HEADINGS ON THIS PAGE
1. THE CENTRALITY OF CHRIST 5. THE MOSAIC COVENANT 9. TWO THREADS OF BIBLE PROPHECY
2. THE CENTRALITY OF ABRAHAM 6. THE DAVIDIC COVENANT 10. IDENTIFYING THE PLAYERS
3. THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT 7. DANIEL AT THE CROSSROADS
4. A BIBLICAL TIMELINE 8. DANIEL SEES A NEW BEGINNING
BIBLE QUOTATIONS ARE FROM THE OLD KING JAMES VERSION, WITH MODIFICATIONS BY THE AUTHOR
- 1)The centrality of Jesus Christ.
- 2) The centrality of Abraham.
In Revelation 19 the apostle John was receiving a message from God through an angel, and he fell down at the feet of this angel to worship him. In response, the angel said….
“See that you do it not: I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren that have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God, for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
The angel was telling John that the purpose of Bible prophecy is to make known to us…
- 1)Who Jesus Christ is.
- 2) What He has done in the past.
- 3) What He will do in the future.
Who is Jesus Christ? He is a member of the divine Family, known as the Trinity (see God Is a Family Called the Trinity). He is the Child in that Family, and the Creator of the universe.
What has He done in the past? He has left heaven above, taken on Himself the body of a man, lived a sinless life, and then allowed Himself to suffer the death of a criminal on a cross in order to make the forgiveness of our sins possible. Having accomplished that task, He was raised from the dead by His heavenly Father and placed at His right hand upon the throne of the universe.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Who being in the form of God, thought it not a thing to be clung to to be equal with God; but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
What will Jesus do in the future? He will come back to this planet a second time to establish the kingdom of God on earth.
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Many people take an interest in prophecy because it intrigues them. They want to know about such things as ‘the end times’, ‘Armageddon’ and ‘the Antichrist’. I have tried to address many of these subjects in this web site. But in the grand scheme of things it is not what we know, but Who we know that matters. It is impossible to truly understand anything about Bible prophecy, if we do not know Jesus Christ personally as Our Redeemer. It is through His cross that Christ has been able to ‘open the seals’, and to make the Father’s plans a reality (Revelation 6). I believe that the “sign of the Son of man” that Jesus spoke of (in the verse above) is the cross. This was the apostle Paul’s only priority in evangelism. If one has not come to see his need for a Savior, one cannot possibly appreciate what that Savior will do in the days ahead.
For I determined not to have anything known among you, except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:2
To gain a broad understanding of Bible prophecy, we need to go back to the days of a man named Abraham. In Genesis 11:27-32 we are told that Abraham traveled with his father, Terah, from Ur (a Chaldean city in what is now southern Iraq) to Haran (a city near the border between modern-day Syria and Turkey). After Terah died in Haran, Genesis 12:1 tells us that God told Abraham to move to another country that He would show him; the land of Canaan.
As God instructed Abraham to move, He also told him that all of the families of the earth would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:3). This promise referred to the fact that it would be through Abraham’s family, the people of Israel, that the Savior of mankind, Jesus Christ, would come into the world and accomplish redemption.
In you (Abraham) all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations through faith, preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham, saying “In you shall all nations be blessed”.
Upon his arrival in Canaan, God made another promise to Abraham; that He would give the land of Canaan to Abraham’s ‘Seed’:
And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said “Unto your seed will I give this land”. And there Abram built an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.
The apostle Paul tells us that, in the original Hebrew, the word ‘Seed’ is singular, and does not refer to the many offspring of Abraham, but to one particular person within his family:
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He said not ‘And to seeds’, as of many; but as of one; “And to thy seed”, which is Christ.
Galatians 3:16 (Genesis 12:7, 13:15, 15:5, 17:8, 22:18, 26:4, 28:14)
God’s two promises to Abraham (that His ‘Seed’ would be a blessing to all the nations of the world, and that his ‘Seed’ would possess the land of Canaan forever) have come to be known as the Abrahamic Covenant. The word ‘Seed’ referred to Abraham’s sperm, or semen, and spoke of the physical connection between Abraham and the coming Messiah. For this reason God imposed the rite of circumcision upon Abraham and all of his male offspring. Each of them was to have his penis circumcised as a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham; a reminder that it would be through their family that the promised Savior of the world, and future Owner of Canaan, would come (Genesis 17:10-11).
Abraham went on to father several sons, but God told him that it would be only one son, Isaac, through whom the promised ‘Seed ‘ would come. Isaac had two sons, Jacob and Esau, but God told him that it would be through Jacob, rather than Esau, that the Messiah would be born. And so God began, from that time onward, to identify Himself as “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”.
