In contrast to those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus, the third angel points to another class, against whose errors a solemn and fearful warning is uttered: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.” Revelation 14:9, 10. A correct interpretation of the symbols employed is necessary to an understanding of this message. What is represented by the beast, the image, the mark?
The line of prophecy in which these symbols are found begins with Revelation 12, with the dragon that sought to destroy Christ at His birth. The dragon is said to be Satan (Revelation 12:9); he it was that moved upon Herod to put the Saviour to death. But the chief agent of Satan in making war upon Christ and His people during the first centuries of the Christian Era was the Roman Empire, in which paganism was the prevailing religion. Thus while the dragon, primarily, represents Satan, it is, in a secondary sense, a symbol of pagan Rome.
In chapter 13 (verses 1-10) is described another beast, “like unto a leopard,” to which the dragon gave “his power, and his seat, and great authority.” This symbol, as most Protestants have believed, represents the papacy, which succeeded to the power and seat and authority once held by the ancient Roman empire. Of the leopardlike beast it is declared: “There was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies…. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” This prophecy, which is nearly identical with the description of the little horn of Daniel 7, unquestionably points to the papacy.
“Power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.” And, says the prophet, “I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death.” And again: “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword.” The forty and two months are the same as the “time and times and the dividing of time,” three years and a half, or 1260 days, of Daniel 7—the time during which the papal power was to oppress God’s people. This period, as stated in preceding chapters, began with the supremacy of the papacy, A.D. 538, and terminated in 1798. At that time the pope was made captive by the French army, the papal power received its deadly wound, and the prediction was fulfilled, “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity.”
At this point another symbol is introduced. Says the prophet: “I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb.” Verse 11. Both the appearance of this beast and the manner of its rise indicate that the nation which it represents is unlike those presented under the preceding symbols. The great kingdoms that have ruled the world were presented to the prophet Daniel as beasts of prey, rising when “the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.” Daniel 7:2. In Revelation 17 an angel explained that waters represent “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” Revelation 17:15. Winds are a symbol of strife. The four winds of heaven striving upon the great sea represent the terrible scenes of conquest and revolution by which kingdoms have attained to power.
But the beast with lamblike horns was seen “coming up out of the earth.” Instead of overthrowing other powers to establish itself, the nation thus represented must arise in territory previously unoccupied and grow up gradually and peacefully. It could not, then, arise among the crowded and struggling nationalities of the Old World—that turbulent sea of “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” It must be sought in the Western Continent.
What nation of the New World was in 1798 rising into power, giving promise of strength and greatness, and attracting the attention of the world? The application of the symbol admits of no question. One nation, and only one, meets the specifications of this prophecy; it points unmistakably to the United States of America. Again and again the thought, almost the exact words, of the sacred writer has been unconsciously employed by the orator and the historian in describing the rise and growth of this nation. The beast was seen “coming up out of the earth;” and, according to the translators, the word here rendered “coming up” literally signifies “to grow or spring up as a plant.” And, as we have seen, the nation must arise in territory previously unoccupied. A prominent writer, describing the rise of the United States, speaks of “the mystery of her coming forth from vacancy,” and says: “Like a silent seed we grew into empire.”—G. A. Townsend, The New World Compared With the Old, page 462. A European journal in 1850 spoke of the United States as a wonderful empire, which was “emerging,” and ” amid the silence of the earth daily adding to its power and pride.”—The Dublin Nation . Edward Everett, in an oration on the Pilgrim founders of this nation, said: “Did they look for a retired spot, inoffensive for its obscurity, and safe in its remoteness, where the little church of Leyden might enjoy the freedom of conscience? Behold the mighty regions over which, in peaceful conquest, … they have borne the banners of the cross!”—Speech delivered at Plymouth, Massachusetts, Dec. 22, 1824, page 11.
“And he had two horns like a lamb.” The lamblike horns indicate youth, innocence, and gentleness, fitly representing the character of the United States when presented to the prophet as “coming up” in 1798. Among the Christian exiles who first fled to America and sought an asylum from royal oppression and priestly intolerance were many who determined to establish a government upon the broad foundation of civil and religious liberty. Their views found place in the Declaration of Independence, which sets forth the great truth that “all men are created equal” and endowed with the inalienable right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” And the Constitution guarantees to the people the right of self-government, providing that representatives elected by the popular vote shall enact and administer the laws. Freedom of religious faith was also granted, every man being permitted to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience. Republicanism and Protestantism became the fundamental principles of the nation. These principles are the secret of its power and prosperity. The oppressed and downtrodden throughout Christendom have turned to this land with interest and hope. Millions have sought its shores, and the United States has risen to a place among the most powerful nations of the earth.
But the beast with lamblike horns “spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed; … saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.” Revelation 13:11-14.
