Three Angels Messages Part 48

Welcome again as we continue our study of the Three Angels’ Messages found in Revelation 14. We are now examining 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.’”

            Who or what is this beast? It is obvious that the term “beast” is 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 also 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 have seen that there is only one entity which fulfills all the prophetic specifications of the Revelation 13:1-10, and that is the hierarchy of the papacy, the Church of Rome. While there have been and are today many devout, God-fearing believers in that community, nevertheless God has indicted the system of the papacy because of her attack against the word of God, the Commandments of God, and the true followers of God.

We should not be shocked to learn that Satan has found a way to infiltrate the church. How did earth’s story begin? It was when the serpent of Eden succeeded in misleading the woman. Exactly how did he do that? He succeeded in getting her to set aside the Word of God and replace it with something else, a very dangerous thing to do. He led her to believe that what God said didn’t matter. Then, after she had eaten of the forbidden fruit, he used her to be the tool to mislead her husband, Adam. Whether Adam would have fallen for the deceptions of the serpent without this happening, we can’t say. The Scripture says, “Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” I Timothy 2:14.
           Note the method well. Nowhere are we told that the serpent spoke to or tempted Adam. He didn’t have to! He could do something much better, something more effective! Satan used the “woman” to do his work. (Remember that many times in the Bible a “woman” represents a church.) But don’t forget this: how did God look upon Eve, deceived as she was? In pity and in love. Does this excuse her actions? No, she should have relied on the Word of God instead of listening to the talking snake. Was there hope for Eve? Yes, through the mercy and grace of God.

            In the same way Satan has used God’s professed people as his tool through the ages. He used Balaam, a renegade prophet, to induce Israel into idolatry and immorality at Baal Peor, on the very outskirts of the Promised Land, shutting out many from Canaan’s blessing. He used the Church of 2,000 years ago, the Jewish hierarchy, to put God on a cross. And he used unsuspecting churchmen of the Middle Ages, to accomplish his goals of removing, replacing or modifying the Holy Scriptures and to persecute those who would abide by its precepts. This is not “hate speech.” It is historical fact.

            Besides this, God’s call is to His people in “Babylon” to come out and be saved. Revelation 18:1-4. God still has people in “Babylon” who have not seen the truth for these last days, the simple truth that we must accept God’s free gift of salvation, and then allow the Spirit to live in us so that we can express our love for Him by obeying His commandments. There are honest and sincere God-fearing saints in the communities of faith which are today steeped in error. They are living up to all the light they presently have. It is God’s desire that they hear and heed the messages of the three angels. Though clear and unvarnished, these are messages of love and salvation.

Let’s continue with the clues given in these 10 verses. In verse 3 we are given two more. We read, “I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.” Bible prophecy has a pattern of giving a brief overview, then retracing with greater detail. The prophecies of the companion book Daniel illustrate this principle. Verses 1-3 of Revelation 13 lay out the general outline, with the other verses filling more details. Note that the language of this third verse is reflected in what is said in verse 10: “He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword.”

            What about this “deadly wound” that was “healed”? We recognize that this entity would enjoy uninterrupted power for a prophetic period of 1260 “days.” This is mentioned no less than 7 times in the Bible; twice in Daniel (7:25 and 12:7) and 5 times in Revelation (11:2, 3; 12:6, 14 and 13:5). It is the most frequently mentioned time prophecy in Scripture. The period of time is represented variously as 3 ½ years, 42 months or 1260 days, but they all refer to the same period of 1260 literal years (since a day in symbolic prophecy represents a literal year. Ezekiel 4:6; Numbers 14:34).

            As we discussed previously, this period of time extended from 538 A.D., when the last remaining obstacles were removed that opposed the papacy, through 1798, when under the direction of Napoleon and the generalship of Berthier, Pope Pius VI was captured. His ring was forcibly removed as were all the papal arms and insignia. The “Vatican palace was entirely stripped of everything that could be taken away. The palaces at Monte Cavallo, Terracina and Castel Gandolfo, I was told, underwent the same reverse of fortune; but of the Vatican I can speak with more confidence, as I was myself in that palace the whole time of its being plundered. The sacerdotal vestments of the Sistine Paolina, and other pontifical chapels were all burnt for the gold and silver of their embroidery.” A Brief Account of the Subversion of the Papal Government, Richard Duppa, 1798, pp. 59, 60.   The pope died in exile and many thought the Papacy likewise was dead.