When one takes a close look at the Bible, one finds that the Abrahamic Covenant dominates the scriptures from Genesis 12 to the end of the book of Revelation, where the New Jerusalem is described as having twelve gates, named after the twelve sons of Jacob (Revelation 22:12). Over 99% of the Bible focuses on God’s promises to Abraham, and His fulfillment of those promises. When Moses encountered God at the burning bush, God said two very important things to him:
And Moses said unto God “Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them ‘The God of your fathers has sent me unto you’, they shall say to me ‘What is His name?’; what shall I say unto them?” And God said unto Moses “I AM who I AM”. And He said “Thus shall you say unto the children of Israel; ‘I AM has sent me unto you'”. And God said moreover unto Moses “Thus shall you say unto the children of Israel, ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me unto you’: this is My name for ever (I AM), and this is My memorial unto all generations.
In this passage God revealed two things to Moses:
- 1)That His name is ‘I AM’ (in Hebrew ‘YHWH’, transliterated into English as ‘Yahweh” or ‘Jehovah’).
- 2) He is to be remembered forever by the people of Israel as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
God’s covenant blessings were to extend far beyond the nation of Israel, to include millions from all nations who would become the offspring of Abraham through their union with his Seed, Jesus Christ. This is why the apostle Paul borrowed from the words of Moses, and taught that circumcision of the heart makes one a true descendant of Abraham:
And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your seed (children), to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, that you may live.
Therefore if the uncircumcised keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge you who by the letter and circumcision do transgress the law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart; in the spirit and not in the letter, whose praise is not from men but from God.
For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
God told Abraham that his one ‘Seed’ would at the same time be as numerous as the sand by the seashore. This is true because the total number of those who will ultimately be saved through Christ will be impossible to count:
Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one (Abraham), and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. These all died in faith (believers), not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
After this I beheld; a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes and with palms in their hands. And they cried with a loud voice, saying “Salvation to our God who sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb”.
One further point needs to be emphasized here. God’s two promises to Abraham were not given side-by-side, as independent equals. The second promise was dependent upon the first. Without the forgiveness and mercy that would be made available to Abraham through God’s blessing upon all of the nations of the world, it would have been impossible for Abraham hope for a nation of his own, and a great King to rule over it.
God’s covenant with Abraham lies at the heart of Bible prophecy because it is, essentially, the ‘testimony of Jesus’. Although God’s promises to Abraham were initially simple, He gave more detail about them in two later covenants that He made with Israel through Moses and King David. The Mosaic Covenant explained how the coming Savior would bless mankind; as an atoning sacrifice which would free men from the penalty and power of sin. The David Covenant explained how Abraham’s Seed would possess the land of Canaan forever; as a great King.
Abraham never saw the promised Savior, and never took possession of the promised land (except for a piece of property that he bought as a burial place, Genesis 23). In the timelines below, I am attempting to display the unfolding of the Abrahamic covenant. The yellow line represents the first half of the Abrahamic Covenant; the ‘golden’ promise of salvation, made available to the whole world. The green line represents fertile land, promised to Abraham and to his Seed; the second half of God’s promise to Abraham. Both of these promises are initially represented by dashed or intermittent lines, because although Abraham received these promises, he never lived to see them fulfilled. In the following timelines, these dashed lines will become solid as the promises are at least temporarily fulfilled.
I have placed a date of 1910 BC on God’s covenant with Abraham. This is based upon a date of 1000 BC for Solomon’s building of the first Temple in Jerusalem. This date for the first Temple is not the result of careful study on my part, but is rather chosen because it is a nice round number, and allows me to illustrate simply the relationships between the historical events of the Bible.
1 Kings 6:1 tells us that Solomon began to build the Temple 480 years after the children of Israel came out of Egypt. This would put the Exodus at 1480 BC The apostle Paul wrote that the giving of God’s Law (through Moses) occurred 430 years after God established His covenant with Abraham:
And this I say, that the covenant (Abrahamic) that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the Law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot annul, that it should make the promise of no effect.
When we go back an additional 430 years from the Exodus date of 1480, we get a date of 1910 BC for God’s covenant with Abraham. Again, I must point out that I am not a scholarly student of Israel’s history, and have simply chosen the date of 1000 BC for Solomon’s Temple because it makes it convenient for me to set an understandable timeline before my reader.
Some have understood the Bible to say that the Israelites spent 430 years in Egypt. This is based upon the Masoretic Hebrew text of the Old Testament, which says:
Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.
However, two older and more reliable Old Testament texts (the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Alexandrian Septuagint) read as follows:
Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, and of their fathers, which they sojourned in the land of Canaan and in the land of Egypt, was 430 years.