The lamblike horns and dragon voice of the symbol point to a striking contradiction between the professions and the practice of the nation thus represented. The “speaking” of the nation is the action of its legislative and judicial authorities. By such action it will give the lie to those liberal and peaceful principles which it has put forth as the foundation of its policy. The prediction that it will speak “as a dragon” and exercise “all the power of the first beast” plainly foretells a development of the spirit of intolerance and persecution that was manifested by the nations represented by the dragon and the leopardlike beast. And the statement that the beast with two horns “causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast” indicates that the authority of this nation is to be exercised in enforcing some observance which shall be an act of homage to the papacy.
Such action would be directly contrary to the principles of this government, to the genius of its free institutions, to the direct and solemn avowals of the Declaration of Independence, and to the Constitution. The founders of the nation wisely sought to guard against the employment of secular power on the part of the church, with its inevitable result—intolerance and persecution. The Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” and that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Only in flagrant violation of these safeguards to the nation’s liberty, can any religious observance be enforced by civil authority. But the inconsistency of such action is no greater than is represented in the symbol. It is the beast with lamblike horns—in profession pure, gentle, and harmless—that speaks as a dragon.
“Saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast.” Here is clearly presented a form of government in which the legislative power rests with the people, a most striking evidence that the United States is the nation denoted in the prophecy.
But what is the “image to the beast”? and how is it to be formed? The image is made by the two-horned beast, and is an image to the beast. It is also called an image of the beast. Then to learn what the image is like and how it is to be formed we must study the characteristics of the beast itself—the papacy.
When the early church became corrupted by departing from the simplicity of the gospel and accepting heathen rites and customs, she lost the Spirit and power of God; and in order to control the consciences of the people, she sought the support of the secular power. The result was the papacy, a church that controlled the power of the state and employed it to further her own ends, especially for the punishment of “heresy.” In order for the United States to form an image of the beast, the religious power must so control the civil government that the authority of the state will also be employed by the church to accomplish her own ends.
Whenever the church has obtained secular power, she has employed it to punish dissent from her doctrines. Protestant churches that have followed in the steps of Rome by forming alliance with worldly powers have manifested a similar desire to restrict liberty of conscience. An example of this is given in the long-continued persecution of dissenters by the Church of England. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, thousands of nonconformist ministers were forced to flee from their churches, and many, both of pastors and people, were subjected to fine, imprisonment, torture, and martyrdom.
It was apostasy that led the early church to seek the aid of the civil government, and this prepared the way for the development of the papacy—the beast. Said Paul: “There” shall “come a falling away, … and that man of sin be revealed.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3. So apostasy in the church will prepare the way for the image to the beast.
The Bible declares that before the coming of the Lord there will exist a state of religious declension similar to that in the first centuries. “In the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” 1 Timothy 4:1. Satan will work “with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness.” And all that “received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved,” will be left to accept “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11. When this state of ungodliness shall be reached, the same results will follow as in the first centuries.
The wide diversity of belief in the Protestant churches is regarded by many as decisive proof that no effort to secure a forced uniformity can ever be made. But there has been for years, in churches of the Protestant faith, a strong and growing sentiment in favor of a union based upon common points of doctrine. To secure such a union, the discussion of subjects upon which all were not agreed—however important they might be from a Bible standpoint—must necessarily be waived GC 438.1 – GC 444.2
Billy Hallowell, Faithwire
Russian President Vladimir Putin (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
A recent proclamation from a Ukrainian Orthodox Church archbishop that Russian President Vladimir Putin is the “antichrist of our current time” has added yet another layer of intrigue to the mounting eschatological questions surrounding Putin’s Ukraine invasion.
Who is the antichrist? What does it mean to be like the antichrist? Is Putin possibly the fulfillment of this sinister, biblical figure?
These are just some of the questions emerging after Yevstratiy Zoria, spokesman for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, told BBC reporter Harry Farley he believes Putin is the “antichrist because … what he does now, is totally against Gospel, against God’s law.”
What Does Vladimir Putin Believe About God? Why Some Say He Thinks He’s a ‘Messianic Figure‘
Is This God’s Super Sign of the End Times? Author Reveals His Take
Author and end-times expert Jeff Kinley recently appeared on Faithwire to discuss these important themes and questions. We previously spoke with Kinley about the “Gog and Magog” prophecies in Ezekiel. In a follow-up discussion, we dove into Bible verses he believes predict the rise of a future antichrist figure.
Kinley, a premillennialist and author of “Interview With the Antichrist,” explained that the word “antichrist” occurs about five times in Scripture. And while there are many perspectives on the End Times rapture, tribulation, and everything in between, Kinley broke down his take on the antichrist’s placement in the End Times paradigm.
