"And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?" (Rev. 13:4)
During troublous times such as we recently saw the nations of the world endure in the lamentable Gulf conflict, our minds most naturally traverse the portions of scripture that relate to these awesome distresses. When we heard of the violent and incessant bombings throughout the country of Iraq we contemplated the centuries past when some of the most notable characters of the Bible traveled as pilgrims and strangers through that very region. It was the Ur of the Chaldees where Abraham was called to go out into a land which he should after possess. (See Genesis 11:31) It is believed that Ur was situated then right at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, just where a major portion of the recent conflict was conducted. Daniel, as a young Israelite boy taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar, lived out the most of his life there between the Tigrus and Euphrates rivers; the precise location of the present city of Baghdad. There he was blessed to see visions of impending wars and conflicts; the rise and fall of kings; and other matters of great significance. And at this very time that historic city is to a great measure desolated from the bombardment of the "combined forces." All of these things stir our minds with natural curiosity, and we wonder, Are these the fulfillment of the great prophesies of the Bible?
We dare not hypothesize, nor allow our minds to wander into the fields of speculation, where many foolish ones before us have fallen, but rather we will here give what little light we have on such things as from this subject might be edifying. There is always the tendency to think of the end-time when our Lord shall return, during conflicts such as we have just witnessed. But our Lord Himself said that we know not the day nor the hour of His return. The time of His glorious advent has not been given to us; thus we must heed His words to watch and wait. We do know that certainly the day of our Lord's coming draweth nigh, but of the precise moment, day or hour, how dare we speculate? We do see, however, from the just past conflict, and in the gathering storm clouds of new distresses, many things that we believe to be of great interest to the Saints of God.
Consider how the saints have been tried; how they have been brought low when the nations of the world, and kings and kingdoms have risen up against one another. In each succeeding war, and in every conflict and battle, we see that the strategic intelligence, and the might of the opposing armies grow increasing fierce. Warfare today is nothing as it was when David took a stone, and with his sling dropped Goliath in the valley. Warfare is not even as it was fifty years ago in the great desolations of World War II. Today we see the "combined forces" of aggregate nations that have been brought together to forcefully engage their federated powers in subduing what they perceive to be the enemy. And in this "combined force" we see some of the very things that are so strikingly similar to our text. We are made to cry out as Holy John did when he penned these words, "Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?" And was not the suffering saints the object of his lamentation? (Rev. 13:7) There can really be no question that John, guided by the Holy Ghost, wrote for the suffering saints of both then and today. (Rev. 1:1,9)
This great nation in which we live has engaged in a dozen conflicts since the Union of States was born, and in each of those conflicts peace, more or less, has followed, and often the peace was purchased with great cost; usually at the expense of some our more basic freedoms. However, we question if there shall ever be much in the way of what the world calls peace on this earth. In fact, we believe with a certainty there shall never be any true peace but that which the Prince of Peace is pleased to give to His distraught children as He breaths His Spirit into them; the Spirit of Peace.
As we saw the horrifying conflicts of past months, attended with sophisticated weapons such as were not dreamed of until now, a sobering reality struck most of us. That is, as we alluded to before, warfare, as we know it, shall never be the same again. Sticks, stones, spears, swords, and even bullets are for the most part things of the past. There was a time when a little band of people might rise up and plunder their neighbors, and then steal away in the night. A nation led by a ruthless, wanton dictator might rise against another nation, and after satisfying their blood lusts, make peace overtures with them for the moment. All of this was simply "The way it is," until now. Even after the desolations of two world wars we heard the leaders of nations say that "we have made the world safe for democracy," etc. etc. But wars continued to be a major part of the world's activities. However, in the light of what we have just seen in the current distresses, as it was pumped right into our homes 24 hours a day by television, a sobering reality grips us. We would ask, "Who would be crazy enough to engage in war against the combined forces?" Or to paraphrase, "Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?" And yet, despite the awesome might of these "combined forces" we recall how our Lord has instructed us that there shall be wars and rumors of wars; for the end is not yet. Yes, the horrifying conflict called the Gulf War compels us to recite once again the words of the text; "Who can make war with this beast?" True enough, Satanic influence will no doubt motivate power-mad despots to sally forth in blind zeal. More sober minds, however, among the natural sons of Adam would sooner worship the beast than engage him in conflict. Make no mistake. We, as others, feel a sense of patriotism, and pride in our nation. We desire for nothing but the best for those who make up its citizenry. But our lasting citizenship, bought in the mightiest of all conflicts, as we hope, is in Heaven. Our membership in the church of the first-born means far more to us than our status as a member of this earthly nation. As for the organization known as the United Nations, with its tower of Babel on the East River in New York City, we flatly disavow any allegiance to it, or its aims. We are sorely tempted to equate it to the very beast we here describe, but forbear. When we see that monster entity falsely called the "United Nations," with its variety of tongues, kindred, colors, diversity of thoughts, all coming together to make war, we can fear only the worst. The trembling saints, poor, afflicted, and sin-buffeted realize the federated nations will only add to their distress in this present evil world.
It is foolishly believed by some that the world is now safe from Communism. We feel, however, that Communism, Socialism, and other humanistic movements will ever be a terror to free people; especially those who trust in the living God. Evil wears many faces, and Communism is but one of them. As these "combined forces" left off worrying about the Russian "bear" they gathered together to make war with their perceived enemy in Iraq. And Lo! we heard the strains of anew cry: "A New World Order." "A New World Order," as the devotees of the "combined forces" perceive it, is the long awaited peace among nations (Communist and Capitalist alike) as they unite to wipe out opposition; by brute force, if necessary. The little remnant of the election of grace, however, see nothing more in it than the resurrection of the "old world disorder" known as Babylon. Many, many centuries ago that tower of confusion was built, with the pretenses of rising to bring heaven to earth. God thus came down and confounded their tongues, disbursed the nations, and scattered them across the face of the globe. Yet effort upon effort has been made ever since to revive Babylonianism, and this current "combined forces" comes as near to it as anything we have seen yet. We see more or less today the same thing that occurred those centuries ago when men would "combine forces," power, effort, and monies to pursue their wicked end. Where does the tried saint fit into all this? He doesn't! Sheltered beneath the wings of the Almighty, the Lord's little ones view the "New World Order" much as John and the early Christians did.
