It is now over seventy years since I first studied the symbols of Daniel and the Revelation. But I still remember my perplexity on reading in The Great Controversy, page 441 (edition of 1888), the interpretation of the "two horns like a lamb" (Revelation 13:11) as referring to the principles of civil and religious liberty. "Republicanism and Protestantism" are also given as an equivalent expression. Here abstract ideas are brought into the prophetic picture instead of the concrete meanings of the horns mentioned in the other prophecies.
I was at that time just a big boy in my late teens, but I remembered that in the Book of Daniel horns represented nations. Did not the ram with two horns symbolize the dual monarchy of Medo-Persia? (Daniel 8:20.) And did not the great horn on the rough goat mean the first king of Greece? (Verse 21.) Also the ten horns on the fourth beast of Daniel 7 have always been interpreted as meaning the many kingdoms of western Europe into which the empire of Rome was divided, these same ten horns reappearing on each of the three symbols in the Revelation which deal with these subjects, chapters 12, 13, and 17. The meaning in all these instances seemed very plain. How then could the two horns like a lamb represent civil and religious liberty?
I had no answer to my perplexity until I discovered a profound principle that characterizes all the long lines of prophecy. They all begin with small, concrete political organizations around the eastern end of the Mediterranean, which are easily identified and in fact are employed for purposes of identification to put us on the right track. But they all end up the same way—by showing us a universal conflict between good and evil on an absolutely global scale, with such high abstractions as the beast and the false prophet, their activities and their partisans represented as found in every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.
All this is because the organized work of God in the early days was extremely localized; it was outwardly on a small scale and confined to what we term the Bible lands, or the Middle East. Similarly the organized satanic opposition to God’s work was also localized and could easily be represented by individual nations. But in our day the work of God is global in extent, and the opposition to it is also universal; furthermore, the two opposing forces are today grouped around far more subtle and abstract ideas than ever before in the history of mankind.
It was difficult or impossible for some of the early Jewish Christians in the days of Paul and Peter to comprehend that the gospel was to go to all the world. Similarly, it is difficult for some modern Christians to grasp the idea that the prophecies dealing with our days must be global in all their applications. But narrow Jewish exclusiveness had to be outgrown in the first century, and every form of narrow nationalism must be discarded now if we are to understand the prophecies relating to the last days.
There is nothing strange or inconsistent in the Bible’s use of horns to represent kingdoms in the times of Alexander and its use of the same symbolism in our day to represent the chief ideologies in the foundation of the United States. The Great Controversy explains, "These principles are the secret of its power and prosperity."—p. 441. The dictionary definition of a horn, as used in the Bible, is that it is a symbol of strength, pride, or glory. In this modern age of universal abstract principles both good and bad, it is highly appropriate that freedom of thought and of conscience, the liberty to order our lives as we like, should be chosen by divine Inspiration to characterize that giant power rising out of the earth in the West just as the leopard beast was going into captivity, receiving its deadly wound, at the close of the eighteenth century.
But why is this seemingly gentle and harmless creature branded as a "false prophet"? And why are we given in verse after verse a detailed description of the clever deceptions he uses to befuddle the last and best-educated generation of mankind? The symbol in its largest meaning represents our entire Occidental civilization, with America as its exemplar.
Briefly, the reason is that while God is restraining tyranny and persecution in this time-of-the-end period, granting freedom for His church to preach the gospel of the coming kingdom, the evil one employs this false prophet to use these two freedoms to teach instead visions of world progress and continuous human development, promising that we shall soon outgrow war and the other pains and evils of life by mere human wisdom and planning. This is a false gospel, promising what God alone can do and contrary to what He has foretold in the Bible. In effect it is like the work of the false disciples of old who tried to take Jesus by force to make Him king (John 6:15), the kind of king they wanted. All utopian or messianic planning for the world’s future through human organizations are foredoomed to utter failure and are in reality a defiance of God’s plans. "Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall, be rooted up." Matthew 15:13.
Shortly before He went away, Jesus declared, "My kingdom is not of this world." John 18:36. Accordingly, every attempt to set up a utopian religious kingdom here in this world or to establish universal peace on earth while the King Himself is still absent must necessarily be an imitation, a counterfeit—that is, a mere puppet kingdom of the devil, run by the devil and run in the interests of the devil’s work. All religious governments of the past, except the theocracy of ancient Israel, have been counterfeits, mere imitations of Christ’s kingdom; and it will not fare well for those who engage in such a false theocracy when the real King Himself returns to take possession of His purchased possession, so long alienated and in the hands of His inveterate enemy.
Few people of our day realize the tremendous impact made upon the thinking and life of the world by the events connected with the French Revolution and the gaining of American independence. It has been remarked that the people of Europe and America are divisible into two classes: those who regret that the French Revolution ever started and those who are sorry it ever stopped. The former, the minority, mourn over what might have been; the latter, the majority, hope for what may yet be. The mind and life of the modern world have been recast completely because of the intellectual and social forces which were let loose about two centuries ago.
