Watch! The End is Near!!!

Posted on March 2, 2013

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Pope BennyAuthor: Ken Lytle

Happy Sabbath!  Here is the sermon I am preaching this morning.  FYI – I used parts of Amazing Facts’ Bible study on this subject which are not quoted.

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What happened on Thursday, Feb. 28? 

Pope Benedict stepped down as the acting head of the Roman Catholic Church.  This is the first time a living pope has stepped down from office in about 600 years.  Popes normally grow old and die in office. 

Does what happens within the Catholic Church matter to Seventh-day Adventists?  Should we care about following Vatican news and staying up-to-date with what is going on in these last days?

What does the Bible say? In regards to the very end of time Jesus says…

“Watch therefore, for you do not know what houryour Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:42-44)  

Jesus told us to “watch” to “be ready” at all times.

In Mark 13:32, 33, 37, Jesus says this about the end of time, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”

Are you watching, waiting, and ready for Jesus’ soon return? 

Matthew 24 and other Bible verses give us signs of the times to watch for as we prepare for this glorious event.

As saved and being saved children of God, we are to watch and know that the end is near.  We may not know exactly the day and time, but we can know from the words of Jesus and Bible prophecies the season in which Jesus will return.  

What does Bible prophecy say about the end of time and the religious and political powers that will be at work during this troubling and persecuting time?    

 “Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. 2 Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. 3 And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. 4 So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” 5 And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continuefor forty-two months. 6 Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. 7 It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. 8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. 16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark orthe name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666. (Revelation 13:1-8, 16-18)

Revelation 13 provides us with 11 identifying characteristics of the beast.  These characteristics tell us who the beast is and what to watch out for. 

Rev 13 Beasts

11 Identifying Characteristics of the Beast
1.) Rises from sea (verse 1).
2.) Composite of the four beasts of Daniel chapter 7 (verse 2).
3.) Dragon gives it power and authority (verse 2).
4.) Receives a deadly wound (verse 3).
5.) Deadly wound healed (verse 3).
6.) Strong political power (verses 3, 7).
7.) Strong religious power (verses 3, 8).
8.) Guilty of blasphemy (verses 1, 5, 6).
9.) Wars with and overcomes the saints (verse 7).
10.) Rules for 42 months (verse 5).
11.) Has mysterious number 666 (verse 18).

Now let’s consider, one by one, the 11 points that describe the beast. 

As many of you know, God uses a lot of symbolism to communicate His prophetic messages. 

1.) It would rise from the sea (Revelation 13:1).
The sea (or water) in prophecy refers to people, or a populated area (Revelation 17:15). So the beast, or Antichrist, would arise from amid the established nations of the then-known world. The papacy, as we all know, arose in western Europe, so it fits this point.

2.) It would be a composite of the four beasts of Daniel chapter 7 (Revelation 13:2).
When you have time, you can study the comparison to see how it all fits together…
The four beasts of Daniel 7 are depicted as part of the Antichrist, or the beast, because the papacy incorporated pagan beliefs and practices from all four empires. She clothed them in spiritual garb and spread them to the world as Christian teachings.

Here is one of many supporting statements from history: “In a certain respect, she [the papacy] has copied her organization from that of the Roman Empire, has preserved and made fruitful the philosophical intuitions of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, borrowed from both Barbarians and the Byzantine Roman Empire, but always remains herself, thoroughly digesting all elements drawn from external sources.” 1

This point definitely fits the papacy.

3.) The beast must receive its power, seat (capital), and authority from the dragon (Revelation 13:2).

To identify the dragon, we go to Revelation chapter 12, where God’s end-time church is pictured as a pure woman. In prophecy, a pure woman represents God’s true people or church (Jeremiah 6:2 Isaiah 51:16).

The pure woman is portrayed as pregnant and about to deliver. The dragon crouches nearby, hoping to “devour” the baby at birth. However, when the baby is born He evades the dragon, fulfills His mission, and then ascends to heaven. Obviously the baby is Jesus, whom Herod tried to destroy by killing all the babies in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16).

So the dragon represents pagan Rome, of which Herod was a king. The power behind Herod’s plot was, of course, the devil (Revelation 12:7-9). Satan acts through various governments to accomplish his ugly work, in this case, pagan Rome.

Here are two supportive references from history, though there are many:

(1) “The Roman Church … pushed itself into the place of the Roman World-Empire, of which it is the actual continuation. …The Pope … is Caesar’s successor.” 2 (What is Christianity?)

(2) “The mighty Catholic Church was little more than the Roman Empire baptised. Rome was transformed as well as converted. The very capital of the old Empire became the capital of the Christian Empire. The office of Pontifex Maximus was continued in that of Pope.” 3 (The Rise of the Mediaeval Church)

So this point also fits the papacy. She received her capital city and power from pagan Rome.

4.) It would receive a deadly wound (Revelation 13:3).
The deadly wound was inflicted when Napoleon’s general, Alexander Berthier, entered Rome and took Pope Pius VI captive in February of 1798. Napoleon decreed that at the death of the pope, the papacy would be discontinued.

The pope died in France in August of 1799. “Half of Europe thought … that without the Pope the Papacy was dead.” 4 So this point also fits the papacy.

