The ‘beast that ascends from the bottomless pit’ and the Two Witnesses/Prophets–Part 1

“The holy city shall they tread underfoot forty and two months. And I will give power unto My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth . . . And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottlomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified . . . . And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets [witnesses] tormented them that dwell on the earth. And after three days and a half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and

As someone said, I was not born a Republican, I was not born a Democrat, and I was not born yesterday. Hopefully, we know by now what indulging in, worse, overdosing on the other-more-dangerous “opioid” called political partisanship does in the world, in the nations, in the institutions of the government and the churches, in the families, and in the hearts of men. It causes irrationality, foments prejudice of all types and shades, stokes hatred, and produces a dangerous blend of insensibility and hyper-sensitivity—both extremes of the self-justifying mold. And “by their fruits you shall know them.” I’ve lived this long and come this far to be able to humbly and honestly say, “Been there, done that.” This is in no way suggests I’ve already seen it all, much less “know it all.” Quite the opposite!

Here’s the thing. (I know many of you have experienced this, too): As I search the Scriptures (as in grazing in the lush field of God’s Word), contemplate upon them (as in chew the cud), and strive each day, one day at a time, by God’s grace and power to adapt my thinking, influence my choices, and practices with the principles and instructions I am learning, I am amazed at this: each time I study the same subject, the same passage of Scripture, even the same text, more and even new insights emerge from them as relevant past experiences and current developments connected with it coalesce in my mind. It’s like seeing more of the same rose bud as it daily unfolds its petals, increasing in unadorned, natural beauty—that is, if one is paying close attention. In this sense, it never becomes stale or boring.

Our omniscient God knows our innermost desires and the direction it is tending to, even if at first we don’t clearly perceive it as such. Most likely driven by youthful adventurism, I tried early in my spiritual quest to decipher the time prophecies in the Bible. They looked and sounded mysterious, esoteric, exciting but also daunting. But typical of immaturity, instead of carefully learning and patiently following the dictum “the Bible is its own best expositor” (Isa. 28: 9-13; 8: 20; 1 Cor. 14: 32, etc.), I began listening to and studying what later on panned out as a veritable cross-section of the various interpretations of the prophecies by different religions—whether Christian mainstream, Roman Catholic, and other religious. Some of them were variations of the same view, others contradicted each other. To the presenters—ministers, pastors, Bible scholars, laymen—I gave serious attention and considered their works and insights, whether presented “by pen or voice.” Some of the charts and prophecy time-clocks were so prepared and presented that by these alone, immediately suggested authenticity to my amazed eyes.

Today, looking back many years thereafter, I now better appreciate the cliché, “not all that glitters is gold.” But more accurately is the painful revelation that it is I, not them that had a problem. There were “layers of scales” of tradition, plain ignorance, and unbelief connected with it that blinded my eye of spiritual discernment. And no amount of personal zeal could extract these scales or cause them to fall off on their own! The Holy Spirit, who alone inspired the writing of the Bible through its penmen, had to step up and step in for me. And He did, as Jesus promised to all who seek! See John 14: 16-18, 26, 27; 15: 26; 16: 16: 7, 8, 13, 14; Eph. 4: 30). Furthermore, every member of the household of faith is under obligation, especially in these solemn, closing hours of earth’s probation, to pray for and remind one another to continue “asking, seeking, and knocking for the Holy Spirit in prayer! See Luke 11: 1-13.

Stay within the safety of the immoveable pillars of the 2300-day prophecy!

Specific to this series on the prophetic time periods, it is extremely vital, if we would be safeguarded against the wiles of the master deceiver in these last days to adhere to the divine template given us by the Holy Spirit in the Word: the 2300-day prophecy of Daniel 8: 14. You will be endlessly thankful you did.

With that said, let us go to the Scripture and historical facts-solid book the Great Controversy by Ellen G. White, 1911 edition., “The French Revolution” chapter, pp. 265-67:

“The war against the Bible, carried forward for so many centuries in France, culminated in the scenes of the Revolution. That terrible outbreaking was but the legitimate result of Rome’s suppression of the Scriptures. (See Appendix). It [the French Revolution] presented the most striking illustration of which the world has ever witnessed of the working out of the papal policy—an illustration of the results to which more than a thousand years [the Dark Ages, 538-1798] the teachings of the Roman Church had been tending.

