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Tuesday: The Identification of the Scarlet Beast — 19 Comments

  1. I had a conversation with a Seventh-day Adventist recently on the topic of persecution, in which she made the statement that she really hoped that we would be persecuted soon because that would really show who the real followers of Jesus are. I did not say much at the time because I am a slow thinker but I had a gut feeling that somehow she was wrong. I thought about persecution, through the dark ages and I realized that persecution was pretty indiscriminate. The Papacy persecuted Jews, Muslims, non-Catholics and even their own. As world exploration took place and they proselytized people in the new world, they threated them with death if they did not convert to their "Christianity". Winning people to Christ was pretty brutal. Read about the colonial past of South America if you need any convincing history.

    There is a real danger that persecution will be (is being) used again as a control mechanism. Here are just a couple of examples: In China, we are starting to see face recognition being used to monitor people and rate them. Christianity is tolerated but controlled. ISIS targets ethnic Christians in its effort to use fear and intimidation to enforce its rule. Persecution of others on religious grounds was a primary motivation of the Balkans conflict, which is recent enough for most of us to remember.

    It is important to remember that persecution does not define us. It defines the persecutor. I was impressed by the reaction of Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand's Prime Minister in the very recent tragic bloody massacre in Christchurch:

    "We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we are an enclave for extremism," she told New Zealanders in the confused hours following the attacks.

    "We were chosen for the very fact that we are none of these things. Because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those who share our values, refuge for those who need it. And those values, I can assure you, will not and cannot be shaken by this attack."

    Having said those words, Ms Ardern then made herself physically and respectfully present within the Muslim community as the grief exploded around her country. (Annabel Crabb, ABC News)

    In all the current discussion about the harlot Babylon, have we given some thought to what really defines us? Is our love for one another, including those who persecute us, strong enough to withstand persecution?

    Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. John 13:35NLT

    • I have never understood SDA's who look forward eagerly for the days of persecution. I guess years of fearful looking for that Jacob's time of trouble moved them to the point that they could only say, "Well, get on with it! Why torture me now while we wait for it to come?" I want to answer that as Jesus did to the brothers James and John asking for the right and left hand sides of the throne with Him, "You know not what you ask." God isn't eager for violence to commence upon His people, but is longsuffering of the wicked, and the righteous, seeking to turn hearts towards Him. So seek persecution is to care nothing for the persecutor or the persecuted. God cares for both.

    • The wine of Babylon causes nothing less than persecution. Rev 17:4 tells us that the wine is her abominations and filthiness of her fornication.

      The Bible is clear: Babylon does not give nations any choice: they must drink of her wine. She makes them drink of her wine (Rev 14:8; 17:2). This wine causes wrath against those not willing to drink it (Rev 14:8, 18:3).

      Without going into too much detail, we know that the harlot's abominations include idol worship (Deut. 7:25,26); Spiritualism (Deut. 18:9-13); Refusing to hear God's law (Proverbs 28:9); spiritual adultery (Eze. 23:35-45); eating unclean meats (Deut. 14:3); shedding innocent blood (Eze. 22:2) and most importantly sun (creature, like Sunday) worship (Eze. 8:16) - the very peak of abominations.

      EG White emphasizes the erroneous doctrines from gospel ministers (TM 61, 62) as the wine of error.

      Additionally, in all the places where the 7-headed beasts are in the book of Revelation, they are at war with God's people. (Rev 12:13,15,17, 13:7, 17:6).

      This quote sums it up well (again, the best documentary to the book of Revelation is Great Controversy!) "The power that for so many centuries maintained despotic sway over the monarchs of Christendom, is Rome. The purple and scarlet color, the gold and precious stones and pearls, vividly picture the magnificence and more than kingly pomp affected by the haughty see of Rome. And no other power could be so truly declared “drunken with the blood of the saints” as that church which has so cruelly persecuted the followers of Christ. Babylon is also charged with the sin of unlawful connection with “the kings of the earth.” It was by departure from the Lord, and alliance with the heathen, that the Jewish church became a harlot; and Rome, corrupting herself in like manner by seeking the support of worldly powers, receives a like condemnation." GC 382.

