The world is engrossed in the mysterious unknownthe psychic, medieval, or prophetic. Many people wish to know the future, urged on by the terrifying events transpiring about them. Is there a hope beyond the daunting mist of tomorrow? If so, how much worse will it get before it gets better?
Right here is where the Bible-believing Christian has an ultimate advantage. David expressed this so well in his often quoted Psalm, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." Psalm 119:105
Yes, that precious book does give prophetic insights that lighten up the future! Initially our minds will be drawn to the prophecies of Daniel particularly those in chapter 7. Mysterious beasts trace through history, eventually tracing down to a little hornlittle, yet powerful. Did you notice that God takes more space describing this little horn than the other four kingdoms combined? Why? Because the biblical characteristics identify it as an important feature of both prophecy and historythe antichrist power!
Let us take some time to investigate the characteristics of this little horn. God's Word gives us nine characteristics of this small, yet great power right there in Daniel 7. We can be certain of his identity, and even though these truths from God's Word are profound, we must be honest enough to accept them as His revealed will.
Location: The "little horn came up among them"the ten horns which were the kingdoms of Western Europe. So it would be a little kingdom somewhere in Western Europe. (Daniel 7:8)
Spokesman: It would have a man at its head who could speak for it, "speaking great things." (Daniel 7:8)
Dominion: It would destroy three other kingdoms (Daniel 7:8)
Unique: It would be different from the other ten kingdoms on this fourth beast. (Daniel 7:24)
Origin: It would emerge from the pagan Roman Empirethe fourth world kingdom. (Daniel 7:7,8)
Persecution: It would make war with and "wear out" or persecute the "saints", or God's people. (Daniel 7:21,25)
Oppression: God's people would "be given into his hand" for a period of time. Daniel 7:25)
Blasphemy: It would "speak words against" God (Daniel 7:25). In Revelation 13:5, the Bible says the same power speaks "great things and blasphemies."
Assumption: It would "think to change times and laws". (Daniel 7:25)
These 9 identifying points of Antichrist clearly point to one power in history that fits all these points so clearly. Rising in Western Europe, with a spokesman at its head, the papacy removed three opposing kingdoms. This unique power differed from the previous 10 secular powers as was primarily religious even though it came from the same pagan Roman origin as the others. The Papacy admits to persecuting and even conservative historians claim it probably destroyed at least 50 million people over matters of religious conviction. Using this persecution, the papacy oppressed God's people for a period of time, in fact exactly the period of time that Daniel stated in His prophecy. The papacy also can be identified as committing blasphemy against God and assuming the right to change times and laws.
No other organisation could possibly fit these nine points. Every reformer, without exception, spoke of the papacy as Antichrist. At the same time they sought to reach those people affected by its teachings.
So this little horn is not an individual but an organisationthe papacy, although it does have a leader, a spokesman. The words "eyes of man" in Daniel 7:8 reinforce this. Revelation 13:18 speaks of man with a number being involved.
Notice that in Daniel chapter 8 Greece is represented by a goat and its leader, Alexander the Great, is symbolised by a horn. The same is true of Antichrist. The organisation is the papacy. The pope in office is its representative. Notice that the prophecy does not condemn those involved with this system, but rather it is given as a warning to every one that the system is antichrist because it usurped Jesus' authority and attempted to change His law.
If we take a broader look we see that Satan's original plan in heaven was to assume God's position and authority. His aim was to oust God and rule in His place. When Satan was ejected from heaven, his aim did not change, but rather intensified. Through the centuries he has endeavoured, using various human agencies, to discredit God and take over his position.
Satan aims to replace God in these last days by deceiving people into following Antichrist, who appears spiritual and holy. The main purpose of the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation is to expose Satan's traps and strategies and lead people to anchor in Jesus and His Word for safety.
The Bible says that most people will follow the Antichrist (Revelation 13:3), thinking they are following Christ. Only the very elect will be safe (Matthew 24:23,24). They will be safe because they test every spiritual teaching and leader by Scripture (Isaiah 8:20). Religious deception is everywhere today.
In 1 John 2:18-22, the Bible records many antichrists. There have been many antichrists down through history who have worked against the kingdom of God. However, there is only one entity that specifically fulfils all the prophesied characteristics of the Antichrist. All these identifying marks, as listed above, can be fulfilled in only one entity, that being the papacy.
Today, right today, we see these prophecies fast fulfilling. The Protestant Reformation came in the midst of darkness as a little window of light that God has opened to let the light of His Word shine through to reveal His message of Righteousness by Faith to all mankind until the end of time. We should truly appreciate this window in time. But we must not become complacent that this ease will continue, if fact the Bible itself continues to reveal that the wonderful time of Protestant freedom will end.
It was on October 31, 1517, that Luther, a German Catholic monk nailed his 95 thesis on the church door of Wittenberg Castle triggering off the Protestant Reformation. It was on a more recent October 31 that the papacy signed a concordat with the Evangelicals entitled, 'Evangelicals and Catholics Together'.
Since the last newsletter, much has happened in the religious-political world. One pope has died and another has been elected into office. Those who have been following the news media, will know that there are changes already in place and the voice of this new German pope speaks.
There are new evidences that continue to fulfil the identifying marks, and there is astounding evidence that the whole world is wondering after the beast just as the words of prophecy predict. (Revelation 13:3)
May we realise the nearness of this battle to take place and also realise our need to be rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ our Saviour, the only way we will make it through the battle ahead of us all. It will only be as we discover the light of God's Word and experience the knowledge of Jesus Christ that we will know His voice in the times just ahead. He is the only way out of the thick mist engulfing this mess of a world.
The Editorial from the Autumn Leaves June 2005 newsletter by Doug Hurley