There is gnawing concern on the minds of millions about the course of human events. As world trends and conditions grow worse, and ever more confusing and complex, uncertainty is increasing—and worry is deepening—about what lies ahead for all mankind.
Towering questions loom over every nation!
Everyone wants to know what the future holds. So many are confused, not knowing where to turn for answers to the great questions about the future!
Suppose you could know the direction and conclusion of world events—world history—in advance of the outcome. What if you could know the courses of nations before they happen? What if the future of great nations—indeed the greatest nations—could be known? Imagine knowing tomorrow’s biggest headlines before they come to pass, and how events will affect you, and every human being, personally.
Approximately one-third of the Bible is prophecy—history written in advance. Over four-fifths of this future history is yet to be fulfilled. Tragically, most Bible readers are completely unaware of awesome, impending world events, soon to involve all nations. Vast sections of Scripture are hidden, and remain outside their understanding—completely lost to them. The result is that most simply have no idea what the future holds.
Many have opinions, but few recognize how to find the answers. Others think they already understand the prophecies of the Bible. The result? They remain ignorant of fascinating, incredible—vital!—knowledge, life-changing knowledge.
No book you have read, or ever will, on prophecy is like this one. Different from all others on the subject, it is destined to be read by vast numbers—and probably soon.
Turmoil, fear and confusion now grip all nations of the world. Terrorism, economic upheaval and resultant widespread uncertainty are everywhere. Many sense that the differences between and within nations are intensifying and are threatening to spin out of control. New and different power blocs are forming, with traditional alliances wavering, waning or disappearing.
Ominous signs of grave difficulty in resolving humanity’s most fundamental problems abound. Many sense that the world is hurtling toward trouble, even possibly terrible calamity. Disease, famine and war sweep the planet as never before. New diseases are continually emerging and old ones are re-emerging worse than ever. Famine now decimates entire segments of local populations. Weapons of mass destruction, so incomprehensibly lethal and devastating that they boggle the mind, now threaten humanity—also as never before. Many nations are learning to live “on alert” to terrorist cells, which can strike anywhere without notice.
World conditions, events and trends speak daily in frightening terms about how things could quickly turn in the wrong direction. The future of nations, including the greatest nations, hangs in the balance. History shows that all the great civilizations eventually crashed, having become decadent, awash in material prosperity and greed—and educated in wrong knowledge. This can happen again!
Now think of poverty, illiteracy, disasters of every kind, violence, religious division and confusion, governments collapsing or under siege, increasing riots and protests, shortages of food and drinking water, shallow, pleasure-driven, immoral entertainment, breakdown of family values—and of virtually all other values held sacred for generations—that fill the headlines of newspapers and newscasts.
Then there are the stunning events and conditions throughout the financial world that are affecting every nation. One development after another—virtually all of them bad!—are impacting both Wall Street and Main Street. The effects are seen in tight credit, global stock markets, banks and other lending institutions, rising unemployment, rising inflation, rising fuel prices, declining retirement and pension funds, fallen home values, frozen business and home equity lines, corporate bankruptcies and bailouts—as well as the projected budget deficits of city, state and federal governments, in America and many other countries. These also have a rippling effect through all levels of politics in every democratic or Western nation. The entire global economy is being regularly revisited, reviewed and revised, with many acknowledging they simply do not know what to do next.
Where is it all going?
The question of what lies ahead for the whole world has become the very greatest question today. Millions are searching—wondering about the course of events. More and more world leaders are also expressing pessimism about the rise of troubles, evils, ills and woes also both within and between nations, including those that are the most powerful. So are educators, military planners, sociologists and scientists.
With all nations of Earth increasingly overwhelmed by a complicated and worsening array of difficulties confronting and challenging them, the greatest thinkers are being employed to find answers—solutions! The problem? There are no solutions to any of the world’s biggest problems anywhere on the horizon, but rather only new ideas that never seem to work!
Of course, many are unmoved—not concerned—about the tumultuous events surrounding them, trusting that things will work out in the end “because they always do.” Also believing things will eventually “turn out all right,” others close their eyes, choosing to pursue pleasure and the accumulation of material goods at an even more frantic pace. But for the short term, things will not turn out all right. World conditions are and will become far more serious than any imagine.
Almighty God will soon have to intervene and save humanity from itself. But before this occurs, world trouble will greatly increase—intensifying to staggering proportions. This will be followed by unexpected and cataclysmic events that will shake the whole world, affecting the life of every human being on Earth! Events are building to a final culmination—a tremendous climax! Nothing that has occurred over the past 6,000 years even remotely compares to what is yet to come upon this world! Civilization, as we know it, will change forever.
Knowing something is terribly wrong, many sense the world has reached what the Bible calls the “last days.” This has caused a mushrooming of interest in prophecy.
A growing percentage of thinking people are now asking whether the answers lie in the realm of biblical prophecy. We hear from them every day, and from all over the world. In effect, a market has developed for information. With opinions everywhere, books about prophecy now abound. Just count the number of volumes about this subject within the expanding “Christianity” sections of major bookstores. Again, there has been an explosion of books presenting popular scenarios, ideas, theories, suppositions and interpretations of “how it will all play out.”
Millions of people now routinely discuss terms such as “Antichrist,” “Great Tribulation,” “Millennium,” “Armageddon,” “Beast,” “Mark of the Beast,” “666,” “False Prophet,” “God’s Wrath,” “Abomination of Desolation,” “Babylon the Great” and others, without proper context, meaning or comprehension. Again, they simply do not know where or how to look within God’s Word to get correct understanding of what these and other terms mean, and how they will play out, sequentially, within God’s Master Plan for the end of the age. Like a kind of “Rubik’s Cube,” the many critical elements of prophecy never line up—never come together—for millions wanting to know. This is because, instead of examining for themselves the hundreds of clear scriptures on these and other aspects of prophecy—for proof—many seem content to trust in “experts.”
These supposed experts have set themselves up as authorities on Bible prophecy. There are fiction writers, history-based writers, technical commentators, “mathematicians” and “code experts,” as well as a nearly endless stream of outright false prophets, phony prognosticators, crystal ball gazers and self-proclaimed seers and psychics spewing little more than ignorant confusion on unwitting, but willing, listeners and readers.
When understood, all popular human interpretations of Bible prophecy are ridiculous—a complete jumble of ideas where a little truth is mixed with much error. They are almost painful to read—yet large numbers now subscribe to dangerous, counterfeit scenarios. Those sincerely interested in learning the truth remain tangled in a Gordian knot of disjointed, confusing, competing—and plain wrong!—popular ideas and opinions.
This is because none knows how to understand—either how to use, or even that there are, keys to unlocking climactic Bible prophecies.
But who is an authority? Who really knows?—who really understands what the future holds as outlined in the Bible? While religion should hold the answers, it has not even figured out most of the questions—and, when understood, is seen to be the biggest part of the problem. However sincere at least some preachers and religionists may be, all of their publications merely add to the confusion offered to those desperately seeking answers in all the wrong places.
What is the truth about prophecy? What does the Bible really say about events preceding Christ’s Return? Sobering world conditions make this question larger than ever.
Most who write about the Bible do not realize that this Book interprets itself, that if a symbol is mentioned within a prophecy—any prophecy!—and virtually every prophecy involves symbols—the Author of this greatest of books would not leave the most crucial questions, those involving all humanity, subject to human interpretation. He would provide clues—necessary vital keys!—to understanding the large portions of His Word devoted to future events. He would also make known that He is the Author of the Bible. And He would make absolutely clear that the Bible is a book backed by His authority—that it is His divinely revealed instruction book—and that this need not merely be “accepted on faith.”
God would provide proof of all the things He says!
The Bible commands its readers: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (I Thes. 5:21). This certainly applies to prophecy. You will find that what the chapters ahead explain can be proven—that it is not just opinion from one more ill-informed, self-appointed “expert.”
Tragically, most who read the Bible remain in near total ignorance of its meaning, including being completely unable to recognize the speed, sequence and seriousness—and the awesome magnitude!—of certain onrushing prophecies. And again this is on top of not truly comprehending what any of them actually means!
So many just cannot untangle the maze of what happens when, as well as where and to whom—and why.
In pursuit of the truth, some people never seem able to correctly identify the questions that must be answered to get to it. They cannot create a road map to their destination. They stumble around “ever learning” but “never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Tim. 3:7) of a matter. If we are to answer the great questions about Bible prophecy, we must first correctly identify them—carefully spell them out. Then we must understand why they are important, and be unwilling to accept any but proven facts, whether from God’s Word or history.
All that is written in the coming chapters is the truth about the greatest prophecies of the Bible. This book presents numerous facts, much evidence and real proof in answering the many questions that one might have—that one should have.
Realize that every explanation of a biblical teaching has a reasonable and natural limit, or it could almost go on without end. This is true of prophecy. But this subject also cannot be shortchanged. Its explanation must be conclusive. Therefore, this book has been written in thorough fashion. The reader will be left with inescapable conclusions—answers!—to all the crucial questions regarding Bible prophecy.
Here are but a few examples of questions (a great many others appear as the book develops): Many wonder if the world has entered what is called the “end time.” How can you know if this time has come, and if it has, what does this mean?—for you and the rest of the world?
Then there is the Middle East, the region prophesied thousands of years ago to lie at the center of the very biggest—the most planet-rattling—and shattering!—events ever to occur on Earth! While some Bible students seem to sense at least this much, they do not know in any detail what these events are, or why they will come. Others seem to know the Middle East should be avoided at some point, but assume the rest of the world will be largely “okay.”
Of course, the book of Revelation evokes an endless stream of questions about its meaning and purpose. The last book of the Bible stands shrouded in mystery to almost all who read it. Seen as filled with terms—metaphors, symbols and descriptive language—that seem impossible to decipher, many lose hope that they will ever understand even its most basic messages.
Within Revelation is the often talked about, but almost universally misunderstood, mysterious “beast.” Who or what is this multi-headed, strange and fierce-looking beast?—and who (or what) is the “woman” that rides it? Then, what is the dreaded “mark of the beast”? The Beast of Revelation is the topic of countless speculative books promoting popular theories—but they are all terribly, even disastrously, wrong!
What about the meaning and timing of the infamous battle of Armageddon—and the lead-up of events surrounding it—as well as the abomination of desolation, the four horsemen, the seven seals, the antichrist, the great tribulation, the day of the Lord, the 144,000 and the great multitude...and so many other topics mentioned either in Revelation or by various prophets of the Old Testament?
These are just some of the greatest questions.
Jesus Christ foretold that immediately preceding His Return these and other prophecies would slam into a completely unsuspecting, unprepared world. Here is what He told His disciples: “And take heed…lest…that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:34-35).
These are truly stunning words. Yet, most do not concern themselves with conditions and events that Jesus plainly states will affect everyone on the entirety of the planet—“all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth”—and that these things are to occur without notice or warning, as with a snare.
Jesus continued in Luke with this all-important instruction—for those who are listening (heeding): “Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (vs. 36).
Are you concerned about a prophecy of such magnitude?—one with so much at stake for every man, woman and child alive today? You can escape what lies ahead. You need not fear—if you do exactly what God instructs.
In the Matthew 24 parallel of Luke 21, Jesus went on to spend this chapter, and all of chapter 25, explaining exactly what would occur—what the careful Bible student should be looking for and expect—before His Coming.
So then, naturally following this is the most central, all-important question that should be on the minds of all who care about these prophecies—“Can I escape what is coming, and, if so, how?” In the chapters ahead, you will find the answers to these and many related questions—straight from the pages of your Bible.
There is a related group in all of this who, not knowing God’s supreme purpose—His master plan—believe that the meaning of gigantic prophecies is permanently sealed. These seem to think that God would inspire a host of very specific prophecies, large and small, and have them recorded—but never intend anyone actually know their meaning. Isaiah 29, verses 11-12, is its own prophecy of—first—how some would say all prophecy is “sealed,” and—second—how others would openly profess themselves “unlearned”—ignorant!—and thus unable to know God’s intended meaning. Take time to read this passage.
However ridiculous, these are positions held by many millions who describe themselves as Christians! Obviously, these would be little concerned with escaping that which they neither know nor understand—nor think can be understood.
You can know the plain truth answers to all crucial questions about the future—in fact, you should! And they are all laid out right there on the pages of your Bible! Like so many pieces of a large puzzle that only make sense when fully assembled, each of these questions and others represent a part of a bigger picture, one that is shocking far beyond the imagination of those who think they know the meaning of Bible prophecy.
However, you must come to recognize that this picture not only speaks to the bad news of the near future, but also to the marvelous good news just beyond in store for a world desperately in need of this news. It is the awe-inspiring hidden knowledge presented within the true gospel—the real Message that Jesus Christ the Messenger brought! This understanding overarches everything you can learn about the Bible.
The Bible’s very biggest prophecies are on the threshold of fulfillment, with the early effects of some already underway. They will soon crash and explode with a force completely beyond what anyone anticipates, including “prophecy watchers” who think themselves in the know and on God’s inside track!
The time for understanding these colossal prophecies has come! You can comprehend the message they bring. And after reading this book, you will—I repeat, if you are resolved to do what God requires.
In a few pages—and this will be hard to believe—you have already learned more about the truth of Bible prophecy—just in correct terms alone—than most will ever know. But this is only the barest introduction to the subject. Again, one full third of the Bible, prophecy is a topic that requires all the many chapters comprising this book.
When a large subject is being covered in detail, sometimes a reference of varying size to a connected or related subject must be made. The book does this often. (It also repeats certain crucial scriptures in different contexts.) This could happen more than once—or even many times—with a topic until that topic is eventually covered somewhere in its own greater detail. The Table of Contents will let the reader know when this is scheduled to occur. Do not let these references pull you prematurely to later chapters. The correct view of any prophetic topic involves much setup—and context—to be properly understood.
If you are serious about understanding the future, the book should be read twice. The first time is for flow of events and overall understanding. The second should be done more slowly and for more careful examination of facts and verses cited.
The book builds in layers, and the reader does himself a disservice by hopping around. Chapters must be read in order! This book builds toward tremendous understanding—and at many points as it develops. In fact, no other book on prophecy even comes close to the impact of this one.
I repeat: You are holding one of the most important volumes you could read. It is written with a tone of urgency and pulls no punches. After a point in your reading, you will be unable to put the book down. (Chapters Thirteen through Eighteen alone will prove this.) What it reveals is so compelling, so powerful, so clear—and so provable!—you will fight anger over the mass deception that has been perpetrated on you—and is still being foisted on millions around you.
You are about to see prophecy made clear—the very biggest and most crucial elements of it—all of them—made easy to understand through use of plain language. You will be intrigued—truly fascinated—by what can be known about the future, and will close this book with a firm grasp of everything that is about to happen on planet Earth. Necessarily covered from every conceivable angle, these prophecies will be obvious in meaning to all who sincerely seek to understand—and act upon—what is learned. In the chapters ahead, you will see the Bible’s greatest prophecies unlocked!
Crucial foundation must first be put in place—layer by layer…
Any study of prophecy begins with the simple definition of what prophecy is. Most lack an understanding of even this most basic knowledge. Bible prophecy is “the inspired, divine revelation or foretelling of historical events, written in advance of those events, pertaining to the unfolding of God’s Plan for mankind.” A shorter definition is simply “foretelling the future.”
Prophecy is factual history recorded in advance! God foretells major events before they happen. He wants His servants to know what the future holds—what lies ahead for the world. The Bible is approximately 750,000 words. This means that 250,000 words are devoted to prophecy. Over 80 percent is yet to be fulfilled. Therefore, many major events must yet come to pass.
Before examining in detail the array of events foretold to occur, we must ask: What possible purpose would God have for devoting a full third of His divine Word to a subject—any subject—and then leave mankind in the dark about it?
Many have been taught or believe that it has always been God’s intention to leave all prophecy sealed, closed from understanding.
However, the very introduction to the book of Revelation shows God’s intent is to reveal to “His servants” what lies ahead for all nations. The apostle John begins recording Christ’s words with, “The Revelation [a revealing] of Jesus Christ [not John]...to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass...signified...unto His servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ...Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (Rev. 1:1-3).
At the end of Revelation it states this for emphasis: “Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand” (22:10).
How many have noticed this? Then, even more important, is how many have concerned themselves with whether or not they truly are God’s servants? Do not be so sure you know who is and is not.
Obviously, none can “keep” the prophecies of Revelation, or any others, unless they understand them. God must provide the necessary clues to understanding all that lies ahead. We will examine these.
Matthew 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13 are all parallel accounts of what is called the Olivet Prophecy. This all-important prophecy works in combination with the books of Revelation and Daniel. It puts in sequence events that span the entire period from Christ’s First Coming until His Return, almost 2,000 years later.
Most have not understood the events of this long prophecy because they do not understand how keys unlock it—and they do not understand that Jesus spoke it “privately” to only His disciples—“His servants” (Rev. 1:1). This must be understood because it identifies who are and are not able to really comprehend what lies ahead for the world!
Matthew 24 uses the most detail, so we look there, where the prophecy starts in verse 3. (Because of its central importance, note that this chapter will be referenced as much as any other in the Bible.) Now notice: “As He sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the world [age]?”
In verse 4, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.” Jesus goes straight to the problem that would exist at the end—there are many deceivers at work today. How many people are doing what He said, and taking heed? How many are carefully doing their homework regarding men claiming to represent God?
There are an ever-increasing number of “prophets” arising, exactly as Christ warned three times (just in Matthew 24) would occur at the end of the age. Also, just as He warned, “many will be [and are being] deceived.” Most are not aware of this phenomenon—and its impact in all corners of Christianity.
Next consider verse 15, which concludes referring to “Daniel the prophet” and the admonition “whoso reads, let him understand.” Most today do not—and will not—understand the events soon to smash into civilization. Here is one big reason. God’s servants obey Him (Acts 5:32). Understanding flows directly from obedience to God: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments” (Psa. 111:10).
Grasp this. All real understanding of God’s Plan and spiritual truth comes from God. It is only the action of His Spirit that opens one’s eyes. Notice: “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened” (Eph. 1:17-18).
All who yield themselves in obedience to God, wishing to be His disciples—His servants—will be able to understand all the great prophecies to be fulfilled in the last days! Professing Christianity refuses to obey God, rejects His authority over them—and remains blind as a result. No amount of trying to understand will unlock God’s purpose to those who ignore His commands.
This is the great first key to grasping the meaning of major biblical prophecies. They are intended for, and will only be understood by, God’s people. All others will remain in confusion, mangling and misunderstanding the horrific, world-shattering events that will soon directly impact every person on the planet!
There is a crucial second key that must be identified, and understood, by all seeking to grasp God’s end-time purpose. Without it, nations have remained in total blindness regarding even the question of human survival. Scales cover their eyes. Of course, unable to understand, cynics and skeptics have dismissed all the prophecies of the Old Testament as dusty, antiquated, “old Hebrew literature and poetry, of no use to us today.”
They will soon learn how terribly wrong they have been!
Now note this second key well, for almost none have understood it. All the major prophecies of the Bible have been sealed by God until the “time of the end”—the “last days.” This key hearkens to the group that says prophecy is sealed. Accidentally close to the truth, they have missed a central point. All the great prophecies are no longer sealed!
You do not need to take my word for it. The prophet Daniel, under the direct inspiration of God, makes this point plain—for all who will believe it. Recognize that God is speaking through Daniel, rather than Daniel giving some personal opinion about future events.
The book of Daniel spans a period of over 2,500 years, detailing the fulfillment of events then all yet to occur. Generations of Bible students, unwilling to believe God, have attempted to interpret Daniel’s prophecy. All have failed, resulting in endless disagreement and confusion.
Here is what an angel instructed Daniel at the end of his prophecy: “But you, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (12:4). (Seven times, in just this one chapter, it speaks of the “end,” “time of the end,” or when all things would be “finished.”)
Unsatisfied, and not grasping what was being told him, Daniel once again sought to understand. Notice: “I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?” (vs. 8).
The angel repeated himself: “Go your way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand” (vs. 9-10). Jesus later cited Daniel when He repeated that “the wise shall understand” events described to occur at the end of the age. Let me reiterate that God says obedience brings understanding. No wonder Daniel adds, “none of the wicked shall understand.” Any who rebel against God’s Law, regardless of how they see themselves, fall into this category.
Daniel foretells a time—now here—when “knowledge shall increase” and reveals the compelling, even electrifying, story of what God plans to do in our time. Daniel’s message had no application for his own time!
God’s promise was always to unseal the prophecy when the end time arrived!
So, the second vital key to properly understanding Bible prophecy is that all previous generations—of even God’s true servants—had no chance to comprehend events described in Daniel’s book, or in other biblical passages related to it.
Beginning in the twentieth century, having been revealed and explained, the Bible’s greatest prophecies now thunder a powerful warning to all who will hear—and heed!
The apostle Peter wrote this about how God intends that prophecy illuminate the understanding of those who study it: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well that you take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place…” (II Pet. 1:19). This verse reveals God’s purpose—His “sure word of prophecy,” bringing “light” to “dark places”—so people will “take heed.” You must be willing to heed what is written.
Now continue: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (vs. 20). This is most crucial to understand. No single verse—or even any two or three passages—is sufficient to bring full, correct prophetic understanding on big events.
Grasp this. All of the verses on every aspect of prophecy must be carefully assembled first. Second, building the truth begins with the most clear and obvious passages. These are two of the greatest rules of Bible study when exploring any of this Book’s topics. Sadly, these rules, and the rest of the twelve rules of Bible study, are not followed by, or even known to, almost any who read God’s Word. Prophecy “experts” are no exception.
Continue again in II Peter 1: “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (vs. 21). In short, prophecy comes from God, through His servants, as He inspires them to record His words.
Many of the Bible’s greatest servants were prophets. These men held high office. In fact, most whom God worked through in the Old Testament held this office. Their names jump from Scripture.
Acts 3:19-21 reveals that prophets can announce the kingdom of God. With one exception (Jonah), every prophetic book of the Old Testament records something about God’s coming kingdom. Others delivered powerful messages—usually warnings.
Prophecy can be summarized as having four distinct purposes. All four must be understood. But before this comes some necessary setup.
In ever-increasing numbers, people are seeking psychics, channelers, tarot card and palm readers, fortune-tellers, astrologers, crystal ball gazers and every other medium to tell them what is going to happen.
But no human being operating on his own power can foresee the future. Historians can only record what has already happened. Meteorologists, with the aid of modern technology, can forecast the weather with reasonable accuracy. But even these predictions become unreliable when they model patterns more than perhaps a week ahead.
Psychics and seers can sometimes see elements of the future, because they are connected to the wrong side of the spirit realm. However, these visions invariably have errors alongside any correct elements. (For example, mediums or false religious leaders have on a number of occasions predicted that an earthquake would occur on a certain day and at a particular place, and a quake did strike—but a day earlier or later than predicted, or on the right day but in a different place.)
Few go to the one infallible source, which foretells all the important events that will soon come upon the entire world. This can be done—and with astounding, absolute accuracy!
So plain is the proof, you can easily learn it for yourself! And afterward, you can rest assured that what you have learned will occur—that it is no less certain than tomorrow’s sunrise. When you have completed reading the balance of this book, you need never again doubt the authority of anything found in the Bible—including all matters discussed in its remaining two-thirds, the other 500,000 words it contains about other subjects. In fact, just Chapter Four makes this the case.
So then, the first purpose is that, when proven to have been fulfilled, prophecy becomes undeniable evidence of the existence and power of God. God alone can fulfill prophecy. No human being has even the knowledge of what are world-shattering future events, let alone the power to bring them to pass centuries or even millennia beyond his lifetime. For this reason, it has been said that prophecy is the challenge the skeptics dare not accept!
God openly taunts all such skeptics in Isaiah 41. We read from the Moffatt translation: “Now, the Eternal cries, bring your case forward, now, Jacob’s King [God] cries, state your proofs. Let us hear what happened in the past, that we may ponder it, or show Me what is yet to be, that we may watch how it turns out; yes, let us hear what is coming, that we may be sure you are gods; come, do something or other that we may marvel at the sight!—why, you are things of naught, you can do nothing at all!” (vs. 21-24).
This passage becomes God’s challenge to disbelievers.
Another bold statement, also in Isaiah: “Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them” (42:9).
God is careful to ensure that the credit for foretelling events goes to Him alone, rather than any false prophet or false god. Again from Isaiah: “I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of My mouth, and I showed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass. Because I knew that you are obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew, and your brow brass; I have even from the beginning declared it to you; before it came to pass I showed it you: lest you should say, My idol has done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, has commanded them” (48:3-5).
God does not guess at what will occur. He is not merely the best forecaster or prognosticator. Acting deliberately, He brings to pass what He says will happen. If He tells us something—anything—is to occur, it will occur! Moffatt renders verse 3, “What has occurred I foretold long ago; it fell from My lips, I predicted it, then suddenly I acted—it was done.”
Here is yet another scripture from Isaiah: “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” (46:9-10).
Prophecy is simply God telling human beings what He will do!
Understand that God has a steady hand in the affairs of men—that He is capable of thwarting and overthrowing the stated purposes of governments and nations. Notice this from Moffatt: “The Eternal wrecks the purposes of pagans, He brings to nothing what the nations plan; but the Eternal’s purpose stands forever, and what He plans will last from age to age…The Eternal looks from heaven, beholding all mankind; from where He sits, He scans all who inhabit the world; He who alone made their minds, He notes all they do” (Psa. 33:10-15).
Yes, men may have their plans about how to solve the big, complex problems facing civilization, but God “wrecks”—smashes—them, “bringing them to nothing.” And God has plainly told us how He plans to do this at the conclusion of 6,000 years of human affairs.
A second purpose for prophecy is to encourage Christ’s true followers. Jesus understood that the Christian way involves trials and difficulties throughout life. This is an inescapable fact for those in whom God is working. These are essential to the character-building process.
One of these trials is persecution. Just before His crucifixion, Jesus warned, “Remember the word that I said unto you [He must have taught this previously], The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). In the preceding verse, He had reminded His disciples that “I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (vs. 19). Of course, Jesus was persecuted to the point of horrible torture and crucifixion.
The apostle Paul recorded, “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Tim. 3:12). The word “all” means what it says! Jesus said His servants would be hated! In light of this often difficult path, He reassured His disciples, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20).
Another element of encouragement flows from prophecy itself.
Some may assume that all biblical prophecy is “gloom and doom” and “fire and brimstone.” This is not true! In fact, far from it. The ultimate message of prophecy is the most positive news in all history. Hundreds of verses give a preview of a time of peace, prosperity and happiness—drawing closer daily—that all human beings will ultimately have an opportunity to experience.
Those who choose to yield to God and learn His way of life look forward in a special way, and draw encouragement from these prophecies.
A careful study of the Bible demonstrates that God always warns before punishment—whether it be the destruction of cities such as Nineveh, or Sodom and Gomorrah—or of individuals such as wayward kings of Israel and Judah—or of the whole inhabited world in the Flood. God gives us this certain promise of what will happen in advance of events He intends to fulfill: “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He reveals His secret unto His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). God keeps His promises. He always reveals major events before they happen.
So then a third purpose of prophecy is that a loving God gives human beings—free moral agents who must choose between right and wrong—space to repent.
Ancient Israel has been the main recipient of such admonitions: “If My people…shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (II Chron. 7:14).
When giving the prophet Ezekiel his commission, God stressed what His servants were to do: “O son of man, I have set you a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear the word at My mouth, and warn them from Me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die; if you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at your hand. Nevertheless, if you warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul” (33:7-9).
It has been my long and sad experience that most people simply will not truly listen to what God says. They cannot seem to make themselves take seriously His commands, instructions and warnings.
However, with each warning through the ages, some few do heed and repent. And those who do not—having been warned!—bear responsibility for their choices and actions.
A fourth purpose of prophecy is to motivate those who wish to seek God and claim His promise of protection. Knowledge of what is ahead—of both the terrible and wonderful elements—motivates true Christians to serve God more fully.
We saw that the most serious events just before Christ’s Return will descend like a snare on an unsuspecting world—except for those who “watch,” “pray” and “escape” (Luke 21:36). So then a group is promised to be protected during the times just ahead.
The apostle Paul wrote this sobering warning: “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (I Thes. 5:1-6).
Those who take the Bible seriously know what is coming, and live their lives accordingly.
Isaiah explained that God’s Word is written, “…precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little…” (28:13). Nowhere is this Bible pattern more true than of prophecy. But the passage continues with God explaining why His Word is written this way: “…that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.”
Recall that Revelation is written to God’s servants—to “show” them, not others, what must “shortly come to pass.” Isaiah underscores that prophecy cannot be understood by those who do not seek to serve and obey God. God has scattered bits and pieces of information on prophecy (and all other subjects) throughout His Word in a way that will cause the mere casual reader to “fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken”—by false understanding.
They will not comprehend.
This ought sober the reader, who should now be asking, “How serious am I about understanding—and acting on—all that follows in this volume?” Now is the time to consider this question.
With God’s purposes for biblical prophecy established, we now examine “prophecies” of a different kind…
We saw why God records prophecy. Before examining the prophecies of the Bible, a distinction must be made between true and false prophecy—that which is inspired of God, and what is not. This chapter examines one of the most popular modern “prophecies.”
The 2012 phenomenon has reached fever pitch. Alarm has spread like wildfire. Uncertainty, anxiety—and fear—have gripped many people. Literally, millions are panicking, wondering whether 2012 will be their last year. The end date is supposedly either December 21 or 23, 2012. Doomsday authors point to December 21, the winter solstice. But the Mayan calendar, on which the end-of-days theory is based, ends December 23.
Like the Y2K panic of 1999 regarding the arrival of the year 2000, 2012 hysteria is all over the Internet—in endless books—and in a $200 million movie, filled with the usual sensational Hollywood graphics. And so-called prophecy experts are weighing in on the subject.
People of all ages are asking if cataclysmic events will occur in late 2012 and bring the end of the world. Some are deeply concerned—truly frightened!—that they will not live into their teen years or enter adulthood. They desperately want lives beyond 2012—but fear this will not happen.
Incredibly, some teenagers, and even younger children, have asked if they should end their own lives—and some mothers have expressed thoughts of killing their children—and then themselves—rather than enduring “Earth ending” events!
No one predicts exactly what will happen in 2012, but according to some, it will be “Big!”—“Earth shattering!”—and “Civilization ending”! There are concerns that the entire earth will be flooded, or burned up by solar flares. The North and South Poles may suddenly reverse, wreaking untold havoc on electrical systems. Catastrophic earthquakes may rock the planet, destroying all buildings and opening huge holes in the earth’s crust. Chaos will reign. Mankind will come to the brink of annihilation...and on and on go the theories.
The Mayan “Long Count” calendar tracks “Great Cycles” of time, and is one of at least three calendars that the ancient Mayans used. It is important to note that one particular calendar indicates that December 23, 2012, is the end of the current cycle of time—which began August 13, 3114 BC on the Gregorian calendar. The Mayan calendar itself states nothing of the world coming to an end, or of any cataclysmic events occurring. It states only that the current time cycle will end.
Many of the fantastic stories and much of the hype come from various archaeological and astronomical speculation, as well as mythology and numerological interpretation. Predictions of impending doom and destruction are nowhere to be found in Mayan accounts or in the Long Count calendar itself. To the modern Mayans, including those who study the ancient calendar, 2012 is actually inconsequential.
If you were to travel to any of the many present day Mayan communities and ask about 2012, and the end of civilization, you would see looks of bewilderment. Modern Mayan sources explain that this calendar was never intended to suggest the world would end in 2012, or at any other time. They will also tell you that professing Christians have deliberately twisted their calendar to suit their own prophetic theories and timelines. Yet millions, with little or no understanding of the Mayan culture, attach civilization-ending significance to 2012. All but two ancient Mayan inscriptions are strictly historical. They make no prophetic declarations whatsoever. The two that supposedly do are unclear at best, and open to a wide array of speculation and interpretation.
Regardless of what the ancient Mayans actually predicted (the mere end of a time cycle!)—wild ideas about 2012 abound. The frenzy is worldwide and picking up steam, with no slowdown in sight. 2012 has also become big business, and many are cashing in on the uncertainty!
Will either the planet or civilization come to a violent end on December 21, 2012, as so many believe? Could the speculation still somehow be true? What does the Bible say? Does it in any way validate 2012 as the “end of all things”?
You will soon have no doubt of the correct answers. It is time to prove whether late December 2012 is the end.
The idea of the end of the world has been a subject of great speculation, ridicule, general discussion, fascination and fancy for 2,000 years—ever since Jesus Christ announced He would return to Earth. I repeat: With opinions everywhere, there has been an explosion of literature presenting popular scenarios, ideas, theories, suppositions and interpretations of what will occur just before Christ’s Return.
For Christians, the 2012 question begins with what Jesus said about His Return: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man comes” (Matt. 25:13).
If people were reading even such basic verses, they would never worry about December 21 or 23, 2012 because no man knows the day of Christ’s Return. What a tragic commentary on the state of people who profess to be Christians—but cannot logically compute such rudimentary understanding. But then, most who profess to follow Christ study little or nothing of what He said.
Get this! Just this passage, and other similar ones, rule out this date—or any specific date—that might be suggested for Christ’s Return, or even for the end of all things.
Next read again Jesus’ Olivet prophecy: “The disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the world [age]?” (Matt. 24:3). We saw His long answer began with: “Take heed that no man deceive you” (vs. 4).
Jesus goes straight to the biggest problem that would exist at the end. There is an unending and growing number of deceivers at work today. Are their followers taking heed? Ask again: How many are doing their own research regarding men postulating prophetic scenarios, such as 2012? This is only one. There are many others, and more appearing all the time.
Now let’s examine whether it is even possible—prophetically—for 2012 to be the end. Follow carefully. We have to establish the timing of certain events.
Many are familiar with the term “Tribulation” or “Great Tribulation.” The Bible speaks of this event as one of terrible trouble and indescribable horror. Jesus referred to this time as unparalleled in history: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matt. 24:21). The prophet Daniel also speaks of this period in chapter 12, verse 1. Jeremiah references it in a similar way in chapter 30, verse 7.
The Bible reveals that a certain very specific amount of time must elapse between the start of the Great Tribulation and the Return of Jesus Christ—or “the end of the age.” So understand. If it can be proven that there are not enough years in God’s plainly revealed timeline for 2012 to be the end, then all the hysteria is for nothing!
Numerous passages explain that the Tribulation lasts 2½ years, followed by the year-long Day of the Lord. Together, these events last 3½ years, fulfilling 1,260 days before Christ’s Return.
Let’s understand the implications! If the Great Tribulation were to begin today there is not enough time for December 21, 2012 to be the end. But it is also important to realize that certain biblically described pre-conditions that must lead up to the Tribulation are not, however close they now are, yet here. (The book explains them all.)
So then, just the 1,260 days—again, were it to begin today—would greatly overshoot December 21, 2012. It is therefore absolutely impossible for this date to be the end of the world! All fear of it can disappear! None need be afraid of this fictional doomsday!
It is possible, however, that something of significance could happen in late 2012 because the demon world has a general idea of prophecy, and these fallen spirits do everything in their power to thwart God’s Master Purpose for mankind. They could pull some trick or stunt to confuse the gullible.
But what about the Return of Christ? Will this usher in the end of planet Earth sometime after 2012? In other words, will all people alive today die in the fulfillment of end-time prophecies—as so many seem to almost assume? The answer is a resounding NO! And here is proof.
When Jesus described world conditions leading to His Return, He stated, “Except those days should be shortened [cut short], there should no flesh be saved” (Matt. 24:22).
Some religionists believe the phrase “no flesh be saved” refers to spiritual salvation. But that is not what Jesus is talking about. Rather, that unless God cuts the Tribulation short, no human beings—“no flesh”—would survive. The human race would become extinct if Christ did not return. The implication is that He will return before this happens. For those who believe God, this is further proof that 2012 could not possibly end human existence.
Other prophecy writers speak of the “end of the world”—that the earth itself will supposedly be destroyed. This could not be further from the truth. This idea often stems from a misunderstanding of Christ’s disciples asking Him for a sign of the “end of the world.” The Greek word (aion) translated world means “age.” The disciples were asking when the period of man’s rule would end—and the kingdom of God would be established. They well understood the many Old Testament prophecies that speak of the Messiah setting up the kingdom of God on Earth.
But again, beyond all the bad news is the very greatest possible good news! Yet few speak of this! Most talk only about disaster, calamity and the possible annihilation of all people. This is because they are largely unaware of the most positive elements of prophecy—and of the true gospel!
God’s servants understand the basic framework of His overall prophetic timetable and plan. They are not confused about “what happens next,” once certain prophecies begin to take place. Many prophecies involve a tremendous amount of understanding that God makes available, and with all necessary details. They understand exactly what lies ahead for all mankind, and for themselves—if they are faithful. Those of Christ’s one Church—the one He promised to build (Matt. 16:18) almost 2,000 years ago—have heeded the Bible’s many warnings about what lies ahead.
December 21, 2012, is NOT the end! Do not fear this date! Human beings will never be wiped out. All the hysteria is for nothing! In fact, at a certain point this book will be available—at least for a short period—after 2012 has come and gone! Understand that—while this chapter will still be written as though 2012 is yet future—the strength of everything that the book discusses increases with its passing!—and this date WILL PASS!
Countless verses could have been cited to disprove the 2012 deception. As the prophetic picture gradually becomes clear, you will not only understand the ridiculousness of such false prophecies, but more importantly the truth behind what is soon to play out before the world.
Scripture makes plain that 2012 does not mark the “end of the world,” and that such ideas are preposterous to the point of almost humorous—were it not for the fear and confusion they spawn. But whether we are in the last days is a big question. Before we can answer it, and delve into proof, many other “end of days” scenarios—and a famous seer and author—must be examined…
Nostradamus has captured the world’s attention since the sixteenth century. His mysterious, cryptic writings have been the subject of endless debate. Hailed by millions, and known the world over, this man is among the most famous people in history.
Many believe Nostradamus’ writings hold the key to understanding the future’s greatest events. To followers, he accurately predicted the French Revolution—the rise of Napoleon—and then Adolf Hitler—the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy—and the bombing of the World Trade Center—among others.
Nostradamus is revered as a prophet. But was he a true prophet—one sent by God—or a fraud—a false prophet?
Nostradamus has been the subject of many books and films, including popular television programs. According to one scholar, “…Nostradamus is probably the only author who could claim that his work has never been out of print for over 400 years, apart from the Bible. The interest he generates is extraordinary” (Erika Cheetham, The Prophecies of Nostradamus).
In recent years, as millions of people seek to understand end-time prophecy, this interest has increased. Believing him inspired by God, some think his prophecies are on par with those in the Bible.
In light of the interest surrounding this man, we must ask: “Did God send Nostradamus?”
You can know—and by the end of this chapter you will.
God does not want His servants in doubt about those He sends. They should know whether Nostradamus—or any other man—was sent by God. Let’s learn what most will never know, nor even seek to know.
Michel de Notredame—or Nostredame—was born in southern France in 1503 to Jewish parents, who later converted to Catholicism. Europe had been undergoing the Renaissance. This was the time that produced Galileo, Copernicus, Michelangelo, Christopher Columbus and Leonardo da Vinci.
Son of a merchant and grandson of scholars, Nostradamus grew up in an environment of learning. As a young boy, he studied classical languages, astrology—and possibly the occult! At 14, he left home to study in Avignon, an ecclesiastical and academic center in southern France. Later, he studied medicine at the prestigious University of Montpellier.
Nostradamus became a physician. Early on, he traveled throughout France, caring for victims of the infamous bubonic plague, and gained a reputation as one who healed patients by innovative, but simple, methods. Gravely ill people recovered, and then so did entire towns and villages. He became a celebrated figure in southern France.
In time, Nostradamus returned to Montpellier for further study, eventually obtaining a medical doctorate. He married into a wealthy family and settled into the comfortable life of a doctor.
Soon after, the plague hit, killing his wife and two children. Unable to save his own family, his credibility was questioned. Compounding his troubles, a simple remark about a statue led to charges of heresy against the Catholic church. Summoned to stand trial, Nostradamus chose to flee instead—and spent the next several years traveling in southern Europe. He eventually returned to France in 1544, re-established his practice, remarried and had six more children.
A practicing Catholic, Nostradamus became heavily involved in astrology and the occult. He would sit for hours, deep into the night, meditating in a trance before a bowl of water.
Here is his description of this strange ritual: “Sitting alone at night in secret study; it [the bowl of water] is placed on the brass tripod. A slight flame comes out of the emptiness...The wand in the hand is placed in the middle of the tripod’s legs. With water he sprinkles both the hem of his garment and his foot [in all of this he is speaking of himself]. A voice, fear; he trembles in his robes. Divine splendor; the god sits nearby” (The Prophecies of Nostradamus, book I, verses 1-2, emphasis mine).
During these sessions, Nostradamus would have visions. After returning to his senses, he would record them. He began including them in what were called Almanacs. The first was published in 1550. These contained predictions for every month of the year. His Almanacs were so popular he produced them annually for the rest of his life.
Nostradamus’ fame grew. His services were now sought by the wealthy and powerful. In 1555, he began publishing a monumental project, a 10-part series of predictions called The True Centuries. Each consisted of 100 quatrains (four lines of rhyming verse) written in Latin, French, Greek, Italian and other languages—but in riddles difficult to understand so as to protect himself from accusations of witchcraft.
Nostradamus eventually attracted the attention of Catherine de Médicis, the French queen. She was so impressed she had him produce horoscopes for the royal family’s children. Later, he was appointed royal court physician.
Nostradamus died in 1566, allegedly stating the day before his death that he would live just one more day.
After Nostradamus’ death, the legend grew. Followers claimed he had predicted the death of King Henry II of France—and he was said to have predicted that a young monk, Felice Peretti, would go on to become pope by addressing him as “Your Holiness.” Peretti did become Pope Sixtus V.
So great was Nostradamus’ influence that in the period following the bombing of the World Trade Center, his name was one of the top Google search terms.
People have always wanted to know what the future holds. And they have also always consulted with soothsayers, fortune-tellers, clairvoyants and so-called prophecy experts—alongside the Bible—to learn it. Books on prophecy are often instant bestsellers. Remember, Nostradamus is regarded by many as a prophet.
But again, did God send him?
Let’s ask: How does God describe those who are not sent by Him? Notice: “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? For the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:19-20).
There is no evidence whatsoever that Nostradamus ever based his prophecies on the Bible. They came solely from visions. He neither spoke, nor attempted to speak, according to God’s Word—or Law. Therefore, GOD says—not I—there is “no light in him.” Think of it this way. The man was not enlightened—nor can he shed light on the future. We will, however, later learn why some of his predictions did come true.
It is widely acknowledged that many of Nostradamus’ prophecies failed. One author outlined five that were false:
But other predictions never came true, and most were grand failures:
These events clearly did not happen. Based on number and size of failures, Nostradamus is a particularly poor prophet. Among false prophets, he could be classified as extra false!
A related question—and it is enormous: Could the God of the Bible inspire prophecies that did not come to pass? What about even one?
The answer is obvious—No! If this were possible, God becomes a liar. Recall from Chapter One: “...I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” (Isa. 46:9-10).
Only God can declare the future! Hebrews 6:18 says it is impossiblefor God to lie—His Word is certain. What He foretells—remember God does not predict—will come to pass! Thus, even a single failed prophecy means one was not sent by God.
Nostradamus was known to be involved in the occult, having a large occult library. In a book dedicated to his son, who carried on after him, he wrote this strange and revealing description: “Dreading what might happen in the future, after reading them [his occult books], I presented them to Vulcan [the pagan Roman god of fire], and as the fire kindled them, the flame...shot forth an unaccustomed brightness, clearer than the light is of natural flame, resembling more the explosion of powder, casting a subtle illumination over the house...” (Nostradamus, Preface a Mon Fils). By any standard, this description, and Nostradamus’ conduct, is strange.
God utterly condemns the occult. Let’s read: “There shall not be found among you any one...that uses divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or witch, or charmer, or consulter with familiar spirits, or wizard, or a necromancer [one who supposedly can reach the dead]. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord...” (Deut. 18:10-12).
How many know that this early psychic consulted the dead? Ask: Would God send someone who is involved in practices He explicitly condemns? Of course not.
One either believes such verses or he does not.
False prophets prey on people’s natural fascination with the future. The apostle John warned of them: “Believe not every spirit, but try [test] the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1). Jesus added this warning: “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Matt. 24:11). Now ask: How many worry about being deceived? Most ignore these passages. But this comes with a price.
Understand. God calls such possessors of “enlightened” knowledge “angels of light” (II Cor. 11:13-14). Such “angels” are only too willing to share their “knowledge.”
Jesus also warned, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matt. 7:15).
It is not always easy to detect these deceivers. None of them wear signs exposing who they are. They are smooth operators, but their teachings tear people’s understanding as wolves rip prey.
How can you tell a false prophet? Let Jesus answer: “You shall know them by their fruits...” (Matt. 7:16). And four verses later, “By their fruits you shall know them” (vs. 20). One key to knowing whether a prophet is true or false is by fruits—good or bad. Nostradamus did very strange things—followed practices God condemns—and did not otherwise practice obedience to God’s laws. While possibly sincere, he was deceived and false!
Remember, most of Nostradamus’ prophecies failed. And again, this could not occur with a prophet of God. Recall: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy...” (II Pet. 1:19). God’s prophecies are sure. They never miss. Not one!
Here is God’s command regarding prophets: “And if you [ask] in your heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?” (Deut. 18:21). God’s answer is, “When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken, but the prophet has spoken it presumptuously: you shall not be afraid of him” (vs. 22).
This passage reveals that men can presume to speak for God. This is very serious to the God of the Bible. It should also be serious to you. You must know if God sent a man—or if the man sent himself.
The true prophet Ezekiel recorded, “Son of man [Ezekiel], prophesy against the prophets of Israel...and say you unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear you the word of the Lord; thus says the Lord God; woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing” (13:2-3).
Think of the worldwide fear that Nostradamus’ presumptuous prophecies have engendered. But God declares, “you shall not be afraid of him” (Deut. 18:22). What was the Old Testament punishment for false prophets? “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in My name [meaning, by God’s authority], which I have not commanded him to speak...even that prophet shall die” (Deut. 18:20).