As we look at God’s original covenant with Abraham, where God told him that his offspring would be strangers without a land of their own for four hundred years, we see that God did not say that this landlessness would all be experienced in one particular place (Genesis 15:13-16). He merely told Abraham that his people would be wanderers who would ultimately end up in subservience to a particular nation, and that God would deliver them from that nation. In addition, God told Abraham that the Israelites would come out of that nation in the ‘fourth generation’. Moses was a fourth-generation Israelite in Egypt. Jacob was the first generation that came to Egypt, and Moses’ mother was a daughter of Levi, Jacob’s son. Moses was a great grandson of Jacob.
It may not seem possible that a great grandson of Jacob could lead several million Israelites out of Egypt, given the relatively small family that Jacob first brought there, but several things must be remembered. First of all, the Israelites began to reproduce at amazing rates; they were extremely fertile. The book of Exodus emphasizes this. Secondly, Levi lived for some time after he came to Egypt. Moses’ mother may have been his last child. This idea makes sense, given the fact that though she was a third generation Israelite, she married a fourth generation Israelite. In addition it should be remembered that Moses was her youngest child, and that he himself did not return to lead the people out of Egypt until he was 80 years old. Given these variables, and the other statements from God’s word, I believe it is clear that the total period of time from God’s covenant with Abraham until the Exodus was 430 years.
True to His word, God fulfilled the timetable He announced to Abraham, empowering a man named Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt 430 years later. While He was delivering the children of Israel, God established a covenant with them known as the Mosaic Covenant. The Mosaic Covenant was really an extension of the original Abrahamic Covenant, because it revealed how God would fulfill the first promise of the Abrahamic Covenant; to bring blessing upon all the nations of the world. It would be accomplished through the shed blood of a spotless sacrifice. Hence, the Mosaic Covenant is represented by a ‘blood red’ line in the graphics below.
The Mosaic Covenant addresses the two needs of a rebellious human race;
- 1)Deliverance from the
- of sin.
- 2) Deliverance from the
- of Sin, thus enabling men to keep God’s Law.
Through its many animal sacrifices and other ritual practices, it presented a picture of how the true sacrificial Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, would die in order to make God’s blessing available to mankind. It is important to note that the Mosaic Covenant not only addressed the need for forgiveness, but also the need for a positive righteousness. Along with the system of animal sacrifices, God gave the 10 commandments and other laws to the Israelites, as a testimony to all mankind of the personal righteousness that Christ empowers us to achieve, and that is required for entrance into heaven.
Approximately 440 years after the Exodus, God established another covenant with King David. God promised him that some future Son in his family would establish David’s throne and his kingdom in Israel forever. Again, like the Mosaic Covenant, the Davidic Covenant is really an extension of the original Abrahamic Covenant. It tells us how Abraham’s Seed would possess the land of Canaan. He will be a great King who will not only rule Israel forever, but the entire world as well.
When David died, his son Solomon continued the family dynasty. It it could be said that, as long as David’s family remained in power, God was fulfilling the Davidic Covenant. Therefore, in the illustration below, the Davidic Covenant is initially presented as a solid ‘royal’ blue line.
Four hundred years after king David, in approximately 600 BC, the people of Israel had strayed from their God, worshiping idols and committing great sins. At that time God raised up a prophet named Jeremiah to warn them of coming judgment. Jeremiah’s message was that Israel would soon be conquered by a Gentile King, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and that their only hope of escaping this coming destruction would be to go out and surrender to him, leaving their nation and possessions behind. Jeremiah’s message was hated, and he was considered a coward and a traitor to his country, but those who knew that God must judge sin realized that his message was divinely inspired. They went out and surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar, escaping with their lives.
One of the Jewish people who was taken to Babylon was a young man named Daniel. While in Babylon, Daniel watched Nebuchadnezzar return to Israel and completely crush his beloved people, destroying Jerusalem and the Temple, removing David’s family from kingship, and either killing or scattering many of the remaining Israelites from the land.
It is important to realize what a profound development this was for Daniel and the Jewish people. Their forefather, Abraham, had left the region that would eventually become Babylon, and had journeyed to the land of Israel, where he had received God’s promises. Now, because of their sins, all of God’s promises had apparently been nullified, and the Jewish people had been dragged back to Abraham’s starting point.
Daniel could not help but wonder what would happen concerning God’s covenant promises to Israel. God gave Daniel answers to his questions. Those answers are found in the book of Daniel, and are the subject matter of the following pages in the prophecy section of this web site. Daniel was a faithful servant of God, but his book is not only important to us because of who he was, but because of where he was when the covenant promises of God came face to face with the rise of Gentile world power.
