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Open Letter to David Gates and All Christians

 

Dear Pastor David Gates,

Your sermon entitled “The Wise Shall Understand” brought together several important Bible study topics that I have personally been studying since 2010 (thanks to God’s providence and the efforts of others). Therefore, your sermon began to move me (and the study group I am personally part of and speaking on behalf of) as we heard you preaching about these subjects and using the pastoral capacities God has entrusted to you, to bring these topics to the attention of others. It was a beginning to a wonderful study, and there is certainly much more to learn. May God use your sermon as a springboard for further discoveries to be made under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, and in the spirit of studying the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy together with you and others, we are addressing you with this letter. It is our hope and prayer—and our appeal to your sincerity in expressing a desire to study what others have written and published—that by entering this study with you, everyone can benefit as the Spirit guides us into all truth.

There is evidence that time is more advanced than you and others have assumed, and if so, it might be that your desire to have fewer than seven years of tribulation could become a reality through your efforts to study (and teach others) the things presented in the following paragraphs. Wouldn’t it be worth examining how to hasten the Lord’s return?

Perhaps the biggest key study point from your sermon was the idea that the starting event of the seven-year timeframe that you presented[1] would be when secular governments are given power to enforce the environmental laws and the Sunday law.[2] You described this as the power to execute penalties for violations, each nation in the context of its own laws. We understand this to be a reference to the abomination of desolation of Daniel as well as the mark-of-the-beast law of Revelation 13.

Personally, assigning this event to a future date struck me as incongruous with the present circumstances of the coronavirus lockdown, which you also clearly associated with the siege of Jerusalem. At that time, the Roman army surrounding Jerusalem was understood as the abomination of desolation, and thus Christians (knowing the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 24) were able to flee. But how can you be sure the present lockdown is the first siege and not the second?

Remember, BOTH historical sieges (the first in the autumn of AD 66 and second in the spring of AD 70) were marked by the presence of the Roman army surrounding the holy city. In the antitypical sense, this would mean that the mark-of-the-beast law (and the environmental laws as a vehicle for it, which is to be understood primarily as the Paris Agreement) must be in force at the time of both sieges. So, regardless of whether the present lockdown correlates to the first siege or the second, we must be able to identify the Roman standard as a visible element in the world today. This is our duty as heralds of the third angel’s message![3]

If we in Seventh-day Adventism cannot explain where the mark of the beast is today, then we have lost our prophetic relevance—because everyone who is affected by the lockdown already feels that the world is under siege, and if we cannot explain in light of Bible prophecy how the Roman standard is in force today, while the siege is in force, then we have failed in our core mission as heralds of the third angel’s message! I do not believe this must be the case, but I say this to emphasize how critical and urgent this topic is, in light of our mission.

And if, on the other hand, we believe that the environmental laws that are in force today already include the mark of the beast in a subtle form, then we cannot rule out the possibility that the present lockdown is actually the second siege, because the same environmental laws that are in force today have been hanging over the world for three and a half years.

Let’s review the facts about the Paris Agreement, which was obviously supported by Pope Francis as the vehicle for the implementation of the environmental policy he promoted in Laudato Si’.[4] [5] The facts are available on Wikipedia’s Paris Agreement page. The agreement was opened for signatures from April 22, 2016 to April 21, 2017 (one year). However, “[t]he agreement stated that it would enter into force (and thus become fully effective) only if 55 countries that produce at least 55% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions (according to a list produced in 2015) ratify, accept, approve or accede to the agreement.”

That means we have to track the progress of signatures and ratification to know when it entered into force. This was a topic in the news of the day, which Wikipedia also summarizes:

175 Parties (174 states and the European Union) signed the agreement on the first date it was open for signature.... With ratification by the European Union, the Agreement obtained enough parties to enter into effect as of 4 November 2016.[6]

As of that date, the Paris Agreement was “fully effective” and nations had the power to make and enforce their own laws pursuant to climate change goals. In light of the present crisis in the spring of 2020, this data alone should give every student of Matthew 24 a reason to pay attention, because (if a deeper inspection corroborates this) it would suggest a clear parallel between the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world as follows:

Suggested Timeline

However, we still have to understand how the Roman army surrounded the holy city. It is clear that the Paris Agreement entered into force on November 4, 2016 (thirty days after the threshold criteria were crossed), but what is the Roman standard that was erected on holy ground? What is the abomination of desolation that Jesus spoke of?