            The papacy, which had led many “into captivity” and had “killed with the sword” for centuries, suffered a mortal wound when in 1798 Napoleon sent his general Berthier to take Pope Pius VI captive. What brought about this shocking event? The people of France had long seen their treasuries depleted and their hard earned funds go south to embellish the coffers and cathedrals of Rome. The people had become dissatisfied with the oppression and opulence of the priests and prelates. They had had enough. They were anxious for a change.

            As part of their complete repudiation of religion, demonstrated during the French Revolution, their wrath descended on the papacy as well. One of Napoleon’s priorities was the overthrow of the Vatican. On the 10th of February his general entered the Vatican without opposition. He demanded that the pope renounce all temporal powers and when Pope Pius declined, he was taken prisoner and marched northward to the citadel of Valence, where he died in 1799. Thus the papacy suffered a deadly setback, a “mortal wound,” just as prophecy had predicted.

            It is of more than passing interest that this event, the “deadly wound,” was predicted shortly before it happened by some whose eyes were on the prophetic calendar. In the Edinburgh “Missionary Magazine” for 1796, just two years before the event, this statement was published. “By the general consent of prophecy, the reign of Antichrist, is now hastening to an end.” Note that this quotation not only illustrates the insight of the bible students as to the time period in question, the coming end of the 1260-year prophecy, but also demonstrates a clear recognition of the system of the papacy as being the Antichrist of Bible prophecy.

            Writing in a similar vein concerning the papacy, George Bell wrote in the “Evangelical Magazine” in that same year, 1796. In this statement he also does not hesitate to apply the biblical title of Antichrist to the Church of Rome. Analyzing the prophetic clues as to when the papacy would ascend its throne he concludes, “If this be a right application of events to the prophecy, then Antichrist arose about the year 537, at the farthest about the year 555. He continues for 42 months, or 1260 prophetic days, that is, 1260 years, Revelation 13:5; consequently we may expect his fall about the year 1797, or 1813.” The Evangelical Magazine, London, 1796, Vol. 4, p. 56.

Earlier than this another voice was raised, pointing to the fulfillment of prophecy. Toward the end of the 17th century Drue Cressner, D. D., identified the beast with these words written in 1689. “Where-ever was there an Empire since the writing of the Prophecy, but that of the Roman Church, that was so Universal for 1260 years together, as to have all that dwell upon the Earth, peoples, and Multitudes, and Nations and Tongues, to worship it? What Ruling Power, but that, so Ancient, as to have the Blood of the Prophets, and Saints, and of all that were slain upon Earth, of that kind for that space of time, to be found in it? What Rule but that, had ever so long a duration in the World, as to continue set upon an Hill, much less upon seven Hills, for so great a space of time…?” Drue Cressner, A Demonstration of the First Principles of the Protestant Applications of the Apocalypse, pp. viii, ix., London, 1690.

Cressner anticipated the demise of the beast power, or at least the deadly set back, at the end of the 18th century. In amazingly accurate language he wrote, “The first appearance of the Beast was at Justinian’s recovery of the Western Empire, from which time to about the year 1800 will be about 1260 years.” He went on to say, “For if the first time of the Beast was at Justinian’s recovery of the City of Rome, then must not it end till a little before the year 1800.” Drue Cressner, The Judgments of God upon the Roman Catholick Church, pp. 309, 312, London, 1689. See Le Roy Froom, The Prophetic Faith of our Fathers, Washington: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1950. Volume II, pages 591-596.

            Notice that in these prophetic expositions by protestant Bible students, full faith and credence is given to the “day for a year in symbolic prophecy” rule founded on Ezekiel 4:6 and Numbers 14:34. Notice also that there is a clear recognition that the “beast” and the “Antichrist” are speaking of the same entity. Keep that in mind as we compare the 7 prophetic portrayals of this entity in Scripture a little later. These views were held in common by Protestants from the time of the Reformation until about 100 years ago, when a gigantic shift in prophetic interpretation took place, as we discussed previously. Bible students of the Protestant Reformation, with their eyes on prophecy, correctly predicted the infliction of the papacy’s “deadly wound.”

