1. THE DREADFUL BEAST WITH IRON TEETH
a. What description is given of the next prophetic beast, the mighty Roman empire—and how was its cruelty shown in the treatment of the world’s Redeemer? Daniel 7:7; Matthew 27:27–35.
“The decree of imperial Rome for the enrollment of the peoples of her vast dominion has extended to the dwellers among the hills of Galilee. . . . There is no room for [Joseph and Mary] at the crowded inn. In a rude building where the beasts are sheltered, they at last find refuge, and here the Redeemer of the world is born.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 44.
“The multitude were clamorous for the blood of Jesus. They cruelly scourged Him, and put upon Him an old purple kingly robe, and bound His sacred head with a crown of thorns. . . .
“Jesus stood meek and humble before the infuriated multitude, while they offered Him the vilest abuse. They spit in His face—that face from which they will one day desire to hide, which will give light to the city of God and shine brighter than the sun.”—Early Writings, p. 170.
b. What odd distinction eventually occurred in that empire? Daniel 7:19–24.
2. HE THINKS TO CHANGE GOD’S LAW
a. How do we know that the law of God cannot be changed? Psalm 111:7, 8; Matthew 5:17–19; Luke 16:17; Revelation 22:14.
“The law of God was written with His own finger on tables of stone, thus showing that it could never be changed or abrogated. It is to be preserved through the eternal ages, immutable as the principles of His government.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 248.
“Death is the wages of sin, and the law cannot be changed in the least to make a way of escape for its transgressor. The anguish of Christ on Calvary’s cross speaks louder than any argument that can be presented, to prove the immutability of the law.”—The Review and Herald, July 19, 1892.
“Satan has deceived the Christian world with the story that when Christ died He abolished the law. It was the cross of Calvary that exalted the law of God, and made it honorable. . . . 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.
b. What power was to develop in the Roman Empire? What does it think to do, and which commandments are specifically affected? Daniel 7:23–25; Exodus 20:4–6, 8–11.
“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 Great Controversy, p. 52.
“Papists urge, as a reason for omitting the second commandment, that it is unnecessary, being included in the first, and that they are giving the law exactly as God designed it to be understood. This cannot be the change foretold by the prophet. An intentional, deliberate change is presented: ‘He shall think to change the times and the law.’ The change in the fourth commandment exactly fulfills the prophecy. For this the only authority claimed is that of the church. Here the papal power openly sets itself above God.”—Ibid., p. 446.
“The great apostate had succeeded in exalting himself ‘above all that is called God, or that is worshiped.’ 2 Thessalonians 2:4. He had dared to change the only precept of the divine law that unmistakably points all mankind to the true and living God. In the fourth commandment, God is revealed as the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and is thereby distinguished from all false gods.”—Ibid., pp. 53, 54.
3. THE BLASPHEMOUS BEAST
a. How does the horn power in Daniel 7 “speak great words against the most High,” blasphemously attributing to men the authority and prerogative to forgive sins—and more? Daniel 7:25 (first part); 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.
“Instead of trusting in the Son of God for forgiveness of sins and for eternal salvation, the people looked to the pope, and to the priests and prelates to whom he delegated authority. They were taught that the pope was their earthly mediator and that none could approach God except through him; and, further, that he stood in the place of God to them and was therefore to be implicitly obeyed.”—Ibid., p. 55.
“God has never given a hint in His word that He has appointed any man to be the head of the church. The doctrine of papal supremacy is directly opposed to the teachings of the Scriptures.”—Ibid., p. 51.
“Another step in papal assumption was taken, when, in the eleventh century, Pope Gregory VII proclaimed the perfection of the Roman Church. Among the propositions which he put forth was one declaring that the church had never erred, nor would it ever err, according to the Scriptures. But the Scripture proofs did not accompany the assertion.”—Ibid., p. 57.
b. How do we know that this manifestation of the antichrist is not just a future event but had already begun in the days of the apostles and from established Christianity? 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 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. . . . [2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4, 7 quoted.]”—Ibid., p. 49.
“The false sabbath has been upheld through superhuman agency in order that God might be dishonored. It is a sign of Satan’s supremacy in the earth.”—The Signs of the Times, March 12, 1894.
4. A BLOODTHIRSTY CHURCH
a. What causes the prophet’s beholding such actions of so-called Christians to marvel? Daniel 7:25 (last part); 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. ‘Babylon the great’ was ‘drunken with the blood of the saints.’ The mangled forms of millions of martyrs cried to God for vengeance upon that apostate power.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 59, 60.
“The papacy is just what prophecy declared that she would be, the apostasy of the latter times. 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4. It is a part of her policy to assume the character which will best accomplish her purpose; but beneath the variable appearance of the chameleon she conceals the invariable venom of the serpent.”—Ibid., p. 571.
b. What should Christians facing such atrocities from other so-called believers remember that will give them hope? 2 Timothy 3:12; Revelation 2:10; Luke 21:28.
“Grievous wolves were to enter in, not sparing the flock. But none of these things were to bring discouragement to those whose hopes were centered in Christ. With words of encouragement and good cheer Peter directed the minds of the believers from present trials and future scenes of suffering ‘to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.’ ”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 528.
“God in mercy to His people cut short the time of their fiery trial. . . . Through the influence of the Reformation the persecution was brought to an end prior to 1798.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 266, 267.
“In all ages Satan has persecuted the people of God. He has tortured them and put them to death, but in dying they became conquerors. They bore witness to the power of One mightier than Satan. Wicked men may torture and kill the body, but they cannot touch the life that is hid with Christ in God. They can incarcerate men and women in prison walls, but they cannot bind the spirit.
“Through trial and persecution the glory—the character—of God is revealed in His chosen ones.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 576.
5. THE ENDING OF ITS POWER
a. Since we know that a day in prophecy represents a year (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6), how long was this power to have such persecuting authority? Daniel 7:25 last part (cf. Daniel 4:23, 25, 32); Revelation 12:6, 14; 13:5.
“In the sixth century the papacy had become firmly established. Its seat of power was fixed in the imperial city, and the bishop of Rome was declared to be the head over the entire church. Paganism had given place to the papacy. The dragon had given to the beast ‘his power, and his seat, and great authority.’ Revelation 13:2. . . . And now began the 1260 years of papal oppression foretold in the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation. Daniel 7:25; Revelation 13:5–7. Christians were forced to choose either to yield their integrity and accept the papal ceremonies and worship, or to wear away their lives in dungeons or suffer death by the rack, the fagot, or the headsman’s ax. Now were fulfilled the words of Jesus: ‘Ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake.’ Luke 21:16, 17. Persecution opened upon the faithful with greater fury than ever before, and the world became a vast battlefield. For hundreds of years the church of Christ found refuge in seclusion and obscurity.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 54, 55.
“The periods here mentioned—‘forty and two months,’ and ‘a thousand two hundred and threescore days’—are the same, alike representing the time in which the church of Christ was to suffer oppression from Rome. The 1260 years of papal supremacy began in A.D. 538, and would therefore terminate in 1798. . . . At that time a French army entered Rome and made the pope a prisoner, and he died in exile. Though a new pope was soon afterward elected, the papal hierarchy has never since been able to wield the power which it before possessed.”—Ibid., p. 266.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How is the cruelest empire described in prophecy?
2. What part of God’s law is this beast’s special attack—and why?
3. Where does the antichrist come from and what is his chief aim?
4. How does this religious-political power treat God’s faithful people?
5. According to prophecy, when was its oppressive power somewhat diminished?