This is going to be a long post because it deals with the eleventh chapter of Daniel. I hope you can follow it. It is a message of warning to us today. God’s richest blessings on you as you read.
Expansion and enlargement is the principle the Lord used with the visions and dreams of Daniel to show him the future of His movement of redemption on Earth, and also the enemy of His redemption. Expansion and enlargement is the premier method that the Master Teacher demonstrates for us whom He would have teach the nations and make disciples of them.
In Daniel 2 we see an overview of pagan kingdoms from the end of Israel’s kingdom of righteousness down to the end of the great controversy. And we get some details of the intervening stages of world history as Satan moves his dominion more and more under his complete control.
Daniel 7 begins to give confirmation of those same stages with details of each one, focusing on the fourth stage, the empire of Rome.
The Daniel 8 vision almost immediately zooms in on the fourth kingdom and then keeps the focus exclusively on it.
Although the vision of Daniel 9 introduces the one and only scriptural reference of the word, Messiah, it connects with the other visions at its ending. Its finale gives a picture of not only the eagles of imperial Rome, but also projects the greater destroyer of God’s people spoken of in the other dreams and visions, the beast that would arise after Christ’s earthly ministry and the passing of the apostles. This is why Christ’s Matthew 24:15 reference to the abomination of desolation just before His second coming is also used to describe the armies of General Titus in Luke 21:20-22 who destroyed the earthly Jerusalem. Gabriel meant both when giving the express wording that he did to Daniel, the destruction of the earthly and the heavenly temples.
Finally, the Daniel 11 vision gives the most complex detail of the coming abominable enemy of God. This is given after the Holy Ghost had laid the foundation from the previous dreams and visions.
Probably, to most of you none of this was new. But, I remind that each prophecy was built onto the previous ones because many SDAs still cling to Uriah Smith’s method of interpreting Daniel and Revelation as military campaigns primarily, and especially so in Daniel 11. Military movements, rather than movements by Satan to own the world’s adoration and full allegiance, as the Lord through Ellen White warned us of, leaves us ignorant of his devices. But if we lay Daniel 11 over the other foundational visions and dreams we must then find it pointing out details of the fourth kingdom primarily—the apostatized church of God, the Vatican—and not the nations of Turkey or France, as Elder Smith wrote in his book.
To neglect proper Bible interpretation methods in this is to get caught up in misguided popular theories that lead away from the light of the Spirit of Prophecy and into one of Satan’s many traps. These days those theories abound in order that he may deceive, if possible, even the very elect. I hear SDAs worried about an Islam conquest of Christianity. Have they consulted Bible prophecy, as our pioneers passed it down to us? Our big fear must be toward the Roman Papacy, even if at the moment it isn’t visible. Because it will make its appearance, and suddenly. As Paul told us, “Then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming.” (2Thess. 2:8).
The fourth kingdom of Daniel’s book was Satan’s gem. The visions thus described the fourth kingdom: “Strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.” “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 in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.” “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.” (Dan. 2:40;7:7;8:23;9:26).
So, let’s look at Daniel 11 mainly in the light of divine warning—to watch the movements and development of what became the church of Rome, and its continued primacy and exalted place in the world today.
As each of the preceding visions always began with regular military conquests, so does the final vision.
I) Cyrus who followed Darius, the Median King, is ruling Persia when this vision is given to Daniel.
A) Four major Persian kings were to follow Cyrus who decreed the Jews to return and build the temple:
B) Cambyses (530-522 BC);
C) Darius I (the Great) (522-486 BC), under whose reign came the second decree to the Jews and the temple was finished;
D) Xerxes (or Ahasuerus, when Esther was made queen) (486-465 BC), and
E) Artaxerxes (464-423 BC) who gave the third decree and provided for the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
After Artaxerxes there are several lesser kings between 423 BC to the rise of Greece in 334 BC. These are ignored by Gabriel.
The next major player in sacred history is Alexander the Great, who conquers Persia in 331 BC. According to the SDA Bible Commentary,
Alexander had scarcely reached the pinnacle of his power when he was cut down. In 323 BC this king who ruled from the Adriatic to the Indus suddenly fell ill, and 11 days later was dead.
