Three Angels Messages Part 56

Welcome once more, as we proceed in our analysis of the Three Angels’ Messages found in Revelation 14. We are continuing to look at the message of the third angel, which begins by stating, “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 become knowledgeable regarding the symbols of Scripture, including the “beast and his image.” We must study, understand and apply the content of these messages, for they represent a life and death issue!
Because understanding the identity of the beast power is so important, the Lord inspired the writers of His word to include no less than seven references to this entity. We began our examination in Revelation 13, because that is the closest in proximity to the messages of the three angels. But we see that there are three other portrayals in the Old Testament, and we will see that there are three additional ones in the New Testament. We have already seen that Daniel 7’s horn power is a depiction of the papal power, as is the horn of Daniel 8. Remember that we’re thinking of the system, not the members of the Roman Catholic faith. It is the system of the papacy that Satan has used to subvert scriptural truth.
There remains one more picture in Daniel’s book that we must study. It is the vision which begins in chapter 10 and continues through chapter 12. All of the outline prophecies begin where the prophet is “now,” and conclude with the final establishment of God’s eternal kingdom, and this fourth outline prophecy in Daniel is no exception. Chapter 11 of Daniel is most interesting, in that it begins by revealing details concerning two of the rival factions of Grecian rule, that of the Seleucids in Syria and the Ptolomies of Egypt, both of which vied for control of the territory between them, that of Palestine. The early verses of the chapter vividly depict some of these violent struggles. The closing verses of this last vision take us down to the very last days and the triumphant return of Christ.
            This vision is like some other portrayals in Scripture, in that the one who begins by being in the spotlight might not remain there through the entire drama. Both Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 are built on this scheme. Isaiah 14 begins by addressing the “king of Babylon,” but then progresses seamlessly into a discussion of “Lucifer.” Why, we might ask, is this done this way? It is simply because the king of Babylon had so identified himself with the same attitudes as Lucifer that it was not difficult to move beyond the literal king of Babylon to the one who had inspired him with those thoughts and actions. It is the same in Ezekiel 28, which begins by placing the king of Tyre on the stage, but then again slips into a description of the one who stood behind him, the “anointed cherub” who was in the Garden of Eden, Lucifer, who became the enemy of God.
            Likewise, Daniel 11 begins by describing the tussles of Egypt and Syria over the coveted Promised Land. Judah was caught in the cross-hairs. Both of these forces were opposed to God’s plans and His people. They both were enemies of the faithful, and Israel suffered at their hands. The heroic story of John Hyrcanus and the Maccabees is to be found within these struggles.
Somewhere in the discussion of the vision of chapter 11, the players on the stage are replaced. They are still the enemies of God’s people, but their identities have changed. It is not surprising for Bible prophecy to exhibit this format. The Scriptures look at the bigger picture, and lump together those who share common ideas, philosophies, and behaviors, especially when they oppose the plans of God.
            Somewhere in chapter 11 the “king of the south” is replaced by what we could call militant atheism. After all, it was the Pharaoh of Egypt who defied God and said, “Who is the Lord that I should obey Him?” This prophecy, as it comes toward the end of chapter 11, speaks to the forces of godlessness that will challenge Christianity in the last days. Of that we need speak little; our world and our country demonstrate that there is a war against Christianity that has been raging for quite some time.
            Is the “king of the south” alive and active today? Just look around in our country and see the attacks against Christianity, prayer, the Ten Commandments and the Holy Scriptures! Look at the advance of the agenda of the Gay Pride movement, totally at odds against Bible principles. Witness the multitudes of abortions, contrary to the teachings of the Bible. Look at what is published by Hollywood and by television, in blatantly attacking Christianity. Look at the restrictions placed against the proclamation of Christian teaching in any place public. Listen to the outcry when anything Christian is mentioned in the public arena. More rights are accorded to the practitioners of any other faith, including Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, witchcraft and of course, atheism, than are given to those who wish to express their Christian views. Amazing! The “king of the south” is on the march!
            On the other hand, the “king of the north” became first pagan Rome and then papal Rome. By the time the vision reaches its end, the identity of the “king of the north” has shifted completely to that of papal Rome, which has occupied the prominent place in the visions of Daniel 7 and 8. In many prophecies of the Old Testament, “north” was used as a code word for the location of the enemy. Jeremiah 1:13; 4:6; 6:1, etc. Because of geographical and topographical considerations, Judah's enemies, including Israel, Syria, Assyria and Babylon came literally from the north.
            The papacy now stands in the shoes of the “enemy of God’s people.” As Judah, in the days before Christ’s first coming, found itself squeezed between two opposing forces, the Seleucids of the north and the Ptolomies of the south, so God’s remnant will find themselves compressed between the powers of aggressive atheism, the “king of the south,” and fallen Christianity, the “king of the north” in the days just prior to Christ’s second coming.
            Thus familiar phrases and attributes surface in the latter portion of the vision relating to the activities and policies of the papacy. The destruction of the sanctuary, highlighted in Daniel 8:11 is brought to view in Daniel 11:31. “And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily, and place there the abomination of desolation.”
