Daniel 11, The Growth of the Mystery of Iniquity
Constantine Unites Paganism with Christianity
Daniel 11:23-30 covers the history of the Roman Empire after Christ, and it's influence on the Christian Church.
Daniel 11:31-35 covers the history of the Christian Church as it gains its primacy and then loses it in 1798.
And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people. During the reign of Constantine, a union between paganism and Christianity was made (see page one)
The groundwork of preparing the Christian church to enter this union was laid in the centuries preceding Constantine.
Thus Constantine found a responsive "meeting ground" to unite Christianity with Paganism.
The Roman empire had been in serious decline before Constantine. The despotic Diocletian had managed to restore some order and divided the empire into four divisions. However, it was Constantine, who, by bringing the Christians (a small people) to his side, gained their support. When he adopted "the standard of the cross" by replacing the pagan emblems of the eagle with emblems of the cross, Christians now consented to fight in the Roman army, and he moved on to win his victories over his rivals. He defeated Maxentius, his rival in Italy, and then conquering Rome itself, he began his rise to Emperor greatness. In 324 he won against Licinius, his co-ruler in the east, and became the "sole Ruler" in the Roman Empire.
He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers' fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time.
Constantine entered the church and did that which no emperor had done before. He had already interfered in the affairs of the Church, when in 316 A.D. he tried to settle the Donatist schism. In 325 A.D. he summoned the FIRST ECUMENICAL council of the Church to meet at Nicaea. Constantine and his successors played an influential role in what was and what was not church doctrines.
He scattered among them riches: magnificent churches were erected, adorned with images and pictures borrowed from the lavish ceremonies of the pagan temples.
Also, Constantine established a new capital city, Constantinople, which would be a strong hold against the King of the South for a Time
To do this he also "peacefully entered" a well situated city, and selected this ancient Greek city as his new capital, renaming it; Constantinople. He chose the location well, as for ages this intercontinental crossing had, and continued to be, the commercial and military link between Europe and Asia.
The emperor stripped the great monuments and “spoil” from many ancient cities to beautify his new capital. By 330 A.D. the new capital was a magnificent monumental city. The supposedly Christian Emperor dedicated the city in honor of the goddess of Fortune, and in the forum was erected a statue of Apollo with emblems of the crucifixion in the sunbeams. His coins on the one side bore the name of Christ; on the other the figure of the sun-god and the inscription “Sol invictus”-- Invincible Sun.
Constantine, indeed, did that which neither his father nor his father’s fathers had performed. He left to his heirs a new capital adorned with the "spoil" of other cities.
He made a league, (union) between Christianity and paganism, in which the emperor had considerable voice as to what was doctrine. He set the stage for the rise of the papal antichrist’s reign.
For a time Constantinople was the stronghold to keep the “king of the south” and the eastern “New Persian” the Sassanians, from entering Europe.
THE KING OF THE SOUTH
In 570 a new face for the king of the south was rising. Mohammed was born in 570, he believed that chosen of God to "reconcile" people back to God. The word "muslim" means "reconcile". In the following years his Islamic religion took a foothold in the east, taking over the “New Persia” or Sassanians. These Islamic, Muslims set out to capture Syria and Jerusalem, and even Alexandria in Egypt, and would, become the "new king of the South".
And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south with a great army; and the king of the south shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand: for they shall forecast devices against him. Before continuing with the future of the north, the vision points us once again to the king of the south which we won't see again until verses 40-45.
Remember, the Roman Empire had conquered and included what was formerly the territory of the King of the South. Who is this king of the south that is attempting to re-establish himself in these verses; against whom the king of the north marches, and against whom he will march against again in the last verses of Daniel 11?
Persians under the rule of Chosroes had begun a series of successful attacks on the empire resulting in the loss of Damascus in 613, Jerusalem in 614 (destroying the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and capturing the Holy Cross) and Egypt in 619. The emperor residing in Constantinople did stir up his courage against the aggressive king of the south. Emperor Heracluis, in 620 A.D. drove the Persians out of Syria, Palestine and Egypt after their attempt to establish themselves as the king of the south.
