The Book of Revelation
Issue No. 179
Chapter 10 of Revelation was about the strong angel giving to John (a type of overcomer) an open book by which he was to preach to all nations. This prophesied of the first European use of the printing press in the 1450’s that “opened” the Bible to the people and even reduced its size to a “little” book so that it could be carried easily.
The opening of this Book in Europe brought about the Protestant Reformation, as men began to read the Word and see that it differed substantially from what was being taught and practiced in the Roman Church.
Also, in 1493, when Columbus returned from his first voyage to America, telling of a New World, the minds of men opened and expanded in a new manner. In Spain (which had sponsored Columbus’ voyage), it meant that the nation had suddenly become an empire, for it was assumed that any discovery of new lands became the immediate possession of the discoverer.
Spain, then, immediately mobilized to conquer its newly claimed territories, convert them to its Roman brand of Christianity, colonize these lands, and bring back their wealth of gold and silver “for the glory of God.” Even if they had to steal it from the “barbarians.” That was the mentality of the day.
Of course, it was not long before France, Britain, Portugal, and other European nations began to send out explorers of their own. This led to further conflicts among those nations.
Yet it is important also to understand that the conquest of these new lands brought the conquerors’ religion with it. Catholic missionaries were the first to evangelize on a large scale, and so particularly South and Central America became dominated by Roman Catholicism. The various Protestant organizations, being relatively new, were more concerned with their very survival to think much of missionary efforts. They were often persecuted by Roman Catholics, often at the demands of the Vatican itself. In England, the new break-away Church of England (1534) retained most of the Catholic doctrines but made the King of England the spiritual head (pope) of their Church. It was in many ways a new Catholic Church with a new pope.
So it was inevitable that the spread of the Scriptures would cause many to see the Church of England in the same light as the Roman Catholic Church. They wanted to be free to experiment with a new model of Church, one that manifested the Kingdom of God in every aspect of life in the community.
And so, the Pilgrims and Puritans in the early 1600’s came to America to plant the seeds of a new nation that was based upon their view of Christian government. It took nearly two centuries for those seeds to grow into nationhood (1776-1789). Only then did the Protestant groups seriously begin to evangelize other parts of the world. In the 1790’s the various Bible societies were established.
When John ate of the little book, it was sweet in his mouth, but bitter in his stomach. This foreshadowed the people in the 1400’s and 1500’s eating the Word with great joy and wonder, but then coming under persecution for it. In most places, it was illegal to have copies of any portion of the Scriptures in those days.
When the Church of England broke away from the Roman Pontiff, the schism alarmed many Catholics. It reminded them of the “Great Schism” that had occurred many centuries earlier when the Greek Orthodox Church made its final break with Rome (1054). And so Ignatius Loyola, a Basque from the northern part of Spain, began a new Catholic Order called “The Society of Jesus,” commonly known as the Jesuits, in 1534, the same year that King Henry VIII of England was made Head of the Church of England in opposition to the Roman Pope. Loyola later received his Papal charter in 1540.
These dates mark the real beginning of the counter-reformation, whereby the Roman Catholics attempted to destroy the Protestant movement by force and persecution. This is what John felt in his stomach as bitterness.
The Jesuit model set forth by Loyola lasted precisely 434 years until 1974, when Pope Paul VI lost control over them at their General Congregation meeting. The Jesuits adopted a more “democratic” view, insisting on being controlled by their members and God alone. All of this was fallout from the Vatican II council held from 1962-64.
This 434-year cycle is one that I find most interesting, because King Saul died on a 434-year cycle, dating from Israel’s refusal to enter the Kingdom (Num. 13, 14). We covered this in chapter 6 of Secrets of Time. The Church in the Age of Pentecost is represented by King Saul—who was crowned on Pentecost, the “day of wheat harvest” (1 Sam. 12:17). The authority of the Roman Pontiff was overthrown by the most powerful of all Roman Catholic organizations, the Jesuits, in the meeting of their 32nd General Congregation that began meeting Dec. 2, 1974.
The full story is in a 1987 book by Prof. Malachi Martin, The Jesuits. (Please do not order the book from me; I do not have copies for you.) Martin himself was a Jesuit theologian and professor at the Vatican Pontifical Biblical Institute and remains a loyal, though broken-hearted follower, of the Roman Pontiff. We will have more to say about this in a later bulletin.
Revelation 11 and 12
Revelation 11 and most of chapter 12 are not historical chapters, so we will not cover them fully in our FFI series. Full explanation of these chapters, along with the other chapters that we have skipped, will be given when we put these studies into book form later.
Chapter 11 shows God’s intent in opening the “little book.” His intent is to finish the building of the corporate temple (the body of Christ) and bring it into an earthly manifestation.
