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Tuesday: Identifying the Beast: Part 1 — 21 Comments

  1. The early Christian church was not political. Christians were focused on building communities, establishing worship and waiting for the Kingdom or God. They saw themselves as separate from politics. This did not stop them for being persecuted. They refused to worship the emperors and they were mostly pacifist and did not participate in the military. While they were apolitical, their beliefs were at odds with the Roman system.

    By the third century Christianity was growing and with it came opportunities to press for favours from the political leadership. This pressure became more significant culminating in the rule of Constantine.

    During Constantine’s reign there was a dramatic shift in the Christian political landscape:

    • The edict of Milan 313 CE ended the persecution of Christians and gave them legal status.
    • Constantine supported Christianity by constructing churches (Up until this time most Christian worship took place in homes, or out in the open.), and granting privileges to clergy (tax breaks) and even providing help to settle church disputes.
    • The Council of Nicaea 325CE was convened to settle disputes about the nature of Christ, in an attempt to unify Church doctrine. His action ensured that politics and church power were intertwined.
    • He established Constantinople as the centre for Christianity taking away power from Pagan Rome.

    It was during Constantine’s reign that the church was transformed from a persecuted minority to a state-sanctioned religion with political power. To a large extent it retained this power for about 1000 years.

    The Church’s decline in power was not a single event but rather a sequence of compounding events:

    • The rise of Nation-States. Individual states developed between the 14th and 16th centuries that challenged the authority of the Pope and the control of the Holy Roman Empire. Rulers wanted to control the church within their own territories.
    • The Great Schism (1378 – 1417). A split developed within the Catholic Church resulting in several competing Popes.
    • The Protestant Reformation (16th Century) The reformers pointed out the excesses and extravagances of the church and the clergy together with their abuse of power. They pointed the way to salvation based on a personal relationship with Jesus rather than salvation curated by the church. Rulers were quick to take advantage of this change to seize church lands.
    • The Enlightenment (17th and 18th centuries. This intellectual movement challenged the church’s dogma, replacing with reason and secularism.
    • The French Revolution (1789-1799) This was largely an outgrowth of the Enlightenment movement and was characterised by an extravagant reaction against the Church.

    A key feature of this period is that with the Papacy’s loss of political power, the kingdoms, empires and principalities took that reformation and used it for their own political gain. Wars were fought on the basis of religious allegiance.

    New countries were started with the notion of separating church and state and for a couple of centuries this principle has given some of us the freedom to worship without fear of political coercion. But, there is a growing trend in some countries for Christians to get involved with endorsing political parties and to persuade them to provide policies favourable to the churches. Regrettably I am finding, even within Seventh-day Adventist circles and among some of my Seventh-day Adventist friends, endorsement discussion blurs the distinction between politics and morality.

    There is always a lot of discussion about naming who “The Beast” is. In many respects, The Beast is a chameleon, changing its colours to suit the conditions. But the underlying beast is always the use of political power to enforce or deny religious faith. That is happening right now not only in “Christian” countries but in communist and Islamic countries too.

    It is very easy for us to become embroiled in discussions about principalities and powers but such discussions often detract from the love of Jesus that we should both enjoy and share. Salvation is not in having the biggest, best and most eloquent description of “The Beast” but in having a relationship with the Saviour.

    • My brother in Christ I have the same concern for my church not so long ago there was a general election for political office in my country , few weeks after it was over to my dismay the person that was elected to political represent the area in which my Adventist church is located was introduce to the congregation just before divine hour , that caused me great concern, I was told that the new thing now!!!!
      May God save us all ,I have been so upset about this that I started reading over the Bible along with EG White statement on the lasts day events to have the wind knocked out of me as to the shaking and falling away from the truth which is Christ in us the hope of glory. We have come to a time in our Christian experience where we must now put on the whole armor of God even in the congregation we sit in on Sabbath .

      • Dear Gerry,

        Considering what the Apostle Paul says regarding governing authorities (Romans 13:1-30) and that he tells us to pray for civil authorities (1 Tim. 2:1-3), I would think it to be a good thing to invite one in such authority to come to our church. I would hope that the elder or pastor would pray for the official with the congregation.

