DANIEL'S "70 WEEKS"

In case you've forgotten, we are still focusing on Rev. 13:5 & 6. In verse 6 we see that the anti-Christ will be allowed to "continue 42 months", which we have already learned is the same as "1260 days" or "a time, times and half a time", which I view as having both a literal application at the end of the age and also a certain 1260 year, long-range application. I admit not yet knowing exactly what 1260-year time span in the Christian age God is referring to here but I'm convinced about the concept. Perhaps God will someday reveal it to us.

However, as we move toward the end of the Historical aspect of Biblical prophecy, we must look for the literal 2,520-day age to begin. I prefer to call this the Tribulation-Wrath period rather than just "Tribulation" as most writers refer to it. (Note that I said a 2,520-day age. That's two, 1,260-day periods. As I see it, the final seven years will be broken down into two segments. In the first half the anti-Christ builds his forces; the second half will be his ruling heyday. More on this later.)

Now let's focus our 'microscope' a little finer. We need to learn more about this final seven year period. You may wonder why prophetic writers always refer so specifically and dogmatically to a final seven year period of devastating times, which supposedly occurs just before Jesus sets up His Kingdom on earth. Well, it comes from several places in the Bible, although chiefly found in Daniel and Revelation. The description is most clearly set forth in Daniel 9: 24 - 27. Let's start with only the first two of these verses:

24 "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy."

25 "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times."

I hope you are fresh and alert as you read this section because every phrase in these four verses is extremely important. Misunderstanding any aspect of it will distort your whole thinking relative to Biblical chronology, especially as it relates to our day. I am separated from practically all other prophetic writers mainly because of the different way we interpret these few, but oh-so-profound, verses. You will see right here the very foundation of my overall understanding and presentation as rendered in this entire book, so stay with me.

At the outset, we must understand that this prophecy was given to Israelites, therefore demanding that we must also keep national Israel in mind as we interpret the time framework. The language of this passage in the original text says something more akin to "seventy sevens", rather than "seventy weeks" as our English versions render it. From what I've read, no serious Bible scholar doubts that the reference means seventy...sevens, or more simply, 70 x 7. With this in mind then, it is quite easy to see we are talking about 490 YEARS.

Thus, Daniel is saying that within the time span of 490 years in the life of national Israel, certain things can be expected to happen. Let's look at the specifics:

(1) the "transgression" would be finished, (this is not complete yet for people are still transgressing against God);

(2) that the "end of sins" would come (obviously not completed yet);

(3) that "reconciliation for iniquity" would prevail (this is fulfulled in that Jesus Himself took the human sin penalty);

(4) that "everlasting righteousness" would be brought in (true in a spiritual sense --- the righteousness of Jesus);

(5) that "vision and prophecy" would be sealed (true, assuming the intended reference is to Jesus' completed work during His first advent; this could also be talking about the total Word of God, the Bible; and finally,

(6) that the "most Holy" would be anointed. This was fulfilled the day the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus right after John baptized Him.

Going on to verse 25, Daniel then tells us how much time will lapse before ALL these things would come to pass. He said that from the going forth of the commandment to re-build Jerusalem, 7 weeks plus 62 weeks (49 + 434 years), would pass leading up to the coming of the Messiah. So, beginning at the commandment, there would transpire 69 weeks of years --- 69 x 7 = 483 years --- concluding with the coming of Christ. Now right here is where I diverge from the mainstream of most who have written on this subject. Before giving you my interpretation, let me summarize theirs.

Writers vary somewhat but, in general, it goes something like this: They say the counting commenced in 445 B.C. when the Persian King Artaxerxes issued a command to the Jews, instructing them that they could re-build their city and temple, and ends the day Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem on a donkey just before His crucifixion. Some have even gone so far as to calculate the exact number of days (using the 360-day Hebrew year) in order to arrive at Jesus' Calvary appointment. I've read very-detailed accounts about this in several books but will not present it here, primarily because of my conviction that their overall, prophetic-theological-premise suffers so severely. The worst error is their assumption that Jesus presented Himself as Messiah for the first time on the day of His crucifixion. It isn't even rational, let alone Scriptural.

First, let's look at this using mere logic. If God is going to send His Son (Israel's Messiah), doesn't it make more sense to assume it would occur at the moment the "most Holy" one (mentioned in verse 24) was anointed? And don't you think God would do this publicly in order to establish an undeniable time of fulfillment? And if these two presumptions are true would God not in some way confirm it? The Scriptures clearly provide the answers to these questions.

By now you know very well that I also work things out mathematically whenever possible. But the counting procedure mentioned above is just a little too perfect, even for me! Jesus said we would not be able to make exact, "day and hour", prophetic determinations. He said even He was not always aware of exact dates ahead of schedule. These things were in the Hands of the Father only.

The verses here in Daniel, confirmed by others I'll share momentarily, demand Jesus' Messianic commencement as being early in His ministry, not at the end. I agree with the others that the commandment came from Artaxerxes, as given to Ezra (see Ezra 7). But by Reese's reckoning (whose chronology I have followed throughout my book), the commandment was issued in 458 B.C. Simply counting forward 483 years brings us to 25 A.D.; and adding the necessary 4 years (due to the present calendar error) we come to 29 A.D. Let's look at some pertinent Scriptures: Luke 3:21-23.

"Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, thou art My Beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased. And Jesus Himself began to be about thirty years of age,..."

So, right here in one 'package' of Scripture, we have several interesting facts:

(1) This occurred right at the beginning of Jesus' ministry.

(2) He was "about thirty years of age" (the "began to be" indicative that Jesus was still 29).

(3) The Holy Ghost was there descending on Jesus, (this was the "anointing"), and

(4) the Father spoke His declaration from heaven that this was His "Beloved Son" in Whom He was "well pleased".

It is extremely important to note here the emphasis that all three Persons of the Godhead were present for that very critical appointment in history. Surely this is the occasion which spelled the commencement of the Messiah being presented to Israel. Also, Scripture strongly indicates that it was at the beginning of Jesus' ministry when his forerunner, John the Baptist, introduced Jesus to the Jews as the "Lamb of God" Who would take away the sins of the world which, of course, is the whole essence of Messiahship.

As I see it, Jesus' Messianic-ministry commenced on the day of His anointing by the Holy Spirit, then was confirmed by His 3-1/2 year teaching and miracle-performing power. Also, remember that the Father was "pleased" with the Son on that first day of Jesus' ministry; He didn't wait until the crucifixion before making that very important statement.

Timewise, one's whole end-of-the-age prophetic analysis hinges on how this particular issue is viewed. So, could I urge you to re-read the last five pages if you had any difficulty following what was said. It is essential to have this foundation in order to comprehend what is yet to be discussed regarding the "seventy weeks".

26 "And after threescore and two weeks (62 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 determined.

27 "And He (keep track of this HE) shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations He shall make it desolate, even until the consumation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."

Before going on, recall where we left off prior to quoting these verses. Sixty-nine "weeks" (483 years) of this covenant had transpired, ending when Jesus was baptized. The prophet Daniel repeats the 62-weeks phrase, saying that after that amount of time the Messiah would be "cut off". Now this is very important. Note: He didn't say how much time after the 62 weeks before the "cutting off" would occur, only that it would be "after"; he will tell us exactly how much after a little further on.