The Persians were not able to stand.
However the defeat of the Persians created a larger problem for the Byzantine empire. The struggle between the Byzantines and the Persians had worn down both sides and the defeat of the Persians allowed the Muslim Arabs to quickly absorb what remained of the Persian empire. It also removed the buffer between the Arabs and the Byzantines allowing the two empires to come into contact and conflict. In 634 the Arab armies invaded Syria and defeated Theodore, the emperor's brother, in a string of battles. Heraclius raised a large army that attacked the Arabs near the Yarmuk, a tributary of the Jordan, in the fall of 636. After a successful beginning, the larger Byzantine army was defeated allowing the conquest of Syria. The Byzantine defeat also led to the Arabs quickly taking Mesopotamia, Armenia and eventually Egypt. The new king of the south, the Arabs, now uniting under the new religion, MUSLIM, conquered, first the weakened Persians, and then moved on to take over the territories of the "King of the South". In 635 the Muslims took Damascus, in 638 Jerusalem. Then they moved on to capture the kingdom of the “king of the South”, --they conquered the city of Alexandra in 642, and on across the African north till in the 690’s they controlled the whole of the Southern kingdom and began making assaults on the northern kingdom.
But for "a time" Constantinople was the "stronghold" blocking their attempts to enter into the west.
Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow: and many shall fall down slain.
For “a time” Constantinople was a stronghold against the King of the South. Though eventually it would fall into the hands of the king of the South.
The king of the South had established himself and would play his part in the fifth and sixth trumpets of Revelation, when Constantinople itself would fall to the Moslems.
The text predicts the fall of Constantines capital by the ones "being fed" by the high taxes imposed on Christians, for they shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow: and many shall fall down slain.
The union did not save imperial Rome, for shortly thereafter, the west fell to the barbarians. The church gained more and more influence in political affairs. The transfer of the capital of the Roman Empire to Constantinople set the stage for the separation of east and west. Thus the founding of Constantinople sealed the doom of Rome in the western portion of the Roman Empire and opened the door for Papal Supremacy in the west.
The sun-worshipping emperor thought this union would strengthen him, but in reality it was the beginning of the transfer of the seat of his power to the Roman Catholic Church. The council of Nicaea (325) knew nothing about papal supremacy, but when we come to the reign of Pope Leo I (440-461) we see Leo acting the role of a great ecclesiastical statesman with commanding character and successfully asserting the supreme authority of the papacy.
It is interesting to note the words "time appointed" in these prophecies. "Evil men and their machinations can last only as long as God permits them to continue. The true philosophy of history is demonstrated throughout the book of Daniel. "God doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand." (Dan. 4:35)
The prophecies continue to outline the times appointed.
Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land.
While the emperors of Rome retreated to Constantinople, (by 476 A.D. there was no more emperor in Rome) the Pope returned to the imperial city of Rome. No longer did the Roman bishop dwell in catacombs, he lived in the Lateran palace, bequethed to him by Constantine for a residence, and it remained the papal residence until 1308. The Bishop of Rome now lived in a style of luxury and pomp befitting any king. He rode through the streets of Rome in a stately chariot and clothed in gorgeous attire. The Church was now enriched by gifts and bequests. The bishop drew great revenues from his farms in the Campagna and his plantations in Sicily. Emperors showed great generosity to the Church in lavishing donations on it and erecting numerous sumptuous basilicas, including the magnificent one over the supposed site of the tomb of Peter at Rome.
No longer was the papacy poor, they lived in palaces and worshipped in lavish churches.
His heart is against the Holy covenant. What is the covenant? A covenant is an agreement. God agrees to supply salvation through the blood of Christ, and cleanse and sanctify us, we agree to take up our cross and follow Him in obedience, to allow God’s law to be written upon our hearts and minds.
The new-covenant promise is,
"I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them. And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. " Hebrews 10:16-17.But HIS HEART is against the covenant.