The prophet Jeremiah had foretold that the land of Israel would lie desolate for 70 years before the people of Israel would be reestablished in their country (Jeremiah 25:11-12, 29:10). Israel’s first Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC, and true to God’s word, King Cyrus of Persia allowed the Jews to return to their land in 536 BC, and a new Temple was dedicated exactly 70 years after the first one was destroyed, in 516 BC. This return of the people to their land, and restoration of Temple worship is represented in the graph below, which shows that with the revival of Mosaic worship there came also the renewed hope of God’s blessing upon all mankind. We know that Daniel lived to see the day when King Cyrus authorized the rebuilding of the Temple, because Cyrus gave his authorization in the first year of his reign, and Daniel’s final prophecy was received from God in the third year of Cyrus’ reign (Daniel 10:1).
Although the Jewish people had been allowed to return to their land, they had not yet become a nation again. Cyrus only granted permission to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem; not to rebuild the city of Jerusalem itself (with its walls and gates). This is an important point, because the timetable for the Messiah’s first and second coming (Daniel 9) begins with the authorization to rebuild the city, not the authorization to rebuild the Temple. God made this clear both to the Jews, and to the entire world, when He providentially delayed the rebuilding of the Temple. The Jews had been accused of attempting to rebuild the entire city (Ezra 4:12,21), and they were ordered to stop their work on the Temple when that accusation was made. They did not renew their work on the Temple until it had been made very clear that this was the only construction that had been authorized.
For the Persians to permit the rebuilding of Israel’s fortified capital city would have amounted to granting them a large portion of independence and nation-status. It would be another 70 years after the dedication of the Temple, in 445 BC, when the Persian king Artaxerxes would grant that permission to Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:1-8). With the rebuilding of Jerusalem came the hope (among the Jewish people) that someone from David’s family would again rule in Jerusalem as Israel’s king. This hope is represented by the dashed royal blue line in the timeline below. This is a promise and a hope that has still not been fulfilled, 2450+ years later. When Jesus came, His disciples called Him ‘Son of David’, and hoped that He would restore David’s kingdom immediately. They did not realize that He would He would have to fulfill the Blessing/Atonement aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant first.
Ever since Israel’s conquest by the Babylonians, it has been ruled by Gentile powers. When the Jews of Nehemiah’s time had restored the Temple and rebuilt Jerusalem, they confessed the past sins of their nation against God, and described the bondage their disobedience had brought them to; a servitude that left them ‘renters and tenant farmers’ in their own land. This is why their return to the land is represented by a dashed line below; though they lived in the land, they did not possess it:
Behold, we are servants this day, and for the land that You gave unto our fathers to eat the fruit thereof and the good thereof, behold, we are servants in it. And it yields much increase unto the kings whom You have set over us because of our sins: also they have dominion over our bodies, and over our cattle, at their pleasure, and we are in great distress. And because of all this we make a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests seal it.
We see that this Gentile domination of Israel was still in effect four hundred years after Nehemiah, when Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem in order to be registered in the census, and to pay the taxes ordered by Caesar Augustus of Rome (Luke 2:1).
In this “Introduction to Prophecy” I have sought to explain the two major threads that characterize Bible prophecy; God’s promises to Abraham of Blessing/Atonement and Land/Kingship. As my reader proceeds to the following web pages, he will find that four of Daniel’s prophecies, about the four beasts (found in Daniel chapters 2, 7, 8, and 10-12)), are Land/Kingship prophecies and point to Israel’s final possession of the promised land, and the coming of David’s promised Son to crush Babylon and rule the world. These prophecies describe what will happen, but they do not tell us when things will happen.
The great ‘Timetable Prophecy’ of Daniel 9 provides us with two timetables; a timetable for the Messiah’s first coming to fulfill the Blessing/Atonement promises to Abraham, and a second timetable for the Messiah’s second coming to fulfill the Land/Kingship promises. This prophecy was very accurate, but incomplete. Daniel’s timetables could not be understood until additional clues were provided. In the case of the first timetable, one needed to know when the authorization to rebuild Jerusalem would be given. This is found in the book of Nehemiah. To rightly understand the second timetable, one would have to wait for the Messiah Himself, and for the book of Revelation He gave to His apostle, John.
IDENTIFYING THE PLAYERS
Because some people come to this web site through prophecy searches, often asking about things like ‘the Antichrist’ and ‘the last days’, it has seemed useful to set forth a summary of who the ‘prophetic players’ of the Bible are. Therefore I have included this section at the end of each of my web pages on prophecy.