Revelation 12 portrays the goal of that manifestation, linking it with the Pattern Son, Jesus Christ. The “man child” is first Jesus Himself, who was threatened by the red dragon, manifesting primarily through King Herod, the Edomite—Edom means RED.
The “man child” was then caught up to the throne when Jesus ascended to heaven. The red dragon, being cast down to earth, persecutes the Church for a time.
This shows us the pattern of the corporate man child (the Sons of God) who are ultimately manifested in the earth. This man child company, the body united with their Head, Jesus Christ, is the final resting place of the glory of God. Hence, this body of people is also the “temple” in Revelation 11.
In this context, Rev. 12:16, 17 tells us that the “earth” helps the woman by swallowing up the flood of “water” coming from the dragon’s mouth.
This is explained more fully in chapter 13, where we see the two beasts: one from the earth, and one from the sea (water). There we learn (as we will see shortly) that the beast that comes from the sea is the Catholic Church—or more specifically, the spirit behind the “Holy See” (Sea?).
The beast that comes from the earth is spirit behind the various libertarian movements that helped the Protestants, not because they believed the “little book,” but because they saw the Roman Church as their prime competitor for world domination. Thus, this beast is just another world system and is not godly at all—yet at the same time, God used it to destroy the Roman power base.
With that, let us go into our study of the two beasts in Revelation 13.
The Beast from the Sea
Rev. 13:1 says,
1 And he stood on the sand of the seashore. And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. 2 And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.
This beast coming from the sea was also prophesied by Daniel in Dan. 7. Hence, in order to understand this beast, we must compare Rev. 13 with Dan. 7.
Whereas John saw just one beast coming from the sea, Daniel saw four of them (Dan. 7:3). Daniel’s beasts were portrayed as a lion, bear, leopard, and a nameless iron-toothed beast. John, on the other hand, sees a single beast with the mouth of a lion, feet of a bear, and also like a leopard.
It is apparent that Daniel saw a succession of empires, all in opposition to God’s Kingdom—hence, empowered by the dragon. But John sees it all as a continuous, dragon-inspired empire seeking to prevent the manifestation or emergence of the Kingdom of God into the earth. Both are correct, of course, but from different viewpoints.
In Daniel’s breakdown of the four beasts, he sees also a fifth that is like an extension of the fourth beast in the progression of history. These four or five beasts are:
Babylon (607-537 B.C.)
Medo-Persia (537-330 B.C.)
Greece (332-63 B.C.)
Rome (63-476 B.C.)
Rome extended (Papacy)
Daniel was living in Babylon, so his prophecy detailed the empires that were to dominate Jerusalem and all the nations in that part of the world. On the other hand, John lived much later during the time of the fourth empire, Rome, which had conquered Judea in 63 B.C. Hence, in many ways, John begins where Daniel ends.
Daniel speaks of this fifth beast, calling it a “little horn.” (A “horn” is power or authority in its symbolism. The horn of an animal was seen as its primary weapon by which it dominated others by force.) Dan. 7:8 describes this “little horn” in this way:
8 . . . this horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth uttering great boasts.
In the explanation that Daniel was given of this little horn, we read in Dan. 7:21, 22,
21 I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom.
John sees the beast coming from the sea primarily in its capacity as this “little horn,” the fifth manifestation of power in the earth. He speaks in Rev. 13:3 of one of the “heads” of this beast being given a fatal wound, and then this wound being healed. In other words, when the fourth kingdom (Rome) seemed to be killed in 476 A.D. an amazing thing happened—its wound seemed to be healed, and a fifth beast took power.
This fifth beast is a “horn” (that is, a power). Dan. 7:7, 8 makes it clear that this “horn” comes from the fourth beast with iron teeth (Rome). That is our first major clue as to its interpretation. The second, of course, is the fact that this “horn” assumes power after the fourth beast is slain. In other words, it is a successor to the Roman Empire. It is, in fact, Papal Rome.
The next major clue is the fact that this little horn persecutes the saints of the Most High until the time that the saints receive the kingdom. That is the time of the manifestation of the sons of God—an event that we have yet to see. And so we know that this little horn was given a rather lengthy time of power in the earth.
During this time of power, as Dan. 7:8 says, it has “a mouth uttering great boasts.” John says essentially the same thing, but tells us specifically what this means in Rev. 13:5,
5 And there was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies; and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him.
