The Death Decree (Part 1 of 2)

Image result for picture of death decree


One of our most well known S.D.A  theological subjects is the “death decree” of which the Spirit of Prophecy speaks when Governments will no longer protect dissenters from obeying their conscience in religious matters and in fact persecute and kill them if they do not conform to what we know as the  “Sunday Law”. Yet the timeline for this is often confusing when we look at both S.D.A and D.S.D.A understandings. Even among the D.S.D.A. there seems confusion.

Specifically we would like to analyze when this decree takes place and who is it against. But once again much like a puzzle, when we add up all the pieces (all the references) it comes into better focus. Let us look at this interesting yet solemn subject. We’ll post some helpful references and then comment after.


“As the decree issued by the various rulers of Christendom against commandment keepers shall withdraw the protection of government and abandon them to those who desire their destruction, the people of God will flee from the cities and villages and associate together in companies, dwelling in the most desolate and solitary places. Many will find refuge in the strongholds of the mountains. Like the Christians of the Piedmont valleys, they will make the high places of the earth their sanctuaries and will thank God for “the munitions of rocks.” Isaiah 33:16. But many of all nations and of all classes, high and low, rich and poor, black and white, will be cast into the most unjust and cruel bondage. The beloved of God pass weary days, bound in chains, shut in by prison bars, sentenced to be slain, some apparently left to die of starvation in dark and loathsome dungeons. No human ear is open to hear their moans; no human hand is ready to lend them help.

Will the Lord forget His people in this trying hour? Did He forget faithful Noah when judgments were visited upon the antediluvian world? Did He forget Lot when the fire came down from heaven to consume the cities of the plain? Did He forget Joseph surrounded by idolaters in Egypt? Did He forget Elijah when the oath of Jezebel threatened him with the fate of the prophets of Baal? Did He forget Jeremiah in the dark and dismal pit of his prison house? Did He forget the three worthies in the fiery furnace? or Daniel in the den of lions?

“Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands.” Isaiah 49:14-16. The Lord of hosts has said: “He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye.” Zechariah 2:8. [627]

Though enemies may thrust them into prison, yet dungeon walls cannot cut off the communication between their souls and Christ. One who sees their every weakness, who is acquainted with every trial, is above all earthly powers; and angels will come to them in lonely cells, bringing light and peace from heaven. The prison will be as a palace; for the rich in faith dwell there, and the gloomy walls will be lighted up with heavenly light as when Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises at midnight in the Philippian dungeon. (Great Controversy, p.626-627)

The decree here discussed is obviously the Sunday law decree, well known among us S.D.A. But notice who these people are. They cannot be the 144,000 as we know from our many present truth studies that they will be safely in the pre-millenial kingdom in Israel. In fact the message tells us all we need to know about these who run to the hills —

Question No. 37:

If God’s people are in the Kingdom during the Loud Cry, how can they be put in prison or driven to the mountains during that time, as the Spirit of Prophecy asserts they will (“The Great Controversy,” p. 626)?


When it is understood that the 144,000 are but first fruits, the forerunners or advanced guard of a great multitude of second fruits, the difficulty in question is immediately resolved. The first fruits stand with the Lamb, safe on Mt. Zion (in the Kingdom). Thus those who shall find refuge in the mountains, and those who shall be put in prison, can only be from among the second fruits—those who shall accept the message during the Loud Cry, but who shall not yet at that time have reached the Kingdom. (See our Tract No. 12, The World Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, 1941 Edition, pp. 45-49.)

Thus we see that the Great Multitude (Rev. 7:9) , at least a portion, will be the ones who are affected by the death decree, This is a time after Ezekiel 9 church purification and in the time of the Loud Cry.



“I saw the leading men of the earth consulting together, and Satan and his angels busy around them. I saw a writing, copies of which were scattered in different parts of the land, giving orders that unless the saints should yield their peculiar faith, give up the Sabbath, and observe the first day of the week, the people were at liberty after a certain time to put them to death.

Though a general decree has fixed the time when commandment keepers may be put to death, their enemies will in some cases anticipate the decree, and before the time specified, will endeavor to take their lives. But none can pass the mighty guardians stationed about every faithful soul. Some are assailed in their flight from the cities and villages; but the swords raised against them break and fall powerless as a straw. Others are defended by angels in the form of men of war.

