Old Testament “Beast”, New Testament “Beast” … Did you know that Antiochus IV Epiphanes was a type of Old Testament “beast” who tried to destroy the Jewish people (and the Seed) and is seen in Daniel 11 as an almost prototype of the “future Beast” who men today call “anti-christ”? An excellent side-by-side comparison between these two “beasts” was done by theologian Walter K. Price who explored this subject in his book “In the Final Days”. He had a great deal to say about how this Old Testament “Beast” gives us insight into the future “Beast” and also addresses the surrounding culture of the day.
During the time of the Syrian Wars which climaxed with the “Maccabeean Revolt”, the fight between faithless Jews and faithful Jews was primarily over the ecumenicism and culture of Israel. The pagan Jews of Israel began to copy the dress and culture of their surrounding heathen nations. They built an entertainment drama center and a sports arena in the center of their city and focused on commercialism, materialism, entertainment, and fleshly pursuits, while shoving the things of GOD to the side. These pagan Jews idolatrously elevated entertainers and athletes, desecrated the laws of GOD, changed their theology, and justified their sins while doing all they could to keep their sins. Their desires reigned over GOD’s desires for their culture. GOD and His temple were no longer the central focus of the city of Jerusalem. It was during this time of godlessness in which they patterned themselves after the heathen that GOD allowed them to be purged … and oh how horrific was the purging that Antiochus IV Epiphanes wrought upon them! These people who once chose to violate GOD’s laws were now forced to do so by Antiochus. They were forced to celebrate Baal’s sacred sun sabbaths like Easter and Yule instead of their Biblical holy days like Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles. Those who refused paid the ultimate price. Some were skinned alive, broiled slowly over fires, and dealt cruel punishment for being true to GOD. Much like Hitler, Antiochus also slaughtered Jews mercilessly who did comply, just because he decided to do so.
As one reads this book by Walter K Price, which was written decades ago, one can’t help but think of our current situation in this nation. In addition to many other comparisons that can be made from Price’s book, one cannot help but see the easy comparison between the Old Testament Jews and modern Christians. Old Testament Jews were conforming to the heathen culture around them. Haven’t the same culture wars been taking place in America’s churches and land today? Is there not a push for idolatrous celebrities, sin, and worldly amusement in our nation today in ways more wicked than previous Christians have known? One can’t help but also think of our current environment where churches host “Super Bowl” parties and have to be warned by non-Christian journalists to avoid hosting “illegal parties”.
If a pastor were to tell his congregation that the Superbowl games should be boycotted in order to send a message to its sponsors due to their increasing emphasis upon nakedness and occult behavior in their half-time shows, their vulgar advertisements, their men in tights, and their half-naked cheerleaders, would the average church member agree? Does the average pastor even care about the nakedness, occult behavior, or other foul influences upon his congregation? Does he even “get it”? And if he did, would he even have the courage to speak out?
Not only do most of today’s “believers” fail to show forth fruit of repentance, they also fail to be light and salt to unbelievers. How can they tell the heathen to stop running around half naked when they themselves do the same without any discernment or shame at all? They are just like the pagan Jews from the time of the Maccabbees. They just chase the world so hard and fast that it boggles the mind. If they want something, they don’t even ask if the Bible objects. They just do it and call anyone who objects an “old fashioned Pharisee”. Rock music, inappropriate dress, foul-mouthed movies full of nudity, cigarettes, booze, wild parties, immorality, and divorce? In modern “christianity”, it’s all acceptable and anyone who objects is considered “odd”. In such an American society bent on self-destruction, the term “odd” seems like an honor.
Whatever this carnal new breed of “christians” want, they add to their nicely crafted “jesus” and then click “Update” to ensure they are living in sync with the world around them, having a fun-filled day and that their groovy “jesus” is updated as well. Have they not crafted their own image of “jesus” who they then place into the center of their modern churches like an Antiochene idol?
Today, there are those faithless Christians, much like the faithless Jews of Antiochus’ day, who focus on the entertainment of this world, desecrate the sabbath, are calloused to nakedness, exalt ungodly role models, and watch such entertainment; meanwhile, their personal, family, and corporate Bible reading and prayer has been slowly replaced.
A few believers still see sports only as a means of exercise. However, most believers today see sports as a lifestyle and exalt the athletes on a pedestal as role models of “success”. Some spend their entire weekends engaged in such activity. Others pursue triviality in their social networking. The ways we idolize may have changed technologically or in other ways, but our lack of Biblical transformation from the world’s pattern has stayed the same for most people who claim to be GOD’s. The idols may change. The Beasts may change, but the people seem to still be composed of a majority who want their way, not GOD’s.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” – [Ephesians 5:15-17]
“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.” – [Colossians 4:5]
The majority of believers admire their idols who desecrate Jehovah’s perpetual Sabbath, remove clothing to the sound of the money jingling in their coffers, use foul language, commit blasphemies, practice occult enchantment and charming in the name of GOD (rock music), and practice all sorts of evil not only to fulfill their sinful flesh, but also they do their sins in the name of GOD. How many in churches today would defend GOD to their friends as quickly as they defend their favorite idol? Even some of the more “fundamental brethren” have a mindless obedience to certain of their authoritarian leaders. Anyone who opposes these demagogues will surely get the silent treatment at best or at worst, a wrathful response or a call from their lawyer even if Scripture is not on their side. Their mindless congregants will sit with their minds held open to receive their next commands without any questioning of such a bully’s actions. Whether pagan contemporary culture is exalted above GOD or the Stoic man-made traditions of some self-appointed authoritarian leaders who point men to themselves, either form of idolatry is sinful.
Only Jesus is to be our idol. Only He is to be our pursuit. He is to be our authority. He is to be our song. He is to be the center of our universe and the reason for everything that we do each hour of every day. Those who bypass His Word, usurp His glory, or replace Him as preeminent in their lives will regret doing so one day for He is the Judge.
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. For he that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. – [Gal 6:7-8]”
“Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you, when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD” – [Proverbs 1:24-29]