I apologize for continually interjecting Futuristic thinking in this commentary, but if I don't, assuming you have heard these views, you'll be wondering how my thinking is going to fit with theirs. Only certain parts will. Also, you must understand that their whole approach is different than mine and therefore, they arrive at different, overall conclusions.

For example, their explanation of the above two verses is something like this: They see the Messiah being "cut off" (Jesus' crucifixion) at the end of the 7 and 62 "weeks" (483 years), leaving one week of years not completed. Now, this is where the one week of years comes in, which will not be completed until the final seven years. In other words, according to them, the prophetic time-clock went "on hold" at Jesus' crucifixion, not to start again until the beginning of the "Tribulation". The destruction of the "city and the sanctuary" would be fulfilled by Titus' invasion of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Next, the "He" of verse 27, according to the Futurists, is a prediction of the anti-Christ who will make an agreement with national Israel for seven years. Then, at the half-way point of that seven years (the "midst of the week"), he will break the agreement, enter the Jewish temple, stop the Jews from sacrificing (which they presume the anti-Christ will have allowed the Jews to resume) and once again, cast out the Jews (i.e., "make it desolate").

It may surprise you to hear me say it but I can accept some of these positions, and in the Futuristic sense, this may be close to what will happen. But, let's go back and review verses 26 & 27 very carefully. There are some very critically-stated phrases in this passage which some seem to have missed.

First of all, we must not forget who is center-stage here. The Messiah is the main "He" of the passage, not the anti-Christ! In his heyday, the anti-Christ may pervert this prophecy when he will present himself as the Jewish messiah. But we don't want to forget that the main inference here is to Jesus. Now, verse 26 says, after "62 weeks" the Messiah would be "cut off". This was indeed fulfilled at Jesus' crucifixion; we all agree on that point. Being "cut off", but "not for himself", refers to the sacrificial nature of His death; i.e., He was "cut off" for the sins of others, not His own.

The latter part of verse 26, "unto the end of the war desolations determined", means this: The "war" is the ongoing battle between Godly and satanic forces, referring particularly in this passage to Israel's "desolations". You will recall that we saw this in Revelation 12 --- Israel described there as the "woman" in the "wilderness". The inference here is that the land would become desolate (void) of Jews for many centuries.

WHO HAS THE AUTHORITY TO CONFIRM GOD'S COVENANT WITH ISRAEL?

This is the key question to this whole passage here in Daniel chapter 9. If the identity of the "covenant-Confirmer" is missed, one's whole analysis of the passage will obviously be in jeapordy. We must never forget who the primary parties are in this passage. The "deal" is between God and Israel! The commencement, we learned, started when a certain king was given the authorization to tell Israel when they could rebuild their city. (This was at the end of the Babylonian captivity.) The primary intent of verse 27 above is to tell us that one will come at some future date to "confirm the covenant". This means someone who has the God-given right would someday come and validate the 490-year agreement between God and Israel.

Now, the Futurists put all their emphasis on the anti-Christ's perversion of this confirmation, to be done at the beginning of the final seven year period. But this understanding misses altogether the far more important aspect: the Messianic message. I'm really amazed that God-fearing "scholars", in their zeal to find all the allusions they can to the anti-Christ, somehow lose sight of the far more important issue of this passage --- the "He" who has the real authority to confirm God's dealings with Israel. Question: Would God not first send His true covenant-Confirmer so that the Jews could hear, and thus have a chance to accept His God-Given proclamation? If God allowed only Satan's perversion of the real thing, God's nature and ways would be inconsistent. I'm sure the reader agrees this could never be so.

Before we think on how Satan may twist this passage to his own advantage, let's look at the primary intent of it. Not until the first and most important part is understood does the second part have any meaning. Let's look now at some very pertinent Scriptures which plainly reveal the who, when, where, what and how, of the covenant-confirmation.

THE ACCEPTABLE YEAR OF THE LORD

Right after Jesus was baptized, he went to His home town of Nazareth and entered the synagogue He grew up in. Luke tells about the incident in Luke 4: 16 - 21.

16 "And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.

17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:

18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To preach deliverance to the captives And to recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed,

19 "To preach the ACCEPTABLE YEAR OF THE LORD."

20 "And He closed the book, and He gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.

21. "And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your ears."

WHEN?

Many answers to our present puzzle are right here. First of all, we must note when this occurred. Clearly, it was right at the beginning of Jesus' ministrynot the end. Jesus said, "Today is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears." Note also that the "anointing" occurred at the BEGINNING of Jesus' ministry, not the end.

WHO?

Jesus of Nazareth is the One Who made this great statement. That makes Him the main "He" of the Daniel 9 passage.

WHERE?

Jesus carefully chose exactly where this proclamation should be made. It was in His own hometown synagogue. Although elsewhere Jesus said a prophet is not without honor except in his own country, Nazareth was the most fitting place in all Israel for Him to begin His ministry. (Other men of God discover this principle continues to hold true as they have experienced rejection in their own community.)

WHAT?

In my opinion, nothing surpasses "WHAT?" happened in Nazareth on that very special day when Jesus stood and read from Isaiah. Visualize the setting exactly as it was: As has been shown, Jesus (the "Who?") is standing in His hometown synagogue (the "where?") right after He had been anointed (the "when"?) to commence His ministry. [Without clearly seeing the importance of each of these points, the fourth "what?" will fly right by without recognizing God's 'staging'. And, if you miss it, you too, like many others, will never be able to see the correct view of Daniel's "70 weeks". This is no boast. It is the plain, simple truth. Stick with me and you'll see what I mean.]

Now, imagine yourself sitting in a "pew" on that eventful Sabbath Day in Nazareth's synagogue. Jesus, Who you know has already been proclaimed by John the Baptist as Israel's Deliverer, rises and is handed the Old Testament. Every eye is glued on Him. Everyone in town is already intrigued by this young carpenter, Who --- the most fervent preacher in the region had been screaming --- was the "Lamb of God". And now they all sit in wonderment as Jesus turned to Isaiah chapter 61 and began to read.

Note especially these words: "...TODAY is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears." The prophecy was fulfilled THAT day, which is to say, the day He read it. This means right at the beginning of His ministry. We can be sure this incident probably occurred within a few hours of His anointing because Jesus' first words were, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me...".) Thus, since Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, the One by Whom the world was made, placed such a major emphasis on the fact that a prophecy was being fulfilled that day, we had better pay heed to every aspect of the prophecy He was pointing out to them.

We know Jesus was reading from Isaiah but I wonder how many have actually taken the time to read the whole chapter from which Jesus was quoting. I admit I never had, until one day while studying these passages, I felt prompted to read Isaiah 61. Now Jesus merely quoted the first two verses of the chapter, obviously reading just enough to indicate to everyone what prophecy was being fulfilled "in their ears" that day. But as I read on I saw the passage contained much more information of what was surely in Jesus' mind that day than just the part He read out loud to those in the synagogue. When I got to verse 8 I was stunned as I read these words:

"For I the Lord love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering: and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an EVERLASTING COVENANT with them."

(My emphasis.)