My reader must first realize that my entire view of prophecy is defined by my understanding of the 70th Week of Daniel. I believe that this week is the great ‘Week of the Abrahamic Covenant’, beginning 4000 years ago with Abraham, divided in the middle by the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and ending with the second coming of Christ. I believe that the ‘Great Tribulation’ is the second half of this week, from 70 AD to the present. It is called the Great Tribulation (Revelation 7:14) because it is the period of time after Satan has been cast out of heaven and down to earth in defeat. He is enraged because he knows that he only has a short time until his eternal fiery destruction (Revelation 12:12).
During the ‘Great Tribulation’ Satan’s violent frustration has been vented, first and foremost, against the Jewish people and against protestant Christians (Revelation 12:13-17). In addition, however, Satan is determined to drag all of humanity down to eternal damnation with himself if he can. The Pharaoh of Egypt whom Moses confronted (in the book of Exodus) is a picture of Satan, willing to see his kingdom and his people destroyed rather than to ‘let his captives go’. All of the ‘players’ on my list, and all of history since 70 AD, must be understood in the light of Satan’s angry presence here on earth. If you are coming to this list from a Dispensational or Postmillennial background, and have not yet read my first three pages on prophecy (Introduction, The Olivet Discourse and The Timetable for Jesus’ Return), then the things that I am saying here may not make much sense to you. I would encourage you to examine these three web pages before making any final decision concerning the validity of this list.
1) THE BEAST OF REVELATION(discussed in The Timetable for Jesus’ Return)
This is the ‘Beast from the Sea’ in Revelation 13:1-10, and is also the Beast upon which the Woman rides in Revelation 17. This Beast will become increasingly ‘Eastern’ in its makeup and form an alliance with 10 kings in the last prophetic hour, and these kings will burn the Woman with fire (Revelation 17:12-18).
Some Dispensationalists believe that the Beast is an individual human being. This is not so. This Beast has its roots in the four beasts of Daniel 7, and is an organized political entity, just as they were. In addition, the Beast continues in existence throughout the second half of the 70th Week of Daniel (Revelation 13:5, a period of roughly 2000 years), and thus cannot be a person. Lastly, the Woman who rides the Beast is the Roman Catholic Church, and she has ridden this Beast for centuries.
Prior to 70 AD, this Beast existed simply as the Roman Empire. But in 69 AD, when Satan was cast down to earth, he reorganized the Roman Empire into an international ‘Beast’ of militant humanity, and a city (Rome) that would ride upon the Beast’s back (through the ‘destruction and resurrection’ process of a Roman civil war, during ‘the year of the four Emperors). Since 70 AD the Beast upon which Rome has ridden has come primarily from the original Roman Empire; Western Europe and then the United States. The Beast’s religious roots have been mostly Roman Catholic. But over the past 60 years this Beast has been increasingly comprised of people throughout the world. The primarily western and Roman Catholic Beast of the past has mutated since the end of World War II into a broader coalition, incorporating the military forces of Russia, China and the Muslim world, and is represented by the United Nations. In the final prophetic hour I believe that the United Nations will turn its back upon the Western world (where it was first chartered and established), and look to China and the East. This, I believe, will be followed by the East’s surprise nuclear destruction of western, Roman Catholic ‘Babylon’.
2) THE WOMAN (HARLOT, WHORE, BABYLON) OF REVELATION CHAPTERS 17 & 18(discussed in The City of Rome)
This is the city of Rome, confirmed for us in Revelation 17:18, where she is described as ‘that great city’ which was ruling over the kings of the earth when John received the book of Revelation. Prior to the Roman civil war of 69 AD (the ‘Year of the four emperors’), the city of Rome had been the seat and governing power of the Roman Empire. During this civil war, however, Rome watched helplessly as the generals and armies of the Empire fought for supremacy. Since that time the city of Rome has been powerless militarily. This explains the fact that the final form of the Roman Empire (its feet) are described in Daniel 2:33 as being comprised of iron and clay. It is this ‘mixed’ Empire, comprised of a ‘clay City’ and various ‘iron’ military powers, that Christ will destroy and replace at His return (Daniel 2:34).
Revelation describes Rome in a most negative way. She is an extremely wealthy whore, given to fornication and blasphemy against God, who is drunk with the blood of His people. She is described as the “Mother of harlots, and of the abominations of the earth” (Revelation 17:5). In short, she is wickedness itself. How did she get this way?
The key to understanding Rome, is to understand the angry archangel, Satan, who made her what she is. For 240 years, after 70 AD, pagan Rome did everything within its power to exterminate Christianity. Many thousands of Christians were impoverished, enslaved or killed. This was the official policy of Rome, all done in subservience to the ‘Dragon’, Satan. Around 310 AD the Roman Emperor Constantine announced that he had seen a vision instructing him to wage war and to conquer under the banner of the Christian cross. Constantine proceeded to ‘legalize’ Christianity, and to make it a part of his empire. He convened ‘ecumenical councils’ to define what Roman Christianity would be.