II)Following his death in 323 BC, the Greek Empire is carved into 3 parts:
A) Cassander rules over Greece and Macedonia,
B) Lysimachus rules over Thracia and Asia Minor,
C) Ptolemy rules over Egypt, Judea, Syria, Mesopotamia and India
D) 312 BC: Ptolemy’s general in Syria, Seleucus Nicator, declares himself satrap of Babylon
305 BC: Seleucus Nicator establishes a kingdom ranging from Syria in the west to India in the east and founds the Seleucid dynasty with capital in Seleucia (Iraq).
Although Cassandra, Lysimachus, and Seleucus ruled in the north, because Seleucus ruled to the immediate north and would be the kingdom controlling Palestine, the Seleucid dynasty became known as the king of the north.
The Ptolemys of Egypt would be known as the king of the south and would also control Palestine part of the time.
III)Verse 6-14 speak of Antiochus II Theos (261-246 BC) Grandson of Seleucus I married Berenice, daughter of egytpian Ptolemy II Philadelphus.
A) Seleucus II Callinicus (246-226 BC) and various other Ptolemies and Seleucids warring between themselves until the Romans begin to rise in 197 BC.
IV) The Roman Empire
A) Verse 14 the Romans become the new king of the north which began to intimidate the region around the Mediterranean Sea.
B) Verse 18,19 Julius Caesar in 80 BC began to rise to power and set the empire in stability but he was finally murdered because of all his brutality and corruption.
C) Vs 20 Caesar Augustus, the raiser of taxes (Lk. 2:1) truly saw the glory of the Roman Empire—all its dominions conquered and subdued, and wealth flowed in through the use of systematic tribute imposed. All the Romans loved Augustus and he died peacefully with the empire settled on solid ground and full of promise of everlasting continuation. He was surrounded by his beloved friends who saw his departing as the sad end of an glorious era.
We arrive at verse 21 and now diverge from the SDA Bible Commentary until verse 31 and instead use Daniel’s previous visions, laying line upon line and precept upon precept. The Commentary is wrong on its interpretation at this point, and I believe that is because it would not use the previous visions as its tool for interpreting, and felt restricted to Uriah Smith’s work. But, please look for yourselves. Elder Smith got off track and left our founding position on Daniel’s visions because he looked at the current events of the late 1800’s and followed his own private interpretation.
It seems, the writers of the Commentary have followed him in this instance. When a candid student of Daniel lay all the visions on top of each other, he cannot conclude what Elder Smith concluded. Sadly, in the very end the Commentary speaks ambivilently on the king of the north possibly being Turkey or Russia and then quotes James White, saying, “What will be the result of this positiveness in unfulfilled prophecies should things not come out as very confidently expected is an anxious question.” Anxious to so many who wanted to depart from our original Protestant stance that the king of the north was the papacy. Certainly not anxious to Elder White!
It puzzles me that after all the counsel of Ellen and James White on the matter, the Commentary writers still clung to the idea that there could be some other enemy of God than Satan using the Church of Rome to destroy God’s people.
Verse 21—after Augustus dies stands up a “vile person” in the place of the king of the north who eventually exalts himself above every god and speaks marvelous things against the God of gods. The previous visions warns of the Papacy as the one to be feared for 1260 years. No description of a single sinner, not Tiberius Caesar or even the scoundrel Antiochus Epiphanes compare with the destruction caused by Satan’s machine, the beast power of the Dark Ages.
“A vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom….” The reason this says he is not given honor is because Satan works subtly and at first brings in this new power under the radar. It begins as a little horn that grows into the biggest of all horns. This vile person, or as the SDA Bible Commentary phrases it, “one…despised” is the “man of sin” and “the son of perdition,” the vilest of the vile, that Paul speaks of in his future, about 51 AD—long after the reign of Tiberius Caesar (14-37 AD), who the SDA Bible Commentary calls this “vile person.” But, laying scripture upon scripture as we proceed through Daniel 11 we can get a better picture of this vision and see where Paul got his information—the scriptures, with divine enlightenment.
