In this lesson we are concerned exclusively with the great future crisis that was to come to God's people prior to the establishment of His eternal, righteous reign. When all that Gabriel revealed to Daniel on four separate visits (cbs. 7, 8, 9, and 11, 12) is brought together, a much clearer and more complete picture is possible than when each of the four visions is studied separately. The word tyrant aptly expresses all the various aspects of the persecutor's character and conduct as set forth by Daniel. In his dealings with God's people this villain proved to be shrewd, arrogant, treacherous, and cruel.
In contrast with his specific identification of the great empires of antiquity, Gabriel did not divulge the identity of this figure, but left it sealed until "the time of the end."
Part 1: Locating the antichrist
And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. (Daniel 8:23)
This verse in Daniel 8 tells us plainly again that this great desolating power would arise in the latter days. Just as in Daniel 7, he was represented as arising from the head of the final beast-kingdom, so here, he "shall stand up" in the "latter time of their kingdom." These prophecies show us in the clearest possible way that the antichrist would arise from the fragments of the former Roman empire. Some have held the fanciful idea that he might be somebody like Saddam Hussein, perhaps Osama Bin Laden or even the president of the United States. however, the prophecy makes it clear that all such ideas are false. The antichrist must arise in the "Old World, the territory once occupied by Rome.
What does God tell us about the tyrant's greatness, power, and methods as well as the time of his rise to power? Dan. 7:8 20; 8:9, 23, 24.
The great oppressor of God's people was to appear on the stage of history after the rise and fall of the great empires of antiquity _ Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. As a `little horn" in the symbolism of Daniel 7, the tyrant is represented as rising up among the ten horns on the head of the fourth beast, which represent the, fragments into which the Roman Empire, spilt up when it fell. Prophecy thus clearly establishes the fact that this tyrant would rise to power at the time of the breakup of ancient Rome, and also identifies western Europe as the locality where he would rise to power.
In what other ways is the great oppressor of prophecy described in other places in the book of Daniel? Dan. 7:20; 8:9, 24; 11:36-39.
Comparatively "little" to begin with, this oppressor of the saints would eventually become "greater" and "stronger than his "fellows," that is, than the nations represented by the other ten horns. In fact he would grow "exceeding great" and would "prosper" in his evil plot to annihilate God's people. All who barred his way would be cut down without mercy. The tyrant was thus to dominate the political scene in western Europe following the downfall of the Roman Empire.
This description of the antichrist as arising in the area of the Old Roman empire could identify any of the nations of Western Europe, the near east or north Africa as constituting the antichrist. However, the other identifying marks which follow clear the air conclusively and make it clear that only one particular power fulfills all the specifications of the antichrist. This power is the Papacy.
In light of the fact that the Roman Catholic power is identified as the great antichrist, how should I relate to people
Part 2: Blasphemies of the Antichrist
And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. (Daniel 11:36)
One outstanding aspect of the Papacy has been its willingness to make claims which were striking in their blasphemous content. No other power has ever existed on earth which has dared to make such blasphemous claims as those made by the Papacy.
How did the apostle Paul describe the blasphemous work of the same antichristian power described by the prophet Daniel? 2 Thess. 2:3,4
The apostle Paul was obviously familiar with the prophecies of Daniel and knew of the coming of the antichrist. His description of the antichrist here, as one who would "exalt himself above all that is called God" is almost a word for word quote from Daniel 11:36. Clearly Paul was referring to the same power.
What definitions of blasphemy does the Bible give? John 10:33; Mark 2:7
The Papacy both claims the title of God, as well as claims to have the ability to forgive sins. Catholics have made the following extraordinary claims:
"The Pope is of so great dignity, and so exalted that he is not a mere man but as it were, God, and the vicar of God... the Pope alone is deservedly called by the name `Most Holy' because he alone is the vicar of Christ ... he is likewise the divine monarch and supreme emperor and king of kings....hence the Pope is crowned with a triple crown, as king of heaven and of earth, and of the lower regions... he is of so great dignity and power that he forms one and the same tribunal with Christ ... The Pope is as it were, God on earth." Prompta Bibliotheca - by Lucius Ferraris
"The priest holds the place of the Saviour Himself, when by saying, `Ego te absolvo' (I absolve thee) he absolves from sin.... to pardon a single sin requires all the omnipotence of God... but what only God can do by His omnipotence, the priest can also do by saying, `ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis.' " `Dignity and duties of the priest' - by Alphonsus de Liguori
"The Pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, but he is Jesus Christ Himself hidden under the veil of the flesh. . . . So that when the Pope speaks we have no business to examine. We have only to obey. We have no right to criticize his direction or discuss his commands."_Published in the Catholic Mirror, Sept. 2, 1893
Is the fact that one claims to be a Christian good enough reason to place confidence in such a person
Part 3: The nature of antichrist's kingdom
I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things. (Daniel 7:8)
There can be no doubt that some unusual kind of power is represented by the symbols used here. This is not a kingdom such as those represented by the beasts, or even the other horns. Here we see the "eyes of a man" and a mouth "speaking great things." In this prophecy God goes to great lengths to make us know that in seeking to identify this kingdom, we are to look for an unusual power. A "kingdom" which is different from all other kingdoms, yet similar in some respects.