5.) The deadly wound would be healed, and the entire world would give homage to the beast (Revelation 13:3).
Since its healing, the strength of the papacy has grown and increased until today she is one of the most powerful religio-political organizations and influence-centers in the world. Malachi Martin, Vatican insider and intelligence expert, reveals the following in his best-selling book The Keys of This Blood 5

About the Pope:

He is as determined to be world ruler as was Constantine in his day (49). He is the best-known person of the 20th century (123). He is personal friends with the leaders of 91 countries (490). People of the world seem to him ready for strong worldwide moral government with control (160). Sixteen thousand journalists covered his American visit (490).

ABOUT THE PAPACY… the author writes…
The American ambassador says the Vatican is unmatched as a “listening post” (120). The Vatican knows by Saturday what will happen on Monday anywhere in the world (439). Papal structure is prepared for worldwide rule now (143).

USA Presidents Kneeling

Obviously, the wound is healed and the eyes of the nations are upon the Vatican, so this point also fits the papacy.

6.) It would become a strong political power (Revelation 12:3, 7)…  Which we have already seen.

7.) It would become a very powerful religious organization (Revelation 13:3, 8)… again, which we have already seen.

8.) It would be guilty of blasphemy (Revelation 13:5, 6).
The papacy is guilty of blasphemy… The pope claims to be God on earth and the priests believe they can forgive sins… something that only God can do.

This religio-political power believes it have the authority to change God’s Word. 

It has changed the time of the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first day. God predicted these “changes” would be attempted by the beast, or Antichrist.

Notice the following section from a Catholic catechism:

Question: Which is the Sabbath day?
Answer: Saturday is the Sabbath day.

Question: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
Answer: We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.” 9

Here is another Catholic statement: “The Church is above the Bible and this transference of Sabbath observance from Saturday to Sunday is proof positive of that fact.” 10 The Catholic Record (London, Ontario, Canada, Sept. 1, 1923).
The papacy is saying in these references that its successful change of Sabbath observance to Sunday worship is proof that its authority is greater, or “above,” Scripture.

9.) It would war with and persecute the saints (Revelation 13:7).
The papacy did persecute and destroy millions of Christians during the Dark Ages.  We also know from Scripture that God’s people will be persecuted once again near the very end of time.

10.) It would reign for 42 months (Revelation 13:5).
The papacy reigned for 42 prophetic months, which equals 1,260 years from A.D. 538-1798.

11.) It would have the mysterious number 666 (Revelation 13:18).
This verse says, “It is the number of a man,” and Revelation 15:2 says it is “the number of his name.”

What man do you think of when you think of the papacy? Naturally, we all think of the pope. What is his official name? Here is a Catholic quote: “The title of the pope of Rome is “Vicarius Filii Dei,” which means, “Vicar of the Son of God”.6  Malachi Martin, in the book, The Keys of This Blood, uses the same title for the pope.

A footnote for Revelation 13:18 in some Catholic versions of the Bible says, “The numeral letters of his name shall make up this number.”

The papacy fits these eleven identification points.  No other power in history could possibly fit these divine descriptive points.

As for current events… “The deadly wound has been healed, and the entire world is giving homage to the beast… or wondering after the beast (Revelation 13:3).

Here you can see many of our United States presidents giving homage to the papal power.

It is amazing to see our political leaders chasing after a spiritual leader who claims to be above the Bible. 

When Pope John Paul died… Three of our presidents and our Secretary of State attended the funeral and were photographed kneeling before the dead pope.

Soon after that… the new pope decided to visit America and President Bush made sure his experience was that of a king.

Instead of waiting for the pope to arrive at the White House… President Bush and hundreds of government leaders made their way to Andrews Air Force Base where the pope received a red carpet welcome.  This was the first time an acting president went out to greet the pope. 

President Bush made sure the pope felt very welcome at the White House… they even had the papacy flag flying right next to the American flag.

One day soon… natural disasters will get even worse, diseases will increase, terrorism and war will escalate… and common, religious, and political people will say, “God must be angry at us… we need to make sure everyone is right with Him.”  At this point, courts will begin to legislate morality and God’s true followers will be persecuted like never before.  

Something to think about… If you cannot be faithful to God now while times are easy… you most likely will not be faithful and strong for Jesus when times are tough. 

Why is all this important to Adventist Christians living in the last days? 

Should we take the time to follow current events to see what’s happening around the world?

Yes… yes… yes…    

In His great wisdom and love for us (His children), God said, “The deadly wound would be healed, and the entire world would give homage to the beast” (Revelation 13:3).

This is one of many warnings God gave us to make sure we are ready for the great and glorious day of Jesus’ second coming. 

Do you want to be ready for Jesus today and every day?  If so, I invite you to surrender your life into the loving hands of God every single morning and intentionally live for Him.  By doing so, the Holy Spirit will strengthen your faith and the faith of others around you through you. 

1Andre Retif, The Catholic Spirit, trans. by Dom Aldhelm Dean, Vol. 88 of The Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism (New York, Hawthorne Books, 1959), p. 85.

2Adolf Harnack, What is Christianity? trans. by Thomas Bailey Saunders (New York: Putnam, 2nd ed., rev., 1901), p. 270.

3Alexander Clarence Flick, The Rise of the Mediaeval Church (reprint: New York, Burt Franklin, 1959), pp. 148, 149.

4Joseph Rickaby, “The Modern Papacy,” Lectures on the History of Religion, Lecture 24, (London: Catholic Truth Society, 1910), p. 1.

5(New York, Simon & Schuster, 1990)

6“Answers to Readers’ Questions,” Our Sunday Visitor, Nov. 15, 1914.