        On the other hand, I would hope that our churches would avoid political advocacy for any candidate *before* being elected. Our churches are to be centers to worship God and be equipped to spread the gospel, NOT to campaign for politicians!

        However, once a person is elected, we should pray for the Holy Spirit to direct that person. 🙏🙏

        • I wish to thank you for your in site much appreciated.
          On that Sabbath morning the person took to the pulpit just before divine hour to thank for voting for them ,I have no problem with the message of thanks .
          But on the Sabbath was where my issue was.

          • You're welcome. I'm happy if you found my comment helpful.

            I believe that the church is not to engage in advocating for any politician at any time. In fact, here in the United States, it is probably wise for us to be very quiet about our own political views because this nation is so sharply divided that if we make our views known, we are sure to antagonize half the people we meet, no matter which side we're on. We and the church should guard our influence so that it may be used to draw all to Christ, no matter what their political affiliation.

            I also believe it is appropriate to pray for an elected individual on the Sabbath. If that was not done, your leadership missed an opportunity to glorify God.

            Since I wasn't there, I can't say whether I consider what actually happened as appropriate for Sabbath.

            But you can't go wrong by praying for your leaders and the elected individual. 🙏 (As a side note: Praying can be much more effective than protesting against something that was done. That doesn't mean we shouldn't share principles of action. It's just that direct confrontation seldom works out well.)

  2. It is interesting to note that John's beast in Revelation 13 came out of the sea and impacted GOD'S people, so I would have to observe that the papacy is not Christian, but the Roman power which is now masquerading as Christianity. This is a masterful disguise the Devil pulled off. Even to have us today thinking that this power is apostate Christianity. The beast had the feet of the bear. The supporting foundation was Medopersian which suggests that its 'religion' was taken from that world power. We therefore have to look back at the Medopersian empire and see what was predominantly worshipped. We would see that sun worship was predominant in that realm, so the Devil used that religion, infused a little of Egyptian Osirious( Sun) worship and called it Christianity. It was never Christian in the first place. Its mouth was Babylonian which suggests that it's rhetoric, what it presented and how it was presented was Babylonian. Babylon also had sun worship, so how the Medopersian sun worship was presented, was Babylonian.It had the body of the Leopard so the desire of this beast, total domination by force. Alexander the Great used all kinds of means to ensure that his people served him including public burnings of those who refused to accept his dominion. All to inflict fear on his people so they would serve him totally. Rome had crucifixion to instill a similar fear in its citizenship along with pitting man against beast for sport. All these things to gain full supremacy and power over its conquered subjects. It was a rule by fear realm. Christians defied this by their unfearful stand against this power. That's why many were martyred for their faith. Let us stop portraying the Roman power as having been Christian when it never was. That's what the Bible brings out.

    • Mark, I don't think it's as binary as you suggest. If we were to believe as you write, we should find that there was always a distinct Christian church and a distinct pagan Roman entity. In fact, this is not so.

      There was a gradual dilution of the Christian faith after persecution stopped and Christianity became legal in the 4th Century. Then in the 6th Century the church gained civil power, and it was corrupted even more.

      It is constructive to review the counsel of Christ to the compromising church at Pergamos (beginning about 538 AD Rev. 2:12-17) and even the "corrupt" church of Thyatira (Rev 2:19-29). We recognize Thyatira to be the church at the height of Roman Catholic power. Yet Christ recognizes positive things about this church, even while He warns against the corruption.

      It is this corrupt church - an amalgam of church and secular power - that becomes the end-time Babylon. It is not just incorrect doctrine but the forceful control of conscience that makes it an evil power. Conversely, correct doctrine does not make us part of the pure church, but a living connection to Jesus Christ that shows up as a love for even those who disagree with us and a high regard for each person's freedom of conscience.

      The sprit of Babylon can show itself in subtle ways. For instance, it seems to me that if we approve of forcing people to "do the right thing," we demonstrate the spirit of Babylon. I've seen it happen within my own church. Within the last few years I've seen Christians approve of depriving people of their jobs for not giving up their conscientious principle.