            But there would be a resurgence; there would be a come-back. Verse three continues to say, “His deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.” History confirms the truth of this. The root still remained and sprouted again. Paul had prophesied that this power would not be removed completely until the coming of Jesus, destroyed “with the brightness of His coming.” II Thessalonians 2:8. So, what happened in 1798 represented only a temporary diminishing of power.

            Like a mythological phoenix, the power of the papacy began to rise again from the ashes. Gradually her authority grew. Finally, under the terms of the Lateran Concordat of 1929, the Church regained the 108 acres of the Vatican as an independent state, making it the smallest but one of the most powerful empires on earth. When this took place, the San Francisco Chronicle of February 11, 1929 reported, “The Roman question tonight was a thing of the past and the Vatican was at peace with Italy. In affixing the autographs to the memorable document healing the wound…extreme cordiality was displayed on both sides” (italics supplied).

            The New York Times on the same day reported, “The pope is again an independent sovereign ruler, as he was throughout the Middle Ages, though his temporal realm, established today, is the most microscopic independent State in the world, and probably the smallest in all history.” The document was signed was signed in behalf of King Victor Emmanuel III by Premier Benito Mussolini and in behalf of Pope Pius XI by Cardinal Gasparri.

            In the April 18, 1929 edition of the Catholic Advocate, reference was made to the people anticipating the signing saying, “A crowd, tense with excitement, is here to witness the passage of these two men, whose pens will heal a wound of 59 years” (italics supplied). The article celebrated the fact that “his (the pope’s) Kingship has at last been acknowledged by Italy.”

            Today the Vatican is a recognized world leader in ecclesiastical as well as political affairs. Like a state, she issues her own postage. She receives ambassadors.  The United States under President Ronald Reagan sent William A. Wilson as an official ambassador representing the U.S. Prior to this time, there had been “personal representatives” of the presidents, going back to 1848, but Wilson’s appointment as “ambassador” opened a new legacy. In 2009, President Barach Obama appointed Miguel H. Diaz to the post. As of this writing, the ambassador is Joseph Donnelly, who presented his credentials to Pope Francis on April 11, 2022.

            There were many heads of states received by George W. Bush in his 8-year tenure as President. He was cordial to all of them, but only once did he actually go to the airport to meet his guest. That was when Pope Benedict XVI visited the U.S. for a six-day whirlwind tour beginning on April 15 of 2008. If you question the phrase in Revelation 13:3 when it says, “all the world marveled and followed the beast,” go to this link and view the pictures of the pope’s short visit.

            See him welcomed by the gentle arm of President Bush into the White House. Scroll down to view him as he celebrated mass in Nationals Park in Washington, adored by thousands. Notice as he is greeted warmly by Sayyid M. Syeed, secretary general of the Islamic Society of North America. View him sign the guest book of the United Nations, and then address the assembly. See two Jewish students present the pope with a matzoh (unleavened bread used for Passover) under the beaming eyes of Rabbi Arthur Schneier, and as he prepares to speak at the Park East Synagogue in New York.

            At an ecumenical prayer service at the Church of Saint Joseph in New York, the photos capture him as he meets the daughter of the late Martin Luther King, Bernice King, and as he shakes hands with Archbishop Demetrios, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America. At Ground Zero, the former site of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, he meets the families of victims and prays. A crowd of approximately 60,000 gather to worship before him in Yankee Stadium. If you don’t think the phrase “all the world marveled and followed the beast” has meaning today, just scan through those photos and see the adoration written on the faces of those people.

            The message of the third angel is a clear warning to avoid the “mark of the beast,” a symbolic entity given in prophecy and confirmed by history as being the hierarchy of the Roman Church, and no other. Again, we recognize that there are devout believers in this community of faith, but God has an issue with the system which Satan has infiltrated and brought about policies and doctrines which counter God’s Book and His plan. If you are a member of a church which is not teaching the three angels’ messages, and calling for all to obey all the commandments of God, then the Spirit is calling you to “come out of her, My people.” We will continue our study of God’s last warning in our next segment. Please join us then!

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