Book of Revelation – a series presented by pastor Michael Walker
Lesson #14 – Revelation, chapter 13
Prophetic fulfilment offers confidence as we await further Biblical predictions. As we survey the historical scene as it passes before us, we see the drama unfold from a seven-headed, composite beast to a deadly wound that is eventually healed; then springing up on the stage of history, a lamblike beast that is yet to form an image to its forerunner. Today, as we foresee the future through the prophetic telescope, we can identify the gradual formation of the image to the beast as it peaks above the not-too-distant horizon. To the unprepared, the fulfilment of this divine prediction will suddenly burst upon the entire world, but to those who heed God’s word it will prove a test of supreme loyalty to their Creator.
1. The Composite Beast from the Sea
This beast represents the same satanic power as exhibited in Revelation 12:3,9 as ‘the great red dragon’ with 7 heads, 10 horns and crowns upon its heads. Those crowns (diadema) are kingly crowns indicating the political powers through which Satan works; but they have now been transferred from the heads to the horns on the beast in Revelation 13:1.
The description of the beast is a composite in reverse order of the 4 beasts that emerged from the Great Sea in Daniel 7 – i.e. lion (Babylon), bear (Medo-Persia), Leopard (Greece) and the non-descript beast with 10 horns (Rome). The reverse order is significant in that John’s vision came during the Imperial Roman Empire that had absorbed the beliefs and practices of the previous kingdoms. Whereas the prophet Daniel was shown into the future, John looked back into history as well as seeing the future.
The dragon (Satan c.f. Revelation 12:9) gave the beast its power, throne and great authority. Pagan Rome eventually collapsed and was replaced by Ecclesiastical Rome. On the heads of the beast is a blasphemous name. We recognize that both Imperial and Papal Rome have been guilty of blasphemy against God.
The Caesars of Rome were worshipped as gods. Domitian claimed the title, “Emperor Domitian, Our Lord and Our God”. Pagan Rome severely persecuted Christians who refused to renounce the true God and venerate the gods of Rome instead. Papal Rome has also committed blasphemy in what it has instituted, in what it claims and in what it teaches. When pagan Rome fell apart, Ecclesiastical Rome became the political and religious ruler in what was known as the Holy Roman Empire. Pagan beliefs and practices were allowed into the church:
“In order to render Christianity more attractive to the Gentiles, the priests adopted the exterior vestments and ornaments used in the pagan cult” – Eusebius, Life of Constantine.
“The Holy Church was permitted to appropriate the rites and ceremonies used by the pagans in their idolatrous cult since she [the Church] expiated them by her consecration” – Cardinal Baronius.
“Destroy the idols, never the temples. Sprinkle them with holy water, place in them relics, and let the nations worship in places they are accustomed to” – Pope Gregory’s instruction to Augustine.
“If a man considers the original of this great, ecclesiastical dominion he will easily perceive that the papacy is none other than the ghost of the deceased Roman Empire sitting crowned upon the grave thereof” – Thomas Hobbs, Leviathan, p. 457.
“At the end of the second century, within a little more than one hundred fifty years after the first preaching of the gospel, it is obvious to remark the changes already introduced into the Christian church. Christianity had begun to wear the garb of heathenism” – James Wharey, Sketches of Church History, (1840 ed.), p. 39.
In AD 375, the Bishop of Rome (pope) assumed the title of the pagan high priest: PONTIFEX MAXIMUS meaning ‘the great bridge-builder’. This title is still held to this day; but the truth is that Jesus is actually our Great Bridge-builder (1 Timothy 2:5,6; 1 John 2:1,2; Colossians 1:20).
The church not only became corrupt but also lost sight of her mission: That mission was to take the gospel to all the world in preparation for the return of Christ and the establishment of His Kingdom. Instead she became so political, built herself into a wealthy institution and aimed to rule the entire world. She claimed that by doing so, the kingdom of God would be ushered in on earth.
Augustine’s book, The City of God, interpreted Revelation 20 to mean that the church in the place of God would rule the nations. Her decline of spirituality but increase of total political power, held the nations at her finger tips. She set-up and deposed kings, trampled on the rights of conscience, and by threats and tyranny subjugated all who were under her rule. She claimed that the popes were the successors of Peter and held authority over the entire world. On the Basilica of St John in Lateran, there is this plaque claiming the Church of Rome is “the mother church of the world”.
“We define that the Holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff holds the primacy over the whole world” – ‘The Most Holy Councils’, vol. 13, col. 1167.
These verses echo the divine prediction of Daniel 7:25. The “42 months” refers to its 1,260-year period of supremacy from 538 to 1798.
v. 3, 9-10
Deadly wound – came at the end of that period when Napoleon abolished the papacy; General Berthier, marched on the Vatican in 1798, took Pope Pius VI prisoner to Avignon, thus bringing an end to the Holy Roman Empire; and in effect fulfilling the warning given in v.10.
She suffered an even greater blow in 1870 when the church’s land was confiscated under Garibaldi’s revolution, and the pope became a virtual prisoner in the Vatican.
Deadly wound healed – almost 60 years later, on February 11, 1929, temporal power was restored to the pope at the signing of the Lateran Pact between Benito Mussolini and Cardinal Gaspari. Only 108 acres of her lands were restored. The pope took his throne in Vatican City and once again became a ruler amongst the nations of earth.
