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1)    Understanding True Bible Faith

6th Pillar – the Third Angel's Message

          The third angel’s message is:

     “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, 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: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.  Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:9-12.

2)     The Beast

     The verses which pertain to this Beast power reveal to us its characteristics which are points or clues that will help us to identify who it represents.

     This Beast is also mentioned in Revelation 13:
     “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:1-8.

     Many are looking for a diabolical power that will force it’s way into the political arena, compelling Christians to abandon their faith by setting up a nonreligious government of force. But we need to notice that there is worship connected with this Beast power. Verse 8 stated that all of the people on earth will worship it, except for those whose names are in the Lamb’s book of life. And it is only those whose names are written in that book of life who will be saved! Jesus spoke very plainly when He stated that:
     “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:14.

     “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:21-23.
     From these verses we can see that the overwhelming majority of Christians will not be ready to meet Christ when He returns. “All the world wondered after the beast”, which means that most all of these Christians will be found worshiping this Beast power. This fact must tell us something about the nature of this Beast; for if this power professed to be anti-Christian, as so many expect, very few in the Christian world would be found worshiping it.

3)    The next point or clue to notice is that this Beast has the body of a leopard, and in Daniel 7:6 the Greek nation was represented by a leopard.  Few people realize how completely the pagan philosophy of Greece captured the world, and it also played a significant role in the formation of thought in the Christian church.
     Several Greek philosophers are famous for the impact they had on human thought. When the Bible was outlawed men looked to Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates for light. And thus their paganistic philosophy greatly permeated religious thinking, and helped to shape many of the concepts that became a part of Christian belief, but for which there was no Biblical support.

Plato believed in the immortality of the soul. In his understanding, heroes and notable persons went immediately to mansions and places of reward, while the common people went down to the infernal regions to receive punishment for sinful pollutions until they had been cleansed. Here we see the religious belief of the elevation of the saints to heaven at death, and also the doctrine of purgatory.

Plato also believed in the concept of separating the body from the soul. He believed this was achieved by afflicting the body, by depravation, and by separation from society. Thus was laid the groundwork for the later emergence of the belief for monasticism and penances.

4)    Another point or clue to notice is that this Beast came up out of the waters of the sea. According to Revelation 17:15, waters represent “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” This text is stating that when this Beast power emerged, it arose from an area which was densely populated – such as Europe, and not from the wilderness – or an area which was sparsely populated.

     This Beast power was also prophesied to continue for 42 months, or three and a half years of prophetic time. Using the Jewish calendar of 30 days for each month, 42 months or 3 1/2 years would mean 1260 prophetic days. In Bible prophecy, each day of prophetic time would equal one year of literal time (see Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6). We understand that this Beast would rule for 1260 prophetic days or 1260 literal years.

5)    The Little Horn

     In Daniel 7, this same Beast power is likened to a Little Horn or a kingdom which uproots and destroys three horns or kingdoms, and then speaks great blasphemous words against God:
     “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth [this 4th beast refers to the Imperial Roman Empire]: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns [referring to the 10 nation-states of Europe that composed Rome’s empire].  I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn [were] eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things....
     “And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.  I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them...Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.  And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.  And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.”  Daniel 7:7-8, 20-21, 23-25.

     This Little Horn power was to rule “until a time and times and the dividing of time” (Daniel 7:25).  A “time” in Bible prophecy represents one year.  So this power was to rule for a time--or 1 year, times--or 2 more years, and the dividing of time--or half of a year. This would total three and a half years, or again 42 months or 1260 prophetic days or literal years.  This shows us that the prophecies of the Beast in Revelation 13 and of the Little Horn power in Daniel 7 which both rule for 1260 days/years are referring to this same religious power.

     When did this 1260 year time period begin?

     Another significant point or clue which helps us to establish the time for the emergence of this power, is that it was to be given it’s seat, it’s authority, and it’s power, by the dragon.
     While this dragon primarily refers to Satan (see Revelation 12:9), it more specifically refers to the ancient pagan Roman Empire which Satan used to try and kill the man child – or Christ – as soon as He was born (see Matthew 2:1-18; Revelation 12:2-5). The seat of the old Roman Empire was the city of Rome itself. As the date for the fall of the Roman Empire was A.D. 476, it is clear that this Beast power could not be firmly established with it’s seat and authority until after this time.

6)    Who could this Beast power be?

When the Roman Empire fell, it’s kingdom was divided into 10 nation-states. And what was the religious power which arose out of the ruins of pagan Rome? Claiming the titles and the authority of her Emperor predecessors, the Roman Catholic Church gradually sought to extend her power over these 10 nation-states of Europe. Soon the heads of these states received their crown and ruled more or less subject to Roman Catholic authority. The papacy is both a religious power, as well as a political power which sends and receives ambassadors and functions as a political state.

