Read Revelation 13:1-10 and go over the reasons why this is referring to the papacy, both its role in the past and in the future. Notice specifically just how prominent a role it is given. What does this mean in terms of last-day events?
Though God has faithful people in all churches, Scripture does point to a specific role that this institution has played in history and will play in last-day events.
Read Revelation 13:3. What is happening here, and what does this teach about Rome’s prominence?
For centuries the Roman church had been the central religion and, in many ways, the political center of the Western world. A telling example of her power is seen in the story of Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, who, angering Pope Gregory VII, came to the pope’s castle to make peace. There, the Roman emperor was made to wait in an outer court for three days in the winter cold before the pope granted him entrance. Gregory VII, elated with his triumph, boasted that it was his duty to pull down the pride of kings.
Nevertheless, through the influence of the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the French Revolution, Rome’s political and religious hegemony had been shattered by the late eighteenth century. One of the popes, Pius VI, had actually been taken captive by the French army in 1798 and died in exile in 1799.
Revelation chapter 13, however, speaks of a resurgence, the healing of its “deadly wound”. And though Rome today doesn’t have the kind of political power it wielded in the day of Gregory VII, yet thanks to the popularity of recent popes, it is an influential force, both religiously and politically (for instance, Pope Francis’s speaking to both houses of the American Congress in 2015 was a historical first). According to prophecy, this influence will only grow.
|How can we be faithful to the message that we have been called to preach but do so in a way that causes as little offense as possible? Why, though, must we not bow down to “political correctness” as we proclaim present truth?|
Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons