Three Angels Messages Part 46

Thanks again for joining us, as we continue our study of the Three Angels’ Messages found in Revelation 14. We are just now beginning our study of the message of the third angel, the first part of which reads, “Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation.’”

            We must being by identifying what or who is represented by the term “beast,” a term which is obviously used in a symbolic way. We saw that the beast that has the mark to be avoided is the first beast, the beast from the sea, introduced in Revelation 13:1-10. We noted that Scripture often uses symbols and figures to teach truth, and that there is a danger in being too literalistic when studying the Bible.

We’ll begin by looking at the clues given in the first 10 verses of Revelation 13. As we have seen, this passage contains the clues that identify the beast which has the deadly mark. It was seen to be “rising up out of the sea.” What does this signify? In the symbolic language of Bible prophecy, water stands for people. “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.” Revelation 17:15. So, since this beast arises “out of the sea,” we would expect it to emerge within a populated area. This will be in contrast, as we will see, to the second beast, which is seen “coming up out of the earth,” or an unpopulated area.

            We are told that this beast has heads and horns; seven heads and ten horns, and there are crowns on the horns. Crowns represent kingship. The word in Greek here is diademata, or “kingly crown,” as opposed to stephanos, the “victor’s crown.” These crowns represent the monarchies, the political kingdoms which support the agenda of the beast power. What about the seven heads? They represent the various manifestations of Satan’s tools of attack, using human powers and institutions, through the ages.

Two clues are given in the second verse. We are told that this beast was “like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion.” Not only are these animals significant, but the order in which they are given is important. We know that the animals of Daniel 7 represented earthly kingdoms. These animals were a lion, a bear, a leopard and another fourth which was beyond description. The lion stood for Babylon, the bear for Medo-Persia, the leopard for Greece and the fourth represented pagan Rome.

            So this beast of Revelation 13 resembles the beasts which preceded it. It partakes of similar characteristics. Fragments of the philosophies, the methods as well as the flaws of these kingdoms are found in this beast. Also, notice that John is shown them from the perspective of looking backward in history. He sees them in “reverse order.” In Daniel 7 the order is lion, bear and leopard, appropriate since Daniel was looking forward through the prophetic telescope into the future. Now, since those kingdoms have faded into the past, the sequence is in reverse order. It is leopard, bear and lion. John’s perspective in this verse is from the beast’s “rising,” which occurs subsequent to the downfall of the leopard, bear and lion. The name of blasphemy on its head we'll discuss a few verses later.

            “The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.” In chapter 12 we are told explicitly that the “dragon” is “the devil and Satan.” Verse 9. The devil was behind the establishment of this beast’s power and authority. But we also recognize that the devil almost always gets people to do his work for him. That’s how the story began in Eden, when the devil succeeded in getting Eve to tempt Adam. When, in chapter 12, the “dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born,” through what empire’s authority was that prophecy fulfilled? When Jesus was born, what kingdom was in power when the order to kill the babies of Bethlehem was issued? It was civil Rome, wasn’t it? So while it is true that in the primary sense the dragon represents the devil, it is also true that in a secondary sense the dragon who gave to the beast its power represented civil Rome.
Therefore, we must ask the question: When pagan Rome declined into obscurity and the empire moved eastward to Constantinople, the capitol founded by Emperor Constantine, what power took her place? To whom did civil Rome give her “power, throne and authority?” What entity stepped into the vacuum left by pagan Rome? As you can read in any history book, it was papal Rome. Following the removal of the seat of the empire and the decline of civil Rome, it was the bishop of Rome who gained more and more authority. He assumed the political powers vacated by the absent emperors and rose higher and higher in influence. When in 533 A.D. Emperor Justinian assembled his famous Code, he identified the bishop of Rome as the head of the church and the corrector of heretics. His general Belisarius was dispatched to bring this to reality.

            So the dragon, in a secondary sense representing pagan Rome, gave to the Church its power, its throne and great authority. This proved to be a historical fact. Any history book or encyclopedia will confirm this. It was as if civil Rome passed the baton of leadership to papal Rome. The popes of the Middle Ages occupied the place of the Caesars before them. They governed from the very seat formerly held by the rulers of pagan Rome previously. Amazing!

            Professor Labianca, who taught for many years at the University of Rome stated, “To the succession of the Caesars came the succession of the Pontiffs in Rome. When Constantine left Rome, he gave his seat to the Pontiff.” The historian Stanley adds, “The Popes filled the place of the vacant emperors of Rome, inheriting their power, prestige, and titles from paganism. The Papacy is but the ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, sitting crowned upon its grave.” Stanley’s History, page 40. These words are a striking fulfillment of Revelation’s prophecy that the “dragon” would give its “power, its throne and great authority” to the “beast.”

            What we will discover is that there is only one entity that fulfills all the prophetic specifications of Revelation 13’s beast from the sea, and that is the Roman Catholic Church. She alone meets all the criteria. Not only this, she meets all the criteria of the other six portraits in Scripture, which we’ll note a little later. As we’ve noted before, this Scriptural indictment is directed against the hierarchy, the system of the papacy.

There have been many devout, sincere Catholic Christians through the ages, and as there are now, but God has something to say to the system that the devil has used to withhold and distort the Bible and its teachings. The Sacred Book was given to tell us about God, His love and His plan for His people. Any deviation from the truths that it presents contorts the picture of God. Doctrines were given to us so that we could know God and His love. Aberrations to these teachings change the picture, and superimpose the devious, destructive character of Satan onto the picture of God. How we relation depends on what we believe about Him, and that is why it is so vital to gain a correct understanding of Scripture.

Please join us next time as we continue in our journey of discovery, as God reveals more and more of His plan, and what to expect as this world comes to its final and climactic end.

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