Painting by Harry Anderson
God's covenant plan
The counterfeit covenant plan
The Confessionial (Dicksee 1896) by cheyenne
The confessional demands a person "reveal" all his sins to another sinful human being, who then may or may not grant absolution. The arrangement has had devasting effects as honourable people, often young women, are asked the most intimate and embarrasing questions, and prompted "in the name of God" to reveal their most intimate thoughts and secrets to a sinful man. Thus both penitant and priest are degraded-- when they should make their confession to GOD ALONE, and seeking HIS pardon and cleansing for their souls, instead of planting and sharing the thoughts of sin.
They also sought to change God's times and laws, and force the changed laws upon the people.
To us, as to Israel, the Sabbath is given "for a perpetual covenant." (Ex. 31:16,17) To those who reverence His holy day, the Sabbath is a sign that God recognizes them as His chosen people, and sanctifies them. .(Ezekiel 20:12,20) It is a pledge that we recognize Him as our God, and we submit to Him and believe He will fulfill to us His covenant of writing His law upon our hearts and cleansing us of all sin. Every person who "takes hold" by faith the sign of God's government places himself under the divine, everlasting covenant. (Isaiah 56)
“ Keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.When the law is written in the heart, it will shape the life and obedience--the service and allegiance of love--is the true sign of discipleship.
Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keeps the Sabbath from polluting it, and takes hold of my covenant;” Is. 56:4-6
In Daniel 11 we see a progressive turning against the covenant.
Constantine’s law was only the beginning of legislating the observance of Sunday. The Council of Laodicea, some fifty years later, declared:
In 368 A.D, .the emperors Valentinian, and Theodosius decreed:
The whole attack on the covenant of God is get the people to surrender to human beings and obey the commandments of men, who presume to stand in the place of God, rather than to surrender to God Himself and obey His commandments.
Daniel 7:25 tells us the “stout horn” on the Roman beast, will attempt to change God’s times and laws. Daniel 11 tells over and over that the attack is on God’s covenant.
At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter. Theodosius (379-395) was the last emperor to unite and rule the whole Roman Empire. He did so by working with the barbarian tribes and using them in his army and in his government. However, in the years following his death, the western empire dissolved rapidly as the barbarian tribes assaulted them again and again. Alaric with his Visigoths, the Huns, the Vandals, and finally the last western emperor, Romulus Augustulus (the little Augustus” with the name of the original founder of Rome) was dethroned and Odoacer, a German military man, took the seat of command. Thus in 476, two generations after Theodosius, the last of the western emperors disappeared. This was followed by another invasion by the Ostergoths and in A.D. 493 Theodoric the Great was king in Italy.
In 527 A.D. Justinian was crowned at Constantinople. His dream was the restoration of the united Empire. With the aid of his general Belisarius he endeavored to reconquer the lost empire. Belisarius came toward the south, where the Vandals held control, and overthrew them, he then marched to Rome in 537, took the city and in 538 drove off the Ostergoths who attempted to retake the city. Belisarius then moved on to crush the Ostergoth kingdom.
Thus “he shall return” was Justinian’s return to claim the lands for the empire, but it was not like the “old Rome” nor is it like it will be in the end.
Justinian showed very poor judgment in supposing that the Eastern Empire possessed the power again to rule the Mediterranean world and he was not able to maintain his conquests. Also Justinian was a persecutor of those who did not believe what he, Justinian decreed as truth.
For the ships of Chittim shall come against him: therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.
Justinian’s endeavors to reunite the Empire and beautify his capital, while having the appearance of restoration of the former Roman Empire power, in actuality helped hasten its downfall. He spent the strength of his Empire in trying to regain the West when he needed all his resources to defend himself against the New Persians, the Sassanian , who assailed the eastern frontier in war after war.
Before embarking on reconquering the west, Justinian had made an "Endless Peace" with the Persian kings, Khosrau. But when Khosrau realized Justinian's armies were victorous in Africa and Italy, Khosrau became alarmed, and ended the "Endless Peace" in 540 A.D.
