Most Christians want to know what the Bible says about the future. Unfortunately some presumptuous false prophets -- who claim to be anointed representatives of Jesus -- go about preaching, "Christ is here!" and, "The Time is at Hand!" (Deuteronomy 18:21-23; Matthew 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22; 2 Peter 2:1)They have gone so far as to predict the date of the Messiah’s Return (1844, 1874, 1914, 1915, 1926, 1975, 2,000, 2,001, 2,002 etc, etc, etc.). Regarding these dates disciples devoted to "following the Lamb no matter where he goes" have no difficulty. For their Lord spoke regarding these false prophets when he said: "DO NOT FOLLOW THEM!" (Luke 21:8; Matthew 7:15; 1 John 4:1)
No Christian can claim to know the appointed time. There are two reasons for this: a) Jesus himself said he did not know "the day and hour" of his own Return (Matthew 24:36, 42, 44; Mark 13:32-36); and, b) he specifically taught that neither did his disciples know the date nor the "season" or "appointed times." (Acts 1:7) Who is so "presumptuous" to claim to know more than Christ or any of his inspired disciples?
However, can a studious Christian Bible student learn what some future body of believing disciples will experience? Can this be done based on a prophetic understanding of both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures? We have high confidence that this can be the case from an examination of the prophet Daniel and the Book of Revelation. For these not only predicted human history up to our own time, but also future history leading right up to the Return of Christ, the ultimate victory of the Church, and the final end of all human rulerships whether democratic, republican, or communistic. How can we know this for sure?
Over 500 years before the birth of Jesus Christ the Jewish prophet Daniel foretold the exact developments of human history. He predicted the rise and fall of four major historical powers and what was to follow these. Without going into precise detail we provide here the general outline of what Daniel foresaw. [NOTE: For details see the publication Nazarene Apocalypse -- a 400 page commentary on Revelation with 1,000 footnotes].
In these verses Daniel saw four beasts rise out of the sea. Each of these four find parallels in Daniel chapter 2 and predict the march of world powers beginning with Babylon (today Iraq) in the sixth century BC. Babylon is followed by Persia (today Iran) in the fifth century BC. Persia is conquered by Greece (today Greece) in the third century. Finally, the fourth of these "four kingdoms" (Daniel 7:17) Rome overcomes Greece during the first century BC. It is during the life-span of Rome that someone like a "son of man" or "a human being" is to ascend to heaven and receive an entirely different kingdom from the Most High Yehowah.
The angel indicates there are only four of these "kingdoms." What is to happen to this fourth kingdom? Ultimately this Roman beast is to be "slain" (Daniel 7:11) while the other three are to continue to exist. By the fifth through eighth centuries AD Rome had fragmented first into East and West and then in, as it were, ten Papal European state-nations, which essentially comprise present day Europe.
Something else of enormous prophetic importance is the rise of another "horn" after the first ten. This is called an eleventh "little horn." This apparently insignificant and small power was foretold to "pluck up" or "fell" three of the original ten European powers. It is the conviction of some that it is highly possible this "small power" (the eleventh horn" is America which began with the insignificant thirteen colonies on the eastern coast of North America in the eighteenth century AD. [NOTE: According to The Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old Testament by John R. Kohlenberger III, Daniel 7:8 reads, ". . another little she came up among them . ." and Daniel 7:24 reads, ". . and another he will arise after them . ." Also note that the NWT, as well as other translations, reads the same as the Interlinear. The word until can give the reader a different understanding than the phrases among them and after them.]
Who would be identified as the three of the ten European powers overcome by the "small power"? It is not hard to identify these in American history. They are Great Britain on the east coast, the French in the south and middle-America, and, Spain in the west. By what some call "manifest destiny" and the political developments America finally occupied North America from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and from the Canadian border to the Caribbean and Mexico.
If this be the prophetic scenario, what lies on the prophetic horizon? Without being dogmatic that America is the eleventh "small power" of Daniel chapter seven, what can we learn will be the future developments?
It is quite clear that the "small horn" of Daniel is explained to be the same as the wild sea beast of Revelation chapter 13. This is understood because in Daniel 7:21, 25 the "small power" is seen oppressing the Saints for three and a half years just as the wild sea beast wars against the end-time disciples for 42 months in Revelation 13:5-7. That this is the Devil’s instrument is illustrated in Revelation chapter 12. How is this apocalyptic beast in Revelation chapter 13 identified and what can we rightfully expect on the prophetic horizon.
This may be compared to watching the mast of a ship rising over the horizon. The closer the ship comes the more of it we can see until it is fully visible. Just so there are matters of a Biblical nature regarding the future which will become more sharply defined the closer we get to these momentous events. However, even now we can predict -- based on our present understanding of Revelation chapter 13 -- certain sure details which will indicate that the time grows closer and closer.
This wild sea beast is identified by several important aspects:
1) This wild sea beast controls seven previous world powers as well as the former European Papal States:
Revelation 13:1, 2 -- "And I saw a wild beast ascending out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, and upon its horns ten diadems, but upon its heads blasphemous names. Now the wild beast that I saw was like a leopard, but its feet were as those of a bear, and its mouth was as a lion's mouth. And the dragon gave to [the beast] its power and its throne and great authority."
2) The wild sea beast is killed and revived in some manner:
Revelation 13:3, 12; Revelation 17:8 -- "And I saw one of its heads as though slaughtered to death, but its death-stroke got healed, and all the earth followed the wild beast with admiration. .. It makes the earth and those who dwell in it worship the first wild beast, whose death-stroke got healed. The wild beast that you saw was, but is not, and yet is about to ascend out of the abyss, and it is to go off into destruction. And when they see how the wild beast was, but is not, and yet will be present, those who dwell on the earth will wonder admiringly."