      Persecution therefore is inevitable; if we are to avoid the wrath of the Lamb, we must face the wrath of the dragon beast. The vice versa is true.

  2. Let us ponder why the Lord God Almighty sent us this message about beasts and war for these end times? Why does the angel stop the video to explain the mystery of the woman and the scarlet beast?
    John sees the woman but the angel only explains about the scarlet beast, why?
    First it is clearly a separate entity to the woman, thus not a church.
    Is covered with names of blasphemy - claims independence from God.
    The harlot sits on the scarlet beast and on 'many waters' which are "peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues" who are acting as one wild animal.
    It has a long history.
    Shortly all the political leaders will assume kingly powers over their countries and give it to the scarlet beast.
    The harlot will make this People Power drunk on its riches and demonic power and seduce the People Power to make war with the Lamb.
    What could convince the People Power to make war? Something that threatens it's physical safety? Something that threatens it's economic success? A combination? When their world seems out of control - who you gonna call?

  3. When it comes to the risk/threat of persecution, this is where a life lived in the practice/cultivation of self-renouncing love makes a world of practical difference.

    Under self-renouncing love, greater love has no-one than to lay down their life for another (Jn 15:13). When you start each and every day submitting and surrendering your life to God and asking the Holy Spirit to recreate a self-renouncing heart within you, and then mindfully and intentionally live your everyday life looking for ways you can advance the best interests of others, you collaboratively and progressively develop a habit - and therefore a Christlike character - of self-renouncing/Agape love.

    Then, when facing risks and threats to yourself, you are already practiced in a mindset of being prepared to lay down your life. In this way, perfected love has cast out fear (1 Jn 4:18).

    Seen through this light, Jn 12:24-25 makes so much more sense.

    The self-renouncing love of God recreated in us really is foundational to so many aspects of living ... and if need be, dying.

  4. I've studied about persecution since I was a kid. I wonder about how much this has affected me as a christian. I do believe that we are lucky to study and interpret such a difficult theme, because right now we do live in a world, of course depending on which part od the world we are, that still allows freedom of religious choices. How much shall we let this interfere into our life experience? Does this kind of truth let me down? I wonder if some christians simply do not want to know about all of this. Because it is not pleasant, it is quite ugly and repulsive. And I wish that I could be more open to share all of these studies with friends. In a world already full of hate and violence, this message is quite hard to digest. I am not saying that I do not agree with it, I'm saying that it does bother me! I believe that we are getting close to those days, and I believe that soon all of this madness will vanish away! I rather focus on what's ahead of it! But still, what a hard message to communicate!
    I think that I'll have to work that on my mind as I have worked with the theme of death. It is an assurance that we might have to go through. Therefore, we might just accept it.

    • JC, I like your focus. I think that is what Revelation is trying to put our minds upon. The opening chapter of Revelation presents the glorified Christ as the picture to burn into the mind as we read the rest of the Book. Our focus is to be upon Christ, not the smoking pits, scorpion locusts, and beasts and heads and the like. The Revelation isn't to inspire fear, save for a fear of being deceived, but to encourage in love and confidence.

  5. I don't believe that God gave John this descriptive insight about the woman being drunk with the blood of the saints (the wine mixture in the cup leads to the death of God's people) for us to obsess about future persecution. I believe the word pictures are given for us to discern the character of the woman and the beast so that we avoid drinking the cup and becoming part of the persecutors. This depiction also shows that a church state intimacy doesn't work for "the good." It may have an air of success in getting the false doctrines of this woman to prevail, but it is at the cost of the innocent lives of God's followers.

    It is a description of warning and clarity about the nature of this union, and to not be taken in by the masquerade of religious pretense. In the end those political powers burn this prostitute with fire. As bad as it becomes for the saints, it will end worse for the woman, the beast, and those who support and implement the policies of them both.