            The persecution and oppression of this power, so often included in the biblical portrayals, are again seen in this vision. The story of the countless millions of martyrs and those who suffered while fearlessly declaring the truth of God during the Middle Ages can be seen in this vision. “And those of the people who understand shall instruct man; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering.” Daniel 11:33. This power’s uninterrupted tenure of 1260 years is again part of the picture painted. “It shall be for a time, times and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.” Daniel 12:7.
            This persecution will reach fever pitch as time comes to its close. “But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many.” Daniel 11:44. This verse seems to echo closely the closing sentiments expressed in another great prophetic chapter, Revelation 12:17. “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
As the Gospel is spread, the true Gospel including the call to obey all of God’s
Commandments (that’s the “news” of which the prophecy speaks), will be shared, and the “king of the north” (the system of the papacy) will be “troubled,” just as Herod was “troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” at the news of Christ’s first coming. Matthew 2:3. There was “news from the east and from the north” when Christ came the first time. Just before Christ's Second Coming, the papacy, working in cooperation with the United States and other nations, will attempt to annihilate all those who obey God, just as Herod raised his sword against the Bethlehem babies at Christ’s birth. That’s the “fury to destroy and annihilate many.”
His arrogant blasphemies are once more brushed on the canvas of prophecy. “Then the king shall do according to his own will; he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done.” Daniel 11:36.
            The final climactic surge against God’s kingdom, followed by the finality of his divinely appointed end is part of the narrative. “And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him.” Daniel 11:45. What is it talking about when it says, “He will plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain”? This is a picture of an enemy’s invasion. In the original context, it referred to the king of the north placing his standard and erecting his palace (or “citadel,” or “fortress”) in the territory that belonged to God and His people Judah. That’s the place “between the seas and the glorious holy mountain,” the holy mountain referring to Jerusalem. This is the same thing Daniel foresaw as being the “abomination that makes desolate stand in the holy place,” a comment to which Jesus referred in Matthew 24:15.
            There was a partial fulfillment of this prophecy when ancient Rome attacked Jerusalem in A.D. 70. It was then that Titus invaded the sacred territory surrounding Jerusalem and planted his idolatrous and blasphemous banners in its holy precincts. They depicted the various pagan deities in which Rome placed her trust. These blasphemous banners were an “abomination,” and they represented Rome's design to bring “desolation.” Jesus clearly equated the Daniel's phrase, “the abomination of desolation” with the description of the armies of Rome surrounding Jerusalem, intent on its destruction. Matthew 24:15; Luke 21:20.
            But there will be a more complete fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy of the assault of the “king of the north” at the end of time. This is a clear reference to the invasion of the papacy into the sacred territory that belongs only to God. This is a reference to the attack against God’s holy law, and the usage of the arm of the state to enforce a substitute sabbath. In what more effective way could Satan, through human institutions, wage war against the government of God, than by attacking His holy law?
This is the same picture as was given by Paul in II Thessalonians 2 where we’re told that the “man of sin” would sit in the temple of God, “showing himself that he is God.” When church and state unite to desecrate God’s holy law and enforce by human authority the dictates of man, then God will act. The time will soon come when the papacy will plant the tents of her palace squarely within the precincts of God’s holy territory.
            This invasion is introduced in verses 40 and 41: “He shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. He shall also enter the Glorious Land.” The phrase “pass through” is Scripture’s depiction of an army overcoming its enemies in triumph. As the last day “king of the north” begins his assault, carrying forward his attempt to enforce by law teachings that conflict with Scripture, there will be some who will recognize the danger and escape. In the word symbols of Daniel 11, “many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand; Edom, Moab and the prominent people of Ammon.” We needn't attempt to arrive at a specific identification of these countries who “escape.” They stand for those who were at one time under the domination and control of the “king of the north,” but who will later “escape” from the tyranny and deception of his reign. They represent those who will discover Bible truth and abandon the heresies of the papacy. They are the ones who heed the invitation, “Come out of her (“Babylon”), My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.” Revelation 18:4.
            It is when this final affront is made against God’s kingdom and His commandments, when this last assault is made against His “sanctuary,” that the final movements will begin. At that time the Scripture will be fulfilled, “It is time for You to act, O LORD, for they have made void Your law.” Psalm 119:126, KJV.
            We believe that this verse should be read in the light of Revelation 13, in which prophecy outlines the collaborative efforts of the two beasts, the papacy and the United States, working together to revive the policies of oppression prevalent during the Middle Ages restricting conscience and elevating, under pain of law, the day of man’s appointment, to the position belonging only to the day God specified, the seventh day Sabbath. In this way the “king of the north” will “plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain.” This will be the modern day fulfillment of what Jesus predicted would take place when Titus would place the abomination that makes desolate in the holy place.
            Thus Daniel 11’s “king of the north” is one more piece of the prophetic puzzle, which when put together clearly reveals the face of the papacy, with its oppressive persecution, its arrogant blasphemy and its assault against the kingdom of God. This power, through which Satan has worked for so many centuries, though now enjoying a prominence like few others, will one day come to its full and complete end. But that won’t happen till Christ comes in the clouds. Until that time, it will continue to “prosper,” till the “wrath” (the final outpouring of the seven last plagues) has been accomplished. The last phrase of the verse corresponds to what we read in chapter 8, “He shall be broken without human hand.”
            Today, as last-day Christians, as never before, we need to be on God’s side, representing His character of love, offering willing obedience to all of His sacred Commandments as a gift of our love.