Could men see with heavenly vision, they would behold companies of angels that excel in strength stationed about those who have kept the word of Christ’s patience. With sympathizing tenderness, angels have witnessed their distress and have heard their prayers. They are waiting the word of their Commander to snatch them from their peril. But they must wait yet a little longer. The people of God must drink of the cup and be baptized with the baptism.” (Maranatha – Page 269)

Once again we see that SOP mentions the decree in relations to those who flee the cities. Thus this is also showing the same people and same timeline.


“The civil power is called to the aid of the Church in persecuting those who keep holy the seventh day. The Church and the world are united in trampling upon God’s commandments, and those who obey these commandments they threaten with death. John declares, “The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” The decree goes forth that no man shall be allowed to buy or sell save he that has the mark or the number of the Beast.” RH JUL.16,1901

We see the same basic scenario –Great Multitude and after Ezek. 9 during the  Loud Cry. Further we know well as present truth believers that the dragon being “wroth with the  woman” can only be post Ezek. 9, when Satan is furious that he now must deal with God’s powerful team of angels and servants who will ultimately bring him down . He no longer has his agents in the church, they are no more.


“Though God’s people today shall go through a “time of trouble such as never was” (Dan. 12:1), when earthly tribunals shall cause to come to pass “that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed” (Rev. 13:15), yet the Word declares: “…at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” Dan. 12:1.

   O what a promise and what assurance!  Who can comprehend God’s mighty power, and the glory of this long awaited deliverance?  Those who at all do, and who fully trust in the Lord will, for the good of His people, “go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.” Heb. 13:13.

   In thus pursuing a course against all earthly favor (by proclaiming the message of the “hour”), they will be going “forth as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matt. 10:16) — “seeking death.”  And although happy to “die” for Christ’s sake, or, as the Revelator puts it though they “shall desire to die,” the promise is that “death shall flee from them,” making it impossible for them to die.  Even the sword of the wicked that is raised to kill them, shall break and fall “as powerless as a straw” (Early Writings, p. 34), making them utterly invincible.” (Tract 5, p.77)

This is our first Rod reference. We see that the timeline is clear –after Ezek. 9. The time when Michael shall stand up (Dan. 12:1) is definitely after the church purification. But here we are not given great clarity whether it’s the GM or the 144,000, although it looks more like the GM.


“David’s victory over the giant against whom no one was able to make war, typifies the victory of the church (the house of David — Zech. 12:8), in the “time of trouble such as never was,” over the beast and his image (antitypical Goliath), concerning whose formidableness the Revelator asks: “Who is like unto the beast?  who is able to make war with him?”  The giant, Goliath, accordingly, represents those who now defy the servants of God, and who shall comprise the Image of the Beast, that  religio-politico system which shall defy the armies of the Lord, and issue a decree “that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name…and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” Rev. 13:17, 15.”(Tract 8, p.58)

The evidence is mounting as to the timeline , once again we see that this decree comes during the time “that  religio-politico system which shall defy the armies of the Lord” issues their decree. This is post Ezek. 9 and during Loud Cry. We do notice that this decree is going against the “armies of the Lord” which would include the 144,000 and the Great Multitude. 


“The beast’s being driven by the woman, Babylon clearly reveals three important truths: first, that the call of God’s people to come out of Babylon (Rev. 18:4), is a call for them to come out from among the nations that are symbolized by the beast which she is driving (ruling); second, that the called ones are to come out from her sin-filled dominion because it is to be ruined by the plagues; and third, their coming out necessitates their going into a place where sin does not exist and where there is no danger of the plagues’ falling.  Thus their coming out of her dominion must be their going into God’s kingdom.

   Then the warning against receiving the mark (Rev. 14:9-11), along with the call to come out will be repeated with an exceeding loud cry throughout Babylon’s dominion.

   Both those who find themselves in her dominion, and those who find themselves out of it, must then immediately decide to receive the seal of God instead of the mark of the beast if they want to escape the wrath of God.  To do this, the former class must come out of her, and the latter class must stay out of her.  Despite the death penalty for taking such a stand (Rev. 13:15), there must be no hesitancy or indecision on the part of either class.

   Those who are in Babylon must heed the Voice which says: “Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Rev. 18:4.  And those who are out, must carefully heed the warning: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.” Rev. 14:9, 10.

   The light on this subject will spread as fire in stubble until it finally illuminates the whole earth (Rev. 18:1), and all who walk in its blaze will have their names placed in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  They will find deliverance from the Enemy’s  last determined effort to plunge the world into the bottomless pit of eternal ruin.  For them, said the angel, “shall Michael stand up, the great Prince which standeth for the children  of thy people…and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” Dan. 12:1. (Tract 12, p.36-38)

No doubt this is during the Loud Cry and certainly concerns the Great Multitude. Being Loud Cry servants the 144,000 are not described here, as we know they do not need to come out of her dominion (they are Commandment keepers since before Ezek. 9).