The same question must be asked of the coronavirus lockdown siege today, and you will have to ask yourself the same question in the autumn of 2020 or at any other future point when you think the first or second siege might begin.

The solution to this is not as simple as knowing a special codeword. No, it requires wisdom to understand it. If the abomination of desolation were as easy to recognize as a Sunday law, would Jesus have reiterated that it requires understanding? Clearly not.

Daniel said “the wise shall understand” this topic, and Jesus said “whoso readeth, let him understand.” In other words, understanding of this matter is found among the wise, and those who read what the wise have written about it will have an opportunity to understand too. This principle is echoed in the book of Revelation:

Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. (Revelation 13:18–14:3)

Is it just coincidence that the 144,000 are introduced as learning a new song immediately after wisdom and understanding of the beast are called for? Remember, even our Adventist pioneers had to put forth effort to study to understand what the mark of the beast is, and they found the Sunday law—but we cannot rest on their laurels! What will we find it to be?[7]

It might be worth reviewing how Adventists historically came to understand the Sunday law in the first place. The third angel’s message revived the knowledge of God’s law, especially the fourth commandment, which says that the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord. This had been almost universally forgotten by the time the third angel’s message began. As the importance of the seventh day as the seal of creation was understood, Sunday worship was recognized for what it is: a counterfeit and the mark of the Roman church: a new guise for the same old pagan worship of the creation (which started on the first day) rather than the Creator (who rested on the seventh). But what permanently solidified the Sunday law in the Adventist mind is the fact that a Sunday law almost passed through the US Congress in the late 1880s—and would have, had it not been for one congressman’s vote that was swayed through the efforts of A.T. Jones.

If we look at our day in comparison to theirs, we can see some parallels and some differences. The third angel’s message has not changed, nor has the law of God, and Rome still worships the creation. However, the great test of recent years that has flooded the media, the legislature, the business world, the churches, and indeed the whole of society, has admittedly not been the Sabbath truth. It has been the question of marriage, the other fourth commandment (counting from the end)! It is the twin institution that has been the subject of test for our time!

He referred them to the blessed days of Eden when God pronounced all things “very good.” Then marriage and the Sabbath had their origin, twin institutions for the glory of God in the benefit of humanity. {AH 340.4}

Can we break one commandment and still keep the law? Or, can we destroy one of the twin institutions without destroying the other?

The Sabbath and the family were alike instituted in Eden, and in God’s purpose they are indissolubly linked together. {Ed 250.2}

Surely you would agree that it is God’s purpose for the Sabbath to be kept, and that if the whole world rejects the Sabbath by a universal Sunday law, then in God’s purpose the end has come. But from the quote above, we also know from the Spirit of Prophecy that the same thing applies to the marriage institution! It is God’s purpose that marriage be kept between a man and a woman, and if the whole world rejects God’s design for marriage by its laws, then for God’s purpose the end has come.

In other words, if a Sunday law can be the abomination of desolation, then so can a law that forces acceptance of same-sex marriage.[8] We who have lived and cried in an age where holy matrimony has been utterly desecrated should be able to recognize it as the abomination that causes desolation—the standard of Roman emperors[9] that has been erected on the last holy soil of Eden on Earth.

In relation to the timeline chart above, the abomination of desolation—the mark of the beast—would be placed shortly before the first siege. It is well known that acceptance of same-sex marriage was mandated by the United States Supreme Court as national law in the summer of 2015, not long before the environmental laws went into force for the first time in the autumn of 2016. Then, in addition to the fact that similar laws were enacted by many other nations both before and after the US Supreme Court’s decision, it went truly universal through the climate deal under the guise of gender equality. Quoting from the Council on Foreign Relations:

The deal builds on the understanding that women can do a tremendous amount to confront climate change. For example, the preamble calls for gender equality and women’s empowerment…[10]

And gender equality and LGBTQ tolerance go hand-in-hand; gender equality is the substrate on which LGBTQ thrives. In this way, Rome obliges the world to accept same-sex marriage for the sake of climate.