      We are to call God's people out of Babylon. But first we need to examine ourselves to be sure that Babylon is not found within our own hearts.

  3. The eyes of the nations are upon the Vatican. Its influence is felt worldwide. The pope is seen as the relatable moral leader who can usher in world peace and bring people together.

    In a few days, on June 14, 2024, 105 comedians from 15 countries, with 68 people accompanying them, are going to see the pope. The Vatican has released as statement saying, "The meeting between Pope Francis and the world's comedians aims to celebrate the beauty of human diversity and to promote a message of peace, love and solidarity, and it promises to be a significant moment of intercultural dialogue and of sharing hope and joy”. Comedian Whoopi Goldberg met Pope Francis in 2023 during a Vatican audience. Afterwards she shared details of the meeting on her popular TV program The View, saying: “He was quite amazing. He is exactly what I hoped he would be, which is a Pope for all people regardless of religion, which I really appreciated.” This meeting will take place on Friday morning, before the pope travels to Puglia to attend the Group of Seven (G7) leaders' summit.

  4. God's people served Egypt for 400 years before Egypt tried to make them "Powerless" by starting to kill all the Israelite males as soon as they were born. Egypt tried to do that with the child Moses but God made sure Egypt did not succeed and made Moses a ruler of that nation until God chose to bring 10 judgments against the Egyptians and then Pharoah pronounced God's "Last Judgment" upon his own nation with again killing the first born of the Jews and therefore started with "The First Born" of the Egyptians leading to the "Exodus" of God's people to Canaan. The Seven Last Plagues coming to this world do not include a killing of any "First Born" of any nation. The Seventh Plagues of God to this world starts with Rev.16:18; 1. A Great Earthquake such as never was since this world began; 2 Rev. 16:21, Great Hail very exceeding great! 3. Rev.18:17 One Prophetic Hour (One Week) of utter destruction to complete oblivion to Spiritual Babylon.

  5. The lesson writer states: “The Roman Papacy had two distinctive doctrines that the Bible calls blasphemy: its claims that its priests have the power to forgive sins and that the pope has the prerogatives of God on earth.”
    We are told that he wanted to destroy “as soon as it was born”, the “male Child” who was later “caught up to God and His throne”. This exposes the aim of the accuser of God's children - to separate mankind from its Savior.

    He needed to prevent Jesus, the 'male Child', from becoming mankind's Savior at all cost. Using all his power and cunning influence to achieve this then, he is still at work in spite of knowing that he lost the spiritual war over the rescue of the living soul - man.
    “The dragon gave him [the beast] his power, his throne, and great authority.” This power and authority is now as it was then, focused to undermine/destroy the faith the believer has in our heavenly Father's love and forgiveness.
    The ‘beast’ established its false religious system attempting to keep man from forming a direct, personal relationship with God by placing priests in the seat of authority to forgive sins which only Jesus Christ, our advocate in heaven, can plead the Father on our behalf to forgive.

    Through His Grace, the most precious gift our heavenly Father gave humanity is the ability to develop a personal relationship with Him. As long as there is anything preventing seekers of His Truth to meet Him personally, it needs to be addressed and dealt with. The adversary's spirit of this world is busily attemp[ting to weaken our faith and love for God; let us draw ever closer to God through Jesus Christ, our save Harbor – Heb.12:1-2.

  6. All God's tests are about freedom. It began with that and will end with that. So, after knowing the right direction, why would I choose otherwise? I must practice doing what is right today ("practice can make it perfect"). God can give me enough trials to prepare me for the ultimate test, and my choices today will reflect my path in the future.

  7. I'm unclear about how we are interpreting the Rev 13's Beasts through the lens of the historical record.

    Revelation 13:1 - Beast from Sea (an amalgamation of Daniel's beasts)

    Revelation 13:2 - the "Dragon" (described in the Lesson a pagan Rome) gives power to the Sea Beast...now described as being "Papal Rome".