     As the Roman Catholic church gradually gained more power and control over these 10 nation-states of Europe, it became evident that all but three of these nations (the Heruli, Vandals, and Ostrogoths) were in favor of, or yielded to, the Catholic religion and authority. Therefore the Catholic church used the civil power of the other 7 European nations she controlled to make war against these three rebel nations, and finally uprooted them in succession (the Heruli in 493, the Vandals in 534, and the Ostrogoths in 538) – exactly as the Bible predicted of this Little Horn-Beast power!  The year 538 would then be the starting point for the Beast’s rule.

7)    The prophecy in Revelation also revealed that at the end of this Beast’s 1260 year reign, it’s power was to be removed, and it would receive a wound that appeared to be a death blow. Yet this wound would be healed, and this same power would again exercise authority over the kings of the earth.
     Beginning with the date of 538, the Catholic church ruled for exactly 1260 years, and then received it’s deadly wound in the year 1798. The armies of Napoleon were marching across Europe, destroying monarchy and the church. French general Berthier, went down to Rome and took pope Pious VI prisoner in 1798 and brought him to France to live out his remaining days in exile. Thus the Catholic church was, for a period of time, without a visible head to rule. This was definitely a death blow or a deadly wound to the church, because without a visible head or pope, the Catholic Church was dead! It had ruled for 1260 years, and now it was powerless – just as prophecy declared.
     "...Napoleon gave orders that in the event of his (pope Pius VI) death no successor should be elected to his office, and that the Papacy should be discontinued....No wonder that half Europe thought Napoleon's veto would be obeyed, and that with the pope the Papacy was dead." The Modern Papacy, p 1, by Joseph Rickaby, S. J. (see also Source Book For Bible Students, p 392).

     "In 1798 the French republican army under General Berthier took possession of the city of Rome, and entirely superseded the whole papal power. This was a deadly wound..." A Commentary and Critical Notes, by Adam Clarke, 1850 (see also Source Book For Bible Students, p 393).

     Many believed that the church had come to an end and would never again figure significantly in world affairs.  But in 1929, Cardinal Gasparri and Benito Mussolini of Italy signed the concordat which restored temporal powers to the papacy. And once again, the Vatican began to function as she had before.

     Ever since 1929 up to today, the papacy has regained much of the prestige she had lost two centuries earlier. In the 1950’s, when president Harry Truman attempted to appoint an official ambassador to the Vatican, there arose such a protest that it was not possible for him to follow through. But thirty years later, when president Ronald Reagan tried to accomplish the same thing, he met with very little opposition.

8)    Another remarkable point or clue is that this Beast had the feet of a bear. The bear in Daniel 7:5 represents the empire of the Medes and Persians, and they had a method of government peculiarly their own. When the king of the Medes and Persians spoke law, he was considered to be infallible. Once given, it was not possible to change the law (see Daniel 6:8,12,15.) This finds its counterpart in the doctrine of the infallibility of the pope when he speaks ex-cathedra, and defines points of law or doctrine.

     Another point is that on the head of the Beast was the name of blasphemy. The Biblical concept of blasphemy is found in Mark 2:5-7. The rulers of the Jewish people accused Jesus of blasphemy for presuming to forgive sins, a prerogative belonging to God alone. This authority the Catholic Church also claims to have!

9)    The final point or clue to notice, is that the prophecy declares that this Beast power would make war with the saints of God. History proves this description overwhelmingly fits the Roman Catholic church!

     It is conservatively estimated that the Church of Rome caused over 50 million people to be put to death throughout it’s 1260 year reign.  And why were these people murdered? Because they followed Bible truth and their conscience – even when it differed with the established teaching and authority of the Church. So clearly, the Beast of Revelation 13:1-10 and the Little Horn of Daniel 7, unmistakably refers to the Roman Catholic church alone!
     “It has been computed that fifty millions of Protestants have, at different times, been the victims of the persecutions of the Papists, and put to death for their religious opinions.” A Theological Dictionary, Containing Definitions of All Religious Terms; A Comprehensive View of Every Article in the System of Divinity, an Impartial Account of All the Principal Denominations Which Have Subsisted in the Religious World, from the Birth of Christ to the Present Day: Together with an Accurate Statement of the Most Remarkable Transactions and Events, Recorded in Ecclesiastical History, Volumes 1-2 combined, article on "Persecution", p 381, by Charles Buck, Fourth American Edition, from the Third London, England Edition, with additions: A. Griggs and K. Dickinson printers for W.W. Woodward, no. 52, corner of Chesnut and Second streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1815 (http://books.google.com/books?id=HZD6vCbbESMC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Buck,+Charles,+A+Theological+Dictionary,+containing+Definitions+of+All+Religious+Terms&hl=en&sa=X&ei=rkZiVJfJMazHsQSAsoCoCQ&ved=0CDgQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=%22Fifty%20Millions%22&f=false).  (See also The Other End of the World: An Alternate Theory Linking Prophecy and History, p 127, 191, by Roger Rusk).