“The suppression of the Scriptures during the period of papal supremacy was foretold by the prophets; and the Revelator points also to the terrible results that were to accrue especially to France from the domination of the “man of sin’ [see 2 Thess. 2: 3,4]. Said the angel [Rev.11: 2-11 quoted in the introduction above].

“The [prophetic] periods here mentioned—‘forty and two months, ‘ and a ‘a thousand two hundred and threescore days,’— are the same, alike representing a time in which the church of Christ was to suffer oppression from Rome. The 1260 years of papal supremacy began in A.D. 538, and would therefore terminate in 1798. (See Appendix note for page 54 below). A that time [1798] a French army [led by Gen. Berthier of Napoleon’s French Republic] entered into Rome and made the pope [Pius VI] a prisoner, and he died in exile [the next year in France]. Though a new pope as afterward elected, the papal hierarchy has never since been able to wield the power which before it possessed [for 1260 years during the Dark Ages].

“The persecution of the church did not continue throughout the entire period of 1260 years. God in mercy to His people cut short their fiery trial. In foretelling the ‘great tribulation’ [this “great tribulation” period is historical, no longer prophetic!] to befall the church, the Savior said: Except those days be shortened, there should be no flesh saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.’ Matt. 24: 22.

“Concerning the two witnesses the prophet declares further: ‘These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.’ ‘Thy word,’ said the psalmist, ‘is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.’ Revelation 11: 4; Psalm 119: 105. The two witnesses represent the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. Both are important testimonies [witnesses, too] to the origin and perpetuity of the law of God. Both are witnesses also to the plan of salvation [in type and antitype]. The types, sacrifices, and prophecies of the Old Testament point forward to a Savior to come. The Gospels and Epistles of the New Testament tell of a Savior who has come in the exact manner foretold by type and prophecy.

“They shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.” During the greater part of this period, God’s witnesses [the Bible] remained in a state of obscurity. The papal power sought to hide from the people the word of truth, and set before them false witnesses to contradict its testimony (see Appendix.) When the Bible was proscribe by religious and secular authority [church and state united]; when its testimony was perverted, and every effort made that men and demons could invent to turn the minds of the people from it; when those who dare proclaim its sacred truths were hunted, betrayed, tortured, buried in dungeon cells, martyred for their faith, or compelled to flee to mountain fastness, and to dens and caves of the earth Heb.11: 38, 1-40]—then the faithful witnesses prophesied in sackcloth. Yet they continued their testimony throughout the entire period of the 1260 years. In the darkest times there were faithful men who loved God’s word and were jealous for His honor. To these loyal servants were given wisdom, power, and authority to declare His truth during the whole of this time.

“And if any man will hurt them [these two witnesses], fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies; and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.” Men cannot with impunity trample upon the word of God. The meaning of this fearful denunciation is set forth in the closing chapter of the Revelation: ‘I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues [the 7 last plagues] that were written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.’ Revelation 22: 18, 19.

“Such are the warnings which God has given to guard men against changing in any manner what which He has revealed or commanded. These solemn denunciations apply to all who by their influence lead men to regard lightly the law of God. They should cause those to fear and tremble who flippantly declare it a matter of little consequence whether we obey God’s law or not. All who exalt their own opinions above divine revelation, all who would change the plain meaning of Scripture to suit their own convenience, or for the sake of conforming to the world [or to please or appease a fellow sinner and mortal above the sinless and immortal God and Savior], are taking upon themselves a fearful responsibility. The written word, the law of God, will measure the character of every man and condemn all whom this unerring test shall declare wanting.”

NOTE: If we have in any way, at any time, been guilty of this fearful sin, whether by spiritual immaturity or even prideful rebellion, let us repent without delay! Christ our merciful High Priest, Advocate, and Judge’s invitation to repent is now. “Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your heart.” Heb. 3: 7, 8, 13, 15. Procrastination is unnecessary, and deadly.

Atheism: “the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit.” – “When they shall have finished [are finishing, margin] their testimony.” Rev. 11: 7. The period when the two witnesses were to prophesy in sackcloth, ended in 1798. As they were approaching the termination of their work in obscurity, war was to be made upon them by the power represented as ‘the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit.’ In many of the nations of Europe the powers that ruled in church and state had for centuries been controlled by Satan through the medium of the papacy. But here is brought to view a new manifestation of satanic power.”

(Continued next week)