At this time the world has become compacted, and interrelated in its affairs. Each nation knows what the other is doing across the face of the earth at any given moment. Now a war can be seen by television, heard by radio, and reported in its smallest detail the instant it takes place. No more waiting for weeks or months for a dispatch of intelligence about the outcome. As with elections, things seem to be settled even before they begin. Thus we have this defeatist cry, "Who is able to make war with the beast?" This New World Order, with all its pretense of piety, and though paying lip service (read their lips) to prayer, knows not God. There is no fear of God before their eyes. Their motives, first, last, and always, are material, earthy, and lascivious. Their efforts are directed to "make the world a better place to live in." All the while though, the saints hold dear that portion of the Word, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world."
The "combined forces" have ambitions that rise no higher than the domination of the human species, and the elimination of the knowledge of God; though they would deny it. Consider the following text, a prophesy so clear there should be no mistaking its meaning: "And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things." (Dan. 11:36-38) Most pertinent in this scripture is the expression, "The God of forces." We do not attempt to fit this text to the current circumstances. Rather it is given to show the striking similarity. And so we are made to feel when they cry, "New World Order" that there is truly nothing new about it except its phraseology, and the methods of implementation.
Who this great beast is that rises up out of the sea (Rev. 13:1) we know not, nor dare we speculate. Whether it is a man, a system, a government, a kingdom, or a "combined forces," we will not here attempt to say. We feel we have sufficient evidence, however, that the "New World Order" follows the same satanic pattern that the beast from the sea, and all other such elements have ever followed. Despite all the outward display and pomp, the beast has one main agenda as found in the 7th and 8th verses of this chapter; "And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Be not deceived. The malice and rage of the beast, as with the old world order, now called the "New World Order" has always been, and is even now toward the saints of God and the Lamb. "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." (John 15:19)
In the 12th chapter of Revelation, there was a great wonder in Heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, etc., which most believe to be the church of the Living God. When she brought forth a man child that was caught up into heaven, Satan and his "combined forces" went a waring. In verse 7 we read: "And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon: and the dragon fought and his angels." Victory though belonged to God, and the "combined forces" were cast out into the earth. This "combined force" was described as "the great dragon, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." (Rev.12:9) The great war in heaven went ill with Satan and his "combined forces," so he turned his malice and rage against the woman and her children. "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."(Rev.12:17) Even though there must be wars, and rumors of wars; nations rising up against nations, and conflicts of every kind in all generations, the war of wars, and the conflict of all the ages, is Satan venting his wrath and malice towards the woman and the remnant of her seed. It has ever been the design of Satan to destroy the seed. This was his aim even in the Garden of Eden as he tempted Eve to violate the command of God. He has been at war ever since. In each succeeding generation the Devil's "combined forces" have been aimed at the destruction of the remnant, and many have been made to cry out, "Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?"
Again in the Book of Revelation, chapters 17 and 18, John penned the vivid description of Mystery Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots. In chapter 17 she is principally identified in her religious, or ecclesiastical nature, and in chapter 18 she is seen in her commercial attire. In both of these chapters that which is seen of her wanton wickedness is sufficient to terrify the reader. She was found sitting on the beast of chapter 13, full of names of blasphemy. (Verse 3) As she "combined forces" with the beast, that which primarily distinguishes her is the same malice towards the saints the beast previously exhibited, as is recorded in verse 6; "And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration." Mother Babylon, in both these chapters is graphically portrayed as a wicked city. This city rules over the kingdoms of the world, and while not attempting to suggest more than is contained here, we are fully persuaded that Mother Babylon embraces all the world outside of the spiritual realm of Jesus Christ. Whatever is not of Christ's kingdom is part and parcel with Babylon, and her principle activity is to commit fornication with the "combined forces" of this world. Her inveterate hatred is directed at these saints that pay her and the beast no allegiance. It is striking too that there are seven federated kings associated with Mother Babylon that "combine forces" to make war with the Lamb. And how do they fare in this attempt at a "New World Order"? "These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings; and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful." Whatever else we mayor may not know about the kings of the earth, they are seen here, without controversy, declaring their hatred against our Lord, and of that warfare all that is said is that "he shall overcome them." He shall be victorious for He is King of kings. It might be well here to point out for benefit of any that might be tempted with the limited predestinarian views that all this did not slip up on God. Clear as the blaze of the noon-day sun is the following: "For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled." (Rev.17:17)
When we see the mighty battle armaments arrayed by one nation against another, and kings rising up to vent out their hatred against the subjects of other kingdoms, it is comforting to know that the Kingdom of Christ is not of this world. Having a Spiritual nature, the subjects of Christ's Kingdom rest secure in Him who is the King of kings. And whatever may befall the saints in this life they have the sweet assurance of knowing that in the end He shall overcome all their enemies for them. And when that mighty city Babylon is fallen, who engaged all her resources to live deliciously in this world, the City of the Lord will yet stand; the New Jerusalem which came down from God out of Heaven. And so, when the tempest tossed little saints are tempted to cry out, "Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?" may they be blessed to know that while they cannot, the Lamb of God will surely at the last put an end to all "combined forces" of the beast and all his host.
Volume 5, No. 3
May - June, 1991