Everybody admits that these two horns, civil and religious freedom, are good and harmless as abstract principles. All want to enjoy them for themselves. But there is no denying that they were used as decoys by the French Revolutionists to promote cruel enactments of tyranny and terror. And they are still being used in this false way today in many parts of the world. We have been told that from our day onward the entire world is going to pass seriatim through the successive stages of folly and horror that Paris went through on a small scale in a few short years. In other words, France gave us a brief preview of what the entire world is now going through or will go through until the dragon’s voice is heard in all its horror. Ellen G. White wrote, "The same teachings that led to the French Revolution … are tending to involve the whole world in a struggle similar to that which convulsed France."—Education, p. 228.
Several passages in the Bible, when put in relationship with one another, tell the same story. This comparison between the history of the Red Terror and our own times is no fancied analogy, but a solemn, awful fact, foretold by divine prophecy for our warning and instruction. "None of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand." Daniel 12: 10.
In reality the two-horned beast, in its entire career, runs contemporary with the power symbolized in Revelation 11:7 by the beast from the bottomless pit which made deadly war upon the Bible at the time of the French Revolution and has reappeared several times since. We have named it organized atheism, infidelity on a national scale. It reappeared briefly in most of Europe in 1848; then it gained Russia in 1917. In a slightly camouflaged disguise it showed itself in Germany in 1933, where it held out for about a dozen years. More recently it has taken over the rule of China, from which it is reaching out to overrun more of the Orient. Many do not realize that the scientific philosophy of evolution is merely a more polite and disguised form of the same power, which we have named the modern anti-Genesis apostasy and have listed it as No. 6 of the series of the seven heads. It has not yet taken over the government of America and the other Occidental countries, and perhaps will be stymied from doing this in a formal way by some upsurge of the power of Babylon the Great. But there can be no question that these atheistic elements have used these two principles of civil and religious liberty to their own advantage. The Jacobins of Paris first stole these two heavenly principles from the young American republic; but ever since, their followers have used them as slogans for propaganda purposes, to enforce doctrines and customs belonging to the prince of darkness.
As already stated, on several occasions and in a limited way this anti-God campaign has been visibly successful, and by camouflage and infiltration the doctrines and manner of life of the beast from the bottomless pit have already gained control of essentially the entire Occidental world. By the teaching of the radical criticism in the theological seminaries and from the editorial rooms, and by the false science in all the schools from the elementary grades to the university, the thinking habits of the entire world have changed within modern memory. Hence the Protestantism of America has already become in reality the anti-Genesis apostasy. This Protestantism and great Babylon together comprise essentially the entire world. Hence God’s clarion call is now due: "Come out of her, my people." Revelation 18:4.
Some of the changes in social and political affairs may be worth considering.
In a review of what he termed an "almost terrifying book," the editor of The Christian Century (June 22, 1955, p. 732) discussed Waiter Lippmann’s The Public Philosophy. He quoted Lippmann as pointing out how completely and universally constitutional governments prove themselves incapable of conducting a successful foreign policy. This failure is not due to a lack of power but to a lack of sound statesmanship. Statesmanship is lacking because the executive has lost control of policy to an uninformed mass of voters who are, in Lippmann’s words, dupes of "party bosses, the agents of pressure groups, and the magnates of the new media of mass communications." The threatening breakdown of modern democratic processes Lippmann described as follows:
"With exceptions so rare that they are regarded as miracles and freaks of nature, successful democratic politicians are insecure and intimidated men. They advance politically only as they placate, appease, bribe, seduce, bamboozle or otherwise manage to manipulate the demanding and threatening elements in their constituencies. The decisive consideration is not whether the proposition is good but whether it is popular…. The people have acquired power which they are incapable of exercising, and the governments they elect have lost powers which they must recover if they are to govern." The reason this editor found Lippmann’s book "an almost terrifying book" is because the book’s analysis of the situation in this and other democracies "is so convincing."
The two horns like a lamb gave many beguiling promises a century and a half ago, at the beginning of this time of the end. Human nature, it was said, is inherently good; therefore when the evil restrictions and hindrances are removed by these two freedoms, civil and religious, humanity must inevitably progress, and soon will outgrow all the evils of society. But such dreams are based on ignorance of some of the most securely established of all lessons of history.
We need go no further back than the times of the Tudors and the Stuarts to learn that the teachings of the Bible are the most stabilizing and uplifting of all the social and educative influences known to humanity. The sad condition of all those countries which have not had the Bible serves to warn Europe and America not to forget and abandon the true source of prosperity and greatness.
