Revelation 12, verses 6 and 14, mentions the efforts of the dragon to destroy God's true church for a period of 1260 years (represented by 1260 prophetic days), A.D. 538-1798. This is the same period spoken of in Revelation 13:5. Forty-two prophetic months of 30 days each is 1260 days, representing years. During this period the dragon, Satan incited the established church of Western Europe to persecute those who insisted on living by the Bible rather than by tradition.
How widespread will be the authority of the beast and its power to persecute? Rev. 13:7, 8.
The prophecy is not referring only to the authority of the beast power during the Middle Ages. John was shown its power "over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations" so that "all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life" (Rev. 13:7, 8).
Describe the intense struggle through which God's faithful people must pass shortly before the coming of Jesus. Dan. 11:44; Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:9, 10, 21, 22.
Any church that practices or advocates intolerance toward those who reject its teachings identifies itself with the beast power. The medieval established church of Western Europe persecuted those who chose to follow the Bible rather than the dictates of the church enforced by the state. Revelation 13 points to the revival of this kind of intolerance. The teachings of the thirteenth-century theologian Thomas Aquinas on this question have never been repudiated:
"With regard to heretics two points must be observed: one, on their own side, the other, on the side of the Church. On their own side there is the sin, by which they deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death. . . . Therefore if forgers of money and other evil-doers are condemned to death at once by the secular authority, much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death."--Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part 2 of the 2nd Part, Question XI, Article 3.
That is the voice of the dragon! You will hear that voice very loudly proclaiming the same intolerant ideas in the days ahead. (See The Great Controversy, pp. 605-608.)