Again, this is serious to God—and it should be to you!
But what if a prophecy is correct? Some of Nostradamus’ at least seemed to be. Notice what God also says in Deuteronomy: “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams [one who sees visions, like Nostradamus], and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass...you shall not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proves you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart...You shall walk after...and fear Him [God only], and keep His commandments, and obey His voice [How many preachers teach that all 10 of God’s Commandments must be kept? Few!], and you shall serve Him, and cleave unto Him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death...So shall you put the evil away from the midst of you” (13:1-5).
Of course, such executions cannot be carried out today. The point becomes: get away from the evil—put it away from you.
Another point bears consideration. Nostradamus’ prophecies are interpreted after events pass, not before. What is the value of this? Nothing! One author admitted, “As far as is known, Nostradamus did not leave a ‘key’ to his predictions...If he did, it has certainly been lost in the dust of the centuries. The need of having to interpret his predictions without the help of such an aid has led to some curious and widely varied versions of his quatrains” (Rene Noorbergen, Nostradamus Predicts the End of the World).
True prophecies—and true prophets—present events before they occur, never afterward. That is the job of historians.
Nostradamus was also an astrologer. In short, stemming from the natural tendency toward superstition within human nature, this is one who seeks guidance from the stars. God also condemns this practice: “Thus says the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen [pagans and unbelievers], and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them” (Jer. 10:2).
Get this. Nostradamus not only read, but literally produced horoscopes—practices that God outright condemns! So tragically, in total disobedience to God’s command, millions today are also fascinated with their daily horoscopes.
In addition, Nostradamus never recorded good news. All of his writings involve bad news—assassination, war, famine, dictators, disasters—never anything good. However, the Bible is a Book filled with good news about the future.
Make yourself confront the source of Nostradamus’ prophecies—where they actually came from. Notice: “Whether the majority of his visions came...from a psychic inspiration, necromancy, tarot cards or a refined form of witchcraft, we will probably never learn. We might conclude, however, that his hidden source of knowledge knew much of the course history would take, and possibly had the power to control or at least influence some of the major future historical developments” (ibid.).
What could be this “hidden source”? The Bible describes the existence of a spirit world. On one side are God, Christ and righteous angels. In opposition are Satan and fallen angels. Earlier we saw Nostradamus spoke of a “god that sits nearby.” Who is this god?
The Bible describes Satan as the “god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4). The devil and his demons are the true authors of Nostradamus’ visions and writings—not the man himself, and certainly not the true God. Remember from earlier that demons have a certain partial, but always twisted, knowledge of how God’s Master Plan will play out. This allows them therefore to partially predict the future through humans. I have seen this many times.
The Bible records a story of the apostle Paul encountering a demon-possessed girl: “And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying [fortune-telling]: the same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God [yes, demons will sometimes acknowledge God if it benefits them], which show unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit [not the girl], I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour” (Acts 16:16-18).
How many search God’s Word for instruction about astrologers, palm readers and psychics? Most do not care what God says, and besides, it is too much work. They enjoy the fascination, but ignore the danger, of toying with powerful, destructive spirits who want people looking to them, not God.
Now this: “Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them...” (Lev. 19:31).
Understand. Satan and his demons want to destroy mankind, and will stop at nothing to achieve their goal! This includes using phony visions to confuse man’s understanding of God’s plan of salvation and the many prophecies that relate to it. Nostradamus was simply a tool of Satan, the father of murder and lies. Read John 8:44. Nostradamus was almost certainly demon-possessed.
The apostle Peter compared false prophets in the Old Testament to false teachers in the New. Notice: “But there were false prophets also among the people [in ancient Israel], even as there shall be false teachers among you...” (II Pet. 2:1).
False ministers come in many shapes and sizes. Some specialize, particularly today, in confusing, incomplete, deceitful theories of how the future will play out. You are beginning to see that the utter nonsense of these conflicting scenarios is almost without end.
While the most famous, Nostradamus is but one of many who have sought to interpret the future. Other well-known deceivers include Edgar Cayce and Jeanne Dixon. Again, all such astrologers, psychics, wizards, seers, fortune-tellers and channelers have exploded in number all over the world in recent years, alongside “experts” on end-time Bible prophecy.
All of these bring their own interpretations—virtually none of them correct even on the details. We saw the Bible warns that “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (II Pet. 1:20). God works through His chosen servants—and no one else. Ephesians 4:11 and I Corinthians 12:28 show that He does occasionally send a prophet, but also that this would only be within His one Church.
Understand. God does not—and would never—send different people to say different things—private interpretations—about the same events. In fact, this is one of the greatest ways you know that the many disagreeing prophecy writers so popular today cannot be of God.
God’s servants always speak with one unified voice (I Cor. 1:10)!
Nostradamus was a false prophet. Give him not another second of your time. Never fear this world’s seers—including all the phony prophecy writers and supposed prophecy scholars. They do not know what they are talking about. God did not send them! They do not speak according to His Law—or almost any other of the plain truths of His Word. They are false! Reject them! They will only confuse you.
Most are not interested in anything that God may require them to do—or not do. They want to be titillated by special prophetic knowledge more than to obey their Creator. Other books on prophecy will not tell you this. Instead of addressing spiritual causes behind man’s unending ills, they focus on political, social, judicial or economic causes.
Because all of modern Christendom ignores even God’s most basic biblical commands, preferring to hold to cherished traditions (Mark 7:7, 9), it does not—and will never—correctly understand true prophecy.
Understanding true conversion and obedience to God opens the door to understanding prophecy. Acts 2:38 explains that repentance and water baptism precede receiving God’s Spirit. Also reread Acts 5:32. Without God’s Spirit, one cannot understand the Bible, which means he will never correctly understand—beyond misapplied bits and fragments—what the future holds.
The all-importance of obedience to God, and to all of His truth—on prophecy and everything else—will loom ever larger through the book!
Behind the scenes, enormous events are taking shape. Prophecy will soon culminate in events terrifying beyond description. These will shake every nation on Earth. Vast numbers will perish. Stay focused as you read.
In this and the previous chapter, we have addressed the beliefs and fears of millions—all founded on easily disprovable false prophecies perpetrated by deceivers. So says the Bible! In the pages ahead, we will see the clarity and logic that God brings to explaining what will actually happen. Remember to prove what is written here. Compare it with your Bible!
Now for the single, longest unbroken prophecy in the Bible…
The Middle East lies in constant turmoil. Disagreement, violence and confusion have defined this region for millennia, making this geographic area a bubbling caldron of unrest, contention, terrorism and failed attempts at peace. Humanly devised solutions never work.
Few understand the historic roots of the Middle East. There, nations, cultures, religions, history and politics collide—with prophecy! How will it be resolved? What does the Bible say? Events in the Middle East carry far greater significance than most even begin to understand!
It has been said that every eight years the Middle East suffers another war. Recent history bears the truth of this statement. Its problems defy a simple solution—but this chapter will prove that God has been carefully guiding events there much longer than any can imagine.
The whole world is tied to the Middle East in a remarkable way. The problems there will not go away, nor can the world pretend they will by simply looking the other way!
The Middle East is at the center of a powerful and vitally important prophecy of which the world is ignorant. But God’s Plan can be known.
God is working out a Supreme Purpose on Earth. Most people are completely unaware that there is a purpose for mankind—let alone what it is! The present and future of the Middle East play a large role in God’s Master Plan for humanity, and this region is at the center of an astounding prophecy that will affect the lives of all people on Earth before this age is finished.
Only God can solve the “Middle East problem.”
Over 2,500 years ago, God inspired Daniel to record a long and detailed prophecy involving many fascinating twists and turns through history. This prophecy will culminate with tremendous events that will occur in our time! These events will impact all nations—and yet they have been sealed, closed until this age!
Some Bible prophecies are general. Others are specific, or even highly specific. Some involve single events that occur at specific moments in time. Others are fulfilled slowly over many years—or even over many centuries or millennia—and involve many events. You will learn that Daniel’s prophecy involves many smaller prophecies that we will examine one by one, until we arrive at the modern age.
We are about to examine one long chapter in the Bible. It will become clear that there is only one way to explain each of the 45 separate verses in this chapter. The fulfillment of each verse is not subject to human reasoning, opinion or interpretation.
Many of these very intricate separate prophecies have already been fulfilled exactly as God foretold, and have taken their place in history. They are now facts that can be examined—and are powerful proofs that a Supreme Being foretold them and then brought them to pass! As you read, recognize that the evidence presented serves to make plain the certainty of Bible prophecy—leaving those who disregard all yet-to-be-fulfilled prophecies without excuse!
The authority of the Bible stands at stake in this series of prophecies. If they stand true—proven by the facts of history!—then a Divine Author recorded them, and all other prophecies to be discussed carry the same authority. If the prophecy failed, then the Bible is a book of men and can be thrown away as not worth the paper it is written on.
This extensive prophecy is found in Daniel 11. In chapter 10, Daniel is left astonished—completely shocked and overwhelmed by what God revealed would happen “at the end,” or in the last days. Chapter 12 plays a part in concluding the lengthy prophecy of chapter 11.
Consider opening your Bible to read each verse beside the text of this chapter. No other approach will have the same impact. Also, bear in mind that men inserted all chapter and verse divisions of the Bible. While these are often helpful to Bible students, they can also inadvertently break up longer stories, thoughts or, as in this case, prophecies. The true meaning and scope of the subject matter can be obscured or completely lost from view due to these divisions.
In this case, the entire chapter builds to an unexpected conclusion, yet to be fulfilled. Let’s examine.
God gave Daniel this prophecy during the third year of the reign of Cyrus, the king of the Persian Empire.
Notice chapter 10, verse 1: “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.”
Daniel recorded that two powerful kings (actually competing kingdoms we will see to be tied directionally to “north” and “south”) would play an overarching role in Middle Eastern events, until the time of the end. These kings set the stage for the unfolding of vitally important future events, which culminate before Christ returns!
Two key verses set the stage. In Daniel 10:21, the archangel Gabriel speaks to Daniel: “But I will show you that which is noted in the scripture of truth.” Chapter 11 introduces the time setting. Verse 2 continues, “And now will I show you the truth.” When God foretells events, He speaks the truth! They are certain! They will happen! Since no scripture can be broken (John 10:35), neither can any verse of this prophecy! Each must stand the test of close scrutiny. (Verses are in bold for the reader to more easily follow.)
Now consider the following from Daniel 11: “Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia. And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will” (verses 2-3).
Who are these four kings—where the last is greater than the first three? And who is the “mighty king”? Daniel was speaking of kings Cambyses, Smerdis and Darius of Persia as the first three, with Xerxes being historically the greatest and richest of the four. It was Xerxes who “stirred up” war with Greece.
We must now briefly understand verses in Daniel 8. Alexander the Great’s father, King Philip of Macedonia, created a master plan to conquer and defeat the Persian Empire with a Greek army. But Philip died before he could execute his plan. His son invaded Persia in his stead, and Alexander the Great’s army fought the Persian army at the famous Battle of Issus in 333 BC (Daniel 8:2, 5-6).
Two years later, in 33l BC, in a second battle at Arbella, Alexander completely defeated the Persian Empire. Having already conquered Egypt shortly before this, he followed this battle with the destruction of everything from the Middle East to India. This happened precisely as prophesied!
Daniel 11:4 says this of Alexander: “And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.”
Numerous historical authorities acknowledge that Alexander died suddenly, at age 32, when “Cut off unexpectedly in the vigour of early manhood, he left no inheritor, either of his power or of his projects” (Rawlinson’s A Manual of Ancient History, p. 208). Alexander’s kingdom did break into four separate kingdoms, because he had no son to take his place. Prophecy was fulfilled just as God foretold.
The following four of Alexander’s generals represent the “four winds of heaven”—or directions to which his kingdom was divided: (1) Lysimachus ruled Asia Minor, (2) Cassander ruled Greece and Macedonia, (3) Seleucus ruled Syria, Babylonia and all regions east to India and (4) Ptolemy ruled Egypt, Judea and part of Syria.
From this point, the prophecy tracks two of these four kings or divisions of territory. The Syrian kingdom represents the “king of the north.” The Egyptian kingdom represents (11:5) the “king of the south,” because Egypt is generally south of Jerusalem. (Jerusalem is the central focus of all prophecy and, therefore, directions are always established by identifying locations in relation to this city.) These two kingdoms often fought back and forth across Palestine—the Holy Land and Jerusalem—with possession of this area constantly shifting, depending on the outcome of the last battle.
Ptolemy I, named Soter, established Egypt as a far greater, more dominant power than when Alexander was alive. Seleucus also became very strong. By 312 BC, he had established an equally powerful kingdom in Syria. These two kingdoms became and represent, respectively, the “king of the south” and the “king of the north,” mentioned throughout this prophecy. Daniel 11:5 states, “And the king of the south shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion.”
Verse 6 is a very specific and truly remarkable prophecy. Let’s carefully examine various phrases within it: “And in the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king’s daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement [note the term used in the margin, “rights,” meaning marriage union or rights, in this case]: but she shall not retain the power of the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm: but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in these times.”
What could all of this refer to?
Fifty years later, Antiochus II (called Theos) was the king of the north, ruling at Syria. His wife, Laodicé, carried great influence in the kingdom. But Theos divorced her and married Bernicé, the daughter of the king of the south. Bernicé was to lose the “power of her arm.” Her husband, the king of the north, was prophesied to not “stand,” and she and her father (“he that begat her”) were both prophesied to be “given up.” These three did come to a bad end.
An amazingly detailed, precisely fulfilled prophecy ensues from verse 6. Rawlinson states that “Her [Laodicé’s] influence…engage[d] him in a war with Ptolemy Philadelphus [king of the south], BC 260, which is terminated, BC 252, by a marriage between Antiochus and Bernicé, Ptolemy’s daughter…On the death of Philadelphus [“he that begat her”], BC 247, Antiochus repudiates Bernicé, and takes back his former wife, Laodicé, who…doubtful of his constancy, murdered him to secure the throne for her son Seleucus [II] BC 246…Bernicé…had been put to death by Laodicé” (p. 222).
Now verse 7: “But out of a branch of her roots [Bernicé’s parents] shall one [this is her brother who would take the throne in his father’s stead as the king of the south] stand up in his estate [“in his office,” margin reference], which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail.”
Rawlinson states, “Ptolemy Euergetes [the III, eldest son of Philadelphus, and therefore Bernicé’s brother, a branch of her roots] invades Syria, BC 245, to avenge the murder of his sister Bernicé…In the war which follows, he carries everything before him” (p. 222).
Verse 8 speaks of the king of the south carrying silver and gold vessels, with captives, back to Egypt (verse 9) after a successful invasion of the north. In fact, Ptolemy III did conquer Syria, the Port of Antioch (capital of the kingdom) and Seleucia. He took a vast amount of spoils, including the return of 2,500 idolatrous vessels and molten images that, in 526 BC, the northern king, Cambyses, had taken from Egypt.
The passage also states that King Ptolemy III would rule longer (“more years”) than the king of the north, Seleucus II. Seleucus died in 226 BC, and Ptolemy III reigned four years longer, until 222 BC.
At the death of Seleucus II, his kingdom was ruled successively by his two sons. Seleucus III reigned just three years (226-223 BC), while his brother, Antiochus III, also called “the Great,” reigned for 36 years (223-187 BC). Each established great armies to fight Egypt, recover their port city of Seleucia and avenge the defeat of their father.
It took 27 years for Antiochus to recapture Seleucia and conquer Syria and the area from Judea to Gaza. Verses 10 and 11 state, “But his sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and one shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through: then shall he return and be stirred up [“be stirred up again,” margin reference], even to his fortress. And the king of the south shall be moved with choler [anger], and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north: and he shall set forth a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into his hand.”
Ptolemy IV fulfilled verse 11 exactly. After gathering an army of 20,000, he did “move with [anger]” against Antiochus the Great. He fulfilled verse 12 because he did “cast down [kill] many ten thousands.” However, he retreated too soon to Egypt, having made too hasty a peace with Antiochus, and wasted the substance he had gained, hence the phrase, “but he shall not be strengthened by it” (i.e., his victory over Antiochus in 217 BC).
Twelve years later (205 BC), Ptolemy Philopator, king of Egypt, died. His baby son, Ptolemy Epiphanes, was given the throne. Thus, Egypt became vulnerable to attack. Antiochus took advantage of this vulnerability “after certain years” by defeating Egypt. Verse 13 explains, “For the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches.”
Soon thereafter, Antiochus formed an alliance with Philip of Macedonia to attack Egypt and retrieve Phoenicia and Southern Syria from Egypt. The famous Jewish historian, Josephus, states that a large number of Jews joined Antiochus in this campaign. Verse 14 describes this. (Again, you should try to carefully read each verse from your Bible as these events in history are outlined before you.)
Next, Antiochus laid siege all the way from Egypt to Sidon, eventually seizing control of Judea in 198 BC, at the Battle of Mount Panium. Notice the reference to the Holy Land (Judea) as “the glorious land” (verses 15-16).
At this time (198 BC), Antiochus arranged to have his daughter, Cleopatra, and the now little boy king, Ptolemy Epiphanes, marry. But this plan to control and possess Egypt, through deceit, failed, because Cleopatra deceived her father, Antiochus, and did not help him take control of Egypt (verse 17). (This was not the same Cleopatra as the famous Egyptian queen of 31 BC.)
This caused Antiochus to focus on defeating and taking control of the coasts of Asia Minor, including the islands around it (197-196 BC). However, in the Battle of Magnesia (190 BC), Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus, the Roman general, defeated him and destroyed his army (verse 18).
Daniel records what came next: “Then he shall turn his face toward the fort [fortresses] of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found.” Antiochus, after redirecting his concerns toward his own fortresses, was killed in 187 BC while seeking to consolidate his assets by plundering the Oriental Temple of Belus in Elymais (verse 19).
Heliodorus, the “raiser of taxes,” was sent by Seleucus IV Philopator to raise money throughout Judea. However, Heliodorus poisoned Seleucus IV, who consequently reigned only eleven years—187-176 BC (verse 20).
Seleucus IV had no heir, so his younger brother (Epiphanes or Antiochus IV) won control of the kingdom by flattery (“flatteries”) and deceit. The next verse states: “And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honor of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries” (verse 21). This man was an extremely “vile,” contemptible person and his aid, Eumenes, did come to assist him. Rawlinson states that “Antiochus [Epiphanes], assisted by Eumenes, drives out Heliodorus, and obtains the throne, BC 176. He astonishes his subjects by an affectation of Roman manners...His good-natured profuseness [flatteries]” (p. 225).
Verse 22 pictures an effort by Antiochus Epiphanes to remove the Jewish High Priest (“prince of the covenant”). Antiochus’ purpose was to install someone who would be loyal to him. Some misunderstand the term “prince of the covenant” to be a reference to Jesus Christ. However, it is not.
The next three verses are an insight into Antiochus’ character and manner. He started with a small group of supporters, yet through flattery and deceit he slipped into greater power and secured larger numbers of followers. Although his ancestors granted favor to the Jews, he swept into Lower Egypt and Galilee, thereby alienating the Jews. Rawlinson states that the Jews “were driven to desperation by the mad project of this self-willed monarch” and “Threatened with war by the ministers of Ptolemy Philometor [the then king of the south], who claim Coelé-Syria and Palestine as the dowry of Cleopatra, the late queen-mother, Antiochus marches against Egypt” (p. 225).
This occurred in 171 BC. It was then that his nephew (Ptolemy Philometor) attacked him with a “great army.” However, Ptolemy’s officers betrayed him to Antiochus and he lost the battle (verses 23-25).
In 174 BC, Antiochus had joined his young nephew Ptolemy at a feast. Antiochus feigned support for Ptolemy against his brother, Euergetes II, in a case of mutual deceit (verses 26-27).
Next, Antiochus decided to attack and slaughter as many Jews as possible. Upon returning from Egypt in 168 BC, with “great riches,” he sacked the Temple at Jerusalem and took from it the golden vessels—all as part of his planned genocide of the Jews. He turned back toward Egypt, this time without similar success, because Ptolemy Philometor had secured assistance from Rome (verses 28-29).
The Roman commander, Popillius, brought his fleet of ships to attack Antiochus. Popillius secured surrender on his own terms, which included leaving Egypt after returning the island of Cyprus to Egypt. This caused Antiochus, once again, to vent his anger against Judea (the Jews) as he was returning to Antioch. This “indignation against the holy covenant” offered favor to any Jews who would renounce their beliefs and practices (verse 30).
Antiochus dispatched troops to Palestine one year later, in 167 BC, with terrible results for all who fell in his path. He destroyed the Temple and its sanctuary—doing away with the daily sacrifice (described in Daniel 8:11, 24), while setting up an image, the abomination of desolation, directly on the altar of the Temple—thus defiling it, or making it desolate! (There are those who attempt to portray this verse as having been fulfilled at the time the Dome of the Rock was built on the Temple site, over eight centuries later, in the seventh century AD. For this to be true, all of the verses that have been explained to this point would require some other equally plausible explanation to “work” with the precision we have seen every step of the way thus far. This would also apply to all the verses that follow verse 31.) Antiochus Epiphanes placed the “abomination that makes desolate” in the Temple in 167 BC (verse 31).
But understand. Antiochus’ prophetic fulfillment of this verse is a crucial type of a latter day fulfillment to occur in our time. Luke 21:20 reveals that Jerusalem will be left in “desolation” by “armies” that will “surround” and destroy it. The gravity of this prophecy will be briefly further addressed at the end of the chapter and covered in full detail in a coming chapter.
It is important here for the reader to recognize that God often uses duality to show the world, through prior similar events—as types—exactly what He intends to do again—to repeat—usually in a far greater way in the future!
This is an absolutely vital key to understanding the meaning of all Bible prophecy!
The first part of Daniel 11:32 describes Antiochus’ attempt to destroy the Jewish religion. He outlawed both the daily sacrifice and the daily ministration of the Temple through a system of flattering (with favors) any Jews who would renounce their beliefs.
It is critical to understand that, from the middle of verse 32, the prophecy shifts forward to the time of the New Testament Church. We have watched each step of this prophecy unfold through two centuries of time. The time setting now fast-forwards approximately 200 more years to depict true Christians, “even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed” (vs. 35). Notice that verse 32 speaks of “people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits [great works].” Verse 33 continues, “they that understand among the people shall instruct many.”
At this point, many theologians and commentaries note that the highly detailed, precisely fulfilled, verse-by-verse story appears to come to an abrupt end. But this is not true!
These two portions of verses picture two entirely different time settings—the first being a type of the latter. Certainly Antiochus did “corrupt by flatteries” a great many Jews. The latter part of verse 32 speaks of the time of the Maccabees, who resisted Antiochus’ pattern of corruption and slaughter. They represented a type of what Christ and the apostles would begin to do when Christ built His Church (Matt. 16:18).
Christians are supposed to be “strong” and should always be prepared to “instruct many”—because they “understand” what God is doing in His Plan on Earth! Of course, Jesus Christ and the apostles certainly fulfilled these verses toward “many.”
We saw Daniel specifically records that at the time of the end (12:10), “none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” The entirety of Daniel 12 is a continuation of this end-time setting—established from here forward.
The latter part of verse 33 is a picture of the martyrdom of Christ and all of the apostles except John. For true Christians, persecution and martyrdom continued into the Middle Ages. (For even those true Christians who have grown lukewarm, this will occur again before Jesus returns.)
Verses 34-35 are a clear, powerful description of the path of God’s true people from the time the New Testament Church was founded all the way to the present. Notice: “Now when they shall fall, they shall be [helped] with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries. And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.” (For the moment, these verses are in part better understood by comparing them with Revelation 12:6, 11, 13-17.)
Daniel 11:36 describes the king of the north just before and during the early centuries of the New Testament Church. From 65 BC forward, the Roman emperor (king of the north) controlled the Holy Land (Judea). Each Roman emperor certainly did “exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god,” by requiring all his subjects to worship him—and he even required sacrifices to be offered to him, like he was a god! Roman emperors did act as though they were gods. They did speak against the true God, and persecuted His true servants—Christians—for many hundreds of years.
Verse 37 shows how Roman kings, prior to AD 476, had worshipped idols. History records that these Roman emperors did “magnify [themselves] above all”!
Verse 38 describes how the entire Roman Empire did “honor the god of forces [margin, “munitions”].” The Roman army did develop into the most powerful war machine in history to that time, and the empire did amass gold, silver, jewelry, etc. From Justinian’s reign, in AD 554, when the “deadly wound” of Revelation 13 “was healed” (after a 78-year period from AD 476, when three northern barbarian tribes had swept into and temporarily controlled Rome), the civil emperors in Rome did begin to honor (with power, gold and silver) a god that had been unknown to their ancestors or “fathers.” (More about this “wound” is covered several chapters ahead.)
This “god” held a high religious office and received great deference from Roman emperors.
Through these emperors, this high religious office controlled or “ruled over many” and had great power and wealth given to it. Carefully compare this portion of the prophecy with Revelation 17:4-5 and 18:3 and 16, where this religious power is described as “babylon” and “the mother of harlots” who “fornicates” with the “kings” and “merchants of the earth” (verses 38-39)! (This and related prophecies are also explained in much detail later.)
Verse 40 plainly uses the term “at the time of the end.” It then makes reference to “the king of the south shall push at him,” while it states that “the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind…” What does this mean? Who are these two kings? Who in particular is this end-time king of the south?
Anciently, this was Egypt. Rome seized Egypt and made it a province. Today, Egypt does not have a king and is a modern republic. During the intervening centuries, there has been no great king of the south. However, recall that Ptolemy III Euergetes did seize part of Ethiopia, as the king of the south in Egypt, in 247-222 BC.
Both Rawlinson and the Encyclopaedia Britannica (11th edition) explain that Egypt and Ethiopia were governed together several different times. Ethiopia was the only part of the territory controlled by the king of the south that remained independent until the twentieth century.
Once again, only Ethiopia continued and remained independent in East Africa from the time of the Roman Empire. Therefore, no other country or government could fit as the king of the south—i.e., by having been a part of the ancient land controlled by the “king of the south.” Remember, verse 40 explains that the setting is the time of the end. The king of the south “push[es]” toward the north—or Rome. This occurred in 1895. At that time, about 10,000 men, under the Ethiopian King Menelik, came against the Italian army led by General Baratieri. It should be noted that Eritrea (north of Ethiopia) belonged to Italy, while southeast of Ethiopia was Italian Somaliland.
One year later, in 1896, the Italian General Baratieri attempted to defend Eritrea against the Ethiopian attack. Over 11,000 people were either killed or taken prisoner. The greatly outnumbered and inexperienced Italian army was almost completely destroyed in a battle fought over rugged, mountainous terrain.
Italy never forgot this defeat and vowed revenge. It took almost 40 years, but the opportunity finally came.
In 1927, Mussolini determined that he would attack Ethiopia in eight years (1935), at a point 39 years after the defeat. He followed through, and this did occur in 1935! Again, notice verse 40, in its reference to Mussolini’s attack: “…and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.”
A whirlwind is the equivalent of a tornado, which is a powerful storm that drops out of the sky. Mussolini did, in fact, bring a large air force to attack Ethiopia. Of course, his “chariots” were modern tanks and other armaments. The “many ships” were part of an armada carrying over 100,000 soldiers to the battle. Verse 40 ends with an amazing statement—it describes this large force as “pass[ing] over.”
Just as God foretold, Mussolini withdrew and did not completely finish his attack. This is because God has reserved one final influential and very powerful leader who will arise in Europe and complete this prophecy! We have now arrived at our point in time—today—when the verses that follow verse 40 are those that are yet to be fulfilled—while all verses preceding and through verse 40 are already fulfilled, and have become established facts of history!
May all who read the next five verses come to understand their message for our time! They become a kind of overview for many things that follow in the book.
Many Bible prophecies (we will learn them) reveal that there is yet coming one final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire—when a final king of the north will seize the world stage for a short period prior to the Return of Christ. While this understanding will be covered in much greater detail later, for our purpose here understand that the world is now moving toward this final terrible period of trouble. This dictator will gather 10 other kings (Rev. 17:12-13), who will give their power and allegiance to him, in this last revival of the Holy Roman Empire.
Daniel 11:41 says of this king, “he shall enter also into the glorious land.” This entrance into the glorious land, or Holy Land, has not yet happened! The prophecy continues, “And many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.” (Incidentally, Moab and Ammon comprise the modern Middle Eastern nation of Jordan—Ammon the northern half and Moab the southern half. Many prophecies indicate God will likely spare this region for a reason yet to be covered.)
Verse 42 declares “Egypt shall not escape” this time. Then, verse 43 says, “the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.” The king of the north will, once again, control these two countries, which Italy lost control over at the end of World War II. After the invasion by Mussolini, Ethiopia is no longer referenced.
Verse 44 makes reference to “tidings [news] out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him.” Russia and the Orient lie north and east, respectively, from where the final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire will be established in the Middle East.
Remember that, prophetically, God uses Jerusalem as the geographic point from which to reference any direction. The king of the north will hear some troubling news and Russia, coupled with many nations from the east, will join the war, centered in the Middle East.
Verse 45 summarizes the end of this now seen-to-be longest of all Bible prophecies. The king of the north (the final civil ruler over the last revival of the Holy Roman Empire) will sweep into the modern land of Israel, “the holy mountain,” to establish his religious headquarters. Another prophecy, in Zechariah 14:2, declares that “the city [Jerusalem] shall be taken.” The rest of this verse must be read to fully understand the horror that occurs when Jerusalem is taken and conquered.
Take a moment to read Luke 21:20, where Jerusalem’s future destruction comes from armies that for a time merely surround it. Zechariah 14:3 continues, explaining what ultimately happens: “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle. And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives which is before Jerusalem on the east” (also vs. 4). In the end, the all-powerful, returning Jesus Christ destroys the armies that destroyed Jerusalem! Much more detail of this will follow at the right juncture.
When speaking of the final Beast and False Prophet, Daniel 11:45 concludes, “Yet he [the Beast] shall come to his end, and none shall help him.” Zechariah 14:3 explains that Christ will deal with him—as well as with the False Prophet. Revelation 19:19-20 and Zechariah 14:12 give more explanation to the terrible end that will come to these two infamous figures!
You have seen but one, albeit a very big one, of the many undeniable proofs of the Bible’s authority, as understood through fulfilled prophecy. We saw Daniel 10:1 declare, “The thing [this prophecy] was true,” and verse 21 ties this long prophecy to “the scripture of truth.” Foretold by God, specific event after specific event has come to pass—and exactly as prophesied! God’s Word has been shown to be true.
What will you do about it?
The future—your future—turns on the understanding and application of the prophecies detailed through the chapters ahead. You can be certain that the final events (the last five verses) of the Daniel 11 prophecy will come to pass—and soon.
And God will use certain “triggering” events…
The global economy is in the worst crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s! In 2008 alone, a staggering $50 trillion in wealth was erased around the world.
Despite unparalleled affluence in the Western world, personal and corporate bankruptcies are soaring. So is use of credit by consumers. Millions are losing jobs. More millions their homes. The U.S. national debt is measured in trillions of dollars! Headlines of credit fraud, identity theft, graft and corruption fill the news. Thinking people know events are spinning out of control.
The sobering statistics that follow are but a snapshot in time and grow worse by the day. As you read, factor in an increased amount to each statistic and trend.
The world’s largest economy, the United States, the place to begin review, is now more than $13.7 trillion in debt—and this debt is growing by over three billion dollars daily! This amounts to an over $44,000 bill for every U.S. citizen—or over $124,000 per taxpayer. Some expect the debt to be above $14.5 trillion after the next fiscal year—which means a growth of additional billions each day next year! (In reality, these numbers will almost certainly be higher.) Such debt can never be repaid! In fact, most nations of the West are also now being crushed by impossible debt. Catastrophe now looms—and, in the case of America, here is why.
The United States received about $2.1 trillion in tax revenue in 2009—a number much lower than what the government originally projected. Spending was over $3.5 trillion for 2009.
Now suppose that these numbers represented the income and spending pattern of an American family of median income. Such a family would take in just over $50,000 (2008 estimate), but be planning to spend over $83,000—while already carrying more than $326,000 in debt! Individual families would never do this—or if they tried, would go bankrupt before it could happen.
But governments can print money.
The national debt is projected to approach $20 trillion in 2014!—and hit $26 trillion in 2019!—almost double the present. Such deficit spending is unsustainable.
Money is borrowed at existing rates of interest. Understand that just a very small 1 percent rate increase on the debt will raise the interest payment of $200 billion by several hundred billion each year. But this is only true if the deficit did not rise! Many think all these projections to be very conservative. They will likely be much worse.
No thinking person believes such overspending can continue without end. Further, the addition of expensive new government programs and exotic new kinds of taxes will only greatly exacerbate the downturn. America will not stop spending because it is conditioned to believe it can have anything it wants. It need never deny itself. A country this big, this great, and one with such a rich history, cannot fail.
This thinking is tragically wrong. What world empire—with half America’s problems—survived?
The economies of America and other nations of the West will in time collapse into full-blown bankruptcy. This will happen, although things could temporarily get a little better. Various individual states will in fact likely precede the federal government and country into bankruptcy, and thus, hasten the overall collapse. Of course, nature abhors a vacuum, and a European-based world government will step in to fill America’s abdication as global leader. This cannot now be far away.
The world as you know it—including your life—will change beyond your wildest imagination.
So far, we have only discussed government debt. Private debt—from loans and credit cards—amounts to an additional $52,000 for every American, compared to an average savings of only $3,120.
In 2008, $6.9 trillion was lost in the U.S. stock market and $3.3 trillion in its housing market. These are devastating losses to peoples’ investments, including stocks, bonds, retirement plans, employee stock ownership and home values. Lifelong hopes and dreams crash daily!
Employment is now shrinking at the fastest rate since the Great Depression. Unemployment lingers around 10 percent in the United States. And this does not include the (many millions of) discouraged workers who have given up looking. Many other countries are much worse!
The combination of exploding debt and unemployment is hitting home! In 2009 alone, well over one million Americans declared bankruptcy, with more and more families also winding up jobless and in despair—facing abject poverty. This problem is worldwide. Many well-educated middle class people now live on unemployment, or welfare and food stamps—having never thought this could happen to them. Tent cities are springing up across America. Thousands are living in cars, and a small but growing number now live in sewer systems.
The Federal Reserve reported that the total American household worth dropped 2.7 percent in the second quarter alone (April to June) in 2010—or $1.5 trillion—to $53.5 trillion. This is 18.7 percent below its pre-recession peak of $65.8 trillion. Worse, this sudden unexpected decline comes after slight improvement over the previous four quarters.
The combined budget deficit and weakening dollar threaten to introduce hyperinflation, ruin the finances of its citizens, and totally destroy America’s economy. China, Japan, Germany and other creditor nations are deeply concerned about investing more money in an essentially bankrupt country. If they either pull out of American investments or call in their loans, the consequences will be disastrous. One of the world’s richest men, Warren Buffett, declared early in the crisis that the U.S. economy has “fallen off a cliff.” But things have worsened.
Most troubling for this superpower—long the engine of the world’s economy—are the ongoing woes in its banking system. In 2008, 25 banks collapsed. In 2009, the number was about six times worse, and in 2010 the rate has accelerated, with a much higher toll expected for the year.
What started with subprime mortgage losses has now grown into a full-blown financial crisis. U.S. banks have lost many, many billions of dollars, and this will grow much higher. No one knows how much—and thus where it ends.
America’s economic problems have ignited a global firestorm! Several European and Asian countries are also in recession. The Japanese Nikkei index trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange—the world’s second largest market—continues its long fall. Markets in Russia and throughout the European Union are also suffering. Many countries face shrinking economies, big deficits, mounting debt, unstable currencies and rising unemployment. Financial markets are unraveling with a speed not seen since the Crash of 1929.
To compound matters, increasing economic, health and hunger crises in Third World nations are adding to the First World economic burden. As leaders scramble for solutions, deep fear pervades the world’s corridors of power!
All of this threatens to destroy the global economy. Attempting to solve the crisis, leaders are calling more often for a unified economic system. More now suggest one currency, one economy and one world government!
Understand. The world economic outlook is grim and growing darker daily. It is important to first understand the origins—the causes—of today’s economic distress.
The crisis began with the so-called “credit crunch”—the reduction in the availability of loans. Banks became reluctant to lend—whether to individuals, businesses or other lenders.
Banks traditionally operated by taking deposits from customers and lending to those seeking loans. The difference between the interest rate paid on deposits and the higher one charged on loans—the “spread”—was profit. If customers defaulted, banks were liable to depositors for payment. They held the risk “on the books”—it was their responsibility.
It was therefore in a bank’s interest to carefully screen customers before lending. The customer needed a good job and sizeable down payment. This conservative approach enabled banks to be sound—and highly profitable—for decades.
In the 1990s, banks changed their way of operating. Seeking ever-higher profits to satisfy shareholders, and to secure executive bonuses, they decided they could make even higher profits if they loaned more. Careful screening of applicants stopped.
Customers who previously never qualified under standard lending procedures—“subprime” customers—were aggressively targeted as a lucrative source of income. Loans were provided to people with no income, no job and no assets—so-called NINJA loans.
Other “sweeteners” were provided, such as no down payment and interest-only payments. Those who approved these loans were no longer attached to the risk of default—and were handsomely paid for their efforts. The subprime mortgage market became a ticking bomb, waiting to explode.
Look at how this has come home to roost. In 1980, only one in every 400 mortgages had a down payment of 3 percent or less. By 1990, it was one in every 200 mortgages. In 2003, it had become one in every seven—and by 2007, it had fallen to one in every three! As the housing bubble grew, banks lowered standards to get as large a slice of the real estate market “pie” as they could. In less than three decades, they grew 133 times more eager to approve loans with tiny down payments.
In the process banks in effect invited large numbers of homebuyers to default. The inevitable crash in home values came to pass, devaluing the average home by far more than 3 percent! (Some counties in Florida have seen home prices drop by over 50 percent from their 2006 peak.)
With the steep and steady decrease in home values, resale rates are also plummeting. At the time of this writing, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported a decrease of over 27 percent in month-over-month U.S. home resales from June to July 2010—the steepest drop ever recorded (The Associated Press). Annual resale estimates were scaled back to 3.8 million—also the lowest number the NAR has ever recorded (The Wall Street Journal).
Such decreases can be largely attributed to the unwillingness of sellers and buyers to budge: “Potential buyers are hesitating because they think home prices still have further to fall. Potential sellers—those with the stomach to put their homes on the market at all, anyway—are reluctant to lower their prices” (The Associated Press). This self-perpetuating cycle is almost certainly destined to continue!
The result? Every day, due to inability to reverse or control their losses through sale of their home, growing numbers of Americans are simply mailing their house keys to mortgage lenders and walking away from houses. And many of these homes are insured by the government. The number of families in danger of home foreclosure is said to be 10 times greater than its pre-recession rate of just two years ago! This is resulting in billions of dollars’ worth of homes sitting empty, with banks left holding the bag. Despite all this, some banks still offer jumbo loans with little or nothing down for “qualified buyers”!
Economic upheaval in the United States will yield untold troubles there. Weak defense. More enemies. Emboldened enemies. Less aid to other nations. Collapsing infrastructure. Wide-ranging political repercussions. Civil unrest and violence. A loss of prestige and influence. A spiral toward second- and eventually third-world status!
Two more developments have played a significant role in the onset of the current crisis. The first was deregulation of the U.S. financial services industry with the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. Carefully crafted during the Great Depression to control stock market speculation, Glass-Steagall prevented retail and investment banks, and insurance companies, from owning each other.
With the repeal, huge financial services conglomerates rapidly formed, combining these types of financial institutions. Industry behemoths such as Citigroup and JP Morgan were born. This meant that retail banks seeking ever-higher profits could dive into high-risk speculative ventures through ownership of—or being owned by—investment banks. This brought disaster in 1929.
The second change was the low interest rate policy pursued by the Federal Reserve. These rates encouraged banks to target subprime customers with variable rate mortgages. They offered initially low “teaser” rates that would reset upward in two or three years. With home prices rising, customers took the bait, believing that when the reset arrived they could refinance at affordable rates.
Many mortgage brokers misrepresented terms and conditions to eager customers who were themselves providing fraudulent information. Many banks did not bother to check the information. Predatory lending invited predatory borrowing!
Banks then sold risky bonds as safe investments to unsuspecting investors. Rating agencies, paid by the banks, rated these bonds (those with subprime components) as being safe—even giving some the highest rating.
With big, steady, annual increases in real estate prices, builders nationwide went on a building spree. This created a sense of “easy money”—“something for nothing.” In their greed, many scammed the system. This does not count the many others who were outright corrupt—and scammed people in the usual ways. And of course predatory lawyers are now enjoying a field day at every turn!
The crisis began slowly in the middle of 2007. Due to a glut of homes for sale, housing prices fell moderately. But the scales were tipped—as the first round of rate resets was coming due. Faced with exploding payments, falling prices, and inability to refinance mortgages, millions defaulted. Confronted with higher payments, and on mortgages now greater than the home’s value, owners began abandoning their mortgages—again, many simply turning in keys.
Rising numbers feel no moral obligation to fulfill what they promised to repay, believing it better to just walk away. This is in stark contrast to years ago when borrowers felt an obligation—a moral and ethical duty!—to pay off loans. With moral values long disintegrating nationwide—and throughout the West—many lack the fiscal responsibility—the character!—of previous generations.
As the crisis intensifies, mortgage defaults are multiplying. And everyone is on the hook. “Monoline” insurance companies have suddenly become liable for vast billions in debt. Investors have been left holding bonds that will never be repaid. Banks are finding it difficult to sell additional bonds as investors have backed out of the market, leery of poor investments. The banks’ fee income has dried up—leaving them with massive capital deficiencies.
Thus, banks have sharply reduced lending to each other, and to the public, fearful that loans will go unrepaid.
Evidence is clear that shockwaves from the crisis are being felt in other sectors of the economy. Liquidity is drying up and less money is available to finance commercial loans.
The credit crunch has pushed beyond retail banking, and now affects major business deals and commercial real estate. Municipal bonds (that fund cities, colleges and hospitals)—once considered safe investments—can no longer easily find buyers.
As more loans reach interest rate resets, more defaults will occur. The crisis will deepen.
This will not be helped by the fact that many economists have formally declared that the world has become “unstable.” The International Monetary Fund announced in October 2010 that “Southern Europe” is condemned “to death by slow suffocation” and “that fiscal tightening will trap North Europe, Britain and America in slump for a long time” (Telegraph).
A more accurate statement is that a fast-moving financial tsunami now approaches the shores of the world economy! While governments will enact an array of gimmicks attempting to turn it back, and will almost certainly bring an appearance of improvement—or even of permanent solution!—the levees they build will this time not hold. These barriers will be breached, and blown out. All temporary economic “upticks” will be washed away with them.
The discerning realize this!
The main motivating factors behind the crisis were greed and covetousness. Human nature has been accurately described as vanity, jealousy, lust and greed. Understand. Banks were greedy for ever-higher profits. So were investors who took foolish risks for higher return on investment. And greedy individuals sought loans they could not repay to purchase material goods they coveted, but did not need—and could not afford!
Simple lack of self-control drives many into bankruptcy. Impulse buying has turned the loan industry into a thriving business. Credit is now used for luxuries, leaving little to show for it except the monthly bill.
Obsession with material goods is fueling—in fact, supercharging—the mounting debt crisis. People now routinely spend more than they make. They want the best clothes, newest gadgets and fanciest cars. “Keeping up with the Joneses” and “Everyone else is doing it!” drives millions of consumers.
Jesus warned, “Beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses” (Luke 12:15).
Do any still believe this?
Governments, financial institutions and millions of citizens are all sliding toward bankruptcy.
The present generation is very different from those of the past. Most now live solely for pleasure, ease, comfort, gain and entertainment. Thoughts of personal responsibility and character-building have almost disappeared. Tens of millions today reflect—“I want”—“I want a lot”—and “I want it now!”
The apostle Paul foretold all that is happening: “This know also, that in the last days perilous [dangerous] times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous...unthankful...lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God...” (II Tim. 3:1-2, 4).
Make no mistake. As trends and conditions degenerate, violence will ensue—and in a big way. Uprisings, riots and tumults will increase in number and severity—so will violent crime, as the increasing number of desperate people take desperate action in an attempt to save themselves—at all costs. With this, the confusion of people asking, “What do we do?”—“Where do we go?”—“Who do we listen to?”—will grow beyond anything ever before seen.
The cacophony of fearful uncertainty will be deafening!
Back to the subject of finances. Differing opinions on why the personal debt crisis—and how to take control of your finances—fill newspapers, magazines, books and radio talk shows. But financial counselors offer advice that misses the crux of the problem.
With so many “experts” presenting theories (so often contrary to what other “experts” say), whose advice should be followed? Where can people find real solutions to real problems?
The answer to the above questions is the Bible—God’s Instruction Manual for mankind! Just as manuals exist for how to operate complex machines, the Creator God included a Manual for the most complex creation ever made—human beings.
Only by carefully following the guidelines—the immutable laws—in this Manual, can humanity achieve success.
Think of the following. God has created laws to govern every aspect of His Creation. Just as the laws of gravity and inertia govern portions of it, God has ordained laws that govern all aspects of money matters. By following them, people can ensure financial security.
Most just do not understand that laws govern every action in life. The law of cause and effect—where actions always bring reactions—applies to everything.
For example, everyone understands the law of gravity. If one accidentally drops a brick on his foot, the result could be broken bones. If a skydiver jumps from an airplane, and the parachute fails to open, the result is certain death. This is easy to understand.
Here are examples of the law of cause and effect that are just as real. If a person is constantly sick, it is obvious laws of health (proper diet, enough exercise, sufficient sleep, etc.) are being broken. The effect of bad health has one or more causes. If a marriage ends in divorce, it can be attributed to one or more causes: poor communication, financial woes, death of a child, sexual problems, drug use, etc. If someone is arrested for drunk driving, it is not hard to see the cause of the arrest.
Most never identify “cause and effect” as a universal law governing almost every action in life. They are unaware that this is a general principle at work in the world.
