THE FINAL SUPERPOWER- Part 15

Following World War II the balance of global power was in the hands of two superpowers – the United States and the USSR.

World peace was maintained through a method of deterrence and the fear of global annihilation.

There was a race to see who could develop the latest military technology and accumulate the most bombs.

By the time Ronald Reagan became President, the Cold War had reached such a state, that he feared the imminent biblical prophecies of Armageddon. He thought the world might soon end unless he acted swiftly to remove the threat of communist Russia.

President Reagan turned to Pope John Paul II and the Catholic Church to help him accomplish this task in the most amazing manner.

The February 24, 1992 edition of Time magazine led with an article entitled “Holy Alliance”.

This article documented a secret meeting between the Pope and Reagan in the Vatican library that combined two of the most powerful forces in the world into a strategic alliance.

“In that meeting, Reagan and the Pope agreed to undertake a clandestine campaign to hasten the dissolution of the communist empire …This was one of the great secret alliances of all time.”

The article goes on to say how the two powers would influence Russia – militarily, economically and spiritually throughout the Eastern block countries.

The result? The demise of communism and the collapse of the USSR.

Since that time the United States, has become the dominant global influence in all key areas of civilisation – politics, economics, culture, military, technology and science.

The United States is the largest global economy and dominates the money markets of the world. From a political perspective, the United States has taken on the role of global policeman.

The nation spends more on warfare than any other country and basically determines the military action of the world.

Does Bible prophecy predict the rise and rule of the United States? If so, does God see the United States as a power for good or evil? What role will global governments have in influencing world religion and will there be a return to religious persecution?

This study guide will reveal a prophecy that clearly identifies the final superpower.

Please read Revelation 13 (18 verses) and consider the two “beasts”. Notice how they rule at different times in history, but then form a global alliance at the end of time.

The First Beast (Revelation 13:1-10)

Q1 – THERE ARE TWO SUPERPOWERS REPRESENTED IN REVELATION 13. WHAT IS THE FIRST POWER?

Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name (v1)Revelation 13:1-10

There are eight specific clues to help us identify this political power. An initial investigation uncovers the interesting comparison between this beast and the Antichrist power of Daniel 7. Notice four of the features that are identical to both powers:
Clue 1 – It would rise from the “sea” – a highly populated area (Daniel 7:3, Revelation 13:1)
Clue 2 – It would speak blasphemies against God (Daniel 7:25, Revelation 13:1,5)
Clue 3 – It would persecute God’s people (Daniel 7:25, Revelation 13:7)
Clue 4 – It would rule for 1,260 years (Daniel 7:25, Revelation 13:5)

Many political powers have come up from populated areas, blasphemed against God and killed God’s people. But only one power has ruled for 1,260 years.

That power is the Roman Papacy (for details of the 1,260 year prophecy you can review the study guide entitled “Who is the Antichrist?”).

Throughout history many famous Bible scholars and teachers identified the Papacy as this first beast of Revelation 13, including: John Huss (1412), William Tyndale (1550), Sir Isaac Newton (1727) and John Wesley (1764).

Q2 – WHAT OTHER FEATURES OF THE FIRST BEAST CAN BE IDENTIFIED?

God provides four more clues within this prophecy, to ensure there is no doubt regarding the identity of the beast.

Clue 5 – Receives its power and authority from the dragon
Revelation 13:2 – … The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. The dragon is a symbol of the devil (Revelation 12:9), and the devil often works through pagan nations. In Revelation 12:3-5 we find the dragon working through pagan Rome. This fits in perfectly with the prophecy of Revelation 13 because it was pagan Rome that handed over its power, throne and authority to the Roman church.
Clue 6 – It would be a global power. Revelation 13:3 – … And all the world marveled and followed the beast. The word “Catholic” means universal. There is no greater example of a universal power than the Catholic Church. This church is present in virtually every nation of the world.
that fits all the clues – the Roman Papacy. This superpower ruled the world for over a thousand years and has played a vital role in shaping the history of the world.

Clue 7 – It loses its power then regains it Revelation 13:3 – And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. The papacy received a deadly wound in 1798 when the Pope was taken captive and stripped of his political powers. In the year 1929 Mussolini and the Catholic leadership reached an agreement that reinstated the political status of the Vatican. Since that time, the strength and influence of the church has grown tremendously. World leaders and people from all aspects of spirituality now see the Pope as the spiritual leader of the world.
Clue 8 – It is a religious power that receives worship Revelation 13:8 – All who dwell on the earth will  worship him … This beast is not a secular or democratic government. Politicians aren’t worshipped! This beast is a religious power that receives worship from people all over the world.

There is only one political power that fits all the clues – the Roman Papacy. This superpower ruled the world for over a thousand years and has played a vital role in shaping the history of the world.

The Second Beast – The final superpower (Revelation 13:11-18)

The second beast is the final global ruler in earth’s history.
This is the nation that will enforce the dreaded mark of the beast and play a key role in the last dramatic events on the planet.

