Three Angels Messages Part 55

Thanks for joining us today, as we continue in our study of the Three Angels’ Messages found in Revelation 14. We are still looking at 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 study, understand and apply the content of these messages!
We’ve seen from the clues given in Revelation 13:1-10, 18, that the system (not the members) of the Roman Catholic Church fit the prophetic specifications. However, this is by no means the only scriptural portrayal of this power. Beside this, we have the testimony of six other biblical portrayals, each sharing many of the same clues that we find in Revelation 13:1-10. Three of these are in the book of Daniel and the other three are in the New Testament. God must have felt that it was of great importance to be aware of this matter, having devoted so much of the prophetic material in disclosing it. The Scriptural admonition is, “By the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word shall be established.” II Corinthians 13:1. What shall we say when God provides no less than seven “witnesses” to a truth?
            Last time we examined the horn power revealed in Daniel chapter 7, and found that its clues point emphatically toward the system (not the congregants) of the papacy. Daniel 8 contains a similar prophecy as Daniel 7. That they cover the same basic time frame is undeniable. Interestingly, because the kingdom of Babylon was slipping off the screen of divine importance, in chapter 8 there is no corresponding animal to represent the winged lion of chapter 7 or the head of gold in the statue dream of chapter 2.
We are told specifically that the ram represented Medo-Persia and that the goat stood for Greece. Daniel 8:20, 21. In the vision of chapter 8, there is a horn power which bears a striking resemblance to the horn power of the previous chapter. To be technically correct, the “horn power” of Daniel 8 is a combined symbol, representing both civil and papal Rome. Actually, this is revealed in chapter 7 as well, as the horn is seen to emerge from the fourth beast, Rome, and so they are “connected” in some way. This makes sense since both civil and papal Rome ruled from the same geographical location. It is introduced as a “little horn” which came up from one of the “winds of heaven,” but which “grew exceedingly great.” Daniel 8:9.
            Some commentators and some artists have attempted to show that the horn power of this vision is an outgrowth of the goat kingdom, Greece, and that the horn was an extension of one of the four horns depicting the breakup of Greece’s empire following the death of Alexander. From this approach, the view of Antiochus IV being the horn power has been offered.
However, this view requires that the antecedent of the word “them” (“out of one of them came a little horn”) be understood as being “notable ones,” referring to the four horns that came up in place of the “large horn” symbolizing Alexander. When pronouns are used, such as the word “them” in verse 9, it is a well established rule of grammar that the pronoun should agree with the noun it represents in gender and number. There is also a presumption that, for the purpose of clarity, the pronoun will be in close proximity to the noun is replaces.
For both of these reasons, the word “winds” is a better choice as being the antecedent of “them” than “notable ones.” What the text is telling us is that from one of the “winds,” or directions of the compass, there came forth this “little horn which grew exceedingly great.” Notice how the rest of the verse repeats the emphasis on “direction,” as it describes the success of this little horn “toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land.”
            To understand the little horn as representing the kingdoms of Rome, pagan and papal, is an interpretation that finds perfect harmony within the text of the vision of Daniel 8, as well as being in harmony with the vision of chapter 7. To understand the horn power of Daniel 8 as representing Antiochus IV Epiphanies ruptures the harmony of the two visions of chapter 7 and 8. Remember that in chapter 7, the horn came up “among” (not only geographically, but also chronologically) the ten horns that spelled the downfall of ancient Rome, something that happened in the 4th and 5th centuries A.D., far removed from when Antiochus Epiphanies exercised power.
            What does this horn power do, as revealed in the vision of chapter 8, and how does this amplify what we learned in chapter 7? It “grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them. He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host.” It “cast truth down to the ground, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.” Daniel 8:10-12.
            Knowing that the horn represents Rome in both its civil and religious regimes, we recognize a dual portrayal given. We find that both pagan and papal Rome persecuted God’s people. Both pagan and papal Rome exalted themselves against the Prince, Jesus Christ. It was under Roman rule that Jesus, the Prince (Hebrew tsar) was crucified. It was under papal domination that claims have been made that fulfill the prophetic specifications of this verse.
Both pagan and papal Rome trampled the sanctuary; under the banners of the Roman General Titus the city of Jerusalem and its temple were desolated in A.D. 70. Under the authority of Catholicism the sanctuary in heaven as been under attack, the High Priestly ministry of Jesus being replaced by an earthly priesthood, and the way to salvation, taught by the Scriptures as being “by grace through faith” being replaced by a system of human merits and works.
            The phrase “cast truth down to the ground” deserves special attention. No other entity throughout the centuries has had the policy of subverting, changing or distorting Bible truth to the degree that the papacy has. It was the Church that banned the Bible and made it a crime to possess, study and apply the Scriptures. It was the Church that took the sacred teachings of our Lord and modified or obscured nearly everything that Jesus taught. With chilling veracity, the phrase, “he cast truth down to the ground” has been fulfilled in the activities of the papacy.
            Later in the angelic explanation Daniel was told that this power would be exercised in fierce destruction. “He shall destroy fearfully and shall prosper and thrive; he shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people. Through his cunning he shall cause deceit to prosper under his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without human hand.” Daniel 8:24, 25.
            Note that the scope of this “king’s” tenure does not allow for a “one person” fulfillment. It must represent a kingdom, a power, a system which stretches across the span of many centuries. This is made clear by the fact that the horn power (representing both pagan and papal Rome) would exercise its power directly against the “Prince,” and yet Gabriel informed Daniel that the subject of the vision “refers to the time of the end.” Daniel 8:17. How could just one king fulfill this prophecy, affecting Jesus at His first coming but also stretching down to the “time of the end”? The angel repeats this by saying, “Look, I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time the end shall be.” Daniel 8:19. Only a system, and not a single individual, can meet the criteria given in Gabriel’s explanation.
            Its final destruction comes at the end of the age, for it is described as coming to its end being “broken without human hand,” a phrase which leads our minds back to the statue dream when a “Stone was cut out without hands” and struck the statue and its earthly kingdoms, grinding them to powder. That happens when Jesus returns the second time in glory. We will see that Paul’s analysis in II Thessalonians is built on the concepts of Daniel in this regard. Like the horn of Daniel 8, the “man of sin” is destroyed at the second coming of Christ.
            This is similar to what Daniel saw in the previous vision. In chapter 7, the end of the horn power was different than the three beasts which preceded it. “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame. As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.” Daniel 7:11, 12.
The kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and pagan Rome all had their “dominion taken away,” that is, they lost their first-place position in world leadership, yet they remained on the stage for a period of time. There was a Babylon till the time of Alexander. There is yet today a Persia (Iran), a Greece and a Rome, though these certainly do not enjoy the power they once wielded. But when the horn power comes to its final end, there will be no prolonging of its life. Its “dominion” and its very existence will come to a climactic conclusion at the return of Jesus.
            So we see that in Daniel 8 a “horn power” is brought to view which features many of the same characteristics as the horn power of Daniel 7. It persecutes, it rises against the Prince, it utters bombastic and blasphemous claims. That these two visions are speaking to the same entity within the symbol of a “little horn,” there can be no question. That these two pictures are part of a larger scriptural collage which highlights the origin and activities of the historical papacy, there also can be no question.
            In mercy the Lord has revealed to us the strategies and tactics of the evil one, who delights in infiltrating the church to exercise his deceptive powers. Let us cling to the Word of God, the only safeguard against Satan’s misleading endeavors. Let us cling to Jesus, the One Who only can protect our souls from destruction.