Jan 13, 2007
When the Scriptures were translated into the common language of the people, and the development of the printing press occurred in the mid-fifteenth century, the people began to discover the huge discrepancy between the Roman Church's teachings and what was actually written in the Bible.
As the Protestant reformers read and studied the book of Revelation, along with the history of the Church, they began to see how these Scriptures spoke of actual Church history. Their view is today called the "Historicist" view. They saw clearly that the Roman Church was the "little horn" of Daniel 7, referenced in Revelation 13 as the beast that comes out of the sea.
A certain Jesuit named Ribera then developed a counter-theory which we know today as "Futurism," which put most of the events of Revelation into the future, taking the heat off the Roman Church. The "beasts" in the book of Revelation became identified as "The Antichrist" of the future. The tribulation that the overcomers had endured for fifteen hundred years was passed over in favor of a future tribulation in which the saints would escape.
These views were taken by certain Protestant teachers and developed into the modern futurist theory of the "Rapture." As men stopped learning Church history, Futurism became more and more plausible, until today it is the only teaching known to a huge number of Christians. Modern Futurist teachers have been able to identify the Rapture theory with the coming of Christ itself, and anyone who denies the Rapture is automatically thought to deny the very coming of Christ.
Nothing can be farther from the truth. I spent close to two years doing a Study in the Book of Revelation in my Foundation For Intercession bulletins, which are posted online. The series ended about a year ago. I began this series in Revelation 6 and showed how the book described the main historical events of the past 1900 years.
Revelation 13 itself tells of the rise of two beasts. The first is the beast coming from the sea, the second from the earth. The sea-monster is the Roman Church, described in Daniel 7 as the "little horn"; the second is an earth-monster, an economic beast, the modern banking system that we call Mystery Babylon, having a "mark" and "image" without which one cannot buy or sell. (It is called "money," or more accurately, "currency.")
After the fall of Rome in 476 A.D., the Eastern half of the Roman Empire continued to exist for another millennium. However, the Bishop of Rome filled the real vacuum left by the fall of the Western Empire. The iron kingdom of Daniel, the fourth beast in the succession of empires, was "wounded unto death" (Rev. 13:3), but the little horn assumed power as the "revived Roman Empire." This beast then continued the persecutions begun under the previous Emperors. This is the "war on the saints" that Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 show us.
Those who have forgotten Church history are easily susceptible to the teachings of Futurism, because they cannot possibly see how the Book of Revelation has been fulfilled without some knowledge of history. History today is usually taught in the most irrelevant and boring manner to ensure that no one remembers anything. I know. I was a victim myself.
The time frame of "forty-two months" or 1,260 days is actually a reference to 1,260 YEARS from 529 to 1789. In 529, not long after the fall of Rome, the Eastern Emperor Justinian changed the entire legal system to conform to Church Law. It was called the Codex. The Catholic Encyclopedia says of it,
"It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of this 'Corpus.' It is the basis of all canon law (ecclesia vivet romana) and the basis of civil law in every civilized country."
The Church came to dominate the State through the legal system in 529. The Roman Church began to break down after 1,260 years with the French Revolution in 1789. This Revolution killed the "firstborn son" of the Roman Church (that is, France). It also marked a great victory of the second beast--the economic beast that came from the earth. It began a series of revolutions that made money the god of the modern nations.
You may study all of this and more in my FFI series on the book of Revelation, #171 to 200.
The main point I want to make in this article is to show that the "little horn" is not a future Antichrist, but it is certainly an antichrist. The term "antichrist" appears only in First and Second John. Nowhere does it appear in the Book of Revelation. The "beasts" are not the same as "antichrist," regardless of what the Futurists tell us.
There were "many antichrists" already in John's day (1 John 2:18), but John also said that "antichrist is coming." It was yet future in his day (the first century), because the "little horn" had not yet arisen. But how is it that "many antichrists" were already present in John's day?
The Greek word anti means "in place of." It is used in Matt. 2:22,
"But when he heard the Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there."
The Greek word does not necessarily mean "against or opposed to," as we normally interpret it today. An antichrist means "in place of Christ." This can be either good or bad, depending on the context. Christ's throne was the mercy seat in the temple, and the high priest exercised spiritual authority IN PLACE OF Christ. If he discharged his duties according to the mind of Christ, it was good. If he usurped authority and did as he pleased, it was bad.
Likewise, when a political throne was set up in Israel, King Saul ruled upon the throne of Christ, for God was said to be their King. Saul was a usurper, therefore an antichrist in the negative sense. But later, David sat upon Christ's throne and ruled as a man after God's own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). He did not usurp the authority of Christ, so he was an antichrist in a positive sense.
When the priests in Jesus' day saw Christ, they said among themselves (Matt. 21:38), "This is the Heir; come, let us kill Him and seize his inheritance." They were antichrists, not merely because they opposed Him, but because they usurped His throne. They were the "many antichrists" in the first century.
The future antichrist was the little horn, the re-manifestation of King Saul, the Pentecostal type. Even as Saul usurped the throne as a negative antichrist, so also did the Church usurp Christ's throne, and, as Pope Boniface VIII wrote, assumed the authority to overrule both Christ and the apostles. In so doing, they oppressed Catholics everywhere, and the Catholics of Rome soon became especially disillusioned and cynical. They believed that the Pope was Christ's representative on earth, but they wished it were not so.
The Popes were known as the "Vicar of Christ." Vicar comes from the Latin word vicarius, "a substitute." It is one who rules IN PLACE OF another. In other words, a vicar of Christ is an antichrist, whether in the positive or the negative sense. There were Popes who genuinely had a heart for God, such as Celestine V, who preceded Boniface VIII in 1293. But Boniface induced him to resign, then had him thrown into prison, and finally killed him with poison in 1294. When Celestine was arrested and brought before his successor Pope, he told Boniface, "You came in like a fox--you will reign as a lion--and you will die like a dog." His words were prophetic and came to pass.
He is of particular interest, because he became Pope precisely 1,260 years after the Church of Pentecost had begun. His short papacy was the final opportunity for the Church to repent of usurping Christ's authority.
Dr. Stephen Jones