THE 1,260 YEARS PROPHECY / SATAN'S SECOND COUNTERATTACT
Acts 1:8 | Luke 24:49 | Acts 2:1–6 | Acts 8:4 | Daniel 7:1–8 | Revelation 17:15 | Daniel 7:23, 25 | 2 Chronicles 36:20–23 | Daniel 11:2, 3 | 1 Corinthians 11:24 | Daniel 8:11, 12 | John 17:17 | Mark 2:7 | Numbers 14:34 | 2 Thessalonians 2:4
Before His ascension, Jesus promised to His disciples that they were to _______________ power when the _______________ _______________ came upon them and they were to be His _______________ to the _______________ of the earth (Acts 1:8). But a huge obstacle lay in their way: How were they to accomplish such a task when they only spoke one language? Yet Christ said to them, “I send the _______________ of my Father upon you; but _______________ in the city of Jerusalem until you are _______________ with _______________ from on high” (Luke 24:49). This led the disciples to pray with unity. And when the Day of _______________ had come, they were all with _______________ _______________ in one place (Acts 2:1).
“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing _______________ _______________ , and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided _______________ , as of _______________ , and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to _______________ with other _______________ ” (Acts 2:2–4). The gift of tongues was given to enable the unlearned fishermen to speak the gospel in any language. The multitude gathered that day were _______________ , because everyone _______________ them _______________ in his own _______________ (Acts 2:6). Equipped with this gift to speak any other language on earth, the disciples went forth to spread the message of a risen Christ, our High Priest who intercedes for the salvation of men.
The church went _______________ _______________ the word (Acts 8:4). Empowered by the fire of the Holy Spirit, the church was unstoppable! Many Jews and even Romans were converting to Christianity. Satan saw his hold upon the earth loosening as the gospel message of reconciliation with God spread.
The prophet Daniel, hundreds of years before Christ’s birth, foresaw this entire conflict and how Satan would counter the newly formed spiritual Israel. Daniel saw in a vision that the four _______________ of heaven were stirring up the Great _______________ (Daniel 7:2). The “sea” in Bible prophecy represents _______________ , _______________ , _______________ , and _______________ (Revelation 17:15). Winds represent strife, so what Daniel foresaw was strife among the nations.
He next saw _______________ _______________ beasts coming up from the sea, each different from one another (Daniel 7:3). The fourth beast was a symbol of the fourth _______________ (Daniel 7:23); therefore, a beast represents a kingdom. Satan attempted to use these four beasts to attack and destroy literal Israel. The first beast, or kingdom, was like a _______________ , symbolizing the kingdom that had just taken Israel captive and destroyed their sanctuary (Daniel 7:4). This was the kingdom of _______________ (Daniel 1:1), the kingdom in which Daniel had been a captive. The wings on the beast represent the kingdom’s rise to power, but when the wings were plucked, it symbolized that the nation of Babylon would fall. Babylon ruled from 605 to 539 BC.
Daniel then saw that a beast would rise after the lion, this one a _______________ (Daniel 7:5). This beast represented the kingdom that overthrew Babylon, under _______________ the king of _______________ (2 Chronicles 36:20–23). Under the Persian Empire, the Jews experienced a reprieve from captivity, but it was not to last. The Persian King Ahasuerus was led by a corruptruler named Haman to issue a hasty edict to destroy all the Jews. It was here that Queen Esther intervened to deliver Israel. (See the book of Esther.) Persia dominated the world from 538 to 331 BC, before it also fell as prophesied.
Daniel next saw a third beast rise to power; this one was like a _______________ , and it had on its back four _______________ of a _______________ and four _______________ (Daniel 7:6). This third beast would rise quickly to power and was divided into four heads. Daniel foresaw that after a string of rulers in Persia, the Persians would launch an attack against the realm of _______________ (Daniel 11:2). But a _______________ _______________ would stand up against them and rule with great dominion (Daniel 11:3). That king was Alexander the Great, who defeated the Persians and conquered the known world in less than 13 years. Shortly after his premature death, Alexander’s kingdom was divided up among his four generals (Ptolemy, Seleucus, Cassander, and Lysimachus), fulfilling perfectly the prophecy given hundreds of years before Greece’s rise to power. Under the rule of Greece, hostility rose again toward the Jews and their temple. Antiochus IV Epiphanes sought to Hellenize the Jews by destroying Judaism and desecrating their temple. But the kingdom of Greece was not to last either, for in Daniel’s vision he saw a fourth beast, this one _______________ and terrible and exceedingly _______________ (Daniel 7:7). It had huge iron teeth that devoured and broke things into pieces. This beast also had ten _______________ (Daniel 7:7). This beast represents the kingdom that overthrew Greece-Rome. Greece, which began to rule in 331 BC, fell to Rome by 168 BC. It was this fourth kingdom that had “broken” the body of the Messiah. This is why Christ said, just before His crucifixion, “ _______________ is my _______________ which is _______________ for you” (1 Corinthians 11:24). Under Rome, the Jewish temple itself was “broken” to pieces, as well as the Jewish nation, with the Jews being dispersed into many nations.
