Why the "Image of the
The "image of the beast" seems to be an unfinished story.
If it is indeed the World Council of Churches, and this is by far the biggest of all
Protestant union efforts, it seems to have lost its way. It is only now trying to save
face from being led into the debacle of social reform in nations that were hopelessly
engaged in never ending conflict.
Furthermore, the laws of the great ruling nations in Europe and North
America prevent anything close to the desired union of church and state. Only if a
temporary collapse of democratic rule occurs can the moment arrive for the
"beast" with "two horns" to vitalize this "image of the
beast." Only during emergency rule, could a union of church and state step forward,
claiming that to regain law and order the nations must yield to an old form of government.
The gains of democracy would need to be laid aside if the nations are
forced to military rule to prevent anarchy. The worst form of government is better than no
It is because so much time has elapsed already, that many have
looked to other ways of patching together some explanations that might place the
vitalizing of this "image" into the past. Bro. Russell mused as to whether the
Evangelical Alliance might bring about a fulfillment of a vitalized "image." He
mused that the Church of England might "give it apostolic authority to preach" (THE
BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON,
p. ix-xv, the 1912 foreword).
This never happened in Bro. Russells lifetime nor since.
The Evangelical Alliance ended in frustration and disunity. The time
frame of world events has enlarged considerably since Bro. Russell finished his course.
However, it is clear that these events somehow need to find fulfillment. On page xv of
this same foreword, the Pastor speaks of Armageddon, "Not Yet, but Soon." Two
things were clear at that writing.
(1) "The Image of the Beast must
yet receive life-power."
"A larger number" of "Hebrews" needed to return before the Armageddon
The vision was crystal clear in Bro. Russells mind. These
events had to have a greater fulfillment. He could not squeeze this vision into the past.
Nor can we.
However, two things did begin in the fateful year of 1948.
(1) The World Council of
Churches was formed.
Israel gained statehood that same year.
Is this some coincidence, some happenstance of history? No!
It was Gods appointment with His prophetic word. Events in Israel have been slowly
moving toward Gogs invasion. The World Council of Churches' movement toward being
vitalized has been slowly moving.
The student of prophecy must keep both events clearly in view. It is
possible that some serious adjustments must be made before the end. Things can happen very
quickly and set in motion what the Bible seems to clearly indicate must happen.
It is difficult to foresee the world events that will bring this
"image of the beast" to life and to the forefront. It could come about by a
financial collapse that would create unparalleled havoc in the financial world.
The whole world is running on a system of credit and promissory notes.
In yesteryear, gold or silver backed money. Now, nothing backs it. As long as people have
trust in its value, this system works. However, when the day comes that the man who has a
loaf of bread will not exchange it for money, then money will become worthless.
The ruble in Russia has lost much of its value, causing terrible
loss and pain to the savings and security of countless millions. The former communist
government spent every spare ruble building atomic bombs and weapons of destruction. Now
they have a huge stockpile of atomic weapons that are expensive to maintain and keep from
being stolen. They cannot eat these weapons and they cant maintain them forever. It
is like having the tiger by the tail: you cant hold onto it but you dare not let go.
Much of the five trillion-dollar debt of the United States is due
to the arms race. The United States government overestimated the Russian arms capabilities
and spent huge amounts of money determined to have superiority. So the world has enough
explosive capability to kill everyone in the world six times or more. Who really needs
this? They call this MAD—mutual assured destruction.
A Financial Collapse
Should a financial collapse occur, the effects would be worldwide.
All the securities and pensions and insurance monies would be affected. In 1929 when the
banks failed, it wiped out the savings and assets of countless millions. People suffered
THE DEPRESSION OF 1929
Today, we doubt that people would be that placid. There would probably
be rioting in the streets. Imagine the rage in the hearts of those who were well situated
financially, to wake up one day and find much of the wealth they had squirreled away gone.
A military government would need to step forward to quell the rioting
and restore law and order. At such a time the churches might serve a useful role in
helping the state gain credibility and start rebuilding from the ashes. A church and state
arrangement might bring the "image of the beast" the right environment to
receive a vitalization from the "beast" with "two horns." We can only
guess at the possible turn of events that will set the stage for this long waited moment
to come. We deal here with possibilities and not probabilities.
The real wealth of the world is its land, its resources, and most
importantly its working people who produce food, housing, and the things that society
needs. A financial collapse does not change the resources that a nation or people possess.
It merely reshuffles the deck with winners and losers, as the holders of paper wealth must
turn to the real source of wealth—natural and industrial resources, and sweat and
Nations have recovered from monetary collapse many times in history.
They will do so again. However, for a time this will provide an atmosphere bordering on
anarchy. If the state and the churches step forward in this most auspicious moment and
succeed in quelling the forces that threaten society, they will appear as saviors. This
would bring them credibility and restore law and order with the hope that the world might
begin to return to some degree of normalcy.
Why should the true Christian be concerned with a church and
state union that promises law, order and hope?
