The Decem-Regal Confederacy.
The Identity of the Beast—The Roman Empire With Satanic Head—The Ten Kings in League—AntiChrist their Federal Head—The Little Horn's Blasphemies—The Beast Held Responsible—The Great Persecution— Some Will Come Out of it Undefiled.
IN Revelation 13 and 17, a beast is brought before us which is evidently the Roman Empire in its last form. In Revelation 13, we read, "And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the names of blasphemy." The leading features here identify this beast with the fourth beast of Daniel. Here there is no mention of other beasts,m for they had disappeared. Moreover, it is this one with which the Spirit is occupied, because in it Satan leads Gentile power into open revolt against God, and it is upon it that judgment is executed. There are several things of solemn importance here said of this beast, which we have not yet seen. The most momentous is that which we find in the latter part of verse 2, "and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority." This is never said of the Roman Empire in its first form, although the Lord Jesus Christ suffered under it, and although it put to death thousands of His saints. However cruel it was, however wicked were its rulers, it is never said that Satan gave the power to the empire then ruling the world. On the contrary, Christians are told in Romans 13, that the powers that be are all ordained of God. It was from God that the Roman Empire received the power it wielded in its first state, that which existed when the New Testament was written. It inherited providentially, the supreme authority, committed by God directly to Nebuchadnezzar. In its future form, it will owe its greatness and its authority to Satan.
That the Roman Empire will exist again, and with this, striking and frightful difference, will become very clear to you in comparing with the portion we are considering in chapter 17 of this book. The "seven heads and ten horns" serve to show that the beast of chapter 17 is the same as the one we are looking at. In verse 8, we have, as distinctly as can be put, the fact that there was a time when the Roman Empire existed, a time of non-existence, and a time of existence anew. In this third condition, the re-existent state—if I may use the word—will come out of the bottomless pit and go into perdition. This is a truth of awful solemnity! The kingdoms of Europe that formerly belonged to the Roman Empire will be again united as kingdoms under an Imperial head, but it will be by Satanic power, and its end will be "perdition."
In verse 12 we read, "And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast." We saw that there were ten toes in the image of Daniel. That these ten toes represented kings, or kingdoms; we gathered from the words, "In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom." They formed, however, a part of the one image; that is, there was imperial unity. It was in these toes that the image was struck by the stone. Now here we have the same thing under another figure. Instead of ten toes in the image, we have ten horns upon the beast. This we have seen also in Daniel 7, where the prophet is told that the ten horns are ten kings.
The Spirit of God tells us once, that these ten horns are ten kings, and adds, "which have received no kingdom as yet." They will receive power as kings, one hour with the beast. That is to say, during the same period of time, as there is a united empire, there will be ten kingdoms. This will be an entirely new thing. Here it is so clearly brought out that I call your attention to it again. There has been a Roman Empire. It had its day and was broken up. Various kingdoms were formed, but the empire ceased to exist. By-and-by, this Empire will be resuscitated. Its form will be different, for with an emperor there will be ten vassal kings. This is perfectly clear from the verse just read. It accords entirely with the figure of toes in the image, and with the vision of Daniel 7. We have already seen that it is in this condition that the stone strikes that part of the image which represents Rome, but it destroys the whole image. The judgment before the Ancient of Days tells the same tale in language too clear to require any further comment. We must now see its end, as presented in this chapter.
But is this indeed the end of the "most Christian" nations of Europe? Will kingdoms which now profess the name of Christ, give their power to the beast, and with him be led by Satan into open war with the Lamb? Will all the boasted improvements and progress of the day in which we live, end thus? As surely as the living God knows the end from the beginning! Do I say it lightly, my brethren? God knows! I blush and grieve for the future of Christendom, for the fast approaching day of Satan's power in the land through which we pass as strangers and pilgrims to our heavenly home.