Hence Rome went, practically overnight, from persecuting the Christian church to declaring ‘I am the church!’. In reality what Rome had become was a religious institution that would not only continue persecuting Christianity, but would also deceive millions of others into embracing a counterfeit Christianity, sending them into eternity with false hopes. Rome became a three-pronged weapon in Satan’s hands; killing some, deceiving others, and turning the rest of the world against Christianity because of Rome’s greediness, bloodshed and hypocrisy. Constantine and his militant church are the first ‘seal’ of Revelation 6:2; a ‘white’ conqueror followed by the four seals of war, famine, pestilence and the persecution of Christians. The final, sixth seal, represents the ultimate end of Rome; a sudden, unexpected nuclear attack.
Rome’s destruction is described in Revelation chapter 18, where ‘Babylon’ is destroyed by fire in one hour. After this destruction, the kings and merchants of the earth are shown, mourning over the loss of their wealth and keeping their distance from her because of the fire of her torment (and its radioactive fallout). I do not believe that this mourning will result simply from the destruction of the city of Rome itself, but from the destruction of the greater ‘Roman Catholic world’; in other words, ‘the West’. This may include the entire western hemisphere, western Europe and Australia, and is represented by the destruction of 1/3 of the earth in the first four trumpets of Revelation 8:7-13. The ‘Roman Catholic world’ does comprise roughly 1/3 of the landmass of the world, but much less than 1/3 of the world’s people. At the very moment when the nuclear weapons detonate, as Revelation chapter 7 reveals, God will ‘seal’ 144,000 young Jewish men for leadership in Israel, and will ‘rapture’ true Christians off of the planet.
I am confident regarding my explanations of the Beast and the Woman (Babylon) above. I am not dogmatic, however, about the following three ‘players’ on the prophetic stage; the Beast from the Land (or False Prophet), Paul’s Man of Sin, and the Antichrist. They can, it seems to me, be understood in different ways. Each one can be understood either as a single person, or as a group of persons. Beyond that, it is possible that all three are referring to the same person or group. It is important that I be honest with myself and my reader, about what I know and what I don’t know. Given the gravity of these times and of God’s warnings, it is important that my reader embrace the liberty as well as the responsibility to reach conclusions for himself. With that in mind, I share my own thoughts.
3) THE BEAST FROM THE LAND (or THE FALSE PROPHET)
This is the second of two Beasts in Revelation chapter 13, the first being The Beast from the Sea, or simply ‘The Beast’ (explained above). The first Beast is described as coming ‘from the sea’ because, like the four beasts of Daniel chapter 7, it arises from the great sea of humanity. I do not know why this present beast is said to come from ‘the land’. Some have wondered if it indicates that this it will come from God’s land; the ‘holy land’ of Israel. This Beast from the Land has three primary traits:
- A)It is ‘lamblike’ in its appearance (possibly a reference to the ‘Lamb of God’, Christ), and yet speaks the words of the Dragon, Satan. This is consistent with God’s description of false prophets, who come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:15). This Beast also works powerful miracles to deceive people; a trait that Jesus warned about in regard to future false prophets (Matthew 24:24).
- B) It derives its authority from, and directs everyone’s worship and obedience to the first Beast, and the ‘image’ of the first Beast. It will cause those who refuse to worship the Beast to be put to death. This is reminiscent of Nebuchadnezzar’s order to kill those who would not worship his image (Daniel 3:1-6).
- C) It introduces something called ‘the Mark of the Beast’ to the world, without which no one may buy or sell. This ‘Mark’ may be worldwide, and could possibly be a mark implemented by the United Nations.
We see this ‘duo’ of two Beasts elsewhere in the book of Revelation, where they are referred to as ‘the Beast and the False Prophet’ (Revelation 16:13, 19:20, 20:10). It should be observed that the number ‘666’ is not associated with this second Beast, but with the first Beast whom he serves. The miracles and the ‘Mark’ that coincide with the False Prophet remind me of present day technology. The ‘image’ that breathes, speaks, and causes the persecution of those who refuse to take the ‘Mark’ could be modern media such as television, movies and the Internet. The calling down of fire from heaven may be a reference to the drones and other ‘smart’ weapons that we see today. And the ‘Mark’ itself may be some kind of computer chip, placed under the skin, that will facilitate human organization, tax collection and crime control in unprecedented ways. To many people the ‘Mark’ will represent the only hope for the survival of the human race, and those who oppose it will be viewed as foolish and essentially ‘anti-human’.