Justinian was now in big crisis, especially when in 541, Khosrau began moving his army toward the Black Sea. Justinian summoned Belisarius from the west and hoped his experience would compensate for the lack of troops. Things did not look good, but by winning several battles and then agreeing to pay large sums of money to Khosrau, Justinian managed to prevent the Persian's access to the Black Sea ports.
His great buildings, especially the magnificent church of St. Sophia required so much money that his treasury was emptied. The east was also assaulted by a new Indo-European Slavic invasion which almost completely cut off the communications between east and west.
However, Justinian did succeed in establishing a great judicial or legal unity. By his direction, the laws of the great former rulers of the Roman Empire were collected and placed into “Justinian’s Digest. In this digest were also laws giving the Roman Pope the Supremacy over all churches and the authority to deal with all heretics.
Thus Justinian had intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant. He himself persecuted many who did not follow the “established” religion. Many of these persecuted ones fled to the west to have the protection of the Gothic king, but when Justinian defeated the Goths and legislated the Pope as the final authority on religious matters with the duty to deal with all heretics, these persecuted ones found themselves still being hunted down for their beliefs.
Daniel 8:24 says the
We have seen that the papacy’s rise to political like power came through the Roman emperors. Now that the west was being cut off from the east, what power would the papacy use to fight it’s battles and enforce it’s dogmas upon the people?
Verse 31 introduces this army of the papacy which it would use for the next 1290 day/years:
For this verse marks the beginning of the 1290 days of Daniel 12:11
“From the time that the daily is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up; there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.”It also corresponds with Daniel 8:11-12
“And by him the daily was taken away and the place of His sanctuary was cast down. Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily and he cast truth down to the ground.”When the Papal power receives an army, the abomination that makes desolation is set up, and Christ’s heavenly ministry is obscured by force for 1290 day/years.
It was the conversion of the Frank king, Clovis, that supplied the Papacy with an army. It was an important turning point for the church, for the Franks would “found the pontifical state, raise the Pope to royal rank, and by establishing the Carolingian empire, constitute the Christianity of the Middle Ages.”
Clovis subdued the Visigoths in 507 and defeated them in 508. He was proclaimed the “first son of the Catholic Church”. His armies were used to enforce Christian practices, including Sunday, upon the barbarian tribes.
While it was the emperor, Justinian who banished the other two (horns” tribes”) the Vandels and Ostrogoths and legislated the supremacy of the Pope over all churches in 538 (beginning the 1260 years): yet Roman control was waning in west. If it weren’t for the Franks, the Papacy would not have had the power she had during the middle ages. For the papacy did not fight with her own armies, she used the armies of kings. This army was given her in 508 A.D. when Clovis converted to Christianity. Later, Gregory the Great (604) probably would not have been called “the great”, if he did not have the Frankish army which, under Pepin came to Italy and drove out the Lombards and gave the church lands and more political power. Gregory was in effect, the actual ruler of Rome and the surrounding territories.
Even in 1095 we have Pope Urban II, calling on the Franks:
“Oh, race of Franks, race beyond the mountains (the Alps) race beloved and chosen by God, set apart from all other nations by the situation of your country, as well as by your Catholic faith and the honor you render to the holy Church” to you our discourse is addressed, and for you are exhortations are intended….a race from the kingdom of the Persians, an accursed race, a race wholly alienated from God…has violently invaded the lands of those Christians and has depopulated them by pillage and fire. …On whom, therefore, rests the labor of avenging these wrongs and of recovering this territory, if not upon you—you, upon whom, above all other nations, God has conferred remarkable glory in arms, great courage…….” (Snyder, “Great Turning Points in History” page 31)Thus 508-1798, the papacy had armies to execute her will and breathe life into her commands, she now stood in with military power to convince people that she had the supposed “ keys” to heaven, thus polluting and taking from the minds of men the truth about the heavenly sanctuary of strength where Christ ministered as the heavenly high Priest, and replace it with her own counterfeit priests, counterfeit forgiveness, and counterfeit Sabbath; making people accountable to her, rather than to God.