Thus, the Roman standard can be seen. However, when the Paris Agreement went into effect in 2016, nations did not immediately attack the people with it, even though they had the power. That was the first siege, where no attack was made. However, in 2020, the nations are now exerting their force, under the pretext of the coronavirus pandemic, to help the environment. It is the age-old act of worshiping (obeying) the god Nature instead of nature’s God (like sun worship), and this time the police and military forces are involved. Hunger is on the way (which was not a problem in Jerusalem’s first, brief siege).

To close this letter, I would like to leave you with a riddle. The reason for the withdrawal of the Roman army from Jerusalem in AD 66 is unknown. It was one of the worst military blunders in Roman history and has no logical explanation:

The Syrian legion then invested Jerusalem, but for uncertain reasons and despite initial gains withdrew back towards the coast, where it was ambushed and defeated by Judean rebels at the Battle of Beth Horon, a result that shocked the Imperial leadership. The defeat of the Romans in Beth Horon is considered one of the worst military defeats of the Roman Empire by a rebel province throughout its history.[11]

Could the missing explanation be a clue to understanding our times? Because no reason is known for their retreat, it is considered a miracle on behalf of the Christians who were in Jerusalem. However, what do you think the Christians in Jerusalem were doing, once they saw their city besieged? It is not hard to imagine that they recognized the sign from the mouth of the Lord and were praying to Him, asking Him to open the way of salvation for His children—because not one Christian died in the fall of Jerusalem.[12]

Now why didn’t Rome, in the antitypical case, wage war on behalf of the environment in the autumn of 2016, as soon as it was in their power to do so? If you still believe we are in the first siege today, then you owe an explanation for why Rome waited three and a half years to attack. If you solve that riddle, then you will also know how Revelation 7 fulfilled—a subject that was emphasized in vision.[13] But we are now in the second siege, because now people are dying, people are getting hungry, people can’t move—it has gone beyond temporary[14] [15]—and all of those things speak the language of the second siege. There is no question that war—the long, drawn-out coronavirus war—is on too many lips, while (sadly) the third angel’s message is being preached by very, very few.

If one really wants a Sunday law in the autumn of 2020, perhaps one could join Jonathan Kahn in praying for it—but wouldn’t it be so much nicer to come apart from the world now and join as brothers and sisters to sound the loud cry without further delay?

May the Holy Spirit lead us into all truth, as promised.

Yours,

 

Robert Dickinson
with John & Linda Scotram, Ray & Yormary Dickinson, Gerhard & Regina Traweger
and the rest of our extended family in Christ.

LastCountdown.org | WhiteCloudFarm.org

1.
In reference to minute 51:30 in the video
2.
For those who would like to understand the Sunday law, please read The Mark of the Beast
3.
For those who are not familiar with the third angel’s message, it begins in Revelation 14:9 and warns against receiving the mark of the beast. 
5.
Benedict XVI’s Caritas in veritate of 2009 also played an important role in addressing the global societal issues and promoting the establishment of global power structures. 
6.
The same Wikipedia article explains that the ratification by the EU was received on October 5, 2016, which triggered the 30-day countdown to enforcement. 
7.
Ellen G. White – The mark of the beast is exactly what it has been proclaimed to be. Not all in regard to this matter is yet understood nor will it be understood until the unrolling of the scroll.—Testimonies for the Church 6:17 (1900). {LDE 17.2} See also: The Book of Seven Seals 
8.
Deeper studies on the relationship between marriage and the Sabbath can be found in several of the articles we have published on our websites, namely, The Death of the Twins (beginning with the heading The National Sodomy Law) and, for our study plan subscribers, The Mark of the Beast and The Stench of the First Plague, Part III
9.
In reference to same-sex relations practiced by the emperors of Rome. 
11.
12.
The Great Controversy, p. 30.2 
13.
Early Writings, p. 36.1 
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