Some may point out that the Beast and the False Prophet will both be thrown, alive, into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 19:20), and therefore suggest that these two must be persons, and not kingdoms, organizations or ‘generic groups’. I respond by pointing out Jesus’ description of this same judgment (Matthew 25:31-46). He said that, when He returns, He will sit upon His throne and the nations will be gathered before Him. They will be separated to His left and to His right, like a shepherd divides sheep from goats. At that time He will banish those on His left directly into a fire that has been prepared ‘for the devil and his angels’. This can only refer to the Lake of Fire, since Satan is never described as inhabiting Hades. Hence, while Revelation describes two beings being cast alive into the Lake of Fire, Jesus describes a judgment where many are cast into the Lake of Fire alive. To me this suggests the possibility that the Beast is comprised of all those who have taken the Mark of the Beast.
How can this be? The secret lies in observing the increasing ‘solidarity’ of the human race against God. Throughout the world men are talking about the ‘oneness’ of mankind, and the necessity of international unity. It may be that those who take the Mark of the Beast will ‘become the Beast’. It is not coincidence that this rising religious ‘oneness’ is accompanied by an increasingly united worldwide animosity toward Israel. Satan is working behind the scenes to bring the human race, all the nations of the world, to Jerusalem to do battle against God. Satan has no illusions about how things are going to work out. He knows what awaits. But he is focused upon deceiving and taking as many into the Lake of Fire with him as he can. That is why he is called ‘the evil one’.
Jesus said that how He judges those who stand before Him will be determined by how they treated His ‘brethren’. Many believe that Jesus’ brethren are simply those who are Christians, whether Jew or Gentile. This is true. But it may be that, in the context of this particular judgment, as Jesus sits upon the throne of His fathers Abraham and David in Jerusalem, that His brethren may be, more specifically, those Jews who were mistreated by the world in the time leading up to His second coming. Those who are joining the present worldwide chorus to criminalise Israel and divide God’s land might do well to consider this. God’s judgment in this case may be instant and everlasting torment.
4) THE APOSTLE PAUL’S ‘MAN OF SIN’
It is my personal belief that the Beast from the Land (or False Prophet) is also the apostle Paul’s ‘Man of Sin’ (2 Thessalonians chapter 2:1-12). Paul’s ‘Man of Sin’ is also endued with Satanic miracle-working power, and he also is described as being directly and personally destroyed by the Lord Jesus Christ, just as the False Prophet will be. Here again, however, I do not feel obligated to believe that Paul is speaking of a single man.
Paul speaks of a ‘great falling away from the Christian faith’ that will precede the appearance of this ‘man’. He also speaks of him as one who will ‘show himself as God, standing in the temple of God’. For centuries many Protestants have viewed these words as a description of the Roman Catholic priesthood, which claims to do what the Bible says Jesus alone can do; stand in God’s true Temple above (in heaven) and intercede for sinners. The gospel message is that people must come to Jesus directly, and know Him personally in order to be saved. Jesus says to the world ‘Come unto Me and be saved’, while Rome’s priests say ‘Come unto Rome and be saved’. Hence both Paul’s ‘man of sin’ and Revelation’s Beast from the Land could be a ‘type of man’, rather than an individual man.
Over the past few decades the Roman Catholic church has drawn closer and closer to the other religions of the world, seeking common ground. Rome now declares that it does not matter what one’s religion is, as long as one loves one’s neighbor. Rome now calls Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and snake worshippers her ‘brothers’. This represents Rome’s attempt to continue riding upon an increasingly international ‘Beast’. Rome is attempting to bridge the gaps between her ‘western children’ and the other nations of the world through talk of peace and religious ‘tolerance’. Hence in these last days we are seeing Roman Catholic leaders who are increasingly given to Eastern mysticism and ‘transcendental’ attempts to connect with the occult spirit world, seeking a ‘higher spirituality’ that will bring all men and religions together as ‘one’. It is in this light that we can understand how a man may soon arise who is a pope to the Catholics, a ‘christ’ to false Christians, a Mahdi to the Muslims, a Messiah to the Jews, and a wise soul to those of India and the Orient. Again, it may be one man, or it may be a cadre of men and women who, together, constitute the Man of Sin / Beast from the Land / False Prophet of the Bible.
Personally I do not believe that every unsaved person will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. Depending upon how wicked they have been, I believe that many will spend time in the Lake of Fire before being consumed and ceasing to exist (see Original Sin ). But there are three beings who are specifically described in the Bible as being tormented forever and ever. This fate is reserved for Satan, the Beast and the False Prophet (Revelation 20:10). I believe that God’s warning about the Mark, given in Revelation 14:9-12, may actually be a warning about ‘becoming the Beast’ through taking the Mark, and thus joining Satan in a torment that will never end. This is a dreadful thought to contemplate. God is telling us that we need to take the warnings of His prophecies very seriously.