And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
So we see the Pope depending upon the “sword” of Frankish emperor to subdue the people under his ecclesiastical control. Yet he also had great control over the people as they came to believe that the church actually had the power to save or condemn. They began to believe that the pope and his priests really did hold the so called “keys” to the kingdom. To gain the authority over the kings and people, the papacy used the power of the “keys”, granting absolutions to sin to those who executed their will, and eternal delights to those who upheld her cause, while damning to everlasting hell ,and excommunicating, thus depriving from the supposed salvic sacraments, those who were against her cause.
However, God’s true people are still on the scene.
They are strong and do exploits for the Lord! Who are these people? They are the ones who are hiding in the wilderness for 1260 years as Revelation 12 tells us. They were the Waldenses, the Huguenots, the Albigenses. They were the mighty reformers, who at the peril of their lives stood up to proclaim the errors of the established church and sent the people back to Bible religion.
And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.
This verse introduces the 1260 day/years of papal oppression and persecution announced in Daniel 12:7
“It shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these shall be finished.”Daniel 7:25 also describes these many days (1260 day/years) when God's saints will fall by the sword and flame, by captivity and blunder...to refine them and purify them until the time of the end, because it is for an appointed time.
And what is the appointed time of this persecution? Daniel 12:7 says it is for a time, times and half a time (1260 years) that the power of the holy people shall be shattered.
This time period of papal primacy and oppression began when Justinian's decree, declaring the pope's authority over all churches and authorizing him to deal with all "heretics" went into effect. (See Papal Primacy, 1260 years.)
It ended in 1798 when Napoleon sent his general Berthier to Rome. Rome was declared a republic, the pope was imprisoned where he died, and the new pope operated under Napoleon's new laws that removed from him all former primacy. The primacy law lasted exactly 1260 years.
Painting by Harry Anderson
Rev. 12:6,14 refer to the same 1260 day/years.Then the woman (God’s church) fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
The woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.
This is not just a matter of a church upholding the standards for those who voluntarily join in membership—this is a matter of the papacy using armies to force everyone living under her jurisdiction to worship according to her mandates. No one was allowed to believe differently. The emperor Justinian, himself was determined to stamp out all "heretical" beliefs. Thousands suffered greatly by from his efforts. Homeless and robbed of all their possessions many escaped to Ostrogoth territory only to see these Goths vanquished and the pope given legal authority to root them out, which the papacy attempted to do.
The true church hid in the wilderness.
The records of the true church are not that abundant. The "ruling church" dispised, and persecuted the true church and could not tolerate the voice and existance of this rival church.
The theology taught in the mountainous refuges were all drawn from the Bible. Writes J.A.Wylie:The atoning death and justifying righteousness of Christ was its cardinal truth. This, the "Nobla Leyeon" and other ancient documents abundantly testify. The "Nobla Leycon" sets forth with tolerable clearness the doctrine of the Trinity, the fall of man, the incarnation of the Son, the perpetual authority of the decalogue as given by God, the need of divine grace in order to live godly lives with good works, the necessity of holiness, the institution of the ministry, the resurrection of the body, and the eternal bliss of heaven.(History of Waldenses, p.16)Wylie also points out that the church in the wilderness DID NOT BELIEVE, in the authority of the pope, in the pope's pardons, in purgatory, in relics, in holy water, or in transubstantiation. (ibid, p. 17)
“Yet they that understand shall instruct many”
This corresponds with Rev. 11: 3
"I will give power to my two witnesses and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days (1260 day/years) clothed in sackcloth."During the wilderness condition, God indicated that the true church, though under a long period of strong opposition and persecution would continue to carry the gospel to the world. They had the whole BIBLE, both testaments. There is considerable evidence that the Waldenses possessed the New Tesament in their own vernacular, the "Lingua Romana".