    In these times David's response to his enemies are applicable: "But I, when they were sick— I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting; I prayed with head bowed on my chest.
    I went about as though I grieved for my friend or my brother; as one who laments his mother, I bowed down in mourning." Ps. 35:13-14

  6. The beast upon which the harlot rides is exotic indeed.

    Why is the beast scarlet (or red)? The answer is in Revelation 17:6 - the beast is'...drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus...'

    The woman actually sits on the beast's heads, body, waters, dragon... She has the beast's full 'blessings'one would imagine! The seven heads actually spew the waters, which naturally flow down the valley, to look serpentine like the body of a snake. The mountains (heads) are kingdoms and waters represent (Rev 17:15) multitudes, nations, tongues and peoples. It is important that these form the body of the scarlet beast (multitudes, nations, tongues and peoples). The dragon's body is red because the body (multitudes, nations, tongues and peoples) when drunken with the wine of Babylon persecutes anyone who refuses the same drink (therefore are guilty of the martyrs' blood), having been forced or '...inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.'

    The beast arises from abyss or from the dead... vs 8 of Rev 17. Abyss is the realm of the dead. How does the beast arise from the realm of the dead? Vs 11 gives us an answer: the beast was alive, suffered a deadly wound, but the wound healed and the beast regains its dominance. Rev 13:3 corroborates the same: "And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast."

    But there is more! The dragon has 7 heads. What do these represent? There are 3 seven-headed beasts in the book of Revelation (Rev 12:1, Rev 13:1 and Rev 17.). We all do not have a problem understanding that the imagery refers to the same beast power (as per different parts of this lesson. There are actually at least 12 parallels between the passages to confirm to us that it is the same power), how then do we want to start bringing in Egypt and Syria, when in Rev 13 we said that the first kingdom was Babylon?? There is even a stipulation that the 7 mountains are Popes from 1929. Let it suffice to say that this futurism way of interpreting prophecy does not find space within the remnant church.

    So what do the seven heads really mean? Rev. 13 helped us out! Babylon, Medes and Persians, Greece, Roman Empire, Civil powers of Europe under control of the Papacy (beast from the sea), The civil power of the United States under apostate Protestantism, and the 7th is the resurrected Papal Rome allied with the kings of the while world. Spirit of Prophecy supports this view succinctly: "Under the symbols of the great red dragon (Rev 12), a leopard-like beast (Rev 13) and the beast with lamblike horns (USA), the earthly governments which would especially engaged in trampling upon God's law and persecuting His people were presented to John. Their war is to be carried on till the close of time. The people of God, symbolized by a holy woman and her children (Rev 12:6,7) are represented as greatly in the minority. In the last days, only a remnant exists. John speaks of them as those that 'keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.'" SoT, February 8, 1910.

    Regarding the last head in the sequence of the seven, EG WHite says "As we approach the last crisis, it is of vital moment that harmony and unity exist among the Lord’s instrumentalities. The world is filled with storm and war and variance. Yet under one head—the papal power—the people will unite to oppose God in the person of His witnesses." 7T P. 182

    BUT there is head number 8, yet there are only 7 of them. How is that? Head number 7 is actually head 8 - a number of resurrection. So the 8th is really the resurrected 7.

    BUT the dragon also has 10 horns. Are these horns distributed across all the 7 heads, or on one head at a time, or on one specific head only? Just to be sure, the 10 horns are symbolic of ten kings (or kingdoms). Which 10 kingdoms are these?? Now, it is important to remember that Revelation is symbolic. And number 10 refers to totality as opposed to numerical 10. Here are several verses to help the concept sink in: Gen 24:10 - 10 camels represent ALL of Abraham's goods; Luke 19:13 - ten servants represent all of Christ's professed followers; Dan 1:14, 15 - the young men tested for 10 days; Daniel 1:20 - the young men are 10 times better; Matt 25:1 - 10 virgins - representing all God's professed people; 10% of tithe to confess that all belongs to God; 10 commandments to express the whole duty of man.

