“ON EAGLES’ WINGS MINISTRIES”
“When Shall These Things Be?” Revisiting the Prophet Daniel—part 16.
“I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and visions of my head troubled me. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things. These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; And ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.”
“Thus, he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall arise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hands until a time and times and the dividing of times.” Daniel 7: 15,16, 19-25.
How much do we know about Daniel? The record reads like this: “Nothing is known of his family, but he is thought to have been of noble descent. He was carried away captive to Babylon during the reign of Jehoiakim. He, and three companions, because of their special qualifications were selected to be trained for the king’s service.” He is said to have died at a good old age at the royal palace in Shushan. Prophets like Micah and Joel do speak of endtime events, but Daniel stands out and above all the others. One third of the book of Revelation reflects the prophecies of Daniel. Many, along with myself find his prophecies to be most profound and concise. This prophet was not correct only for a certain percentage of the time; he was correct all the time.
Much of this study will focus on the 11th horn of Daniel’s fourth beast. Before we proceed any further, let me make a very important observation. All of what we are about to say, will be unbiased historical facts that any one with keen interest can research for themselves. Here in the United States, many people still get upset over slavery and they lead protest over the flying of the Confederate flag. But in this country a citizen can wear the swastika, the Confederate flag, or any symbolic item they wish. (By law it is called Free Speech) Whether we are going to teach Black History, American History, including the Revolutionary War, the Spanish/American War, the U.S. Civil War, or Jim Crow in America’s South: it is all history and history will not go away simply because some of its components are distasteful and even mind boggling. So it is with this study! We are going to let Church History and even World History underscore the materials we offer in our discussion. Perhaps we are the last generation to be alive to see the entire fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecies, so we should give all diligence to their factual contents. Over the many years of active service in the ministry, I have learned a simple truth; in order to understand a religion or religious order, it is best to go back to the “founders” the person or persons who drew up their beliefs, who set the standard (the bylaws and constitution) upon which their newly formed entity is built and how it is to function.
Over the course of previous studies in this series, we have learned about the four beasts of Daniel’s vision, and how they corresponded with the colossus image that king Nebuchadnezzar saw in his night vision. As the angel explained to Daniel, the four beasts that thou seest are four kingdoms that shall arise out of the earth. It is important as far as this lesson is concerned that you, the reader, understand that God is not dealing with an individual king per se, such as Nebuchadnezzar in relations to these kingdoms. We are told in Daniel 7: 17; “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.” But God is dealing with kingdoms rather than a single king at any given time. The same principle applies in the case of the 11th horn, or the Little Horn as it is usually called. God’s judgment was upon an entire system and not upon a mere person. Sometimes we have “good people” in “bad systems” and the results are likely to be the same as having “bad people” in “good systems.”
We are told that the 11th horn grew up among the ten horns on the 4th beast, and this means that the 11th horn grew out of Imperial Rome. Some teachers today, who are from a certain school of thought (dispensationalism) have put the rise of the 11th horn, or the Little Horn, or The Man of Sin, as a future event. In order to accomplish this, they, of necessity must bring Rome back, so they teach a revived Roman Empire simply because a horn cannot grow out of a beast that is already dead, and Western Rome fell in A. D.476 and about 1453 Eastern Rome fell. Imperial Rome is gone forever, and the catacombs and arenas built for blood sports where Christians and gladiators mingled their blood are now tourist attractions. But the 11th horn as a spiritual entity remains to this day.
Let us do a little back tracking for the sake of clarity and being concise! There were four world kingdoms, beginning with Babylon, followed by the Medes under Darius coupled with Persia, thus formed what is commonly called Medo-Persia. Next came Greece led by Alexander followed by Rome. But let us notice how the sequence of events played out as each kingdom fell to another. “As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.” Daniel 7: 12. So, upon conquering Babylon, Medo-Persia became a twofold, doubly strong kingdom. When Greece conquered Medo-Persia it became a threefold, triple strength kingdom, and when Rome conquered Greece it garnered to itself a fourfold power structure that the world had not seen before.