Yet every effect can be traced to one or more causes. Unwanted or illegitimate pregnancies, crime, drug addiction, bankruptcy, and a thousand other effects, can all be linked to specific causes.
The Bible teaches, “…the curse causeless shall not come” (Prov. 26:2). Another translation is, “…the baseless curse never goes home” (Moffatt). This scripture is saying that every difficulty carries a reason—there is a cause for every effect! Most people ignore right causes—and, as a result, reap a host of bad effects.
Why can man not see this law at work when looking either at the world as a whole or at lives individually? Why has religion also ignored this important relationship between cause and effect?
There is a hidden cause for the conditions of the world and its inhabitants!
Jesus explains what most never notice because they never pick up the Bible: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Before entering this path, a choice must be made. Almighty God revealed this choice to ancient Israel: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live” (Deut. 30:19).
God will not force anyone to follow His ways. The choice is simple: Obeying Him leads to blessings and happiness—disobedience leads to misery and unhappiness. Like the Israelites, many refuse God’s warnings. They ignore the fact that by not following His laws, bad effects will come. Through man’s rebellion, unhappy lives result, with none having any idea why.
Many workers now face the fearful reality of losing their jobs. The majority of these still do not budget and save. As spending and standards of living have risen, family saving has dropped—drastically! The result? Millions of people are on the brink of financial disaster, only a couple paychecks from the street.
Impulsive spending is the product of a generation lacking in strength and character, and is the accelerant bringing the mountain of debt now burying so many! Successful countries run on budgets. So do successful businesses—and successful households!
While consumer, corporate and national debt are now monumental, another far greater debt has been ignored! This one is toward God. Mankind has been stealing from Him for 6,000 years.
God declares, “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine” (Haggai 2:8), and “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof” (Psa. 24:1). God owns everything—so says your Bible! He designed, created and maintains all things. This sets the stage for vitally important knowledge.
Everything people take for granted as theirs really belongs to God! But He has permitted man to use His planet and His resources. He allows us to be His stewards. All will one day give account of how they managed what was never theirs. God commands that we not steal from Him.
Yet most do.
How? Notice: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me. But you say, Wherein have we robbed You? [God’s answer is] In tithes and offerings. You are cursed...for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation [the nation of Israel, referenced hundreds of times in the Bible, here referring to the modern nations descended from ancient Israel]. Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse...and prove Me now...if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:8-10).
God only asks for a tithe—10 percent!—of what one makes (plus “offerings”)—and lets you keep the remaining 90 percent, although that still belongs to Him! He challenges skeptics to “prove” His promise of blessing the tithepayer.
There is a Church that knows and obeys God’s tithing laws—but also all the other laws and many truths in His Word. Part of the final Work of this Church is putting this book in your hands!
Again, most Western nations are staggering under impossible debt. There is a reason. So are millions of people. There is a reason. Terrible, national punishment now lies just ahead for the world’s greatest nations, in part because hundreds of millions of individuals in them have stolen from God—every day. This is just one of a long list of these nations’ sins. (I cover all of this, plus much more, in detail in my book America and Britain in Prophecy. It is one of the most important books you could ever read.)
God’s servants do not ever take political positions. We saw they are called “out of the world” (John 15:19). They “do not entangle themselves in the affairs of this life” (II Tim. 2:4)—and this includes involvement in the ineffective governments of men.
Voting for better politicians is not going to solve what are insoluble problems. The national and individual financial troubles catalogued here are consequences of nations and peoples disobeying God, not of merely bad politicians or wrong government policies. Most blame government policy instead of their own human nature.
Activists’ marches on the Capitol or letters to congressional representatives about today’s mushrooming political, social and economic problems will be in vain. None of these efforts will stop the fulfillment of horrific prophecies. Financial collapse will come!
Naturally then, comes the question…
With world trends and conditions growing more frightening by the day, millions are searching—wondering about the course of events, and whether the world is on the brink of destruction.
Jesus’ disciples wondered the same thing almost 2,000 years ago, and asked Him about the “end of the age” (Matt. 24:3). We saw the prophet Daniel spoke of “the time of the end” (Dan. 11:40; 12:9). The apostle Peter foretold, “There shall come in the last days scoffers” (II Pet. 3:3). And we saw Paul warned, “In the last days perilous times shall come” (II Tim. 3:1). The last verse makes the subject more serious.
Has this final interval in world history arrived? Can you be sure? You can—in fact, God expects you to know!
Many sense or even firmly believe that we are in the last days. We hear from them daily. But these have rarely sought to prove this. They can—and should—know whether we are. So must you.
Let’s pull back and look at the big picture. It has become painfully obvious that this world is in terrible trouble. Mankind is overwhelmed with every kind of trouble, evil and ill—war, terrorism, violence of every kind, famine, disease, pollution, overpopulation, political upheaval, religious confusion and tremendous economic turmoil and decline, which we saw is threatening to make the Great Depression look like child’s play. Then there are the hundreds of millions who live in abject poverty, ignorance and oppression. Now add rampant and worsening immorality and perversion in every Western nation—and growing hatred, unrest and the already-discussed never-ending cycle of war in the Middle East—and deteriorating conditions throughout Africa—and earthquakes, volcanoes and frightening weather patterns across much of the world—and devastating fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, drought and floods occurring with greater frequency and intensity—and headlines screaming of murder, rape, robbery and crimes of every kind.
These mushrooming problems now threaten all nations.
Is all of this really only a little temporary worsening of what is otherwise “business as usual” for planet Earth? Many more—and much louder!—are the voices that say no, and that time is running out to solve the really big problems facing the world. More world leaders are expressing concern about the rise of division within and between nations. So are other voices of authority in education, the military, science and sociology. Yet, because this is also an age of religious sundowners and doomsayers, most will not pay real—serious!—attention.
But some will.
How long until Jesus Christ returns? For those who believe He will, no question is bigger. But there are other questions, some big, that must be answered first. This chapter looks primarily at perhaps the second biggest question, with later chapters addressing more of when Christ returns and events surrounding it.
The Bible speaks of the period preceding Christ’s Return as “the last days”—“the time of the end”—“the end of the age”—“the end of these things”—“the end of the days”—and of a time when the course of human history as we know it, Daniel wrote, “shall be finished” (12:7).
Of course, many professing Christians do not believe in a literal return to Earth by Jesus Christ. Of those who do, most think it could be decades away, with sometime just before 2050 having become a popular date. Others think it could be hundreds of years away. Some even believe it could be “a thousand years away.” Others feel time may be short, but see no way to know.
The original apostles thought for a time that Jesus would return in their lifetimes. Paul spoke of the Resurrection of the dead at Christ’s Second Coming, and (twice) used the words “we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord” (I Thes. 4:15, 17), because he expected to still be alive when it happened. Paul later came to realize he had misunderstood the timing of specific events that must precede Christ’s Return. In fact, he had to warn of those who would deceive others about when this would occur. He wrote about “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” and that brethren should be careful to “Let no man deceive you by any means...” (II Thes. 2:1, 3).
Could you be deceived?
So then, have we entered the last days? Do you and I live at the time of the end? If so, how can we be certain?
Jesus told His disciples, “I will come again” (John 14:3). Forty days later, as He was ascending to heaven, two angels underscored His words, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Matthew 24 records more of Christ’s words: “For as the lightning comes...so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (vs. 27). Seven times just in this chapter (vs. 27, 30, 37, 39, 42, 44, 46), Jesus spoke of His Coming again, and the need to watch for key events, trends and conditions preceding it.
Make no mistake! The Bible is plain about the Return of Jesus Christ. Many verses speak of His Second Coming to Earth. It will happen—and it does not hinge on the opinions of men. However, in the period leading to this climactic event, many other things are foretold to happen—some, in fact many of them, catastrophic!
The idea of the end of the world has been a subject of speculation, discussion, ridicule, fascination and fancy for almost 2,000 years. Of course, most do not realize how much the Bible shows can be known about this time.
Is the world nearing Christ’s Return—are these the end times? Again, can we know?
In Matthew 24, when the disciples asked Christ to tell them “when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Your coming?” (vs. 3), we saw He answered, “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven but My Father only” (vs. 36).
Does this mean we cannot know the general time of Jesus’ Second Coming?—and then also about the last days before it? Many think this—and therefore shrug off any need to be concerned with either.
Then what do verses 50-51 mean? “The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looks not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites.” Most will simply not be looking for Jesus’ Return at the right time. Worse, many will not be looking at all. But His indictment shows they will have no excuse.
Why will so many be unable to recognize the onset of such an awesome, whole-world-altering event?
In verses 32-33, Jesus gave a parable: “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; when his branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near: so likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that [He] is near, even at the doors.” Since this could only apply to those alive at the end, Jesus is stating that we—“you”—can know the “season” of His Return, or when He is “at the doors.”
Do not be willing to settle for less than what the Bible reveals!
Years ago, a catchy tune called “A Sign of the Times” became popular. You may remember it. The title actually came from another verse here in Matthew. Religious leaders had confronted Jesus, desiring a “sign.” He called them hypocrites, adding, “You can discern the face of the sky; but can you not discern the signs of the times?” (16:3).
While the intent of their question was to get a sign that Jesus was the Messiah (read Matthew 12:38-40), His point was that they were unable to discern events they were witnessing all around them—or the “signs of the times”—and in their case, the signs of their times regarding Jesus’ First Coming!
Will you discern the signs of our times?
Jesus told His disciples, “And when these things begin to come to pass [He had just carefully listed them], then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28). The “these things” He referred to include a whole series of events prophesied to occur for the first time in history! What He spoke of is happening—and intensifying—now!
A closer look helps to see the “signs of the times.”
First remember this. The apostle John recorded the words of Christ that open the book of Revelation (remember also that this book is Christ’s revealing of things to come, not John’s): “The Revelation of Jesus Christ...to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass...blessed is he that reads [you have to pick up your Bible to do this], and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (1:1-3). At its end, the book repeats “for the time is at hand” (22:10).
Two thousand years later, how much more—today!—has the time for understanding colossal prophecies come! You can comprehend the message they bring.
But time is short.
God has allotted man 6,000 years to try his own governments, philosophies, religions, attempts at world peace, values and forms of education. But humanly devised ideas do not and can never solve the world’s truly big problems. They always fail in the end. And, in the last 200 years or so, the world has changed dramatically—and rapidly. Events are speeding up in a way that has never been seen before! The 6,000 years are almost up.
Everyone is familiar with sign-carrying kooks on street corners saying, “Repent! The end is near!” Hollywood has depicted many. For the most part, such people are not taken seriously. But times have changed, and, I repeat, now many are the voices of reason who report, for those who will listen, that something is terribly wrong! And again, this has caused the idea of one world government, designed to save the planet and mankind from itself, to be heard more often. I recently read an article calling for this. However, no one seems to know how to create such a government and then acquire the cooperation of everyone necessary to make it succeed!
Look all around. What do you see?
As a whole, the world was a much more stable place until the early nineteenth century. At that time, the Industrial Revolution gave birth to the Modern Age. It was not until about a century ago that men began to drive cars and fly, and civilization went from the Modern Age to the “Nuclear Age” on to the “Space Age” and then to the “Information Age” in just a little more than a half century.
The arrival of new inventions, at the fastest rate in history, is changing life daily. Just think of the impact of the printing press and you can appreciate how dramatically a single invention can change the world. Computers have done the same—and there is no turning back from the huge impact, good and bad, of just this one invention. Remember, jet travel only arrived in the last half century.
Although estimates vary, it is believed that mankind’s total fund of knowledge is doubling every few years. Some think this could soon accelerate to every six months!
In the early 1970s, a book appeared titled Future Shock. Written by Alvin Toffler, it described a certain psychological stunning or shock effect on minds due to the high speed of changes in society. The author demonstrated that these changes began in the 1970s at such a rate that people could no longer properly process them. Society as a whole began to go into what was described as mental overload—or “shock”—explained as the “future” slamming into the present so fast that people were “short-circuiting” in a way never seen before. Some time after, a sequel described the advancement of this condition.
The picture presented was not good, and has only gotten worse!
Yet, with all man’s supposed “advancement,” his problems have never seemed greater or more insoluble!
The projections of the HIV/AIDS epidemic are constantly being revised to reflect an outlook far more alarming than previously thought. Entire sections of Africa’s population are forecast to be wiped out in a few years by this single, awful disease.
Earth’s population of almost 7 billion people is rising consistently at 1.2 percent each year. This means it would reach over 11 billion by 2050—if time were to permit, and it will not come close! This rise is despite the fact that disease and starvation are worst in the fastest growing parts of the world! High fertility rates in these less-developed countries have been bringing these increases right on schedule.
Let’s look at some passages that describe crucial, end-time prophecies!
We explained that the apostle Paul came to realize he did not live in the age when Christ would return. However, God did use him to record what conditions would be like when that time finally came. Consider this now expanded excerpt detailing the widespread degeneration of attitudes and character, just before Christ’s Return: “This know also [many more are coming to know this], that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection [just ponder fast-changing marital laws], trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God”—so true, but strangely at the same time—“having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (II Tim. 3:1-6).
This is a graphic picture. It describes a complete breakdown of character in “the last days.” This time has come!—and these conditions are rapidly growing worse! Again, look around. People’s conduct is changing—seemingly always for the worse. More authority figures are sounding the alarm that human nature is running wild—and conditions are exploding out of control!
No thinking person could any longer disagree.
The degeneration of people’s attitudes and behavior is stark when compared to only a generation ago. There have always been acts of violence, but now they occur more often, and are more depraved. There have always been liars, but now deceit is more pervasive. There has always been adultery, but the percentage of people who commit it is now epidemic, and close to pandemic. There has always been divorce, but today it is much more common. There have always been disrespectful young people, but soon an entire generation will have forgotten the Fifth Commandment, “Honor your father and mother.” There have always been thievery and fraud, but statistics show these have never been worse—even in the most affluent countries, where people have a lot, but want more.
Much more could be said of each term used in Paul’s prophecy. And we have not discussed pornography, child abuse, crime and trends in perverted sex, drug abuse, hatred, war and others! All these conditions have combined to create an age correctly described as “perilous”—or dangerous!
They become another powerful indicator that these are the last days!
Christ’s disciples originally believed that His Return would occur in their lifetime. This is because they misunderstood Him and tied it to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. While the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in AD 69-70, Jesus knew that His Second Coming would be almost 20 centuries later.
Jesus foretold certain other, much later events would precede it. He also described the breakdown of character. He warned that conditions would mirror “the days of Noah,” which Genesis 6 describes this way: “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth” (vs. 11-12).
Corruption is mentioned three times in this one short passage. But this description is at the same time highly specific and speaks of men as having individually and collectively degenerated into absolute corruption—with civilization “filled with violence.” God uses both the collective “all” and the singular “his” to drive this point home!
Again, the long age of man’s rule is nearing an end. The total collapse of principles, values, morals, character, ethics, integrity and respect for all law and authority will soon come together and strike the entire world in a terrible and final way!
Consider how often acts of mass violence now occur in schools, campuses, restaurants, malls and workplaces in ways unheard of until recently! The terms “serial snipers” and “suicide bombers” were unknown 15 years ago. And the relatively new phenomenon of terrorism has become global in nature.
Jesus also compared conditions before His Return to those in Sodom and Gomorrah. He leads in with Noah’s time again: “...As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage [society looked like it would continue on], until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded [again, society looked as if it would continue right along]; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:26-29).
Genesis 18 and 19 show that these two cities were so rotten—so evil—that, just before God incinerated them, only four people were deemed worthy to escape: Lot, his two daughters and wife, who looked back and turned to salt. Only eight people were allowed to enter the Ark before God flooded the world.
Ask: How much longer before conditions cannot grow worse?
An aside at this point that has much to do with whether you will believe Christ: Many have been told that the early chapters of Genesis do not describe real people and real events. This is to accommodate the nonsensical fiction of evolution in place of a literal Adam and Eve. But had you realized Jesus said that Noah, the ark and The Flood existed?—and that so did Sodom and Gomorrah, including their destruction?
Those who dismiss these and related Genesis accounts seem unaware that Jesus Christ validated this first book of the Bible. They also forget—or willingly ignore—Jesus’ (and also the apostle Paul’s) references to Adam, and how this validates the Creation account. (Most simply do not know that, while man has been here for only 6,000 years, the earth has existed for many billions of years—and the key to this is understanding what happened between Genesis 1:1 and the very next verse 2. But this lies outside prophecy, the subject of this book.)
We are left to ask: How many will believe and act on Christ’s warning about oncoming events—when He compared these future events to Bible parallels that most do not accept as true—as having ever happened?
This chapter opened with a reference to “scoffers” in the last days. Let’s now read the whole passage containing it before continuing to read through a warning for us today. Notice: “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts” (II Pet. 3:3)—people choosing and following the course of human nature, as in Sodom and Gomorrah, and Noah’s time.
Now verse 4, “And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? [This is not saying they do not know which book it is—the Bible—that talks about Christ’s Return. Rather, they are thinking “it will never happen” because they do not yet see it being fulfilled.] For since the fathers [Abraham, Isaac and Jacob] fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” This describes people who are unwilling to believe that serious times—the last days!—could actually come, never mind in their own lifetime. They choose to dismiss obviously worsening conditions and trends, declaring that these things “continue as they were from the beginning.”
God declares in verse 5, “For this they willingly are ignorant...”—this speaks for itself!
And verse 6: “Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” Remember, Jesus supported the Noachian account and signified its warning for us.
So did Peter.
Now see this in verse 9: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise...but is longsuffering to us-ward [patiently waiting, because He is] not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Sadly, of course, most will not do this.
Next comes a stark warning to those who are not looking at what is happening all around them: “But the day of the Lord [the time of His wrath upon a sin-sick world] will come as a thief in the night...” followed by “Seeing then...what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy [conduct] and godliness,” and “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God,” and also “...Seeing that you look for such things, be diligent that you may be found of Him [God] in peace, without spot, and blameless” (vs. 10-12, 14).
Finally, the very personal verse 17: “You therefore...seeing you know these things before[hand], beware lest you also, being led away with the error of the wicked [scoffers and ungodly people walking in their lusts all around you], fall from your own steadfastness.”
Now a caution: be careful you are neither among the pooh-poohing, unbelieving scoffers—nor of those who will not seek and obey God while there is still time.
The Bible promises that those who are faithful and obedient will be protected through the worst calamities that could fall upon an unsuspecting world. While the last days certainly are perilous—dangerous—this is just the run-up period prior to the infinitely worse final three and a half years to follow before the good news of the gospel is fulfilled in Christ’s Coming.
But there is more to know about whether we have reached this time. This chapter’s title question now comes into sharper focus…
The question of whether we are in the last days has within it a related, but somewhat different, question—and it towers over that of when the Bible’s greatest prophecies will be fulfilled. It is summarized in the chapter’s title—have we possibly even reached the period near the close of the last days—is the end of the last days near? In other words, is there now almost no time left in the 6,000 years allotted to mankind to rule its own affairs?
We have already discussed character breakdown, the warnings of Christ and other “signs of the times.” We also briefly examined the last 200 years and how a series of societal changes, generally thought to be advancements, bringing civilization to the Industrial Revolution, and subsequently the Modern Age, the Space Age, and lastly the Information Age—culminated in the final age—the perilous last days before the glorious Return of Jesus Christ.
This rapid progression of a changing civilization laid the foundation for the time of the end. Remember, the disciples’ question to Christ was about what would precede His Return and the end of the age.
Now we ask: What about religious confusion at the end? Jesus warned more than once about future great deception: “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying, I [Jesus] am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matt. 24:4-5). In other words, many would claim to represent Jesus, and would acknowledge that He was indeed the Christ, but bring a message that deceives their listeners. The confused, competing, disagreeing and multiplying groups within professing Christianity today confirm Jesus’ words.
Jesus’ warning is critical. Modern preachers all stress the Person of Jesus Christ, instead of His Message! They focus on the Messenger not His Message! Saying Christ was, in fact, the Christ—the Messiah—is a true statement! The deception starts when His message of a coming world-ruling kingdom—with all that this means—is ignored, and even suppressed.
Herein lies the greatest deception! Understand this!
Jesus proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom of God. Here are His first recorded words: “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying...the kingdom of God is at hand [Christ was there representing it]: repent you, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15). Many verses show Jesus consistently preached this message.
Within 30 years of Jesus’ crucifixion, Paul warned of those who were already perverting Christ’s gospel with a counterfeit message. This understanding was so central that he pronounced a double curse on any who did this (Gal. 1:6-9). He also warned, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him” (II Cor. 11:3-4).
Preachers misrepresent Christ by bringing what is “another Jesus,” “another spirit” and “another gospel,” other than the kingdom of God.
The power of deception is very real. This includes those who specialize today in confusing, incomplete hodgepodges of prophetic theories about how the last days will play out. We saw the utter nonsense of these conflicting “experts” and prognosticators, like Nostradamus and other supposed prophets and prophecy fiction writers, is without end.
In Matthew 24:14, Christ foretold, “This gospel of the kingdom”—the true gospel!—“shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations [this describes a huge, worldwide effort, and just before the end]; and then shall the end come.”
Christ’s prophecy is still true! Its fulfillment having begun in 1934, The Restored Church of God continues this commission for a few more years. (More on this later.)
The previous two subheads and this one involve five subjects (four of which are the horsemen of Revelation) that are so large and important that each commands its own later extensive chapter. But it is necessary to very briefly cover them here in the context of whether the end of the last days is near.
The most cursory look—our purpose at this point—reveals that this world is not led by God. Just the world’s biggest problems prove this. After Christ warned of the danger of false Christianity, His warning continued, “And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars...and there shall be famines, and pestilences and earthquakes, in divers [various] places,” but then explaining that “all these are [just] the beginning of sorrows” (Matt. 24:6-8).
Who can doubt these things have come to pass in a greater way? For instance, how often do we now hear of devastating earthquakes? A well-known television commentator stated that “for some reason” there are now more earthquakes occurring every day. Seismologists record 12,000 separate, measurable earthquakes annually. 88,000 died in them just in 2009.
New, serious outbreaks of old diseases—some now antibiotic-resistant—are reported more frequently. These include the HIV epidemic, cholera, typhoid, dengue fever, flesh-eating bacteria, Legionnaire’s disease, the Ebola and West Nile viruses, malaria, the return of stronger, more resistant strains of tuberculosis and diphtheria, and an explosion of sexually transmitted diseases. Whooping cough is again on the rise. These are but a small part of an immense, constantly emerging picture of frightening new diseases—and old ones returning with a vengeance!
Consider one illustration. Over 10,000 die from lung disease every year just in Hong Kong—just due to pollution. But 1.28 million die in China—one country!—each year!—just due to lung-related diseases.
About 24,000 people on Earth now starve to death every day—with this number steadily rising! Think. I live in a city of just about 24,000. This means a medium-sized city disappears from the face of the earth every 24 hours!
Wars, and what the gospel writer Luke called “commotions,” including acts of terror and protracted riots in more places, fill headlines—bringing more suffering and death. Greater disease and starvation are merely natural byproducts of the population displacement and confusion that always follow in the wake of armed conflict.
In recent years, scientists have warned of climate change. Few any longer doubt that more extreme weather has arrived on the front edge of a worldwide phenomenon, whatever the cause. Storms are more severe, and more often. Abnormal flooding and devastation of the land are contributing to famines and disease epidemics in unheard of proportions. Weather catastrophes, earthquakes, wars and resulting disease and hopelessness tend to exacerbate what is already an epidemic of suffering.
The Bible also foretells more volcanic activity—and this is happening!
The world needs God’s Law, which, if kept by all nations, would bring universal peace, happiness, abundance and prosperity!
Cities could become beautiful. Disease, famine and war could disappear, as could racism, ignorance, poverty and all false religion. Yet, no man, no government, nor all the governments of men put together can bring these things!
Only God’s kingdom can, led by Christ and the saints who have qualified to join Him. The world must learn about the laws of God. Both Isaiah 2:2-4 and Micah 4:1-4 also speak of the “last days,” when this will happen. God’s Law universally obeyed and His love are prophesied to replace the lawlessness and hate between people and nations today!
God has to intervene! You saw Christ explain, “Except those days should be shortened [cut short], there should no flesh be saved [alive]: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matt. 24:22)!
Think! When has mankind held the capability to destroy all human beings? Only with the advent of nuclear, chemical, biological and now “radiological” weapons could this be possible. We live when all of these are available—and nuclear weapons alone possess the capability, with the stockpiles that currently exist, to wipe out all mankind many times over! As one leader said, “Once would be quite enough.”
Some assert that these weapons are too terrible to ever be used—that they exist only as a “deterrent” against their use.
Do not be fooled! They will be used. Many prophecies make this clear. Remember, the moment these weapons became available, and the United States felt it in its interest to use them, President Truman ordered bombs be dropped in August 1945—and without hesitation! Yet, the two bombs that landed on Japan were little more than “firecrackers” compared to what exists today.
It is no coincidence that the true gospel began being preached around the world at the time weapons of mass destruction became available—proving correct the timing of Christ’s prophecy about danger to the survival of all humanity!
All of what you have seen shows that we are now in the very last of the last days—the end of man’s rule is near.
There is an element of Daniel’s long prophecy that must be brought out here—and it is absolutely crucial. The first reference in Daniel’s book to “the time of the end” is in chapter 8, verse 17. Later, in chapter 11, verse 40, and six times in chapter 12 alone, the word “end” is used.
Now get this! Daniel was not permitted by God to understand what he recorded. Recall God told him that his prophecy was sealed until the end of the age—and it would only then be unsealed. This has happened—and Daniel’s prophecy has now been opened to understanding.
Next, in 12:10 it states, “the wise shall understand,” but “none of the wicked shall understand.” This means some—a relative few—will comprehend events around them—step by step by step! They will be able to understand what happens when, as well as where and to whom. And they will understand why.
Daniel 12:4 gives two more vital clues to knowing when the end time has arrived: “the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”
We have already discussed the astonishing knowledge explosion brought about just by the arrival of computers (and cellphones) in scores of millions of homes. Great numbers now have access to vast amounts of knowledge—instantaneously! What can be quickly known by anyone seeking information is staggering! Surely we have arrived at the time when “knowledge shall be increased”—along with its easy access!
What about “many shall run to and fro”? The arrival of railroads in the middle of the nineteenth century—then great ships driven by powerful engines to move them ever faster across oceans—followed by automobiles—and finally, passenger jets, made our planet universally accessible, and quickly. Jets turned the Atlantic Ocean into little more than a large lake.
Earth seemingly grew much smaller because of its inhabitants’ ability to “run to and fro” almost anywhere at any time!
Daniel addresses other great prophecies. The second chapter contains another unusually long prophecy spanning over 2,500 years, concluding with Christ’s Second Coming. It pictures a giant man consisting of four metals (gold, silver, brass, and iron mixed with clay), which represent four succeeding world-ruling kingdoms that began in Daniel’s time and culminate with a final revival of the Holy Roman Empire.
This will be the final Beast of Revelation 17 that will come upon an unsuspecting world with stunning speed and force. With the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the reunification of Germany, the last resurrection, consisting of countries and kingdoms throughout Eastern and Western Europe, will be a kind of United States of Europe.
This chapter has brought light on subjects you have almost certainly not even heard referenced, never mind explained.
Fifty Bibles are sold every minute worldwide. This translates to over 26 million each year. How many believe and act on its contents? All convicted Bible readers should by now be sobered and motivated to want to carefully study all the events we have discussed—and we are only beginning. All others, including less convicted Bible students, will soon wish they had brought a more serious approach to the greatest events in all human history.
Today’s world is truly filled with “scoffers.” They do not believe God will intervene—or that this is even necessary! Most believe man is capable at the last minute of “snatching victory from the jaws of defeat,” and will save himself by solving his own problems! They think “everything will turn out all right—somehow!” And “Everything may look bad now, but it will get better because it always does.”
Though wrong in the short term, this is ultimately correct—but by means they have not anticipated!
Scoffing at the thought that Jesus Christ is returning, people choose to live rotten, sinful lives, following “their own lusts.” But dismissing them as irrelevant will not change the truth of God’s prophecies! Men must learn bitter lessons—that they have utterly failed to bring the conditions everyone longs for—that peace, happiness, prosperity and abundance will remain elusive despite humanity’s best efforts to find them.
Armies “trying to make the world safe for democracy,” humanitarian efforts, missionaries, “think tanks,” new scientific laborsaving devices, computers, cellphones, better school systems, fundraising efforts to eradicate deadly diseases, etc., will all fail—because humanity will not humble itself and seek the God who does have solutions—all of them!—to man’s greatest troubles!
But, when it is almost too late, the living Christ will intervene in power and glory to save man from himself!
Daniel also foretold: “At that time...there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation...” (Dan. 12:1). Paralleling Christ’s own words in Matthew 24, this is serious. In fact, one could scarcely imagine a passage in the Bible that could be more serious!
Admit now that you are the “captain of your own ship”—the “master of your own destiny.” It is your choice to reject God’s warning or to yield yourself to Him and ask Him to prepare you for rulership in His kingdom!
More than reading a book, you are being warned. You now know the last days are here. Will you prepare yourself for what lies ahead?
If you do not intend to act on what you are learning, put the book down now, for it contains a great deal more knowledge for which you will be held accountable. You are better off to join the “willingly ignorant” scoffers in the “bliss” of not knowing the shocking details of the long, violent storm just ahead.
A formal inset statement is vital here. Many write or call our World Headquarters to thank us for what they call the “service” we are performing—for “boldly” or “courageously,” they often add, “educating” or “informing” the public about matters others will not address. Of course, we appreciate such gratitude. But The Real Truth magazine, The World to Come broadcast and our vast library of literature, including this volume, are infinitely more than a mere “service” or attempt to “inform.”
Just knowing about the last days means nothing. There is a warning attached to this subject. Here is what God said in Ezekiel (twice) to one who would be alive at the end of the age: “I have made you a watchman unto the house of Israel [again, my book America and Britain in Prophecy explains in detail who is the house of Israel]: therefore hear the word at My mouth, and give them warning from Me” (3:17; 33:7)—meaning, this is from God, not any human.
The meaning of the Hebrew word translated “watchman” is instructive. It is tsaphah, and means “to lean forward,” “to peer into the distance; by implication to observe, await: - behold, espy, look up (well), wait for, (keep the) watch (-man).” It is of interest that espy means “to catch sight of (something distant, partially hidden, or obscure); glimpse.”
This definition describes a responsibility that involves scrutiny—the term “to lean forward” paints a picture of one taking a very serious look at what lies ahead “in the distance.” He is one intently interested in “catching sight of” what is apparently obscured to the view of most or all others.
Just before His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receives whomsoever I send receives Me; and he that receives Me receives Him [the Father] that sent Me” (John 13:20).
Another verse amplifies this point, making absolutely crystal clear just how important this principle is to God. It is found in Matthew 10: “He that receives you [God’s representatives] receives Me, and he that receives Me receives Him that sent Me” (vs. 40). This is almost identical to John 13:20.
To receive those whom God sends is to receive both Christ and the Father. Conversely—and obviously—to reject or ignore those Christ has sent is to reject or ignore Christ and the Father!
God would not send someone without ensuring we could know that he came from God. If God sends a man, He would obviously want it known. He would make it plain!
Understand. Someone, somewhere—yes, someone, somewhere!—had to be raised up to fulfill Ezekiel 33. God does not speak audibly from the heavens, but rather through His human servants. But make no mistake. The warning is not from the servant, it is from GOD!
No one else is saying these things.revealed
Monumental events will soon shock the entire world! Great prophecies in the book of Revelation—in fact, the greatest in all the Bible—show how and when these catastrophic events will occur.
In this chapter comes understanding that will completely change your outlook on the near future. But you must have the keys that unlock it! And you must examine every scripture quoted—along with the entirety of Revelation. This stunning book of prophecy is opened, revealed and explained—at last!
Many think they understand prophecy—and this is possibly most true of at least some parts of the book of Revelation. Yet the most common human interpretations of this book, at best, border on ludicrous. Usually, a very little truth is mixed with much error! They are almost unbearable to read—yet major magazines report that great numbers do believe these dangerous, counterfeit scenarios.
World trouble will soon greatly increase—intensifying to staggering proportions. This will be followed by unexpected and cataclysmic events that will shake the whole world!
But God has not left mankind without a source of answers that reveals in detail what lies ahead. Tragically, believing things will eventually “work themselves out,” many take the ostrich approach and bury their heads in the sand, choosing to pursue pleasure and the accumulation of material goods. But world conditions will become much more serious than most realize.
God understands human nature and where it always leads when left to its own devices. This allows Him to know, and to guide, the awesome future events that will occur from now on!
We saw it has become God’s time to reveal what lies ahead. The stage is set and He has lifted the curtain on the future. Revelation describes terrible plagues and truly earth-shattering events!
Signs, seals, symbols, Satan, vials, visions, images, trumpets, thrones, plagues, angels, demons, destruction, beasts, heads, horns, women, witnesses, woes, wars, judgment, numbers, multitudes, messages and mystery! Revelation contains all of these terms. But what do they mean?
As we discussed from Isaiah in Chapter One, most believe the book of Revelation is sealed, closed from understanding. It is called a mystery book without meaning. Yet it is an entire book of important—vital—meaning. It is filled with answers. The above terms can be unlocked! They can be understood—and the next two eye-opening chapters contain the necessary keys!
You will be fascinated by the clarity of what can be known from Revelation. You can know that events are building to an unanticipated explosion!
Almost half the books of the Old Testament are included in the so-called “major” prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel) or “minor” prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Jonah, Micah, etc.).
Paul explained that the New Testament Church was “…built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Eph. 2:20). Recognize that, since the Church stands on the words of the prophets, Christians are expected to understand prophecy. Because God commands men to “live by every word of God” (Matt. 4:4; Luke 4:4; Deut. 8:3), He would not exclude the full third that is prophecy!
We read that Daniel spoke of a time and of events “the wise shall understand” (12:10). Jesus directly paraphrased Daniel in the Olivet prophecy, where He answered the disciples’ question about the sequence of events to occur at “the end of the age.” He reinforced Daniel’s statements about those events by saying, “Whoso reads, let him understand” (Matt. 24:15).
What are the wise to understand? Important keys exist, which open up Bible prophecies, but the world knows nothing of them! No wonder so many claim that the meaning of Revelation cannot be explained. How could they understand without the keys?
Imagine. Forty-two percent of Americans actually believe that they can consult the dead about matters involving the future. But mankind refuses to seek and consult GOD! Only He can reveal the future. Men cannot, through intelligence, human reasoning or scientific discovery, know or discern events to come. And many “religious” people believe the book of Revelation offers no help anyway, because it cannot be understood.
God reveals a basic framework for understanding future events. This framework is primarily laid out in Daniel and Revelation. Daniel, recorded over 600 years earlier, sets the stage for the larger and more detailed book of Revelation, which describes events found nowhere else in the Bible.
The Greek word apocalypse is translated “revelation.” A fuller look at this English word starts with to reveal—not conceal, hide, veil or close up. The actual definition of revelation is: “The act of revealing or disclosing; something revealed, especially a dramatic disclosure of something not previously known or realized” (American Heritage Dictionary).
We saw that Revelation closes with, “Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand” (22:10). Comprehend John’s words. The time for understanding Revelation IS now at hand!
We will see that this awesome revelation of future events was sealed with seven separate seals. It is crucial to understand another key point: The seven seals in God’s hand essentially span all but the last two chapters of the book! The seven seals are opened one by one, in sequence. Each reveals future events before they happen. Only Christ is qualified to remove the seven seals and open the book to understanding.
Revelation outlines a long series of events that relate to one another in a continuous flow—comprising an entire story. These occur in order of time sequence. (This chapter contains two overview graphs—an outline and a story flow—to which the reader may occasionally refer.) Also, Christ periodically insets certain events into the course of the Revelation. You now understand the first key to unlock the book!
Grasp this central, all-important point. While there are keys to understanding Revelation, the book itself is the single greatest key to understanding almost all other prophecies in the Bible!
An important point must be made. Many subjects in the book of Revelation that will be covered only briefly in the next two chapters command their own full chapter. Remember that the Table of Contents tells the reader which of these subjects reappear in greater detail.
The basic rule of Bible study, that the Bible always interprets itself, is probably never truer than in the book of Revelation. This will be done as we progress through the opening of the seven seals.
Since John sees many symbols, we need to be able to understand the actual events that they represent. Otherwise, we will not know what is being described. How do we do this?
Mark 4:10-12 and Matthew 13:10-15 hold another key to understanding how Jesus teaches. In both places, He explained that He spoke in parables so that His servants would understand Him—but all others would not! Carefully read this: “And when He was alone, they that were about Him with the twelve asked of Him the parable [Jesus had just told the parable of the sower]. And He said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them” (Mark 4:10-12).
Note exactly what Jesus said! Only His servants can understand His real meaning. Others might think they do—but they cannot!
Jesus never leaves His servants in the dark about matters He wants them to understand. But He does record them in ways that keep them hidden from the view of all others. This will help you see why so few understand a book that has been read by so many. Others may—and many do—sincerely seek to understand the many truths of Bible prophecy, but they are wasting their time. So says Christ.
Jesus explained, in plain, clear language, the key events of the last days preceding and leading to the time of His Second Coming. Central to your thinking and understanding is Jesus answering the disciples’ question, “…when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the [age]?” (Matt. 24:3; Luke 21:7).
We must briefly examine the critical Matthew 24 for vital clues, which explain the symbols that we will study in Revelation. Jesus gave a list of six different events that are to happen before His Second Coming. They precisely parallel what we will read beginning in Revelation 6.
First—false prophets and false christs (vs. 5). Second—wars (vs. 6) throughout the age, culminating in the end time with world war (vs. 7). Third—famines (vs. 7). Fourth—pestilences (vs. 7). It is at this point that Christ inserted a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem, in AD 70, because this was a forerunner, or type, of the yet future siege of Jerusalem and final “battle of Armageddon” (review Matthew 24:17-28 with Luke 17:30-37). Therefore, Matthew 24:9-28 (also Luke 21:12-24) applies to the period of AD 70—but only as a forerunning type of the final time of the end to which His warning refers literally!
Fifth, in Matthew 24:21-22, Jesus explains that the Great Tribulation occurs. Sixth are the heavenly signs (vs. 29)—when the stars fall and the sun and moon are darkened. The sign of Christ’s coming (vs. 30) occurs at this same time. His actual coming is right on the heels of it.
We will now examine Revelation, chapter by chapter.
Understanding who is the true author of the Revelation—as well as the critically important theme, the centerpiece of the book—is vital. Without these two keys, many have bogged down either into arguments about whether “the Lord’s Day” (vs. 10) is a reference to Sunday—or whether John, instead of Christ, authored the book.
Why does almost everyone refer to this book as “The Revelation of St. John the Divine”? Nowhere does it refer to John as either divine or the Revelator.
Notice again: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto HIM…and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw” (vs. 1-2).
The book of Revelation contains Jesus Christ’s words, as the Revelator, not John’s. John was merely a scribe—a secretary taking dictation. Sadly, modern commentators love to picture John as a deranged old man in exile on an island where he dreamed up lunatic visions that cannot be understood. These accusers do not realize that they are actually attacking Jesus Christ!—the book’s true Author.
Anyone who will even quickly examine the above passage will plainly see that the Revelation originated with God (the Father), who gave it to Christ. Christ sent and signified the Revelation by His angel, who then gave it to John, “Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw” (vs. 2). John merely recorded these events, preserving them for the servants of Jesus Christ—His end-time Church.
As soon as the book was copied and canonized (circa AD 100), the founders of the developing universal church at Rome denied its origin. The highly authoritative and famous 11th edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica states, “Instead of this [Rev. 1:1] the Church substituted the name of the disciple through whom the message was delivered for that of his Master, and designated our Apocalypse ‘The Apocalypse of John.’ This title was familiar before the end of the 2nd century” (vol. 23, p. 212).
If the world’s best minds cannot even discern the book’s correct title—and Author—how could they possibly discern its MESSAGE?
Jesus Christ used John to “bare record of” (vs. 2)—write down—what He was revealing. In short, John wrote three things: (1) The word of God, (2) the direct testimony (words) of Christ, and (3) what he saw in vision.
With this background, you now understand the introduction to the book.
Most reputable scholars generally agree, and admit, that the term “the Lord’s Day” is, in fact, a reference to God’s coming day of reckoning, or judgment upon the world—the Day of the Lord!
Yet almost no one else understands this. Without this central point correct in one’s thinking, the entire book will make no sense. Reading Revelation becomes a fruitless exercise.
Now notice verse 10. It actually reveals the central focus or theme of the whole book. Understand that John lived 1,900 years ago—long before the events of this book were to be fulfilled. He wrote, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.” Both the Rotherham translation and the Concordant version render this verse, “I came to be, in Spirit, in the Lord’s Day.”
Centuries of controversy have sprung from this reference, because people argue about to which day of the week John is referring. The presumption is that he is talking about Sunday, though the prophecy says nothing of the kind. This verse has nothing to do with Sunday—and is not a reference to any day of the week! The day of the week on which John may have received this prophecy is irrelevant.
The “Lord’s Day” is speaking of the time of God’s wrath. Over 30 different Old Testament prophecies refer to “the great and terrible day of the Lord .”
The prophet Joel speaks of it in detail. And he is graphic. Here is a small portion of how he describes the day: “Blow you the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord comes, for it is near at hand; a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there has not been ever the like [again, this is shown to be part of the worst time ever], neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. A fire devours before them; and behind them a flame burns: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yes, and nothing shall escape them” (2:1-3).
The prophet Zephaniah is even more graphic: “Hold your peace at the presence of the Lord God: for the day of the Lord is at hand: for the Lord has prepared a sacrifice, He has bid His guests. And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord’s sacrifice, that I will punish the princes and the kings’ children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel. In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit. And it shall come to pass in that day...” (1:7-10).
A few verses later, Zephaniah gives more insight into just how terrible this time will be. Consider this sobering picture: “The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hastes greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord : the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet and alarm...And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung” (vs. 14-17).
This presents a horrible picture. Verse 18 refers to this time as “the day of the Lord’s wrath.” Verse 17 identifies the cause of God’s wrath: “because they [all mankind] have sinned against the Lord.”
Events depicted here are almost more awful and terrifying than words can describe. This day literally belongs to God—it is the “Lord’s Day.” Man’s conduct has made God angry. And He will soon intervene in the affairs of this world and send horrific plagues on a sinning mankind.
The Day of the Lord is the truly terrible time of God’s punishments, plagues and judgments at the culmination of mankind’s practice of sin for six millennia. Jesus Christ, through John, is revealing to His servants what occurs prior to—and through—His Return!
Ezekiel 8:3 gives some insight into how John could be transported 1,900 years into the future. Notice: “The spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem.” Like the prophet Ezekiel, John was in vision—“in the spirit”—from the Isle of Patmos, where he recorded the Revelation. God projected His servants (through visions) into important future events so that they could record them.
The book of Revelation does not speak to unknown events in the distant past in the Roman Empire, as many assert. It warns of colossal events that spring from world troubles affecting the masses of humanity alive now. Grasp that the Day of the Lord is the towering centerpiece of the entire book. Thus, it requires more explanation to understand what we will read in the balance of this and the following chapter.
In Revelation 1:3, God states, “…he that reads, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep [obey] those things which are written” are “blessed.” What would be the point of this verse if God did not want the reader—the “hearer”—the “keeper” (obeyer)—to understand the book’s message? This is an important statement to all who read the book.
It means you!
Verses 14-16 are a direct description of Christ, as He now exists in full glory. This is an awe-inspiring picture. Take a moment to meditate on it—and how it is a far cry from the common image of the popular long-haired, sallow-complexioned, sad-faced, effeminate-looking, weakling false “Christ” of this world: “His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; and His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shines in his strength.”
Their meaning is explained by simply continuing to read the context: “The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels [messengers] of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which you saw are the seven churches” (vs. 20).
The Bible just interpreted itself! And we have now introduced the subject of chapters 2 and 3.
Chapters 2 and 3 contain Christ’s messages to seven congregations—“churches”—in Asia Minor—today’s western Turkey. Together, these messages represent the first overall message of God’s book. They are directed to the seven successive eras, or stages, of the Church, and span the entire New Testament period—from the time Jesus built His Church (Matt. 16:18) in AD 31, until His Second Coming! God has chosen to work with His Church through sequential eras.
Each message contains Christ’s brief description of the spiritual condition of these seven consecutive Church eras.
These messages are not spoken to the many well-known, respected denominations of this world’s professing Christianity. They are directed to God’s one true Church. Men have never understood the messages because they have never recognized how to identify God’s Church.
All eras are described as having their own unique set of doctrinal and spiritual problems (Smyrna and Philadelphia are exceptions) that eventually lead to Christ raising up a new leader to establish the next era. The eras are Ephesus (2:1), Smyrna (2:8), Pergamos (2:12), Thyatira (2:18), Sardis (3:1), Philadelphia (3:7) and Laodicea (3:14).
These locations were actually seven cities lying close together (in this order) on a mail route. God knew that each city would reflect a corresponding attitude existing in the era it represents. Christ was able to use them to show a pattern that would span the 2,000-year history of His Church.
History demonstrates that most in each of these eras did not heed the warnings spoken to them by Christ. This is never truer than at the end of the age. While the Church has now progressed into the deplorable seventh (or last) era, known as Laodicea, the most faithful brethren in the Church of God today are a remnant of the sixth, the Philadelphian era. Doctrinally sound and more zealous in spiritual condition, they remain separate from the “lukewarm” condition of the seventh era. (The serious reader will want to study my book Where Is the True Church? – and Its Incredible History!)
Chapters 4 and 5 represent the setting for the central part of the Revelation, which is to follow. They set the stage for unveiling the great prophecies explaining the theme of the book.
In verse 1, John describes a door opening in heaven and an invitation from a great voice to “come up” to be shown things “which must be hereafter.” Keep in mind that John was actually on a small island (Patmos) in the Mediterranean Sea and all of what he saw was occurring in vision. He was not literally in heaven.
In verse 2, John saw the Father on His throne. The verse introduces God and presents a magnificent picture of the setting in which He exists. Surrounding Him are 24 additional “seats” (lesser thrones), occupied by “twenty-four elders.”