    What does it mean to give authority to the beast for about 1 hour?? (Rev 17:12,13) 3 SM 392 tells us "The so-called Christian world is to be the theater of great and decisive actions. Men in authority will enact laws controlling the conscience, after the example of the papacy. Babylon will make all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. Every nation will be involved. Of this time John the Revelator declares:
    “The merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow” (Revelation 18:3–7).
    One Universal Confederacy—“These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of Kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:13, 14).
    “These have one mind.” There will be a universal bond of union, one great harmony, a confederacy of Satan’s forces. “And shall give their power and strength unto the beast.” Thus is manifested the same arbitrary, oppressive power against religious liberty, freedom to worship God according to the dictates of conscience, as was manifested by the papacy, when in the past it persecuted those who dared to refuse to conform with the religious rites and ceremonies of Romanists."

    • Seven heads? (Rev. 13:1) How about ... (from Daniel 7:4-7)

      1 head = Babylon (lion)
      1 head = Medo-Persia (bear)
      4 heads = Greece (leopard - with four heads)
      1 head = Rome (terrible beast with ten horns)

      ... for a grand total of seven heads. No mystery here. Same symbols, no guessing. God's already given it to us.

  7. "Five are fallen ..." —those would be
    1. Babylon
    2. Medo-Persia
    3. Greece
    4. Rome (imperial)
    5. Rome (papal)

    "one is" (after 1798 and the deadly wound)
    6. Systematic atheism / higher criticism

    "the other is not yet come"
    7. Apostate Christianity / Protestantism

    "the beast that was and is not"
    8. Rome (papal with a healed wound)

    Somehow, I think we'll do better if we stick with what God gave us through Daniel instead of fishing for additional kingdoms like Egypt and Assyria.

    Was the "old" understanding too limited? I think not.

    • Egypt and Assyria do not fit the pattern given in Daniel chapters 2, 7 and 8. Kingdoms in prophecy are not identified because they were "persecuting powers" against God's people, as many are claiming today, and give this as a reason to include Egypt and Assyria.

      In the pattern found in Daniel, each succeeding kingdom destroyed and absorbed the preceding kingdom, and that begins when Babylon was overthrown by Medo-Persia, and so on down to Rome.

      Papal Rome destroyed and absorbed pagan Rome, and according to Daniel 8:11 and 12, papal Rome exalted paganism into its form of Christianity.

      The French Revolution and its resulting "organized atheism" did "inflict a deadly wound" upon the papacy, and atheism is still among us in various forms — humanism, socialism, communism, evolution, higher critical views of the Bible (placing man's ideas above God's truth), etc.

      A most excellent commentary on Rev. 17 was written by George McCready Price, titled Time of the End. Sadly, it is out of print.

      • True, Egypt and Assyria are not mentioned in Daniel, but it does no harm to consider that John provides a bigger sweep of history than Daniel. My interest in the mention of these two nations prompted me to do some research in Kings and Chronicles. Both Egypt and Assyria have a long history of demanding allegiance from the two nations of Israel and Judah. Egypt, of course, kept the early pre-exodus nation captive for around 200 years (depending on how the period is dated, and the Assyrians were largely responsible for the disappearance of the 10 tribes of Israel. Kings and Chronicles document this quite well. Further, a reading of secular history corroborates the Bible, showing the Assyrians and Egyptians frequently overrunning Israel in their ongoing battle for control of the region. Babylon, on the other hand, captured the Kindom of Judah for only a short period of time, less than 100 years.

        It is quite likely that John's early Christian readers would have considered Assyria and Egypt as possible interpretations of the seven kingdoms. Given that the Bible is not specific on this issue, it is good to have an open mind and think through the possible interpretations. In my case, it has forced me to do an investigation of the biblical history and that has benefits in itself.

        • ... it does no harm to consider that John provides a bigger sweep of history than Daniel.

          It does no harm with, the tiny exception that it puts words into the mouth of God. He began the story with Babylon.