Daniel described the beast this way: “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.” Daniel 7: 7. From our vantage point as we scrutinize church history, we can only accept what historians of those times have chronicled and kept archived for posterity. As we alluded to before, some parts of history are painful to recall, no matter how long it has been since the events took place. However hard it might be, the historical facts remain valid and true. When we examine the four beasts of Daniel’s vision, we cannot help but conclude that they were four specific world powers, beginning with Babylon, being the head of gold as seen in the king’s dream, and a lion, as seen in Daniel’s own night vision.
Babylon, called the Neo-Babylonian Empire was established in B.C.625 by Nebuchadnezzar,s father, Nabopolasser. At the Battle of Carchemish, in B.C. 605, Nebuchadnezzar defeated an alliance of Egypt and Assyria, and Babylon became the undisputed dominant world power. Babylon fell to Persia under the leadership of Darius the Mede in October, B.C.539. King Cyrus permitted the Jews to return to Palestine after their 70 years in Captivity. The Grecian Empire under the leadership of Alexander the Great conquered Persia in B.C. 331 and this lasted till B.C.63 when Rome conquered Greece to become the fourth world power out of which ten smaller kingdoms grew, indicative of the ten horns. For the most part, many historians believe that the ten horns (smaller kingdoms) were as follows: the Ostrogoths in Moesia; the Visigoths in Pannonia; the Sueves and Alans in Cascoigne and Spain; the Vandals in Africa; the Franks in France; the Burgundians in Burgundy; the Heruli and Turingi in Italy; the Saxons and Angles in Britain; the Huns in Hungary; and the Lombards, at first upon the Danube, afterwards in Italy
A Roman historian describes the ten horns (kingdoms) as follows: Heruli, Suevi, Burgundians, Huns, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Vandal, Lombards, Franks, and Anglo-Saxons. These have ever since been spoken of as the ten kingdoms that rose out of the Roman Empire. Looking across the broad spectrum of the history of those times, we must ask; what entity came to power after the demise of Rome? We do not need any religious convictions to answer this: all we need to do is to examine history, and when we give due diligence we will quickly observe that it was the Papacy that rose to power after the fall of Rome.
When Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Church, he used concealed language by saying; “Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he (the man of sin) might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth (restrains) will let (restrain) until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed. 2 Thess. 2: 5-8. The word let or letteth is an old English word that simply means hinder or restrain. The Christians were already operating as it were under ground and Imperial Rome was on the war path. It became necessary for Paul to avoid exposing them to further trouble, so he used covert language in his letter. In my early days as a Christian back home, I can vividly remember that our pastor was an eloquent seminarian who seemingly took great pride in teaching us about the “man of sin.” His understanding and that of many of his contemporaries concerning Paul’s statement quoted above had a single interpretation, and amazingly enough, their interpretation from way back in the late 1940,s still pervades among certain sectors of the church world today.
Their understanding from all those years gone by, because of their religious training, is that the Holy Ghost is the only entity that is holding back the unveiling of the man of sin. Multitudes holding the same beliefs teach that as soon as the Holy Ghost is taken from this world, an event the Rapture of the Church, the way will be left wide open for the dreaded man of sin to make his appearance upon the world stage. His first order of business is to solve the Middle East conflict by offering the Jews seven years of peace. Many from this school of thought also teach that this Super Human is presently in hiding and in training somewhere in Europe. Under his peace treaty, the Jews will be free to resume their sacrificial offerings in the temple (that is yet to be built) even though we are told that all of this is “at the door” for the return of Christ to earth is imminent. After only three and a half years of relative peace (so we are told) this Super Man (the Antichrist) will break his promise to the Jews and trigger the Great Tribulation. So the story goes!
Let us be aware of the fact that this study is being conducted on the basis of historical facts and not upon personal religious ideologies. The idea is not to address personal doctrinal beliefs, but to present the unfolding of world events as they relate to God’s people in the light of recorded history. The 11th Horn did rise out of the fourth beast (Rome) while it was still alive, and among ten other horns. It proceeded to uproot three horns and made itself bigger and bigger, and became stronger and stronger. Speaking of the uprooting or suppressing of three horns, one historian wrote: “I might cite three that were eradicated from before the Pope out of the first list given: the Heruli under Odacer, the Vandals, and the Ostrogoths. The Heruli were overthrown in 493, the Vandals in 534, and the Ostrogoths in 553.—Because they opposed the new teachings of the Roman Church.