It is important to study chapter 4 with chapter 5, because together they present a descriptive picture of four “beasts” (living creatures), as well as the twenty-four elders—and Jesus Christ, as the Lamb of God (5:6), standing before God’s throne.
This awe-inspiring setting pictures the environment—the magnificent beauty—of and around God’s throne. The description is simply stunning!
Verse 1 pictures the Father holding the entire book of Revelation (with seven seals upon it) in His right hand. At this point, the book (actually a scroll or parchment) is still unopened—sealed—locked! Now notice: “And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.”
Seven is God’s number of completeness—and, of course, the book was also completely sealed. This means that the explanation of the prophecy would remain hidden from view—unavailable to mankind until God’s appointed time! It has not even been possible to read it correctly in proper sequence, let alone understand it.
Here is the description: “And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon” (vs. 2-4).
The account reveals that no man is qualified to open the book. If only people would simply believe God, there would not have been so many men, over the centuries, giving their interpretations of a prophecy that cannot possibly be understood. Like Daniel, who recorded a prophecy he did not understand, John was also unable to comprehend this prophecy. He actually cried because he did not see any way to open the book (vs. 4).
It is at this point that Christ, and Christ alone (not any human being), is deemed “worthy” to UNSEAL THE BOOK!
Understand this! The interpretation of the book of Revelation is not that of The Restored Church of God, or any person within it, including me. No man is capable of opening a single prophecy in this book.
The book of Revelation has been available in English since the King James Version was translated from the original Greek in 1611. So, on the surface, this is a difficult point to understand because, of course, many have opened the Bible to this book and read all of its 22 chapters. But they have not correctly understood it. This is because they have not believed chapter 5—that Jesus Christ has sole authority to unseal the book. Endless differing, competing, humanly devised “interpretations,” creating much confusion, have floated around for almost 2,000 years. Popular modern novelists have only made this worse.
Do not be confused about who alone can open this book to correct understanding. And remember, Daniel’s book is a companion to all the main prophecies of Revelation, and his book was “sealed till the time of the end” (12:9).
But Christ reveals the meaning of these prophecies: “And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne” (Rev. 5:7).
Let’s notice something else about the twenty-four elders—and clear up a misunderstanding that has existed about who and what they are.
First read an additional reference to them in chapter 5: “And when He had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sung a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for You were slain, and have redeemed us [them] to God by the blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and have made us [them] unto our God kings and priests: and we [they] shall reign on the earth” (vs. 8-10).
Some claim the twenty-four elders are taken from saved human beings. This idea comes from a mistranslation of the italicized words “us” and “we.” They should be replaced by the words in brackets. See the Revised Standard Version, and also the margin of the New King James Version. Both render them correctly.
These elders are spirit beings created by God to be His counselors. They were probably created before the physical creation, along with the cherubim (Michael, Gabriel and Lucifer—who became Satan), the seraphim, the four living creatures and the billions of other angels (vs. 11) that serve God.
It is impossible for the twenty-four elders to be resurrected saints. Jesus said, “And no man has ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven” (John 3:13). Only when Jesus returns to Earth will Christians be given immortality (I Cor. 15:23)!
The twenty-four elders rule with God in heaven, having an obvious advisory role to Him. The resurrected saints will rule on Earth (Rev. 20:4; Matt. 5:5; Dan. 7:27). Though the vision that John saw is unsealed in heaven, it reflects events that will occur “on the earth.”
We now come to the critically important chapter 6—and the beginning of Christ’s one-by-one removal of each of the seven seals. Watch end-time events unfold in sequence.
First, again understand that, beginning with chapter 6, unsealing the seven seals spans the next 15 chapters of the book. But since chapter 6 explains six of the seven seals, obviously they do not individually receive a large amount of space. The seventh seal is so important—and so multi-faceted—that God devotes much space to its complete explanation. Most of the remainder of Revelation is devoted to just the seventh seal!
This is another key to understanding the whole book.
The world sees the Apocalypse as a mystic, cryptic message of doom! The first four seals are represented by four riders, on four different-colored horses. Of course, much has been said and written about them. But the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” as they are commonly referred to, are still viewed as mysterious, unexplained horrors to be unleashed upon the world without warning. Again, only briefly explained now for context, each horse and rider receives its own chapter later in the book. But it is still important that we lay enough foundation here regarding the meaning of these horses and riders that you comprehend what is happening as the unveiling of Revelation progresses.
To clearly understand the first seal of Revelation 6:2, we must accept a basic fact. Recall, the Greek term apocalypse simply means “revelation.” So let’s now explain what is to be revealed—the seven seals.
We will read the description of each seal before discussing it. Remember, God wants His servants—“the wise”—to understand!
Let’s now examine the first seal: “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer” (vs. 1-2).
What John records is written in symbols. He does not speak in plain language. It is impossible to understand these symbols by merely rereading Revelation 6 over and over until their correct meaning sort of “pops into your head.”
It is also absolutely critical to recognize that a list of human interpretations is available for what this horse and its rider, and the others, represent. But, once again, the Bible interprets the Bible. We must permit Christ to explain what He is unsealing! No one else has authority to speak for what God gave to Christ—and authorized only Him to reveal!
Jesus reveals the meaning of the white horse. Recall that His disciples asked Him, “…when shall these things [the destruction of the Temple] be? and what shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the world?”
Understand that Christ is speaking in both Matthew 24 and Revelation 6. He is addressing the very same questions in both chapters. He answers His disciples by listing, in time sequence and order, the events and trends that precede the end of the age—and thus His Coming.
Now notice the exact parallel between Revelation 6:1-2 and Matthew 24:4-5: “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My Name, saying, I am Christ [that Christ is Christ]; and shall deceive many.” That’s right! Christ warned that the many will be deceived by those who claim to represent Him—not the few.
The white horse that John described represents false “christs.” Here is proof. The one sitting on this horse is actually a counterfeit of the true Christ and a counterfeit of His Second Coming, described in Revelation 19:11-16. There, the real Christ wields a sharp two-edged sword, while the false christ is represented as carrying a bow. Do not overlook this critical difference!
Here is a partial description of the true Jesus Christ returning in great power and glory. While it does show Him riding a white horse, the rest of the description is very different from Revelation 6: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He does judge and make war...And out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (19:11, 15).
Consider for a moment. Most who study Revelation believe that the white horse of the first seal pictures the true Christ coming before war, famine and disease strike the earth. How ridiculous! Such ignorance and misunderstanding has clouded the timing of the glorious Return of Jesus Christ described in Revelation 19:11-16. This is but one more way Satan’s ministers have deceived false Christianity—the other white horse.
Carefully notice the rest of Jesus’ answer: “And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (vs. 6-8).
Christ gives a direct answer to a direct question. The events He describes require no interpretation. In fact, they are Christ’s interpretation of Revelation 6. By having them in mind as we read the opening of the remaining seals, we have Christ telling us in advance what we are viewing—and what the symbols mean. All mystery is stripped away. This is most crucial to see!
The same Christ would not give two different versions of what happens immediately prior to His Return. He would not tell one thing to His disciples of the first century, and give an entirely different explanation to His servants of the twenty-first century! This should be obvious.
But, it is important to understand that only relatively recently, after almost 2,000 years, has the book of Revelation been opened up to plain understanding for all those who will heed. The words have always been there, but, as with Daniel’s prophecy, their meaning has been “sealed till the time of the end.”
Grasp what you have just read! In effect, Jesus has given an advance newscast—newspaper headlines—of events now lying just ahead, and increasingly already around us today. Jesus’ greatest single prophecy, the entirety of Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 contain much more information than just Matthew 24:3-8. But we are not yet ready to discuss it.
In John 1, Jesus Christ is referred to as “the Word.” Compare verse 1 and verse 14. “The Word” is translated from the Greek word logos, meaning “Spokesman.” Actually, Jesus not only inspired Matthew 24 and Revelation 6, but also the entire Bible! (I Cor. 10:4, among other places, reveals that Jesus Christ is in fact the God of the Old Testament. However shocking this is to most, it is true and easily provable!)
Understanding the last sentence is the single biggest key to understanding the entire book of Revelation!
Parables are much like symbols. Both are different from the actual things or figures being described. As explained, while most believe that Jesus spoke in parables to illustrate His meaning, He said otherwise in Mark 4 and Matthew 13, when discussing the parable of the Sower and the Seed. The real reason Jesus spoke in parables was to HIDE His meaning. The same is true of symbols! It is the use of these symbols in Revelation 6 that kept the prophecy locked—sealed!
If you read the account in Mark, you will find that Jesus explains the Parable of the Sower, but only privately to His disciples. This is exactly what He did in Matthew 24. He explained privately to His disciples then—“and His disciples came to Him privately”—and for His disciples of the end time, the meaning of the Revelation 6 symbols.
When the disciples wanted to understand the events that would precede Christ’s Return, they asked HIM, not some uninformed churchman or theologian who could have no idea what he was talking about.
You can do the same. Christ is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). What He revealed to the disciples long ago is just as true for us today! And the events are foretold to occur in our time. So, if the first-century disciples desired to know the answer to their question of Matthew 24:3, how much more should today’s disciples want to plainly understand what will directly affect their lives?
Understand one final point about Christ’s explanation of the opening of the seals. Each represents a prophetic trend that begins and remains continuous from the moment it is opened, all the way to His Second Coming.
In II Corinthians 11:13-15, Paul recorded how false ministers (or false christs) do their work—deluding, deceiving and causing vast numbers of people to accept counterfeit christs (vs. 4). While this has been happening for 2,000 years, all but the few—to whom Christ is revealing His precious truth—are completely oblivious! This includes deceitful misrepresentation of the entire book of Revelation. You will later learn this in stunning detail.
False ministers and deceivers were prophesied to delude the “many”—not the few.
Almost immediately after Jesus’ death and Resurrection, false ministers and deceivers entered His true flock. This is the very reason He warned His Church, in each of its seven eras of chapters 2 and 3, with separate messages.
When the second seal opens, a red horse appears: “When He had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword” (Rev. 6:3-4). As with Christ in Revelation 19, the sword is here shown as an instrument of war and killing.
This horse and rider “take peace from the earth.” The opposite of peace is war. When peace is removed, war is what remains. This pictures the “wars and rumors of wars” that Christ referenced in Matthew 24:6.
Wars have continued and grown steadily worse since the time of Christ’s prophecy. But this part of John’s astounding vision has the gravest implications for all alive on Earth today.
This horseman represents the dreadful destruction of world war. In the Matthew 24 parallel prophecy, war immediately follows false Christianity. By the end of the age, the potential for devastation in war has become so great that it holds the power to take peace not just from two or more nations, but now “from the earth.”
Only in the modern age have such terrible weapons of mass destruction been available. The twentieth century saw the two most devastating wars in history, with World War II far more destructive than World War I.
We are now in the last recess—intermission—preceding the time of the truly greatest war, prophesied to exceed anything in the last century. A sinning, rebellious humanity will soon reach the end of its rope. We have reached a time when war’s potential cannot grow worse, because it can now erase all life from Earth in one final blast of complete destruction—if Christ did not intervene and cut events “short” (vs. 22). You will also later learn much more about this.
But the pattern of history is that famine always follows war. This is why famine (the third seal) follows on the heels of war (the second seal).
The third seal opens and a black horse, a symbol of famine, appears: “And when He had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see you hurt not the oil and the wine” (Rev. 6:5-6).
This pictures extreme worldwide famine—a widespread lack of food beyond anything civilization has ever seen—and any student of history knows that it has seen a great deal. This devouring condition is seen to be seizing the entire world in an extraordinary way. Famine is now far worse than most imagine. Again, much more will follow later in a separate chapter.
The opening of the fourth seal reveals a pale horse, which represents pestilence or disease: “And when He had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth” (vs. 7-8).
This horse is depicted as pale because it is sickly. It obviously represents disease—pestilence! Invariably, war leads to famine—and resulting malnutrition invites a host of diseases. New diseases, or old ones grown worse, seem to be appearing almost daily. The death toll from disease around the world is staggering—now over 82,000 die every day!
Disease is a subject tremendous in size, and the topic of an endless number of entire books. As with the fulfillment of the other seals, far more information is available about it than could begin to fit in this short section. Yet again you are left to prepare for a fuller picture later.
The opening of the fifth seal does not reveal a horse. Instead, it introduces and briefly overviews the soon-to-come worst time of world trouble in history (Matt. 24:21; Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1)—the Great Tribulation!
Again, many prophecies in both the Old and New Testaments explain and describe this period. This world-changing event will be truly colossal in nature—and thoroughly explaining all elements of it involves far more than the space available in this chapter.
Of course, the most terrible wars, famines and diseases still lie ahead. And these will greatly intensify before the Great Tribulation begins. Even so, remember that, after Jesus had described the first four seals, plus earthquakes, He concluded, “All these are the beginning of sorrows [travail or tribulation]” (Matt. 24:8). They are far from the end of matters.
The first thing to follow these beginning events and conditions is the Tribulation. We will shortly prove this.
But first we need to explain another important aspect of what the Tribulation means.
Here is what Jesus told His disciples would occur next: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for My Name’s sake” (vs. 9).
Now understand something. Two different pronouns appear in this passage—“they” and “you.” Jesus did this for a very specific reason. Whenever Jesus was describing true Christians, He spoke of “you.” Those who were deceivers and not of the truth—the many who are falsely converted—are generally referred to in Scripture as “they” or other similar pronouns.
Sometimes the term “you” can also refer to national Israel or national Judah, or to these and to true Christians. Whenever the passage is speaking nationally, it is either referring to Israel or Judah, or both. When coupled with Mark 13 and Luke 21, it is obvious that Jesus is referring to both in Matthew 24.
Before continuing with more of Christ’s explanation in Matthew 24 about the Tribulation, we need to read John’s description of the fifth seal: “And when He had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, do You not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled” (Rev. 6:9-11).
The fifth seal portrays the martyrdom of true saints (along with vast numbers from national Israel and Judah). This occurs during the Tribulation. Verse 11 is a symbolic instruction to the martyrs of the Middle Ages to await this latter martyrdom of the end time.
The context develops with the souls asking God a question.
Some cite these verses to validate both the immortal soul doctrine and that the saved go to heaven—and thereby miss the whole point of what Christ is revealing. They obviously also do not put this verse with Christ’s Matthew 24:9 explanation, which again is seen to be His interpretation of its meaning.
This description is not literal, but rather is symbolic, as is much of Revelation. No one believes that the four horses, or their riders, are literal. It is obvious that they are symbolic and part of a vision. A consistent standard must be used, without randomly picking and choosing which passages are literal and which are part of the vision.
In vision, John was shown a preview of a future event (“hereafter,” Rev. 4:1). Since John was “in the spirit” as the seals were opened (vs. 2), the events he witnessed were not actually occurring when he saw them. They were heavenly previews of things that would happen later on Earth.
Upon the opening of the fifth seal (Rev. 6:9), John “saw under [at the base of] the altar the souls of them that were slain.”
Remember, in the vision, John was shown the future. A long period of martyrdom had taken place (up to and through the Middle Ages). A later one (the Great Tribulation) is yet to happen in our time. The souls who were already “slain” were martyred Christians throughout the ages. These earlier martyrs were told to “rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled” (vs. 11).
Many of God’s people in the end time have partially drifted away from being as close to Him, or as on fire for His truth and His Work as they should. They have not been praying, studying, fasting, meditating and seeking Him on a daily basis as they should. This has allowed many to be deceived, and to fall into various false doctrines. Only the Tribulation will awaken these brethren—and even then only about half (Matt. 25:1-12)!
During the Tribulation, there will be a great religious persecution. Jesus was very specific about this in Matthew 24: “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity [lawlessness, occurring worldwide] shall abound, the love [Rom. 13:10; I John 5:3] of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved...For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be...For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (vs. 10-13, 21, 24).
The elect must remain on guard!
This is a very specific prophecy about tremendous deception that seduces “many.” The “souls under the altar” await God’s punishment of the great governmental power that persecuted them, when God “avenges [their] blood.”
All true but lukewarm Christians will have to suffer this final martyrdom (Rev. 3:14-22). Those faithful Christians who were previously killed must continue to “rest” (remain “asleep” in their graves—Eph. 5:14; I Cor. 11:30) until others join them through martyrdom.
The “souls” (dead saints) crying “avenge our blood” (Rev. 6:10) is akin to Abel’s blood (his life—note Leviticus 17:14) crying to God from the earth (Gen. 4:10) after Cain’s murder of his brother. Since neither blood nor the dead talk (Psa. 115:17; Ecc. 9:5, 10), the meaning is symbolic, not literal.
So then, in Matthew 24:9-10 Jesus was actually describing a final martyrdom yet to occur among His people. Therefore, the “souls under the altar” represent those awaiting a future martyrdom of lukewarm saints—“their brethren.” These are of the seventh and last era, Laodicea, described in Revelation 3:14-22.
The Tribulation will also include the invasion and captivity of the “ten lost tribes” of the modern-day descendants of Israel, and Judah (the modern nation of Israel).
Recognize that God often works prophetically through the principle of duality. Many prophecies work in this way. For instance, I Corinthians 15:21-22 shows that Adam was a type of Christ, and vice versa (a problem for those who believe there was no literal Adam and Eve).
As alluded to previously, most Bible students are unaware that some prophecies have first a former, then a typical and, lastly, a final great fulfillment. This causes big problems for those trying to understand and explain such prophecies. The results are always mixed up and confused.
In Matthew 24:2, Jesus prophesied that the Temple would be completely destroyed, with not “one stone” remaining. So would Jerusalem be destroyed. This occurred in AD 69-70 to the nation of Judah, as an early type of a final, infinitely greater fulfillment at the end of the age.
Here is how Christ described this final fulfillment of national invasion, war and captivity: “But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! For there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:23-24).
This describes a time of truly great fear and real horror for the modern peoples and nations descended from Israel. (America and Britain in Prophecy covers in detail where these peoples are now, and why they are foretold to go through such national punishment.)
We must now examine an inset of the prophecy that precedes and leads up to the Great Tribulation. We briefly covered it earlier: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14).
Remember, the true gospel is about the kingdom of God. Men have devised many false gospels, but Christ preached a message about a divine, world-ruling supergovernment to be established at His Return. God’s Church is preaching this marvelous truth, and about how His perfect spiritual Law will soon be established in all nations. This is the wonderful good news referenced earlier—the word “gospel” means good news. When our task is complete, “then shall the end come”! (Look forward to the full chapter on this subject, which makes plain the gospel truth in its component parts!)
Though there is still time for announcing God’s kingdom, it will soon run out. Some few will yet turn to God as a result of this Work. May you “hear and understand” while there is yet time!
Next comes the sixth seal—the heavenly, or astronomical, signs: “I beheld when He had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casts her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind” (Rev. 6:12-13).
How do we know that the heavenly signs come directly on the heels of the Great Tribulation? Here are Christ’s words: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” (Matt. 24:29).
This is an almost verbatim, phrase-by-phrase description of Revelation 6:12-13. The parallel is unmistakable. Jesus has again interpreted the sixth seal, and its timing, for us. The phrase “immediately after the tribulation” removes all doubt about when the heavenly signs occur.
The arrival of the heavenly signs heralds a tremendous overall change in the direction—and speed!—of events. This is understood by continuing in Revelation 6, a few verses later. Let’s read: “For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (vs. 17).
There it is in plain English. The Day of the Lord, or Day of God’s Wrath, follows the sixth seal. Heaven and Earth are shaken! This time reveals God’s awesome power! It is comparable to nothing that has ever happened before, or ever will again.
The prophet Joel was speaking of this time when God’s tremendous power and great wrath will be displayed when he said, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and dreadful Day of the Lord come” (2:31).
Some have claimed that these signs have already occurred. This is impossible! Matthew 24 makes plain that they all follow—not precede—the Tribulation. In addition, when they occur, they are either immediately followed by or accompany the sign of Christ’s Coming (vs. 29-30).
The terrible period of God’s wrath is foretold to last an ENTIRE YEAR—after the initial two and a half years of the Tribulation. Here is how Isaiah described it: “For it is the day of the Lord’ s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion” (34:8). Jeremiah refers to this period as “the year of…visitation” (11:23; 23:12—also see Ezek. 4:6 and Num. 14:34).
Notice verse 12 of Revelation 6 speaks of a “great earthquake.” This earthquake occurs after the fifth seal, upon the opening of the sixth seal. The terrible time of the fifth seal involves the military invasion and the captivity of the peoples of the modern nations (which are merely ancient tribes grown larger) of Israel. This includes the two and a half years of unparalleled suffering and tribulation—unrivaled in history. It is coming on this generation—soon!
By its very timing and context, this earthquake proclaims the end of the Tribulation and the beginning of signs that appear in the heavens.
Revelation 6:12 states, “And I beheld when He had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood.”
This event was also covered in Matthew 24:29. Reread it: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.”
Luke 21:25-26 describes this same event, adding more: “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring [tsunamis]; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”
This earthquake will be of such awesome magnitude that “every mountain” and “every island” will be shaken out of position (Rev. 6:14).
Remember, this is the time of God’s great wrath! This earthquake will be worldwide in scope. But all the earth’s topography will not necessarily be changed by one final earthquake. This process appears to take place in stages. God will bring it about in such a way as to preserve life on the earth, with each of five final earthquakes contributing to some aspect of the transformation.
If only one cataclysmic earthquake did this, it could threaten all life on Earth. Still, only a fraction of humanity will survive into the Millennium. Again, this earthquake announces the sixth seal—the heavenly signs.
Notice Isaiah’s description of this time: “In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake terribly the earth” (2:20-21). This compares with Revelation 6:15-16.
All of Revelation 6:14-17 shows that this sign is the heavens rolling together like a scroll. This time will be so awful that John records people, in sheer terror, hiding themselves in caves and rocks and crying out to die. Verse 17 asks, “...and who shall be able to stand?” The masses fear facing the full wrath of the One they have disobeyed!
Understand! The Tribulation and the Day of the Lord are not synonymous! These are completely separate, different events. The heavenly signs come between the Tribulation, which precedes them, and the Day of the Lord, which follows them. (Although only Matthew 24:21, 29 and Revelation 7:14 use the term “Great Tribulation,” at least 30 scriptures speak of it.)
The religious leaders of this world are in almost complete ignorance of how these three earth-shattering events come—in what order they appear. Most believe them to be synonymous. They are not!
The Tribulation comes first. “Immediately after the tribulation” (Jesus recorded) come the heavenly signs. These introduce the Day of the Lord (God’s wrath), which is a separate period of events. We have seen how Joel, Zephaniah and Matthew have explained what Jesus revealed in vision to John in the Revelation. By now, these great events should be clear.
Jesus also taught His disciples, “...in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men...” (Mark 7:7-8). There are many “traditional,” but incorrect, views of prophecy.
More and more people are writing of prophecies they know nothing about. They ignore what God says, in order to promote time-honored, empty theories—or even newer, more far-fetched ideas. I have just reviewed an article in a national magazine about much of what has been covered so far in this and the two previous chapters. It demonstrates appalling ignorance of even the most basic facts of scriptures pertaining to end-time prophecies. Yet the article shows that almost three out of five Americans (scores of millions) believe that the mixed-up jumble of ideas it references about Revelation will soon come true, but only in some inexplicable, mysterious way. Millions of other professing Christians, no doubt because they either do not care or are confused, reject anything to do with prophecy! Either way, people remain ignorant.
I repeat: The great majority of people believe the Tribulation, heavenly signs and Day of the Lord are identical—one and the same. Anyone who cannot distinguish between these obviously separate events has no hope of understanding what God has prophesied.
Here is an important distinction: The Day of the Lord reflects the wrath of God. The Tribulation is actually the wrath of Satan the devil. It is a sobering thought to realize that this time sees the unleashed wrath of the second most powerful force in the universe. This fallen angel is well aware that he has but a short time to remain the god of this world (II Cor. 4:4), deceiving the nations (Rev. 12:9). His time is almost up (vs. 12).
The Tribulation is also Satan’s final persecution and martyrdom of many of God’s true servants in a lukewarm condition. If they return to and remain close to God, Satan cannot deceive them—so he is furious.
If you seek God, you need not worry about events soon to strike all nations. Take a moment to review Luke 21:36. It is a reassuring promise from Christ that requires you to “Watch...and pray...that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things...and to stand before the Son of man.” Then remember Christ’s sobering description in the preceding verses in Luke of how these events will strike a completely unsuspecting world—billions of people—“like a snare.”
The goal of a Christian is to stand before Jesus Christ at His Return, and rule with Him when the kingdom of God is established!
Right before the Day of the Lord, an angel temporarily holds back the four winds, which Revelation 8:7-12 explains are the first four trumpet plagues of the seventh seal. Now notice: “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel” (7:1-4).
This is a dramatic scene. Four winds are about to “hurt the earth”—devastate its landscape! (Though symbolic in language, the plagues they bring will be most real to all who suffer them.) God’s wrath, which is the beginning of His direct intervention in world affairs, is poised to appear. But it is temporarily restrained. Something must happen first before this can occur.
These winds are held back so that the well-known (but little understood) 144,000 can be sealed—and the great (innumerable) multitude—each the subject of later chapters—stand before the throne of Christ wearing white robes.
First, most briefly, the 144,000 are sealed (7:4-8) with the Father’s Name (14:1)—and represent 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Revelation 14 adds more about this group (vs. 1-5). These are obviously converted people. They are sealed with the Father’s Name (and the Holy Spirit “in their foreheads”) because this is how Christ prayed, in John 17:11, that the Father would “keep” His servants. This world’s churches are named after men, doctrines, locations, etc. God’s Church (in 12 places in the New Testament) is always named after Himself—Church of God!
The innumerable multitude is comprised of those who are drifting along, not heeding God’s instruction now, though some may know His commands. These “came out of the great tribulation” (7:14).
John records the following: “After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands...And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir you know. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (vs. 9, 13-14).
Many know the truth today but are either not acting on it, or are only responding to it in a limited way. Hundreds of millions heard the voice of Herbert W. Armstrong during his 52-year ministry. He boldly proclaimed the true gospel of the kingdom of God, and restored many true doctrines to the sixth era (Philadelphia) of God’s Church. The vast majority did not heed. They were “choked by the cares of the world.”
Some will finally wake up during or after the Tribulation, after experiencing the terror of the heavenly signs—and after much suffering. These stupendous events will sober and awaken many before it is too late. In complete submission, they will repent and turn to God.
A loving God never punishes people before He warns them. Proverbs 3:11-12 states, “…despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of His correction: for whom the Lord loves He corrects; even as a father the son in whom he delights.” (A later chapter describes in graphic detail why God plans such severe correction and chastening.)
These are the plain words of God about how He works with people. Theologians and ministers focus almost solely on God’s love. They ignore such verses as Proverbs 3:11-12, or others like “Behold...the goodness and severity of God” (Rom. 11:22), among many others.
We are about to read of terrible plagues to be poured out on a God-hating, truth-rejecting, self-willed, rebellious world. This punishment is coming for a reason. Six thousand years of ignoring God have come to the full—and God is filled with wrath...
The emphasis God places on the final and complex seventh seal requires its own chapter. Remember, nothing in this last book of God’s Word receives close to as much attention! Also remember that the seven seals represent the entire book of Revelation. But exactly what is the seventh seal?
We pick up in Revelation 8, which depicts the opening of this seventh seal. As it is opened, seven angels stand before God and receive the seven trumpets. A different angel took a censer “…and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake” (vs. 5).
This earthquake represents the beginning of the seven trumpet plagues, which begin the seventh seal’s fulfillment—and the Day of the Lord.
Revelation 8:1-2 shows that the seventh seal is the same as the seven trumpets: “And when He had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.”
Now understand! This verse proves that all seven seals are not the same as, or equal to, all seven trumpets. This is critical to recognize—and is another big key to understanding Revelation. Make this important distinction now: (1) The seventh seal is all seven trumpets and (2) the seventh trumpet is all seven last plagues or vials. This is confusing to almost everyone, because most believe that the seven trumpets and the seven last plagues are synonymous. Also, the seven trumpets do not follow the seventh seal—they are the seventh seal. Simply reading more carefully eliminates this error.
The seven trumpets represent seven stages—Revelation 9:20 calls them “plagues, ” but again they are not the seven last plagues, or vials, as we shall see.
Recall that the four winds comprise the first four trumpet plagues. Revelation 8:3-12 reveals that they blow on the (1) trees, (2) seas, (3) rivers, and (4) a third part of the sun, moon and stars are smitten and darkened. Space prohibits explaining in detail the fuller meaning of the incredible effect of these great winds.
Various places in the Old Testament show that, anciently, a trumpet was always blown as an alarm of war (Num. 10:9; Jer. 4:19; Ezek. 33:2-6; etc.). When heard, it signaled approaching armies and the onset of battle. Israel and Judah always went to war with the sound of a trumpet.
The fifth and sixth trumpets clearly depict war—in two stages. (But this is not to be confused with any part of the second seal, or red horse. This is a later and completely separate element of war.) Make note of another important point. The last three trumpets, the fifth, sixth and seventh, are synonymous with the three woes (Rev. 8:13). The chart in the previous chapter helps make this plain.
The world loves war—and has practiced it since Creation! And man has always pursued war on his own terms. When God goes to war with the world, He is choosing to speak in a language men understand—and this time HE controls the terms! However, this is also His way of pleading with all humanity to “WAKE UP!”
These seven trumpet plagues are a truly frightening and horrific punishment from God on those remaining unresponsive in their disobedience: “And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues [the seven trumpets] yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk” (Rev. 9:20). Obviously, many continue unrepentant after these plagues, and continue to serve the myriad of false gods worshipped around the world.
Chapter 9 pertains entirely to the first two of the three woes— the fifth and sixth trumpets.
In verses 1-11, the fifth trumpet, or first woe, is described as a great power that comes out of what the Bible calls the “bottomless pit.” This, of course, is a symbol and not an actual pit somewhere on the earth. Revelation 17:8-14 interprets it. The old Roman Empire (with its seven separate resurrections or heads) emerges from this “pit” one last time. The sixth head, Mussolini’s revival of this Roman system, was small and relatively insignificant. The soon-coming last revival will be much greater!
In 9:11, John calls Satan “a destroyer,” referring to him as a “king over them”—a system of people led by a final, world-ruling, counterfeit figure soon to appear, just prior to the Return of Christ. The Hebrew word Abaddon means “destroying angel,” and the Greek word Apollyon, also used there, means “a destroyer” or simply “Satan.” Understanding Satan as a destroyer sets the stage for the next scripture.
Verses 13-21 describe the second woe. Open your Bible and read these verses. An army of 200 million “horsemen” attacks and temporarily repels the European system led by the final super-dictator known as the “Beast.” These eastern hordes (Ezek. 25:4, 10), probably led by Russia or China, and allied with India and Japan, compose the 200-million-man army of verse 16.
The prophet Ezekiel describes the same events of Revelation 9:13-21, revealing more: “And I will turn you back, and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you forth, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armor, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords...and you shall come from your place out of the north parts, you, and many people with you, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army” (38:4, 15; also see Joel 2:4). The reference to horses and horsemen is obviously a representation of an immense army. 200 million is certainly “a mighty army.” This is almost certainly an attack by the Russian and Northern Asian hordes (armies) against what is called the Beast and Babylon (Rev. 17 and 18). Jeremiah 50 and 51, as well as Isaiah 13 and 14, and 47 and 48, describe this coming system and its destruction.
Forces on Earth are forming even now, so they can come into play at the right moment within God’s Plan!
Chapter 10 is almost entirely about a “little book” held in the hand of a “mighty angel.” This little book is “sweet as honey” in John’s mouth, but “bitter” in his belly. This is a reference to the book of Ezekiel and its long warning (see Ezekiel 3:1-3, 14) to Israel today, but perhaps also working in conjunction with the book of Revelation itself.
The most important part is verse 7, which explains that the seventh angel (that sounds in the end of chapter 11) brings an end to the mystery of God’s Plan as declared by all of His prophets.
Verse 11 reveals that the message of the little book, and the book of Revelation, was to be taken by one (not the apostle John because he never did this) to “peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” Also, for this to happen “again,” as it says, it must previously happen in a first fulfillment. This occurred in the twentieth century for the first time, and is now happening “again.”
The first 13 verses contain the description of the previously mentioned final end-time servants known as the Two Witnesses. Ridiculous interpretations, and at least one Hollywood movie, have brought much confusion as to who these men are.
These two “prophets” (vs. 10) witness for three and a half years before being killed by the Beast (vs. 7) of Revelation 13 and 17, and Daniel 2 and 7. The identity of these two individuals is yet unknown. However, when they do come on the scene, it will be clear that Christ’s Return is imminent.
A later chapter brings detail regarding their unique roles, and where they will come from.
After the Two Witnesses are resurrected following three and a half days of lying in the streets of Jerusalem, another great earthquake occurs. The timing of this earthquake is prior to the time of the seventh trumpet, the Return of Christ and the First Resurrection (I Cor. 15:51; I Thes. 4:16).
Notice Revelation 11:12-13: “And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them [the Two Witnesses], Come up here. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud [the first heaven—Revelation 19:17—where birds fly—where the clouds are]; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city [Jerusalem] fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven [the third heaven—II Corinthians 12:2—of God’s throne].”
This particular earthquake precedes and announces the most pivotal event in mankind’s history—Jesus Christ’s Return!
No doubt, this earthquake is God punctuating the world’s failure to permanently destroy these two extraordinary servants. It also appears to be centered mainly in the area of Jerusalem, but could still be worldwide in scope.
It cannot be the same one described in Zechariah 14:4, because all nations will not yet have gathered (the sixth vial) for what is called The Battle of that Great Day of God Almighty (the time of the last plague, or seventh vial—Revelation 16:17-21).
Remember, the seventh trumpet equals the third woe. But these are also synonymous with the seven last plagues! Chapter 11, verses 15-19, describe them, and, coupled with 15:1, prove the last statement.
Now notice verse 15: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever.”
Both I Corinthians 15:52 and I Thessalonians 4:16 speak of this moment. In these verses, Paul states that Christ comes at the “trump of God” and at the “last trump.” Matthew 24:31 speaks of the same event using “a great sound of a trumpet.” These are all references to the seventh trumpet.
With this event, the greatest moment in all history has arrived. At His glorious Return, Christ replaces all human powers and laws with His own. All the governments of men—including that of every great and small country on Earth today—are smashed and replaced by God’s government. Fairness, justice and peace finally come to a sick and broken planet!
Of course, the seventh trumpet brings the forced establishment of Christ’s government, based on God’s laws, over the nations. But they are not happy to see this Christ—they are “angry” (vs. 18)! They will have come to believe and trust in a counterfeit system, and many will have expected to be “raptured away” to safety by what is actually a false christ, not the Christ of the Bible.
Even professing Christianity, while pretending that God governs “in the hearts of men,” has not truly wanted to be GOVERNED by Him. Neither has the world, which hates His Law (Rom. 8:7). Mankind has rejected the only way to peace, happiness, abundance and universal prosperity. In a final and terrible way, the seven last plagues get the world’s attention. They signal that Jesus Christ is King of kings—and He is now in CHARGE!
Christ wants the world to know that He is about to save humanity from itself.
This earthquake occurs after the seventh trumpet has sounded (Rev. 11:15). This is the time of Christ’s Second Coming: “…and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever.”
Verse 19 states, “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.” This earthquake occurs immediately after Christ’s Return and the First Resurrection, and punctuates the fulfillment of these events.
Christ’s Return makes possible the fulfillment of all the wonderful prophecies of the Bible foretold to come to pass on Earth. This pivotal event is the most crucial in all history! Earthquakes, before and after it, underscore its momentous importance in God’s Plan. No other event bears such distinction.
This earthquake also results from Christ’s actual presence, now ruling in glory. The earth literally quakes with gladness, along with the whole Creation: “Let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together before the Lord; for He comes to judge the earth: with righteousness shall He judge the world, and the people with equity” (Psa. 98:7-8).
As with the seventh seal, the seventh trumpet is divided into seven parts. These are called the seven last plagues, and they “fill up” (Rev. 15:1)—complete—the wrath of God! Revelation 14:10 reveals that the last plagues are “poured out...in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.” Of course, Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36).
Before we examine these plagues, beginning in chapter 15, several inset chapters appear in Revelation.
Chapters 12, 13 and 14 represent an interruption—an inset—in the overall flow of Revelation. This is because God wants readers to be aware of what His Church—His people—will be doing for the nearly 2,000 years from John’s vision until the Return of Christ. God has always had His true Church—the persecuted (John 15:20; II Tim. 3:12), few (Matt. 7:14; 20:16; 22:14), little flock (Luke 12:32) that will rule with Christ (Rev. 2:26; 3:21)!
We have seen that Christ will be established as King of kings and Lord of lords. But the saints will be resurrected and join Him. Chapter 12 introduces more directly the Church through which Jesus has been preparing these others to rule with Him.
John describes God’s Church from before Christ’s birth (vs. 4), through His life, Resurrection and ascension (vs. 5). He then describes the 1,260 years of persecution this Church endured and how it had to flee to remote areas to avoid the government powers that sought to destroy it. But Christ promised that the true Church—His “flock”—would always exist (Matt. 16:18)—and it has!
This is also an important chapter in that it shows (Rev. 12:14) that God will protect His Church—described as a woman here—from the horrible time of intense trial soon to befall this world! All of Revelation 12 describes her, and the devil’s attacks against her. Soon, an angry Satan will lash out at Christ’s Church one last time, forcing her need for protection: “And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent” (vs. 13-14). Those of the condition of the faithful sixth era of the Church escape!
The “time, and times, and half a time” are the three and a half years of the Tribulation and wrath of God. Verse 17 shows how the devil turns his attention to the “remnant”—the lukewarm era, previously explained.
Understand. This is not the “woman” pictured in chapter 17—she is depicted as a great whore (vs. 1)! That woman is the great false church, representing the false Christianity of this world. The woman of chapter 17 actually persecutes the chapter 12 different woman that is God’s true Church. Chapter 12, verse 17, describes it as those who “keep the commandments of God.” Recognizing the difference between these two women is another vital key to understanding the book of Revelation!
The 13th chapter describes a symbolic “Beast” and a second beast with “two horns” (vs. 11). The first Beast is a description of the Roman Empire—a political kingdom. The second two-horned beast represents the headquarters of the large, organized false church that controls the first Beast. (Much proof follows later.)
Only by comparing Revelation 13 and 17 and Daniel 7, with Daniel 2, can you fully understand the scope and magnitude of the beasts, and the system they represent. Numerous Old Testament scriptures refer to them, but these chapters most describe them. (A fuller explanation of these beasts comes in the next chapter.)
Chapter 7 introduced the 144,000, and the 14th chapter gives more details about their identity. Verses 1-5 give a nine-point description of them standing before God’s throne as “the firstfruits” (vs. 4) of God’s kingdom.
As when He protected Israel from the plagues of Egypt, God often protects His servants. We will see in the next chapters of Revelation that the seven last plagues will soon be poured out on the earth. The 144,000, carefully covered in a later chapter, are plainly the number of saints in the First Resurrection, are with Christ in His kingdom, and are therefore protected from these terrifying last plagues.
Chapter 14 also pictures three angels bearing three messages (vs. 6-11). Examine these angelic messages, which include a warning not to receive the “mark of the beast.” Other prophecies show that most will ignore this all-important warning!
Those of the final great Babylonish system will be deceived into receiving the much talked about, but little understood, mark of the Beast. These messages announce the fall of Babylon through the seven last plagues and warn against receiving the mark.
The final destruction of this system is an incredible event. Like so much of Revelation, many take phrases out of context in order to support the false ideas and doctrines of men. Verse 11 states, “And the smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever.” Many dismiss this as merely a reference to souls burning forever in hell, and misunderstand the point of the context.
The timeframe of this event is yet to come. It refers to “Babylon” (vs. 8), “that great city, because she made all nations drink of…her fornication.” This is the religious/political/military/economic final revival of the Holy Roman Empire, also described in Daniel 2:42-43 as the “toes” and in Daniel 7:7 and 24 as the 10th horn. Revelation 13 describes it as the seventh and last horn. Revelation 17:12 describes it as the seventh head (which has not yet appeared), and having 10 horns.
Revelation 14:9-10 states, “If any man worship the beast [this final end-time revival and its leader] and his image, and receive his mark … he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone…in the presence of the Lamb.” As long as those participating in this “beast” system continue to rebel against God, they will receive “no rest day nor night” (vs. 11). This does not say that they will be burning in hell for eternity. What it does say is that once their bodies are burned up, the smoke ascends forever. The fire extinguishes itself, but the gases from the smoke will continue to circulate in the atmosphere.
The fire that is talked about is here on Earth, not in an “ever-burning hell.” Malachi plainly states, “And you shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, says the Lord of hosts” (4:3).
Revelation 14:12 contains a description of God’s servants, who will not take the mark of the Beast. These are only a relative few commandment-keepers in a sinning world that has followed a system that has rebelled against God. This verse explains that only the “faith of Jesus” (not merely belief IN Jesus) gives them the strength to resist receiving the mark. Typical human faith will be of no value!
We have now reached the last part of the seventh seal—which is the seventh trumpet, the third woe, or the seven last plagues (vs. 1). All four of these terms represent the exact same thing—they are synonymous! Let’s now examine what they mean.
Recall from chapter 11 (vs. 15-19) that the blowing of the seventh trumpet represents the moment when Christ returns to set up His kingdom. The time setting is that God’s wrath has come!
Here is what John wrote: “And the nations were angry, and Your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should give reward unto Your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Your Name, small and great [the First Resurrection]; and should destroy them which destroy the earth” (vs. 18).
John records that the nations “were angry.” But so is God! Notice it said, “Your wrath is come.” Keep this straight! The last part of the seventh seal, the seventh trumpet, the third woe, the seven last plagues—and the vials—are all one and the same event—GOD’S WRATH! It is this time that will have finally come to all surviving inhabitants on Earth!
Notice: “And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God” (15:1).
Before this occurs, verses 2 and 3 show that the resurrected saints sing praise to God. God’s anger is about to be complete. If something is “filled up,” there is room for no more. This represents the final sum of God’s punishment.
The first vial is poured out upon the earth, “…and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them who worshipped his image” (Rev. 16:2). These individuals belong to the false church-state system.
The second plague is similar to that suffered by the Egyptians just prior to the Exodus (Ex. 7:14-25). “And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea” (Rev. 16:3).
Read for yourself the next three plagues. The rivers and fountains will turn to blood. The sun will become so hot that it will scorch men with fire. Darkness and pain will become unbearable. Now look at verse 11. After all these plagues from God, men continued to “blaspheme the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.”
One look around thunders that this rotten, awful, degenerate, disobedient age has almost come to the full! But this last generation is so vile, corrupt and contemptuous that God will subject them to the worst punishment possible—and they still will not understand—or repent!
How did we previously see God viewed such a time? “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). A similar time is upon us!
The sixth of these last plagues sets the stage for the final battle to resist Christ at His Return. Forces of spiritual wickedness are released to bring destruction and devastation on the inhabitants of the earth. Covered in more detail in an important later chapter, a short summary is helpful here.
Revelation 16:12 describes how God uses an angel to dry up the Euphrates River so that armies coming from the east can gather with the largest army in history (the one of 200 million men). This is just a prelude to even more significant events to come.
Verse 13 continues by addressing the role of demons sent by the devil into the Beast (a civil ruler) and the False Prophet (the religious leader associated with him). The next verse says, “For they are the spirits of devils [demons], working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (vs. 14). These “spirits of devils” are simply demons—fallen angels who followed Satan.
Notice! This leader will be accompanied by a charismatic religious leader, who will perform miracles with the power of the devil (Rev. 19:20; 13:11-14). When the peoples of the earth witness these miracles, they will be deceived into thinking that this false system is of God, and that they are able to successfully fight what they will perceive as outer space invaders! These two men will no doubt be possessed by demons (16:13), or even the devil himself, driving this religious-political-military system toward the final battle.
The final, seductive False Prophet (II Thes. 2:3) will lead the world to worship the Beast (Rev. 13:4, 16:2 and 19:20)! This deception will be so great, so widespread, that they will even deceive mankind into fighting Jesus Christ at His Second Coming (Rev. 16:9, 13-16; 17:13-14).
The seventh plague (vial) is commonly referred to as the Battle of Armageddon. This is a misnomer. Revelation 16:16 records that they gather at “a place called” Armageddon. At this time, the Beast and False Prophet are feverishly working their final miracles to delude the masses (16:13).
Verse 14 reveals that the proper name of this battle is “The Battle of that Great Day of God Almighty”—not Armageddon! This is GOD’S battle. It is not like so many famous battles today that are named after a location—such as Gettysburg, Waterloo, Verdun or Stalingrad. The battle takes place 60 miles away (from Megiddo), outside Jerusalem. The location is not important—but God’s purpose IS!
Two major forces (the Beast and the men of the East) will see Jesus Christ coming out of the clouds (Acts 1:11-12). Considering Him their greater threat, they will unite, forming an alliance to fight what they perceive to be their common enemy. These men will be angry. They will not submit to God’s government. They will think the true Christ is actually the “Antichrist” and will “make war with the Lamb” (Rev. 17:14).
There is no battle prophesied to occur between human armies! This last decisive battle will be fought by armies outside Jerusalem (those who gathered at Armageddon) against Christ and His saints! A subject of near-endless speculation, you will later learn the truth of “Armageddon” is more horrific than the imagined scenarios of men.
There is one final earthquake that signals that God is going forward to battle! This earthquake will be the most powerful of all time. Revelation 16:17-18 states, “And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.”
This earthquake changes the entire topography of the earth. Notice verse 20: “And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.” It appears to complete the process begun by the earthquake of Revelation 6:12-14, in which “every mountain and island were moved out of their places.” It is mentioned in Zechariah 14.
Verse 4 states, “And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” There, verse 9 states, “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth…”
At least three of the five earthquakes of Revelation are accompanied by voices, lightning, and thunder. These occur at the time of Revelation 8:5 (at the beginning of the Day of the Lord), Revelation 11:19 (after the Return of Christ), and the final earthquake of Revelation 16:18 (at the end of the seven last plagues). (Revelation 6:12 and 11:13 describe the other two earthquakes, totaling five.)