Q3 – WHAT IS THE INITIAL DESCRIPTION OF THE SECOND BEAST POWER?

Then I saw another beast coming up out of the sea, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon Revelation 13:11

Three major clues within this prophecy enable us to identify this nation. Many Bible scholars today believe this power is the United States. Let’s examine the evidence.

Clue 1 – It would arise after the first beast John, the writer of Revelation, described the first beast going “into captivity” (Revelation 13:10). This occurred in 1798 when the Pope was taken captive and the papacy was stripped of its power.

Then I saw another beast coming up” (v11). The new power would begin to emerge around the same time as the previous power would experience its downfall.

The United States declared its independence in 1776. It voted its Constitution in 1787 and adopted its Bill of Rights in 1791. By 1798 the United States was recognised internationally as a nation and was emerging as a world power.

Clue 2 – It comes from an unpopulated area In stark contrast to most other political powers in Daniel and Revelation, the second beast comes up out of the earth instead of the sea. We know that the “sea” represents a vastly populated area (Revelation 17:15). So it would be logical for the “earth” to be the very opposite – a land of very few people.

The United States did not rise from the multitudes of Europe or Asia. It was born out of a sparsely populated continent – the New World.

 

Clue 3 – It is like a lamb and like a dragon This nation has “two horns like a lamb”. A horn is a symbol of power, kings or government (Daniel 7:24). The United States government was established on two key principles: civil liberty and religious liberty. Those who first arrived on the continent were looking for a country without a king, and a church without a pope – democracy and religious freedom.

This nation would be like a lamb. It would be young, innocent, peace-loving and Christian. Jesus is described as the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29).

In the book of Revelation, the symbol of the lamb is used 28 times to represent Jesus. This is exactly how the United States started out. It was a new, peace-loving Christian nation that supported religious and civil liberties.

The prophecy also predicts this power would speak “like a dragon”. It would talk tough. The dragon is a symbol of Satan (Revelation 12:7).

What a tragedy that this Christian nation will ultimately take on a global role where power and control will become more important than peace and liberty.

Only one global power fits the clues – the United States. The United States was rising to power in 1798 (as the Vatican was receiving its deadly wound) from an unpopulated area of the planet. It began as a freedom loving Christian nation, but is already talking like a dragon.

Q4 – IF IT IS TRUE THAT THE UNITED STATES IS THE FINAL SUPERPOWER, WHAT SHOULD OUR ATTITUDE BE TOWARDS THIS NATION AND THEIR PEOPLE?

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. Revelation 13:12

The United States is a nation that has been blessed by God. It has prospered in so many ways and became a pioneer in providing freedom and genuine care for people around the world.

How shocking to think that God predicted that many of the lamb-like values of this great nation would be lost. Despite the future outlook, this is no time for “anti- American” attitudes.

There is never an excuse for hatred or terrorism. Broadly speaking, the American people are kind, honest and compassionate.

God’s purpose in sharing with us glimpses of the future is preparation not retaliation. God wants us to have a living relationship with Him: a friendship that enables us to withstand any physical, spiritual or emotional challenges.

Q5 -WHAT WILL THE UNITED STATES ACHIEVE AND IMPLEMENT AS IT GAINS GREATER POWER?

GLOBAL DOMINANCEThe United States will exercise “all the authority of the first beast”. This means it will become a global superpower. This nation even has the ability to enforce religion and determine who can buy or sell (v12,17).At the turn of the 21st century, the New York Times stated,

The fact is, no country has been as dominant culturally, economically, technologically and militarily in the history of the world since the Roman empire” (Charles Krauthammer commenting on the superpower status of the United States).

It is amazing how such a young nation has achieved global dominance in such a short amount of time.

A MIXTURE OF POLITICS AND RELIGION The Bible predicts the United States will form an alliance with the Papacy. It will mix church with state as it “causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast”.

The first beast, the Papacy, was a mixture of church and state. The United States will encourage its people to make an “image to the beast” (v14).

Here we find a return to a church/state government – a mirror image of the Papacy during the Middle Ages. The first President of the United States made this comment,

Every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshiping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience” (George Washington Letter, United Baptist Chamber of Virginia, May 1789).

The “war on terror” has changed the world. Government laws are now impacting on religious practices and teaching.

The boundaries between church and state have become blurred.

World governments are looking to the religions of the world to join them in stamping out fundamentalism.

The Bible predicts that the last world government will be a combined force of church and state.

Q6 – SO WHAT DID THE CHURCH DO TO COUNTER THIS APPROACH TO BIBLE PROPHECY?

The Jesuit Order suggested two alternative views on prophecy. A Spaniard by the name of Alcazar claimed all the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation relate to the Jews and pagan Rome.

By applying all the prophecies to the past, this approach, called “preterism”, resulted in the Middle Ages church escaping all references in prophecy.