The contention around this issue, between believers and unbelievers, will be very sharp in the last days, and those who refuse to worship the Beast and his image will be put to death. Those who do not have a personal relationship with Christ will feel compelled, because they have no confidence about their fate beyond the grave, to take the Mark in order to extend their lives. The only way for a person to overcome in these last days will be to ‘not love their lives unto the death’ (Revelation 12:11), and this will only be possible for those who have tasted the forgiveness and the hope of eternal life that Jesus alone can give.
5) THE ANTICHRIST
The Antichrist is mentioned in only four verses, all written by the apostle John, and found only in his letters. The word ‘antichrist’ never appears anywhere else in the scriptures. It means what it appears to mean; one who is against or opposed to Christ.
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
1 John 2:18-19
Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.
1 John 2:22
And every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.
1 John 4:3
For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
2 John 8
As we examine John’s words, the one thing that defines the antichrist is false doctrine. More specifically, John defines antichrists as
- A)Those who once professed faith in Christ, but have departed from biblical Christianity.
- B) Those who deny the Father and the Son.
- C) Those who deny that the Son of God has come into the world in human flesh.
John’s description of an antichrist could apply to any one of a number of people, religions or cults that have claimed to be Christian or respect Christ, but have departed from the true Christian faith.
It should be observed that John never says anything about the Antichrist establishing covenants, ending sacrifices, claiming to be God, having miraculous powers, cooperating with the Beast or being destroyed at the second coming of Christ. Nor does he link ‘the Antichrist’ with any other passage of scripture. The term ‘antichrist’ is not even found in that greatest of all prophetic books, Revelation, which John wrote.
Rather than take caution from this, Dispensationalists have taken advantage of it. Because of his sinister name, and because so little is known about him, Dispensationalists have been able to plug the Antichrist freely into their end-times scenario. For them the Antichrist is ‘the Prince who is to come’ (of Daniel 9:26), the ‘Abomination of Desolation’, Paul’s ‘man of sin’, and ‘the Beast’ that gets thrown into the Lake of Fire together with the False Prophet. One cannot count all of the books, articles and movies that have flowed out of John’s very limited words about ‘the Antichrist’, today’s ‘Left Behind’ series being only one of many.
Although John says that there are many antichrists, in 1 John 2:18 he seems to refer to one specific person, ‘the Antichrist’, who surpasses all other antichrists in his opposition to God. So who is this Antichrist? I do not know. If I had to choose, I would consider Mohammed. Islam claims Biblical roots, but blatantly denies that God has a Son, and that Christ was ‘Emmanuel’; God in flesh. There is no other religion that more directly and forcefully denies the deity of Christ today than Islam (unless it is Judaism). Muslims have written ‘God has no son’ inside their mosque, the ‘Dome of the Rock’, sitting on the Temple mount in Jerusalem. This will ultimately prove to be a profound embarrassment to them. It was this One who declared Himself to be the Son of God, and who predicted the desolation of the Temple and the possession of the Temple Mount by Gentiles, whose words they now fulfill with their mosque.
Could the Antichrist be the False Prophet, and/or Paul’s Man of Sin? Yes, I suppose so, but there is nothing in John’s words that requires us to reach that conclusion.
While I am cautious in my identification of ‘Players’ 3-5 above, I am confident in my conclusions about ‘Players’ 6-9 below.
6) THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION(Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14) The Roman general Titus and his army, which destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD (see The Timetable for Jesus’ Return for a discussion of Titus).
7) THE ‘PRINCE WHO IS TO COME’ OF DANIEL 9:26- also the Roman general Titus.
8) THE LITTLE HORN OF DANIEL 7:8The United States of America
9) THE LITTLE HORN OF DANIEL 8:9The City of Rome, beginning as a very small power on the edge of the Greek Empire. Rome first expelled Greece from the Italian peninsula in the Pyrrhic War, defeated its southern enemy Carthage in the Punic Wars, and then proceeded to move east, conquering Greece, Asia Minor (defeating Antiochus the Great) and eventually the rest of the Middle East (including Israel).
This Little Horn exalted itself against the Prince of God’s host, the Lord Jesus Christ. It then brought an end to the daily sacrifices, destroying Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 AD. Because of Israel’s transgressions the Roman Empire was allowed to continue its dominance over the Jews, and to establish a religion (Roman Catholicism) that casts truth to the ground. No better combination of brevity and accuracy regarding Rome’s history can be found.