Article of the Month

December 2011

 

THE BEAST AND THE ABYSS 

The year 2011 saw the remarkable and historically unique uprisings of people all over the earth — either in revolutions or in peaceful demonstrations. We saw the so-called “Arab Spring” which has succeeded in overthrowing established rulers and in threatening the stability of a number of governments. We saw the “Occupy” movements spread from an inception in “Wall Street” to massive sit-ins on a world-wide basis. People are fed up with what they consider long-term and entrenched injustices and imbalances.

It would be strange if Biblical prophecy ignored this kind of universal unrest. It does not. Actually, The Scriptures are packed with references to this phenomenon we see about us. But in this article we wish to focus on just one very symbolic but timely prophecy.

 

—  THE PEOPLE RISE UP  —

The judgment and eventual dismemberment and destruction of the old order of domination by political and religious powers is outlined in the highly figurative language of Revelation 17. In the center of this prophecy are the words:

“The beast…WAS, and IS NOT, and

SHALL ASCEND OUT OF THE

BOTTOMLESS PIT.” (verse 8)

To understand fully the implications of Revelation 17, we would need a small book. But for the purposes of this brief article, we will just touch on the meanings of some of its symbolisms, and of its historical and prophetic applications.

“Bottomless pit” is a symbol of powerlessness. Perhaps some of us have had dreams of falling into a hole with no bottom! That powerless feeling could perhaps find no better symbolism. In this prophecy (and in Revelation 11:7) this is exactly the thought which is meant to be portrayed. The “beast” in both of these passages (Revelation 17:8 and 11:7) represents the collective people who have been oppressed over the centuries — powerless to overcome the rulers (civil and religious) which have dominated them (symbolized in other passages as “heads,” and “horns,” and a rider on the beast).

 

—  THE FRENCH REVOLUTION  —

In order to understand Revelation 17:8, we must understand past history. The French Revolution  (1789-1799) is pictured in Revelation 11. Revelation 11 is part of the events under the “sixth angel” (Martin Luther) and his “trumpet” — Revelation 8:6; 9:6. This sixth “trumpet” — or message — refers to the period in history (from 1521 to 1874) which is dominated by the Protestant Reformation.

In the French Revolution, the PEOPLE (body of the “beast”) arose to throw off the power of their civil and religious rulers. This is the meaning of Revelation 11:7. In the same context (11:13) we are informed that “a tenth part of the city fell.” France was not all of Christendom — it was only a fraction of it: one tenth. This text is thus instrumental in telling us that the greater part of the destruction remains — nine tenths must yet fall! But, the IMPORTANT PART of the lesson for today is to see that THE PEOPLE (“the beast” — 11:7) are collectively the ones who refuse to remain powerless, they ASCEND out of their powerless condition (the bottomless pit”), and they take control of their own affairs. Understanding this, we can return to Revelation 17 to see its application to our day — the day of the “7th trumpet” when “the kingdom of this world” will become “the Kingdom of our LORD and of His Christ.” (Revelation 11:14, 15)

 

—  THE RISING UP OF OUR DAY  —

Remember the words of Revelation 17:8:

“The beast…WAS, and IS NOT,

and SHALL ASCEND

out of the bottomless pit

and go into perdition.”

These words are being spoken at the beginning of the period symbolized by “the seventh trumpet.” This places us in the late Nineteenth Century when interpreting these words.

What do we see?

Verse 3 takes us back to view a history of how in the past the people were dominated by “seven heads and ten horns” and by a “woman” seated on the whole arrangement. In a few words, the prophet thus summarizes the oppression of the masses by political (heads and horns) and religious (woman) authorities. Thus we look back over the centuries to see the powerlessness of the average man to overcome the powers that have oppressed mankind — with the one exception in the time of the French Revolution.

When we come to the commentary-prophecy of 17:8, however, we are informed that that which happened in the French Revolution WILL HAPPEN AGAIN — for the last time. We are informed in verse 8 that this will be the FINAL uprising of the masses by being told that the “beast” will then “go into perdition” (destruction). There will never again be a corporate insurrection and rebellion by the masses of mankind because the Kingdom of God will meet their every desire and supply their every joy. 

Note the Revelator’s words:

   “The beast that thou sawest WAS…”

This is prophecy’s way of explaining to us that at one point in history (during the French Revolution) this uprising of the people actually happened, it WAS. But the revolution ended, and the people returned to their old habits of letting church and state dominate them.

   The prophet continues:  “IS NOT.” 

As we entered the Twentieth Century, the people who overthrew government and religion were  now returned to the pit! They were no longer actively overthrowing their oppressors.

—   BUT, the prophet assures us that

ONCE MORE the Masses of humanity “SHALL ASCEND” out of their powerless doldrums. It is the beginning of this ASCENDING that we have been witnessing in the events which began in 2011.

 

—  THE PROGNOSIS  —

To make a difficult prophecy short, simple, and meaningful in the light of current developments, we can summarize where we are going like this:

We have begun to see mankind’s frustrations erupting into movements which will eventually INSIST on the needs of the average man being met rather than ignored. The governments and religions will be threatened by this challenge to their authority and will attempt some sort of clamp-down on the excesses of the revolutionary spirit. (Revelation 16:13) At the same time, these repressive powers will attempt (for their own protection) a “friendly cooperation” with the people’s demands — all in one big attempt to maintain the old order of things and (unknowingly) to frustrate the in-coming of Christ’s Kingdom. (Revelation 17:12-14)

Their attempts will fail. The Kingdom WILL come, and all that has offended man’s peace and welfare will be destroyed. “Thy will be done in earth as in heaven.” Amen.

                         

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