The other approach was put forward by another Spaniard, Francisco Ribera. Ribera published a 500-page commentary on Bible prophecy applying the early parts of Revelation to pagan Rome, and all the later parts to a period way off in the future.

This “futurist” approach was supported by another Jesuit by the name of Robert Bellarmine.

Bellarmine focused his attack on the Protestant approach to the year day principle of Bible prophecy.

He said that the Antichrist was a Jew who would rule for 3 1⁄2 literal years at the end of time.

These Jesuits took the 1,260 days of Antichrist rule and made it jump right over the top of the Dark Ages into a last day context.

Once again, the Pope and the church were now cleared of any association with the Antichrist or Bible prophecy.

Unfortunately, many Christians today believe in one of these two views.

Q7 -HOW DOES THE DEVIL DECEIVE PEOPLE INTO BELIEVING A FALSE RELIGION?

He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast ...Revelation 13:13,14

A counterfeit religious revival will sweep the world.

Religious healings and miracles will be so persuasive that they will unite the nations of the world (Revelation 16:14).

To many people, these miraculous signs will be evidence that the false teachings and religion of the world is the true religion of the Bible.

Q8 – IN WHAT WAYS WILL THE UNITED STATES ULTIMATELY ENFORCE ITS CONTROL?

As the United States gains greater power, it exercises greater control. The great tragedy is, that it will be God’s true people who are opposed the most vehemently. Notice the future prophetic scenario:

POWER OVER THE WORLD ECONOMY Revelation 13:17 – ...and that no one may buy or sell. The United States is the home of international finance and business. This one nation contributes over 30% towards the total world economy and has a dominating influence over the policy and actions of world trade.

The amazing advances in technology have enabled the world governments to move towards personal identity cards and a cashless economy. The “Big Brother” has arrived. Everything is set up for the final scenario where the government will determine who will “buy and sell”.

ENFORCE TORTURE AND DEATH Revelation 13:15 – … and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

The United States has traditionally been known for its fairness and love of freedom. In recent years, there have been shocking revelations of torture and death by the United States military and government.

Amnesty International has documented horrific methods of torture at places such as Abu Ghraib prison, Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan.

The United States government has accepted that there are secret CIA prisons around the world, with many prisoners held without charge or trial. “Persuasive techniques” such as waterboarding (making people feel like they are drowning) have been used to get “criminals” to talk.

In the last days those who do not worship and obey the church/state government will be killed for their true faith and love for Jesus

IMPOSE THE MARK OF THE BEAST Revelation 13:16 – 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. Revelation 13 concludes with both superpowers (the United States and the Papacy) reaching a climax of power simultaneously.

This will result in the implementation of the mark of the beast. The Bible says that if you receive the mark of the beast you will be safe from the government; but unsafe with God. If you refuse the mark of the beast you will be safe with God but unsafe with the government. In such a difficult time as this it is important to “obey God, rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Q9 – WHAT CAN YOU DO TO MAKE SURE YOU AVOID JOINING THOSE WHO DISOBEY GOD?

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing John 15.5

The only way to stay true to God is to abide in Jesus.

This means having a living relationship with Him.

This involves praying from your heart and daily Bible study to discover more about God and His will for your life.

Abiding in Jesus results in us keeping the Commandments (John 15:10).

Q10 – WHAT PROMISE IS MADE TO THOSE WHO ARE PERSECUTED FOR THE SAKE OF CHRIST AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS?

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven Matthew 5:10

To those who suffer for Him, Jesus promises an eternal life of happiness.

Jesus will strengthen you through the challenges of this life.

He will then reward you with a life free from sin, suffering and persecution when He returns.

Three points to remember:

•The first beast of Revelation 13 is the same power as the Antichrist “little horn” of Daniel 7 – the Roman Papacy

••The second beast of Revelation 13 is the final superpower in history – the United States

••• The key issue that will divide the world will be worship linked to obedience

The Story:

For 22 years Noble Alexander was held in prison on trumped up charges against the Cuban government.

The prison guards tortured him, starved him and locked him away for extended periods in solitary confinement.

They demanded he abandon Jesus Christ.

After he refused to work on the Sabbath, the officials plunged Noble Alexander into a pool of raw sewage.

After he refused to work on the Sabbath, the officials plunged Noble Alexander into a pool of raw sewage.

Week after week Noble sang hymns while chin deep in the slime.

When Jesse Jackson arranged for his release in the mid 1980s, Noble Alexander became a free man.

He spent the rest of his life telling people about the wonderful love of Jesus.

What lessons can we learn from this story?

Relational questions

1. Does the future worry you? Do you think worry is a lack of faith?

2. What would you do if your government asked you to do something that went against God’s principles?

3. Can you prepare for future persecution? How?

4. What will you do this week to ensure you are “abiding” in Jesus?

Your response:
Are you willing to worship and obey the Creator God in every part of your life even if it means that you may suffer as a result of your faith?

In Lesson 16 we take a look at The Mark of The Best

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