So when Satan saw the emergence of spiritual Israel after the cross, he attempted to use the dominating power of Rome, the fourth beast, to “break” them as well. The Coliseum became a place where Christians were thrown to lions for sport. Under cruel emperors, such as Nero, massive efforts were made by the fourth beast to destroy spiritual Israel. But strangely, the more Christians were persecuted, the more they multiplied! Satan quickly realized that in using brute force alone, he could not succeed in intimidating the early church. Instead, he would have to fight against spiritual Israel and the heavenly temple in ways differing from those he had used upon literal Israel and the earthly temple.
It is here where Satan made a maneuver so cunning and deceptive, it took almost 1,000 years before it was uncovered. He was, to a certain degree, able to create a false image of God. Daniel foresaw that Rome would not be overthrown by another kingdom, but rather would break down into many smaller kingdoms, described in the vision as the “ten horns.” And, true to the prophecy, Rome did not fall to another nation, but instead disintegrated into the nations we now know as Europe. Rome as a united nation had disappeared by AD 476.
Daniel foresaw that sometime after this breakdown, another horn, a _______________ _______________ (Daniel 7:8) would come up among the ten horns; that is, within the territory of Europe after the fall of Rome. This horn had the _______________ of a man and a _______________ speaking _______________ , or blasphemous, words (Daniel 7:8). This little horn power, also described in Daniel chapter 8, was very different from the kingdoms before it. Daniel saw very specifically that this little horn would attack the place of God’s _______________ and attempt to cast it down (Daniel 8:11). Since we know that Rome destroyed the earthly temple by ad 70, and the little horn power did not rise to prominence until after the fall of Rome some 400 years later, the only sanctuary that the little horn could be warring against is the heavenly one!
This little horn would do several things against the heavenly sanctuary and the truth of the gospel contained therein. First, he would attack the daily _______________ (Daniel 8:11), a reference to the altar of sacrifice, which symbolized Christ’s work on the cross. Next, this power would cast down the _______________ , and prosper (Daniel 8:12). Since the Bible tells us that God’s _______________ is _______________ (John 17:17), the casting down of the “truth” signifies that the little horn would war against the Bible, the Word of God. It would also persecute the _______________ of the _______________ and intend to _______________ times and _______________ (Daniel 7:25). Since the candlestick represents the people of God, this little horn power would seek to attack and destroy spiritual Israel. And since the law of God is found in the ark of the covenant, this power would attempt to cast down, manipulate, and change God’s law, just as Satan tried to do during his rebellion in heaven. In other words, Satan would seek to reproduce six degrees of separation between God and man again by distorting the truths taught within the sanctuary.
A “TIME” IN BIBLE PROPHECY EQUALS ONE YEAR-
OR 360 Days IN THE JEWISH CALENDAR
Above all, this power is said to prosper in this deception for a _______________ and _______________ and _______________ a time (Daniel 7:25). A “time” in Bible prophecy equals one year-or 360 days in the Jewish calendar. Therefore, times would equal 720 days; and half a time would equal 180 days. This is a total of 1,260 days. Remembering that in Bible prophecy a day equals a _______________ (Numbers 14:34), the 1,260 days equals 1,260 _______________ .
Commenting on Daniel 7:25, the Methodist scholar Adam Clarke writes, “In prophetic language a time signifies a year; and a prophetic year has a year for each day. Three years and a half (a day standing for a year) will amount to one thousand two hundred and sixty years.”
And, indeed, a power did arise out of the ashes of Rome that did all these things and dominated the world for more than 1,000 years. And it was able to do it all in the name of Christ! Yes, Satan would now use spiritual Rome to attack spiritual Israel and the heavenly temple.