For voices to be heard in the midst of an earthquake, especially when accompanied by lightning and thunder, they would have to be those of mighty angels.
Chapters 17 and 18 are another inset describing the influential Roman religious system that is destroyed at the end of chapter 16. These chapters give a somewhat more detailed picture of the large universal church. The picture includes her harlot “daughters” (17:5), which have helped to deceive all nations (17:1-2; 18:3).
Many end-time prophecies use terms like heads, horns, toes, kings, etc. Several whole chapters must be studied to make their meaning clear. They clarify the different revivals of the same Roman system. A complex subject needing many pages to explain, the prophecies of chapter 17 are covered separately in the extensive next chapter.
This chapter describes the final judgment and actual destruction of Babylon. Verse 17 shows that her collapse comes quickly. The merchants of the world are aghast at how this powerful economic system could so suddenly come to such complete ruin.
The nations of the West are deceived and have become part of this Babylonish system! (Jeremiah 50:4-8, 13-15; 51:6-9 and Isaiah 47:1, 5, 7-9, 11; 48:1, 12, 17-20 describe it.) Ancient Israel was in Egypt when God poured out His plagues. Like Israel, God calls His people out of this world’s “Egypt.”
Understand this basic instruction about the Christian calling. God’s people are not of this world or its systems (John 17:14-16). Regarding the religious and political systems of this Babylon, God instructs, “Come out of her, MY PEOPLE, that you be not partakers of her sins” (Rev. 18:4). Babylon means confusion. The true servants of God have come out of this world, its governments and its confusion (I Cor. 14:33). Because they are separate from it, they shall also be separated and spared from its plagues.
The setting of chapter 19 is in heaven. Many angels surround God’s throne (vs. 1-2), describing His “righteous...judgments” on the great whore.
Now that she is gone, and Christ has returned, what happens next? “I heard…the voice of a great multitude...saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And He said…Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb...” (vs. 6-9).
The New Testament identifies the Church Jesus built as His bride. Several passages reveal this (Matt. 25:1-10; Eph. 5:23). At His Return, in one of the most awesome events in all history—the Wedding Supper—Jesus Christ will marry His Church!
Revelation 19:11-13 describes Christ, and verse 14 describes “armies” of angels joining Him from heaven. Verses 17-18 show that a vast flock of birds of prey eat the flesh of the dead armies, slain in chapter 16. This other “supper” is referred to as the “supper of the great God.”
The chapter concludes with a description of the execution of the Beast and False Prophet in a localized lake of fire.
Chapter 20 introduces Christ’s 1,000-year reign on Earth. At this time, the world will truly be “paradise,” since Satan will have been bound and cast into the bottomless pit (vs. 1-3). This chapter also explains the three separate resurrections that are central to God’s Plan.
Verses 4-6 describe the First Resurrection and the reign of the saints with Christ for 1,000 years, which you now know occurs when the seventh trumpet is blown and Christ returns to Earth.
In Matthew 25, which is actually a continuation of the Olivet Prophecy of chapter 24, Jesus speaks of this momentous event. The angels come from heaven with Him when He establishes His kingdom.
Notice the picture once Christ is established on His throne: “When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides His sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:31-34).
This is a truly awesome scene. Just before His crucifixion and ascension to heaven, we read where Jesus said, “If I go…I will come again” (John 14:3). Here, Christ gives the reward to each of His saints. They “inherit the kingdom” with Him and rule for 1,000 years.
But we must ask a larger question, beyond the immediate events prophesied through the first 19 chapters of the book of Revelation: What will take place after Christ’s 1,000-year reign on Earth?
The description of other events is found starting in Revelation 20:7 and continues through the end of the book. Verses 7-9 actually describe a prophecy pertaining to the end of the Millennium, when Satan is briefly loosed from his prison and seeks to reverse the 1,000 years of peace. Verse 10 describes his fate.
Starting with verse 11, the next five verses describe the Second and Third resurrections, of which most have little or no knowledge. Let’s read first: “And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books [the 66 books of the Bible] were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (vs. 11-12).
This has been referred to as the White Throne Judgment, in which all human beings who have ever lived will receive an opportunity for eternal life. This is when all mankind, since Adam, will be resurrected to physical life for 100 years. (Read Isaiah 65:17-25.) All these masses will be “judged” from God’s Word—“the books” of the Bible. This judgment is nothing like the supposed “judgment” that most envision, where people are thought to at some point in God’s Plan “line up in heaven” before Him for “sentencing.” The period of time described here is a judgment that lasts 100 years (Isa. 65:20), and people are given a full opportunity to respond to, or reject, God’s Way—and eternal salvation!
Then Revelation 20:13 continues with, “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [the grave] delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” The first part of the verse probably still refers mostly to the Second Resurrection, but the latter part directly refers to the Third Resurrection, with verse 14 adding, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”
When it speaks again, a second time, of men being judged according to their works, this is certainly referencing the Third Resurrection (vs. 14) because the context pertains to hell (gehenna) and death (the entire idea and reality of physical and eternal death—Revelation 21:4) being destroyed in the lake of fire. Notice: “And whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (20:15).
This last fulfillment—the Third Resurrection—occurs at the very end of God’s Plan, the time after He will have given every person who has ever lived a full opportunity to qualify to enter His kingdom.
There will be no escaping the final result of unrepentant sin—the “second death” in the “lake of fire.”
Jesus stated, “Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). He explained that everlasting fire—the lake of fire—was prepared for the “devil and his angels [demons].” In verse 46, Jesus continued, “And these [disobedient people] shall go away into everlasting punishment [not punishing]: but the righteous into life eternal.” Those judged unfit—disqualified—for eternal life will be thrown into the lake of fire!
When cast into the lake of fire, these people will go through what God defines as “the second death,” from which there is no resurrection: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8). Those cast into this lake of fire after the Millennium will be burned up forever.
May all fear such a fate!
When chapter 20, verse 10 refers to the Beast and False Prophet being cast into “a” lake of fire (19:20), this is a type of the second death. This evil duo will likely be raised in the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-13) to receive what is their first opportunity for salvation.
Finally, the closing chapters 21 and 22 of Revelation picture the last phase of God’s Plan with the establishment of the new heaven, the new earth and the new Jerusalem!
Eventually, at the end of His Plan, God will dwell on Earth instead of in heaven. John records the time when the new Jerusalem will come here from heaven.
Chapter 21 reveals more about the completion of God’s plan of salvation, and the purging of the earth by fire (II Pet. 3:10-12). Verses 1-3 state: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle [dwelling] of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.”
God’s Master Plan encompasses eternity. Those entering His kingdom will not be idle. They will be active and productive—and will continue to fulfill His purpose! Hebrews 2:6-8 explains that God will ultimately place man in authority over “all things”—the entire universe.
It is difficult to grasp the glory and magnitude of what we will be doing for eternity. But Revelation 21:5 gives a hint: “Behold, I make all things new.”
In verse 7, Christ says, “Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keeps the sayings of the prophecy of this book.” Reread this promise until it sinks in!
Now read verses 18-19, which give a dire warning to any who would add to or take away from this book, or Scripture in general. Then reread this warning until it sinks in!
Verse 15 describes those who, unwilling to repent of their degenerate lifestyles, will never be in the kingdom of God: “For without are dogs [false ministers], and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loves and makes a lie.” Also see Galatians 5:19-21.
There is urgency in Christ’s words throughout Revelation 22. For a second time, He states He will come again, but this time reveals what He brings with Him: “And, behold, I [Christ] come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (vs. 12; also see I Corinthians 15:50-54). Christ is coming to Earth, bringing rewards for each saint with Him—not the other way around. The saved do not go to heaven!
Jesus Christ’s very last words in Revelation are: “He which testifies these things says, Surely I will come quickly. Amen! Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (vs. 20).
God help you to heed the warning of Revelation—and this book—and to receive reward from Christ when He returns—soon!
But the most wonderful good news possible is preceded by the worst possible bad news…
The book of Revelation speaks of a terrifying “Beast” to appear at the end of the age. Theories abound surrounding this mysterious entity’s identity, yet the pages of your Bible plainly reveal its identity—and what this means for you!
The subject of the Beast now receives in-depth examination in its own chapter. Earlier referenced scriptures will sometimes be repeated for impact and clarity in this fuller context.
The world is drifting along—sleepy, drunken and oblivious to what lies ahead. The average person has no idea what the future holds—and, again, many do not care. Few are concerned beyond “tomorrow”—and fewer still remotely suspect what is coming in our time.
When God’s Plan—His great overarching purpose—is understood, confusion, mystery and misunderstanding disappear. Events become clear!
Historians can only record what has already happened. They cannot see into the future—prophecy—I repeat: history written in advance! God foretells major events before they happen. Over 80 percent of Bible prophecy remains unfulfilled. Many major events must yet come to pass.
Conditions in Europe and around the world will soon dictate that a single great authority must be given power for a short time. Much is written of the Beast, and events surrounding its appearance, but little is understood of what the Bible actually reveals about this powerful, dominant governing system, eventually united under two men.
World history is the study of the rise and fall of empires. But few know why dominant civilizations ebb and flow—why governments rise and fall—why events move as they do. Most see these things as products of the normal cycle of economics, war, disease and natural calamities.
This thinking is about to change—in a BIG WAY! This chapter explains how—and why.
Recall yet again that Matthew 24 (including chapter 25), Mark 13 and Luke 21 are parallel accounts of Christ’s greatest prophecy. Each of these chapters adds additional details, together forming the picture of what will happen from here on.
Luke’s account contains a strong warning to all who live at the end of the age. Jesus explains that those who serve God must be careful not to be swept away by conditions that give a false impression of what is happening—or coming. Here is how He began: “And take heed [be careful!] to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting [indulgence], and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day [terrible, world-shaking events] come upon you unawares” (21:34).
This passage pictures the values and lifestyle of most people. Almost no one is “taking heed,” and “that day” will come on them “unawares.” Here again is how Jesus describes the sudden arrival of worldwide cataclysms: “For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth” (vs. 35).
Jesus carefully chose this analogy. Snares catch unsuspecting victims, who carelessly step into them—and find themselves suddenly trapped, often hanging upside-down, completely disoriented. This is a graphic picture of what will soon strike “the whole earth”! And these are the words of Christ, not some “doomsday prophet” speaking without facts or authority.
But this snare need not catch you—or anyone who heeds Christ’s words. Calamity will not come without notice to those who are vigilant. Here is what Christ said to do: “Watch you therefore…” (vs. 36).
The snare that Christ spoke of will entrap the entire world. Despite His warning, almost no one is preparing for what lies ahead.
To “watch,” you must know what to watch for. Otherwise, such watching is useless—it has no value. Many will be deceived—fooled—because they will be watching in the wrong places for the wrong things, or expecting events to occur in a wrong sequence or timeframe.
The Bible is: (1) A history book, (2) a prophecy book and (3) a book about essential, revealed knowledge that man could not otherwise discover for himself. If world history is the study of the rise and fall of past empires, then prophecy is primarily the study of the rise and fall of world empires before they appear.
Men cannot discover what the future holds without God revealing it!
Early world history records little about nations, kingdoms and empires that may have existed prior to the great Flood of Noah’s time. However, the Bible does discuss the empires of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon and various other nations as they came into contact with God’s people, the nation of Israel, after the Flood.
The first great empire that God focuses on, both through history and Bible prophecy, is Babylon. It was founded by Nebuchadnezzar in the 600s BC, and consisted of multiple nations and regions unified under his leadership. King Nebuchadnezzar was perhaps the first great Gentile leader—and Scripture focuses on this man and his system all the way to the Return of Christ!
Paralleling this foretelling of the rise and fall of great Gentile empires are prophecies describing the nation of Israel—both ancient Israel and the modern-day nations populated by its descendants.
The role of the symbolic Beast of Revelation has everything to do with world empires. Many know that it represents “Babylon the Great” (Rev. 17:5) in some way, but are unsure how. And the nature and identity of this “wild beast” remains shrouded in mystery, even for those who profess to and think that they understand who or what it is. Yet, the real truth of how the Beast will eventually affect and change the earth will shock you beyond belief!
Terrible plagues will strike the disbelieving and unprepared. Notice this most blunt warning to all: “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 [Greek: undiluted]” (Rev. 14:9-10).
This is serious! God is not a “respecter of persons,” playing favorites. He says, “If any man worship…” Woe to ALL who remain ignorant of the facts surrounding this awesome prophecy. They will suffer horribly in ways God describes most graphically. There is no room for misunderstanding on this most sober of Bible warnings.
So then, the following questions must be answered:
The world does not know God. It is unaware of the Plan and Purpose that He is working out “here below.” While worldwide disobedience to His laws, and rejection of His truths, will cause plagues to be poured out on a God-hating humanity, the God of the Bible is a loving God. Before punishment takes place, He always makes certain His “watchman” (Ezek. 33:7) sounds the alarm to those in harm’s way. He wants no one to have an excuse, saying, “I didn’t know” or “Why didn’t you tell me?”
There is a responsibility to caution—to WARN—all who will yet take heed of the seriousness and meaning behind world-shaking events and calamities, lying just over the horizon.
The Bible speaks of several different beasts. To understand them all, each must be explained separately. Revelation 13 speaks of a Beast in its first 7 verses. Another Beast, ridden by a woman, is described in Revelation 17. Daniel 7 speaks of four separate beasts, with a reference to a “little horn” that appears during the time of the fourth beast. Revelation 13 describes a second “two-horned beast,” beginning in verse 11. Daniel 2 describes a giant image of a man composed of four separate metals. Relative to most of these descriptions, a specific number of “heads,” “horns” and “toes” are mentioned.
No wonder this subject is so confusing. It does require thorough explanation, and God must supply the clues—the critical knowledge to unlocking all of the above terms.
God says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6). This chapter will strip away the confusion, misunderstanding, wrong knowledge and outright deceit that is now deluding so many who do not know the plain truth of this prophecy. Every day, end-time conditions grow more ominous—and you must understand!
In the last chapter, we learned the Bible foretells a series of catastrophic events, which involve seven trumpets, to occur immediately prior to Christ’s Return. The seventh trumpet “fills up” what the Bible calls “the wrath of God.” This last trumpet is comprised of the seven last plagues (also called bowls, or vials), which punish a rebellious, sinning mankind. Seven angels “pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth” (Rev. 16:1). We saw the Bible depiction of how this occurs is very graphic.
When the first vial is poured out upon the earth, the Bible states, “there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image” (Rev. 16:2). All those who receive this plague belong to a false church-state system. Of course, we saw this is but the first plague.
I have heard endless theories about what the Beast’s mark may be. It is a subject of almost unending opinion, and has generated a veritable “cottage industry” of speculation, debate and disagreement. For almost every person who reads of the mark, another idea is born. But all attempts to explain the mark, the image of the Beast and who will receive the plagues are fruitless unless one first establishes who or what the Beast is!
We must start with the Bible description of the Beast.
As we read, comparing Revelation 13, 17 and Daniel 7, with Daniel 2, brings full understanding of the scope and magnitude of the beasts, and the system they represent. Numerous Old Testament scriptures also refer to them, but these chapters are the most critical to understand. Combined, they explain a staggering—and profoundly sobering!—prophecy about latter-day events that—I continue to emphasize—will affect all humanity in your lifetime!
Revelation 17:8-9 describes a “beast” that ascends out of a “bottomless pit” and is ridden by a “woman.” Verse 12 shows that this Beast involves 10 kings who shall receive power and unite to bequeath it to a leader who will take the role of the final Beast.
This again will be the seventh, and last, short-lived resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire—arising now in the heart of Europe! A United States of Europe is coming—and now lies just ahead. When it appears, the entire world will stand in shocked amazement. Let’s establish, and then prove, these stunning prophecies. It is vital that you grasp what they mean!
In Revelation 13, the apostle John describes a Beast with seven heads, 10 horns and 10 crowns.
Revelation 13 contains a symbolic description of the “Beast”—and a description of a second beast with “two horns” (vs. 11). The first Beast represents the Roman Empire—a political kingdom. The two-horned beast represents the headquarters of an influential, false prophetic “woman” that controls the first Beast. This chapter also describes both the “image” and the “mark” of the Beast.
The apostle John wrote what he saw in vision, offering significant detail in his description of the Beast: “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” (13:1-2).
These first one and a half verses of chapter 13 contain a physical description of what the Beast looks like. This will be important to remember. But the next three and a half verses tell more about the nature—the source of power, size, scope and conduct or behavior—of the Beast. The following verses give important clues for later examination. These clues go far in telling us exactly who or what the Beast is.
Now read: “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” (vs. 2-5).
Many mistakenly equate this last description of the Beast with the papacy. They fail to recognize that history is filled with accounts of its citizenry worshipping the Roman Empire and its emperors. Here is what one source states: “The worship of the emperor…In a word, the Roman government was not only wonderfully organized…Every one was required to join in the worship of the emperor because he stood for the majesty and glory of the Roman dominion…all were obliged, as good citizens, to join in the official sacrifices to the head of the State, as if he were a god” (Medieval and Modern Times, Robinson, p. 7).
Notice that the question was asked, “Who is able to make war with him?” It would not be difficult to make war with the papacy, because they only have a tiny group of guards around the Vatican. But making war with the Roman Empire was always most difficult. Also, the papacy, as an institution, has lasted much longer than 42 months, or the prophetic fulfillment of this period—1,260 years (Ezek. 4:4-6; Num. 14:34). So this is not a picture of the papacy, or Vatican. We shall soon see more proof of this.
John’s description of the Beast’s appearance leaves many questions. Perhaps the three biggest are: (1) Is John’s description that of a literal creature? (2) Does it represent a single individual—a kind of anti-Christ, superman, world dictator? (3) Or does it picture something else?
These all require answers.
First, there is no living creature on Earth that this could be describing literally. If there is, who has ever seen it? Where does it live? How did it come to be alive? How could three known creatures (a leopard, a bear and a lion) come together in the worship of a dragon, when there are no real dragons? This passage does not remotely describe any known animal on Earth. Obviously, it must represent something other than a literal creature.
Second, regarding whether it is some kind of human being—superman or otherwise—similar questions arise. What kind of person looks like this? What man looks like a leopard, has feet like a bear and the mouth of a lion?—and has seven heads, 10 horns and 10 crowns on the horns?—and comes out of the ocean? Again, the obvious answer is no one. This depiction then cannot possibly refer to either a literal man or creature.
This leaves the third possibility.
There is only one other possible explanation for the Beast. It must be symbolic. Many recognize this, so it has produced an endless stream of human interpretations for what the Beast, and other descriptions in Revelation, represent. But it is useless to try to assign an arbitrary meaning to such graphic symbolism.
If the Bible does not explain who or what the Beast is, then its identity is subject to every possible human interpretation. No one would have a right to claim to be more correct than anyone else. Many others attempt to understand the Beast, only to give up in hopeless frustration, thinking that no proper explanation and meaning of this, or of the other two beasts, is possible!
In other words, if God does not reveal the meaning and identity of the beast(s)—then either anything goes, or one can rightly conclude that there is no correct explanation and this prophecy cannot be understood!
So then, unless one is to give up or choose to rely on human interpretation, we must accept a basic principle:
What John records in Revelation is written in symbol. As established earlier, while he speaks in plain language, it is impossible to understand his symbols by merely rereading various passages again and again until their meaning suddenly “comes clear.” Since John uses many symbols, we need to be able to understand the many actual events that these symbols represent. Otherwise, we will not know what is being described. Therefore, John’s description must contain sufficient clues that can be deciphered by examining other verses in the Bible. Only God can interpret what He inspired. This is most true of the book of Revelation. Since God inspired Scripture, He must always interpret its meaning.
So let’s understand!
Through a series of dreams and visions, God used the prophet Daniel to reveal enormous prophetic understanding about how and when His kingdom would come to Earth (Dan. 1:17). Understanding Revelation is inseparable from, and impossible without, understanding Daniel—and vice versa—hence we revisit certain passages while examining new ones.
Daniel reported tremendous news that will affect you in your lifetime! We saw his entire message is for us today!
One of the most important visions that Daniel recorded is in chapter 7, where, inspired by God, he clearly explains and interprets the symbolism of the Beast. This is actually where proper understanding of Revelation 13 begins.
Verse 3 speaks of “four great beasts that came up from the sea.”
Verse 4 describes the first beast as “like a lion.” The verse contains other important descriptive phrases.
Verse 5 describes the second beast as “like to a bear.” The rest of this verse also contains additional descriptive information.
Verse 6 describes the third beast as “like a leopard.” While this verse gives more description, make note that this beast had “four heads.”
Verse 7 describes the fourth beast as unlike any creature or animal on Earth. It states that this beast is “dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth.” It is important to note that this fourth beast had “ten horns.”
Remember, God interprets His own word. He needs no help from men. What has He told us?
Other obvious parallels exist between the description of the Revelation 13 Beast and those that Daniel pictures. Daniel’s four beasts have a total of seven heads (the leopard had four), as does the Revelation 13 Beast. The Revelation 13 Beast had 10 horns, and so does Daniel’s fourth beast.
The most important parallel is that John and Daniel both describe beasts that involve a leopard, a bear and a lion. This cannot possibly be a coincidence. Both obviously describe related beasts! We will later see that the unmistakable parallels continue.
But what exactly are the four beasts? In verse 16, we see that the “interpretation of the things” can be known. God’s immediate answer to Daniel’s question (vs. 17) is, “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.” The term “kings” is often synonymous with kingdoms, which, of course, kings represent (vs. 18, 22, 24, 27).
From verse 19 forward, Daniel focuses particularly on the fourth beast. Carefully read his description, noticing verse 23: “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 what are the “ten horns”? Verse 24 interprets them: “And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings [or kingdoms] that shall arise.” The 10 kings represent 10 separate kingdoms, nations or governments.
It is now clear that this beast cannot be a human being or a church. Remember, the kings all come out of a kingdom. The obvious meaning of the 10 horns is that they are also 10 separate and sequential kingdoms because they all come from the fourth kingdom, which is described as ruling “the earth.”
This is a basic scriptural explanation of terms, requiring no human interpretation to understand.
The four beasts of Daniel 7 span over 2,500 years, from Nebuchadnezzar’s reign to the Return of Christ. Here is how we know this. Recall that the fourth beast is described from verses 19 through 26. Prior to verse 19, in the introduction of more detail about the fourth beast, it states in verse 18, “But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.”
Many other prophecies in the Bible explain that the saints rule with Christ. But there are two other verses here in Daniel 7, which prove most emphatically that this is true. Notice verse 22: “Until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.”
Verse 26 concludes by summarizing what happens to the fourth beast after it “shall wear out the saints of the Most High” (vs. 25), when it says that the saints then “shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.” Now verse 27, again speaking of the saints: “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him” (vs. 27).
We have established that the four beasts continue until Christ’s Return brings the last beast to an end. But who are the four beasts—the four kingdoms?
Now we must turn our attention to Daniel 2. It also contains a parallel prophecy spanning the same 2,500-plus years concluding, as we will see, with Christ’s Second Coming. This prophecy pictures a giant man consisting of four metals (gold, silver, brass, and iron mixed with clay), which represent four very large and powerful kingdoms, with the first starting in Daniel’s time.
So then, the “great image” of Daniel 2 symbolizes four world-ruling governments.
For several verses, Daniel discussed with the Chaldean (Babylonian) King Nebuchadnezzar certain matters that had come to the king in a dream. Nebuchadnezzar was king of an empire that he had established approximately 600 years prior to Christ’s time.
The king’s court magicians were not able to interpret what only God could explain. God’s purpose was to reveal, through Daniel, that there is an Almighty living God who rules the entire universe—and holds sovereignty over all kings, governments and nations on Earth. The humanly wise King Nebuchadnezzar had no knowledge beyond the existence of other human kings and their many false gods. But it was God’s purpose to reveal to this human king the existence of His government and that it rules the universe. He also intended to make plain His great purpose in bringing that government to the earth “in the latter days” (vs. 28).
Several verses introduce and describe the image (statue) of a giant man. Let’s read: “This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay” (vs. 32-33). This is clearly an image of a man, but one that is constructed of four distinct parts.
Then, verses 34-35 describe a great supernatural “stone that smote the image [and] became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” Note that verse 34 states that the stone “was cut out without hands.” This is because God, not men, had formed it. We will discuss this momentarily.
Since the “stone” shatters the image and replaces it, eventually encompassing the entire earth, this can only be the Government of God coming to Earth. Notice: “Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead…This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the Head of the corner” (Acts 4:10-11).
This verse identifies Christ as the stone of Daniel 2. When God’s kingdom is established, we have already seen that the saints “possess the kingdom” (of God). Again, many verses show that they rule with the returning Christ. Christ’s identity is proven and clarified in verses 44 and 45, which describe “the God of heaven set[ting] up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed…it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” The end of verse 45 adds, “and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.” Notice that God does His own interpreting, requiring no help from me or anyone else.
God leaves no doubt as to whether these prophecies will be fulfilled. He has spoken them—and they will happen! This is why it is so important for you to comprehend—really grasp—the identity and the meaning of the Beast and the events preceding Christ’s Coming. He will destroy the final kingdom and set up God’s all-powerful world-ruling government—supplanting all humanly devised governments! Daniel 2:34 and 44 prove that these 10 toes (10 final kings—and kingdoms—united under one leader) exist at the time of Christ’s Coming, because the stone replaces them!
Now, what do the four metals of the image represent? We will see they are four Gentile kingdoms. But you do not need anyone, including me, to interpret them for you. Allow God to interpret the giant image—and the meaning of the four elements of which it is composed.
Verse 37 states, “You, O king [Nebuchadnezzar], are a king of kings: for the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.” Verse 38 adds, “You are this head of gold.” The Bible has just interpreted itself. Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon represent the first kingdom. Verses 39-40 go on to describe three successive kingdoms that would follow the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon. Here is how they are described: “And after you [Nebuchadnezzar] shall arise another kingdom [of silver] inferior to you, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and subdues all things: and as iron that breaks all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.”
These verses show a succession of world empires depicted by different metals composing the giant image. These were literal kingdoms. What you have just learned is vital knowledge that very few understand today. God expressly reveals to us now that He is the One who establishes and removes—and establishes and removes again—earthly kingdoms. This has much to do with the identity of the Beast.
The first kingdom, which was the head made of gold, represented Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian or Chaldean Empire (625-539 BC). In 539, the Medes and Persians defeated the Babylonians. The silver breast and arms represent this second empire. The duration of the Medo-Persian kingdom was 558-330 BC. The belly and thighs of brass represented the third kingdom, the Grecian (333-31 BC) or Greco-Macedonian Empire.
The Greco-Macedonian Empire was led by Alexander the Great. After just a one-year reign, Alexander died and his generals (recall Lysimachus, Cassander, Ptolemy and Seleucus) divided his enormous empire into four regions: (1) Egypt, (2) Macedonia and Greece, (3) Thrace and Western Asia, and (4) Syria and all territory east to the Indus River. These are obviously the four heads of Alexander’s “leopard” kingdom.
Finally, the fourth kingdom is depicted by lower legs of iron, with feet and toes of iron mixed with clay. This represents the greatest of the four kingdoms—the Roman Empire, which defeated and succeeded the Greco-Macedonian Empire.
These are well-known facts of world history. Few dispute the basic historical accuracy of the timing, scope, strength and greatness of these four kingdoms.
However, we must understand why God focuses on these Gentile kingdoms.
In the greatest sense, the Bible is almost entirely a book about how God worked with the nation of ancient Israel. He chose, revealed Himself to, and gave His Law to govern this nation. God had warned Israel that if they disobeyed him, they would be punished (Lev. 26; Deut. 28). After a long series of ups and downs, Israel rejected God, His leaders and His Law for the last time. After sending most of the tribes of Israel into captivity in Assyria about 125 years earlier, God sent the last tribe, Judah, into captivity in Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar. (Daniel himself was a young Jewish slave.)
From the time of Judah’s captivity forward, starting with Babylon, God raised up successive Gentile world empires that He foretold would continue for the remaining over 25 centuries before He established His kingdom.
The Roman Empire, which began in 31 BC, has existed and waned through a succession of historic resurrections. Starting from Rome, the empire slowly expanded until it had absorbed the four pieces of Alexander’s kingdom. In time, it became the largest and most powerful empire the world had ever seen. Eventually, it encompassed all of the regions of the three empires that preceded it, and more. (Thus, the characteristics of Babylon, Medo-Persia and the four Greco-Macedonian divisions of Alexander’s empire are reflected in an upcoming artist’s rendering within the composite Beast of Revelation 13—the Roman Empire. The nondescript other six heads of this Beast carry no special meaning, individually.)
Rome slowly took on the qualities of the kingdoms it replaced. It had the lightning-speed, cruelty and striking-power of Alexander’s small leopard-like army, which typically attacked like a World War II German blitzkrieg. But it also possessed the massive power of the Medo-Persian armies, which at a point boasted a standing army of over one million men. This is why God depicted the Medo-Persian Empire as having the tremendous power of a bear, and as the chest and arms of a man.
The city of Rome in particular, and the entire empire in general, also reflected and held much of the splendor that Babylon reflected, as the head of gold.
Rome embodied all the qualities of the bear, the lion and the leopard, yet was different in that it was unlike any other animal because it had “great iron teeth.” All of this is why John saw one beast, not four, in Revelation 13. The four beasts of Daniel 7 had a total of seven heads. This is why John’s one Beast also had seven heads.
The duration of the Roman Empire nearly covered the period of world dominance of the three kingdoms it succeeded put together!
The first period of the Roman Empire lasted from 31 BC to AD 476, when it collapsed after having been overrun by barbarians from the north.
If we are to be honest, and reject the nearly endless stream of human opinions and theories about the fourth beast being a church, a country, the pope or some mysterious final superman, then we are left to simply believe the Bible and the facts of history.
The fourth beast represents the Roman Empire from 31 BC to the present. All other theories collapse under the weight of Bible clues and facts, presented by God as proof to all minds that are truly open.
Recall that John, in Revelation 13, said the Beast would receive a “deadly wound,” which would eventually be “healed.” After this healing, the Beast was prophesied “to continue forty and two months.” What did John mean? What was he speaking of? The answer lies in understanding what happened to the Roman Empire in AD 476.
John wrote that “one of his heads” was “wounded to death” (vs. 3). This has to be referring to the last of the seven heads of John’s Beast, which is the Roman Empire, because John was living in the time of the seventh head, when the Roman Empire ruled. Since the other three beasts had passed into history, there would have been no point in addressing them in a book intended to reveal the future. Recall that Daniel explained that the “ten horns” were 10 successive governments, which arose out of the Roman Empire and continue until the Second Coming of Christ. Daniel 7:24 stated, “And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings [governments] that shall arise.”
Who are these 10 kings (governments)? And how do they fit with the wound that was healed? Start by recognizing that the kings must be successive, not contemporaneous, for how can they rule at the same time if they span a period from AD 476 until the time of Christ’s Return? Obviously, no single human being can live this long and neither has any single government, empowered by Rome, done this.
Let’s examine the first three (Daniel 7) horns of the Roman Empire, for they represent the period that encompasses the wound. The deadly wound was brought on the Roman Empire by barbaric tribes from the north. Three Germanic kingdoms from Northern Europe, called the Vandals, the Heruli and the Ostrogoths, conquered Rome in succession.
Some brief explanation of these tribes and their timing is helpful. In 455, the Vandals swept through Northern Africa, and eventually attacked and defeated the city of Rome itself. (This tribe was so barbaric and destructive that the modern term “vandalize” is derived from its name.) Twenty-one years later, in AD 476, the Heruli, under Odoacer, established an occupying government at Rome. Historians universally accept 476 as the official date of the fall of the Roman Empire.
The kingdom of the Ostrogoths, which lasted from AD 493 to AD 554, in turn, replaced the Heruli. Like the Vandals and Heruli, the Ostrogoths were eventually driven from Rome, and together they represented what has often been called the “transition age” of the Roman Empire. But it is important to understand that these three brief successions of Northern Tribes were not actually Roman governments, but were governments in Rome. Yet they were still part of the “ten horns.”
Recall that Daniel 7:8 said that these “three horns” were “plucked up by the roots.” In fact, these three tribes did completely disappear from history. However, seven more horns were prophesied to rule this empire after them, until Christ returned.
Beginning in AD 554, the Roman Empire became known as the Holy Roman Empire. Historians almost universally acknowledge that the pope’s crowning of Justinian, after he had defeated the Ostrogoths, signaled this change. Events in Europe, surrounding the Holy Roman Empire, rose and fell for many centuries. Periodically, new rulers appeared—Charlemagne (the Frankish head in AD 800)—Otto the Great (the German head crowned in AD 962)—followed by the Hapsburg Dynasty of Charles V (the Austrian head crowned in AD 1520)—which, in turn, was followed by Napoleon’s reign (the French head crowned in AD 1805)—with the sixth head being that of Garibaldi’s united Italian head from AD 1870-1945! This sixth resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire culminated in the defeat of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Mussolini, after signing a secret agreement (Concordat) with the Vatican in 1929, united Ethiopia, Eritrea and Italian Somaliland back to Italy in 1935. He declared this union to be the Roman Empire re-established!
A regathering of power under one man is foretold to happen one more time!
Understand! The Roman Empire had two capitals—in Rome and Constantinople. The 10 toes on the two feet of Daniel 2 represent 10 different nations or kingdoms in Eastern and Western Europe. This religious, political combine of nations (also the 10 horns of Rev. 17) will unite under one final powerful leader. Again, this united system is now quietly forming behind the world stage. Much more on this later.
Only the 10th horn of Daniel 7:7 (the same as all 10 toes of Daniel 2) is yet to appear. This will be the final great Beast of Revelation 17 that will explode upon an unsuspecting world with stunning speed and force (Rev. 17:12). With the 1989 collapse of the Iron Curtain and the reuniting of Germany, the final resurrection, consisting of countries and kingdoms throughout Central Europe, will soon appear, as a superpower United States of Europe. But we have already read how Christ will smash this union of kingdoms at His Coming!
Recall that John said, “the dragon gave him [the Beast] his power, and his seat, and great authority.” Revelation 20:2 shows who the dragon is: “And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan.” Revelation 12:9, 12-13 adds, “The great dragon…that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan…was cast out into the earth…having great wrath…and when the dragon saw that he was cast onto the earth…”
These verses leave no doubt as to the identity of the dragon and that the devil empowers the system of government that culminates in the final Beast power that Christ smashes.
The wound was prophesied to be healed, and, speaking of the Beast, “power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.” This requires explanation. The healing occurred in AD 554, when the Emperor of the East at Constantinople, Justinian, re-established the Roman Empire at Ravenna, Italy. History records this as the “Imperial Restoration” of the Roman Empire.
The history of the Roman Empire changes entirely from AD 554. The seven successive revivals all had something in common never seen in the previous period of governments ruling from Rome.
We may now read Daniel 7:8: “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.” Verse 20 adds of this “little horn” that it “came up, and before whom three fell” and it had a look “more stout than his fellows.” Clearly, this is a distinct and different horn from the remaining seven of the horns that appear after the first three Germanic heads (horns) of the empire.
Let’s understand! It is the appearance of this little horn in AD 554—this timeframe is established by Daniel’s two verses—that redefines the kingdom and allows it to continue for another “forty-two months.”
Here is what happened: The pope crowned Justinian in this year!
What is the meaning of the forty-two months? Ezekiel 4:4-6 and Numbers 14:34 show that, in prophetic fulfillment, each day counts for a year. This is critical to understand in regard to many other prophecies. Without recognizing this principle, all of these Bible prophecies have remained closed—sealed—to those who sought to understand them. How does “a day for a year” apply here?
Forty-two months is three and a half years. God’s sacred years contain 360 days. 360 days times 3½ equals 1,260 days—or 1,260 years in prophecy. This defines the duration of the healing of the “deadly wound.”
Counting 1,260 years from AD 554 takes us to 1814. Why is 1814 significant? This is when Napoleon abdicated, before his 1815 Waterloo defeat. As one historian put it, “So closed a government that dated from Augustus Caesar”—from 31 BC (Modern History, West, p. 377). The 1,260 years of the “healed beast” had ended. The Beast disappeared into the abyss of history—the “bottomless pit” of Revelation 17:8—from this moment forward, until it suddenly reappears.
With eight horns of the fourth beast (five heads of Revelation 17 Beast) gone, it was not until 1870 that Garibaldi began to unite the many fractured little kingdoms of Italy under one authority—thus beginning the revival of the ninth horn (sixth head of Revelation 17 Beast) that climaxed in Mussolini’s fascist government.
The end of Revelation 17:8 also describes this Beast as “the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.” This sixth resurrection (1870-1945) was so weak in power, when compared to previous resurrections such as Charlemagne and Napoleon, as a revival of the generally much more powerful Roman Empire, that it is described as “was, and is not, and yet is” (at least in name).
We have discussed the little horn as it relates to the coronation of Justinian. Each of the additional five revivals of the Holy Roman Empire (Frankish, Germanic, Austrian Hapsburg, Napoleonic and Italian Garibaldi to Mussolini kingdoms) were recognized, endorsed and, to varying degrees, directly guided and steered by the Vatican.
There is another important aspect of the little horn to be explained here. Daniel 7:20-21 states, “even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spoke 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.”
Finally, verse 25 adds this, “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.”
From AD 554, when the “deadly wound” of Revelation 13 “was healed,” the civil emperors in Rome began to honor (with power, gold and silver) a god that had been unknown to their ancestors or “fathers.” This “strange god” held a high religious office and received great deference from Roman emperors (Dan. 11:37-39). From the time of Justinian, this church/state system functioned together for 1,260 years, with the “little horn” using and guiding the civil authorities to do its bidding.
This system “made war with the saints [of God’s true Church],” “prevailed against them,” “spoke great words against the Most High,” and did “wear out the saints of the Most High.” This “little horn” is precisely the same large universal counterfeit movement whose rise to power has been documented from Church history. As we proceed, it will become evident how deadly this “little horn speaking great things” would become in regard to the true Church—and to all civilization. (My book Where Is the True Church? – and Its Incredible History! documents this. This book and a later chapter here will open your understanding to both the history of God’s Church and the work of the counterfeit church that has relentlessly sought to destroy it.)
The 13th chapter describes a second beast, this one having “two horns” (Rev. 13:11). We have seen that the first Beast is a description of the Roman Empire—a political kingdom. What is this “two-horned beast”?
Recall that Revelation 12:9 said, “Satan…deceives the whole world.” Revelation 20:3 states that he “deceive[s] the nations.” Also recall that Satan (“the dragon”) gives power to the first Beast of chapter 13. The devil has a civil government headquarters on Earth to which he gives “his power, and his seat [a city], and great authority.”
Satan does not usually speak directly to human beings. He works through his servants—his ministers. The Bible teaches that Satan has “his ministers.” These ministers pretend to be ministers of Christ, but Paul calls them “false apostles” and “deceitful workers,” who appear to be “angels of light” and “ministers of righteousness” (II Cor. 11:13-15). The vast majority of those who claim to be true ministers of God are not. Jesus said that His Church would be little, and its faithful ministers few.
There are many theories about the “two-horned beast.” Some have thought it is a grouping of Protestant churches, and others think that it is the papacy linked to the United States. Most, however, claim not to know what it is, and speak little of it. Therefore, we must let the Bible explain its true meaning.
Now let’s examine the passage that describes this other Revelation 13 Beast: “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. And he exercises all the power of the first beast before him, and causes the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he does great wonders, so that he makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceives them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast…and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed” (vs. 11-15).
Some important points emerge.
This two-horned beast gives “power” to the first Beast of verses 1-5. Daniel 7:17, 23 revealed that “beast” is a term for a civil government or kingdom, or the leader of the kingdom. Therefore, our first important conclusion is that this beast must be a government or kingdom. Second is that it gives power to the Roman Empire system.
It also appears like a “lamb,” but speaks like a “dragon.” This is critical to understand. Here is why. Christ is depicted in the Bible, in several places, as a lamb (John 1:29; Rev. 17:14). We have seen that the dragon is Satan. So this beast, then, appears to be Christian, but is really of the devil. In other words, this is a satanic kingdom that appears on the surface to be the kingdom of God, and of Christ. Many scriptures reveal that Christ did not establish His kingdom at His first Coming. He carefully explained this to His disciples in Acts 1:6, John 14:1-3 and Luke 19:11-27. We have already seen verses in Daniel 7 describing when Christ and the saints smash the fourth beast as they are given rulership over Earth.
When Revelation 13:12 states that “he exercises all the power of the first beast before him, and causes the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed,” it was the Roman Empire to whom he was giving power. This occurred from the time of the Beast’s healing in AD 554.
For the full 1,260 years that the wound was healed, Roman emperors acknowledged the supreme authority of religion throughout the empire. This is one way it portrays itself as the kingdom of God on Earth. Many encyclopedias state that the Holy Roman Empire was declared to be the “kingdom of God on Earth.” In fact, in 554, many felt that the kingdom of God had officially arrived.
The second Revelation 13 beast, however, has two horns. This is because it represents a two-fold combination of church and government. But since it is an actual kingdom, it does, in fact, have to be its own independent, sovereign state. Remember also, this two-horned beast possesses such awesome power that it inspires the world to worship the Beast, whose deadly wound was healed. The power to bring fire down from heaven and to perform miracles will win vast numbers of people as worshippers of the Beast.
Recognize these facts: The second beast is able to perform miracles. He does this “in the sight of” the first Beast—the Holy Roman Empire. These miracles are so extraordinary—so mesmerizing—that they allow him to deceive the whole earth! And the Beast is worshipped as a result.
This future religious leader will lead the final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire alongside a great civil leader. In II Thessalonians 2:3, this same religious leader is called the “man of sin.” Revelation 19:20 refers to him as a “false prophet.” This False Prophet embodies all that counterfeit Christianity has represented through the centuries. In the near future, when the modern-day descendants of Israel are taken into captivity, many will see the bitter reality of its killing machine firsthand.
This has been typical of this Babylonish church throughout the course of history. Millions have been put to death for not worshipping according to its false beliefs and practices.
Plainly, the “two-horned beast” is the headquarters of the great false church that controls the first Beast. The description we have just read is an unmistakable parallel with the “little horn” of Daniel 7:8, 20-21, 24-25.
We must know what is coming and be able to recognize it when it emerges in full power.
We saw Revelation 12 describes a “woman,” which is to marry Christ (Rev. 19:7; Matt. 25:1-10; Eph. 5:23) at His Return. These verses, and others, show that the word “woman” is a symbol for a church. The entire chapter 12 is devoted to God’s Church and how she has been persecuted by a false “Christian” church system throughout most of her 2,000 years. Many earmarks of this woman of chapter 12 demonstrate and prove that she is God’s Church—the true Church.
Revelation 17 introduces a seven-headed Beast, different from any mentioned previously, but it also described a very different woman riding it. Let’s examine this woman and the Beast she rides. It is vital to understand her critical connection to seven revivals (resurrections) of the Roman system. She never rode the first three heads of the Roman system. Rather, she only rode it after the Beast was “healed” in AD 554. The now healed Beast is the Beast of Revelation 17.
Recall chapters 17 and 18 are an inset to the book of Revelation, and describe the great Roman system that is destroyed at the end of chapter 16. These chapters give a somewhat more detailed picture of the great, false universal church. The picture includes the woman’s “harlot” daughters (17:5), which have helped her to deceive all nations (17:1-2; 18:3).
The Revelation 17 woman is “arrayed in purple and scarlet” and rides a seven-headed, 10-horned Beast.
We have discussed the seven revivals of the Holy Roman Empire. Six have come and gone—and the last 10-horn revival, consisting of 10 kings (of 10 governments), is now forming! The 17th chapter of Revelation describes the final revival of this religious-political system. This revival (or resurrection) will last at least three and a half years, coinciding with first the Tribulation (Matt. 24:21-22) and then the time of God’s wrath. It is prophesied to come “out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition” (Rev. 17:8). The Holy Roman Empire has been in the abyss of history, or the bottomless pit, since Napoleon’s 1814 abdication prior to Waterloo.
Chapter 17, verse 10, speaking of the heads, states, “five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come.” The five “fallen” heads are those the woman rode during the 1,260 years from 554 to 1814. The “one is” head was the sixth head, now past, which began with Garibaldi and culminated in Mussolini. The “is” has become “was.”
Now understand. This verse is written from the time perspective of when God revealed the meaning of this prophecy, and many others, to the leader of His Church, in the late 1930s. This is the only time that this present tense representation of the sixth head could be accurate. (We would today say “six have fallen.”) It also reveals when God wanted Daniel’s closed and sealed prophecy opened and taken to the world as a warning!
Understand another important connection to these resurrections of the Roman system. Revelation 17 describes each as having “a woman sit[ting] upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns” (vs. 3). The seven heads are seven separate revivals, with a 10-horn (composed of 10 kings) final revival. It is this woman who spreads the “mystery of iniquity” spoken of by Paul in II Thessalonians 2:7.
Of this woman, Revelation 17:5-6 state, “And upon her forehead was a name written, mystery, babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.”
Verse 1 calls her a “great whore that sits upon many waters.”
Let’s pause and ask: What are the “many waters”?
This is a classic example of allowing the Bible to interpret the Bible. Fourteen verses later, the term is explained: “And he said unto me, The waters which you saw, where the whore sits, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues” (vs. 15). This shows that the influence of the whore and her harlot daughters encompasses the earth. This reflects truly enormous power!
In this case, the term “many waters” was not immediately explained, but simply continuing to read revealed what it means. The Bible interpreted itself!
Verses 5-6 are a graphic description of an immense Gentile church that is a modern-day descendant of Babylon. She is a “mother” of many “harlot” daughters, who came out of her in protest because they disagreed with a few of her abominations. This is not a small church, but rather a “great” church (“great whore”) ruling many peoples. Verse 2 speaks of her “fornication” with the “kings of the earth.” And verse 18 speaks of the woman as “that great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.” So then, this is a very large church that has sought to influence kings, nations and world events. Only one city and one church fit this description.
Once again, this is seen to be a very different woman than that of Revelation 12.