The four "I"s in this verse are the same "I" on whom resides the "Spirit of the Lord" as given in verse 1, and Jesus was saying that was Him! Now, please note carefully what this "I" said in verse 8, "...I will make an EVERLASTING COVENANT with them." I am convinced this is the same covenant spoken of by the prophet Daniel. It has to be. There are just too many facts here to believe otherwise. Remember, we have already shown that 483 years of that 490 year time-span Daniel wrote about, transpired between the issuance of the proclamation (458 B.C.) that Israel could re-build their city, up until the year (25 A. D.) Jesus would have been 29 years old. Now, as indicated in Luke and Isaiah, we find Jesus, 483 years later, claiming the right to make an "everlasting covenant" with the Jews present in the synagogue that day. It is also important to note that there was no doubt among the Jews in the synagogue of what Jesus was claiming, for a little later in the same chapter we read of their reaction to Jesus' statements:

"And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city, and led Him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast Him down headlong."

Luke 4:28&29.

In other words, the Jews tried to kill Jesus for His audacious words. We must also recognize that another main what is indicated here. Jesus said He was preaching "...the ACCEPTABLE YEAR of the LORD." What was the year in which Jesus was speaking? It was the first year of His 3 1/2-year ministry! And, what did Jesus mean by the "acceptable year"? Obviously it means exactly what it says! On the very day He spoke those most-treasured words from Isaiah 61, was the day --- the "acceptable year".

Thus, beginning with that small group of Jews gathered in Jesus' hometown synagogue, in God's typical low-key fashion, was given the honor and privilege of receiving the everlasting Covenant mentioned in Isaiah 61:8 and Daniel 9:27. Jesus was claiming to be God's Covenant-Bondman and He was, that very day, stating that was the "acceptable year". Jesus was "confirming" the predictions of Isaiah and Daniel.

(When John the Baptist was in prison awaiting execution, in a moment of bewilderment, he once sent word to Jesus asking if He was the Messiah of Israel or whether they should look for another. Interestingly, rather than simply saying "yes", Jesus mentioned the ministry-functions we find in these very passages of Luke and Isaiah. Jesus knew John would be familiar with those Scriptures and that he would understand what they meant. I believe Jesus also knew John would understand Isaiah and Daniel's predictions, for anointed prophets were lovers of God's Word. Deeper understanding of the prophetic word is a gift to prophets, thus, Jesus knew the kind of answer He gave would be more persuasive to John than mere assent to the fact that He was the Messiah.)

HOW?

Jesus did all the above under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, Who knew all about the right timing and circumstances in which to bring all the prophecies to pass. Remember, Jesus later said that He did nothing unless He saw the Father do it. This was possible because of His perfect obedience to the Holy Spirit's promptings. This is how He did it. [Here's a Scriptural summary of how this all fits together. You might want to lay my book aside now and, in the order given, do several readings of the following Scriptures: Is.61:1-8; Dan.9:24-27; & Luke 4:1-30.]

THE COVENANT WAS CONFIRMED FOR "ONE WEEK"

Now it may seem as if I've taken us way off-course but actually this is not the case. Everything I've said is directly related to the "70 weeks" of Daniel. (Our current baseline is still Daniel 9:27, you remember.)

We have now identified that the "HE" Who confirmed the covenant mentioned in this verse could be none other than Jesus Christ. Next, we must make careful note of the duration of that Covenant:

"...He shall confirm the covenant for ONE WEEK."

Again, to remind you, the Futuristic analysis of this 'confirmation' is when the anti-Christ makes some sort of agreement with today's national Israel (perhaps a promise of national protection, and maybe even allowing resumption of their Old Testament rites and rituals --- such as animal sacrifices, temple worship, etc). In the Futuristic sense of the LODR, this is a distinct possibility. But, we must first deal with the more primary meaning of the prophecy --- the Historical.

Jesus was obviously confirming the covenant predicted by Isaiah and Daniel when He spoke that day in His own hometown synagogue. I have emphasized the need for recognizing the fact that Jesus quoted Isaiah 61 at the beginning of His ministry. And I have shown you the Biblical evidence that some Jews then recognized and understood what Jesus was doing. Now listen to what Andrew, one of the first disciples, said soon after Jesus' remarkable, confirming proclamation:

"He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, 'We have found the Messiah'..." (John 1:41)

We have here a clear declaration that Andrew had received the prophetic message of God as recorded in Isaiah 61 and Daniel 9. This occurred right at the outset of Jesus' 3 & 1/2 year ministry. Shortly after Andrew, John and James came Peter and the rest of the disciples, all receiving Jesus as the promised Messiah. Then from their testimonies other believers were added to the fold. The combination of these groups represent the ones to Whom Jesus confirmed the Covenant.

Jesus' confirmation of God's Covenant started at the end of 69 weeks (483 years). It is imperative to understand that the counting of the 70 weeks DID NOT STOP when Jesus selected His disciples. After the initial declaration in the synagogue, for the next 3 1/2 years Jesus continued the confirmation through teaching, performing miracles, etc. Now isn't it interesting that this just happens to be precisely one-half of 7 years? What does this mean in terms of Daniel's expression of "weeks"? It's very simple: 3 1/2 is one-half of 7 (a week). This conclusion may not seem all that profound but folks, so many seem to have missed the essence of it. Let me show you why:

THE "MIDST" OF THE WEEK

Daniel was very careful to point out in verse 26 that the Messiah would be "cut off" after the end of the 69 "weeks". But then in verse 27 he explains exactly How much? after. It's stated this way: "...in the midst of the week", the Covenant-Confirmer would be "cut off". If a week is seven years, then the "midst" of the week would be half of it---namely, 3 1/2 years. The midst of the week (3 1/2 years) coincides precisely with the 3 1/2 years Jesus ministered with His disciples!

So, what does this indicate? You can see that by careful analysis of the plainly-stated Scriptures (and a little simple arithmetic) we have arrived at the unmistakeable conclusion that 486 1/2 years of God's 490-year covenant with Israel had transpired at the completion of Jesus' first-advent ministry. But the Futurists insist only 483 years of the "70 weeks" have been fulfilled. Now at first, this discrepancy may not seem like any big deal to you. But actually, one's whole end-of-the-age, theological-base hinges on which of these views is believed to be correct! To me, the 486 1/2 years far-better fits Daniel and Revelation, as well as all the other prophecies we've studied. Let me explain:

We've seen in Revelation a certain period described in one place as --- 1,260 days, and in another --- 42 months, and also as --- a time, times and half a time. We learned that these are all the same amount of time: three and one half years (on the 360-day, Jewish-year scale). I believe that the 3 1/2 years remaining of the 490 year covenant (i.e., the difference between 486 1/2 and 490), is that very 3 1/2 years the apostle John constantly refers to in Revelation. It'll require a little time and determination but if you'll go back and re-read this whole section, I believe you'll see how perfectly it all works out. It's taken me years to see it. You can do it in a matter of minutes. (More on this later.)

THE SACRIFICE AND OBLATION CEASED (Dan.9:27)

Before I tell you what I think this means, it is worthwhile to first explain how this is ordinarily interpreted. After the anti-Christ will make his 7-year pact with national Israel, in the middle of it (3 1/2 years later) he will break the covenant and stop what he had formerly allowed the Jews to do --- performing their religious rites and rituals, etc. This could be so. But what could it mean with regards to the far more relevant "everlasting covenant" Jesus had confirmed with the Jews 2,000 years ago?

When Jesus was crucified, that was what actually put an end to the temple rites and rituals of that time. No longer would God allow the old order to continue which He Himself had instituted centuries earlier. When God tore the "veil" in the temple at the moment of Jesus' death (Luke 23:45), He was causing "the sacrifice and the oblation to cease,...". Note that this occurred at the end of Jesus' 3 1/2 year ministry --- one-half of a "week".