“He shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.” “By peace shall destroy many…” (Dan. 8:25). “And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the Prince of the covenant.” (Dan. 11:22). This also refers to chapter 9:25 which called the Messiah “the Prince.” Something big happened on Earth 2,000 years ago. Two kingdoms were forming and planting roots—the Messiah’s kingdom, and His arch-rival to counteract the Messiah’s redemption for this world.
Even before Christ came and established His church, and even before that church apostatized, Satan, as a wise general had already prepared his traps in the Roman Empire to win the world’s hearts back to him which would have been wrested from his grip. Daniel 11:20,21 are the focal point around which the great controversy, like a vast hurricane around its eye, revolves.
It was unsuspectingly through the church that the plan of salvation was arrested. Through the church Satan was able to break the power that comes with a knowledge of Jesus and the love of God—the power that brings repentance, revival and reformation. “Yea, also the Prince of the covenant” (vs. 22). This could not be speaking of Tiberius Caesar, who never even knew of the crucifixion of Christ.
Again, following the same pattern as Daniel 8:12 and 23, (“And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression,” “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full”), we read “And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.” (Dan. 11:23).
At first, by losing its first love, then by relying on its own works to reconnect with the Lord, it gradually fell away. It refused to do the first works of striving to enter the straight gate by seeking God out with all the willpower and energy they could muster. They failed where Israel of old failed, “For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not…. Therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for Him.” (Is. 30:15,18). But the church wouldn’t be patient. It creeped ever so slowly from its Lord, first being a prodigal son who knew how to get back to God, to a lost sheep which knew it was lost but didn’t know the way back, and finally to a lost coin which didn’t even know it was lost. The fall away was a very slow process.
The movements of Satan were imperceptible by the Christians. But just as a sample of how he worked in the larger scheme over centuries, one website timeline gives this account: “378 AD Gratian, Emperor of the West, issues an edict of religious toleration.” Then, the next year that same young emperor of Rome “proclaims Theodosius as ‘Augustus’ and grants him the Eastern dominion.” The following year Theodosius cleaned out the opposition to the Bishop of Rome, which at that time was based on the Trinity issue from the Nicene Council. This opposition centered in the Greek Turkish region and opposed the insinuating doctrines of the Rome and Alexandrian churches. “From Thessalonica, and published at Constantinople, Emperor Theodosius declares Christianity to be the state religion in his edict, ‘The Catholic Faith’ advising that all subjects of the Empire should profess the faith of the Bishops of Rome and Alexandria, and the conventicles of the heretics were not to be called churches. He decreed that the title of “Catholic Church” should be exclusively confined to those who rendered equal homage to the three persons of the Trinity, and that those individuals who entertained opposite opinions should be treated as heretics, regarded with contempt, and delivered over to punishment.”
Notice that this began with an “edict of toleration”—an overture of peace just before the slaughter. “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.” (11:24).
Uriah Smith called this event pagan Roman Empire’s habit of peacefully entering a country and offering peace for war. Elder Smith dated this verse and verse 25 to the battle of Actium when Mark Anthony and Cleopatra fought against Octavian for control of the Julius’ throne. But, again, I believe that this verse speaks of that little horn that grows and grows bigger and bigger, high above the others, even reaching heaven. As we read from Daniel’s previous vision, “And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered.”(8:10-12).
The church was acting far different from the actions of the apostles through the use of force and violence, battling those who sought to revive the true doctrines. The website timeline also states: “364 AD—Council of Laodicea anathematizes Christians who keep a 7th day Sabbath.” The churches of Rome and Alexandria worked in collusion with the emperors to overturn all that Christ had been working to establish in the redeeming truth. Satan was violently overthrowing Christ from the seat of the church and installing paganism in His place.
Do we see a similarity in past events to the collusion of Protestantism with politics happening today? Yes, we surely do. This is why Christ pressed EGW so heavily to lay Adventists’ transgressions out before them—so that the Advent movement could avoid the same “falling away” scenario as long as possible. If they would study and obey the Bible along with her writings, our denomination would escape the moral problems plaguing the world today. The same can be said of the Reformation if it had continued steadfastly with the Bible and the Reformers’ doctrines, and of the apostolic church with the Old Testament and the apostle’s letters.