History proves that the next power to hit the world stage after the fall of Rome was the Papacy, and this was the great fear held by many true Christians of that day. Justin Martyr stated that the Christians’ understanding of the time caused them to pray for the continuance of the restraining Roman Empire, lest the dreaded times of antichrist, expected to follow upon its fall, should overtake them in their day. Cyril of Jerusalem, speaking of this same subject said: “This, the predicted antichrist, will come, when the times of the Roman Empire shall be fulfilled. Ten kings of the Romans shall arise together. Among these the eleventh is antichrist, who by magical and wicked artifices, shall seize the Roman power. Hippalytus believed that breaking up of the fourth Empire, Rome, would bring on the antichrist who would persecute the saints. Tertullian pointed out that the Roman State was the restraining “obstacle” which, by being broken up would make way for antichrist. What is the restraining power? It was the Imperial Rome, the breaking up of which, by being scattered into ten kingdoms, shall introduce antichrist upon its own ruins.
For the lack of space, we will only visit the persecution of Christians between 167 and 177. Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna was taken prisoner and brought forward to be put to death. The proconsul urged him, saying, “Revile Christ, and I will release thee.” The old man replied, “Six and eighty years have I served Him, and He has done me nothing but good; and how could I revile Him, my Lord and Savior?” The governor having yielded to the demands of the people, that Polycarp should die at the stake, many people hastened together to bring wood for that purpose. As they were about to fasten him with nails to the stake of the pile, he said, “Leave me thus: He who has strengthened me to encounter the flames will also enable me to stand firm at the stake.” After he offered a final prayer the fire was lighted, but the flames played around the body, forming the appearance of a sail filled with wind. The superstitious Romans, fearing that the fire would not consume him, plunged a spear into his side, and Polycarp was crowned with victory. For a comprehensive record of the intense persecutions of Christians by Rome, seek out Fox Book of the Martyrs.
Let us switch from the historical aspects of this study to the spiritual realities of God’s word. To properly divide the word of truth it is necessary to apply words in their proper context. To do this, we often must revert to a word study simply because the King James Version of the bible often insert old English words that are foreign to many of us, and they sometimes seem to render the incorrect meanings. For instance, when Paul refers to the “temple of God” he is referring to the Church as a body of people or the individual believer. He does not mean the literal temple in Jerusalem. When the bible speaks of the complete literal temple, the word heiron is used. On the other hand, the word that Paul used for temple is naos which refers not to the complete literal temple, but to the holy place, the dwelling of God, and of course, God dwells in us, his temple and habitat. Jesus said: “If a man love me he will keep my word: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” John 14: 23. “Ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them.” 2nd Corinthians 6: 16.
As we said before, many in Christendom have been taught to look for the antichrist to come as a kind of Superman, now being trained in secret somewhere in Europe. The day will come when he will walk into a temple yet to be built in Jerusalem, and there he will defile the temple then sit there professing to be God. But to many others of us who have grown past that elementary level of belief, we see antichrist from a very different perspective. Sure enough, the Papacy that followed the breakup of the Roman Empire conceived a system of falsehood and vain ceremonies that were designed to give glory to their bishops, cardinals, and their popes. The system they introduced was glitzy, dazzling, and formulated to appear as truth, but vacant or void of the divine life of the risen Christ, imparted to God’s true children to quicken this mortal body, and to fashion ours, like unto that of the resurrected Lord in due time.
I am still at a loss when I see so many outstanding and smart people who linger in a dream world, where they fearfully watch either for a quick exit by way of the Rapture, or the emergence of the unholy tyrant called the antichrist. These same loved ones I suppose, read the bible like all of us, and can discern the same truths like the rest of us. This “one-man” antichrist is a joke but no one is laughing! John in his epistle gave us a full account of what antichrist is all about. Listen to him: “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. (What kind of people are these? Are they ungodly and vile? Are they ready to lay waste the Church of the living God? Isn’t antichrist supposed to sit in the temple as God, thus replacing the Almighty?
