reason given is: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.” Exodus 31:17.
“The importance of the Sabbath as the memorial of creation is that it keeps ever present the true reason why worship is due to God”—because He is the Creator, and we are His creatures. “The Sabbath therefore lies at the very foundation of divine worship, for it teaches this great truth in the most impressive manner, and no other institution does this. The true ground of divine worship, not of that on the seventh day merely, but of all worship, is found in the distinction between the Creator and His creatures. This great fact can never become obsolete, and must never be forgotten.”—J. N. Andrews, History of the Sabbath, chapter 27. It was to keep this truth ever before the minds of men, that God instituted the Sabbath in Eden; and so long as the fact that He is our Creator continues to be a reason why we should worship Him, so long the Sabbath will continue as its sign and memorial. Had the Sabbath been universally kept, man’s thoughts and affections would have been led to the Creator as the object of reverence and worship, and there would never have been an idolater, an atheist, or an infidel. The keeping of the Sabbath is a sign of loyalty to the true God, “Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” It follows that the message which commands men to worship God and keep His commandments will especially call upon them to keep the fourth commandment.
Worshiping the Beast and receiving His Mark
In contrast to those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus, the third angel points to another class, against whose errors a solemn and fearful warning is uttered: “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God.” Revelation 14:9, 10. A correct interpretation of the symbols employed is necessary to an understanding of this message. What is represented by the beast, the image, the mark?
The line of prophecy in which these symbols are found begins with Revelation 12, with the dragon that sought to destroy Christ at His birth. The dragon is said to be Satan (Revelation 12:9); he it was that moved upon Herod to put the Saviour to death. But the chief agent of Satan in making war upon Christ and His people during the first centuries of the Christian Era was the Roman Empire, in which paganism was the prevailing religion. Thus while the dragon, primarily, represents Satan, it is, in a secondary sense, a symbol of pagan Rome.
In chapter 13 (verses 1-10) is described another beast, “like a leopard,” to which the dragon gave “his power, his throne, and great authority.” This symbol, as most Protestants have believed, represents the papacy, which succeeded to the power and seat and authority once held by the ancient Roman empire. Of the leopardlike beast it is declared: “He was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies. . . . Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.” This prophecy, which is nearly identical with the description of the little horn of Daniel 7, unquestionably points to the papacy.
“He was given authority to continue for forty-two months.” Verse 5. And, says the prophet, “I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded.” Verse 3. And again: “He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword.” Verse 10. The forty and two months are the same as the “time and times and half a time,” (Daniel 7:25) three years and a half, or 1260 days, of Daniel 7—the time during which the papal power was to oppress God’s people. This period, as stated in preceding chapters, began with the supremacy of the papacy, A.D. 538, and terminated in 1798. At that time the pope was made captive by the French army, the papal power received its deadly wound, and the prediction was fulfilled, “He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity.”