But today, within Protestantism, we see a repeat of the past—the transgressors are surely coming to the full and Satan is just about ready to finalize his re-emergence of his child of perdition. Our constitution will be repudiated. All our freedoms will go away and something worse than Nazi Germany will arise and replace them.
“He shall forecast his devices against the strong holds.” This earthly organization uses the same subtlety and calculated equivocation as the serpent in the garden. It was his brainchild, his medium to destroy the world before it could have been saved by the gospel, and to make it difficult for the holy people to evangelize. The phrase “scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches” related to the way Satan used prosperity to turn the hearts away from the gospel, and then move to destroy the small remnant that resist his tempting gifts. Didn’t he used the same tactic for the Protestants in the gold rush, grabbing up all the lands and earthly rewards they could get their hands on? But as the spirit of humility and devotion in the church had given place to pride and formalism, love for Christ and faith in His coming had grown cold. Absorbed in worldliness and pleasure seeking, the professed people of God were blinded to the Saviour's instructions concerning the signs of His appearing. The doctrine of the second advent had been neglected; the scriptures relating to it were obscured by misinterpretation, until it was, to a great extent, ignored and forgotten. Especially was this the case in the churches of America. The freedom and comfort enjoyed by all classes of society, the ambitious desire for wealth and luxury, begetting an absorbing devotion to money-making, the eager rush for popularity and power, which seemed to be within the reach of all, led men to center their interests and hopes on the things of this life, and to put far in the future that solemn day when the present order of things should pass away.
Great Controversy, p. 309.
Is he using the same for us in this age of technology?
“He shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people” (Dan. 12:7). Satan used two methods to accomplish scattering the power of the God’s people: covertly working their destruction, and overtly; a time of peace during a long prosperous Roman Empire, and later, once their guard was down, persecution. The devil did the same for the Reformation—allowing the blessings of God on the children, due to the sacrifice and obedience of their forefathers, and leading them to forget the God of their fathers. Then, when their resolve was weakened by the love of the world, he struck with the Inquisition and world wars.
In America, up to this point, he has used his unobtrusive, friendly method to destroy God’s people. Our Constitution has had religious freedom carved in stone. And under our noses he has snuck in every kind of temptation through our food, our pastimes, our reading material, our money-getting, etc. And we have fallen for it all just as generations have in the past. Today, a storm that is about to burst upon Americans, and they are no more prepared for it than Satan’s victims in the past.
“The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.”We must wake up out of our sleeping and slumbering, and get ready. The power of God’s saints is in the riches of the gospel. The gospel alone can subdue the world and reclaim it from Satan’s grip. Sinners, saved by grace, and restored to obedience to God and His law, are the prey and spoil of Christ that Satan has worked to trample and scatter about. “Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.” (Is.49:24,25). Jesus promises for them are the same ones for us. The everlasting covenant is “the everlasting gospel” (Is. 24:5; Rev. 14:6).
“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.” (11:25).
Now we see the king of the south again. But if the king of the north no longer refers to a literal Roman Empire, neither should the king of the south. Instead of literal Egypt being the king of the south, there must be something about Egypt that this speaks to.
What form of paganism did Egypt stand for throughout the centuries? Open rebellion against God and an atheistic search for knowledge
. Egypt’s brand of paganism differed from that of Babylon in that Babylonian paganism was a hidden rebellion under a cloak of religion. The Egyptian brand was incorporated into Greek and Roman societies and governments because Egypt was so close to them in proximity. Egypt heavily influenced those northern city states from the time of their establishment many centuries in the past.
“And he [the king of the north] 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. Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow: and many shall fall down slain. And both of these kings’ hearts shall be to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end shall be at the time 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.” (11:25-28).
Paul interpreted this by saying, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” (1Tim. 4:1,2).
Now the corrupt leadership of the fallen apostolic church cuts its last ties with Christ and stirs up its boldness to overthrow paganism within the Roman Empire. Satan moves upon Constantine to see the political savvy of endorsing the still lively Christianity over the dying Mithraism, as the new state religion. He calls the church elders to a conference at Nicaea. Out of that council a new direction is given the Roman Empire. Paganism and papal religion have met at one table and Satan moves the victory to the papacy, which returns with state protection and newly inspired self-protective goals for the Christian fathers.