The Altar of Sacrifice
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Church of Rome, or “spiritual Rome,” arose to take its place. Early on, the church began to teach and practice dogma contrary to the Word of God. They began to teach that the sacrifice of Christ was not sufficient for the forgiveness of sins. In order to be forgiven, one had to perform penances and pay indulgences. By this teaching, the sacrifice of Christ was cast down and man began to look elsewhere for the forgiveness of his sins. One degree of separation!
The little horn also taught that the priest had the power to crucify Christ again and again through the Eucharist. “The power of the priest is the power of the divine person; for the transubstantiation of the bread requires as much power as the creation of the world; … thus the priest may be called the creator of the Creator” (The Dignity of the Priesthood, Liguori, p. 33).
They successfully changed a focus on the death of Christ for protection from Satan to the superstitious focus on a “crucifix” for protection from evil spirits. The teaching of purgatory was also invented to coerce people into paying for their deceased loved ones to escape the torments of hell. The character of God was maligned by this teaching! More on this later.
The little horn further sullied the character of God by teaching that He destroyed infants in hell who had done neither good nor evil. So in order to save them, these infants needed to be baptized shortly after birth, introducing infant sprinkling. Baptism was no longer a thing done by a consenting youth or adult acknowledging his or her sin, but rather something given to every infant at birth. Hence, true baptism by submersion and repentance was by and large removed from the sight of man. The symbol of baptism by immersion for the cleansing of sin was replaced with a superstitious belief in so-called “holy water,” placed at the entrance of churches to ward off evil spirits. Two degrees of separation!
The Table of Showbread
The common person was strictly forbidden to possess or read the Word of God. The little horn taught that God did not trust the laity to educate themselves, but rather only trusted the priests to understand the Bible, further making God appear to be biased in character. The church wrote, “The laity should not be permitted to have the books of the Old or New Testament; we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books” (The Church Council of Toulouse, ad 1229).
“The Council of Tarragona, in its second canon, ruled that: ‘No one may possess the books of the Old and New Testaments, and if anyone possesses them he must turn them over to the local bishop within eight days, so that they may be burned’ ” (D. Lortsch, Historie de la Bible en France, 1910, p.14).
Because the church legislated this prohibition on the Scripture, the common people learned to trust explicitly in whatever their priests told them, leading to ignorance of God, His character, and His love. In this way, the table of showbread had effectively been cast down, keeping the people in darkness. And without the Word of God, superstitions such as the teaching of the Eucharist, that the communion bread was turned into the actual body of Christ, flourished and “prospered.” Three degrees of separation!
The Altar of Incense
The little horn also taught that God did not like the prayers of the average person, so that only the priests could offer up prayers in their behalf. The tabernacle building was itself replicated by the church. A two-compartment room divided by a veil, called a “confessional booth,” was set up for a priest to sit in the place of God, behind the veil, while believers would come to confess to them their sins. The priests took the authority of God by claiming to have the power to forgive sins. Even the Pharisees recognized this act as blasphemy when they asked, "Who can _______________ sins but _______________ alone?” (Mark 2:7). Instead of being directed to Christ for forgiveness, people were directed to priests and dead saints to intercede on their behalf. They were told that only priests were worthy to seek God in prayer. “The poor sinner kneels at his confessor’s feet. He knows he is not speaking to an ordinary man but to another christ. He hears the words, ‘I absolve thy sins’ and the hideous load of sins drops from his soul forever” (William Doyle, Shall I Be a Priest, pp. 14, 15). The church would figuratively burn its own incense while cutting off direct access to God to millions of her adherents. Four degrees of separation!
Christ put His church into the world to be a light in the darkness. But the Roman Church, in the name of God, further falsifying His character to the world, persecuted anyone who would not bow down to her authority. Many Christians had to go into hiding as a result of the persecution launched by spiritual Rome, a persecution that lasted for more than 1,000 years, a persecution known in history books as the Dark Ages. “That the Church of Rome has shed more innocent blood than any other institution that has ever existed among mankind will be questioned by no Protestant who has a competent knowledge of history. … It is impossible to form a complete conception of the multitude of her victims, and it is quite certain that no powers of imagination can adequately realize their sufferings” (W.E.H. Lecky, History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe, vol. 2, p. 32, 1910 edition). While filling her churches with candles, they kept the world in darkness concerning the goodness and mercy of God. Five degrees of separation!
The Mercy Seat
This little horn power would also do the unimaginable. Who _______________ and _______________ himself above all that is called _______________ or that is worshiped, so that he _______________ as God in the temple of God, _______________ himself that he is God (2 Thessalonians 2:4). Just as God dwells between two covering cherubs and is called Father, so the head of this church sits in the place of God and is called Holy Father. “The pope and God are the same, so he has all power in heaven and earth” (Pope Pius V, quoted in Barclay, Chapter XXVII, p. 218, “Cities Petrus Bertanous”).