How is the political nature of the antichrist kingdom revealed elsewhere in the Bible? Rev. 13:4
The student of history will not find it difficult to identify the power described here. Only one power dominated the scene for centuries after the breakup of political Rome, which was different from all other kingdoms, which was "more stout" than the other kingdoms, which was guilty of speaking "great words" against the Most High, and this power was the Papacy. This religio-political power, part church and part political state, is the only power in all the world which fulfills every specification of the prophecy.
What statement made by the apostle Paul reveals the fact that the antichrist is a religious power as well as a political force? 2 Thess. 2:4
Paul gives us a detail which is critical. He says that this antichrist power would "sit in the temple of God." This is a vital clue because it reveals the fact that this antichrist would sit in the Christian Church. Since the time of the death of Christ, God has had only two dwelling places on earth which could be described as the "temple of God. One of them is the Christian (1 Cor. 6:19) and the other is the Christian Church (Eph. 2:19-21). In other words, we are not speaking of a heathen warrior, but of one who claims to be a Christian!
The Religio-Political nature of the Papacy is described in the following words:
"At the head of the Catholic Church is the pope of Rome. In a tiny, independent country, hardly as large as an ordinary American town site, the pope sits as spiritual ruler of nearly half billion Catholics in the world.
"This little country, situated almost in the heart of the Italian city of Rome is known as the Vatican. . . . the Vatican is a sovereign land like the United States, Russia or England. . . . " _ `The Other Side of Rome' by John B. Wilder, p. 101
Understanding the truth of the great deception which has been pawned off on the world, what it my duty as a
Part 4: Oppressor of God's people
And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. (Matthew 24:22)
Persecution has been the lot of God's people in all ages. In a world dominated by sin, those who embrace righteousness cannot expect to pass without trial. "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." However, this antagonism against the people of God would reach its climax in the latter days, and the chief perpetrator is identified in the book of Daniel as being the great tyrant, the Papacy.
For how long was this era of persecution to continue? Dan. 7:25; 12:7.
The length of time during which the oppressor would torment God's people is given as "a time, two times, and half a time," or three and a half times. It will be recalled that the seven times during which Nebuchadnezzar lapsed into a state of insanity proved to be seven years of literal time. The three and a half times would then be three and a half years. An equivalent expression in Revelation 12:14, "a time, and times, and half a time," is defined earlier in the same chapter as one thousand two hundred and sixty days. On the basis of thirty days to the month and twelve months to the year, the 1260 days prove to be exactly three and a half years.
In symbolic prophecy, a day of prophetic time stands for a full year of actual time. This day-for-a-year principle in predictive prophecy first appears in Numbers 14:34 and is illustrated again in Ezekiel 4:6.
How does Daniel describe the oppressor's attempt to annihilate the covenant people? Dan. 7:21, 25; 8:10, 13, 24; 11:33-35.
As Daniel watched, a great persecuting power made war with the saints, prevailed over them, and wore them out. He cast them down to the ground, and trampled upon them in a determined attempt to shatter and destroy them. The focal point of his savage attack on the Saints was their loyalty to God and to His revealed will. In that time of trouble, affliction, distress, and anguish such as the world had never seen, it appeared that they would he utterly swept away before him and broken.