This large Gentile false church has long persecuted God’s true Church (17:6). God will destroy this whore and her harlot daughters by turning the Beast she rides against her (vs. 16). But first she must “ride” the final revival of the Holy Roman Empire—with her Babylonian system!
Daniel 7:19-20 sheds light on what happens when the saints return with Christ. Their first job is to replace the “fourth beast” (the final world-ruling empire), which rules with the assistance of the “little horn” whose “look was more stout than his fellows.” This little horn is a religious kingdom, and is the same as the woman who rides the Beast of Revelation 17. Again, this religious “woman” kingdom has ruled over all of the previous resurrections of the Holy Roman Empire.
The saints will have endured tremendous persecution at the hands of this “little horn”—“woman” church. But eventually the faithful saints will be rewarded in an incredible way. Now more from Daniel: “I beheld, and the same horn [the Babylonish system of Revelation 17:5-6] made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom” (vs. 21-22).
A final explanation should be made. The beginning of Revelation 17:8 described this different Beast as “the beast that was, and is not,” with verse 11 similarly beginning with, “And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth and is of the seven, and goes into perdition.” This healed Beast, now the Holy Roman Empire (the resurrections ridden by the “woman” since AD 554), is both different—like an “eighth” system—and yet is “of the seven” heads of the Revelation 13 Beast and the Daniel 7 fourth beast, last seven of 10 horns of each.
It is necessary and helpful to summarize what we have learned so far. Some believe the Revelation 13 Beast is the woman who rode the Revelation 17 Beast. This cannot be because the woman is a church and the beast is the government. Others believe Napoleon’s abuse of the pope in 1798 was the “deadly wound.” While this is on the surface ridiculous, it is also impossible that the Roman church would last another 1,260 years until AD 3058.
Now review and understand these points. The accompanying graphics and charts complement and expand them:
There are endless opinions and theories about the number 666 and how it relates to the Beast. Seemingly, new ones arrive every day. But, like other aspects of the beasts, we must let God reveal the answer to this mystery.
First read the only five references to the “number” and then we shall discuss them. They are all in just two passages.
Revelation 13:17-18: “And 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. Here is wisdom. Let him that has understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six.” Now Revelation 15:2: “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.”
These basic points emerge: (1) All who will are told to “count [add up] the number,” (2) the number is 666, (3) the Beast has this number and this is what identifies it, if we exercise “wisdom” in properly counting it, (4) 666 is the number of a kingdom, government or empire, or of the king who establishes or leads it (Dan. 7:18, 22-24, 27), and (5) the terms—“the name of the beast”—“or the number of his name”—“it is the number of a man”—directly identify the number as both the name of the kingdom, government or empire and the king or ruler that leads it.
If God says to count the number, He obviously intends that we know how to do this!
There are a number of important and famous names that are linked to the Roman Empire, and Rome itself.
The name Rome, and thus the Roman Empire, is derived from its legendary first king and founder—Romulus. Quite literally, this name is stamped on every man, woman and child within the kingdom, as well as on all of its kings and the kingdom itself.
Many have recognized this much but have failed to recognize that they should not count the number in Latin, but rather in Greek—the language in which God inspired the New Testament to be written. Remember, John wrote Revelation in Greek.
Ignoring this point has caused many to apply 666 to the pope, by claiming that the phrase “Vicarius Filii Dei” is written on the pope’s triple crown. First, while the pope has such a crown, these words are not on it. Besides, these are Latin words, which do not apply to a kingdom or empire, but would only apply to a man—the pope. Also, these words are a title, not a name!
In the second century AD, it was recognized that Romulus’ name was originally spelled Lateinos, meaning “the name of Latium” or “Latin man.” The Romans took their language and origin from this region.
Like the value of Roman numerals, the Greeks assigned values to letters. In the Greek, L counts for 30, A is 1, T is 300, E is 5, I is 10, N is 50, O is 70, S is 200—totaling precisely 666! It is not then strange, or incorrect, to conclude that every citizen, king and the kingdom itself, adds up to or “counts” to 666.
Now consider Benito Mussolini. He called himself “Il Duce,” which means the leader or the chief. Everywhere he went, people proclaimed, “Viva Il Duce,” meaning long live the chief. The Italians abbreviated this on signs throughout Italy as “vv il duce.”
This time, let’s count the name in Latin, recognizing that the letter U was commonly replaced with a V: V is 5 (twice), I is 1, L is 50, D is 500, V is 5, C is 100, E has no number. The total—precisely 666!
The Beast and Roman Empire—and a system—have been identified!
Remember that the Revelation 17 woman is a false church that rides the Beast with seven heads and 10 horns. We have established that the Beast she is riding is a powerful world empire that exists until Christ returns. Like one who rides a horse, camel or elephant, the woman directs, controls and guides the animal to go where she wants it to go and to do what she wants it to do.
Two individuals, “the Beast and the False Prophet,” will lead this religious-governmental system. Revelation 16:13-14 describes demons as having the power to “work miracles” through their system.
The embodiment of the final Beast will be a charismatic figure who arrives on the world scene shortly before Christ’s Return.
Also, the final, world-charming False Prophet will lead the world to worship the Beast (Rev. 16:2; 19:20)! This deception will be so profound (18:3)—and so widespread—that we saw these men will actually deceive all mankind into fighting Christ at His Second Coming (16:9, 13-16; 17:13-14). Ponder the power of deception!
Now notice II Thessalonians 2:3-4 and 8. Verse 3 refers to one called “the man of sin” and “the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” Recognize that the False Prophet professes that he is God.
Compare this with Ezekiel 28:2 and the reference to the “prince of Tyrus”—a man. Ezekiel wrote that this “prince” says, “I am a God, I sit in the seat of God.” II Thessalonians 2:8 describes this “man of sin” as the “wicked [one]” who would “be revealed” for what he is when Christ returns and destroys him with the Beast in a lake of fire (Rev. 19:20). Isaiah 14:4 refers to the False Prophet as the “king of Babylon.” This is the same man as the “prince of Tyrus.”
Continuing in II Thessalonians 2, verse 9 makes a startling statement about the False Prophet. It says that his “coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” Verse 10 shows that he is able to deceive everyone who does not “love the truth.” Verse 11 reveals that God shall send “strong delusion” to all who willingly believe his lies.
We saw that the leaders of this dominating false system will be possessed by a demon, or the devil himself! This will give the False Prophet tremendous power to deceive and perform miracles. Satan, having always wanted to replace God with himself, will be able to speak through this human religious leader and declare to the whole world that he is, in fact, GOD!
This Bible warning is unmistakable. Also unmistakable, the miracles he performs will deceive the vast majority!
The work of the False Prophet will continue all the way to Armageddon. Now read Revelation 16:13: “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon [Satan], and out of the mouth of the beast [civil end-time ruler], and out of the mouth of the false prophet [religious leader guiding the Beast].”
Verse 14 states, “For they are the spirits of devils [demons], working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” These “spirits of devils” are the fallen angels who followed Lucifer (now Satan) in his insurrection against the Creator (Rev. 12:4).
Here is how the Bible describes the Beast (the civil Roman ruler) and False Prophet working together: “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him [Christ] that sat on the horse, and against His army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Rev. 19:19-20).
Now let’s read the full description of how the False Prophet works. Let’s see the reach of his power, influence and ability, through miracles and lying wonders, to bring the whole world to worship the Beast—the final civil Roman ruler.
This following passage, some repeated from before, removes all doubt that the two-horned beast is the woman of Revelation 17, and that the final False Prophet represents it, working in concert with the Beast:
“And I beheld another beast [second beast] coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. And he exercises all the power of the first beast before him, and causes the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he does great wonders, so that he makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceives them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast [the first Beast], which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast [first 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. And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and 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” (Rev. 13:11-17).
These verses speak four times of the image of the Beast, which requires explanation, and of the all-important mark of the Beast, which does as well.
The Bible is a book about government—how God governs His Church and His Work—the gospel of the kingdom of God—and how He will govern the entire world upon Christ’s Return—among other points. The world also has its own many forms of government. This includes churches, which are governed in various ways, none of them after the fashion of God’s government. The counterfeit universal false church system—which counterfeits everything of God—has also fashioned its government after a certain model. This knowledge has everything to do with the image of the Beast. Let’s understand by looking at the two-horned beast.
This second beast of Revelation 13, besides causing people to receive the Beast’s mark, was also responsible for creating an “image” that led to the martyrdom of true saints. Yet it was not this church that killed them for not worshipping the image—but rather it caused them to be put to death. History reveals the saints were killed and persecuted by civil government, under direction of the false church who had labeled them “heretics” and “anathema from Christ.”
Now let’s compare the woman of Revelation 17 with the two-horned beast of Revelation 13 who causes the Beast to kill those who refuse the mark: “And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Rev. 17:6). There can be no doubt that these two are the same.
Now how were the people deceived into worshipping the image of the Beast? Let’s see: “And [the False Prophet] deceives them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast [the civil leader]; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast…” (13:14).
What is the Beast’s image? First, what is the dictionary definition of “image”? The Second Edition of the Webster’s New International Dictionary defines it as a “representation...modeled figure...likeness; semblance...a copy or counterpart.”
Now notice this statement from the Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature: “The first pope, in the real sense of the word, was Leo I ([AD] 440-461). Being endowed by nature with the old Roman spirit of dominion, and being looked upon [by] his contemporaries, in consequence both of his character and his position, as the most eminent man of the age, he developed in his mind the ideal of an ecclesiastical monarchy, with the pope at the head…”
Pope Leo admired the Roman Empire for the government structure it had, and copied its principles in creating the papacy of the Roman Catholic Church. It is this form of church government that is the image (representation or semblance) of the Beast!
This false church models its ecclesiastical church government after—in structure and organization—the ancient Roman civil government. God’s government is not a humanly devised structure based on pagan ideas or manmade laws. It is based solely on God’s Law and will be led by Jesus Christ and the resurrected, spirit-born saints. It is this divine form of government that exists in the true Church today.
Further, Philip Van Ness Myers, in his work Ancient History, confirms this: “[During the reign of Leo I, the Church set] up within the Roman Empire an ecclesiastical state [government], which in its constitution and its administrative system was shaping itself upon the imperial model.” This author could plainly see that church government was indeed modeled after the Roman Empire’s system of governance. He even called it an ecclesiastical world empire!
So then, people were deceived into worshipping the church, which was organized in the likeness of a manmade form of government—the ancient Roman imperial model! Therefore, all such worshippers commit idolatry!
Also notice this verse in Revelation 17: “Upon her forehead was a name written, mystery, babylon the great, the mother of harlots” (vs. 5). This false church is called a mother of harlots. Her daughters protested against her. Collectively, the mother church and her harlot daughters are called “babylon.” These churches all have a form of worldly government, and are based on pagan customs and false doctrines, yet claim to be Christian.
Do you now see how Satan has so cleverly counterfeited God’s government?—and why God tells His people to “Come out of her, My people, that you be not partakers of her sins” (18:4)?
Related to the Beast and its image is the intriguing, mysterious, much talked about mark of the Beast…
Few prophecies in the Bible are as fascinating—and as frightening—to its readers as the subject of the mark of the Beast. As with other aspects of prophecies already described, theories attempting to explain this mark abound.
This intriguing, mysterious mark is much talked about, but almost universally misunderstood. Some believe it is a computer chip implanted in people’s foreheads or right hands. Others have thought it was Hitler’s swastika and still others have thought it has been this or that government program. Despite endless sermons preached and articles written about its possible meaning, millions remain baffled by it.
We saw previously that Revelation 14 pictures three angels bearing three messages (vs. 6-11). These messages announce the fall of Babylon through the seven last plagues and warn against receiving the “mark of the beast.” Many prophecies show that most people—all who belong to the powerful false church-state system—will ignore the warning, and will be deceived into receiving it!
The prophecies that describe the mark are stark—and horrible! Sadly, most all preachers focus on just one passage to the exclusion of the many others on the subject. Let’s read it: “And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and 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” (Rev. 13:16-17).
This is a critical statement, for it speaks of some kind of a universal mark backed by authority in a way that controls people’s ability to conduct normal matters of commerce (“buying and selling”). Those who do not have the mark are isolated from the most routine matters of purchasing food, goods and services.
Being able to buy and sell goods is certainly essential—something that everyone needs to be able to do. But understand. This is not speaking of whether stores and retail establishments will be willing to sell goods to people without the mark, but rather whether people can earn a living—meaning a wage and a salary—in order to have income. The implication of the Greek is that one will not be able to buy or sell—will not have money in hand to do so—because he is unemployed!
So then, the “mark of the beast” involves ability to obtain and hold a job in order to make a living.
Obviously then, many millions will have it—and it will have to be considered desirable and attractive, or else the masses would not seek or accept it.
But the mark will be a trap to those who are charmed by the surface of its attraction. Recall from earlier what will happen to all those who receive it: “And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God … And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues [vials], clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles…And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials [plagues] of the wrath of God upon the earth. And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them who worshipped his image” (Rev. 15:1, 6; 16:1-2).
This is serious! Unprecedented, terrible punishment will fall on all who have taken this mark. However unwittingly they did this—however sincere they saw themselves to be—the result will be the same: horrible plagues on all, including you or me, if we have this mark!
To get a complete picture of the mark of the Beast, we must study all of the verses that pertain to it. There are many, and studying just a few will not reveal the full truth. Using imagination and human reasoning to invent various silly—and some are truly ludicrous—conclusions about what the mark of the Beast may be only serves to further deceive and confuse those with interest in the subject.
First ask: Would God foretell plagues on all who receive the mark and then leave mankind in the dark about what it is? Would He say, in effect, “I am going to pour out terrifying, horrible PLAGUES—causing the death of millions—on those who receive the mark of the Beast, but I will not tell you what it is or how to avoid it—so that you can escape”?
Of course not.
Comprehend this vital point. Men cannot reveal the meaning of or explain the mark—only God can. Plain reality is that He must do this—and He does tell us most plainly exactly what it is!
Now understand this basic point. The mark is plainly identified as one pertaining to the Beast. It is the “mark of the Beast.” We have identified the Beast as the Roman Empire. But the Revelation 17 Beast exists at and just before Christ’s Return. We have seen that this is the Holy Roman Empire. Therefore, the mark of the Beast is the mark of the seventh and last head of the (Holy) Roman Empire.
The mark of the Beast is not the mark of the Roman Catholic Church. This is because the woman is the large church that rides the (Holy) Roman Empire. The Bible does not speak of the “mark of the woman,” but rather again of the “mark of the Beast” the woman rides. Get this clear!
Certainly the woman is also a small organized civil kingdom, or government, as well as being a church—and she does guide, direct and lead the far greater kingdom that she rides. But, while the Beast has much greater power than she has, like any large animal would always have greater power than its rider, the rider—in this case, the “woman”—steers the animal to do its bidding.
Keep firmly in mind what we read, now with more context: “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. And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads” (Rev. 13:15-16).
We can summarize in this way: This great false church steers, guides and directs—“causes”—others to receive the mark. She does not directly administer it herself, but rather causes all in the empire to accept—“receive”—the mark. She is the same woman that caused the martyrdom of saints throughout the ages. The mark is received in the right hand and the forehead—and it is a kind of brand of the (Holy) Roman Empire, not of the church. This mark will be brought—imposed—upon the entire civilized Western world!
We revisit Matthew 24 where Christ, in answer to a question by His disciples about when He would return, spoke of and clarified events that would precede “the great tribulation” (vs. 21-22). We saw this, followed by the wrath of God, comprises the three and a half years preceding His Second Coming.
A few verses before explaining the Tribulation, we also saw Christ explained that a final martyrdom lay ahead for true Christians at the end of the age: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake” (Matt. 24:9). It is obvious that Christians will be doing something that identifies them as different from all those around them. Some will be hated with such intensity that they will be tortured (“afflicted”) and martyred in great numbers (“killed”).
In Revelation, John, in vision, was shown a preview of future events (“hereafter,” Rev. 4:1). Since John was “in the spirit” as the seals were opened (vs. 2), the events he witnessed were not actually occurring when he saw them. They were heavenly previews of things that would happen later on Earth.
Revelation 6:9-11 contains a description of the fifth seal, which we now understand to be the Great Tribulation and future martyrdom of saints. Upon the opening of the fifth seal (vs. 9), John “saw under [at the base of] the altar the souls of them that were slain.”
Here again was John’s full description of the fifth seal: “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, do You not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled” (vs. 9-11).
We saw that some cite these verses to validate both the pagan immortal soul doctrine and the belief that the saved go to heaven (which is not true)—and thereby miss the whole point of what Christ is revealing. And we saw this description is not literal, but rather symbolic.
More basic review is now essential.
The fifth seal portrays the martyrdom of true saints (along with vast numbers from national Israel and Judah). This occurs during the Tribulation. The context develops with the already-martyred souls asking God a question: “How long, O Lord…” (vs. 10). Verse 11 is a symbolic instruction to these martyrs of the Middle Ages to await this latter martyrdom of the end time.
Remember, in the vision, John was shown the future. A long period of martyrdom, at the hands of the “woman,” who was “drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (17:6), will have already taken place. And recall that Revelation 12 describes the true Church. There, this period is described as “a thousand two hundred and three score (1,260) days”—or 1,260 years, from 325 to 1585. (This does not parallel the 1,260 years of the healed Beast.)
Revelation 12:6 describes how the Church had to flee “into the wilderness” to escape. Accounts from history indicate that more than 50 million human beings were killed during this time because of their unwillingness to compromise beliefs that were contrary to the Roman church! (Most of these were not true Christians striving to hold to all of God’s doctrines, but were “protestors” holding to some few areas where they disagreed with Rome.)
Again, a later martyrdom (the Great Tribulation) is yet to happen in our time. The “souls” who were already “slain” were previously martyred Christians from past ages. These earlier martyrs were told to “rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled” (6:11).
I repeat for emphasis: The Tribulation is not God’s wrath. God’s wrath is the seven trumpet plagues. The Tribulation is Satan’s wrath on God’s true servants—and on the modern descendants of ancient Israel and Judah. This wrath will be perpetrated by the final empire of 10 kings in Europe, united under one powerful leader—and done at the behest of Satan’s universal church system. Matthew 24:22 shows that God will have to cut “short” this persecution “for the elects’ sake.”
The “souls under the altar” are now awaiting God’s punishment of—His “vengeance” on—the great governmental power that persecuted them. God said that He would “avenge [their] blood” through the seven last plagues on those who carry the mark of the Beast. God will pour His vengeance on this false Babylonish murderous woman and her daughter churches. But this cannot take place until the second great and final martyrdom is past.
Also repeated here for emphasis, many of God’s people in the end time have partially drifted away from God. They have not remained as close to Him as they should be. They have not zealously sought and obeyed God on a daily basis. This has allowed many to be deceived, and to fall into false doctrines and practices—the sad pattern of history when false ministers capture the leadership of the flock. Only with the arrival of the Tribulation will about half of these brethren awaken (Matt. 25:1-12)!
These “lukewarm” true followers of God will have to endure this final martyrdom (Rev. 3:14-22). The earlier true Christians previously killed must continue to “rest” (remain “asleep” in Christ) until joined by these later martyrs.
During the Tribulation, there will be extraordinary deception, unlike any time in world history. As we have seen, Christ was very specific about this in Matthew 24: “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound [worldwide lawlessness toward both human laws and God’s Law], the love of many [obedience to God—Rom. 13:10; I John 5:3] shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved…For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be…For there shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders [we have seen that the False Prophet—of the woman who rides the two-horned beast—will lead in this]; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (vs. 10-13, 21, 24).
This is a very direct prophecy about tremendous deception that seduces “many” at the end of the age, before Christ’s Coming.
At His Return, Christ will bring with Him the individual rewards of all His servants. They will have qualified for great glory: “For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works” (Matt. 16:27).
Your works in this life, your obedience to God’s plain commands, have a direct bearing on your reward in the next life!
Let’s now take a moment to compare two critically important scriptures that shed much light on the Tribulation. Doing this will give us a precise picture of who else receives the brunt of Satan’s wrath during this time. We have seen that lukewarm Christians will be martyred—but many more than these will be forced to endure this terrible time of trial.
First reread Matthew 24:21: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” This verse plainly establishes the Tribulation as the single worst time in all world history. Take this verse for exactly what it says.
Now let’s examine a second scripture that relates to this one. It is longer and more extensive, and is found in Jeremiah 30. The last phrase of this chapter is “in the latter days you shall consider it.” Now what does this chapter contain that we must “consider” in these final days?
Verse 2 was instruction to Jeremiah to record in a book all that God had told him. Verse 3 establishes to whom God is speaking—Israel and Judah. Now notice: “And these are the words that the Lord spoke concerning Israel and concerning Judah. For thus says the Lord; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask you now, and see whether a man does travail with child? Wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it” (vs. 4-7).
This is a shocking description of punishment prophesied to come on Israel and Judah. Unmeasured fear and horror accompany this national chastisement.
But focus for a moment on two phrases in verse 7 describing this time. The first is “that day is great, so that none is like it.” This is almost identical to Matthew 24:21. They cannot be speaking of two separate times, because it is impossible to have two periods in history that are both described as the worst of all time. These two scriptures have to be speaking of the same time. And remember, these verses both depict events in the “end of the age” and the “latter days.”
Now notice the second phrase: “it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble.” This phrase unlocks vital meaning and explains who else suffers Satan’s wrath in this time of terrible anguish and misery.
Understand that the Old Testament patriarch Israel was originally named Jacob (Gen. 32:28). Prophecies referencing either name describe the same peoples today who came from this man.
Many Old Testament prophecies describe the scope and severity of national punishment that God plans for the peoples descended from Jacob. Their modern lands will be destroyed by the Beast, and many millions will be taken into captivity at his hands.
The Great Tribulation will be a time of terrible suffering for both physical Israel and the less vigilant, lukewarm “remnant” of spiritual Israel, the Church. But numerous verses in Revelation show that it will be a time of general prosperity for many non-Israelitish nations—when the Beast’s “merchants” bring much “buying and selling.” These nations will be punished during the time of God’s wrath.
Let’s return to the subject of the true Christian’s initial reward. It involves rulership, lasting 1,000 years. But the test has been the same for those of previous ages. Those who hold fast their convictions, in the face of impending martyrdom, when this test comes again, will be victorious even in death—but they will truly be “gold tried in the fire” (Rev. 3:18).
Here is what God says awaits those who have been faithful unto death. Read each word carefully: “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4).
This is an astonishing verse. Did you notice that all those killed in past ages for holding to the truth of God also refused to receive the mark? In other words, those of previous eras were required to withstand the enforcement of the mark as well. But, because they would not yield to pagan beliefs, festivals, customs, rank idolatry and worship of the Holy Roman Empire—and the “woman” church—they were killed. The mark of the Beast was first enforced well over 1,000 years ago. And, though it is not yet being enforced, for the plagues to fall on those who have it, and for those who refuse it to be forced into martyrdom—it must be enforced once again!
Christians of previous times were killed because they refused the mark of the Beast and the worship of its image. They “obeyed God rather than man” (Acts 5:29)—they obeyed the government of God rather than the Roman government guided by the woman riding it. They did not resist punishment, but willingly yielded to their punishment—torture and death! These future rulers proved themselves faithful to God and have qualified to reign with Jesus Christ when He comes, bringing “His reward with Him.”
Some more review for context. Also in Matthew 24, Christ foretold that the “gospel of the kingdom” would be preached to all nations “and then shall the end come” (vs. 14). In John 9:4, He warned His disciples that “the night comes, when no man can work.”
Soon, deep spiritual darkness will descend on the whole world. The time for announcing the coming of the kingdom of God will come to an end. Final opportunity to seek God and escape what lies ahead will be gone. There is the responsibility to preach—and warn—before it is too late. Notice a second parallel passage in Ezekiel: “When I say unto the wicked, You shall surely die; and you [God’s designated watchman] give him not warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at your hand” (3:18).
God, through this end-time Work, is warning all who will listen now. Soon, you will have to choose who and what you will obey. Will you obey God or will you obey the final revival of the Holy Roman Empire, governed by the great false “woman” church leading recognized, traditional “Christianity”?
But the Bible reveals that there will be three final warnings to the rebellious nations under the woman and Beast’s deception. This will occur through three separate angelic messengers, referenced earlier. Again, these are found in Revelation 14.
The third message states, “If any man worship the beast [this final end-time revival] and his image, and receive his mark…the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God … He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone…in the presence of the Lamb” (vs. 9-10).
We have not yet identified the exact nature of the mark. But we will see that it has something to do with obedience—whether we will obey “God or man” (Acts 5:29).
As we have seen, two churches are described in the New Testament. The true Church that Jesus built (Matt. 16:18) is the bride of Christ, forsaking involvement with this world and its customs in order to be pure when He comes to marry her.
Throughout the New Testament are warnings that false teachers would creep in (Jude 3-4; II Thes. 2:3-11; II Cor. 11:13-14) and gain control of the church organization, forcing faithful Christians to flee from their original congregations to continue to obey God. Remember, the true people of God were foretold to remain a “little flock” (Luke 12:32), often scattered, never having political power in this world.
Despite continual persecution—even during periods of great martyrdom—by the large popular churches that have continually sought to destroy it, a determined remnant has always remained throughout the last nearly 2,000 years.
The world has kept little track of this small, scattered Church, but Jesus promised that He would never leave or forsake it, and that “the gates of hell [the grave] shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). Though it has periodically been forced to flee for its life (Acts 8:1; Dan. 12:7), Jesus has faithfully kept His promise to remain with it, empowering and strengthening it through His Spirit. His Church is loyal and obedient to His government structure, above all others!
Immediately after the third angel’s warning in Revelation 14:9-10, verse 12 contains a description of God’s servants who will not take the mark. Remember, there are only two categories of people—those who take the mark and those who do not.
God declares, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (vs. 12).
In a disobedient world that has followed a system in rebellion against God, there are relatively few commandment-keepers. God’s little Church has always been willing—and determined—to obey Him.
This verse explains that only the “faith of Jesus” (not merely faith in Jesus) gives them the strength to resist receiving the mark. Shallow human faith will be of no value in avoiding the mark!
When Jesus was approached by a young man seeking salvation, He was asked, “What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” (Matt. 19:16). Jesus answered, “If you will enter into life, keep the commandments” (vs. 17).
It has always been this plain for all who would serve God! The commandments of God must be kept.
Regarding obedience to His Law, God has always had but one standard: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For He that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if you commit no adultery, yet if you kill, you are become a transgressor of the law” (Jms. 2:10-11).
Christians keep all the laws of God. They make no exceptions!
The above scriptures reveal that God’s people refuse the mark, keep His commandments and obey His government. Those of the world receive the mark, obey something else, and thereby disobey God and reject His rule over them.
Now here is the description read in the last chapter of those who have triumphed over Satan’s mark, expanded for context: “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast , and over his image , and over his mark , and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Your ways, You King of saints” (Rev. 15:2-3).
God likens those who have achieved victory to those who escaped Egypt and Pharaoh’s rule. Under Moses’ leadership, Israel escaped the plagues that fell on Egypt, which were a forerunner and type of the plagues to fall on those who have received the mark. Paul spoke of how Old Testament examples “are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (I Cor. 10:11).
God’s saints are shown to “sing the song of Moses” standing on a sea of glass (before God), just as Israel stood on the shore of the Red Sea having been delivered from oppression in Egypt. They sing Moses’ song because Moses reflects God’s commandments. They sing the song of the Lamb (Christ) because, through faith (“of Christ”), they have conquered sin, and received salvation.
Now back to Revelation 12 and key events happening to the Church at the very end.
Remember, Satan is angry, and directs his wrath against God’s people. This is contrasted to great joy in heaven because of God’s final victory through His servants. Notice: “Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time” (vs. 12). The last phrase reveals why the devil is angry.
Verses 13-16 explain that a very select few of God’s completely faithful servants will be protected in the Church’s “place” for three and a half years (also see Revelation 3:10-11). But those who are less vigilant, less convicted and lukewarm, and who have accepted certain doctrines of the Revelation 17 “woman,” while remaining generally faithful in keeping the commandments, will not be protected.
Here is what Satan does to this lukewarm group next. Read it carefully, for it is further proof that God’s people keep the commandments, and is proof that they suffer Satan’s wrath as a result.
Continue with the final verse of the chapter: “And the dragon was wroth with the woman [God’s true Church], and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (vs. 17).
Christians are commandment-keepers, and the testimony of Jesus Christ is God’s Word—the Bible. The “testimony of Jesus Christ” is also referred to as the “spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10). God’s servants understand the basic framework of His overall prophetic timetable and plan. They are not confused about “what happens next,” once certain prophecies begin to take place.
However, just as God knows His servants, and they are marked by obedience to Him, so Satan knows his servants, and marks them as his own, so that they may be protected from his wrath—the Tribulation!
Understand this in the following way: Satan marks his servants and protects them from his wrath, while persecuting and martyring those who will not take his mark. On the other hand, God protects His most faithful servants (Rev. 3:10-11; 12:13-16), because they will not take the mark, or in any manner compromise His way, but pours His wrath on those who do take Satan’s mark. (But even those who are lukewarm can in the Tribulation, through death, triumph over the mark and receive salvation.)
Get this picture absolutely clear in your mind!
There are plain New Testament scriptures that tell us exactly why God pours His wrath on certain people. We will momentarily briefly examine one before a more in-depth look later.
We must first examine what God says sin is, for His plagues will be poured out on a sinning humanity. Once we understand how God defines sin, we can better understand how Satan marks all those who are his servants.
Here is sin, defined by God: “Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4).
In plain words, just as the faithful are commandment-keepers, those who sin are commandment-breakers.
Now let’s examine for specific understanding what exactly brings the wrath of God. Here is what Paul wrote: “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: for which things’ sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience” (Col. 3:5-6).
There it is! God pours out His wrath on those who DISOBEY Him! There is no misunderstanding the meaning of this verse. Again, this will be made clearer, with more plain verses, in its own later chapter.
Let’s now summarize what we have read.
The mark of the Beast is commandment-breaking, and he that breaks one breaks them all. The mark is that of the Roman Empire—the Beast—not the woman who rides it. The false woman church “caused” the masses to receive the mark through deception. The human government through which Satan deceives the world, the Roman Empire, receives its power, its seat and authority from him. Holding a job and engaging in commerce—buying or selling—is impossible for those without the mark. Martyrdoms, past and future, occur because some refuse the mark, and keep the commandments of God instead. So, the mark is something the apostate church enforces, which is directly contrary to God’s Law, and has a direct relationship to earning a living—holding a job.
Since Satan has “deceived the whole world” (Rev. 12:9; 20:3), we must ask how has he accomplished this? On what point has he seized, which he can most naturally replace with a counterfeit? What command would Satan most easily change, and then expect carnal human reasoning to conclude is merely an innocent adjustment?
Now understand. The carnal mind is “enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7). Human beings are most agreeable to sin in all of its forms. People are perfectly willing to break every one of God’s commandments. Whether idolatry, stealing, adultery, murder, dishonoring of parents, coveting or lying, people willingly—and eagerly—do these things. And, of course, Satan has certainly led people into all of these practices.
But none of these represent, in any particular way, a test that directly connects to how one might earn a living or hold a job—to whether or how one could or could not “buy and sell.” And Satan must select a commandment that affects this ability of those who will not compromise God’s Law.
There is only one commandment that Satan would see as a candidate for such a test. It is a commandment that God has always said is a sign between Him and His people. We will soon learn it.
But first we should ask, “What is a mark, brand or sign?” What do these terms signify—what do they mean?
In practical application, ranchers brand their cattle to signify ownership. In many cases, retailers hang up a sign above their establishment to show whose hardware store, restaurant or shop it is. In Genesis 4:15, after he killed Abel, Cain received a “mark,” signifying that he had sinned. This was also a kind of brand or sign telling those who met Cain who and what he was. The famous novel The Scarlet Letter is the story of a woman who committed adultery and had to wear a large “A” on the front of her clothing to signify what she had done.
It is no different with a church. God does not force anyone to obey Him. But Satan, through his church, does force his brand on his people in the same way that ranchers force their brand on cattle.
Now what is the sign that God says identifies His people? What point of obedience tells Him who are His people?
In Genesis 2, immediately after God had made man, He finished the week with one final creation: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it [none other]: because that in it [none other] He had rested from all His work which God created and made” (vs. 1-3).
From Creation, God established, “blessed” and “sanctified” (set apart) the seventh day of the week as a day of rest. He never established any other day—and confirmed that this was His Law “forever.” He told ancient Israel to “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy…the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord your God” (Ex. 20:8, 10).
After a few generations in Egypt, God’s people, the ancient Israelites, lost all knowledge of His Law. God had to teach it to them again. After freeing them from slavery, the first great law that He gave them was the command to keep the Sabbath (Ex. 16).
The Sabbath originated before the Old Covenant was established. The Ten Commandments were not given as part of the Old Covenant. They had been in force since Creation. (You may read my book The Ten Commandments – “Nailed to the Cross” or Required for Salvation?)
In Exodus 31:12-17, God made a special covenant with Israel regarding His Sabbath: “And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying…Verily My sabbaths you shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am the Lord that does sanctify [set apart] you. You shall keep the sabbath…the seventh [day] is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord… Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath…for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested…”
This last phrase proves that the Sabbath was established from the Creation week, over 2,000 years prior to Exodus 31.
The Sabbath “sanctifies” those who keep it. They are set apart as belonging to—as being owned by—God. Christians are told that “you are bought with a price; be not you the servants of men” (I Cor. 7:23) and “you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God…” (I Cor. 6:20).
Those who observe the Sabbath are signified as God’s people—and that He owns them. They are also publicly identified as people who keep the commandments. Civil laws require people to obey several of the other commandments (against stealing, murder, lying [perjury], etc.), so obedience to most or all of the other commandments, which the world at least generally acknowledges in one form or another, does not identify one as a commandment-keeper!
The Sabbath does! It is a sign that people are of God, since no one would ever think or choose to keep this law without it having been revealed by God.
Notice that God established the Sabbath as a “perpetual covenant” to be kept “throughout your generations”—and “forever.” This is ironclad. God’s command is for all time. The Sabbath was to be kept forever! Doing this kept people in touch with the true God. It was the way God intended that people never lose sight of who He was (their God)—and who they were (His people)! If all peoples and nations kept the Sabbath, as Israel was commanded to do, no one would have ever fallen into idolatry and the worship of other gods—which has happened to all nations who have not kept it.
Now we must ask: Which commandment would Satan choose to overthrow? Which commandment would he most hate—and why? Which commandment signifies that those who obey it do not belong to him?
The only commandment signifying (is a sign) that one belongs to God—and the only commandment that directly points to the true God of Creation, thus displacing Satan—is the SABBATH!
Satan most hates the Fourth Commandment! There is no way to get around whether one does or does not literally observe the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath. You either do or you don’t! God and Satan are not confused on this point. They know what is at stake. And the world can readily see whether one keeps the Sabbath—or does not.
Israel would not keep God’s Sabbath for any length of time. From time to time, they would temporarily observe it, but they always fell back into the practices of the nations around them. The following summarizes how God says Sabbath-breaking brought His wrath on disobedient Israel:
“In the day when I chose Israel…saying, I am the Lord your God…I gave them My sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them. But…Israel rebelled against Me…My sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out My fury [God’s wrath] upon them in the wilderness, to consume them…Nevertheless Mine eye spared them from destroying…But I said unto their children…hallow My sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between Me and you…Notwithstanding the children rebelled against Me…they polluted My sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out My fury [His wrath] upon them, to accomplish My anger [His wrath]” (Ezek. 20:5, 12-13, 17-21).
Because of their repeated disobedience and rebellion against His government, God eventually did send Israel into captivity (by Assyria) and the Jews into captivity (by Nebuchadnezzar into Babylon).
And lest any say, “Well, the Sabbath was only made for the Jews and Israel,” Christ answers, “The Sabbath was made for man … therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28).
Yes, Christ is Lord of the Sabbath, not the Lord of Sunday! The Sabbath was not made for the Jews or Israel only, it was made for MAN. It was made for all humanity—but humanity has rejected it!
Since God commanded that the Sabbath be kept forever, how did Sunday keeping originate? It certainly did not come from God or His Church.
Remember, Sunday is commonly referred to as “the Lord’s Day.” While the true Lord’s Day of the Bible is actually the Day of the Lord—the Day of His Wrath (Joel 2:1-11; Rev. 1:10; 15:1, 7), the term “the Lord’s Day” has come to be synonymous with Sunday.
The reason is simple. Many have assumed to be true the unscriptural tradition that Jesus was resurrected from the tomb on Sunday. If Sunday can be established as the day that Jesus was resurrected, it can be a means of artificially validating and “authorizing” the keeping of Sunday by the churches of the world—in place of God’s true Sabbath. Then, the pagan Easter festival and celebration, with its Sunday sunrise services, also becomes much easier to establish.
Many pagan festivals, including Christmas (the Saturnalia), Easter (the festival of Ishtar) and worship on the day of the Sun, were observed throughout the Roman Empire long before Christ. The apostate church (the “woman”) simply adopted them into practice, and enforced them on all citizens in the empire through the civil government. Actually, the first one to enforce Sunday worship was not a pope or a church, but was Constantine, the emperor.
Here is what happened. At the Council of Laodicea, in AD 363, the following decree was passed: “Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, resting rather on Sunday. But, if any be found to be Judaizing, let them be declared anathema from Christ.”
Understand what this decree meant. When one was branded “anathema” (accursed or heretic) by the church, he was arrested by the state, tortured and, unless he recanted, this continued until death. This was enforced so strictly that people were required to rest on Sunday, and work on Saturday, in order to engage in business or hold a job. This enforcement governed their “buying and selling.”
Now briefly back to the beast and “little horn” of Daniel 7. Verse 25 sheds important light on what happened in the Roman Empire. Daniel wrote, “And he [the little horn] shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High”—now get this next point and do not misunderstand—“and think to change times and laws.”
This is a remarkable statement about how the false “woman” church sought to alter God’s law as it had to do with time. The single most obvious way has been to change the time of God’s Sabbath to the pagan sun’s day (the day long set apart by men for worship of the sun), thus altering the fourth great law of God! (More and more people today speak of Sunday as their “sabbath.”)
HOW PLAIN has been the work of this church in its efforts to “wear out the saints”!—and to speak against “the Most High”!
Is it any wonder that God will pour out His wrath without mercy on any who would dare to do these things to His Word and to His people?
God has never authorized His Church or mankind to keep the pagan Sun’s day. Nor did He ever command or allow His people to keep numerous other pagan festivals and days of worship—He has always explicitly commanded against them!
When people celebrate Sunday as the “Lord’s Day,” they unwittingly celebrate the very wrath that God will pour on them for keeping this pagan custom in place of His Sabbath! Astonishing, but true.
Exodus 20:8-11 showed that Sabbath-keeping is the Fourth Commandment! The Sabbath has always been the seventh day of the week, and God never authorized Sunday, the first day of the week. God hallowed the Sabbath at Creation. Jesus kept it (Luke 4:16). So did Paul (Acts 13:42, 44; 17:2; 18:4). And so did the New Testament Church.
God has always said, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8). He has never said, “Remember Sunday to keep it holy—and just call it the Lord’s day!”
Most do not realize how open are the admissions of how Sunday observance came to be. Here is a short, very simple statement from (Archbishop) James Cardinal Gibbons speaking in 1893 in The Catholic Mirror: “The Catholic Church...by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday.” Here is one more candid admission from a signed letter by the same Cardinal: “Is Saturday the seventh day according to the Bible and the Ten Commandments? I answer yes. Is Sunday the first day of the week and did the Church change the seventh day—Saturday—for Sunday, the first day? I answer yes. Did Christ change the day? I answer no!”
Keeping the Sabbath as God’s command for true Christians is a big subject requiring its own large volume to explain. (My book Saturday or Sunday – Which Is the Sabbath? brings extensive and absolute proof of which day is the Christian Sabbath. It includes many more equally frank admissions by Protestant and Catholic leaders about the only day God ever sanctified in His Word. You may also read my booklet God’s Holy Days or Pagan Holidays? to learn more about God’s seven annual Sabbaths and how the false church has substituted these days with abominable, pagan, counterfeit “Christianized” festivals.)
Paul, in his letter to the Romans, explained that people are the servants of whatever and whomever they obey: “Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (6:16).
In the Old Testament, Sabbath-breaking was punishable by death (Ex. 31:14 and 15). II Corinthians 3:7-8 describes the Old Testament administration of a civil death penalty, which is no longer applicable, because God is now building the nation of spiritual Israel (Rom. 2:28-29; 8:9; 11:24-26; Gal. 3:29; Eph. 2:11-13, 19; I Pet. 2:5, 9).
The Sabbath was to be kept perpetually, throughout the generations of Israel. There are still generations of Israel today—and there is spiritual Israel, which keeps the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Israel is not synonymous with Jewish. The Jews, who came from Judah, represent but one of twelve tribes of Israel that descended from the patriarch Jacob. Recall that the Tribulation is “Jacob’s trouble,” not merely “Judah’s.” (America and Britain in Prophecy makes all of this abundantly clear.)
Take heed whether and how you will obey God. For “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:28-29).
This is most serious!
During the Middle Ages, the Holy Roman Empire caused people to receive a “mark.” What was this mark? Those who had it lived—those who did not, died. This mark protected all who received it.
The Roman system “set” this mark on all who obeyed and submitted to its pagan religious practices. These included observance of Sunday as the day of worship (instead of the true Sabbath), along with other pagan holidays (Christmas, Easter, New Year’s and others). We saw history records that tens of millions were killed for not obeying the Roman Empire in regard to Sunday observance.
Notice this revealing verse in Daniel 7: “I beheld, and the same [little] horn made war with the saints...” (vs. 21). This “war” is referring to the period that the Roman Empire, under the false church’s direction, put to death all those who would not worship on Sunday! Let me repeat: The universal church in Rome, working with the civil government, caused everyone under the Roman system to receive this mark. Sunday became the official day of worship for all—throughout the empire. Sabbath observance was outlawed, and anyone observing it was killed! Millions lost their lives in this persecution, and God’s Word tells us that it will happen again!
We have already seen that the book of Revelation is largely one of visions and symbols. We read that the beast “causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads...” (Rev. 13:16).
What does this mean?
Let’s understand. What do people do with their hands? They work! So the “right hand” referenced in Revelation is a symbol for working—making a living. What about the forehead? The forehead is a symbol for what people believe. This is referring to one’s intellect or mind—specifically, what one obeys.
Again, God also has a “mark,” or a sign, He puts on those who follow His laws. In Exodus 13:9, God is explaining one of His annual Sabbaths to the nation of Israel. Notice this: “It shall be for a sign unto you upon your hand [they could not work on the Sabbath], and for a memorial between your eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in your mouth.”
This could not be more plain! Let’s examine two more passages: “Now these are the commandments...and these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart...and you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes” (Deut. 6:1, 6, 8), and “Therefore shall you lay up these My words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes” (Deut. 11:18).
The Fourth Commandment, of God’s Sabbath, is the one command that professing Christianity outright rejects! This commandment separates those who have the mark of the Beast and those who carry God’s sign of Sabbath-keeping. It is the test command of one’s obedience to the true God.
God’s Law is not negotiable. If one breaks any of His laws, that person is guilty of sin. We saw that “sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4). If you break it, you earn a penalty—death (Rom. 6:23). So both God, with His sign, and the Beast, with his mark, identify their followers. And both bring death—if disobeyed!
You must choose which mark to take. Choose correctly. Your future depends on it!
Now notice again Exodus 31:13: “...Verily My Sabbaths you shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am the Lord that does sanctify you.”
So then, in plain terms, the mark of the Beast is Sunday-keeping and the keeping of pagan festivals—in place of God’s weekly and annual Sabbaths! The mark is disobedience to God’s Way!
Today, there is no governmental power to enforce this mark. However, the final revival of the Holy Roman Empire soon will rise, and again have POWER to force this mark on an unsuspecting world. The enormous false church—the great whore—will again ride this Beast. Together they will cause all mankind to carry this mark in their forehead (obedience or submission), and without it, people will not be able to work (the right hand) and ultimately feed themselves.
The Bible reveals that the whole world today is deceived (Rev. 12:9). All nations, in one form or another, practice paganism. The physical descendants of Israel (the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Israelis and others) are unwittingly already following these false ways of “Babylon”—a system of religious confusion. In Revelation 18:4, God warns all who will listen: “Come out of her, My people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues”!
If you take heed to what you have learned, you can receive divine protection from the living God. Obey God, and be “accounted worthy to escape”! This also means great reward: “And I saw thrones, and they [the faithful] sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4).
The identity of the Beast of Revelation and all the biggest questions connected to it, are now known to you. Now you must decide what you will do with the knowledge you have received. Take responsibility for where you are.
I cannot, nor can any man, make you act on the understanding you have received, or make you obey God. I can only jostle you—shake you. You must rouse yourself from the comfort zone of your life. Wake up! Throw cold water on your face! Clear your vision! Don’t waste time! Get going! Start down the road, one step at a time, to where you should be! Determine to keep your eyes on the truth of events!
A transcendent world test is coming, and this will crash into an almost entirely unprepared and unsuspecting world.
Some are looking for the Beast, but most think in other terms…
The Bible teaches that a powerful antichrist will arise to rule the world just before Jesus Christ returns. But what does the word “antichrist” mean? Is this just one person? And what is the biblically referenced “spirit of antichrist?” Most are confused. Yet, the Bible plainly answers all of the most important questions about the antichrist!
A final, great antichrist IS coming. You must understand what this means—and how the Bible makes plain that the last antichrist is far from the only one to avoid.
Prophecy watchers, popular preachers and authors, and other supposed experts also butcher the truth about the coming antichrist. Some reduce this prophecy, others badly twist it, still others declare it already fulfilled, and another group dismisses it entirely. On top of this, many so-called Bible authorities speak with competing, disagreeing voices about the subject, and thus—consistent with what they do to all other points of prophecy—add to the confusion.
The appalling ignorance of these voices—all of them—is painful to hear.