MAKING IT DESOLATE

Some modern versions of the Scriptures have so-modified this portion of the Daniel passage that if you have one of those Bibles, you will find it very difficult to interpret and/or follow my explanation. So, I would advise you to use an Authorized Version of the King James Bible and stick with it for this part.

Although some of the words are archaic by today's standards, thus slowing the reader down at times, the KJV-translators did a better job where prophecy is concerned than many of the modern translators. In their zeal to make the obvious side of Scripture even plainer, some modern versions have masked much of the deeper, double-referenced material which is so vital to prophetic understanding.

The Futuristic appraisal of the Daniel 9:27 phrase "make it desolate", means the anti-Christ will drive the Jews out of their key cities in the last part of the Tribulation. But if one reads the verse carefully, another altogether-different and far more important conclusion can be seen. Note this especially: The verse itself provides the reason the land is made "desolate". It is "...for the overspreading of abominations". Now, is it reasonable that the anti-Christ would want to harm anyone, or run them off, because of their "abominations" --- i.e., evil practices? This notion is preposterous. The anti-Christ will not be at all interested in Jewish sinfulness.

We must look at this in light of both history and the Scriptures. HISTORY SAYS that the land of Israel became desolate of Jews after Christ's first advent. The BIBLE SAYS this would happen. Daniel predicted it. GOD permitted it. God allowed Satan (through Titus, Mohammad, and others) to do the handiwork, but it was God's Will that the "desolation" was to occur.

God allowed the destruction of Israel's Temple and the city of Jerusalem followed by the dispersion of the Jews because they rejected Jesus' proclamation that He was THE EVERLASTING COVENANT-MAKER! From the Cross onward, any practices of the old order under the old covenant would be an "abomination" to God. Not receiving God's Messiah --- Jesus, Israel's Deliverer --- was, and is, abominable to God. It was for this reason He made the land "desolate" of Jews for centuries after Jesus' crucifixion. Israel's rejection of Jesus and their subsequent dispersion defines the abomination of desolation. This is what Daniel 9:27 is talking about!

THE "MANY"

"The many" of Daniel 9:27 is a term of Biblical accounting. It refers to the ones with whom the "Covenant Confirmer" would agree. It is talking about those Jews who would hear, understand and receive Jesus as being their Messiah --- the very Messiah predicted here in Daniel. Near the end of his life, the apostle John reflects on this and writes in his gospel:

"He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as "MANY" as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name." Jn. 1: 11 & 12.

Some of you are probably wondering why the prophetic clock didn't keep ticking off the remaining 3 & 1/2 years of the 490 year covenant at the end of Jesus' ministry. After all, He was no longer dead and the calendar didn't really stop! This is one of those great mysteries we find in the Bible. But God's reckoning, especially when the subject TIME is being considered, is not always the obvious. However, the understanding is not beyond our ability to discern once we get hold of God's idea on the matter.

The old covenant was between GOD and NATIONAL JEWS. God still has a plan for His ancient people. Many folks think God's total plan has already been completed with the Jews and that the Church is now His final, and only, means of communication with lost people. This is not so. God will yet have, even in this age, a short time during which He will once again work with national, believing Israel. It will last for 3 1/2 years at the end of this age.

This is the 3 1/2 years yet remaining of the 490-year covenant Jesus confirmed almost 2,000 years ago with that certain group John referred to as "the many". Remember, Jesus has already fulfilled 3 1/2 years of the final "week", then He was "cut off". He will fulfill the last portion of that "week" with another certain group we can appropriately call the "many", after the Church has been raptured. We'll cover this particular "many" later.

It may seem to the reader that I have steered us way off course. However, all this discussion of Daniel's "seventy weeks" and on Jesus as being the Covenant-Confirmer of the "70 weeks" agreement, and the exposition of the anti-Christ description as given in 2 Thessalonians, were all very pertinent and necessary pieces of the prophetic puzzle. Without clear understanding of these particular passages, it is absolutely impossible to comprehend the upcoming, end-of-the-age events. But now, we can come back to Revelation 13 where, you recall, we left off studying the "ten horned" beast.

ANTI-CHRIST SUBDUES THREE KINGS

Remember that the 11th "little horn" will subdue three of the "ten horns". This is usually interpreted to mean that the anti-Christ will destroy three nations in his own empire. I agree with this and even go so far as to suggest their identities: I believe two will be England and Northern Ireland. I picked these two because of their powerful, historical influence and leadership in the Church, believing that perhaps they will eventually come out of their present spiritual lethargy.

(I can hardly believe these two are in the Common Market in the first place. But then, that's the way of apostasy, isn't it? Once an individual --- or entire nation --- starts sinning and rebelling, stopping becomes a real problem. At some point, usually requiring a major crisis, a nation may repent. If so, God will once again restore the nation. I hope this happens to England and Northern Ireland. Pray for this eventuality, fellow Christians!)

It may surprise you but I believe Germany may be one of the three the anti-Christ will "subdue"surprising because she is given credit for starting the last two world wars. But then why should we be shocked at this paradox? After all, it is Satan who tries to destroy the work of God. I do not believe it was any accident that Germany housed so many of the Jews during WW2. Surely their being there was to some degree beneficial for them, even part of God's overall plan of the ages, certainly not merely so that 6,000,000 of them could be slaughtered. Also, we must remember the Godly Germans who hid many of the Jews and gave them protection during Hitler's nightmare-ish regime. It may surprise you to learn that West Germany is one of the world's largest supporters of America's Christian radio-mission work. (Ref: Footnote 4.)

We must ask what exactly is meant by the "little horn" (anti-Christ) "subduing" three other "horns". Now that could mean destruction through warfare, but it could also mean other things. I say this because of the odd phrase in Daniel 7:8 which tells us the three "horns" will be "plucked up by the roots". Could "roots" suggest foundational principles? A root is the base of something. This could mean that deep beliefs and former commitments (the roots) would be destroyed. England, Northern Ireland and Germany have backgrounds similar to America. They were deeply grounded in the Christian faith but today are in gross spiritual slumber, nationally speaking.

It may mean both. That is, the anti-Christ may keep banging away at (subduing) the "roots" of the "three horns" until they repent and return to Godly principles, at which time he would feel the need to destroy them entirely, militarily. I'm uncertain about this, of course. In any event, Christian friends, join me in regular prayer for God's people everywhere to repent and return to the "God of our fathers".

WAR WITH THE SAINTS

7 "And it was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation."

Many Christians have been martyred defending the faith, refusing to turn away from proclaiming the Name of Jesus and His Gospel. That takes a special kind of boldness. God-given kind. I'm all for it. I hope we have many of these types around right up till the end.

Some preachers talk today about us Christians "winning the world for Jesus". Sounds bold but I'm not sure these have clearly understood end-time prophecy. There's nothing wrong with Christians having a positive attitude and commitment to send the Gospel into every region of the world. In fact, this must have been in Jesus' mind when explaining what it would be like at the time of the end:

"Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing." Matt. 24:46.

The "so-doing" refers to being faithful doing the master's work at the time Jesus returns. The Church must do everything in its power to reach out and touch a spirtually-dying world. Nevertheless, we must also face the facts stated in the above Scripture, Rev. 13:7. It clearly says the anti-Christ will "make war" with the "saints" and that he will "overcome them". Just how certain groups fit this verse into their prophetic scheme --- that Christianity is going to overcome the world --- I don't know.