          Instead of limiting ourselves to Egypt and Assyria, maybe we should begin the list with one of the many "ites." After all, the Hittites, Amorites, Midianites, and etc. were a continual threat to Israel in the "battle for control of the region." Where do we stop? With the word of God — Babylon.

          Daniel's history, in chapter 11, gives explicit details, even through the French revolution and beyond. There's no need for speculation. The fact that we are even still here today is the mystery. The second coming of Christ should have happened shortly after 1844 and we would not be having this discussion.

          • Your comment about the impact of the "ites" is a good one. I have gained much insight from studying about the Egyptian/Assyrian conflict with the Israelites. I do not have any agenda in mentioning these two powers other than before dismissing them as inconsequential, we should study their effect on God's people. It is not putting words in God's mouth. The Bible has plenty to say about them in both the historical and prophetic sections of the Old Testament.

          • Leslie: "The second coming of Christ should have happened shortly after 1844 and we would not be having this discussion." People keep quoting this, if that had happened, none of us would exist, do you think God intended that we should never have been born? Just a thought that comes to me now & then.

        • Agreed on the point of Egypt and Assyria, Maurice. The reason the author uses these empires as two of the heads is his position that the "one that is" is of John's day, Imperial Rome. The dragon with the seven heads is an example of Satan working through kingdoms that have persecuted God's people. To make up four heads (Greece in four heads) as one kingdom is to do disservice, in my view, to the passage itself. It is seven heads and though seven heads make up all of the heads in Daniel 7, it doesn't fit to make four of them one head in this passage. To be consistent with the text from that aspect you would have to say Babylon, Medio Persia, Greece as one general, Greece as another general, etc.

          John is always looking at the panorama of the drama playing in pictures from his day of which the pictorial story sweeps across the ages of past, present and future. Hence, the seven heads can indeed be seven persecuting powers of God's people down to John's time: Egypt, Assyria and so forth. This would make the seventh Ecclesiastical Rome (the head the receives a deadly wound) and the eight of the seven being the end time political power that will, in union with end time apostate power, persecute God's people. We are thus living in the healing of the would period which is quite accurate.

          Too, in Revelation 17 the beast has not yet ascended out of the bottomless pit, so John is seeing something future (coupled with the fact he is taken back to the wilderness where we last saw the woman in chapter 12), but something tied directly to the past including his present day. That sweep is very grounded in the passage itself and the overall setting of the book.

          This does challenge our interpretations of Rev. 11 where we first find a beast ascending out of the bottomless pit to wage war on God's two prophets. But that is another discussion altogether.

          For now, with nothing to push, the idea of Egypt and Assyria being the first two of the seven heads isn't without good exegetical grounding. For me it holds more consistency with the material contained in the entire book.

      • Ann, someone mentioned that book this week & said it could be read on line. Here is the quote "You can read the book online at The Time of the End. The book is also available on the same site in ePub format for the small screen readers.

  8. It is not my intention to ensure that Egypt and Assyria are included in the eschatological list, but both are in the succession of major powers that oppressed Israel and Judah, for centuries. They were repressive regimes and it is on record that the whole Kingdom of Israel was essentially dispersed during the Assyrian rule. That can hardly be regarded as inconsequential.

    Babylon's period of Jewish captivity was considerably shorter, less than 100 years and at the end of that period Jews were allowed to return to their homeland. It is somewhat curious that Babylon has become associated with the concept of evil repression, given that the Jewish captives were treated rather well. Daniel and his three compatriots became government officials and while their colleagues plotted against them from time to time, they were allowed to practice their religion and at least some of the ruling class admitted that their God was the only true God.

    At the end of the captivity, many Jews returned to Palestine but quite a few elected to stay in Babylon and there is some evidence that they developed schools there.

    In terms of the history of the two Kingdoms of Israel, the Babylonian captivity was probably one of the lesser periods of repression, yet in Revelation it is used as a symbol of apostasy and rebellion. I have no great burden to change eschatological thought; I am just filling in a bit of historical detail that we sometimes overlook.


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