Arrogant blasphemy generally takes the form of a man claiming to be equal to or greater than God (or Jesus). This was done many times when the Roman Popes claimed to have the right and power to overrule the precepts of not only Jesus’ apostles, but of Jesus Christ Himself. See Ch. 5 of The Seven Churches, where we quote Pope Boniface VIII’s blasphemy in Unum Sanctum in 1302 A.D.,
“Wherefore, no marvel if it be in my power to change times and times, to alter and abrogate laws, to dispense with all things, yea, with the precepts of Christ; for where Christ biddeth Peter put up his sword, and admonishes His disciples not to use any outward force in revenging themselves, do not I, Pope Nicolas, writing to the bishops of France, exhort them to draw out their material swords? And whereas Christ was present Himself at the marriage in Cana of Galilee, do not I, Pope Martin, in my distinction, inhibit the spiritual clergy to be present at marriage feasts, and also to marry? Moreover, where Christ biddeth us lend without hope of gain, do not I, Pope Martin, give dispensation to do the same? What should I speak of murder, making it to be no murder or homicide to slay them that be excommunicated?
“Likewise against the law of nature, item against the apostles, also against the canons of the apostles, I can and do dispense . . .”
So we see that Pope Boniface VIII made it quite clear that he and other Popes before him had the absolute right to alter or abrogate the laws of Christ and the apostles. He even gives examples to prove his point, so that there can be no misunderstanding his meaning.
To rule on a throne in place of Christ in itself is not a sin. King David did it. He ruled Israel on the throne of God. However, he did so in obedience to God, never thinking of himself as being above God or His law. He ruled with the heart and mind of Jesus Christ (or at least made every attempt to do this). David did not attempt to overrule the divine law, but ruled according to the law. David recognized that it was not his right to make new laws, but only to rule by those laws.
David was thus a true “vicar of Christ.”
The problem comes when men claim to be vicars, but then think that God has empowered them to overstep their bounds. To claim the right to overrule Christ is the way of a rebel leader, not a mere vicar. The Pope thus staged a revolt against Jesus Christ. This is what John meant when he said that this little horn had a mouth speaking arrogant blasphemies.
The claim to “apostolic succession from Peter” lost its validity the moment one of those successors staged the first revolt against the rule of Christ—and Peter! Note that Pope Boniface claimed to overrule the apostles, too. Peter was one of those apostles. How can one claim to be Peter’s successor and yet abrogate Peter? I am sure that Peter would not be impressed by Pope Boniface.
And so, Daniel foresees these things in Dan. 7:8, quoted earlier, saying “this horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth uttering great boasts.” Those boasts were, as John said later, blasphemous.
War Against the Saints
Daniel 7:21, 22 says that the little horn would wage war against the saints until the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom. Verse 25 adds,
25 And he will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and a half a time.
As we saw earlier, Pope Boniface claimed: “Wherefore, no marvel if it be in my power to change times and times, to alter and abrogate laws.” This was what Daniel foretold in speaking of the little horn. One only needs to read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs to begin to comprehend the scope of the Roman persecution in their attempt to retain power over the minds of all men. Millions were killed, tortured, burned at the stake, and “worn down” as Daniel said.
There is no need to look to a future “Antichrist” to do these things. They have already happened. The only reason men look to the future for the fulfillment of these things is because they have forgotten the past and no longer study plain history.
Rev. 13:7 makes it equally clear, saying,
7 And it was given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them; and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.
The saints that Daniel and John picture are not those who submit to the Roman Pope, but rather those who submit to Jesus Christ. When the Pope usurped the place of Christ and took for himself the power to change the divine laws according to his own will—as Pope Boniface testified, and others actually performed—then it became a matter of following God or men.
The same issue came up with the original Apostles in Acts 4:19 when the chief priests of the temple—who had usurped the throne of Christ—commanded them to submit to their authority and stop teaching in Jesus’ name. The priests claimed to sit in Moses’ seat, even as the Popes claimed to sit in Peter’s chair. Both became usurpers and put away the divine law by their own traditions. This disqualified both of them from ruling the Kingdom of God.
Lord, How Long?
The little horn in Daniel 7:25 was given authority to overcome the saints for “a time, times, and a half a time.” John interprets this for us, saying in Rev. 13:5, “authority to act for forty-two months was given to him.”
A prophetic month is 30 days in the Bible. Forty-two months, prophetically speaking, is the same as 1,260 days (30 x 42 = 1,260). It is the same time as found earlier in Rev. 12:6 and 14, where a time (360), times (720), and a half a time (180) is equated with 1,260 days.
In Bible prophecy, a day can be either a literal day, or it can indicate a year (Num. 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6). Since the saints were given into the hands of this little horn for a long time, we know it is speaking of long-term prophecy. Hence, the 42 months (1,260 days) is actually 1,260 years.
It begins in 529-533 A.D. when the Emperor Justinian of the Eastern Empire cast aside the entire Roman judicial system and replaced it with Orthodox Christian law. The practical significance of this was that it put the Emperor himself in a position as the enforcer of Church law—as the head of the Church might interpret it. This new civil power of the Church began to be undermined and overthrown visibly in the French Revolution from 1789-1793. A new power was rising—that of the beast coming from the earth. God would use this second beast to judge the first.