The Futurists handle it like this. First, recall they believe nothing concerns the Church between Revelation 4:1 and 19:1, their concept being that the Christians will have been raptured. Now obviously John is referring to saved people in the above verse for he calls them "saints". A Biblical saint is simply a Christian. (It most assuredly has no reference to "sainthood" as defined by the Roman Catholic Church, which is someone reaching a certain 'divine statehood', as determined by heirarchy-approved accomplishments. It's a "works" milestone.)

So, according to the Futurists, the Church can't be on earth when the anti-Christ is "overcoming" these particular "saints". But then, who are they? They say these are the people who become saved during the Tribulation. I disagree. My answer to this really is this entire book. But right here in context is provided a worthy answer to the 'mystery'. Actually, Rev. 13:7 substantiates in large measure the position I take --- that the Church is very much here on earth when we get to that point in time. Compare the language of Rev. 13:7 to Rev. 11:7:

"And when they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will "MAKE WAR" against them, OVERCOME them and kill them."

I believe these two passages address the very same event. The only difference is that Revelation 11 is specifically talking about the "two witnesses", while Revelation 13:7 is more inclusive, embracing the "two witnesses" as well as all "saints" in the remainder of the world --- i.e., the total Church. (Note the last part of Rev. 13:7, "...And authority was given him over EVERY tribe, tongue, and nation.")

The fact is, the Church is in a condition of apostasy, not moving toward some grandiose state of perfection as some claim. Our perfection is in heaven. His Name is Jesus Christ. If you are "in Him", that's your perfection. Certainly we want to do everything possible while here, in our attempt to "perfect" our walk with Christ. Our character needs to be in a constant state of transformation into the likeness of Christ and we have something to do with that. Neither do I wish to imply that the Church should allow the anti-Christ to rise unabated. My caution here is that we not be deluded by the current efforts being made by some to bring the splintered, physical church organizations together under one ecclesiastical roof in order to achieve some form of unity calling it The Church.

WHERE HE LEADS, WHO WILL FOLLOW?

8 "And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world.

9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear.

10 He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is patience and the faith of the saints." Revelation 13:8-10.

There's a wonderful old Christian hymn entitled "Where He leads Me, I will Follow", which speaks of our Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, leading His "lambs" (Christians). All Christians should have that mindset. However, We saw in 2 Thessalonians that another "shepherd", an unlovely one, is going to come some day and many will follow him. We also saw God will send strong delusion that "they should believe THE lie", to those that refuse to receive the love of the truth. Satan initiated this lie in the garden of Eden. I think it really takes on many forms but chiefly it means that man, not God, is the center of everything. Those who teach this believe man is 'one' with the universe and that once he learns to understand and wholeheartedly follow this philosophy, nothing can stop him from achieving his highest goals, including even godhood.

The "New Age" Movement ascribes to this philosophy; most of the world's political forces are motivated by it; much of the job force is getting into it, (and I mean right here in the good-ole USA); all false religions have embraced it (whether they realize it or not); and even many of today's churches (so-called) are buying "THE LIE".

Looking again at the above verses, we see that most of the world will succumb to the anti-Christ's power, deceptions and promises; all those except those "written in the Book of Life".

(If your name isn't in that Book yet, my friend, see to it that it is before it's too late. How do you do this? Believe the Gospel. This basically means seeing yourself as God doesa sinner who is lost, spiritually dying and on his way to hell. Once you can believe that, you can "repent"turn around and go in the opposite direction! To do this means to turn from your own selfish way, towards Jesus, the Messiah. Realize that His death on the cross of Calvary was God's requirement for the penalty of sin, and that it was done in your behalf to release you from the bondage of sin, both now and forever! When you really believe this, the Holy Spirit will seal you as God's possession and your name goes in the Book of Life --- permanently. This is the central truth of all prophecy.)

Those who are a part of "THE LIE" are the ones John says here lead "into captivity" and consequently they themselves "shall go into captivity". As each day passes it's becoming easier and easier to discern who they are. The end is coming. We are getting close. I sense it strongly and see it with increasing clarity each day as I watch the world buying "THE LIE". But Christians can avoid the deception by seeking God with their whole heart. That's the requirement to become an overcomer.

"ANOTHER BEAST". This one is from THE EARTH

11 "And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon."

Of all the topics discussed in this book, nothing troubles me more than to comment on this beast. I think I understand how Jesus must have felt when He prayed over His beloved earthly Jerusalem. (Luke 13:34.) But, I believe there are pertinent insights of this passage which are essential for those of us living in our day, so, here goes. (Before you read, please do this: stop right now and pray that God will give you an open mind and that He will truly bear witness whether my discernment of this passage is accurate.)

The coming of the anti-Christ will follow a perverted pattern of Jesus' first coming. Jesus had a forerunner in John the Baptist. The second "beast" in the above passage is the anti-Christ's forerunner, his 'way-paver'. He will be a world-renowned man himself who becomes committed to the ever-growing, popular and influential secular leader and the regime he heads and the endeavors he espouses. He will be a noted 'spiritual' leader.

We have learned that the anti-Christ will likely be the leader over today's Common Market nations of Europe, which will ultimately unite in a tighter relationship than it has today, representing at that time a revival of the ancient Roman Empire. Now let's identify his cohort.

Verse 11 says beast #2 comes out of the "earth". Recalling that the first beast came from the "sea" (the general populace of mankind), it follows that one who comes out of the "earth" would represent a more specific region of humanity. Since he will be involved with establishing worship of the "beast from the sea", we can logically presume the "earth" beast is from the religious community.

Remember, the anti-Christ is Satan-personifieda perverted "incarnate-god", if you will. As such, he must have a religious organizer, someone who can bring the world's people together in one accord, making them ready to receive the man described throughout this chapter. Just as John the Baptist came on the scene before Jesusmaking ready a people to receive the true Lamb of God, Israel's Messiahin like manner the beast from the earth will come in advance of the first beast, anti-Christ. Note that the "earth beast" had "two horns like a lamb". What could this mean?

For one thing, the dual horns imply double-mindedness. It convinces me that the "earth beast" speaks of God and Christ but underneath is serving quite a different master. He comes usurping the name and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ but following rules and guidelines totally contrary to clear Scriptural teaching. Jesus was THE LAMB of God. The double-horned "earth beast" comes "like a lamb". He will be outwardly meek. Lamb-like, but inwardly serving a "spirit" other than the God of the Bible. So, we must look for a person and an earthly system which meets these criteria:

(1) The organization will have a semblance of respectability. Otherwise, no one could be deceived.

(2) It must also have been around for a long time. Otherwise, how could it possibly fool people? Historically-sound roots are a necessity.

(3) It must be very widespread. Otherwise, how is it possible to prepare "all who dwell on the earth" to receive the anti-Christ?

The question is, is there such an organization present today which fits the requirements? Surely there is and I'm persuaded it is none other than the Holy Roman Catholic Church, which has been headed for centuries by a string of institutionally-proclaimed 'vicars* of Christ' --- the popes. (Interestingly, today's EEC was formulated under what was originally called, "The Treaty of Rome". As far as I know, there is not yet any formal link between the EEC and the Vatican. But, if my presumption is right, the union will eventually occur.)

WHY THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH?