All the world wondered after the beast – Today, the Roman Catholic Church is gaining international prestige and influence on the world stage; but according to prophecy, all the world will eventually worship her. “The infliction of the deadly wound points to the downfall of the papacy in 1798. After this, says the prophet, ‘his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.’ Paul states plainly that the ‘man of sin’ will continue until the second advent. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8. To the very close of time he will carry forward his work of deception. And the revelator declares, also referring to the papacy: ‘All that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life.’ Revelation 13:8. In both the Old and the New World, the papacy will receive homage in the honour paid to the Sunday institution, that rests solely upon the authority of the Roman Church” – E.G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 579.
His number is 666 – so that there need be no doubt that this head of the beast symbolizes the papacy, God has given us further confirmation. The number “666” is significant of the paganism that has been absorbed into the Church of Rome: The ‘magical’ number of ‘6’ was related to the ancient Babylonian cult religion that was connected to the occult. They believed in astrology, so the heavens were divided into 36 constellations. Their priests wore ‘amulets’ or sun seals called Sigilla Solis. They were made of gold to represent the sun; and contained numbers 1-36 that were set out in 6 horizontal and vertical rows that cumulatively totalled 666. They claimed to foretell the future by these numbers. Saturn, the hidden Babylonian god, was spelt “S T U R” in Chaldean or Aramaic and the numerical value of these letters came to 666 (S=200; T=60; U=400; R=6). This system was eventually established in Rome; and for centuries Italy was known as “The Land of the Mystery Cults”. Saturn was identified with Janus, the grand mediator, whose high priest was invested with the keys of Janus and Cybele.
“The title of the Pope of Rome is Vicarius Filii Dei, and if you take the letters of his title which represent Latin numerals and add them together, they come to 666” – Our Sunday Visitor, Nov. 15, 1914.
(V=5; I=1; C=100; A=0; R=0; I=1; U=5; S=0. F=0; I=1; L=50 ; I=1; I=1; D=500; E=0; I=1. Totalling 666).
2. The Lamblike Beast from the Earth
“Water” represents populated areas (Revelation 17:15); so, it is logical to accept that the “earth” symbolizes an unpopulated region. By the mid 17th cent., colonies were springing up in the New World and they covenanted together to sever themselves from European control. This led to the revolutionary War of Independence (1775-1783). In 1776 they issued their Declaration of Independence. The American Constitution was ratified in 1787.
Commentators have identified the 2 horns of this lamblike beast to represent the principal powers of civil and religious liberty upon which the Constitution is based. Civil liberty found its expression in a republican form of government and religious liberty in Protestantism. We recognize that while the first beast was going into captivity in 1798, the United States was springing up into prominence and power.
Speaks like a dragon – in contrast to its lamblike appearance, prophecy reveals that the United States will eventually voice the orders of Satan!
The American Constitution separated church and state in order to protect the divine right of man against kings, popes and dictators.
It should be noted that many fled to the New World to escape the tyranny that the papacy once wielded in Europe. Bible prophecy informs us that this land of liberty will eventually violate the very principles set out in its Constitution, as it will exercise all the power of the papacy and enforce the world to pay homage to it.
By Satanic deceptions in signs and wonders, the world will be swept in a tide of deception to form an image to the first beast. The Bible warns about Satan’s deceptions in these last-days: Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9,10; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.
In contradistinction to the Divine Trinity of the Godhead, this false, deceptive system will form a triumvirate confederacy between Spiritism, Roman Catholicism and apostate Protestantism. Instigated by the United States, this confederacy of evil will form an “image to the beast” (i.e. an organization that will follow the same methods of the papacy of engaging the state to enforce its religious requirements).
“When the leading churches of the United States, uniting upon such points of doctrine as are held by them in common, shall influence the state to enforce in the very act their decrees and to sustain their institutions, then Protestant America will have formed an image of the Roman hierarchy, and the infliction of civil penalties upon dissenters will inevitably result” – E. G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 445.
Various organizations such as the National Reform Association, the International Federation, and the Lord’s Day Alliance have been campaigning over a number of years for changes in the American Constitution that may at first appear harmless but could remove people’s liberty.
Today there is an effort to form a coalition between Roman Catholicism and the National Council of Churches. This could inevitably lead for an appeal to enforce Sunday observance – something that Catholicism has been pressing towards especially over recent years.
Once the image to the beast has been formed, it will then focus on enforcing the “mark of the beast” (the topic of the next lesson).
“The teachings of religious leaders have opened the door to infidelity, to spiritualism, and to contempt for God’s holy law; and upon these leaders rests a fearful responsibility for the iniquity that exists in the Christian world. Yet this very class put forth the claim that the fast-spreading corruption is largely attributable to the desecration of the so-called ‘Christian sabbath,’ and that the enforcement of Sunday observance would greatly improve the morals of society. This claim is especially urged in America, where the doctrine of the true Sabbath has been most widely preached” – E. G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 587.
“Foreign nations will follow the example of the United States. Though she leads out, yet the same crisis will come upon our people in all parts of the world” – E. G. White, Testimonies, Vol. 6, p. 395.
The full video presentation is available below: