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The Lord has Spoken

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Lesson 3 Sabbath, April 17, 2010

The Rise of the Papacy

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

“We are to stand for true Protestant principles; for the policies of the papacy will edge their way into every possible place to proscribe liberty of conscience. Every eye should now be single to the glory of God.”—The Review and Herald, September 9, 1909.

Suggested Reading:   The Great Controversy, pp. 49-57, 266,  
  438, 439.  

Sunday April 11

1. THE BEAST OF REVELATION 13

a. The third angel’s message of Revelation 14 uses certain terminology such as “beast,” “image of the beast,” and “mark of the beast.” In order to understand these terms correctly, what scriptures must we study in comparison with one another—and why? Revelation chapter 13 and Daniel chapters 7 and 8.

“The study of the Revelation directs the mind to the prophecies of Daniel, and both present most important instruction, given of God to men, concerning events to take place at the close of this world’s history.”—The Great Controversy, p. 341.

“If the believers in the truth are not sustained by their faith in these comparatively peaceful days, what will uphold them when the grand test comes and the decree goes forth against all those who will not worship the image of the beast and receive his mark in their foreheads or in their hands?”—The Review and Herald, September 21, 1876.

b. What characteristics are found in the beast mentioned in Revelation 13:1, 2 (first part), 6, and also in Daniel 7:8?


Monday April 12

2. THE BEAST AND THE LITTLE HORN

a. In prophecy, who is the dragon, and what kingdom most fully complied with his plans to destroy Jesus? Revelation 12:3–9; Matthew 2:16–18. To which kingdom did the dragon give its seat and great authority?

“The line of prophecy in which these symbols [represented by the beast, the image, the mark] are found begins with Revelation 12, with the dragon that sought to destroy Christ at His birth. The dragon is said to be Satan (Revelation 12:9); he it was that moved upon Herod to put the Saviour to death. But the chief agent of Satan in making war upon Christ and His people during the first centuries of the Christian Era was the Roman Empire, in which paganism was the prevailing religion. Thus while the dragon, primarily, represents Satan, it is, in a secondary sense, a symbol of pagan Rome.”—The Great Controversy, p. 438.

b. What characteristics did Rome, the symbolic beast, assume at its later stage? Revelation 13:5–8; Daniel 7:8, 20, 24, 25.

“[The] compromise between paganism and Christianity resulted in the development of ‘the man of sin’ foretold in prophecy as opposing and exalting himself above God.”—Ibid., p.50.

“This symbol [of the leopardlike beast described in Revelation 13:1–10], as most Protestants have believed, represents the papacy, which succeeded to the power and seat and authority once held by the ancient Roman empire. . . . This prophecy, which is nearly identical with the description of the little horn of Daniel 7, unquestionably points to the papacy.”—Ibid., p.439.

c. Since a day in prophecy represents a year (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6), how long would this power have persecuting authority? Daniel 7:25 (last part); 12:7; Revelation 12:6, 14; 13:5.

“The forty and two months are the same as the ‘time and times and the dividing of time,’ three years and a half, or 1260 days, of Daniel 7—the time during which the papal power was to oppress God’s people. This period . . . began with the supremacy of the papacy, A.D. 538, and terminated in 1798.”—Ibid.


Tuesday April 13

3. THOUGHT TO CHANGE GOD’S LAW

a. What essential truths must we realize about the law of God? Matthew 5:17–19; Luke 16:17; Psalm 111:7–9 (compare Deuter­onomy 4:13; Isaiah 24:5, last part).

“If God could have changed one iota of His law, Jesus need not have come to our world to suffer and die.”—The Signs of the Times, November 24, 1887.

“[The law of Jehovah] always has been, and always will be, holy, just, and good, complete in itself. It cannot be repealed or changed.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 625.

b. What did the little horn (the beast of Revelation 13) think to do with the law of God? Which commandments are involved? Daniel 7:25 (third part); Exodus 20:4–6, 8–11.

“To afford converts from heathenism a substitute for the worship of idols, and thus to promote their nominal acceptance of Christianity, the adoration of images and relics was gradually introduced into the Christian worship. The decree of a general council finally established this system of idolatry. To complete the sacrilegious work, Rome presumed to expunge from the law of God the second commandment, forbidding image worship, and to divide the tenth commandment, in order to preserve the number.

“The spirit of concession to paganism opened the way for a still further disregard of Heaven’s authority. Satan, working through unconsecrated leaders of the church, tampered with the fourth commandment also, and essayed to set aside the ancient Sabbath, the day which God had blessed and sanctified (Genesis 2:2, 3), and in its stead to exalt the festival observed by the heathen as ‘the venerable day of the sun.’ This change was not at first attempted openly. In the first centuries the true Sabbath had been kept by all Christians. They were jealous for the honor of God, and, believing that His law is immutable, they zealously guarded the sacredness of its precepts. But with great subtlety Satan worked through his agents to bring about his object. That the attention of the people might be called to the Sunday, it was made a festival in honor of the resurrection of Christ.”—The Great Controversy, p. 52.

“Satan strives to turn men from their allegiance to God, and from rendering obedience to His law.”—Ibid., p.54.


Wednesday April 14

4. A BLASPHEMOUS POWER

a. Give examples of blasphemy. Matthew 9:2, 3; Mark 2:7; John 10:33. By speaking “great words against the most High” in Daniel 7:25, how does this power blaspheme God? 2 Thessalonians 2:4.

“It is one of the leading doctrines of Romanism that the pope is the visible head of the universal church of Christ, invested with supreme authority over bishops and pastors in all parts of the world. More than this, the pope has been given the very titles of Deity. He has been styled ‘Lord God the Pope,’ and has been declared infallible. He demands the homage of all men. The same claim urged by Satan in the wilderness of temptation is still urged by him through the Church of Rome, and vast numbers are ready to yield him homage.”—The Great Controversy, p. 50.

“Popes and priests claimed the power to forgive sins and to open and close the gates of Heaven to all mankind. Senseless superstitions and rigorous exactions had taken the place of the true worship of God. The lives of popes and clergy were so corrupt, their proud pretensions so blasphemous, that good men trembled for the morality of the rising generation.”—The Signs of the Times, May 31, 1883.

b. What shows that the manifestation of the antichrist had already begun in the days of the apostles, and how do we know that “the man of sin” is not going to come out of an atheistic community but out of established Christianity? 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4, 7; 1 John 2:18, 19; 4:1–3; Acts 20:28–30.

“The apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Thessalonians, foretold the great apostasy which would result in the establishment of the papal power. . . . Even at that early date he saw, creeping into the church, errors that would prepare the way for the development of the papacy.”—The Great Controversy, p. 49.

“In the counsels of the synagogue of Satan it was determined to obliterate the sign of allegiance to God in the world. Antichrist, the man of sin, exalted himself as supreme in the earth, and through him Satan has worked in a masterly way to create rebellion against the law of God and against the memorial of His created works. . . . The false sabbath has been upheld through superhuman agency in order that God might be dishonored.”—The Signs of the Times, March 12, 1894.


Thursday April 15

5. A BLOODTHIRSTY ORGANIZATION

a. What characterized the history of the religio-political power that held supremacy for 1260 years? Matthew 24:21, 22; Revelation 13:7; 17:6.

“In the thirteenth century was established that most terrible of all the engines of the papacy—the Inquisition. The prince of darkness wrought with the leaders of the papal hierarchy. In their secret councils Satan and his angels controlled the minds of evil men, while unseen in the midst stood an angel of God, taking the fearful record of their iniquitous decrees and writing the history of deeds too horrible to appear to human eyes.”—The Great Controversy, p. 59.

b. What happened to that power at the end of the 1260 years in 1798? Revelation 13:3 (first part), 10.

“[In 1798] the pope was made captive by the French army, the papal power received its deadly wound, and the prediction was fulfilled, ‘He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity’ (Revelation 13:10).”—Ibid., p.439.

c. What should we keep in mind when facing atrocities from other so-called believers? John 16:33; 2 Timothy 3:12.


Friday April 16

PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS

a. How are the prominent characteristics of the fourth beast of Daniel 7 reflected in the leopardlike beast of Revelation 13?

b. For how long was the power symbolized by the little horn (and also by the leopardlike beast) permitted to control the affairs of this world?

c. Since God does not change His eternal law, which commandment did Antichrist only think he had the authority to change?

d. Define blasphemy, and explain how pope and priests blaspheme against God.

e. Why are the 1260 prophetic days fitly called the “Dark Ages”?

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