End of the World Countdown: Identifying the Man of Sin from the Pages of History
by Steve Sterling 9/04/2012 / Prophecy
In the biblical countdown of events leading up to the end-of-the-world, whether it be from the book of Daniel or in Revelation, it has always God's design that those who are enlighten in the prophetic word warn the inhabitants of upcoming events in a precise and convincing manner. The effect of Bible prophecy is to get its hearers to believe the gospel and repent of their transgressions.
That's the reason why the Lord wants His people to be adequately equipped with the knowledge of what the future holds and proclaim it ahead of time so that their hearers will have no choice but to believe. On the other hand, the Lord is well aware of the letdown effects of forecasting an event that turns out to be a mistake. In light of this, He wants to make sure that His servants to whom the command is given to preach the gospel are thoroughly educated in the prophetic word.
In His effort to instruct His people in the interpretation of prophecy, the Lord has furnished us with all that we need in His word to ensure we do not err in our forecast on last-day events. One of the most valuable tools that is given to us in Bible prophecy is the principle of applying a prophecy to more than one dispensations.
This is essentially referring to predictions that have both a primary and a secondary application. You will find examples of these kind of prophecies in Matthew 24 and the second chapter of the book of Joel. In relation to both sets of prophecies you will find that there was a limited fulfillment in a past dispensation with the promise of a more complete fulfillment in the last days.
The subject of the Antichrist of Bible prophecy has lent itself to a great amount of theological conjectures and differences of opinion. Upon observation of some of the different views I tend not to get the impression that there advocates are adhering any particular logic.
Most of what I read in articles and watch on videos come across as mere speculations and unwarranted deductions that are arrived at simply by watching the news and observing current events.
This is not a good way to interpret Bible prophecy. When you make your deductions in this manner, you are no longer making the Bible your guide but events. When it comes to solving Bible predictions, you must allow the scriptures alone to provide all the answers.
When I think about fulfilled prophecies that can help us better understand end-of-the-world predictions, the countdown of end-time events in Daniel 7 would readily come to mind. I am here speaking of the Roman kingdom in general and the little horn in particular.
In the seventh chapter of the book of Daniel, it is prophesied that a 'little horn' king will emerge after the fourth kingdom is divided. This particular prophecy came to pass in the sixth century when the kingdom of the Caesars has made a transition from a pagan reign to a pseudo-Christian administration led by the Bishop of Rome.
It seems to be a generally accepted view by many Bible historians that as a direct result of the ascension of the medieval Papacy to the imperial throne a new religious culture was established and strange myths that passes for Bible doctrines were brought in as a result.
The listed description of this little horn power that are supplied in Daniel chapter 7 are very worthy of note in terms of how they seem to describe the activities of the Papacy during the early centuries. Here you will see that these descriptions are confined to verses 24 and 25. They are as follows:
1. He overthrew three kings
2. Through his activities the name of God is blasphemed
3. He oppressed the people of the Most High
4. He persecuted the saints for 3 years (time, times and dividing of time)
As we carefully study Daniel's countdown of end-of-the-world events in this chapter you will be fascinated by the striking similarity between these specifications and what transpired during that period of spiritual darkness called the Dark or Middle Ages.
It is a fact of history that during the latter half of the fifth century the kingdom of Rome was divided into ten independent territories proscribed by the barbarian nations in the aftermath of the Gothic invasion of the Empire.
It was some time after the Papacy came to prominence that three of those ten nations were not prepared to accept the ecclesiastical primacy of the Pope. As a consequence they were attacked, their territories were siezed, and thus the Bishop of Rome gains full ascendancy both in matters of religion and secular affairs.
The most striking evidence of blasphemous activities during the period of the Middle Ages is the act of mortal man arrogating unto himself attributes and titles which belong only to the Almighty. For instance, the Bishops of Rome (the Pope) were once addressed as Lord God the Pope, and declared to be the God of heaven, of earth, and of lower regions. In addition, the people were taught to pay for indulgence certificates and make confessions to the priests of the Roman Church in order to have their sins forgiven instead of confessing to their High Priest in the heavens (See Heb. 7:25-28).
During this period of papal domination, there were many among the early bretheren who were not prepared to conform to the dictates of the Church of Rome. They held the position that the Church has corrupted the faith by forming illicit union with secular powers. As a result of remaining true to the apostolic teachings, they were accounted as heretics and, hence, a wave of persecution was waged against them. Some of these brethren who were persecuted are the Waldenses, the Albigenses, the Heugenots, and the Hussites. Among the manifold methods of punishment on heretics, the true saints of God were tortured at the stakes, fed to hungry lions, tied to horses, and abandoned in dungeons to die for want of food.
The prophetic period of Time times and dividing of time, during which the saints were oppressed, is another way of saying three and a half years (time=1yr, times=2yrs, half a time=1/2yr) or forty and two months. By Jewish reckoning, it's 1260 days. Many prophecy students believe that this 1260-day period must be accounted as 1260 years using the day-for-a-year principle found in Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6. This view seems to be in perfect agreement with the notion that the Papacy was officially in the ascendancy in 538AD and lost her power in 1798 when the pope was deposed as head of state in the aftermath of the French Revolution towards the end of the 18th century.
While we can accept the historical development outlined above as a definite fulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel 7 in relation to the little horn, we cannot fail to see the clear correlation to end-of-the-world events. This correlation is evident in the following statement from the prophet:
"I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame."
Thus, the same little horn that persecuted the saints for 1260 days is the same power that will be destroyed by fire. This is clearly the same description by Paul concerning the Man of Sin who will be destroyed by the brightness of Christ's coming (2Thess. 2:8). There is also a striking similarity to Revelation 19 where the beast was cast alive in a lake of fire and brimstone.
Therefore, we can expect to see a wider fulfillment of the prophecy of the little horn of Daniel 7 in the last days. Because the Bible does not make any difference between the historical and the last-day fulfillment of this prophecy, we can hardly deny the fact that it is pointing us to the kingdom of Rome as the central reference point. After all, the imperial rule of the city of Rome is supposed to be the fourth and final world kingdom just prior to the Second Advent. Therefore, there is no room for uncertainty as to the particular location from which the Antichrist will emerge.