I'm convinced there are many, true Christians in the Catholic Church. It is for that reason I regretfully and reluctantly state my convictions about their parent-organization. But we cannot overlook the atrocities which occurred under Constantine and others in the Catholic Church. For example, how does one look at endorsed murdering, as occurred in the Spanish Inquisitions, and remain convinced that the leaders who stood behind it speak for God?

* ("Vicara papal" title refers to one who supposedly speaks in Jesus Christ's stead with absolute perfection.)

But even more important than the historical abuses this 'church' is guilty of, is the perverted 'gospel' it embraces and teaches. I certainly don't know all about Catholic beliefs and doctrines but born-again Christians ought to be aware of at least a few of the primary ones:

1. The Worship of Mary.

Catholics are taught to believe that Mary is a mediator between Christ and them. They pray to her for her divine protection and plead to her because of her supposed intercessory-accessibility to Jesus. This they do in spite of the fact that the Scriptures plainly teach that there is but ONE Mediator between God and Man, the Man Christ Jesus. (See I Tim. 2:5.) I'm sure you have heard of the many supernatural "appearances" Mary has made to Catholics throughout the ages --- and are supposedly occurring right up to the present hour. I've recently heard Catholic priests discuss these things quite openly on television. No doubt about it, they believe in her divinity and visitations.

Even the "Beatles" sang about these phenomena in a song which said, "Mother Mary comes to me, whispering words of wisdom, let it be...". Don't be deluded. Mary's appearances are nothing more than demonic apparitions. They are 'angels of light', designed to insidiously steer believers off course and into Satan's trap.

2. The Infallibility of the Pope.

Catholics believe in this. I have heard the present pope, John Paul II, positively affirm his position about it. He has said he doesn't deserve spiritual perfection but that it is a gift to him because of the the office he holds. This "Holy Father" has also made it very clear he plans to see to it that this belief is reinstituted, along with other traditions, throughout the world's entire Parish system.

3. Purgatory.

Apparently, the Roman Church has determined the relative 'weights' of sins, and categorized them on some kind of graduated scale that only they know the answers to! Catholics believe in a place called purgatory. It is a place 'saints' go after physical death to sort of work out the 'debit' sheet. That is, if you still have sins remaining on your 'account' when you die, you must go to purgatory and, somehow, make restitution. The bottom line here is they do not believe the shed blood of Christ cleanses a believer of all his sins. In short, they do not really believe the Gospel!

4. Prayers for the dead.

Catholic tradition teaches Catholic believers to pray for unbelievers who have died, (particularly while the dead are in purgatory.)

5. The Holy Eucharist.

Communion, according to Catholic teaching and practice, means the priest-blessed wafer and wine actually (not figuratively) become the real body and blood of Jesus. So, when ingested, the partaker is quite literally eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ. That is how one gets Christ in himself! This practice and phenomenon is called transubstantiation. What a gross perversion of what Jesus said in John 6:53-58.

6. Baptism.

When a Catholic priest baptizes someone, he is transferring his divinely-given grace to them. The priest is actually "saving" the person! This would explain why babies are baptized in the Catholic Church.

Some of you may have trouble believing that these six points are Vatican doctrines and beliefs. The descriptions and conclusions were determined from their own literature and television discussions (I personally saw) among Catholic "Fathers" who defend these practices. These perverted beliefs and practices are convincing-proofs that Roman Catholicism is a works-religion, not faith-Christianity. In fact, when you get right down to it, the beliefs are not greatly unlike other religions outside Christianity. They have defined "another Jesus" than the One Holy Scripture reveals.

Now as I said before, I believe there are individual Catholics (and priests) who really love God and have trusted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. In spite of their blindness to the maze of gross errors within this institution, by God's grace some have seen and experienced enough of the true Gospel that God has wonderfully and miraculously saved them.

I am certainly in no position to judge these people for Jesus loves all who come to Him in true repentance. I believe I shall go into eternity with many Catholics. However, and that's a big, capital-letter --- HOWEVER --- I'm thoroughly persuaded the organization itself, along with many of its leaders and adherents, has been, and is, the very seat of the "beast from the earth" as described here in Revelation 13:11. I also believe this is the earthly 'house' upon which Satan has for centuries attempted to superimpose his spiritual kingdom.

Please don't get the idea that I think Protestantism is completely devoid of being part of the ecclesiastical 'beast'. The watered-down 'gospel' taught in many Protestant churches today is little better, if any, than the above-described Catholic doctrines. I have singled out and discussed the perversions of the Roman Catholic Church because I believe Scripture presents her portrait. The history, beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church are the convincing-proofs that this is the only organization on earth which matches the Biblical picture of the second beast.

THE FALSE PROPHET

In Revelation 19:20, the "beast from the earth" is named the False Prophet. Therefore, when we see this term we must realize that the inference is to the '2nd beast' here in the latter part of Revelation 13.

False Prophet is an appropriate title for anyone, or any organization, who is preparing the way for the anti-Christ. Obviously Satan will be the spiritual force who lies in the background empowering the False Prophet. That being the case, deception will be the key sign to look for as we contemplate who the False Prophet is.

Satan has always used the Scriptures in his scheming. He did in the garden of Eden. He even had the audacity to quote Scripture to Jesus! But we know that in doing so, Satan always has an evil, ulterior motive. We must be sensitive to these patterned-truths if we are to be discerners of who is and who isn't a true follower of Christ.

Carrying a Bible around doesn't automatically prove one's godliness or insure that he is Christ's representative. Using the Scriptures and claiming to be 'christian' can be a mere cloak of decency --- just as Satan attempted against Jesus. I'm convinced this tendency has prevailed in the upper echelons of Roman Catholicism from its beginning. (If the truth were fully known, I suspect reams could be written about what is currently going on in the Vatican to prepare and pave the way for the coming restored Roman Empire. It's mostly hidden but I am aware of a few things which should help the reader understand why I'm rather firm in my convictions about this issue.)

THE VISITS --- THE INVITATIONS --- THE PREP WORK

Today in Roman Catholicism, three things stand out rather distinctly which, to me, loudly proclaim "FALSE PROPHET". Let's look at them one at a time.



THE VISITS

Pope John Paul II has probably done more visiting throughout the world than all previous popes combined. What's his motivation? Is it because he is such a wonderful man of God? Is it because of his compassion for a world in chaos, filled with sick and sin-laden people? Does he take the true Gospel message to them? I can't accept these premises, because I can't ignore that this pope BELIEVES all those previously-stated church doctrines. Believing what he believes makes the Pope wide open to deception. After all, that's how more deception comes --- having a false base to begin with. False beliefs lay the groundwork for being a false teacher --- a 'false prophet'. Deception builds on deception.

The Vatican's present Pope is warmly received by nearly everyone, including, you must have noticed, much of the Protestant world. But then, isn't this exactly what verse 11 predicted? It says he would come "like a lamb". This implies he will be gentle, warm and kind. A 'grandfather' type.

But also note that the apostle John indicated this 'lamb' would have "two horns". I think this (partly) means he has two sides for us to look at. There is what he wants the world to see and there is also that other person inside. Pope John Paul II is trying to draw the masses to himself, not Christ. Don't ever forget that he believes that he is literally the mouthpiece of God on this earth right now.