3) The wild sea beast exercises absolute power and because no other government dare go to war with it there is a degree of enforced global peace:
Revelation 13:4 -- "And they worshipped the dragon because it gave the authority to the wild beast, and they worshipped the wild beast with the words: "Who is like the wild beast, and who can do battle with it?"
4) The wild sea beast will enforce global economic control:
Revelation 13:16, 17 -- "And it puts under compulsion all persons, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the slaves, that they should give these a mark in their right hand or upon their forehead, and that nobody might be able to buy or sell except a person having the mark, the name of the wild beast or the number of its name."
5) The wild sea beast -- by its instrument the Earth Beast -- forces a global religion which worships some future Idol:
Revelation 13:14,15 -- "And it misleads those who dwell on the earth, because of the signs that were granted it to perform in the sight of the wild beast, while it tells those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the wild beast that had the sword-stroke and yet revived. And there was granted it to give breath to the image of the wild beast, so that the image of the wild beast should both speak and cause to be killed all those who would not in any way worship the image of the wild beast."
6) the wild sea beast -- by the instrument of the Earth Beast (or, False Prophet, the Spokesman or Mouthpiece) has the power to in some manner command fire to come down out of the sky:
Revelation 13:13 -- "And it performs great signs, so that it should even make fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the sight of mankind."
7) The wild sea beast executes or imprisons those who refuse to practice the government religion:
Revelation 13:10 -- "If anyone [is meant] for captivity, he goes away into captivity. If anyone will kill with the sword, he must be killed with the sword."
8) The wild sea beast oppresses the end-time Saints for a specific period foretold by Daniel -- three and a half years:
Daniel 7:21, 25 -- "I kept on beholding when that very horn made war upon the holy ones, and it was prevailing against them. (Daniel 7:25) He will oppress continually the holy ones themselves of the Supreme One. And he will intend to change times and law, and they will be given into his hand for a time, and times and half a time." Revelation 11:2, 3 -- "But as for the courtyard that is outside the temple [sanctuary], cast it clear out and do not measure it, because it has been given to the nations, and they will trample the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. And I will cause my two witnesses to prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days dressed in sackcloth." Revelation 11:7-10 -- "And when they have finished their witnessing, the wild beast that ascends out of the abyss will make war with them and conquer them and kill them. And their corpses will be on the broad way of the great city which is in a spiritual sense called Sod'om and Egypt, where their Lord was also impaled. And those of the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their corpses for three and a half days, and they do not let their corpses be laid in a tomb. And those dwelling on the earth rejoice over them and enjoy themselves, and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those dwelling on the earth." Revelation 12:13, 14, 17 -- "Now when the dragon saw that it was hurled down to the earth, it persecuted the woman that gave birth to the male child. But the two wings of the great eagle were given the woman, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place; there is where she is fed for a time and times and half a time away from the face of the serpent. ... And the dragon grew wrathful at the woman, and went off to wage war with the remaining ones of her seed, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus." Revelation 13:5-7 -- "And a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies was given it, and authority to act forty-two months was given it. And it opened its mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name and his residence, even those residing in heaven. And there was granted it to wage war with the holy ones and conquer them, and authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation."
Can one reasonably look at world events and developments and see on the horizon the above possibilities? Is there a world government in existence today which has the potential of global control, global communication, global economic power, the ability to in some manner command fire out of heaven -- whether the atmosphere or space?
It does not take much imagination to see the potential in several contemporary areas. Is world peace possible if enforced by a single power with whom it is impossible to do battle or fight a successful war? Who has the potential for global communication? Who has the potential to call down fire out of heaven? Who has the potential to control a global economy? Where do a majority of the world’s Christian Saints live?
There will come a moment on the prophetic horizon when those Christians who have studied Daniel and Revelation carefully will see that the words of the Nazarene are realized:
Matthew 24:29-33; Luke 21:25-28 -- "Immediately after  the tribulation of those days the  sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, on the earth  anguish of nations, not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and [its] agitation, while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth; and the  powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then  the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation, and they will  see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will  gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity. Now learn from the fig tree as an illustration this point: Just as soon as its young branch grows tender and it puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. Likewise also you, when you see all these things, know that he is near at the doors. But as these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near."
Our Lord lists seven events -- moving from the less evident to the more apparent -- which his disciples will witness at these true "last days" or "end-times." The first indication would be the actual three and a half years of Great Oppression upon Christians. Following this period celestial phenomenon will occur; then horrible turmoil among peoples world-wide; the powers of the atmosphere or outer space in a seismic tremor; a "sign" in the atmosphere or outer space; the appearance in a visible Return of the Son of Man; the visible gathering of the Saints world-wide. (Revelation 11:12)
Clearly many Christians see these things developing like a building storm on the prophetic horizon. There is nothing there to discourage us from thinking IT IS POSSIBLE that the Parousia MAY occur in our life-times. They believe this without preaching to others that "the time is at hand" or "the Christ is here." Our Lord said not to follow or join those who point to a specific year; or, who claim we are already in the "last days."
This we cannot know until the Great Oppression is obviously under way. Whether this begins gradually without any clear indication of a precise beginning, or starts off with a very defined moment where those alert will know the three and a half years of oppression has started. Certainly a global economy, global worship, an enforced global peace, concentration camps, executions, and false evidence of Heaven’s blessing by some fire being called down from the sky -- all these would bestir in us tremendous excitement that "he is at the doors.
Indeed, even now, there is something missing from anyone who is not absolutely electrified with excitement at the thought that each day we move nearer that thrilling moment on the prophetic horizon. The tip of that ship’s mast is even now appearing far out there. How quickly or suddenly it will move in our direction is known only to God the Father.
Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller
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