The late John Dewey, the apostle of pragmatic modernism, when brought face to face with the raw heathenism of China, expressed surprise at what he saw. He had always taken it for granted that the common decencies of life are the normal and ubiquitous reactions of all human beings under certain circumstances. The by-products of his Puritan ancestry had accustomed him so to expect. But he had falsely attributed these good results to human development, the outgrowing of evil tendencies by evolution, instead of their being the mere by-products of Christian ethical teaching. T. H. Huxley was nearer the true facts of life when he declared, "Right practice is the outcome of right theory."
Nearly a century ago the true facts were well expressed: "Christian life without Christian doctrine
has never yet appeared. Those who claim to show it in Christian lands are simply cuckoos in nests of Christian doctrine which they built not, but whose warm environment makes them what they are."
During my comparatively long life of ninety-plus years, I have seen changes which have to be seen to be realized or believed. I do not mean changes in travel and communication; these are spectacular, but not vital. I mean transformations in the intellectual and religious climate of the entire civilized world. The radical criticism, as applied to religious history and literature, Lyellism in geology, and Darwinism in biology and anthropology, together with totalitarian socialism, had started before my time but had not received any widespread acceptance. But now we see their fruits. Two full. generations have come and gone, and the people of today cannot fully realize what a different world is theirs. Having grown up in an atmosphere of modernistic paganism, how can they realize that other ideas ever prevailed?
For more than two generations, ah reverence for the Bible’s record of origins and the basic ideas of Christianity founded on these origins have been persistently and systematically undermined in elementary school, high school, and university, and now in all the modern media of publicity and communication. Thus even the indirect knowledge of the Bible has lost its cultural and uplifting influence,’ and the masses in America and Europe are as truly religious illiterates as the pagans of imperial Rome or the superstitious fanatics of the Middle Ages. Horace Greeley once said, "It is impossible mentally or socially to enslave a Bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom." But with the Bible repudiated or unknown, what protection has the modern world against idiotic superstitions, mass hysteria, and civil and religious tyranny? The French Revolution, which our world is repeating seriatim, shows that there is no protection under such circumstances.
As dangers domestic and international multiply and cannot be handled as before, a greatly strengthened statism dominated by a heathenized church calling itself Christian becomes the logical outgrowth of the present situation of apostasy. Its coming is only a question of time, and its terrifying power when established can be estimated by the ignorance of Bible principles everywhere prevailing and by the facilities now at hand for arousing to frenzy the mass hysteria of multiplied millions almost overnight.
A paternal statism on a virtually international scale and its ecclesiastical paramour, an ecumenical church demanding universal acceptance—what a fearsome combination against those conscientious remnants of the woman’s seed, looking in vain for a place to hide as the dragon sets out to war against them! The very suggestion that their descendants might yet be obliged to live under such a regime would have brought an indignant retort from the lips of Jefferson and Washington, of Milton and Hampden, and of the other heroes of Anglo-Saxon freedom. Yet, according to the infallible prophecies of Revelation 13:11-17 and many related scriptures, such a state of world affairs is just ahead. And the watchful student of world conditions can discern all too many forecasts of the coming storm.
The therion (beast) from the land, with two horns like a lamb, turns out to be a deceiver and a false prophet, for he speaks "as a dragon." (Revelation 13:11.) Its two horns, at first civil and religious liberty, are becoming transformed before our eyes into instruments of cruelty and oppression. These twin fiends, civil and religious despotism, born of the unholy alliance of ignorance and superstition, cradled and fed by that theophobia and hatred of all things divine which is natural to unredeemed men, have dogged the footsteps of the true church all down the weary centuries. They have marked the trail with the blood of the noblest and best of her children and are again leering with cruel eyes after the remnant church as she hurries for the last time into the wilderness, as foretold in Revelation 12:17, to wait and pray for final deliverance at the coming of her long-looked-for Saviour.
The morning of the prophetic time of the end dawned brightly on the buoyant hopes of man. This young th‘rion with the two lamblike horns would surely soon cure all the his and evils of human society. But the riches and material prosperity resulting from the two freedoms brought forgetfulness of the true Source of all wisdom and blessing. Then two world wars and the gathering clouds of number three brought disillusionment and panic. And now, in the unreasoning frenzy of mass hysteria, the nations are in a mood to obey any false messiah who promises relief from tension and fear.
The sad truth is that human nature is just as cruel and wicked today as ever in the past. A few are willing to be saved; the race will never be. Its wound is incurable. Today, with unprecedented opportunities and blessings, it is doing exactly as unregenerate men have always done during all the centuries—building and decorating the tombs of the martyrs of the past, but lighting the fagot for the unpopular heroes of the present.
"To human wisdom, all this now seems impossible; but as the restraining Spirit of God shall be withdrawn from men, and they shall be under the control of Satan, who hates the divine precepts, there will be strange developments. The heart can be very cruel when God’s fear and love are removed."—The Great Controversy, p. 608
Read Chapter 5 — The Deadly Wound
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