Sunday, October 08, 2006

Who is the beast? (Revelation 13) Part 2

We continue our discussion of the “beast out of the sea” of Revelation 13. We explore more Biblical prophecies relating to the beast. Once again, I agree with Steve’s evaluation of the prophecies mentioned in this discussion.

From “End Time Delusions”:

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. –Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

“What time is it?” How many times have we heard that? The clock relentlessly governs this high-tech world of ours. Cell phones, computers, palm pilots, fax machines and radios all have clocks on them. In other words, we live our lives and make decisions based on time. This may surprise you, but even the Creator of the universe is concerned about time. His Word says, “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son” (Galatians 4:4). In fact, the entire life of Jesus Christ was based on time. He knew when “His hour had come” (John 13:1) and when it was time for His holy heart to experience the horror of sin upon the cross. Just as Christ’s life and death was based on time, the same is true of antichrist. Paul predicted that antichrist would “be revealed in his own time” (2 Thessalonians 2:6). What is the time of the antichrist?

Daniel described the antichrist as a little horn “making war against the saints, and prevailing against them” (Daniel 7:8, 21). A few sentences later he wrote, “the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time” (vs. 25). This is the time of the antichrist. This special time period is actually referred to seven times in God’s Word, being spoken of as 3 ½ times (see Daniel 7:25); 12:7; Revelation 12:14), 42 months (see Revelation 11:2; 13:5), and 1260 days (Revelation 11:3; 12:6). Most scholars recognize that a “time” represents a year (the Hebrew 360-day year), and thus 3 ½ years, or 42 months (based on a 30 day month), or 1260 days. It’s simple mathematics.

Is this a literal time period, or a symbolic one? Consider this. Just as Daniel 7 reveals the time of the antichrist (see Daniel 7:25), even so does Daniel 9 reveal the time of Jesus Christ (see Daniel 9:24-26). That latter prophecy pinpoints “seventy weeks”, or 490 days. As we’ve mentioned before, all Bible scholars interpret this 490 day period according to the day-for-a-year principle found in Ezekiel 4:6 and Numbers 14:34. Thus the 490 days are 490 literal years. We know the prophecy in Daniel 9 is a day-for-a-year because it begins with a command to rebuild Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity (Daniel 9:25) and reaches all the way down to the first coming of Jesus Christ (Daniel 9:26). Because 490 literal days would not reach far enough to the time of Jesus since that would only be about 1 year and 4.3 months, the prophecy must be a day-for-a-year. That’s proof positive. Few question this.

Prophecy teachers in our generation definitely apply the day-for-a-year principle to the famous 70th week of Daniel 9:27, which says, “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice…to cease” (Daniel 9:27). Based on the day-year truth, this “one week” is really seven years. Almost everyone agrees with this. Yet, as we have already seen, many prophecy scholars today - following the lead of J.N. Darby – have decided to sever this 70th week from the first 69 weeks (creating an almost 2,000 year gap or parenthesis), slide it down to the end times and call it “the seven years of tribulation”. We have already analyzed the problems with this view and have proven it was really Jesus Christ who brought an end to the Jewish sacrificial system through His death on the cross. Net conclusion: no seven-year tribulation.

Here’s a startling mega-point. Protestant scholars from the 1500’s to the 1800’s not only applied the day-for-a-year principle to the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 (the time of Jesus Christ), but also to the 3 ½ years of Daniel 7:25, to the time of antichrist. And they applied it to papal Rome. They interpreted the 3 ½ years, 42 months or 1260 days as 1260 literal years of papal rule.

This is easy to prove, as a little study in church history will quickly demonstrate. Dr. H. Grattan Guiness reported:

The seventy weeks of Daniel, or 490 days to the Messiah, were fulfilled as 490 years; that is, they were fulfilled on the year-day scale. On this scale the forty-two months or 1260 days are 1260 years. We ask then, has the papacy endured this period? An examination of the facts will show that it has.

In 1701, Robert Fleming published his book, The Rise and Fall of Papal Rome. Fleming showed, as others had done for many centuries, that the 1260 days of prophecy represent 1260 years.

E.B. Elliott, in his 1862 classic, Horae Apocalypticae, often referred to:

….the great prophetic period of 1260 years.

David Benedict’s A General History of the Baptist Denomination also commented on…the rise of antichrist…his reign [for] 1260 years.

Such quotations could be multiplied, but this is enough to prove that Protestant commentators of the past did not apply the 1260-day period to a supposedly future 7 year period of tribulation like modern pre-tribulation rapture teachers often do. Instead, they applied it to real history – to the long period of papal supremacy spanning the Dark Ages.

When did the 1260 years begin? In 2 Thessalonians 2, Paul gave a clear clue. In verse 6, he made a definite connection between the removal of the restrainer and the beginning of the time of the antichrist. Notice carefully. Paul told the early Thessalonians, “And now you know what is restraining, that he [antichrist] may be revealed in his own time” (2 Thessalonians 2:6). As we have previously proven, this restrainer was the fourth beast of Daniel 7, which was the Roman Empire. In 476 A.D., when Rome fell, the Caesar restrainer was “taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Thus we would expect the 1260 year period to begin shortly after 476 A.D.

