When I was a new Adventist I went to Avondale College and signed up to do the Bible Worker’s course. My first class was Daniel and Revelation with Desmond Ford. When it came to doing the end-of-year essay I decided to write on Daniel 11. I was side-tracked when I read an encyclopedia with an article about Antiochus Epiphanes and the Maccabees in it. As I read this, I could see the historical pattern of Revelation 13, and I wrote about this and the same pattern in the history of pagan Rome and papal Rome.
What I understood was that Antiochus was a beginning prototype of evil—not big in our sight looking back, but very big in the eyes of the Jews. As pagan Rome and papal Rome emerged the future pattern of antichrist became more clear. In the stories of Daniel (chs. 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6), you have Nebuchadnezzar, Darius and Belteshazzar, all opponents of Judaism and prototypes of antichrist. Antiochus was another. However, as Sirje says so well there is a picture of evil in every age. A bigger focus ought to be on the current and future manifestations of evil, and it has to be put in as a backdrop to the gospel without which no man or woman can stand persecution.
Ranko Stephanovic states in his original S.S. pamphlet on Revelation for 2019 the following:
Revelation 13 gives a prophecy of the major apostasy in the history of the Christian Church, which was fulfilled when the state church of Western Europe claimed the position and prerogatives of God for the pope as its head. The atoning ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary was replaced by of the church’s priesthood to forgive sins. Those who insisted on living by the teaching of the Bible, experienced persecution and martyrdom. History testifies to more than fifty million Christians who paid with their lives for their faithfulness to the Bible. Although in modern times characterized by religious tolerance such statements are regarded as harsh, the present cannot erase historical facts.
I find this statement too limiting. Revelation 13 is bigger than the Catholic Church, even though it’s still a world player. Antichrist can’t just be the Catholic Church. Surely Islam is a participant? What about militant Buddhists killing off innocent Muslims? Is that not evil in God’s eyes?
Des says to me that in the future end-time all religions and all cultures will turn against Christians. The Adventist message was and is a message of preparation for the Second Coming. Daniel tells us what Antichrist looks like in the time of persecution and gives us several examples. This will culminate in the Man of Sin—the abomination of desolation of the future. Rather than being wrong in everything prophetic, I would rather say that Adventists were going in the right direction, but their picture was too small. They became stuck with the papacy and haven’t seen the big picture that was intended.
This is in the introduction to my essay. I saw it as a young woman at age 21:
Revelation 13 tells us that the general pattern at the time of the end will be something like this: man’s wish for power; a need for unity; unity of state and church; death decree against those who will not comply with his wishes; persecution or time of trouble to those who do not obey; saints run to the wilderness and hide.
We ought to be very afraid when our own church decides for unity by uniformity in a search for power and control. This is why some are saying GC is behaving like the Papacy. They haven’t put out a death degree yet, but the idea of shaming and punishment can lead to that.