In 1999 it was reported that there were 40 wars going on. Of those 40
wars, 30 were caused by religion. That may sound strange, but the most awful things have
been done in the name of religion. People with religious power can be ruthless with anyone
or anything that threatens that power. See what the religious leaders did to Jesus.
The "Christian" Crusades
The history of religion is cruel and terrible.
Before the reader are the open pages of history to confirm this.
The true Christian will surely be tested, should the "image of the
beast" come alive, and come alive it will.
What Will the Vitalized
"Image of the Beast" Do?
[the "beast" with "two horns"]
had power to
give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and
cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
"And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to
receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
"And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the
beast, or the number of his name." Revelation 13:15-17
This affirms that the "image of the beast" will be
vitalized and that it will exercise the powers described. The word of God "cannot be
broken." (John 10:35) However, we need not conclude that everything stated is literal.
"mark" in the "right hand" or the "forehead"
is not a literal stamp.
"right hand" suggests that cooperation demanded would not require people agree
with their religious viewpoints. Only outward cooperation is implied.
in the "forehead" would indicate that those individuals share a similar belief.
This appears liberal enough to leave an option as to what level of
cooperation anyone may choose. However, there is no tolerance for those who do not wish to
comply with the "right hand" or "forehead" mark.
Christians will be required to "receive a mark." When you
make a law, you have to add some punishment for noncompliance. The punishment is clearly
stated. "No man might buy or sell [in the spiritual marketplace]."
This does not relate to buying or selling groceries.
Rather, freedom to preach and teach, and/or freedom to use the media or mail service might
be denied. The Lords faithful might be sorely tried.
is certain, if they wish to
"reign" with Christ, they cannot "worship the beast" or its
"image" or receive his "mark" (Revelation 20:4). To do so would
immediately remove all possibility of "reigning" with Christ.
The "image of the beast" will have considerable authority
for a season. We are told that it would "speak." This means its voice
will be heard. A church authority without the support of the civil government
could not speak with such authority. It mandates that as
"many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed
[ostracized, not recognized as Christians and, therefore, be denied Christian
This, of course, does not mean that the faithful who refuse to yield
to this tyranny may not suffer physical violence or incarceration.
persecution tends to be ruthless because it imagines some higher good must be served.
The "Holy Office"
of the Inquisition
The "image" "causeth all,
receive a mark." Yes, the "image" will be in the "marking"
business. If one is not with them, he will be considered against them. They will designate
or "mark" those yielding to their demands.
Any refusing will be prohibited from "buying" or
"selling" in the spiritual market place.
We count its powers in four
"killing" [ostracizing] power
That is a lot of power for an "image" that has come alive
overnight, as it were.
The Protestant movement has watched in envy as the pope and the
he represents have become the most powerful religious organization in the world today. The
pope is lining up the European nations and South America into an economic block of power.
The present pope was instrumental in the overthrow of the communist block in Russia and
The papal beast is no longer watching the beast with two horns ascend
to power. The beast with two horns is now saddling up to the papal powers, its glory days
now gone. It needs to ally itself to preserve its waning influence in the world. The
Protestants, who have longed for power and prominence in the world, are not blind to the
present-day successes of the papal power.
Without a Horse
The United States is emerging not only as a superpower, but also as
the great industrial giant and a world leader in technology. Because economics and
technology are the new engines of the world, the United States is the envy of all nations.
The Church of England and Ireland rode the horse of the British Empire
to glory. Now it seems evident that the right set of circumstances could enable the
Protestants to ride the horse of the United States to power, as did the Church of England
and Ireland. Only one thing hinders this possibility.
The United States has a constitution that prohibits a union of church
and state. That means that as long as this constitutional guarantee is in place, no
Protestant federation can ride it to power. That is why the World Council of Churches,
though large in numbers, has little influence or power. It needs to mount the
greatest steed in history—the United States.
The British fortunes are now tied heavily to the United States. Should
the window of opportunity open for church state union in the United States, the Church of
England and Ireland would grant it vitality in a heartbeat. The sun has been slowly
setting on the British Empire, so it must tie its fortunes to the new economic star
shining in the world.
The early church had little political influence until the fourth
century when Constantine took over the church. Almost overnight the persecuted Christians
found influence and power when they became the religion of the state.
of John Huss
The power and honor and riches that came to the church made the bishops believe that God
was smiling upon them.
The very bishops that had suffered under the abuses of pagan
Romes power soon became the persecutors of Christians who refused to be wedded to
the Roman State.
It takes great character to handle absolute power. With Jesus,
who has "all power ... in heaven
and in earth" (Matthew
28:18), there is no danger that he can be
corrupted. He is governed by perfect power, wisdom, justice and love.
When people with small character and great ambitions come to power it
is quite different. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Just as "yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look," so the Protestants are
"lean and hungry" waiting as a rider for a horse. Which events must transpire
before they have a horse to saddle-up remains to be seen.