“.. when this sealing work is completed, then the angels who hold the winds, will let the winds blow, and the angels who are to hurt the earth, sea, and trees, will then commence their given work.  Otherwise stated, to let the winds blow, is to permit the two-horn beast to decree “that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed” (Rev. 13:15); and to let the angels hurt, is to allow the Lord’s decree to take its course: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.” Rev. 14:9, 10. (Tract 15, p.61-62)

Ah this is very helpful. Notice that the “winds blow” represents the Sunday Law containing the death decree! And they will not be let loose until after the 144,000 are sealed in their forehead. Notice also it says that the winds blow after sealing completion. Obviously we  know that the Sunday Law develops and the 144,000 will do their Loud Cry warning PRIOR to the death decree. So as there may not be much time delay for the winds to let loose right after the 144,000th servant is sealed, there will be some length of time from the winds loosed to the death decree.



“And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 

  “And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.” Mic. 4:1-4. 

  Conclusively, therefore, the Kingdom-church  must be “set up” before the Devil turns upon the remnant, those who are left behind and who are then being gathered, and against whom he wars for refusing to worship him in the person of the beast and his image (Rev. 13:15). 

  In this cumulative light, one sees never so clearly that though the Lord is to allow  persecution to come anew upon His people in Babylon, He will do so only to serve His own end to cause them to get out of her dominion (as He caused His ancient people to get out of Egypt), and to go into the Kingdom-church–the only place on earth where there will be no sin and upon which the destruction of the plagues will not fall.” (See Revelation 18:4). (2 Answerer, p.16-17)


The picture is starting to come into better focus now. We see that the 144,000 servants are to “set up” the Kingdom -church PRIOR to “the Devil turns upon the remnant” These are the ones who are “His people in Babylon.” Thus, these are part of the Great Multitude and obviously in the time of the Loud Cry.


“The scarlet colored beast is also controlled by the woman riding on his back (church and state).  Thus it denotes that she is the authority, or the crown, for she rules the beast.  This is one of the reasons why the crowns are absent on this beast.  The last is an image of the first verifying the fact that the scarlet colored beast represents the “image of the beast” period, fulfilling Revelation 13:12, 15: “And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 

And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.”  The difference between the two drastic systems is revealed by the two symbols (horn-head on the one, and the woman riding on the other).” (SRod, vol. 2, p.113-114)

Clear once again. The “image of the beast” period” is the time of the death decree.This does not happen pre-Ezek. 9.


“As the 144,000 are to go through the time of the anger of the nations — the time of trouble such as never was — as well as through the time of the wrath of God and yet be preserved for translation, and as the anger of the nations must take place in the time of the judgment of the living as shown in the preceding paragraphs, it follows that Michael is to stand up in the time of the judgment of the living and deliver His people from the anger of the nations — the time of trouble — or else it would be impossible to preserve the lives of all the 144,000; proving the fact that a change is to take place at the commencement of the judgment of the living — Michael is to stand up for His people, take the “reins in His own hands” (“Testimonies to Ministers.” p. 300) and deliver “every one that shall be found written in the book.”

May God’s people be aroused by the Good Shepherd’s voice now and place their names in the “book” by sighing and crying “for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof,” so that when the trouble bursts out — “when the overflowing scourge shall pass through” — they may find shelter.

   The anger of the nations being in the time of the judgment of the living — in the Loud Cry of the Third Angel’s Message — their anger is against God’s people, not against each other nation otherwise the statement in “Early Writings,” p. 36 could not be correct, for the nations against each other have been and are angry; for instance, the world’s war took place in “the time of the judgment of the dead.”

   “The anger of the nations” will develop by the decree that the two-horned beast is to enact “and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed” (Rev. 13:15), for the fact that all the nations will follow in the footsteps of the two-horned beast and “the same crisis will come upon our people in all parts of the world” (6 T 395) showing that this “anger of the nations” is a world-wide confederacy against God’s people as predicted by the prophet Zechariah: “And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” (Zech. 12:3.)  (Sym. Code, vol. 2 no. 2, p.4-5)

Same as the others  the timeline is still Loud Cry period. But here we see that the decree is more open as to who it affects and lends credence to both the 144,000 and the Great Multitude.

This concludes part 1 of our study. Next week, Lord willing,  we’ll conclude with part 2 and a summary.



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