I'm often asked by Adventist audiences about the imminence of Sunday laws. One of my typical responses is that when I graduated from law school, they gave me a law license, not a crystal ball! Although I understand Adventists' desire to know when or how prophecy will be fulfilled, I think there is a much more important question: In light of our prophetic insight, what message should we be sharing now?
From my perspective, the focus must be on the second angel's message as it relates to the first. Here's why: The second angel warns against the union of church and state. The fall of the religious power, "Babylon," is due to her immoral intimacy with the kings of the earth, the state. She makes all nations do her bidding, enforcing her religious teachings by law. Today, American churches have shifted their emphasis from evangelism and preaching to politics. The gospel message has been watered down. Where once the emphasis was on repentance and holiness, today it is on believing. Where once believers were taught that those who are justified will live by faith, today the message is that they are saved by an act of faith. The gospel has been denuded of its power (see Romans 1:16, 17).
The prophetic message is that a spiritually powerless church seeks a substitute for the power of God in the power of the state. Politics replaces the Holy Spirit as the engine of moral and spiritual revival. So it is today in America. Moreover, this is the fruit of generations of antinomianism. Beginning in the nineteenth century, Protestant America rejected the law of God as the standard of character in the judgment, effectively rejecting the sanctifying influence of God's Spirit. It is no wonder that a false doctrine of the Holy Spirit has swept the globe. Emotional enthusiasm has replaced humble obedience.
The first and second angels' messages cannot be separated. It is the rejection of the first message—the everlasting gospel, its emphasis on the worship of the Creator, and the recovery of the law of God—that leads to the apostate reliance on state power that the second angel warns against.
Adventists make the mistake of imagining that other churches have an equally robust gospel. This is false. While people of many churches have a wonderful love relationship with Christ, sound teaching is in short supply.
Today, as the American evangelical culture continues to put its trust in politics, the Adventist prophetic perspective is critically relevant and urgent. The nation deserves to benefit from the wisdom that "it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes" (Ps. 118:9).
Alan J. Reinach, Esq., Director of Public Affairs & Religious Liberty, Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists