Lesson 13 – Tampering With Heaven’s Constitution
The prophecies of Daniel and Revelation unmask a titanic struggle between good and evil just before Jesus comes. This last battle in the great controversy centers in the law of God (Revelation 12:17). Satan hates the eternal principles that are the basis of heaven’s government. He desires to lead all to violate God’s law and disregard the very foundation of happiness. The enemy’s special attack is upon the fourth commandment, which exalts Jesus as the Creator. As we discovered in our last lesson, the seventh-day Sabbath is a memorial to Christ’s creative authority. It is an eternal symbol of both our “rest in Christ” for salvation and our absolute loyalty to Him. The Sabbath is an eternal link to our Creator. Many sincere Christians are asking, “How was the Sabbath changed from Saturday to the first day? How was the Sabbath changed from Saturday and why? Is there information in the Bible predicting an attempt to change God’s law?” The answer to these questions is found in a symbolic vision given to the prophet Daniel.
1. What did Daniel see in prophetic vision? Daniel 7:2, 3
Answer: Four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.
2. What is represented by the symbols of wind, sea, and beasts?
a. Winds represent _______________________ Jeremiah 49:36, 37
b. Seas represent __________________________ Revelation 17:15
c. Beasts represent __________________________ Daniel 7:17, 24
Answer: a. Winds-Sword, b. Seas-People, multitudes, nations and tongues, c. Beasts-Four kings
3. How many beasts did Daniel see? Name these beasts. Daniel 7:3-7
Answer: Lion, bear, leopard and a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible
In Daniel 7 the prophet pictures four great beasts rising out of the sea (verse 3). These beasts represent four great kingdoms that arise (verse 17). As we studied in Daniel 2, the four great nations that ruled in succession from Daniel’s time are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. The four beasts of Daniel 7 are a fitting description of these four great ruling powers. A lion with eagle’s wings has been found on Babylonian coins and on the brickwork of ancient Babylonian buildings. The king of beasts is a fitting symbol for the king of empires. The prophet Jeremiah describes Babylon as a lion (Jeremiah 4:7). Medo-Persia, as a dual empire, came into prominence by destroying Lydia, Babylon and Egypt. Soon the Persians rose to ascendancy over the Medes. The Bible aptly describes this empire as a bear raising itself on one side with three ribs in its mouth. A leopard with wings clearly describes the third empire, Greece. Alexander the Great swiftly conquered the nations of his day. The dragon-like beast, dreadful, terrible and exceedingly strong, aptly describes the fierceness of Rome.
4. How was the fourth beast, Rome, different from all the beasts before it? Daniel 7:7 (last part)
Answer: It had ten horns
The Roman Empire was not overcome by a fifth world-ruling empire. It fell from within. It was divided. The nations of both western and eastern Europe are the remains of the old Roman Empire.
5. How does the prophet Daniel describe the power that arose after the 10 divisions of the Roman Empire? Daniel 7:8 Answer: A little horn
In Daniel’s prophecies, a horn is a symbol of power. This power begins small at first and subtly grows unsuspectingly into a dominant world force.
6. Where did this little horn arise? Daniel 7:8
Answer: Between the others-Coming up among them
Whoever this little horn is, it arises among the 10 horns, the divisions of the Roman Empire. Arising out of Rome, it dominates the world.
7. When did this little horn arise? Daniel 7:23, 24
Answer: After the fourth kingdom
The little horn arises after the fall of the Roman Empire. It was rising to prominence in the latter part of the fourth and throughout the fifth century (A.D. 351-476), when Rome was in the process of being invaded by the barbarian tribes from the north.
8. What special identifying characteristics does this little horn have? Daniel 7:8
Answer: Eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words
Eyes in the Bible represent wisdom or understanding (Ephesians 1:18). Ancient prophets were called seers. They saw with divine wisdom into the future. This power does not have the eyes of God’s wisdom. It substitutes human wisdom for divine truth. The little horn substitutes human authority for the eternal claims of God’s law. It replaces God’s law with human traditions.
9. What does the little horn do to the people of God? Daniel 7:25 (first part)
Answer: Shall persecute the saints of the Most High
The little horn oppresses those who do not accept its authority. It defends its traditions and persecutes those who do not conform.
10. How long would the little horn reign? Daniel 7:25
Answer: For a time and times and half a time
The prophet Daniel uses the expression “time, times, and half a time.” Revelation 12:14 uses this same expression “time, times, and half a time.” Revelation 12:6 explains this period as 1,260 days. In Bible prophecy one prophetic day equals one literal year (Ezekiel 4:6; Numbers 14:34). Since one prophetic day equals a prophetic year, 1,260 days equal 1,260 years. In A.D. 538 the Roman Church became the single dominant religious power in Europe. The pagan Roman emperor Justinian gave to the pope of Rome civil as well as religious authority. Eventually this resulted in severe persecution. The Dark Ages followed on the heels of this union. God’s people were imprisoned, tortured and martyred. From A.D. 538 to A.D. 1798 this union of church and state continued throughout Europe.
11. What would this power, based upon human wisdom, do to the truth of God? Daniel 8:12
Answer: He cast truth down to the ground.
12. How did the apostle Paul describe this apostasy in early Christianity? Acts 20:30, 31
Answer: Men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves
The apostle Paul predicted false religious teachers would arise. In Daniel 7:24 the little horn is described as being different from the other 10 horns. The 10 kingdoms of Rome were political. The little horn is clearly an apostate religious power.
13. What would this little horn power attempt to do with the law of God? Daniel 7:25
Answer: And shall intend to change times and laws
Let us ask ourselves, what power arose by destroying three of the 10 tribes into which pagan Rome was divided (Daniel 7:8)? Which power arose out of Rome after the division of the Roman Empire from A.D. 351 to A.D. 476 as a religious, not a political, power (Daniel 7:8)? Which religious power arose from Rome in these early centuries and had a man as its visible head or leader (Daniel 7:8, 24)? Which one made boastful, presumptuous claims about its authority (Daniel 7:25)? Which has persecuted the people of God, has reigned for 1,260 years, and attempted to change God’s law (Daniel 7:25)? There is only one power in history that could possibly fit into this clear delineation-papal Rome. Let us note how it fits Daniel’s description: history reveals that Rome’s power base expanded gradually as it uprooted that which stood in its way. It is part of human nature to want to crush opposition in an attempt to solidify one’s power base. It became dominant by bringing about the destruction of three of the tribes (Heruli, A.D. 493; Vandals, A.D. 534; and Ostrogoths, A.D. 538. See Gibbons’ The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 4, chapters 39, 40.)
It was different from its predecessors. It claimed dominion over the souls as well as the bodies of men. Historians of the period confirm more than 50 million people died for their faith in God’s Word. The Papacy reigned supreme for 1,260 years. In A.D. 533 the Roman emperor Justinian declared the bishop of Rome supreme bishop of all the churches. In A.D. 538 the Roman general Belsarius drove the Ostrogoths out of Rome. The Papacy was the supreme religio-political power in Europe from A.D. 538 to A.D. 1798. The French general Berthier, Napoleon’s supreme commander, imprisoned the pope in 1798. People living at that time might have thought the Papacy came to an end. Revelation’s prophecy, though, predicts “the deadly wound would be healed” (Revelation 13:3). Daniel’s prediction regarding the little horn met its fulfillment in the pope’s captivity in 1798.
Does the Papacy Claim It Changed the Sabbath?
The Papacy clearly acknowledges changing the Sabbath from Saturday, the seventh day of the week, to Sunday, the first day of the week. It declares the change to be an act of her ecclesiastical authority. The statements listed below cover the last 100 years and clearly demonstrate the consensus of the church’s thinking on the change of the Sabbath.
“The Catholic Church for more than 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, September 1893).
“Question: Which day is the Sabbath day? Answer: Saturday is the Sabbath day. Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday? Because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday” (The Convert’s Catechism, Peter Giereman, 1948, p. 50).
“The Church…after changing the day of rest from the Jewish Sabbath, or seventh day of the week, to the first, made the third commandment refer to Sunday as the day to be kept holy as the Lord’s Day” (Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 4, p. 153).
Human tradition can never be a substitute for divine truth. The commandments of men are no substitute for the commandments of God. No human power has the authority to change the law of God written with His own finger on tables of stone. Jesus invites us to listen to His voice alone. He says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15, NKJV).
14. When we are faced with a decision between truth and tradition, what counsel does Jesus give us? John 17:17; Matthew 6:33
Answer: Sanctify them by Your truth; God’s Word is truth…seek first the kingdom of God…
God lovingly appeals to His true followers to obey Him willingly. Our obedience is a sign of our deep love. He invites us to turn from the commandments of men to the law of God. No human being has the authority to change God’s law. It is much more than a matter of days. It is a matter of master. Jesus invites us to acknowledge Him as the supreme Lord and Master.
* Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.