    Jeff's Note: It was in 330 AD that emperor Constantine made Constantinople the "new Rome". This historical fact, of course, does not align with the traditional interpretation of the Sea Beast being "the Papacy".

    Revelation 13:3 - wounded "head" (one of seven) is now "healed"

    Jeff's Note: If wounded in 1798, when was this head "healed".

    Revelation 13:5 - (Papal) Sea Beast power and blasphemies for 42 months (1260 years: 538 -1798 AD)

    As you can see, this common interpretation does not follow the Biblical chronology of events.

    Can someone explain?

    • Jeff, you note

      Jeff's Note: It was in 330 AD that emperor Constantine made Constantinople the "new Rome". This historical fact, of course, does not align with the traditional interpretation of the Sea Beast being "the Papacy".

      I'm a bit puzzled as to why this should interfere with the interpretation of the Sea Beast being "the Papacy." Constantine paved the way for the pope to gain secular power, but he did not cede his power to Rome.

      A number of references to 538 A.D. suggest this as a likely date for the pope gaining secular power. One is this:

      "When the Ostrogoths fell at the hands of Justinian in 538 AD all remaining opposition to Roman Catholic supremacy had vanished and the church rose triumphant, sitting enthroned upon the ashes of Imperial Rome." https://lineagejourney.com/read/the-roman-empire-from-313-538-ad/, accessed June 14, 2024.

      In 533 Justinian had declared that the bishop of Rome was to be the "Chief Bishop of all the Churches." But this didn't mean much until that bishop was actually able to exercise that power, which was impossible during the time that Rome was under attack by several Germanic tribes, the Ostrogoths being the last ones, defeated in 538. So, yes, 538 AD is highly significant.

      You might want to review "IDENTIFYING THE FIRST BEAST OF REVELATION CHAPTER 13," which looks like a good explanation to me.

      Daniel and the Revelation by Uriah Smith is still a good resource on a lot of history connected to those two books of the Bible. (Although we have a hard copy, I just purchased a Kindle version because it's so much easier to search and find things.)

        • I'd say it appears to be irrelevant to the bishop of Rome's stature as a secular as well as religious power. According to the Wikipedia (I'm no history buff!),

          Pope Vigilius, who had fled to the safety of Syracuse, sent a flotilla of grain ships to feed Rome, but Totila's navy intercepted them near the mouth of the Tiber and captured the fleet. Wikipedia article "Sack of Rome 546 A.D., accessed June 14, 2024

          That Pope Vigilius "sent a flotilla of grain ships to feed Rome" seems to indicate that he had power and resources that mere church "bishops" did not have in previous times.

      • Thanks Inge for your feedback. The issue I was exploring was the potential "disconnect" between our Lesson which pointed to Revelation 13:2 ("...dragon gave the sea beast his power...") which would have occurred in 330 AD (if we assume that the "power" was given at the time Constantine moved to Constantinople). There is no evidence from history that the Papacy rose to any notable power at that date.

        Yet...the SS Lesson states: "This prophecy was precisely fulfilled hundreds of years later when the Roman emperor Constantine moved his capital from Rome to what came to be called Constantinople"

        • Ah, okay, I hear you. It would have been a bit better if the author had left out the word "precisely." 😉 He went on to write, "This left a power vacuum at the former throne or seat of the caesars, the imperial city of Rome. Thus, pagan Rome gave the beast its seat, or capital city." In other words, moving the capital of the Byzantine Empire to Constantinople prepared the way for the bishop of Rome to assume the secular powers formerly exercised by the secular government. If the author had written it "in other words," there would be no disconnect.

  8. The author of this lesson indicates that "This Beast is not a person." Yet Satan will use this power to "Impersonate Jesus" before Jesus Himself comes to take over this world and save His people in one final "Salvational Push" to save all who will choose Salvation in Him. So while the beast is not a person, it will certainly have a "Human and Satanic Personality" to assist it in the end and "in its end!," Daniel 11:45

      • Thank you for this, William Eamhardt. So then Scripture is quite indicative that because "It is the number of a man" has to then also mean that "It is also a person." We can also then conclude that "The Beast" is also "A human personality."


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