In the early 1960’s and 70’s, the eastern mysticism that rocked the Protestant denomination during the overpowering Rock-n-Roll era of rebellion, suddenly converted itself to Christian terminology and practices in the New Age Charismatic movement. For 40-50 years now we’ve been seeing the same shift in Protestantism as was seen in the post-apostolic church, orchestrated by the very same spirit of darkness; and soon we will see the overthrow of today’s secularism and atheism by politically powerful Christianity as occurred in the ailing Roman Empire.
“And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart…: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes;” “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.” (Dan. 8:25; Rev. 13:5,6).
So from the Nicene council onward, we hear more and more arrogance and pontification of the bishop of Rome, assisted by the bishop of Alexandria. Soon he makes increasingly bombastic claims of primacy and god-like status. Concerning the appointment of Theodosius the above website author writes, “379 AD Illyricum [Greek Asia Minor] was detached from the Western Empire and Damasus, Bishop of Rome, hastens to safeguard the authority of the Roman Church by the appointment of Ascholius, Bishop of Thessalonica; this was the origin of the important papal vicariate long attached to that see.”
A new development halts the growing pompous talk of the little horn. “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.” (Dan. 11:30). We now re-merge with Uriah Smith’s interpretations of Daniel 11.
The last three of the ten Germanic tribes which sacks Rome and Carthage—the Vandals, the Heruli and the Ostrogoths—are not Catholic in nature; they follow the earlier apostolic Christianity and stand for a practical righteousness which the new Catholic Christianity has denied. The Lord in the Holy Place is sending a message to Christendom that their works are not perfect before Him. But the popes, Roman Emperors and Roman generals disposed of these tribes that did the Lord’s work of judgment, and thus the uprooting of the 3 horns of Daniel 7:8 is fulfilled. These 3 apostolic Christian tribes were the ships of Chittim that disturbed the ambitions of the church fathers. In the work of destroying those whom God sent to correct the church and to set the right example, the church confirmed its decision to do the devil’s work.
Gabriel tells Daniel, that the church will “be grieved, and return.” But rebellion can never surrender. If it can’t win one way, it will put its genius to work and devise a way to get what it was prohibited. Thus the church has “indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.” (Dan. 11:30). With the last of the obstructions removed, the Papacy grows without restriction. Satan quickly sends out a new religion of license and claims the hearts of the sin-loving populace. Literature and learning are removed, ignorance reigns supreme, and the Dark Ages begin.
Satan knows what appeals to hearts and minds devoid of truth. “And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate. And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries.” (vs. 31,32). “Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered.” (Dan. 8:11,12).
The papacy institutionalized sin through policy—that is, through dogmas exalting righteousness by human work, and by anathematizing and persecuting anyone who rejected the church’s errors. Craft or intrigue among the governments, license to sin for the public, opened the way for the man of sin to prosper and remain in power.
“He will take away the daily sacrifice.” This is ancient Hebrew language. In the temple an animal sacrifice was offered each morning and evening. (See Num. 28:3,6). This burnt offering represented the wrath of God that He diverted from us and poured upon His beloved Son like the fire that fell on Elijah’s altar. Christ said, “I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” (Lk. 12:49,50). Christ’s baptism was a baptism of fire. “The wrath of God” that abideth on the sinner (Jn. 3:36) was abiding on Jesus in Gethsemane and Golgotha. “Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin.” “He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.” “He hath poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Is. 53:10,11,12).
Within the church, the evangelical religion of Christ was replaced by a sacramental religion of paganism. No comprehension of the self-sacrificing love of God was taught to the people. No repentance or humility in contrition was expected or experienced. No conversions throughout the Holy Roman Empire were known; there was no grace received and thus no grace to give each other. Without grace, the Dark Ages were very dark. Satan had accomplished a monumental task. He had summarily side stepped the powerful thrust of love and trust and childlike kindness through the gospel of Christ; he restored the old life of pagan Rome, while adopting the name and face of beloved Christianity. No wonder John marveled at the woman on the beast! (Rev. 17:6).