H. Gratton Guiness places the beginning of the 1260 year period shortly after 476 A.D. He states that it began with “the notable decree of the emperor Justinian [525-565 A.D.] constituting the Bishop of Rome as the head of all Churches [in Western Europe]”. When the Roman Empire collapsed in 476 A.D., there were still rulers in the East. One of them, named Justinian, believed the key to peace in Europe was the uniting of all religions under the leadership of the Roman Church. So, he issued his famous decree which made the Pope the legal “Head of all the Holy Churches”. This decree fully established the papacy’s political power over all of Christianity in Western Europe. Justinian’s decree went into effect in 538 A.D., which was shortly after 476 A.D.! That key date – 538 A.D. – marks the beginning of the time of the antichrist.

Daniel predicted that during the 1260 year period the little horn would “persecute the saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:25) – a prophecy that was fulfilled to the letter by papal Rome during the Dark Ages. By the end of this period, enough was enough, and Europe was ready for a change. If we start at 538 A.D. and count down 1260 years, this takes us to 1798 A.D., the time of the French Revolution. In the midst of a bloody reaction against the Roman Church and its monstrous torture chambers, Napoleon finally decided to abolish the papal government entirely. Can you guess what year this feat was accomplished? 1798! That’s why Guiness marks the conclusion of the 1260 years at the time of “the tremendous Papal overthrow in the French Revolution”.

In 1798, a general of Napoleon named Berthier entered Rome with a French army. He swiftly abolished the papacy, dismissed the Vatican’s Swiss guards and proclaimed Rome to be a republic for France. “Berthier entered Rome on the 10th of February, 1798, and proclaimed a republic.” “One day the Pope was sitting on his throne in a chapel of the Vatican, surrounded by his cardinals…Very soon a band of soldiers burst into the hall, who tore away from his finger his pontifical ring, and hurried him off, a prisoner.” Pope Pius VI was taken to France where he died in exile. “Napoleon gave orders that in the event of his death no successor should be elected to his office, and that the Papacy should be discontinued.”

This happened in the exact year 1798, marking the end of the predicted 1260 year reign of the persecuting “little horn”. In that very year Protestant scholars all over Europe and America recognized the fulfillment of the prophecy. In the downfall of the papal government…many saw in these events the accomplishment of prophecies, and the exhibition of signs promised in the most mystical parts of the Holy Scriptures.

Thus many scholars of the past have applied the 3 ½ year, 42 month, 1260 day prediction found in Daniel and Revelation to a 1260 year period starting in 538 A.D. and ending in 1798 A.D. These well-respected theologians saw those dates – 538 and 1798 – as prophetic milestones, and they appealed to the whole world to take note that God’s “sure Word of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19) had not been fulfilled in a corner.

Here is a quick summary of biblical and historical facts surrounding “the time” of the antichrist:

1. Paul clearly wrote that after the restrainer was removed, the antichrist would be “revealed in his own time” (2 Thessalonians 2:6).
2. Daniel predicted that after the fourth beast fell, the “little horn” (the antichrist) would rule for 1260 years, “making war against the saints” (Daniel 7:7-8, 21, 25).
3. Shortly after the Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476 A.D., the Eastern Emperor Justinian issued his famous decree giving the Roman Church special power in Europe.
4. Justinian’s decree went into effect in 538 A.D., marking the beginning of 1260 years of European papal supremacy.
5. During the 1260 years, the Roman Church did indeed “make war against the saints” by papal crusades against heretics and through the nightmarish barbarism of inhuman inquisitors who set up their deadly tribunals in Europe, England, India, South America and even Mexico. Literally, millions of “saints” lost their lives.
6. In 1798 A.D., exactly 1260 years from 538 A.D., Napoleon’s general (Berthier) abolished the papacy’s political power, thus ending that long and painful period of papal rule.

So what time is it? If you check your watch, computer, or cell phone you can discover the exact minute in the Pacific, Mountain, Central or Eastern time zones.

Only the Bible reveals the precise time of Jesus Christ (490 years) and antichrist (1260 years).

The truth can make us uncomfortable. Biblical truth calls for us to examine not only what is going on in the world and how it relates to prophecy, but it calls for us to examine ourselves. Can we overcome the world and its deception? Will we believe the truth when presented with it? …or will we deny the truth because it doesn’t fit with our theology? Do we believe God’s Word unconditionally or are we picking and choosing what to believe from the Bible as it fits our lifestyle? I have learned over the past year that there is only one, uncorrupted, clear truth in this world….and that truth is the Holy Bible.

As I mentioned before, it’s very difficult to overcome years of believing something that has been told to you over and over for your entire life to this point. We must take a step back and seek God and His truth, regardless of what we have believed in the past. Are we first seeking God and His righteousness in this life or do you have a few items ahead of Him on your list of priorities? Have we accepted His offer of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ or are we focused on man-made religious traditions and rituals? The question you MUST ask yourself……am I being deceived? How can I know? You must read and study God’s word and pray to Him. Ask Him to show you the truth. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Mathew 7:7) This is all that I have done. I have sought the Lord with a humble heart and prayed for wisdom and knowledge. He listens and answers.

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