As a matter of review, this particular beast of which an image of it will be formed soon, refers to the papacy as our past studies clearly showed, based on sound Biblical exegesis, the writings of past Protestant scholars, particularly that of the inspired pen of Mrs. Ellen G. White. Once more, the Papacy is not a single pope but a system of the Roman Church and refers more comprehensively to a combination of four things. According to Webster’s Dictionary, Student Edition (1976) it is (all words in parenthesis mine):
1. The position or authority of the Pope.
2. The period during which the pope rules.
3. The line of or succession of popes. (600 years ago there were three popes concurrently claiming to be the legitimate Holy See, having their own separate enclaves, resulting in violence between all three. This troublous time for the Roman Catholic Church lasted for 40 years, and is euphemistically referred to as “the “Western Schism.” This historical fact alone clearly exposes as false the claim of the papacy of being “one unbroken line of apostolic succession from Peter, the first Pope.”
Nowhere in the New Testament does it even remotely suggest that Peter was “the first pope” or had any preeminence over the rest of the twelve apostles. Second, the papacy was not formed till the year 538 A.D. when three things happened: (1) The last of the three Arian nations, the Ostrogoths, were “uprooted” by Belisarius under Justinian, through the instigation of Pope Silverius (2) Roman Catholicism was declared to the State Religion by an edict of Justinian, forbidding all other religions. (c) The Council of Orleans outlawed country or agricultural labor punishable by death on the third offense, which Constantine by his previous decree in 321 A.D., allowed during the harvest season. (d) the Papacy was placed under protection of the State.
This commenced the bloody reign of the Roman Church over the whole civilized world known as the Dark Ages of the Middle Ages of 1260 years that ended in 1798 when Pope Pius VI was taken captive by Gen. Berthier, general of Napoleon’s Republican army and taken to France where he died the next year. This was the inflicting of the “deadly wound on one of the heads of the beast” prophesied in Revelation 13, which wound would be healed, according to the same prophecy. It has already been healed.
4. The government of the Roman Catholic Church, headed by the Pope
The question can now be reframed: Who or what will image or mimic the revived papacy and repeat the prophesied and historical highlights of its bloody career of hatred against God’s law and persecuting those who refused to compromise and accept church-made laws and traditions in opposition to God’s Word? This subject cannot be over-emphasized, treated haphazardly, or left to speculation. The enemy of Christ and His people has been busy employing his cunning to divert the churches’ and the world’s attention from understanding this eternal destiny-determining prophecy.
God promises complete protection for all who, in humility, “have an ear to hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches,” are diligently seeking to understand the deep things of God, obtain purity of heart and character perfection, to live in perfect harmony with His will, and desire not to be deceived by the grand final deception, and escape the seven last plagues to be poured out upon all who worship the beast and his image. One of the saddest revelations of the last days is that the majority of those who professed faith in the third angel’s message of Revelation 13 but have not been sanctified by obedience to the truth, will apostatize at this fearful time and become the worst enemies of their former brethren
The surviving commandment-keeping members of the remnant church will be brought into close combat or war with the Papacy and his image. Notice the following:
“As the ministration of Jesus closed in the holy place, and He passed into the holiest, and stood before the ark containing the law of God, He sent another mighty angel with a third message to the world. A parchment was placed in the angel’s hand, and as he descended to the earth with power and majesty, he proclaimed a fearful warning, with the most terrible threatening ever borne to man.
This message was designed to put the children of God upon their guard, by showing them the hour of temptation and anguish that was before them. Said the angel, ‘They will be brought into close combat with the beast and his image.’ Their only hope of eternal life is to stand steadfast. Although their lives are at stake, they must hold fast the truth.’ The third angel closes his message thus: ‘Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’ As he repeated these words, he pointed to the heavenly sanctuary.