Once the evangelical religion of the early church was eclipsed by sacramentalism, the people were left in dark ignorance of the truth, generation after generation. Europe became more and more deeply entrenched in superstition, hardened hearts and worldly characters made up the church of God. There can be no holiness and love with sacramental religion. Yet, this pagan religion is being pushed on the Christian world today by the present pope, more and more Protestants are considering it; and SDAs are in danger of incorporating it also, if we don’t heed the gospel, laying down our lives and reputations for Christ’s sake, and take up the job of seeking, as serious business, a vital relationship with Jesus, searching out and finding His beautiful character.
Sacramental religion is a danger to us as much as to any denomination. When we just go through the motions, Sabbath after Sabbath; when our prayer life becomes meaningless and our devotional life is “a text for the day with our hand on the doorknob,” we are in danger of sacramental religion. When we cling to the hope that our right standing with God and our acceptance by Him is based on our behavior, good or bad, then we’ve bought into the very principle that has always led to sacramentalism. Earning our salvation + doing our duties to satisfy God = dead in sins! Through heathenism, Satan had for ages turned men away from God; but he won his great triumph in perverting the faith of Israel. By contemplating and worshiping their own conceptions, the heathen had lost a knowledge of God, and had become more and more corrupt. So it was with Israel. The principle that man can save himself by his own works lay at the foundation of every heathen religion; it had now become the principle of the Jewish religion. Satan had implanted this principle. Wherever it is held, men have no barrier against sin.
Desire of Ages, p. 36.
Our focus must be on Jesus and His righteousness beautified with love alone! And anything we do in the way of piety, whether its Bible study, prayer, witnessing, or Christian service, if it isn’t done for the sole purpose of getting to know Jesus, we are doing it for the wrong reasons! And it will lead us into dead sacramentalism!
What did Jesus do? How did He love? When He patiently taught His disciples, when He healed the blind and deaf and diseased, how did He reveal the greatest love the world has ever seen? What are the details? When He healed, did He leave it up to the desperate person to come up with enough faith? Or did He work each situation, ask just the right pointed questions, to help the needy one develop the faith required to be healed? Yes, He did! Wonderful Savior! Did He not only command the invalid to rise and walk, but also give him a hand and help him up? Yes! What a wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord, what a wonderful Savior is He.
The life and death of Christ creates an obligation to the honest searcher for God. The sacrifice and love of God for man create love and faith and the need to sacrifice for God, and also for fellow men. Beholding the grace of Jesus opens the door of our heart and will to be enabled to do God’s will in peace and love. Thus Satan worked to remove the daily sacrifice from Israel’s religion and has worked to remove the cross from Christianity. When we find God’s sacrifice and love for us only rarely coming up in our Bible study, our prayers, our meditations, and conversations, we can be sure that we’ve wandered from the Bible’s true evangelical religion.
The Law is not the end goal of the cross; it’s the other way around. Christ and his cross are the end goal of the law. The Law is essential for bringing us to Jesus, and we would not know sin but by the Law; thus we would never need a Savior from sin without the law’s shame and guilt. But being punished by the Law’s stone-cold shame is not the end of the work of redemption. The law’s condemnation drives us to Christ for acceptance if we’ve heard His voice of love in all His threats and reproofs.
If we are not striving before God to keep His testimonies and counsels through a life or death struggle to know His love, we are dead in sin. Not striving to know God’s acceptance was the downward path taken by the church in the 1st and 2nd centuries; it was the path taken by the Protestants in America. And it has been the path of many Adventists. We might be growing in numbers, but if we are honest we must say, “Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy” “They shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.” (Is. 9:3; 8:22.
Nevertheless, salvation is of the modern Jews; and we are them.
We’ve spent some time covering the mysterious worker of iniquity. I’ve attempted to not talk of the “man of sin” throughout the Dark Ages and even today, so much that he looms up bigger and bigger and eclipses Jesus, even for those who seek to expose him. As soon as that happens we are doomed. We need to be wise as serpents and not be ignorant of Satan’s devices—or Jesus wouldn’t have forewarned us of his secretive work. But Satan should never be bigger than Jesus in our thoughts and words. The joy of the Lord is our strength.