Satan counterfeits every doctrine of the Bible. The antichrist would hardly be an exception. While generally understood to be a figure of horrific evil and a threat to all mankind, the antichrist is today seen by most to be largely focused against the Jewish people. Based on a completely wrong understanding of Daniel 9:27, tens of millions generally believe that this world-deceiver will make a “seven-year covenant” with the modern country of Israel, before breaking the agreement halfway through, thus introducing the Great Tribulation for the last 3½ years of his “reign.” It is commonly believed that at this point he will throw off his cloak and reveal his true colors.
This entire belief is wrong! We will later learn how. Daniel 9:27 simply does not say this. But this thinking is having an effect on great numbers of people who have come, largely over the last 150 years, to believe this idea.
Here is the great irony. Due to misunderstanding, one school of rapturists is even eagerly awaiting the antichrist’s arrival—practically salivating over it in anticipation because of what they have been told it means for them. Tragically, these are completely unprepared for his coming—in fact, for their coming, because technically, in effect, there will be two final antichrists. We have been discussing them, but using their more proper names—the Beast and the False Prophet. One, the religious arch-deceiver will point to and underscore the Beast’s authority with powerful, spellbinding miracles. In almost all of the modern scenarios, however, an antichrist—the Beast—is confused with verses talking about another antichrist—the False Prophet—such as II Thessalonians 2:9 and Daniel 7:8.
Understand. Most who write about the Bible do not know, let alone comprehend, almost any of what you have read in the book’s first 11 chapters. Attempting on their own authority to “interpret” the Bible without guidance, they ignore its Author—GOD!—and seem unable to grasp that He would never—I repeat—leave the most crucial questions, those involving all humanity, open to interpretation. Some preachers do get an occasional stray fact right, but none are able to put all the facts—all the scriptures on a subject—together.
In regard to the Beast and False Prophet, almost all have no idea where to look—for what system—in fact, the only system—that could spawn these final deceivers. They are busy trusting in a rapture. They expect to be snatched away—so there is “no need to worry.” Many others unnecessarily fear that they will be “left behind,” as one popular fiction writer likes to term it, after the expected rapture.
Hollywood has added to the interest in prophecy and the rapture fantasy through imaginative special effects, coupled with actors depicting popular ideas. Silly artwork and bad actors have only hindered correct understanding.
The most basic prophetic understanding reveals that the final two antichrists must be alive today—simply because of the obvious shortness of remaining time in this age. This monstrous final deceiver (the Beast) is not a single historical figure, such as Nero, Saladin, George III, Napoleon, Saddam Hussein or Hitler—who, it could be said, was certainly a type of the antichrist. Neither is he Putin, Ahmadinejad or any of several American presidents who have been suggested.
In all of this, everyone is looking in all the wrong places!
If you cannot understand what is an antichrist—what they are, and what they do—and that, according to the Bible, many of them are all around you now!—you will never recognize the final antichrist. You must know what to look for—and avoid. You must be able to understand the setting—and gravity—of what is now being spawned in Europe.
You will soon come to understand both the terms “antichrist” and “final antichrist.” You will have also learned all of the most essential knowledge about this subject—and much more.
What comes to mind when you hear the word “antichrist”? Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines “antichrist” as “the great antagonist of Christ, expected to spread universal evil before the end of the world, but finally to be conquered at Christ’s second coming.”
Hollywood has produced countless films, most of them ridiculous, promoting this thinking. The entertainment industry consistently ignores, blurs—and even knowingly erases—the line between truth and fiction. When it comes to the Bible, filmmakers and others distort and reshape the facts of history to promote preconceived ideas—and their own agendas.
Most people assume that the entire Bible teaching about antichrist is summarized in the belief that an end-time Hitler-like super dictator—“the antichrist”—in league with the devil, will arise to rule the world. While Webster’s definition is partly correct, nowhere does the Bible actually refer to “THE antichrist.” Most do not know this—including professing Christians! Ministers and theologians are little better.
The subject of the antichrist cannot be understood until first recognizing the clear difference between the Beast and the False Prophet. Again, the Beast is often confused (as is sometimes the final False Prophet) with the antichrist. This man will certainly be an antichrist, but not the antichrist. The misunderstanding that the Beast is synonymous with a sole human antichrist partly comes from the knowledge that the Beast is also the number of a man (Rev. 13:17-18).
Although the Beast of Revelation 13 is seen to obviously not be a human being, the one who leads the final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire—the coming union of church and state centered in Europe, and described in Revelation 17—will plainly represent the system that is the Beast. The embodiment—the representative—of the Revelation 13 Beast will be a single charismatic figure who arrives on the world scene shortly before Christ’s Return. This will of course be a human being!
The reader must understand. Any chapter solely about “a” final antichrist would be absolutely identical to the previous chapter identifying the Beast of Revelation. There would be quite literally no differences whatsoever as per the Beast being synonymous with “a” final antichrist. Therefore, this chapter discusses the subject of antichrist from a much broader and historically longer perspective. But it must be seen as a vitally necessary companion to the previous chapter, truly making the subject complete. This explanation will shortly be understood—and seen to carry supreme importance!
We now look more deeply into fascinating knowledge about different forms of antichrist. You will learn that the Bible defines several different ways that antichrists or the spirit of antichrist are manifested.
Now is the time to stop assuming about the antichrist—and to prove (I Thes. 5:21) the truth of the subject. Open your Bible. Come to know what God says about antichrist—and, as usual, permit the Bible to interpret itself!
The word “antichrist” is found only five times in the Bible, and in only four passages, all written by the apostle John. Originally written in Greek as antichristos, the word means “an adversary or opponent of the Messiah”—in other words, against Christ.
In the first passage, notice how the apostle John warned: “It is the [a] last time: and as you have heard that antichrist shall come, even now [in the first century] are there many antichrists...” (I John 2:18).
It says, “many antichrists”—plural, more than one. So then—and this is central in importance—the term is not limited to one person. You have probably never heard this before.
John continues by explaining in the next verse that antichrists can come from within God’s Church: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest [obvious] that they were not all of us” (vs. 19).
Here is the point not to miss. Sooner or later, antichrists always become obvious to God’s people. They eventually leave the Church for reasons of doctrine or conduct.
Some history. John recorded these verses near the close of the first century and the end of his 65-plus-year ministry. Of Jesus’ apostles, he lived the longest by far after Jesus’ crucifixion, and was the only one still living at the end of the first century. John had witnessed the birth of the true Church on Pentecost, AD 31. He saw it grow like the proverbial mustard seed as it spread across the Roman Empire—and he saw it come under vicious attacks, as well as suffer religious deception. The apostle John was very familiar with antichrists.
According to Halley’s Bible Handbook, the antichrist “...is commonly identified with the Man of Sin (of II Thessalonians 2), and the Beast of Revelation 13. But the Bible itself does not make the identification. The language implies that John’s readers had been taught to expect an Anti-Christ in connection with the closing days of the Christian era. However, John applies the word, not to One Person, but to the whole group of Anti-Christian Teachers. The New Testament idea seems to be that the Spirit of Antichrist would arise in Christendom, manifesting itself in many ways, both Within the Church and Without, finally culminating in One Person, or an Institution, or Both.”
Make no mistake. Antichrists have continued throughout the 2,000-year history of God’s Church—and into our time. In fact, the greatest number of them—and the worst ones—are at work today. And these deceivers operate in and around all of the groups and organizations of professing Christianity. The next chapter, about the Revelation 6 white horse of false Christianity, is devoted entirely to this subject, and is brought from the historical perspective.
Here is John’s second reference: “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist” (II John 7). So antichrists are deceivers, plain and simple.
The apostle Paul warned of “false apostles” and “deceitful workers,” disguised as “ministers of righteousness” (II Cor. 11:13-15), who went about seducing and deceiving even some true Christians into believing “another gospel”—following “another Jesus”—and bringing “another spirit”—not the Spirit of God (vs. 3-4).
False ministers and teachers, and false brethren, are the “tares” among the “wheat” that Jesus referred to in His Matthew 13 parable. All of these function in a sense to some degree as antichrists. They sound sincere—seem godly—but are far from real Christianity. On the surface, these tares (false ministers and false Christians) are often hard to discern from the wheat (those who obey God and are led by His Spirit of truth). The confusion of distinguishing tares from wheat (Matt. 13:24-30) made it easy for false Christians to rise into leadership positions and then infect the Church with false doctrines—thus deceiving the many.
Among the worst deceivers in the late first century were the Gnostics, who claimed to possess “special knowledge,” which they considered higher than Scripture. (Gnosticism derives from the Greek word meaning “knowledge.”) They used this inside “knowledge”—that transgressing God’s Law carried no consequences—to lead many brethren back into sin, meaning disobedience to God’s Law (I John 3:4).
According to The MacArthur Study Bible, “...Gnosticism was the most dangerous heresy that threatened the early church during the first 3 centuries.” This is who—and what—John was dealing with.
Again, antichrists are deceivers. They deceive by denying Christ—and in a variety of ways. What are these?
Now John’s third reference: “Who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denies the Father and the Son” (I John 2:22). Obviously, antichrists in John’s time would not have openly declared, “I deny Christ,” or they could not have blended among God’s people.
So then, what did John mean by “deny Christ?” Vital explanation is required. Follow carefully. Fascinating, powerful and deeply sobering points appear from now on. We will learn four distinct teachings of antichrist.
Think. The problem of denying Christ must be other than the obvious—which is merely stating, “I deny Christ.” Notice how—in what way—Jesus had long before warned His disciples, including John, as we revisit Christ’s bedrock statement: “Take heed that no man deceive you [true Christians]. For many shall come in My name, saying, I AM Christ [certainly no denial here] and [still] shall deceive many” (Matt. 24:4-5). This deceit would have to do then with other truths in God’s Word—obviously including how God defines antichrist. The devil—who we have seen to be the “god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4)—does not want civilization, including you, to prepare for what is coming. He wants the truth about antichrist suppressed.
So then, again, how does one deny Christ?
The Gnostics taught that flesh is entirely evil and that spirit is entirely good. Except for demons, this is true. But the famous Gnostic leader Cerinthus, who lived in Ephesus (modern southwest Turkey), denied that God, who is Spirit, could become flesh. He taught that this was impossible. Thus, some believed that when Jesus walked the earth, He did not have a real body—it only seemed real. He was a kind of phantom.
Others believed that a divine Christ (who is spirit) joined with the human Jesus (who was flesh) at baptism, but left Him just before He died. Since the divine Christ did not die, they next reasoned that He did not need to be resurrected from the dead.
Both ideas are false. They deny that Jesus was once a flesh-and-blood human being—that He was tempted like all men, and capable of sinning, but did not. This belief centers around the idea, therefore, that His death was not actual. However, were this true, mankind would have no Savior. This certainly denies Christ—and is thus ANTIchrist.
But this goes further—in fact, much further: If Jesus was not flesh, then He was not tempted to sin. If He was never tempted, He was not capable of sinning. If He was incapable of sinning, then He did not overcome sin—and therefore could not set a perfect example for us to follow.
But the apostle John also recorded that Jesus Christ did become flesh: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God...and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:1-2, 14). That’s plain! Jesus Christ was God and came to Earth in the flesh.
Matthew 4 describes Jesus’ 40-day temptation in the wilderness by Satan: “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil” (vs. 1). Again, if Jesus was not flesh, temptation was no worry. Also consider. There would have been no need for Jesus to fast during the 40 days to remain spiritually strong so He could resist what would not have been, in fact, temptation. False teaching is always illogical in the end.
Let’s understand. James 1:13 states, “God [as a spirit—John 4:24] cannot be tempted with evil.” This is also plain. But Hebrews 4:15 states, “But [Jesus] was in all points tempted like as we are...” And this is just as plain.
The point is that ALL flesh is subject to temptation.
Jesus declared plainly, “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). And, “To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame…” (Rev. 3:21). How was overcoming possible if Jesus was never tempted and therefore never capable of sinning? Again, this means Jesus did not overcome sin, as He said, and He could not have set an example for Christians to do the same, as the apostle Peter wrote. Notice: “For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us [via crucifixion, but also in overcoming and defeating sin. How do we know this?], leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: Who did no sin...” (I Pet. 2:21-22).
So then—and let’s continue to be plain—teaching that Christians do not have to overcome sin in their own personal lives—the breaking of God’s Ten Commandments (I John 3:4)—and we must add for emphasis, this includes the fourth one about the seventh-day Sabbath that almost all reject—is the doctrine of antichrist.
You must comprehend this entire statement. Read and reread it until it thunders at you!
Let’s make this even stronger. Let’s directly connect antichrists to evil works. So many do not understand John’s warnings—actually God’s through him—against those who “confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh” (I John 4:3; II John 7). The Williams translation (among others) renders “is come” more clearly as “continues to come,” meaning Christ “is still coming” in flesh today.
Although Jesus came in the flesh 2,000 years ago, He is also coming in the flesh right now—in the lives of true Christians! He is actively working in them, living His perfect, sin-free life through them daily (Gal. 2:20). He is guiding them to become perfect (Matt. 5:48)—spiritually mature—just like He is (I John 3:1-3). You must grasp this.
Acts 5:32 revealed that God only gives His Spirit to those who obey Him—who keep His commandments. This permits Christ to live His perfect life through them. Notice this: “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (I John 3:22). Followed by, “He that keeps His commandments dwells in Him [Jesus], and He [again, Jesus] in him [the individual]. And hereby we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit which He has given us” (vs. 24).
Antichrists deny Christ by their evil works. These popular preachers claim (and the masses tragically believe them) that Jesus “kept the law for Christians.” Therefore, one need not obey those “harsh commandments”—they were “nailed to the cross.”
This thinking is antichrist! And you should now see why. So many forget (or never knew, because preachers never speak about it) that Paul wrote how God’s “Law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” and “spiritual” (Rom. 7:12, 14).
The Bible states, “They profess that they know God [and millions do]; but in works they deny Him [see how people deny Christ], being abominable, and disobedient [this can only refer to God’s Law], and unto every good work reprobate [Greek: unapproved]” (Titus 1:16).
So then, antichrists are against God’s laws, and they are against the idea of any kind of qualifying for (not earning) eternal life through good works. In this way they deny the power of Christ at work in His servants.
Many technical attempts are made to explain away this truth. I have read them—and the ignorance and confusion they reflect are almost breathtaking. But these efforts should be transparent to you.
Understand. Jesus came in the flesh! And, since His Resurrection, He is sending His Spirit into Christians, to relive His righteous life through them. Properly understanding these things is vital to discerning any spirit not of God!
My book The Ten Commandments – “Nailed to the Cross” or Required for Salvation? covers everything discussed here in detail.
Now for a second way to deny Christ—and it will absolutely shock you! Again, read carefully—and without bias. What follows is very serious—and to YOU! The popular trinity doctrine, taught to and believed by billions for centuries, promotes that God is “one Being, in three Persons, with one Nature,” and that Jesus is “one Person, with two Natures.” As referenced earlier, supposedly one “nature” of Jesus came to Earth and died at the crucifixion, while the other remained alive, still in heaven.
Let’s stop and consider—let’s “reason together” (Isa. 1:18), using the central question: How can one half of one third of one Being die? Are you confused? You should be! This IS doctrinal confusion—and “God is not the author of confusion” (I Cor. 14:33).
Here is what the New Catholic Encyclopedia openly admits about the trinity. Read slowly: “...one should not speak of Trinitarianism in the New Testament without serious qualification...when one does speak of an unqualified Trinitarianism, one has moved from the period of Christian origins to, say, the last quadrant of the 4th century. It was only then that what might be called the definitive Trinitarian dogma ‘one God in three Persons’ became thoroughly assimilated into Christian life and thought.
“Herein lies the difficulty. On the one hand, it was the dogmatic formula ‘one God in three Persons’ that would henceforth for more than 15 centuries structure and guide the Trinitarian essence of the Christian message...On the other hand, the formula itself does not reflect the immediate consciousness of the period of origins; it was the product of three centuries of doctrinal development.”
In other words, the idea of “three persons in one God” did not originate in the Bible—the New Testament (the “period of origins”). Neither Christ nor the original apostles taught it. Nor did Paul. Instead, the trinity doctrine simmered in the minds of false Christians for over three centuries. It originated with Roman Catholic theologians, and by the late fourth century became the official doctrine of this universal church.
It was never the teaching of God’s Church. This “god” is manmade—a human invention.
Grasp this. The trinity denies and limits the nature of God. It falsely teaches that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which denies that God is a Family, and that He is reproducing Himself, expanding His Family with many sons (Rom. 8:29; Heb. 2:10). These sons are Holy Spirit-begotten, which empowers them to develop righteous godly character. At Christ’s Return, they will be changed from mortal to immortal, from physical to spirit, from the human kind to the God kind. The trinity doctrine both limits God and denies His Master Plan of Salvation for mankind.
Plainly then, and for many reasons, the doctrine of the trinity is antichrist!
To understand much more about this false view of God, and why—how—it completely overthrows the entire Purpose of the true God, read my thorough book The Trinity – Is God Three-In-One? To learn how God’s Master Plan involves you, read The Awesome Potential of Man.
Chapter Thirty-two here addresses the true God of the Bible.
A third, and somewhat related, doctrine of antichrist is the idea that God is just one Person. This derives from a misunderstanding, in fact, mistranslation, of the Old Testament passage, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord” (Deut. 6:4). Referred to by Jews as the “Shema,” the proper rendering of the Hebrew into English yields a completely different meaning. It is “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, and Him only.” Merely recognizing that Israel had a long history of turning to other gods makes God’s intent even plainer. He wanted Israel worshipping and listening to Him only. Of course, she never did.
Here is the problem. The false view of this verse forces the belief that Jesus appearing in the New Testament is not God, but merely His Son, meaning He holds a lesser status than actual God.
This ignores Jesus’ own plain words: “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30)—two beings in one Godhead. When confronted on this occasion by the Jews, Jesus also stated this: “Many good works have I shown you from My Father; for which of those works do you stone Me? The Jews answered Him, saying, For a good work we stone You not; but for blasphemy; and because that You, being a man, make Yourself God” (vs. 32-33).
Read the entire chapter. Jesus did not say, “You misunderstood Me” or “You did not listen carefully” or “I make no such claim.” This is because He knew that He is God, just like the Father IS God.
Recall that John recorded how Christ was God from the very beginning. All contrary teaching then is antichrist!
Now for the fourth way of being antichrist. Remember, the word means “an adversary or opponent of Christ,” or against Christ. Interestingly, Jesus Himself adds more than anyone else in Scripture to simple comprehension of who and what is antichrist. Let’s read what He said to the accusative Pharisees near the end of an important exchange with them. It was regarding the difference between Satan’s spirit (and his kingdom) and the Spirit of God—and the danger of committing the unpardonable sin: “He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathers not with Me scatters abroad” (Matt. 12:30).
This next statement is absolutely crucial to grasp, and it explains why John and Paul warned of many antichrists in the first century who infiltrated and harassed the true Church. Get this.
Remember that Jesus Christ built a Church—His Church—the true Church. His people are part of that one, undivided Church—and none other. Anyone working against that Church—who is not with it, and therefore not “with” Christ—or is in any way attempting to “scatter” Christ’s flock, rather than “gather” it to where He is leading—is obviously AGAINST Christ.
All such then would be ANTIChrist! Is that clear? If not, reread the last paragraph until it is.
The fourth and final passage containing “antichrist” warns, “Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know you the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof you have heard it should come; and even now already is it in the world” (I John 4:1-3).
This passage is of giant importance. False prophets—and these are all throughout the world today—are tied in this passage to the spirit of antichrist. This would certainly include those who teach falsely regarding the very truth about antichrists. It also includes those who teach falsely about all other aspects of prophecy—as well as the many additional plain truths of God’s Word.
This passage makes these modern thought-to-be prophecy experts antichrists themselves!
Believe God on this. Stop listening to preachers who are not teaching you to obey God’s Law—including the Fourth Commandment—and to overcome sin, but who do talk a lot about prophecy—even though they have no idea what they are talking about. You must disregard who they are—how well-known they are—how popular they are—how charismatic they are—how many people read their books—or watch their programs. Stop listening to them! They may be sincere, but they are sincerely wrong. They will only confuse you.
They are AGAINST CHRIST!
Also notice that I John 4:3 uses the word “it”—not he—“should come,” and that “it”—not he—“is already in the world.” An antichrist is more than just a person or group of people. It is an attitude, an idea, a teaching—a spirit!—and these all flow from a spirit that is alien to God.
The next three verses in the context of John’s warning (vs. 4-6) are absolutely crucial to understand. They become vital instruction for you: “You are of God, little children [true Christians], and have overcome them [all false prophets and false ministers]: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. They [the antichrists] are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world hears them [yes, but not true Christians]. We are of God: he that knows God hears us [God’s faithful ministers]; he that is not of God hears not us. Hereby know we the Spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”
Let’s continue being plain: God’s people overcome the spirit of antichrist—the “spirit of error.” They listen only to God’s ministers. This spirit applies to people, authorities, attitudes and actions. And it permeates all cultures of the world because this world is led and deceived by the devil (II Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2; Rev. 12:9).
Can you now see more fully how the mixed-up “Jesus” of the trinity is truly another Jesus, brought by another spirit (II Cor. 11:4)—that of antichrist?
With the Bible teaching about antichrist made clear, let’s return to the idea that the phrase “one week” in Daniel 9:27 refers to the final seven years, or supposed seven “prophetic days,” before Christ returns. The prophetic understanding of rapture theorists is false! Let’s first examine the verse: “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate…”
This verse actually refers to the “abomination of desolation” (Dan. 12:11), when occupying armies end the Jews’ daily sacrifice at the Temple. (This is covered later. The prophesied coming abomination of desolation is much bigger—and much more crucial to understand—than you think.) This passage also addresses the final week of the 70 weeks prophecy and shows Jesus Christ would be cut off in the middle of the “week,” after the 3½ “days”—actually 3½ years—of His earthly ministry and mission. The antichrist—and therefore any supposed 7-year reign by him 2,000 years later—is not the subject of this verse! There is simply no prophesied “7-year reign” of the antichrist that supposedly begins when he signs a “treaty” with the Middle-Eastern nation of Israel. The Beast (a final antichrist) will not suddenly throw off his cloak to reveal his true colors halfway through his “reign,” thus ushering in the 3½ year Great Tribulation and Day of the Lord (which indeed are biblical periods totaling 3½ years, as we have seen and will later conclusively prove in a crucial, fuller context).
Consider. It should not be surprising that those who teach the doctrines of antichrist cannot even correctly discern when Jesus Christ is the subject of a passage!
Daniel’s amazing prophecy in chapter 9 in fact reveals the exact year that the Messiah would begin His ministry, and how long it would last. It points to one major event that He would fulfill—His sacrifice!—as the beginning step in God’s Plan of Salvation. It further shows that the final segment of this prophecy is yet to be fulfilled! While somewhat technical, this series of events, when studied carefully, can be understood for the inspiring—and truly fascinating—fulfillment of prophecy that it is! But this is not our subject here.
While the “rapture” falsehood is systematically disproven in its own later chapter, it is necessary here to examine its connection to the doctrine of antichrist. This false teaching purports that only those who are “saved,” “born again,” and have “accepted Jesus in their hearts” will be secretly whisked away without warning—regardless of where they are or what they are doing—to the safety of heaven. This supposed event, signaled by the sudden vanishing of millions “whooshed off to heaven,” it is said, will “shock the world.”
All “unbelievers” remain to suffer the Great Tribulation. The antichrist will rule those who are “left behind,” who missed out on their chance to be “vacuumed” into heaven at Christ’s so-called secret second coming. All believers are thought to escape the antichrist by going to heaven. The rapture theory also states that the antichrist will allow the Jews to build a temple in Jerusalem, which, 3½ years into this tragically mistimed “tribulation,” he will turn on and destroy.
At the end of this period of turmoil, Christ will return—supposedly in effect now His third coming—but this “third” time He will bring final defeat to the antichrist and his forces.
Why is this teaching so dangerous?
When you come later to understand the rapture “theology,” you will realize that those who believe in a secret rapture will escape nothing because God nowhere promises this kind of protection! Put another way, the very means by which millions hope to escape the coming final antichrist does not exist—leaving them among the most obvious candidates for deception!
Understand. The spirit of antichrist already blankets the world as mankind continues to rely on itself to bring world peace, justice and prosperity—while at the same time denying the power of Christ and rejecting His help and rule in their lives.
As the end of Satan’s reign draws near, the power of his spirit will culminate in the rise of two men—the Beast and False Prophet. Neither will be the antichrist, but both will embody and represent the ultimate spirit or attitude of antichrist!
More religious deceivers will arrive throughout Christendom. Some will perform miracles. One, the final mesmerizing False Prophet, will use great miracles (Rev. 13:13-14) to lead the world to worship the Beast (recall Revelation 16:13; 19:20)! We saw their deception will be so seductive, so persuasive, so widespread, and so great, that this evil tandem will even deceive mankind into fighting Jesus Christ at His Second Coming. (So say Revelation 13:4; 16:9, 13-16 and 17:13-14.)
When the Beast and the eastern hordes gather at Armageddon, the False Prophet will feverishly work his final miracles to delude the masses. The “battle” will be one-sided. Christ and the resurrected, spirit-born saints will destroy this army right where it stands, before it can even think about fighting. Read Zechariah 14:1-3.
The whole world is foretold in Revelation 16:14 to sell out to these antichrists, and only Christ’s “little flock”—His true Church—the one you have come in contact with—will not be deceived, and will be protected.
Like players on a stage, personalities are quietly moving into position. The seeds of events that will stagger all nations have been planted—they will soon sprout!
Therefore, the first big order of concern is…
Everyone hates having been deceived—lied to—especially by those they have known and trusted. The reader has probably experienced this. In every case, it is painful and disillusioning. The shock of betrayal can shake one to the core of his being.
For a moment, in your mind’s eye, try to place yourself in this situation. Now imagine that those who have done this to you are widely considered to be men of truth. And then next imagine that what you trusted them with were the most important things in life.
We have just framed the level of deceit that counterfeit Christianity represents, where presumably all people understand that eternal life is at stake. This introduces the much-talked-about, but little-understood, subject of the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”
The book now takes another serious turn.
But before continuing, something else must be grasped in order to set up the subject.
Sometimes God chooses to use common experiences or activities as symbols or analogies in His Word. This is done to help human minds comprehend what is being described. God’s selection of analogy makes the next four chapters of this book easier to understand—especially for those who have ridden horses.
I have done this many times, in many situations, and ridden at virtually every speed. I have sat on horses at a standstill. I have ridden them at a walk, a trot and a canter, as well as at a gallop, and even at the exhilarating clip of a full run, flat-out, across a level field with my head down beside the horse’s mane.
As we turn to the subject of the Revelation 6 horses (with horsemen), fix in your mind this animal’s physical prowess. Bear in mind that for much of history, including the age of the writing of the New Testament, horses were man’s preferred means of transportation—for rapid travel, communication and, in the case of armies, invasion and conquest. The horse and rider are virtually inseparable from a place within every picture of history.
God knows this. Hence His choice of analogy.
For the past 2,000 years, millions have sought to understand the so-called “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” described in Revelation 6. Much written about, and seen in Hollywood films, none grasp their true significance. Religionists have crafted their own explanations, but have all ignored important clues in properly understanding what these symbolize. As with so much of Bible prophecy, this is also because they have not understood the keys to God’s Word.
In Revelation 6:2-8, we saw a series of mysterious horses are described—white, red, black and pale—each with its own rider, and coming in sequence. We also saw that none seem to recognize that Christ, the Revelator, had already shown to His disciples the prophetic meaning of these horses. With so much at stake, because of the unparalleled destruction these first four opened seals are foretold to bring, we must understand in fuller context their true—and truly horrific—meaning.
In the next six chapters there is a second purpose—and question. This question is big. We are also examining whether Jesus’ prophecies have been accurate. Did He speak the truth to His disciples about events preceding His Return—or are His words a jumbled hodgepodge of human imagination, perhaps put on His lips by others—or even by the apostle John? If so, we must again admit that at least some of the Bible is not worth the paper it is written on. And all of Jesus’ words stand in doubt.
This chapter describes the real meaning of the first seal of Revelation 6:1-2. But at this point, another question arises—and it is also big! As you read the chapters about the horsemen, and the two chapters that follow them, this towering question presents itself: Are the first four seals of Revelation still closed, or has Christ unsealed them? In other words, are they in effect today? Stay focused on this question as you read.
We now bear down. The next six chapters are not pleasant to read!
John described what he saw as Christ began to remove the seals. Let’s read it again: “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer” (Rev. 6:1-2).
You learned that the first horseman’s identity has been almost universally misunderstood. You must understand this! The rider of the white horse is not who most think he is. Religionists and so-called prophecy experts have invented numerous theories about what the rider of Revelation 6:2 pictures. Some think he pictures Christ’s servants announcing His Second Coming. Others believe the white horse represents “the Church.” This could not be the case since God’s Church never went forth to conquer and subdue nations. Rather, the true Church is represented by a woman (Rev. 12:1) who nurtures those whom God calls. These and all other human interpretations are wrong.
Many Bible commentaries, referring to Revelation 19, which portrays Jesus Christ returning on a white horse, hastily conclude that the Revelation 6 rider also must be Christ. Let’s examine more closely whether these riders are the same.
Subtle, and not so subtle but overlooked, differences will be seen to be very important.
Notice Revelation 19 once again: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He does judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written, that no man knew, but He Himself. And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called The Word of God…And out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (vs. 11-13, 15).
Clearly this is the true Jesus Christ. No one doubts this much.
Of course, there are similarities between the descriptions. Both riders are astride a white horse. Both are wearing a crown or many crowns, and they both conquer and rule. But, again, there are subtle differences. For instance, the Revelation 6 horseman wears “a crown,” whereas Jesus Christ wears “many crowns.”
Notice again another crucial difference. The Christ in Revelation 19 brandishes a sword (also see Revelation 1:16) out of His mouth, not a bow in His hand, as in Revelation 6. The sword, symbolically, is His Word, the Bible (Heb. 4:12; Eph. 6:17). Christ comes reproving nations with His Word, while the horseman of Revelation 6 comes with another source of power, represented by a bow. Even if we did not know the meaning of the bow, it could clearly not be the Word of God—a “two-edged sword”—or it would not be identified differently. And nowhere in the Bible is God’s Word referred to as a bow.
The presence of a bow connects the rider of this horse to the ancient patriarch of false religion, Nimrod—described as a “mighty hunter” in Genesis 10. Nimrod, whose name means “rebellion,” founded the city of Babylon (meaning “confusion”). This city eventually grew into the capital of the Babylonian Empire and seat of the Babylonian Mystery religion, referenced a number of times in Scripture.
Notice this powerful, identifying quote from Alexander Hislop’s The Two Babylons: “But we have seen that Kronos was the first King of Babylon, or Nimrod; consequently, the first Centaur was the same. Now, the way in which the Centaur was represented on the Babylonian coins, and in the Zodiac, viewed in this light, is very striking. The Centaur was the same as the sign Sagittarius, or ‘The Archer.’ If the founder of Babylon’s glory was ‘The mighty Hunter,’ whose name, even in the days of Moses, was a proverb—(Gen 10:9, “Wherefore, it is said, Even as Nimrod, the mighty hunter before the Lord”)—when we find the ‘Archer’ with his bow and arrow, in the symbol of the supreme Babylonian divinity, and the ‘Archer,’ among the signs of the Zodiac that originated in Babylon, I think we may safely conclude that this Man-horse or Horse-man Archer primarily referred to him, and was intended to perpetuate the memory at once of his fame as a huntsman and his skill as a horse-breaker” (p. 42).
The sequence of events in both accounts is also revealing. As the first seal is opened, the Revelation 6 white horse is unleashed at the beginning of a series of end-time events. It is followed by the remaining seals leading up to the Great Tribulation. Then, as the seventh seal is nearly completed, the second white horse and its rider (Jesus Christ) appear. This is at the sound of the last trumpet of the seven trumpet plagues. This is the Return of Christ and His victory over those who attempt to oppose His triumphal Return. The horsemen of Revelation 6 and 19 represent opposite ends of this spectrum of time. These could not possibly describe the same event. The riders plainly arrive years apart.
So then, these are different riders on different horses at different points in time!
A vital distinction must be made at this point. The rider of the Revelation 6 white horse does not represent all false religion. This first seal does not encompass belief systems such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and others. What the rider does represent is a counterfeit Christianity—a counterfeit Christ. This is so obviously then “another Jesus”—and the one that the apostle Paul warned about (II Cor. 11:4).
Anything that passes as a counterfeit must seem authentic. Counterfeit money is designed to closely resemble real bills and coins. Any differences are very subtle, else the user is not fooled.
In the same way, the counterfeit of the true Church has to seem real. It appears “spiritual” and thoroughly organized. It appears to be well-established, with centuries-old “roots” reaching back to the original apostles. To the undiscerning, this “Jesus” and his teachings look, sound, feel and seem like the genuine article. But they are not the Christianity of the Bible—the one taught by the true Jesus Christ.
We will see that this false religious system is a counterfeit of God’s true Church!
Almost immediately after Jesus founded His Church, Satan devised a counterfeit to keep the masses unaware of the message the true Church was proclaiming after Jesus’ death. Read again: “The god of this world [the devil] has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Cor. 4:4).
Satan’s purpose has been to deceive mankind about God’s truth, and he has done this through his counterfeit religious system, masquerading as genuine Christianity.
Recall that Jesus foretold the confusion and misunderstanding that would surround this rider’s identity! He disclosed events that would occur prior to His Second Coming. You will remember that the first event was synonymous with the white horse. Answering His disciples’ question pertaining to the sign of His coming and of the end of the age, Jesus first warned of religious deception in the sequence of what would occur.
Let’s review this all-important element of Jesus’ Olivet Prophecy to now set a larger stage: “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matt. 24:4-5). Only after this did He proceed to mention war, famine and pestilence. The “many” are the vast majority of thought-to-be Christian ministers who say that Jesus Christ is Christ (the Messiah), but who do not believe or teach what Christ taught, nor do they come with His authority.
Later in the same chapter, Jesus expanded upon these verses: “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (vs. 11). According to this and related prophecies outlined throughout this book, not only would false prophets arise to deceive the great majority, but they would also infiltrate the true Church, causing many of God’s servants to fall away.
Toward the end of the last days, and especially during the time of the prophesied false religious leader of Revelation 13, false prophets were foretold to increase in number and means of deception. Here is Christ’s chilling warning: “For there shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, He is in the desert; go not forth: behold, He is in the secret chambers; believe it not” (Matt. 24:24-26).
Here Jesus shows that false prophets will work miracles. Human beings are always impressed by such “signs and wonders,” regardless of their source, and will only too happily attribute the power of the performer to God.
Matthew 24 also mirrors the time sequence of the two riders of the white horses. The real Christ does not return (as shown in Revelation 19) until the time of the seventh and last trumpet (Matt. 24:27-31).
Beginning in the first century, false Christianity almost immediately arose, while war, famine and pestilence—depicted by the other three horses—continued more or less as they had always been. The counterfeit system became more firmly entrenched in the third and fourth centuries, but this was only a precursor—a tiny type—of what would follow at the end of the age.
Since false teachers and ministers have been plying their trade for centuries, Jesus’ warning for the end of the age must involve a big increase in the power, prevalence and influence of false Christianity. Think of it this way: at the very end, the white horse suddenly accelerates from a relative standstill to a full run!
False Christianity, war, famine and pestilence have continued off and on for the last two millennia. But this does not mean that the first four seals of Revelation 6 were opened almost 2,000 years ago, and have been slowly accelerating to an all-out sprint just before Christ’s Return. (Realize that John did not record the Revelation until about 65 years after Jesus spoke to the apostles in Matthew 24. He would certainly not introduce things sealed that had already been unsealed long before!) So then, the absolute explosion of these things—these conditions—in the last days is such that Jesus is telling us (in Revelation 6 and Matthew 24) that the tremendous increase of these things is the opening of the seals!
This and the next five chapters will bring a chilling picture of how this is happening, and will continue to happen.
Before examining some history of this counterfeit Christian system, let’s review a number of scriptures that warn of a movement that attempts to pass itself off as the standard-bearer of truth, but that is shrouded in mystery and deceit. Despite these inspired warnings from Peter, Paul, John and others, most have been ensnared by this clever fraud:
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try [test] the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1).
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [license], and denying the…Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 3-4).
“For the mystery of iniquity [lawlessness] does already work...” (II Thes. 2:7). (Again, false teachers always deny the necessity of keeping God’s Law.)
Briefly referenced earlier, the apostle Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians defines how effectively these early false teachers misled the unsuspecting: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him [or ‘put up with it’]” (II Cor. 11:3-4).
In verses 13-15, we saw Paul singles out ministers who appear to represent the truth and the true Christ, but are actually led by “another” spirit: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
Can you comprehend the gravity of this passage, viewed in an end-time context? Most do not recognize false ministers because they appear to be ministers of light—just as the “god of this world” appears to be the true God. The devil is an effective counterfeiter! He counterfeits true ministers with false, true doctrines with false and the true God with the false god—himself!
Peter added to Paul’s warning with a similar one: “There shall be false teachers among you, who privily [craftily, secretly] shall bring in damnable heresies…And many shall follow their pernicious ways” (II Pet. 2:1-2).
Paul also warned that this condition will worsen at the end of the age: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come…evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (II Tim. 3:1, 13).
Deceit is not new to planet Earth. But Paul warns of deceivers—“seducers”—growing worse “in the last days”!
With this foundation laid, we are now ready to examine how this counterfeit system began. As this is done, bear in mind that it is not my purpose to attack or slander churches or individuals. But the Bible and history clearly identify a large and powerful false system, with its offshoots (or “daughters”), and there is simply no escaping directly identifying this system.
Not long after the establishment of the New Testament Church at Jerusalem in AD 31, men motivated by a different spirit than that given to the disciples on Pentecost began to infiltrate and influence the Church. The result is well known to honest historians.
The German historian Johann Lorenz von Mosheim wrote of the early Church: “Christian churches had scarcely been gathered and organized, when here and there men rose up, who, not being contented with the simplicity and purity of that religion which the apostles taught, sought out new inventions, and fashioned religion according to their own liking” (Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, Ancient and Modern, Vol. 1).
Author Jesse Hurlbut called this period after the time covered by the book of Acts “The Age of Shadows.” He wrote, “...of all periods in the [Church’s] history, it is the one about which we know the least…For fifty years after St. Paul’s life a curtain hangs over the church, through which we strive vainly to look; and when at last it rises, about 120 AD with the writings of the earliest church fathers, we find a church in many aspects very different from that in the days of St. Peter and St. Paul” (The Story of the Christian Church, p. 33).
A study of first-century history confirms that a corrupted form of Christianity appeared on the scene shortly after the start of the New Testament Church on Pentecost AD 31, brought by agents such as Simon Magus (the word magus means “magician” or “sorcerer”)—then the leader of the Babylonian Mystery religion in Samaria.
Simon Magus can be considered the founder of the heretical movement in the New Testament age. Ironically, many who rejected this man unwittingly followed his practices. Among them were Justin Martyr, Jerome and other writers of the second and following centuries.
Simon’s first contact with God’s Church is found in Acts 8: “But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, this man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done…” (vs. 9-13).
After Simon was baptized, he witnessed the Holy Spirit being given with the laying on of the apostles’ hands. Showing his true motivation, Simon offered money for this power (vs. 18-19).
Starting with other Samaritans, Simon Magus later managed to attract a large following in Rome. Many there considered him a god, erecting a statue to him on the Tiber River. Much of his success could be attributed to his magic demonstrations, such as demon-assisted levitation (Ecclesiastical History). These supernatural parlor tricks later earned him several audiences with Nero (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition, vol. 25, p. 129).
It is the confusion of two different “Simons” that has given rise to one of the very greatest frauds of all history. Catholics have always claimed the apostle Peter (Simon Peter) was the first Roman bishop, and was martyred and buried in Rome. But Peter’s commission was to serve those called to God’s Church among the tribes of Israel that had been scattered after being taken into captivity—those of the “circumcision” (Gal. 2:7-8). In neither his nor Paul’s letters is there any indication that Peter was ever in Rome. Even if he were brought there for execution, the fact remains that he never served there. (There are at least 10 solid biblical proofs of this, and they are carefully listed in my book Where Is the True Church? – and Its Incredible History!) Halley’s Bible Handbook labels the claim that Simon Peter was the first pope “Fiction pure and simple” (p. 768).
Now notice these facts from history in Alexander Hislop’s The Two Babylons (emphasis mine): “The keys that the Pope bore were the keys of a ‘Peter’ well known to the Pagans initiated in the Chaldean Mysteries. That Peter the apostle was ever Bishop of Rome has been proved again and again to be an arrant fable. That he ever even set foot in Rome is at the best highly doubtful. His visit to that city rests on no better authority than that of a writer at the end of the second century or beginning of the third…it can be shown to be by no means doubtful that before the Christian era, and downwards, there was a ‘Peter’ at Rome, who occupied the highest place in the Pagan priesthood. The priest who explained the Mysteries to the initiated was sometimes called by a Greek term, the Hierophant; but in primitive Chaldee, the real language of the Mysteries, his title, as pronounced without the points, was ‘Peter’—i.e., ‘the interpreter’” (p. 208).
One such person of great “distinction” who bore the title of “Peter” at Rome was, in fact, Simon Magus! The title of “Peter” or “Pater” or “Patre” was one of religious primacy. Thus, Simon Magus carried the title Simon “Peter.” “Papa,” “Father” and “Pope” are derived from the word Pater, from which come our words paternal and patriarch. (Notice Jesus’ command in Matthew 23:9 pertaining to such titles: “And call no man your father upon the earth: for One is your Father, which is in heaven.” This verse forbids “Father” as a religious title, as was practiced in the Babylonian Mystery religion. We might add, never mind the blasphemous “Holy Father,” which is solely the role of God the Father.)
It should be said that crediting Simon Magus as the founder of today’s universal church system would not be fully accurate. He died around AD 68. It took nearly three centuries for that system to amass power and evolve, through all the stages of modifying and counterfeiting doctrine, into the form recognized today. Simon Magus’ successors were equally zealous in sowing the seeds of heresy to counter the true apostles’ work. His followers included Menander, Nicholas, Cerinthus and Marcion. (To learn much more, again, I urge you to read Where Is the True Church? – and Its Incredible History!)
By the beginning of the second century, churches advocating a hybrid Christianity—mixing the name and some few teachings of Christ with rank Babylonish paganism—were gaining strength. Although it would take another two centuries before they would be given substantial authority, their mission accelerated during the 100s AD.
The emerging counterfeit church substituted the true doctrines taught by Jesus and the apostles with false teachings from the Babylon Mystery religion. Alexander Hislop also wrote that there are very few of the current practices of this counterfeit church system that cannot be directly traced to the pagan mystery rituals of Babylon. The doctrines of God’s Sabbath and Holy Days were dismissed as “Judaizing.” The popular pagan ideas of the immortal soul, “going to heaven,” and “burning in hell” were adopted. The doctrine of the millennial rule of the kingdom of God was gradually phased out. The unbiblical trinity concept was gradually accepted. Idolatry (including image and Mary worship) became acceptable, and the Second Commandment was effectively rejected.
Notice again in Matthew 24 that the many are deceived, not the few: “For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (vs. 5). Both the “manys” here—ministers and lay members—represent the overwhelming majority, as demonstrated by history. By the middle of the second century, the true followers of Christ were a small minority! The counterfeit movement openly denounced those who remained loyal to the teachings of the original apostles. Leaders such as John’s successor, Polycarp, and Polycarp’s disciple, Polycrates, were among the very few holding to the full truth in the Greco-Roman world.
In the early 300s, during the time of the most severe persecution against all professing Christians, the Roman armies declared their favorite general, Constantine, to be Caesar. He had claimed victory after subduing the opposition in the Battle of Milvian Bridge outside Rome.
Prior to that battle, he was said to have had a vision of the first two letters of the name of Christ—chi (X) and rho (P) in Greek—and to have heard a voice say, “By this sign you will conquer.” Constantine believed that the meaning of the letters was symbolic of Christ and therefore felt indebted to Christianity for his victory, despite being a devout sun-worshipper.
One of Constantine’s first acts as emperor was to issue the Edict of Toleration in AD 311. It legalized Christianity in the empire, ending 10 years of severe persecution against the true Church. However, the edict sped up false Christianity’s rise to prominence.
The Roman leader saw this new religion as a potential means of unifying the empire. Yet its practice in the Western empire was quite different from that in the east and from other sects in North Africa. So Constantine took measures to standardize his newfound ally—counterfeit Christianity.
Constantine convened the ecumenical Council of Nicea in AD 325 to resolve doctrinal differences between various Christian divisions. Before this, again, as a former sun-worshipper, he had naturally already decreed that Sunday—the day of the sun—would be kept throughout the empire. The Council of Nicea went further, in effect outlawing the practice of true Christianity. But the unscriptural teachings of the emerging counterfeit church were now decreed as part of the new state religion. As its protector, Constantine forced everyone, pagan or Christian, into either conformity or exile.
Prior to Constantine, the professing Christian church—founded by Simon Magus—had suffered persecution by the state, alongside the small true Church. But now in their elevated position of power, the “persecuted” became the “persecutors.” This counterfeit false church’s goal had now been achieved, and it now vengefully pursued the true people of God.
Jesus’ admonition of “then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted [tortured], and shall kill you” (Matt. 24:9) began very early (in type), with 11 of the 12 original apostles being martyred. But the book of Acts reports many others were included.
Daniel 7 gave a prophetic picture of one of the horns (the false church) of what you will recall is “the fourth beast” (the Roman Empire). We saw that this system “made war with the saints,” “prevailed against them,” “spoke great words against the Most High,” and was to “wear out the saints of the Most High.” This “little horn” is the same counterfeit movement whose rise to power we earlier summarized from Church history. As we proceed, it will become evident how deadly this “little horn speaking great things” would become regarding the true Church, and for the whole world.
We saw Jesus declared, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). But when the universal church system—the Revelation 6 white horse and rider—asserts power, it has brought destruction and death!
Most have assumed that the counterfeit church, having developed into a large and powerful organization, has brought a stabilizing influence to the world. They have believed that this church has injected a sense of morality and responsibility into mankind’s collective consciousness.