The minds of all who embrace this message are directed to the most holy place, where Jesus stands before the ark, making His final intercession for all those for whom mercy still lingers and for those who have ignorantly broken the law of God. This atonement is made for the righteous dead as well as for the righteous living. It includes all who died trusting in Christ, but who, having not received the light upon God’s commandments, had sinned ignorantly in transgressing its precepts.”- E. G. White, Early Writings, p. 254
E. G. White Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, pp. 976-977:
“The Lord has shown me clearly, that the image of the beast will be formed before probation closes; for it is to be the great test for the people of God, by which their eternal destiny will be decided. . . . .[Rev. 13: 11-17 quoted]. . . . “This is the test that the people of God must have before they are sealed. All who prove their loyalty to God by observing His law, and refusing to accept a spurious sabbath, will rank under the banner of the Lord God Jehovah, and will receive the seal of the living God. Those who yield the truth of heavenly origin and accept the Sunday sabbath, will receive the mark of the beast.’ (Letter 11, 1890)
“There are many who have never had the light. They are deceived by their teachers, and they have not received the mark of the beast. The Lord is working with them; He has not left them in their own ways. Until they shall be convicted of the truth and trample upon the evidence given to enlighten them, the Lord will not withdraw His grace from them.’ (Letter 7, 1895).
“God is going to bring about a condition of thing where the good men and the men in authority will have an opportunity to know what is truth indeed. And because a people will not bow the knee to the image, and receive the mark of the beast in the hand of in the forehead, but will stand to the truth because it is truth, there will be oppression, and an attempt to compel the conscience; but those who have known the truth will be afraid to yield to the powers of darkness. God has a people who will not receive the mark of the beast in their right hand or in their forehead . . . .
“Not a move has been made in exalting the idol sabbath, in bringing around Sunday observance through legislation, but Satan has been behind it, and has been the chief worker; but the conscience should not be compelled even for the observance of the genuine Sabbath, for God will accept willing service.” (Review & Herald, Apr. 15, 1890)
“A times is coming when the law of God is, in a special sense, to be made void in our land. The rulers of our nation will, by legislative enactments, enforce the Sunday law, and thus God’s people be brought into great peril. When our nation, in its legislative councils, shall enact laws binding the consciences of men in regard to their religious privileges, enforcing Sunday observance, and bringing oppressive power to bear against those who keep the seventh-day Sabbath, the law of God will, to all intents and purposes, will be made void in our land; and national apostasy will be followed by national ruin.” (Review & Herald, Dec. 18, 1888). Note the last sentence!
“We are to be ready and waiting for the orders of God. Nations will be stirred to their very center. Support will be withdrawn from those who proclaim God’s only standard of righteousness [the Ten Commandments] as the only sure test of character. And all who will not bow to the decree of the national councils, and obey the national laws to exalt the sabbath instituted by the man of sin [the Papacy] to the disregard of God’s holy day [the seventh day], will feel, not the oppressive power of Popery alone, but of the Protestant world, the image of the beast.” – Letter 55, Dec. 8, 1886, par. 20.
“Many false Messiahs will appear, claiming to work miracles, and decalring that the time of the deliverance of the Jewish nation has come. This will mislead many…The same deceptions practiced prior to the destruction of Jerusalem [in A.D. 70 by Roman army led by Titus] will be practiced again. The same events that took place at the overthrow of Jerusalem will take place again.
“Seventh-day Adventists will fight the battle over the seventh day Sabbath. The authorities of the United States and in other countries will rise up in their pride and power, and make laws to restrict religious liberty . . . .They will assume the right that is God’s alone, and like Nebuchadnezzar, they will think they can force the conscience, when God alone can control. Even now they are making a beginning which they will continue to carry forward till they reach a boundary over which they cannot step. God will interpose in behalf of His loyal, commandment-keeping people.
“On every occasion that persecution takes place, the witnesses make decisions, either for Christ or against Him. Those who show sympathy for the men wrongly condemned, who are not bitter against them, show their attachment for Christ. Many will be offended because the principles of truth cut directly across their practices. Many will stumble and fall, apostatizing from the faith they once advocated. Many who have professed to love the truth will then show that they had no vital union with the true vine [Christ]. They will be cut away as branches that bear no fruit, and will be bound up with unbelievers, scoffers and mockers . . . . .
“Those who apostatize in time of trial will, to secure their own safety, bear false witness and betray their brethren. They will tell where they are concealed, putting the wolves on their track. Christ has warned us of this, that we may not be surprised at the unnatural and cruel course of friends and relatives.
‘And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many’ (Matt. 24: 11). False Christs did arise [before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70] deceiving the people and leading great numbers into the desert. Magicians and sorcerers, claiming miraculous power, drew the people after them into the mountain solitudes. But this prophecy was also spoken for the last days. This sign is given as a sign of the second advent. Companies inspired by Satan will be formed to deceive and delude.”-Manuscript 78, July 28, 1897/LDE 53. …