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Thursday: The Beast From the Earth — 11 Comments

  1. In 1980, Billy Graham, the well-known American Evangelist, was urged to support Ronald Reagan's candidacy for the President of USA by Rev Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority evangelicals. He refused and his response was that it would be disturbing if there was a wedding between religious fundamentalists and the political right. He maintained that the hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.

    While that incident occurred nearly 45 years ago it is almost prophetic regarding what is happening today. I might add that while that took place in the USA we are seeing similar alliances between religious conservatives and politics in non-Christian countries as well.

    The real danger of all this for Seventh-day Adventists is that we are tempted to think that we have something in common with fundamentalists because like them we are Bible-believing Christians. I refuse to accept the "fundamentalist" label regarding my beliefs, preferring to be known as a Bible-believing follower of Jesus. I reject the political alignment that is often associated with fundamentalism.

    The lamb-like quality of Christian fundamentalism is that it has the appearance of Bible-based morality but it has the beast-like quality of wanting to achieve that morality by political power and restriction of freedom. I have purposely not referred to the USA in this discussion because it is easy to become fixated by its very partisan current political climate.

    How should Christian's react? Many Seventh-day Adventists like to capitalise on the current political climate and make prophetic statements about "ushering in the final conflict". I have a long memory and remember similar statements about John Kennedy, Bill Clinton, the 9/11 attack and so on. I am not called apon to be a prophet or even an interpreter of prophecies.

    Tim Costello, a senior fellow at the Centre of Public Christianity in Australia has this to say about the current political climate:

    I recognise now my naivety, as both democracy and multiculturalism essentially cut against the grain of human experience. For 10,000 years, we have essentially only known chiefs and kings and tribal loyalties. We long for authoritarian, decisive leaders who will tell us they alone can save us. Typically, they tell us the neighbours who look different from us are to be feared and resisted as an enemy.
    My second crisis is to ask myself where do I belong? As a Baptist, I felt that the Christian movement, despite its great imperfections, was caring for the widow, the orphan and the stranger as the Bible teaches. Many, many churches still serve sacrificially and magnificently. The Age Newspaper

    We still have work to do outside the realm of political persuasion or prophetic vindication.

    (61)
    • I am concerned that Brother Finley, author of the lesson, is not accurate on the Theology of the "two horns" of the "beast from the earth" which we agree is USA. the two horns represent "republicanism and protestantism" which are the foundations of government and religion in the USA. republicanism is uniquely American and is the first and only government that was formed to PROTECT THE "INALIENABLE RIGHTS" of the individual.

      Ellen White writes in Spirit of Prophecy

      "Here is a striking figure of the rise and growth of our own nation. And the lamb-like horns, emblems of innocence and gentleness, well represent the character of our government, as expressed in its two fundamental principles, Republicanism and Protestantism. The Christian exiles who first fled to America, sought an asylum from royal oppression and priestly intolerance, and they determined to establish a government upon the broad foundation of civil and religious liberty. These principles are the secret of our power and prosperity as a nation. Millions from other lands have sought our shores, and the United States has risen to a place among the most powerful nations of the earth." 4 Spirit of Prophecy 277.1

      ...rather than becoming immersed in a conversation/argument about politics and political parties (which is a moving target) lets focus on the battle between good and evil which is a battle taking place in the USA between republicanism and all the forms of government (feudalism, socialism, communism, fascism, totalitarianism, etc.) which are opposed to protection and defense of individual "inalienable rights" or "rights given by God" and those who believe and follow the belief that "The State" is God.....and the final days will find all of humanity either on the side of Good or the side of evil

      (7)
  2. I want to try and answer the question in the highlighted section of the lesson, It's a long one based on some findings I came across.
    Think about the political instability in America today. How might that one day lead to the fulfillment of this prophecy?

    Here are some reflections based on current events and the themes in Revelation 13. Keep in mind that this is a prediction.

    1)Polarization and Allegiance:
    [a]The political divide in America has intensified, with extreme partisanship and ideological clashes.

    [b]Revelation’s imagery of allegiance to the beast could symbolize blind loyalty to political figures or ideologies.
    [c] If this polarization escalates, it might lead to a scenario where people prioritize political loyalties over ethical or spiritual considerations.

    (2) Idolization of Power:
    [a] The second beast’s call to create an image mirrors the desire for power and control.
    [b] In times of instability, people may seek strong leaders who promise stability, even if it means compromising values.
    [c] This idolization of power could align with the beast-like authority described in Revelation.
    (3) Economic Dependence and Mark of the Beast:
    [a] Revelation mentions a mark preventing buying and selling without allegiance to the beast.
    [b] Economic pressures could drive compliance with such systems.
    [c] If political instability leads to economic crises, people might accept restrictive measures for survival.
    (4)Spiritual Battle Amid Chaos:
    [a] Revelation portrays a cosmic struggle between good and evil.
    [b] Political turmoil can exacerbate societal divisions, creating an environment ripe for spiritual conflict.
    [c] Individuals’ choices during these times may reflect deeper allegiances.
    In summary, the prophetic predictions come, and the themes in Revelation resonate with human history. Political instability could potentially contribute to scenarios mirroring the prophecy, emphasizing the need for discernment and steadfastness.