The world cast out Christ; it now professes His name. Was the world changed when it took upon itself the profession of Christ? No doubt, Christianity civilized the nations of Europe and it became respectable. Thank God for His providential goodness as well as for His rich and precious grace to souls! But has national Christianity made the nations cease to love the world? Have the nations of Christendom written the sentence of the Cross upon "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and pride of life?" Is the world around us—Christian in name though it be—is it affianced to a rejected Christ? Does it even wish to be? Nay, it would rather forget Him Who had not where to lay His head, and make itself happy in the scene of all His woes. Nominal Christianity answers its present end. It lulls the conscience and leaves it at liberty to seek its rest and pleasure in present things. It gives also a tone and suavity to the world which ministers to its comfort; but so little is the world changed, that a very brief space of time will suffice for it to abandon the forms of Christianity. This it will do, as we read in 2 Thessalonians 2, when the Holy Ghost has led the heavenly Bride to her Lord. But not that only. The powers that are now ordained of God in His providence, will give their power to the beast, to whom Satan gave "his power and his seat, and great authority."
We can now turn back to look at one or two important points in the description of the beast which the Spirit of God gives in chapter 13. "And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed; and all the world wondered after the beast." That a great empire like Rome should rise to great splendor and gradually decline and even become extinct has caused no surprise. It is the history of all great empires. But, that it should rise again, that it should embrace in its vast extent, ten kingdoms with apparently conflicting interests, and that it should reach a greater splendor than ever it attained before, will indeed astonish the world. Tell the world that this is about to happen; tell the "Christian" world that such will be the case; point them to the clear testimony of Scripture here that it will be so, and they will not believe you. How will they then wonder after the beast, when they actually see him! "And they worshipped the Dragon which gave power unto the beast." Satan has so far gained his point. He is worshipped in the person of the beast by those who lately professed the name of Christ. "And there was given to him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and power was given to him to continue forty and two months." This recalls the little horn of Daniel 7, both in his blasphemous character and in the time he is permitted to rule. When we considered the passage in Daniel, we saw that the little horn assumed such a preponderance in the empire as to control it and bring down the judgment of God upon the whole. So true is this, that the Spirit of God here attributes all the blasphemy of the little horn to the beast, that is, to the future great Latin empire, without giving the history of the little horn itself which we find detailed in the prophecy of Daniel.
It is, however, sadly sufficient to know, as we are taught here, that the great empire of the last days will speak "great things and blasphemies" against the living God. It will be infidel. The principles are already at work which will culminate in this. Alas, that we should have to say it! Infidelity rears its hideous head in this so long privileged country, so sadly indeed as to be, to a spiritual mind, an evident prelude of the day we are considering. The platform, the club, the scientific society, the schools, great and small, the pulpit, alas! the family circle, where once a breath of the sad miasma of hell would not have been tolerated, all abound now with infidelity more or less pronounced. Ah me! that I should have to say it, of the land of the Bible, the bulwark of orthodox Christianity! And it is called progress! True, all too true—but toward what end? The future Empire will not be infidel only; It will be a blasphemer "against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in Heaven." Open revolt against God! Positive blasphemy of His name! Surely we bow our heads in deepest worship as we contemplate the contrast! Apostate Christendom, blaspheming God and His habitation, some living stones of which will only recently have disappeared from the streets of the very cities which shall resound with the praises of the beast and the worship of the dragon. But why this wrath against the Church and the saints? Because God has taken to Himself the habitation of His eternal counsels of grace, and bidden the guests to the marriage supper of the Lamb. The casting down of Satan is but the natural consequence in divine counsels of the entrance of these saints into their heavenly home; God will no longer tolerate "wicked spirits in heavenly places." (Eph. 6.) They are cast down forever. Hence the rage of Satan. Hence his determination to make himself worshipped upon earth. Hence his blasphemy against God "and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven." Woe to the inhabiters of the earth!
Pagan Rome has persecuted the saints. Christian Rome has outdone it in shedding the blood of the saints. No wonder that Satanic Rome shall "War with the Saints." For God will have His saints even in that dark, rebellious, and blasphemous day. There will be those who come "out of the (the article should be read here) great tribulation and washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
"And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship Him, whose names are not written, from the foundation of the world, in the Book of Life of the slain Lamb." Thank God, even in that dark day, He will have His witnesses. There will be those who will not "worship the beast, nor his image, neither receive his mark upon their foreheads or in their hands." God knows them all, has their names in the Book of Life. We find from Rev. 20: 4, that they have part in the first resurrection, that is, the resurrection of life, and that they live and reign with Christ a thousand years.