Did you know that Pope John Paul is also sitting down at the bargaining table with the leaders of other religions, too? Oh yes, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, you name it. He obviously feels all mankind must come together in order to have "peace on earth and good will toward all men". (However, Christians know that this will only happen when Jesus physically reigns as Lord and King of planet earth. But this particular pope believes it is his duty to accomplish this feat.)

The visitations are not aimed merely at seeing the masses though. John Paul is meeting with the cardinals, bishops and other great political leaders as he makes his rounds. I believe the purpose is to draw attention to the Vatican and Rome, seeing himself as the ultimate spiritual head over all the lands he visits. In fact, even Gorbachev said to the Pope that he recognized him as the earth's greatest religious leader.

It is reported that when the Pope kneels and kisses the earth, as he has in some places, it is not so much an act of papal condescension but rather that he is claiming that land for the kingdom he envisions himself building. Thus, it appears the VISITS are working.

THE INVITATIONS

The Church of England, The Episcopal Church in America and Canada, The Lutheran Church in West Germany, and others, are receiving 'honored' invitations from the Vatican to consider compromising their differences and to rejoin their "mother" --- the Roman Catholic Church. This ecumenical movement is widespread and many leaders in these institutions are definitely trying to get the people in their churches ready for reattachment to Rome.

Friends, I don't know of a shred of Biblical evidence to substantiate that Jesus wanted all Christians under one, earthly, ecclesiastical roof; certainly not one which embraces the unscriptural tenets of Roman Catholicism. It's right and good to be in a local congregation with people who are trying to develop Christ-like character and who embrace the clearly-spoken doctrines as recorded in the Bible. But this ever-increasing, international "beast" eminating from Rome has nothing to do with the real body of Christ --- that body which comprises the priesthood of all born-again believers.

But, in spite of what seems very plain to ordinary Christian believers, many of the mainline-denominations are giving strong consideration to the ecumenical movement towards Roman Catholic rule. Thus, I conclude, the INVITATIONS are working.

THE PREP WORK

In order to comment on the PREPARATION WORK going on in the Roman Church, we need to look at the remainder of chapter thirteen.

12 "And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.

13 And he performs great signs, so that he makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.

14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he had power to do in the sight of the beast, saying to those who dwell on the earth that they should make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.

15 And he had power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

16 And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads,

17 and that no one may buy or sell except the one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of man: And his number is six hundred and sixty-six.

This is another one of those large segments which is rather difficult to digest all at once. For most of us, symbolic language isn't easy to keep in mind with only one reading. So, in order to follow what I'm saying, it will be helpful to read this passage several times.

I won't be taking the time to go through each phrase here. But, I draw your attention to one key word in each of several of these verses: In verse 12 we see the False Prophet "exercises"; verse 13, he "performs"; verse 14, he "deceives"; verse 15, he has "power", and finally in verse 16, he "causes". In other words, the second "beast" is the one who effectualizes things. He's the 'up-front man', a person of action, one who makes things happen. The False Prophet is obviously going to be very visible in order to do all the things which are outlined here.

It is also plain to see that he holds a position of high authority because he directs the worship of his people towards the first "beast" whose "wound was healed". Therefore, it's significant to note he does everything in favor of the first "beast", the anti-Christ. He does the great "signs". He causes the "mark" to be placed on everyone, which will eventually become necessary in order to "sell" or "buy". In short, the False Prophet ultimately becomes the practical head of all that entails the final, 666 system. This may not sound like the kind of activities you'd expect to find in a Church, does it? But...,



THE "OPUS DEI"

Just as the true prophet, John the Baptist, was quite visible and outspoken before the coming of the real Messiah, Jesus Christ, so also is the False Prophet who comes before the anti-Christ. Actually, the PREP work has been going on since the days of Constantine (the white horse rider of Seal # 1, you recall). Constantine wanted to 'christianize' the Roman Empire and that philosophy hasn't stopped till this day. The restored Roman Empire will likewise show a form of 'christianity', having been prepared long in advance of the coming of the final anti-Christ. This is its cloak of decency.

Therefore, the world-wide network of Roman Catholic parishes, with their leaders, is already in place. We don't have to speculate on how the office of the False Prophet shall come; the ground work has already been laid and presently stands right before our eyes. But there is one fairly new organization within the old system that needs to be discussed. It's called the Opus Dei, which means, "Work of God."

I first became aware of Opus Dei on June 11, 1984 through an article in TIME magazine(1) entitled, "Building God's Global Castle". More recently, INSIGHT magazine(2) also published an article on the same organization called, "An Elect Few Assume God's Work".

The articles agreed there are approximately 74,000 of these new "priests" who have been spread across 40 nations. TIME says, "Since its founding in 1928, Opus Dei has become one of the most influential, controversial and mysterious movements in Roman Catholicism. John Paul's presence at Opus ordinations is only one of many signs of his approval..." Opus is "a corps of well-educated, disciplined, profoundly committed Catholics who, as laity in ordinary jobs, can penetrate society in ways that priests cannot. In the Opus concept, each lay Catholic is to SANCTIFY the secular world and his own career..." They reportedly work "at 487 universities and schools, 694 newspapers or periodicals, 52 TV or radio stations, 38 publicity agencies and twelve film companies." Some who have dropped out of the Opus refer to the secretive organization as "the Holy Mafia," or "Octopus Dei". One "drop-out" said, "leaving becomes difficult for members, because 'their spirits are broken, and they have lost all touch with everyday life'".

Some Catholic leaders are not in favor of Opus Dei but two events have enhanced the Opus stature. "In 1981, the Vatican took the first steps toward the canonization of Opus' founder, Spanish Monsignor Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, who died in 1975. Sainthood would vindicate the movement's creation under 'divine inspiration,' as the pope described it." The other "momentous mark of papal favor occurred in 1982, when John Paul granted Opus a new status known as personal prelature." This gave the organization "autonomy as a worldwide, nonterritorial jurisdiction with its priests and laity subject to Opus' prelate." The TIME's article also said, "A senior Vatican official says that the Pope has asked for private commitments from Opus that it will seek out all levels of society and will cooperate with local bishops and other lay movements."

The author also had this to say: "...The members of Opus Dei now seem to represent, for John Paul, an ideal for today's lay church member. There is speculation that the organization will gradually fill the traditional role of the Jesuits as an elite vanguard ready to DO THE BIDDING of Pope and church, and that John Paul has important evangelizing duties in mind for the organization...".

That the leaders in Opus Dei are strongly committed to the pope is suggested by this quote by an Opus' member of the men's General Council: "We are among the most committed defenders of the notion that undebatable truth exists. Doctrine is not debatable, and when doubts arise over what is binding truth, the final word is the Pope's and not some theologian's."

(Reader, does this not tell us where the authority really lies within the Roman Church? To Opus members, the Scriptures are not the final word of authority. The Pope is. This is not a Christian concept.)

The article in INSIGHT magazine confirms nearly every detail mentioned above which also reported that there are, in addition to the 74,000 bonafide Opus members, 700,000 "cooperators" around the world who may not necessarily be "christians". According to the INSIGHT article, "..'.Opus Dei focuses on where political, economic and social power lies,' says an English prelate at the Vatican, 'this carries with it a danger that the movement could lose its freedom to challenge the existing order by becoming part of it."