John continued! “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” 1 John 2: 18-19. What is this picture suggesting? The people who were once a part of the congregation that John refers to left the fellowship for whatever reason, and are promptly branded as antichrists. John was explicit in his statement that there are many antichrists—not just one super human who will mesmerize the whole world. Why are there many antichrists? because a religious system is brought into focus and not a person.
The list of beliefs, ceremonies, and religious orders introduced by the Roman Church is mind boggling. First of all, under its system, the bishops usurp the authority of the Holy Ghost. The popes assumed the right to absolve sins, and the body of Christ got dissected, first into clergy and laity, and even among the clergy they invented an upper class, such as Popes, Cardinals, Arch Bishops, Bishops, Elders, Deacons and such the like. It was the Roman Church that introduced celibacy, the worship of Mary, saint worship, relic worship, purgatory, extreme unction and many other practices. All of this served to create a system that violates the truth of God’s word and made a clear path for antichrist to flourish.
Martin Luther came out of the Catholic Church with a call for believers to walk by faith, based upon the concept of “justification by faith.” That was only one step in the right direction, but unfortunately he also brought with him a lot of what the Roman Church practiced. Seemingly, ministers across the broad spectrum of organized religion know that many of these practices are not backed by the Holy Scriptures. But they enjoy the prestige conferred upon them by the system although the system caters to the workings of the antichrist. Jesus insisted that he that is greatest among you let him be the servant. In the early church, the office of a bishop was deemed to be a good job that any one could seek, but had to meet certain criteria. It was hard work with no pay, or very little compensation. Today, thanks to the Roman Church, the bishop snaps his finger and every one jumps; they come running to do his bidding. I once saw a pastor willing to pay $500 to become a bishop, and I had a friend who made himself a bishop.
Paul declared that he is dead and yet he lives, but not he himself; rather, Christ lives in his stead, and the life he lived in the flesh, he lived by the faith of the Son of God, who loved him and gave himself for him. Galatians 2: 20. True salvation brought him to realize that he died with Jesus Christ, and only through this Christ could he live. A life outside the dictates of the antichrist is based on the following: “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3: 2-4.
Anti—means against or instead of; so if I live my life on my own terms and by my own efforts, it is no more Christ but me. That amounts to me instead of Christ equals me against Christ and that is what the antichrist amounts to. It is a religious system based upon the works we do, upon our own efforts which results in the expression gross self righteousness in many. The people that walked away from John’s fellowship of whom we just read, likely were good people who loved the Lord. Remember that people out of every nation were at Jerusalem for Pentecost. After Peter preached some three thousand souls were added to the church. Shortly after that thousands more came into the apostles’ fellowship. But they went back home rejoicing with the little truth that they garnered in a day or two in Jerusalem. The apostles were still meeting at Jerusalem and it would have been impossible for the twelve or even the entire hundred and twenty to fan out over the Jewish and Gentile territories teaching the new converts in short order.
With a new found love and a burning desire to change their lifestyle, it could be that many turned to practicing a religion that carried man-made overtones. They set out with good intentions to do the best they could, like Israel of old that missed the righteousness of God by faith; they ended up with salvation by works, by which no man can be saved. To think that one has to be vile and wicked to pass as the antichrist is to miss the point all together. The life I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of Jesus Christ! So where does my own works come in? If I take my eyes off the fact of Christ living in my stead, then I am on the verge of developing my own brand of salvation that would be me instead of/or against Christ and you would be correct to brand me the antichrist. The bible says, first the natural, then the spiritual, and so the Roman Church that succeeded the crumbling Roman Empire came along and put in place the system and rules that effectively made a path for the antichrist to enter into the midst of God’s people. The system invented by the Papacy lives and thrives today even among Protestant groups, because our ministers bask in the celebrity status that it offers them, and they enjoy being pampered and showered with honor. It is like saying, “why change something that is working so well?” Mankind has an ego to feed, and seemingly, the Papal system provides a daily menu that meets those needs. Being the antichrist in practice seems to be a good thing if we profit from it—but it is still wrong.
Royce O. Kennedy