“He’s depicted as an End Times figure who will arrive in the last days and who will be in prominence during the last seven years of earth’s history,” he said. “He’ll basically be a global leader. He’ll be the global leader of the planet.”
Watch Kinley Explain the Biblical Ins and Outs of the Antichrist:
IS PUTIN THE ANTICHRIST?
Kinley said he finds speculation about whether Putin is the Antichrist to be quite intriguing, especially considering what he argues the Bible contends.
According to Kinley, the Antichrist arrives “through a peace platform” and not through war or invasion.
This, thus, makes Putin — a man actively using violence — an incompatible contender, at least at the moment. This is especially true as most of the world decries Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
“Revelation 6:1 makes that clear that he comes with a bow but no arrows,” Kinley said. “And Daniel 9:27 says he really kind of launches his career based on a peace covenant that he makes with the Jewish people.”
WHAT IS THE SPIRIT OF THE ANTICHRIST?
Circling back to Zoria’s words, it’s important to note that the spokesman said Putin is the “antichrist of our current time,” not the one definitive antichrist figure in which many Christians believe.
A number of Scriptures discuss the concept of the “spirit of the antichrist” and GotQuestions simply defines the term as, “against Christ.”
Among the Scriptures that do discuss this term is 1 John 2:18, which reads (NIV): “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.”
The idea here is that “many” have had the spirit — the anti-Jesus stature — of the antichrist.
“The spirit of antichrist is alive and well today [and] there have been many antichrist-like figures throughout history,” Kinley explained. “Going as far back as Antiochus Epiphanes (167 B.C.), who invaded the Jewish temple, slaughtered a pig, erected an altar to himself and a statute to himself.”
Antiochus Epiphanes, a Greek king, persecuted and murdered many Jews and his treatment of the temple was seen as horrific. Kinley said plenty of other figures have similarly been viewed as antichrist-like. This includes Roman Emporer Nero and German leader Adolf Hitler, the man responsible for the Holocaust.
Still, Kinley believes the final antichrist will be a different — a “distinctive” figure who wields global control. As for the antichrist’s specific identity, Kinley said no one will know before his rise.
“I don’t think we can really know who the antichrist is definitively right now,” he said. “And if you do know who he is, then bad news: You’re in the tribulation period.”
BEAST OUT OF THE SEA VS. BEAST OUT OF THE EARTH
Kinley pointed to Revelation 13 and the references of the “beast out of the sea” and the “beast out of the Earth,” explaining his belief that the former is the antichrist.
“There are actually two beasts we read about in Revelation 13 and it’s the same word used to describe both of them … which means ‘a wild, ravenous beast,’” Kinley explained. “And it says that the second beast that later is identified as the false prophet.”
The false prophet, Kinley believes, will go after Christians and others and will enact 666, the well-known Mark of the Beast. This figure will presumably point people back to the antichrist.
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“He is the spokesperson of the antichrist,” he said. “He’s his henchman … he basically promotes him.”
The Bible does, indeed, speak of these images in fascinating detail. Revelation offers some complex descriptions and says the beast of the sea will wield authority. Verses 1-5 are particularly intriguing:
“It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, ‘Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?’”
The chapter goes on to say the beast would slander God and the world will worship him. Then there’s the beast out of the earth, who takes on a very different form.
The beast out of the earth also has an interesting description, having “two horns like a lamb” but speaking like a dragon. The Scriptures note this beast points people back to the beast of the sea in worship. Read more here.
NOT EVERYONE AGREES
Kinley acknowledged not everyone agrees with his take on the antichrist, as a plethora of divergent theological ideas have emerged to help explain the complexities in the literature. The author said he understands the pushback, but believes in the power of taking a literal approach to these Scriptures.
“I and many other scholars approach the Scripture from a literal, grammatical, historical textual approach,” Kinley said. “And when you approach it that way and just simply let the Bible speak for itself and you know there are symbols in Revelation, there are metaphors, there are things that [the Apostle] John uses.”
However, Kinley believes the verses are explained in the text, especially if read through the proper lens. With all that in mind and with biblical and contextual understanding, he believes his views on the antichrist are intensely biblical.
It should be noted that research conducted in 2016 for “The Armageddon Code: One Journalist’s Quest for End-Times Answers” revealed divergent views among Christian pastors when it comes to the antichrist. The plurality of Protestant pastors agreed with Kinley, though sizable portions took different positions.
While 49% of preachers said they believe the antichrist will rise sometime in the future, 14% said the antichrist is simply a personification of evil, 12% said there is no individual antichrist, 7% said it is not a person but an institution and 6% said it was a figure who already arose in the past.
“When you read revelation just at face value you come to the conclusion that, yes there will be a real antichrist. He will be a real person. He will be a man he will rise in the last days and he will rule the existing world,” he said.
Explore Kinley’s book, “Interview With the Antichrist,” and watch the video discussion for more.
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