This last comment by the Englishman expresses tremendous sensitivity and insight. What he is saying is that one of the main objectives of Opus Dei is to challenge things the way they presently are in the world, on every level of existence. I understand where the prelate is coming from when he says Opus will "become part of it" (i.e., the politico-economic-socio scene). He's close to the truth but not quite 'on the beam'. It isn't as though Opus is unwittingly endangering themselves through ignorance as they move into the whole world's marketplace; indeed, this is their very objective! I believe their aim is to eventually supplant what is in existence today. It appears that not only the leaders but also that all Opus' members are fervent in their belief and commitment that they are the element which will ultimately solve all the political, economic and social woes in today's world.

OPUS DEI'S FOUNDER: Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer y Albas

Escriva, a priest of Spain, created the Opus Dei society in 1928. The story goes that when he was on a retreat in Madrid in 1928 at age 26, he was pondering what God wanted of him. Suddenly nearby church bells began to ring and Escriva "saw" the answer. It was to set up an institution that would "tell men and women of every country and of every condition, race, language, milieu and state of life that they can love and serve God without giving up their ordinary work, their family life and their normal social relations." This is a remarkable conviction Escriva had. But how does this fit in with "numeraries who perform periodic, brief sessions of mortification of the flesh, using braided thong 'disciplines' for self-flagellation. Some wear a wire with prongs, which members call a cilice, tied around the leg above the knee." Such mortification is supposed to remind the Opus member of the suffering of Jesus. One of their leaders, Monsignor Cormac Burke, said this "is something which cannot be omitted from a fully religious life,..."

INSIGHT also reported "the group is said to exert great political influence in Spain and to be vastly wealthy."..."In part, the criticism Opus Dei inspires stems from its being the product of traditional, Catholic Spain and its Spanish leadership, which infused it with values that have become alien in countries of liberal civilization." The article goes on to say, "...an Irish priest working in America who has observed Opus Dei in Spain, Mexico and the United States, says the society's practices are much milder here (USA) than in the two Hispanic countries." ("The organization came to the United States in 1949 when three Spaniards arrived in Chicago from Rome. One was a nuclear physicist taking up a university position. From among their new friends and acquaintances, they won adherents to Escriva's teachings. But the movement's growth in the U.S. has not been as great as elsewhere in the world.")

Escriva died in 1975. His replacement today, another Spaniard by the name of Monsignor Alvaro del Portillo, worked directly with Escriva for forty years. Pope John Paul II is obviously very close to Opus Dei as he established the society as the first "personal prelature" set up in the Roman Catholic Church. "A prelature is similar to a diocese, but instead of having a territorial jurisdiction, a personal jurisdiction is exercised by the prelate over the spiritual formation and work of members WHEREEVER THEY ARE." According to a historian named Johnson, John Paul II has said, "Escriva had the right combination; a robust adherence to the traditional dogmas and moral standards of Catholicism together with the missionary zeal to apply them in the modern world."

Now, compare the above facts about Opus Dei to the "AIMS" of the EEC as stated in an encyclopedia in the library of the University of California at Davis, California. It said:

"To promote throughout the Community a harmonious development of economic activities, a continuous and balanced expansion, an increase in stability, an acceleration in the rise of the standard of living and closer relations between Member States, by establishing a common market and by progressive rapprochement of the economic policies of Member states."

Interesting parrallels, aren't they? They are, I'm convinced, the same concepts because they come from the same "author".



SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

Revelation, chapter 13, describes two "beasts", one from the "sea" (representing all humanity) and one from the "earth" (the religious community within). The first "beast" we have seen is a politico-economic-social system, which has been identified as the Common Market of Europe. The second "beast" is identified as the Roman Catholic Church as headed by the Vatican under the leadership of its Pope.

The prophet Daniel said the eleventh member of an already-existing ten nation confederacy would produce a leader, the likes of which the world has never known, which we have called the anti-Christ. As of January 1, 1981, The EEC had ten members and on January 1, 1986 the eleventh joined --- SPAIN. (You recall the explanation of how Portugal was included along with Spain. Now let me share a new insight with you.)

MORE ON THE TWO HORNS

Remember the picture of the white shaggy goat which I saw in the San Francisco newspaper the year Greece became the tenth member of the EEC, and that it had one long single horn? It was reported the way this is achieved is by some kind of manipulative fusion of two normal horns into one! It may be a wild thought but one day it occurred to me this parallels Spain and Portugal's entry into the EEC: two nations voted in together --- 'fused', if you will, by the others. Is it possible that this is God's way of resolving for us the mystery that there are now 12 EEC members instead of the expected 11?

Carrying this thought further, recently I learned that in the 15th century the Pope authorized two nations to "claim" the remainder of the undiscovered world for the Vatican. Those two nations were Spain and Portugal!

It just may be that Daniel's single horn ("fused-from-two"), which arose after the "ten horns", was the very same as the two horns the apostle John saw on the head of the False Prophet. In Daniel's case it appeared as one to indicate the single source of power from which the fusion came; in John's case the horns appeared as two to indicate that there were in fact two separate nations set up to accomplish the False Prophet's desires. Can you accept this possibility, my friends?

NOW BACK TO THE TWO BEASTS

This whole chapter of Revelation makes clear that these two "beasts" (not to be confused with the "two horns" of the False Prophet) will join forces in the end. We learned the second "beast" is preparing the way for the first. This second one is called the False Prophet and it is his duty to link the religious community to the world's work force into one structure. We also learned that a Spanish man named Escriva produced the idea of how to accomplish this very feat and that Rome's present Pope, John Paul II, is not only in agreement with Escriva, but is trying to promote his "sainthood" in order to "sanctify" his ideas. The Pope is also "anointing" his secret emisaries and sending them all over the world to "DO HIS BIDDING". He is living out the very words of the text as the apostle John described himhe "exercises", "performs", "deceives", has the "power" and "causes" it all to happen. Admittedly, there are some things described in this chapter which haven't yet happened. However, much of what John said is unquestionably already in place.

The identifications I've made in this chapter will make many uncomfortable. I will probably be accused of discriminations and prejudices. That is neither my nature nor my intent. I would merely admonish the Roman Church to repent of their sins and turn from their wicked ways --- unbelief of the simple Gospel truths and usurpation of the authority that only Jesus Christ Himself holds.

It is not my intention to stir up Christians to the point of anger. God Forbid! This kind of information must always be handled with extreme delicacy. Unsaved people, who may have good morals, and demonstrate high patriotism, etc., can do great harm with knowledge such as this. 'Good' people (though unsaved) who have virtually no understanding of the things of God, often think it's alright to take up an offense and attempt to destroy those they believe to be 'tools of the devil'. That, of course, is not our responsibility. Look at Jesus! He did not try to get rid of Herod nor did He try to stop Judas. Christians must keep in mind that all the prophecies will be fulllfilled.

In the process of what lies ahead, Christians are to be salt and light in the world. For this reason, I have even hesitated to share these convictions. Many times I ask, "Why God?" That is, "Even if these things are true, why have You shown them to me?" And as I try to hear His answer, all I can tell you is that I seem to be driven on in my search to understand prophetic truth as contained in the Holy Scriptures. Obviously I take this to mean someone needs to know. However, if you believe and accept the thoughts, ideas and identifications I've suggested here concerning the Roman Catholic Church and its heirarchy, please use great discretion as you share the insights with others. There are innocent, honest, Godly Christians caught up in this web. We'll see more about this in Revelation 18.

1. TIME Magazine. June 11, 1984.

2. INSIGHT Magazine. November 16, 1987.