"The church of Rome has shed more innocent blood than any other institution that has ever existed among mankind .... it is impossible to form a complete conception of the multitude of her victims ...."_The historian, W.E.H. Lecky
"It is estimated... an average of 40,000 religious murders for every year of the existence of the Papacy." _ Tom Dowling, - `The History of Romanism'
If we are faithful to God and His truth, persecution will come to us. The only way to avoid persecution is by compromising principle. (see GC, p. 48)
Part 5: Assault upon truth
And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced, and prospered. (Daniel 8:12)
How would this diabolical power go about defying God? The angel declared that his heart would "be set against the holy covenant" between God and His loyal people, and that he would "he enraged and take action against" it. Dan. 11:28, 30, R.S.\'. He would enact religious precepts and requirements of his own and attempt to force men to comply with them instead of with those ordained by God. He would thus effectively "cast down ... to the ground" the "truth" as set forth in the Holy Scriptures.
What specific aspect of truth would the antichrist attack? Dan. 7:25; 2 Thess. 2:3 (NRSV)
In the King James Version of the Bible, the antichrist is called "the man of sin" (2 Thess. 2:3). However, this term comes from the Greek words, "ho anomos" and literally mean "the lawless one," or, "the one against the law." This is the way it is translated in most other versions of the Bible. This, in conjunction with Daniel 7:25 makes it clear that the attack of the antichrist upon God's truth would focus particularly on the law of God. He would "think to change" this law, and in particular, aspects of the law dealing with time. The following admission from Catholic sources reveal how successful they have been in their attempts to do this:
"The Church, . . . after changing the day of rest from Sabbath, or the seventh day of the week, to the first, made the Third Commandment refer to Sunday as the day to be kept holy as the Lord's Day." _ The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol.4, p.153.
What other vital aspect of truth has the antichrist obscured and distorted? Dan. 11:37-39
This description of the work of the Papacy has been one with which commentators have struggled for centuries. The problem is that most Christians worship the same God which the Papacy professes to worship, namely the Trinity. How then could it be explained that the antichrist would worship a strange god whom his fathers knew not, and whom he would acknowledge and increase with glory? The simple explanation is that the Trinity is a strange god. One which was unknown to the early Christians but which was, along with Sunday observance and image worship also introduced into the Christian Church along with the other abominations of the Papacy. "These apostate Christians, uniting with their half-pagan companions, directed their warfare against the most essential features of the doctrine of Christ." The Story of Redemption, p. 324, emphasis supplied.
We must study God's word carefully and believe what we read, rather than the traditions of men. It is only in
Part 6: The end of the antichrist
And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. (Daniel 11:45)
There is a happy ending to the long reign of terror. When it seems that the great oppressor is on the point of triumph, God intervenes in the course of history to deliver His people, to destroy their wily foe, and to inaugurate His own righteous reign on earth. By the verdict of the supreme court of the universe, those who have suffered at the hands of the great persecuting power will eventually, be awarded eternal justice.
What event in heaven will immediately precede the destruction of the kingdom of the antichrist? (Dan 7:26)
Here we have clear and unmistakable evidence of an investigative judgment which takes place before the return of Jesus to this earth. It is after the judgement sits that the dominion of the beast is taken away and consumed and destroyed unto the end. We may conclude then that one of the issues in this judgment will be the destiny of this beast. Evidently there are issues to be decided which require a close examination of the deeds of the beast before it is finally destroyed. This examination takes place when the judgment sits. Daniel 7:22 tells us that judgment was made "in favor of the saints (NKJV)" and this makes it clear that their destiny is also to be determined by this judgment. It is impossible to make a judgment "in favor of someone until that person's case has been examined.
By what means will the last earthly kingdom be overthrown? Dan. 8:25
The Bible is emphatic. The last great enemy of God's people will not be overthrown by any earthly power. It is God Himself who will intervene and accomplish the demise of this power. For thousands of years God's people have been persecuted and hounded by the powers of the world. At times it has seemed like the knowledge of God was to be erased from the earth. Often, God has worked through human agencies to deliver His people, even using one political power to overthrow another in order to achieve some kind of deliverance for His people.
However, at the end, indirect providential working will not be God's agency. He Himself will directly and decisively intervene in the affairs of earth. In a series of cataclysmic events He will invade this planet, overthrowing the forces of evil completely and forever, deliver His people in a cosmic event of awesome proportions, and remove them from this planet for a thousand years.
In spite of His longsuffering what decision will God finally have to take? Rev. 22:11 (See 2 Chron. 36:15,16)