    (19)
  3. Maurice has correctly highlighted a sometimes misunderstood point;

    The beast is described as having lamb-like horns, but the Bible does not say the beast itself is like a lamb, only the horns. It is fully a beast, not a lamb. The Bible does not suggest that the speech and horns are utilised separately, centuries apart. A plain reading suggests both horns and speech have been, are, and will be, utilised concurrently.

    Regarding the horns, the text definitively uses "lamb", not "sheep". Horns may develop in lambs from as young as three months, but will not grow to full size until much later. When the beast appears, the horns do not appear to be fully developed. The Bible does not say if the horns develop further, nor if the baby horns were a ruse by the beast to appear less harmful.

    I have seen well-meaning church members insist the beast is lamb-like, and later becomes dragon-like, but I'm sure John was correct in calling it a beast, as in "wild beast", never a domestic animal. John used language and symbols in Revelation that would be familiar to non-Jewish converts, and we must be careful to read well, and not attach our own modern cultural assumptions to the plain text of the Bible.

    (23)
    • The term "beast" represents a nation in prophecy and not the characteristics of the nation it represents.

      (3)
    • I tend to agree, and applying this to the US, we can see that it has always been a complex entity. Yes, it provided a place for persecuted Christians but those Christians were quickly doing plenty of their own persecuting (ie. the Puritans). There was also a great deal of unfairness and violence done towards the indigenous people that lived in North America (on a side note, North America may not have been as sparsely populated as the lesson indicates - some feel there could have been as many as 100 million people prior to Columbus). The USA has always had good ideals, but living up to them is another matter. Satan will always exploit those entities not in full connection with God.

      (2)
  4. Instability comes from a weak condition. Being founded in God gives a firm hold. There is no safer place than close to the One Who holds the key to open all the doors and all the right moves to the impossible puzzles around us.

    (19)
  5. American making an image to beast will not take place suddenly. Many things (situations or events) will be put into motion before this is possible. These situations will take place gradually or over time. Some of these situations are (or maybe) subtle, dramatic, surprising or appear normal, isolated, and insignificant; but cumulatively will have the effect of making it possible for America to take away our religious liberties.

    Over the years we have seen many changes in America that are leading to this grand event. Pay attention to the Supreme Court, the political polarization, the disregard for truth, and the active role of religion in politics and law. It is very disturbing to watch these situations unfold.

    (7)
  6. Ellen White suggests that virtually the entire chapter of Revelation 13 has a future fulfillment.

    "In the last days Satan will appear as an angel of light, with great power and heavenly glory, and claim to be the Lord of the whole earth. He will declare that the Sabbath has been changed from the seventh to the first day of the week…. Then will take place the final fulfillment of the Revelator's prophecy." [Revelation 13:4-18, quoted.] 19MR 282.1

    It is noteworthy that EG White's "final fulfillment" dissects the verses we've studied this week, attaching particular focus on a specific portion (Rev 13:4-18) which includes the verses 5 an 6 ("power was given unto him to continue forty and two months") that we typically only apply to historical events long past.

    In support of this concept of a dual interpretation --- "final fulfillment" of Rev 13 -- EG White also writes in 3 SM 387 (1889): “The persecutions of Protestants by Romanism, by which the religion of Jesus Christ was almost annihilated, will be more than rivalled when Protestantism and popery are combined.”

    (3)
  7. In reading this week’s lesson, I’m reminded of how easy it is to be distracted. There is a lot of political unrest around the world. “Religious” talk is becoming more out in the open, and often it’s hand in hand with politics. We most certainly need to be aware of what is going on, but if I make that my focus, I’ve totally missed the point. There is a world out there that needs to see Jesus living in me. My relationship with him needs to be my focus and remember what Revelation 14:3-4 says. Am I following The Lamb?

    (14)
  8. Regarding the question at the end of the lesson: My thoughts are that the driving force behind the nation’s transition from ‘speaking as a lamb to speaking as a dragon’ might not necessarily be the Christian community.
    If being actively involved in the transition at all, religious institutions, because of a lukewarm, non-committal approach toward faith in the Word of God, abdicate their responsibility to call out error by being too willing to compromise by accepting to embrace the 'social gospel' as their 'new religion’ instead of the True Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    I see the force toward the transition coming mostly from the non-religious, secular sector of society. People from all walks of life, private industry leaders and governmental office holders, as well as apostate religious organizations, become motivated to promote the re-writing of society’s moral codes. AI would be of great help to them when establishing the new judicial value system which defines what is right and wrong based on ‘circumstances’ – ‘situation ethics’.

    Intolerance toward any opposition to their 'new-world vision', defining how best to resolve issues regarding the environment, societal, and political problems, causes them to eliminate the individual's right to liberty of thought and conscience, and pursuit of happiness. They becoming zealots for their cause of promoting their own ‘way of life’, willing to ‘remove’ any opposition, firmly believing that ‘the end justifies their means’.

    (5)

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