Wylie continues to tell us that the young people not only used the scriptures as their "textbook", but were required to commit to memory and be able to accurately recite whole gospels and epistles. Part of their time was committed to transcriping portions of the scriptures which they were to distribute when they went forth as missionaries. All who became pastors in the wilderness church were required to serve three years in the "mission field" going out to spread the Bible and Biblical truth in the Roman Catholic dominated Europe. This was a risky assignment as many suffered martydom. (see ibid pp. 19-20)
The power on the ecclesiastical throne might change God’s covenant and God’s law, and God's day of worship but there were always some who obeyed God rather than man. Their history has been hidden from the vaults of historical writings, for it was the policy of Rome to obliterate every vestige of opposition to her doctrines and send all “heretical” material to the flames. The major source of remaining information comes from the pens of their enemies who denounced and condemned them.
For example: King Alfonso of Aragonie in the year 1192, made the following edict:“Whosoever, therefore, from this day forward, shall presume to receive the said Waldenses and Insabbati, or any other heretics of whatsoever profession, into their houses, or to be present at their pernicious sermons, or to afford them meat or any other favor, shall thereby incur the indignation of Almighty God, as well as ours and have their goods confiscated, without the remedy of an appeal, and be punished as if he were actually guilty of high treason.” (quoted in JN Andrews book History of the Sabbath” page 553)According to Goldastus, a historian writing in the early 1600’s, The Insabbati were called that “ because they kept the Sabbath according to the Jewish law”.
Yet, these were all subjected to false accusation and persecution. In several places we see the established church express that it is “antichrist” to teach the Sabbath.
Pope Gregory I (590-604) wrote:“It has come to my ears that certain men of perverse spirit have sown among you some things wrong and opposed to holy faith, so as to forbid any work being done on the Sabbath day. What else can I call these but preachers of Antichrist….” (Fathers of the Christian Church, V.13 b.13 p. 336)Rome spared no effort in her war to exterminate “heretics”. When the princes of France would not consent to butcher thousands of industrious and orderly people, the Albigenses, in Southern France, the, Pope Innocent III ordered a general crusade against them and offered full indulgence to cover all the sins of those who would engage in this “holy war”. The character of the Albigenses was smeared to rouse the indignation of the people, they were accused of Manichaism (believing an evil god created material things, and a good god created spiritual things)but historians have vindicated them showing they were Bible believing Christians. However, they were growing rapidly in southern France and the papal voice urged:.“Go on, you brave warriors of Christ, resist the predecessors of Antichrist, fight with the servants of the old serpent.” (History of Sabbath p. 557)Millions were killed. France lost many of her best citizens, cities were laid in ruins, in the mad drive to "kill all heretics". But the army of the crusaders was followed by something even worse—the Inquisition. This system reached new heights of inhumanity and evil practiced in the name of Christ. Its victims were accused on the basis of anonymous denunciations, they were not allowed witnesses in their favor, and the innocent as well as the guilty were forced to confess to whatever they were accused of, by the use of brutal torture, which was definitively prescribed in the bull of Innocent IV of 1252, Ad extirpanda.
Later, the French Huguenots (Calvinists) received similar treatment. In the Massacre on Saint Bartholomew's Day, thousands of French Protestants, or Huguenots, were murdered. The Huguenot admiral, Coligny was the first victim; his death was followed by the killing of all Huguenots within reach of the soldiery and the mob. The massacre spread from Paris into other sections of France. Massacres continued into October reaching the provinces of Rouen, Lyons, Bourges, Orleans, and Bourdeaux. An estimated 3,000 were killed in Paris, 70,000 in all of France.
Now when they shall fall, they shall be helpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries.
God is always with His people, even when it seems all forces are against them. The greatest "help" was their trust in God and the knowledge of the hereafter with HIM.
In the twelfth chapter of Revelation we also read that God’s people will be HELPED.
And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.In chapter 13 of Revelation we read that a new beast, with lamblike horns arises from the earth.
In our prophetic understanding we realize this new power that rises from a sparsely populated country is none other than the United States of America. Thus it was that while in Europe the blood of martyrs flowed, a band of pilgrims who had sought asylum first in England, then in Holland, braved the unknown to find freedom on a new continent.