But the rider of this white horse has called down numerous wars in the name of religion. History reveals that this church has been the chief cause of war within its jurisdiction, either indirectly or directly. It has inspired “conquering, and to conquer” (Rev. 6:2).
Let’s read a more extensive quote from history: “Now, this Ninus, or ‘Son,’ borne in the arms of the Babylonian Madonna, is so described as very clearly to identify him with Nimrod. ‘Ninus, king of the Assyrians,’ says Trogus Pompeius, epitomised by Justin, ‘first of all changed the contented moderation of the ancient manners, incited by a new passion, the desire of conquest. He was the first who carried on war against his neighbours, and he conquered all nations from Assyria to Lybia, as they were yet unacquainted with the arts of war.’ This account points directly to Nimrod, and can apply to no other” (Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, p. 23).
And also, “…‘Ninus, the most ancient of the Assyrian kings mentioned in history, performed great actions. Being naturally of a warlike disposition, and ambitious of glory that results from valour, he armed a considerable number of young men that were brave and vigorous like himself, trained them up a long time in laborious exercises and hardships, and by that means accustomed them to bear the fatigues of war, and to face dangers with intrepidity’” (ibid.). How obvious the connection of an ancient system and its first leader to its modern descendant.
Consider a few more examples of the merciless approach this horrific system has taken through the centuries, beginning with God’s Church. Not content with merely driving God’s servants into the wilderness, armies controlled by the counterfeit church pursued them, intending to wipe them out completely.
Accounts speak of how in AD 1290, in the town of Beziers, Crusaders entered churches and butchered refugees hiding inside. The bodies of slaughtered thousands—men, women and children, including babies—were stacked like cordwood. (I have personally read such accounts.) Now another. Nearby, in Montsegur, 200 accused “heretics” were seized, pulled outside the city and thrown onto a giant funeral pyre where they were incinerated alive.
Here is an account of what happened next: “This done…the Bishop, together with the monks and their attendants, returned to the refectory and, after giving thanks to God and St. Dominic, fell cheerfully upon the food set before them” (Massacre at Montsegur, p. 291).
Now consider this chilling description as witnesses saw the flames: “The people shout their approval; the inquisitors sit, hands folded, deeply shocked by all the wickedness in the world, serene in their own virtue, in bringing about justice, so clever that—although they have brought those groaning, fainting men and women to this horror—because they abandoned them in time to the secular arm [the civil government], there is no blood on their hands…” (Jean Plaidy, The Rise of the Spanish Inquisition, p. 158). The same author adds, “The long ceremony, the chanting of monks, the tolling of bells, the smell of incense, the holiness of the proceedings has a comforting effect. All has been sanctified by these things.”
Could anything be more abominable than such officially sanctioned evil?
The leadership of this church believed it held limitless power over human lives, and much more. The next quote by Dr. Henry Halley shows how particular popes literally elevated their position above that of God Himself. It may be the single most revealing quote about the nature of the thinking at the top of this system (capitalization for emphasis is always Halley’s):
“Innocent III (1198-1216). Most Powerful of all the Popes. Claimed to be ‘Vicar of Christ,’ ‘Vicar of God,’ ‘Supreme Sovereign over the Church and the World.’ Claimed the right to Depose Kings and Princes; and that ‘All things on earth and in heaven and in hell are subject to the Vicar of Christ.’
“He brought the Church into Supreme Control of the State. The Kings of Germany, France, England, and practically all the Monarchs of Europe obeyed his will. He even brought the Byzantine Empire under his control. Never in history has any one man exerted more power” (Halley’s Bible Handbook, pp. 776-777).
In light of the title taken by Innocent III, consider all the titles held by the pope today before continuing with Dr. Halley’s quote: “[His Holiness Pope (name)], Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province of Rome, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God” (Encyclopaedia Britannica). The title of “Patriarch of the West” has been dropped by the current pope.
It should go without saying that none of these titles—or anything like them—are found anywhere in God’s Word!
Now continuing Dr. Halley’s quote about popes attached to the Inquisition: “The Inquisition, called the ‘Holy Office,’ was instituted by Pope Innocent III, and perfected under the second following Pope, Gregory IX. It was the Church Court for Detection and Punishment of Heretics. Under it everyone was required to inform against Heretics. Anyone suspected was liable to Torture, without knowing the name of his accuser. The proceedings were secret. The Inquisitor pronounced sentence, and the victim was turned over to Civil Authorities to be Imprisoned for Life, or to be Burned. The victim’s property was confiscated, and divided between the Church and the State” (ibid.).
Finally, Halley summarizes the dark time of the Inquisition: “In the period immediately following Pope Innocent III the Inquisition did its most deadly work against the Albigenses [a name given to the true Church in northern Italy and southern France]…but also claimed vast multitudes of victims in Spain, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.
“Later on the Inquisition was the main agency in the Papacy’s effort to Crush the Reformation. It is stated that in [just] the 30 years between 1540 and 1570 no fewer than 900,000…were put to death in the Pope’s war…”
“Think of Monks and Priests, in holy garments, directing, with Heartless Cruelty and Inhuman Brutality, the work of Torturing and Burning alive Innocent Men and Women, and doing it in the Name of Christ, by the direct order of the ‘Vicar of Christ.’
“The Inquisition was the Most Infamous and Devilish Thing in Human History. It was devised by Popes, and used by them for 500 years, to Maintain their Power” (ibid., p. 777).
Can you imagine a church, professing to represent Jesus Christ and His government on Earth, maintaining control through this kind of reign of terror? Such is the counterfeit rider of the white horse, with his hunting bow of slaughter in hand!
By the early 1500s, after decades of blood-stained Inquisition history, it was clear to many the Roman Church was corrupt and scandalous at every level. (But this does not even speak to its scores of deceptive, false teachings.)
In addition to church-sanctioned violent persecution and mass murder, the practices of simony (offices and positions for sale) and indulgences (remission of sin—past, present and future—for a price) proved too much for some of its followers. Many European monarchies had already been drifting away from quiet submission to papal authority. In Germany, anti-Catholic and anti-papal sentiment was growing.
It was at this time that Martin Luther entered the scene. According to most sources, while studying law at the University of Erfurt, Luther was marooned in a severe thunderstorm. Terrified, he vowed to become a monk, and joined the Augustine order of friars. In 1507, he became a priest, and in due time became a doctor of theology. He was then given a professorship at the University of Wittenberg.
Some of Luther’s own theology had developed before any open confrontation with the church. What initially began with rejecting the Catholic definition of “works” (keeping the “sacraments”) eventually led to rejecting the concept of any works (including obedience to God’s Law). He concluded that faith alone was required for salvation, openly dismissing the book of James as an “epistle of straw” because it teaches works alongside faith—“faith without works is dead” (Jms. 2:20, 26).
In 1517, incensed by a Dominican friar selling indulgences near Wittenberg, Luther began protesting. This was in written form through his “95 Theses,” nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Although he did not intend to cause a revolt, these points of contention appealed to German anti-papal attitudes. Convicted on the matter, Luther was unyielding.
But the church confronting him was just as stubborn. Three years of bitter disagreement and confrontation led Luther to condemn the pope, the clergy and the sacraments. Pope Leo X declared him a heretic. Luther countered by torching Catholic documents, including the Canon Law.
In 1521, Luther was put on trial at Worms. His judge was a young Charles V of Hapsburg, along with a gathering of ambassadors, princes and bishops. Luther took the position of elevating, in certain limited areas, the authority of the Bible above papal and church authority. He adamantly held his ground.
Luther was escorted to Wartburg by imperial forces. Most of his countrymen now held him in high esteem. Various princes of adjoining territories promised allegiance to Luther and left the Roman church to follow him, marking the birth of the Lutheran church.
One reason Luther was permitted to question and resist the dictates of Rome was that German emperor Charles V was entangled in a series of conflicts with France. Without the emperor’s participation, the clergy was powerless to enforce its decrees on Luther, now protected by an increasing number of northern German princes.
A series of events bought time for the Protestants. Charles abdicated in favor of his younger brother, and died two years later at a secluded monastery in Spain. The next two emperors supported the Protestants.
Other schools of Protestant thought flourished in Europe and eventually the New World—Calvinism, Methodism, Anglicanism and others. There would be no reconciliation with Rome. There are now thousands of Protestant denominations, with new brands arising daily.
In Rome’s eyes, this affront to its authority must end.
We have seen that the Bible portrays this end-time church system as a woman (Rev. 17:4-6). The scriptural pattern is that churches are personified as females, while civil governments are characterized in the male gender. The counterfeit church of course is called a “woman,” but also a “whore,” a “mother” and a “queen.” (And she has “daughters.”)
Recall that the extent of her domain and rulership is given in 17:1: “And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come here; I will show unto you the judgment of the great whore that sits upon many waters.” Recall we saw the symbol “many waters” is defined in Revelation 17:15: “And he said unto me, The waters which you saw, where the whore sits, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.”
History shows that no other single church has reigned over so many “peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues.” Neither has any other large church system been “drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (vs. 6).
Verse 2 continued describing this “whore”: “With whom the kings [world leaders] of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” What other large church receives and calls upon heads of state, and has done so for centuries?
Revelation 18:7 shows she considers herself a “queen.” (These sleep with kings.) Chapter 2, verses 20-23 personify the universal system as the Gentile Queen Jezebel, wicked wife of King Ahab (I Kings 16-22). Jezebel “stirred up” her husband to adopt evil practices, martyred many faithful prophets, and attempted to kill the prophet Elijah (19:2-3). The parallel with a church that persecutes the saints through the ages is striking.
Revelation 12 depicts God’s Church as a woman of very different character. There are numerous examples in Scripture of righteous women whose faithful, upright character reflected that of the true Church: Sarah, Ruth, Esther, Hannah and Mary (Jesus’ mother).
In the case of Mary, the counterfeit church has deified her as equal or superior to Christ, whom they always portray as either a baby or hanging helplessly on a cross. Millions of Catholics, members and clergy, have signed a petition to declare Mary the co-redemptrix (meaning she works beside Jesus in redeeming humanity).
The adoration of Mary—really Mary worship—originated with Semiramis, the mother-wife of Nimrod. This symbolism was then passed down through the Babylon Mystery religion, and was later adapted into the counterfeit church. Simon Magus applied parts of this symbolism to himself and his mistress, Helen the prostitute.
The rejection by Protestants of such “Mariolatry” has long been among the sharpest distinctions between Catholics and Protestants. But times are changing.
Revelation 17:5 described the universal church as the “mother of harlots.” Children generally retain some or many of the characteristics of their mother. Likewise, Protestant churches retained more than 90 percent of the same false, idolatrous observances their mother taught them, such as Sunday, Christmas and Easter observance, rejection of God’s Law as done away and trinitarianism.
Rome’s protesting daughters have now been gone for over four centuries. Today an ecumenical movement is paving the way for reunion. The term “ecumenical” derives from the Greek word oikoumene, meaning “the inhabited world.” How telling of its goal.
The current movement rose to prominence in the 1960s, originating in the Protestant Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. The Catholics accepted their overtures toward closer ties, because these groups emphasized emotional religious experience rather than doctrine, on which Rome rarely budges. This “truce” was called the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement and resulted in warmer relations with many Evangelical groups. This led to the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) in 1965. During this time, the Catholics made a few concessions toward the Protestants. For example, instead of “heretics,” they were now officially deemed “separated brethren.”
But if Vatican II slightly softened the Catholic view of Protestants, its conclusions were still uncompromising: “This Sacred Council exhorts the faithful…[that their] ecumenical action must be fully and sincerely Catholic…faithful to the truth which we [they claim] have received from the apostles and Fathers of the Church, in harmony with the faith which the Catholic Church has always professed” (Unitatis Redintegratio).
The Ecumenical movement has gained momentum. More prominent and larger Protestant groups, such as the Anglican Church and its American Episcopal branch, have caught on to this spirit. A much closer association with the Eastern Orthodox Churches, whose main difference is submission to the pope at Rome, has been reached.
Since the Reformation, Rome has added additional dogma that would seem to make reconciliation less likely. These include: Papal Infallibility (1870), the Immaculate Conception (1854) and the Assumption into heaven of Mary, Mother of God (1950).
Yet the daughters are still coming home! Alarms sounded in Protestant circles have less and less impact.
A 2005 Time magazine story shows that adoration of Mary is making inroads in the Protestant world: “A man stands at the lectern at the El Amor de Dios church on Chicago’s South Side reading in Spanish, tears streaming down his cheeks. His text is a treatment of the Virgin Mary from one of the Bible’s apocryphal books. Another congregant follows, reciting his own verses to the Virgin…Flanking the altar are two Mary statues…hanging from the hands of the baby Jesus is a Rosary. The altar cover presents the church’s most stunning image: Mary again, this time totally surrounded by a multicolored halo, in the traditional iconography of the Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“The church is Methodist.”
Relations with the Orthodox churches are progressing the fastest. Vatican II declared, “These Churches, although separated from us, yet possess true sacraments and above all, by apostolic succession, the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are linked to us in closest intimacy” (Unitatis Redintegratio).
The last Roman leader’s memorial service in 2005 was the first papal funeral in centuries attended by the Patriarch of Constantinople, the leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
May 2010 saw Vatican City celebrate the “Days of Russian Culture and Spirituality in the Vatican.” Consider its purpose: “The event, which is sponsored by the Moscow Patriarchate, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Pontifical Council for Culture, includes a photographic exhibition, a symposium and a concert in honor of [the pope]” (Zenit).
The event included a symposium titled “Orthodox and Catholics in Europe Today: The Christian Roots and the Common Cultural Heritage of East and West.”
In July 2010, “Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia…said that he sees eye-to-eye with [the] Pope…on many pressing moral issues” (Interfax).
The Patriarch stated, “‘I must say that the stance of [the] incumbent Pope…gives rise to optimism…on many public and moral issues his approach fully coincides with the approach of the Russian Orthodox Church. This gives us an opportunity to advocate Christian values together with the Catholic Church, in particular at international organizations and on the international arena’” (ibid.).
Luther’s own church is drifting with the current. In a bid to promote unity, the pope visited an evangelical Lutheran Church in Rome on Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday during Lent in 2010. According to Zenit, the Catholic leader warned against being content “with the successes of the ecumenism of recent years,” regretting that Protestants and Catholics still “cannot drink of the same chalice and we cannot be together around the altar...This should make us sad because it is a sinful situation…”
During the German-language service, the President of the Lutheran Community of Rome remarked, “May you feel at home here, Your Holiness” (ibid.).
This pope, when still a Cardinal, supported the joint declaration by the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation on spiritual justification signed on October 31, 1999, and has continued to stress unity between the two churches since assuming the papal role.
Is it coincidental that the Greek word oikoumene, mentioned earlier, was often used to refer to the Roman Empire? This is what the Vatican has in mind—all ecumenical roads lead to Rome!
Alongside Mary worship, Sunday and Easter observances constitute centerpieces of the counterfeit church. To highlight their continuing importance, the previous pope, John Paul II, in his “Sunday Letter” (July 5, 1998), made the Catholic position clear:
“Therefore, in commemorating the day of Christ’s Resurrection not just once a year but every Sunday, the Church seeks to indicate to every generation the true fulcrum of history, to which the mystery of the world’s origin and its final destiny leads.
“It is right, therefore, to claim, in the words of a fourth century homily [not the Bible], that ‘the Lord’s Day’ is ‘the lord of days’…Those who have received the grace of faith in the Risen Lord cannot fail to grasp the significance of this day of the week with the same deep emotion which led Saint Jerome to say: ‘Sunday is the day of the Resurrection, it is the day of Christians, it is our day’…For Christians, Sunday is ‘the fundamental feastday,’ established not only to mark the succession of time but to reveal time’s deeper meaning.
“…The fundamental importance of Sunday has been recognized through two thousand years of history and was emphatically restated by the Second Vatican Council: ‘Every seven days, the Church celebrates the Easter mystery’…The coming of the Third Millennium, which calls believers to reflect upon the course of history in the light of Christ, also invites them to rediscover with new intensity the meaning of Sunday: its ‘mystery,’ its celebration, its significance…”
Apart from the fact that Jesus Christ was not resurrected on Sunday—and was not crucified on a Friday—the Fourth Commandment requires the observance of the seventh day—not—and never—the first day!
Let’s now examine some of how Sunday worship—through its connection to Easter—originated. About AD 154, a meeting occurred between Polycarp, leader of the true Church, and the Bishop of Rome, regarding the Roman church’s changing Passover observance to Sunday.
The following account reveals the tactics used to establish precedent. An unusual letter appeared after Polycarp had left. Most historians consider it a deliberate forgery. Consider these two sources.
First, “Pope Pius, who lived about the year 147, had made a decree, That the annual solemnity of the Pasch [this Greek word is derived from the Hebrew word pesach, meaning Passover] should be kept only on the Lord’s day [Sunday]; and in confirmation of this he pretended, that Hermes his brother, who was then an eminent teacher among them, had received instruction from an angel, who commanded that all men should keep the Pasch on the Lord’s day” (Origines Ecclesiasticae: Antiquities of the Christian Church, Joseph Bingham, pp. 1148-1149).
And, “…one of the letters forged in the name of Pius, where one [Hermes] is mentioned as the author; and it is stated that in his book a commandment was given through an angel to observe the Passover on a Sunday” (The Apostolical Fathers: A Critical Account of Their Genuine Writings and of Their Doctrines, James Donaldson, p. 324).
If Hermes did receive instructions from an “angel,” would they outweigh God’s instructions through His apostles and prophets? (Read Ephesians 2:20.) Paul wrote in Galatians 1:8: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”
Plainly, man nor angel holds authority to override God’s Word. But the counterfeit church appropriated to itself the power to supersede and change the “times and laws” of God (Dan. 7:25).
They have done this—and continue to—under the pretext of tradition. Here is the theologian Tertullian’s classic statement from about AD 200: “…If, for these and other such rules [for Sunday observance], you insist upon having positive Scripture injunction, you will find none. Tradition will be held forth to you as the originator of them, custom as their strengthener, and faith as their observer. That reason will support tradition, and custom, and faith, you will either yourself perceive, or learn from some one who has” (The Writings of Quintus Sept. Flor. Tertullianus, Volume 1, p. 337).
A more recent quote echoes the same approach. Read and reread this one until you cannot forget it: “A rule of faith, or a competent guide to heaven, must be able to instruct all the truths necessary for salvation. Now the Scriptures alone do not contain all the truths which a Christian is bound to believe, nor do they explicitly enjoin all the duties which he is obliged to practise. Not to mention other examples, is not every Christian obliged to sanctify Sunday and to abstain on that day from unnecessary servile work? Is not the observance of this law among the most prominent of our sacred duties? But you may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify” (The Faith of Our Fathers, James Cardinal Gibbons, pp. 111-112, 1905 edition).
A stunning admission!
The leadership of the universal church openly asserts that human tradition outweighs God’s inspired Word, all while claiming to be led by the “Word” made flesh—Jesus Christ (John 1:14). Yet Protestants, who profess the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (“by Scripture alone”), are still being drawn back to Rome. Having never left Sunday observance, the return journey is much easier—and shorter.
This powerful church has grand designs of dominating all nations. Again, it is not my purpose to attack or slander churches or individuals. The Bible and history directly identify this system and its offshoots. But believers within traditional Christianity are spiritually blind. They may be sincere, like those of all religions, but they are sincerely wrong. The real architect of this system is Satan, not people.
The human architects of all these things are deceived. They are not, certainly for the most part, consciously plotting evil. While they are deceivers, they are also themselves deceived. They are playing a role on a stage within a great Purpose that God is working out.
I take no joy in reporting these truths. Truly I do not. In fact, I wish the responsibility to warn were someone else’s. But it is not. And all those who care about taking action must have the opportunity to do it.
In the darkest periods of Catholic domination, its influence was largely limited to Europe. The first seal—white horse and rider—is now open, preparing to ride at all-out speed across the entire world!
Deception achieved by the counterfeit church in its teachings could hardly be more complete today. Virtually every truth of Scripture has been denied, overturned or discarded by Rome, in favor of tradition or papal “revelation.” Therefore, the opening of the first seal must mean that this deception will eventually become much more widespread!
Yes, millions today, while they would scoff at this notion, who consider themselves staunch Protestants, or non-religious, or even agnostic or atheist, will come to follow the Babylonian system!
The current pope does not expect that unity of all professing Christians will be accomplished through human effort: “[He] has also emphasized that the way toward unity is not a matter of our programs and schedules but of faithful waiting upon a new initiative of the Holy Spirit which we can neither control nor anticipate” (Zenit).
A “new initiative,” led by a very real “spirit,” is coming! History shows that decisive action taken by large numbers of people is usually sparked by a crisis, and facilitated by a strong central figure or figures—leaders who can offer the masses what they long for, whether it is prosperity and prestige, freedom from oppression, deliverance from suffering or a bolstering of pride and resolve.
How will this happen? We have seen that the fragile global economy is providing the crisis. And the central figures? Recall Revelation 13: “And he [the final False Prophet] does great wonders, so that he makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men [think of this as a “new initiative of the spirit”], and deceives them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do” (vs. 13-14).
When the False Prophet calls fire from heaven—probably witnessed by billions through television and the Internet—skeptics and scoffers will become “believers.” Miracles will support his endorsement of a civil partner: “I beheld another beast [the false church] coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb [purporting to represent Jesus Christ], and he spoke as a dragon [Satan]…and causes the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast” (Rev. 13:11-12).
A closer but brief look at the work of doctrinal and religious deception on matters of Bible truth is important in understanding how hundreds of millions of people—indeed billions over centuries—can come to believe doctrines that are untrue.
It starts this way. Most never reflect on why they believe what they believe or do what they do. In a world filled with customs, traditions and beliefs, few seek to understand—to research—the origin of things. The great majority happily accept what is presented to them without question. Most people basically do what everyone else does—following the crowd because it is easy! They simply adopt common practices because they are well-recognized—the norm—fashionable. Most follow along as they have been taught, assuming what they believe and do is right. They take their beliefs for granted.
One must be willing to ask: Where did popular beliefs come from? What are their roots?
To find the truth of a biblical matter—any biblical matter—one must be willing to open his Bible and honestly accept what it says. The majority of people stoutly defend what they have merely assumed is right or biblical. And they read with prejudice anything that contradicts cherished beliefs.
Now recall Jesus’ statement, “In vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9). In Mark’s parallel account, He continued, “Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition” (7:9).
Why are not millions combing the Bible for such passages in order to escape religious deception? Why are they not discovering additional statements from Christ such as “Why call you Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46), as well as Paul’s plain words, “Not the hearers of the law shall be justified before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Rom. 2:13), among so many other basic passages? The obvious answer is that most do not care what God says. They are only too willing to be deceived by their ministers.
These are summarized by a passage describing worshippers today: “This is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: get you out of the way [forget the right thing], turn aside out of the path [teach what we want to hear], cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us” (Isa. 30:9-11). Countless thousands of ministers have been perfectly willing to fulfill the people’s demands.
The tragic result is that most who “profess Christ” never connect the Bible to anything they should be doing in their lives!
Another factor comes into play for those who may wish to see at least a little biblical backing from their minister or their church for beliefs. And it is critical.
First understand this. Modern Christendom misunderstands, twists, perverts and ignores all the plain truths of the Bible. Over the centuries, it has counterfeited every one of its true doctrines and replaced it with a cheap substitute. This has been possible because certain less easy to understand passages of Scripture can be easily misrepresented—made to say something that they do not. It is these verses that invariably become the vehicle through which a false doctrine can be introduced—with almost no one able to recognize that it all may have begun with a single wrong scriptural premise. From this can flow an entire doctrine that is nothing more than a house of cards.
Unaware of the most important rule of Bible study, most students of Scripture do not build their doctrinal understanding by beginning with the clearest verses on any subject. Rather, they enter God’s Word with preconceived ideas and go in search of passages that appear to support what they have assumed it teaches. This makes them candidates for confusion and deception.
The apostle Peter stated that the apostle “Paul [wrote]…some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (II Pet. 3:15-16). Understanding how most people think, and probably completely unaware of any of the rules of Bible study, teachers and “scholars” can then much more easily take advantage of the way certain parts of God’s Word have been written. This applies to areas of Scripture beyond what Paul wrote.
The theological institutes and seminaries of this world have developed a systematic way—done consciously or unconsciously (Rom. 8:7; Jer. 17:9)—of spinning, twisting or dismissing God’s plain words and plain meaning in favor of making passages seem to say what they need them to say. These theologians and religionists portray—and sell!—Satan’s doctrines through use of specific verses, wrongly understood, that supposedly teach their ideas. This permits them to come from a basis—a premise—of Bible authority for their beliefs. This, in turn, helps them to much more easily snare the unwitting and unwary.
Paul warned of “dishonest” people who “handle the word of God deceitfully” (II Cor. 4:2), because they, like their students who are willing to believe them, “received not the love of the truth” (II Thes. 2:10).
God’s servants—true ministers—never, under any circumstances, follow these practices!
In most cases, if one is properly trained and sufficiently grounded in the truth of the Bible, it is easy to see through and expose the deceptive logic misapplied to a verse, and to correctly explain it.
The devil has always sought to position himself in place of the true God. Through his universal system, he blinds and enslaves humanity. Billions are deceived. Previous billions have been. Many more will be. Even you have been lied to. A complete seduction has taken place, and the false church has played the central role in it. The most important knowledge has been kept from you by those you most trusted!
No matter its length, no one chapter could possibly cover everything about the reach and effects of the counterfeit universal system that has ravaged the world of Christendom. For instance, so much more could be explained about the almost unending number of individual false doctrines that this system has devised about salvation and the afterlife, heaven and hell, law and grace, baptism and conversion, judgment, the true Church, among many others. In addition would be the origin of the many different pagan holidays that have been imported into professing Christianity, as well as the stories of how those bringing them have gotten away with it usually by merely pasting Christian-sounding names over them. (There are certain other counterfeits of individual Bible truths that will be covered in later chapters.)
However, for those willing to accept the plain words of the Bible and history—and just the volume of facts, evidence, proof, fruit and scriptures presented here—the white horse and rider are plainly identified as false, counterfeit Christianity!
This horse and rider—armed with a very real bow—are almost done with attempts to gain converts through missionary work and dialogue. The European political, legal and military machine will soon be used by the final Beast to enforce the practice of Roman state religion—again! Powerful “arrows” will target all resistors, unleashing the most horrific global war and religious persecution the world has ever seen!
The historical pattern re-emerges: Religious authority harnesses the power of civil authority to impose its will. False Christianity begets unthinkable destruction. Hence, the second horseman...
The horror of war has swept the world since Cain killed Abel. It has been the result of man’s unrelenting murderous rage toward his fellow man. Its fruits are terror, destruction, economic upheaval, orphaned children, population displacement, widespread devastation of the land, rape, hunger, disease, untold suffering, misery, despair, maiming and crippling, atrocities, death and even genocide. All of this yields greater hatred and revenge, endless retaliation and more war, because nothing is ever permanently resolved through military conflict. No matter the diligence or sincerity of their efforts, men and nations cannot find a way to peace!
Let’s revisit Revelation 6:4: “And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.” John’s vision has grave implications for all people today.
Compare once again the parallel passage in Matthew 24:6-7 to better understand the meaning of this symbolic horseman: “And you shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…”
We find that the rider of the red horse has the power to “take peace from the earth”—which of course means that war replaces it! He represents the dreadful devastation of armed conflict between and within nations.
The phrase “wars and rumors of wars” refers to a general condition of warfare that would be amplified just before Christ’s Return. The next statement—“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom”—indicates a further intensified state of war to emerge (“kingdom against kingdom”), at this point near the very end—total world war.
Luke 21:9 adds a broader understanding of these events: “But when you shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.” The Greek word for “commotions” means “disorder,” “confusion” and “tumult.” An expanded definition could include acts and effects of terrorism, such as bombings. Could any thinking person doubt this condition has arrived in full force?
But war has existed from the beginning of mankind. How then could Jesus use “wars and rumors of wars” as a special sign announcing the arrival of “the last days”?
The answer: The ever-present grim specter of war has reintroduced itself, having morphed into something with potential for destruction far beyond what has ever been seen before. In fact, this has already begun. Now time is running out.
It has been observed that human history has primarily been a chronicle of war. What began as family or tribal conflicts later developed into ones between nations. Some international conflicts begin with one-sided action, others with mutual aggression. Additionally, long-standing ethnic, tribal and religious differences, coupled with boundary disputes and outright intent to seize the land or property of others, have always served to fuel the next war fought between the same peoples or nations.
War has affected all nations in every period of history. In fact many nations have made war their primary means of livelihood—not just a means of defense, as so many claim. Those that chose not to actively pursue war were still forced to expend much time, money and effort to protect themselves—sometimes having to “buy” peace by paying tribute to powers that could have dominated or destroyed them.
In the mid-1960s, a Norwegian statistician programmed a computer to count all of the wars through the 6,000 years of mankind’s history. It concluded that 14,531 wars had been fought. But this was merely the number that were known and recorded. How many more were not? And consider that this was several decades ago. Countless more have been fought since then. Of course, this does not count the endless stream of individual terrorist acts, such as suicide bombings and other assaults, which occur in undeclared wars.
I grew up in a family filled with Army and Navy officers—some of them senior career officers. Even both of my female cousins married Naval officers. A step-cousin was an army officer. His younger brother attended Annapolis, and I was also appointed to Annapolis, though I declined because God was calling me into His truth at that time.
My father was an Army officer and pilot in WWII, and his older brother, also a pilot (who later rose to the rank of Captain in the Navy—equal to a full Colonel in the Army), was present at Pearl Harbor during the attack. Their father (my grandfather) fought in WWI. I was born on December 7, 1948, and my mother referred to me as her “Pearl Harbor baby.” My uncle (on my mother’s side) studied the Civil War most of his life. Much of his enormous Civil War library (with other sections about General Grant, Custer and Napoleon) was passed to me. He was also a signal corpsman in WWII.
I have visited Pearl Harbor, West Point and Annapolis, Arlington National Cemetery and other military cemeteries, endless forts, and many Civil War, as well as Revolutionary War, battlefields. I have also been to the site of the Battle of Little Big Horn, among so many other sites, including Jerusalem, the Masada, Jericho and many battlefields in Israel. Then there are all the books I have read about war beginning as a child.
I am a classic example of how some grow up hearing and learning much about war. Stories from military history were a large part of my childhood. So was learning about (many) ancestors who always seemed to have fought in wars, where some of them died. I understand Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3, which speak of those who “learn war.”
Truly, speaking personally, war is the worst of “man’s inhumanity to man.”
Of the nations familiar from biblical history and prophecy, Egypt was among the first to develop the art of war as an organized endeavor.
Yet it was the Assyrians who developed and perfected many military techniques. In fact, the sword—the weapon held by the red horse’s rider—is said to have been introduced into war by the Assyrians.
Assyrian military advances far surpassed all other powers, due to their ability to borrow effective techniques pioneered by others alongside their own inventions. Illustrating their success, the following quotes come from The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History:
“The Egyptian chariot was a mobile firing platform for well-trained archers…The Assyrians developed chariot warfare to its greatest sophistication in Western Asia, with light chariots for archers and heavier chariots carrying as many as four spearmen.”
“After 1000 B.C., more order was introduced into warfare by the Egyptians, who certainly understood and employed maneuver by well-organized and disciplined units. Soon afterward the Assyrians contributed even more order, organization, and discipline into military affairs, both on and off the battlefield.”
The book continues: “No effort was spared that would contribute to the efficiency of the army or assure continued Assyrian supremacy over all possible foes…[King] Tiglath-Pileser I saw to it that this technical superiority was maintained by constant and systematic improvement of weapons, and by the careful training of the soldiers in the use of their arms.”
“…it was the skill and organization of employment which brought success to Assyrian siegecraft…Terror was another factor contributing greatly to Assyrian success. Their exceptional cruelty and ferocity were possibly reflections of callousness developed over centuries…But theirs was also a calculated policy of terror—possibly the earliest example of organized psychological warfare. It was not unusual for them to kill every man, woman, and child in captured cities. Sometimes they would carry away entire populations into captivity.”
God has often used the Assyrians to punish the nation of Israel as His “rod of correction” (Isa. 10:5-6). But there were times that He suppressed the Assyrians’ power so that they would be out of the picture for a while. One example was the deliverance of Judah’s King Hezekiah and Jerusalem from Sennacherib and his army of 185,000 elite soldiers that besieged the city: “Then the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians” (Isa. 37:36).
God took away Assyria’s pride overnight. This greatly weakened the proud nation and removed them from the picture for a time, in order for the Babylonian Empire to emerge—serving the next step in God’s Purpose.
After the Babylonian Empire came the Medo-Persian Empire, which defeated Babylon in 539 BC. During the height of this empire, the advancement of the Persians was effectively halted in the Eastern Mediterranean by formidable warriors, including the Spartans. Later, Alexander the Great led the Greek Empire to victory over the Persians in 331 BC. For a period of time, we saw the Greco-Macedonian Empire reigned supreme.
The Roman Empire, which emerged about 31 BC to supplant Greece, was described as “dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly” (Dan. 7:7).
Records of the Jewish War of AD 69-70 illustrate the Roman Empire’s brutality. While Jerusalem was under siege, and in dire need of food and water, many Jews were captured trying to escape or bring in desperately needed supplies.
This account by Josephus illustrates in graphic detail the utterly unmerciful bloodlust of Roman legions and soldiers:
“So, now Titus’s banks [mounds of earth used to breach the walls of Jerusalem] were advanced a great way, notwithstanding his soldiers had been very much distressed from the wall. He then sent a party of horsemen, and ordered they should lay ambushes for those that went out into the valleys to gather food…and when they were going to be taken, they were forced to defend themselves, for fear of being punished; as, after they had fought, they thought it too late to make any supplications for mercy; so they were first whipped, and then tormented with all sorts of tortures before they died, and were then crucified before the wall of the city. This miserable procedure made Titus greatly to pity them, while they caught every day five hundred Jews; nay, some days they caught more…The main reason why he did not forbid that cruelty was this, that he hoped the Jews might perhaps yield at that sight, out of fear lest they might themselves afterwards be liable to the same cruel treatment. So the soldiers, out of the wrath and hatred they bore the Jews, nailed those they caught, one after one way, and another after another, to the crosses, by way of jest; when their multitude was so great, that room was wanting for the crosses…” (Wars of the Jews, bk. V, ch. XI, sec. 1).
During the period of the Holy Roman Empire, the same merciless brutality abounded. As the last chapter established, the decisions were not made by military generals but by a church! The most merciless of all wars was the campaign instigated by the Roman church to murder, by the thousands, citizens of entire towns and villages in Europe (later in the area of Jerusalem and Palestine). This came to be known as the Crusades. The victims were mostly civilians.
Continental Europe would continue to be torn by war through the centuries, usually triggered by animosity between the Universal Church and other religious belief systems, primarily Protestantism or Islam.
It was also on European soil, but many centuries later, that the horror of war was redefined. Conflict on an unprecedented scale ushered in a new phenomenon: world war.
The infamous battle of Verdun (France), fought during World War I, was one of the most costly battles ever, in terms of human lives. Fought from February 1916 until November 1918—two years and nine months—it was also one of the longest single battles in history. It captured the very essence of a “war of attrition.” Nearly one million soldiers died!
Visitors to the battle area (over 250 square kilometers) are cautioned not to stray from designated walkways. The danger of the multiple thousands of unexploded shells, which still occasionally kill or maim, awaits any who dare to wander onto the battlefield. Imagine the state of the land after artillery had hit every square meter many times.
Today, just scraping the surface with a shoe reveals rusted belt and canteen strap buckles, rifle shell casings and similar items. It would take many pages to adequately describe the scope of just this one battle. The constant artillery, as well as chlorine, mustard and nerve gases used, stand as further stark testimony to man’s inhumanity to man.
Here is a summary of just the first two days of battle:
“On February 21st 1916, at 7:15 a.m., the enemy opened fire on the two banks of the Meuse [River], over a front of 40 kilometers. Simultaneously Verdun was systematically bombarded, the last residents being evacuated by the military authority at midday on the 25th.
“For ten hours, all the enemy guns and trench mortars kept up a running fire without intermission. In all the woods adjoining the front it was a regular firework display. A feature of this overwhelming bombardment was the enormous proportion of heavy caliber shells, 150’s and 210’s coming over like hailstones.
“Under this deluge of projectiles all trenches were levelled, the woods became a twisted mass of trunks and branches, and villages collapsed and were blotted out.
“The infantry attack was launched at 5.15 p.m.…”
“Three [German] army corps...advanced. They thought that they had only to march, with their rifles slung, over ground like a ploughed field.
“The [French] 51st…and 72nd Divisions…sustained the first shock and...covered the arrival of French re-enforcements.
“A heroic combat followed the most formidable artillery preparation hitherto known. The chasseurs [light cavalry troops] of Colonel Driant resisted the attack, inch by inch, in the wood of Caures. By nightfall the advance of the enemy was insignificant compared with their losses…
“[The next morning], with snow falling, the bombardment was resumed with, if possible, greater intensity. Colonel Driant in the wood of Caures was outflanked on both sides and died fighting, after first evacuating his chasseurs to Beaumont” (Verdun, an Illustrated Historical Guide).
This long battle was waged back and forth over a single piece of ground! Today the battlefields are quiet, reminiscent of when the German soldiers famously reported to their superiors in Erich Maria Remarque’s novel, “All quiet on the western front,” because things were temporarily static on the French front lines.
Some of the most telling effects of war are seen through statistics. These paint a clear picture in terms of casualties and financial burdens, proving that the severity of wars has intensified, beginning primarily with WWI.
During this war, the total mobilized military force of the Allied nations (France, the British Empire, Russia, Italy, the U.S., and six other smaller countries) was more than 42 million. Of this number, about 5 million were killed in action, with over 3 million civilian casualties. The cost incurred by the Allies was approximately $194 billion. The total mobilized military force of the Central powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria) was about 23 million, of which over 3 million were killed in action. Their cost was something over $86 billion. (It took until September 2010 for Germany’s WWI debt to finally be paid off.)
World War I was the first war in which aircraft were more widely used—primarily for reconnaissance purposes. Also, the internal combustion engine allowed for much better logistical support (mobility of troops and munitions). Not-seen-before poison gas delivered by artillery was another “innovation.”
Another telling statistic of WWI is the percentage of mobilized forces lost in battle. The following is a sampling of some of the major participants: Germany, 16.4 percent—France, 16.1 percent—the British Empire, 10.2 percent. The U.S. lost only about 1.2 percent, partly due to the relatively short time that it was involved in the conflict before the Armistice (The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History).
Some statistics from World War II, which reflected a war with far more sophisticated weaponry, demonstrate heavier losses. Aircraft had evolved into fighters, dive-bombers, heavy bombers, heavy transports, troop carriers for paratroopers and other specialized aerial-combat machines. Bazookas, rocket launchers, and a host of other “advancements” were used on the battlefields. Tank divisions were also a force to be reckoned with. Artillery had far greater ranges than previously achieved.
As a child, my father told me stories of his harrowing time as a reconnaissance pilot near Remagen, Germany, in the wake of the Battle of the Bulge, while another Lieutenant beside him in the cockpit of his tiny Piper Cub directed American artillery in its effort to destroy German artillery, which was trying to destroy the Bridge at Remagen, and thus halt the Allied advance into Germany toward Berlin as the war was coming to an end.
Here are some of the statistics pertaining to the combined figures for both the Allies and Axis powers: 105 million total mobilized forces, of which 15 million were killed in action, with up to 34 million civilians killed. The total cost this time was $1.6 trillion!
The world learned that “total war” casualties draw no boundary between military and civilian. Never before were so many civilians in harm’s way. The percentage of mobilized forces lost in WWII: Germany, 22.8 percent—France, 3.5 percent—the United Kingdom, 6.4 percent—Soviet Union, 30 percent—Japan, 20.4 percent. The U.S. was just under 2 percent. One factor that accounted for the lower numbers of France and Britain was that they had not recovered from their staggering battlefield losses of WWI and were not in a position to field nearly as many troops as they needed. Also, France was overrun and defeated in 1940 and thereafter only fielded smaller resistance forces.
Although the U.S. entered the conflict in December 1941 in the Pacific, and only a little later in the European theater, it is miraculous their percentage of military losses was so low. Part of the explanation is that no air attacks were launched on the homeland other than Pearl Harbor. There was also God’s hand then still at work on America’s behalf.
No discussion of horror related to WWII would be complete without mention of the Holocaust. This was Adolf Hitler’s “final solution” to the “Jewish question”—and, for those with eyes to see, a foretaste of what will happen again.
The Wannsee Conference of January 1942 was convened for the purpose of formalizing a plan to exterminate all Jews within the confines of nations to the east, which were later occupied by Germany. For the next three and a half years, until the defeat of Germany in mid-1945, this “final solution” was implemented: “There were more than nine thousand camps scattered throughout German-occupied Europe. They included transit camps, prisoner-of-war camps, private industrial camps, work-education camps, foreign labor camps, police detention camps, even camps for children whose parents had been sent to slave-labor camps. More than three hundred camps were for women only.
“By mid-1942, within a few months of the Wannsee Conference, six camps served as killing centers where the victims were gassed: Treblinka, Sobibór, Belzec, Chelmno, Auschwitz / Birkenau, and Majdanek. The last two also doubled as slave-labor and penal camps” (The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust as Told in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Berenbaum, p. 116).
These six killing centers were located in Poland. Multiple railroad lines facilitated a constant flow of trainloads of victims. At Treblinka, some 750,000 or more Jews were murdered by a staff of approximately 150. Fewer than 100 known survivors of Treblinka were found.
At Sobibór, up to 250,000 Jews were murdered in carbon monoxide gas chambers. A revolt was staged there by 300 prisoners in the camp. While attempting to escape, many were killed. By the end of the war, there were only 50 known survivors of Sobibór.
At Belzec, up to 600,000 Jews and a few thousand Gypsies were murdered, and at Chelmno, up to 360,000 Jews were killed. Here, thousands of Gypsies, Poles and Soviet prisoners of war were also exterminated.
Birkenau (Auschwitz II) was the largest and deadliest of all the Nazi death camps. Here were the biggest, newest and most efficient gas chambers, which used the vapors from “Zyklon B” pellets to kill Jews, Poles, Gypsies and Soviet prisoners of war. Many more Jews (1.1 million) were killed here than the other groups represented.
At Majdanek, nearly 500,000, from 28 different countries, were murdered. According to Polish sources, about 360,000—more than 70 percent, many of which were Poles—died there from starvation, exhaustion, disease and beatings. Seven gas chambers were employed (using “Zyklon B” pellets), as were the camp’s two wooden gallows (ibid., pp. 123-124).
Many contemporary historians and scholars view the Holocaust as an anomaly—a freak occurrence, impossible to happen again. They believe that man has now developed to a higher order, more “considerate” and “tolerant” than the ancients.
The memory of the Holocaust should obliterate modern man’s idealistic reasoning. All “baser instincts” are still with us. This action by the Germans was in the tradition of their forefathers, the ancient Assyrians. These also believed themselves a master race, and carried out organized deportation and genocide whenever they saw fit.
In a 1995 television interview, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher stated of Germany, “I, to this day, cannot understand why so many Germans, who are so highly intellectual…let Hitler do the things he did…There is something in the character of the German people which led to things which should never have happened…Some people say, ‘You have got to anchor Germany into Europe, to stop these features ever coming out again.’ You have not anchored Germany to Europe. You have anchored Europe to a newly dominant, large Germany…In the end, my friends, it will not work” (Houston PBS).
Beginning with the conclusion of World War I—originally called the Great War or “The War to End All Wars”—the world slowly began to ratchet up toward the next great world conflict, only 20 years later. Near the end of World War II, the world entered a new and yet more frightening era.
On August 6, 1945, man’s destructive capabilities greatly intensified, and the scope of warfare would never be the same. Mankind had come to a turning point—when all life on Earth could now be erased in a single brief orgy of war!
Fast-forward to the present: weapon proliferation is today escalating at an alarming rate, with a number of volatile, aggressive nations seeking to join the nuclear club. The power that once destroyed a city—the atomic bomb—now serves as a mere “trigger” for the hydrogen bomb!
Weapons of mass destruction, so incomprehensibly destructive that they boggle the mind, now threaten humanity as never before.
Recall Christ’s words: “Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matt. 24:22). At the end of 6,000 years of man going his own way, he is approaching the brink of extinction on a number of fronts.
The awesome evil of nuclear weapons, unleashed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States, sobered prominent leaders and thinkers. They realized that survival of the human race was now at stake. Consider their words:
With the dropping of the first atomic bomb, war forever changed. No longer were large standing armies the sign of a nation’s strength. According to an article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica on the advent of the nuclear age, “These revolutionary characteristics of nuclear weapons have given rise to a phenomenon that is entirely new: there is no longer any relation between power and numbers.”
Suddenly, political influence and the balance of world power could shift instantly.
Recall that the Bible summarizes the decadent condition of human character in the last days. Let’s read again: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof…” (II Tim. 3:1-5).
Brutal dictators and despots, who would do anything to stay in power, have always existed. Now, in this age, we are witnessing individuals of the worst character ever having access to the worst weapons ever! In our time exists the ultimate nightmare!
The world entered what authorities called the Age of Conflict, and set the stage for what the Bible terms the red horse and rider—wars and rumors of wars, nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom—in the years following World War II. But were governments sufficiently horrified by the mushroom clouds over Japan to say, “This must never happen again”?
The thundering answer is NO, they were not!
In fact, the occurrence of war has increased nearly four times since 1946, unleashing an incredible arms race. Dr. Herbert F. York, an American nuclear physicist who helped unleash the devastating power of nuclear weapons as a member of the Manhattan Project, and Jerome B. Weisner, a science advisor to President John F. Kennedy, warned, “…the arms race is a steady downward spiral to oblivion.”
Consider: From 1900 to 1946 the world experienced more than 120 armed conflicts—over two per year. Between 1946 and 2001 there were 225 wars—over four per year.
In his book Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the Twenty-first Century, former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski estimated that 87.5 million people lost their lives from war between 1900 and 1999. (This included about 33.5 million military deaths and 54 million civilian deaths.) But t