“The pope takes the place of Jesus Christ on earth. … By divine right the pope has supreme and full power in faith, in morals over each and every pastor and his flock. He is the true vicar, the head of the entire church, the father and teacher of all Christians. He is the infallible ruler, the founder of dogmas, the author of and the judge of councils; the universal ruler of truth, the arbiter of the world, the supreme judge of heaven and earth, the judge of all, being judged by no one, God himself on earth” (as quoted in the New York Catechism).
In this image, one can see the symbolic gesture of the pope “sitting in the place of God” between the two cherubim!
The Ark of the Covenant
The church also claims power over the very law of God, the foundation of heaven itself—attacking at the very heart and foundation of the sanctuary. They don’t even attempt to hide this fact, but use it as proof of the church’s authority to do so because so many other churches follow her teachings. Look at these amazing statements: “The pope has power to change times, to abrogate laws, and to dispense with all things, even the precepts of Christ” (Decretal, de Tranlatic Episcop).
“The Catholic Church for over one thousand years before the existence of a Protestant, by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday” (The Catholic Mirror, Sept. 23, 1893). And again, “The Church changed the observance of the Sabbath to Sunday by right of the divine, infallible authority given to her by her founder, Jesus Christ. The Protestant claiming the Bible to be the only guide of faith has no warrant for observing Sunday” (The Catholic Universe Bulletin, August 14, 1942, p. 4).
And finally, “The Bible says, Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day. The Catholic church says, No! By my divine power I abolish the Sabbath day, and command you to keep the first day of the week. And lo, the entire civilized world bows down in reverent obedience to the command of the holy Catholic church!” (Father Enright, Redemptoral College, Kansas City, Mo., History of the Sabbath, p. 802).
The seventh-day Sabbath falls, naturally, on the seventh day of the week, which is Saturday. But the church states it was the one who had power to “change times and laws,” thus identifying itself as the little horn of Daniel 7.
By making God appear unjust, Satan was setting the stage for later generations to deny the existence of God altogether, something that began to happen during the French Revolution, which was a backlash against papal tyranny. More on that later. Six degrees of separation!
1,260 Years of Dominance
Historians acknowledge that spiritual Rome has indeed ruled for more than a thousand years. “The [Roman Church] became supreme in Christendom in ad 538 due to a letter of the Roman Emperor Justinian, known as Justinian’s decree, which setup and acknowledged the bishop of Rome as the head of all churches. It gave the [Roman Church] political power, civil power, as well as ecclesiastical power. This letter became part of Justinian’s code, the fundamental law of the empire, and that year, Pope Vigilius ascended the throne under the military protection of Belasarius” (The History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3).
Yet this reign would not last forever. “In 1798, [Berthier] … made his entrance into Rome, abolished the papal government and established a secular one” (The Encyclopedia Americana, 1941).
Adam Clarke went on to write, “In prophetic language a time signifies a year, and a prophetic year has a year for each day. Three years and a half (a day standing for a year) will amount to 1,260 years. … If we knew precisely when the papal power began to exert itself in the anti-Christian way, then we could at once fix the time of its destruction. The end is probably not very distant; it has already been grievously shaken by the French. In 1798 the French republican army under General Berthier took possession of the city of Rome, and entirely superseded the whole papal power.”
David Simpson (1745–1799), a Methodist theologian and religious writer educated at St. Johns College in Cambridge, wrote in 1798: “Is it not extremely remarkable, and a powerful confirmation of the truth of Scripture prophecy, that just 1,260 years ago from the present 1798, in the very beginning of the year 538, Belisarius put an end to the empire of the Goths at Rome, leaving no power therein but the Bishop of that Metropolis? Read these things in the prophetic Scriptures; compare them coolly with the present state of Europe, and then, I say again, deny the truth of Divine Revelation, if you can. Open your eyes, and behold these things accomplishing in the face of the whole world. This thing is not done in a corner” (A Plea for Religion and the Sacred Writings, p. 166).
The papacy, spiritual Rome, had cast down every article of truth and had prospered based upon the darkness, superstitions, and ignorance of the people who were kept from reading the Bible for themselves. It appeared that Satan had succeeded in his mission. But there was one more time prophecy revealed in the book of Daniel, one that details God’s final counter against this 1,000- year assault on truth!