It was the desire for liberty of conscience that inspired the Pilgrims to brave the perils of the long journey across the sea, to endure the hardships and dangers of the wilderness, in their desire to serve God in freedom. Yet honest and God-fearing as they were, the Pilgrims did not yet comprehend the great principle of religious liberty. The freedom which they sacrificed so much to secure for themselves, they were not equally ready to grant to others. "Very few, even of the foremost thinkers and moralists of the seventeenth century, had any just conception of that grand principle, the outgrowth of the New Testament, which acknowledges God as the sole judge of human faith." The doctrine that God has committed to the church the right to control the conscience, and to define and punish heresy, is one of the most deeply rooted of papal errors. While the reformers rejected the creed of Rome, they were not entirely free from her spirit of intolerance. Even in America there was religious intolerance, Sunday laws, and punishment of “heretics”. It wasn’t until after the Revolution for independence that a constitution was drawn up that respected the right of each individual to worship God as their conscience dictated.
Even in Europe God was pushing back the oppression as the reformation moved forward with great power. In several provinces, the princes were defying the pope’s threatenings and sheltering the reformers. The Bible was being translated and put into the hands of the people. The Papacy was shaken and had each nation accepted the Reformation what a great revival would have come to Europe.
Yet, flatteries did more damage than the persecution. Many a brave reformer re-established truths, gained supporters, achieved a “respectable” standing and stopped advancing. Indeed, many of them, in turn persecuted, or sanctioned the persecution of those who sought fuller truth.
The New English Bible reads: "But these victims will not want for help, though small, even if many who join them are insincere."
And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.
Even though it seemed there was a little more toleration for "protestants" in the years prior to 1798, those who moved on to a "purer faith"---those who understood the Sabbath message and the meaning of Baptism were persecuted right till the end of the 1260 day/years.
The role of baptism and the ten commandments in a believers life, go together. The commandments point out our sin, and direct us to our Savior. Baptism symbolizes dying to our sinful ways and rising to walk in newness of life in the ways of God.
One point that caused the main reformers to falter, was that they did not see the danger in the unity between church and state. The great "league" or unity of Constantine, was still regarded as necessary, albeit the protestants tried to have the government on their side. Yet, there were a few who understood that the only way to forward the reformation was to make a complete separation of the church from the state.
Luther did not understand this, neither did Zwingly and others, and so we see compromises in deference to the city authorities.
For some reason the idea that a person should be baptised when they were mature enough to forsake sin and fully commit themselves to Christ, was regarded as an evil. Part of this came, because of the "peasant revolution" which was then used as a generalized reason to persecute all who accepted adult baptism. Sadly, even the "reformers" joined in sanctioning the laws being issued by the governments stating: "whereas it is ordered and provided in common law that no man, having once been baptized according to Christian order (infant baptism) shall let himself be baptized again or for the second time, ...it is forbidden in the imperial law to do such on pain of death....every rebaptized man and woman of the age of reason shall be condemned and brought from natural life into death by fire, sword and the like." (Reformation and Advent Movement, Emmerson, page 82)
Sabbath Keepers fared little better. Records show that the knowledge of the Sabbath spread far and wide in Europe during the sixteenth century. As Gerhard Hasel comments, the placing of the Sabbatarians as high as third and fourth in some of the lists of "heretics" seems to indicate on the part of these early enumerators that the Sabbatarian Anabaptists were considered an important and strong group. (Emmerson p.79)
Oswald Glait, a leader in the Sabbath movement was imprisoned in Vienna and a year later, 1546, led out of prison at midnight and put to death by drowning in the Danube.
Yet there was a time appointed when the general persecutions would end and most of the Christian lands would offer freedom of religion. That time came in 1798.
That's when, according to Bruce Shelley in "Church History in Plain Language" page 358
Napolean had the good sense to work out an agreement with the pope....BUT the Church had lost forever its position of power. France and the rest of Europe could never return to a society held together by an alliance of throne and altar."Shelley said, the church had lost it's power FOREVER...but prophecy says the wound will heal and the world will once again be herded into a society held together by enforced devotion to "throne and altar".
Page One --Daniel 11:2-23
Page Three --Daniel 11:37-12:13
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