Daniel 7:18 says, “But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.”
To make anything bigger than our savior and master even our behavior, good or bad, is to cooperate with Satan in destroying God’s work of redemption and the restoration of holiness and righteousness, purity and grace in the universe.
As Paul put it, “the strength of sin is the Law” (1Cor. 15:56) when it eclipses the Author of the Law, the Person behind the Law and whom the Law transcribes. The Law plays an essential role in our conviction of sin, but once convicted, let’s let God put faith in us, faith that He is as merciful and gracious as He is just and convicting, and His gift of faith will bring us to God’s only provision for forgiveness—the son of His great heart of love. There at the feet of Jesus, the King of righteousness and peace, we can find the authority to be accepted again into the beloved heart of God. Only through Him who became as we are are we able to receive the Father’s acceptance and be as He was. Only the love of Christ we can perceive. Only He can be our mediator to bring us to righteousness. Only with Him can we identify.
So the mystery of iniquity will do its work. But the mystery of godliness will more than outdo the work of iniquity. The blood of martyrs is the seed of the gospel. The surrender and confession of faith from the heart will throw down prejudice and snap us out of the mesmerism that keeps souls locked in Satan’s prison house. This will be the final work of the gospel age. This Satan cannot mimic or substitute. This will be the Latter Rain experience. The rest that remaineth for the people of God. The refreshing from the presence of God when He shall send Jesus.
Jesus will be seen clearer than ever. Satan’s attack against the Prince of the covenant, will be perfectly exposed. The true luster of the Desire of all ages will break Satan’s spells on as many as should be saved. The beauty of holiness will always overcome the ugliness of sin and rebellion and witchcraft from those who have not blinded themselves.
Daniel 11:40 talks of the past 225 years since America stood up in the despotic progress of the Papacy. This blockade has been eroding since the Civil war, and is about to break down. Soon the papacy will re-sit itself on the throne of the world. “At the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.”
Again we deviate from Uriah Smith. The chariots and horsemen and ships are not to be taken literally, but as a device by Daniel to describe the complete routing of secularism and atheism in all their many sacrilegious forms. To get an idea of how it will go, just look how the Church accomplished the full cooperation of Protestantism in Hitler’s regime. Brutality and propaganda. Get ready, its coming. Is love for Jesus your strength?
Today the secularist world is celebrating its victory in throwing religion out of government. But, “when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” (1Thess. 5:3).
“He [king of the north] shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt [secularism] shall not escape.” (Dan. 11:42).
“But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt.” (vs. 43). “And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Rev. 13:17).
“But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him.”(Dan. 11:44). The Latter Rain falls. It is the only preparation for the time of trouble “such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time.” They have received “the latter rain,” “the refreshing from the presence of the Lord” and they are prepared for the trying hour before them.
Great Controversy, p. 614.
“Therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.” (Dan. 12:1).We are on the very verge of the time of trouble, and perplexities that are scarcely dreamed of are before us.
9T p. 43 (1909).When He leaves the sanctuary, darkness covers the inhabitants of the earth. In that fearful time the righteous must live in the sight of a holy God without an intercessor. The restraint which has been upon the wicked is removed, and Satan has entire control of the finally impenitent. God's long-suffering has ended. The world has rejected His mercy, despised His love, and trampled upon His law. The wicked have passed the boundary of their probation; the Spirit of God, persistently resisted, has been at last withdrawn. Unsheltered by divine grace, they have no protection from the wicked one. Satan will then plunge the inhabitants of the earth into one great, final trouble. As the angels of God cease to hold in check the fierce winds of human passion, all the elements of strife will be let loose. The whole world will be involved in ruin more terrible than that which came upon Jerusalem of old.
Great Controversy, p. 614.
“Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” (Dan. 12:10).
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matt. 24:21-24).
“And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.” (Dan. 11:45).
“Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matt. 24:26-29).
“And at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” (Dan. 12:1-3).