“with all power and signs and lying wonders” 2 Thessalonians 2:9

The phrase is only used twice in the Scriptures  and on both occasions it is in reference to  Daniel’s fourth beast, the Roman Empire.  The first occasion states in Daniel 7: “the same  horn made war with the saints” (v21). This horn is  referred to as “having eyes like the eyes of a man  and a mouth speaking great things,” the Papal See  (v8). The same chapter indicates this power prevailed  against the saints “until the Ancient of days came”  (v21–22), which is the time of the establishment  of the Kingdom of God (v13–14). The same horn  “speaks great words against the most High, and shall  wear out the saints of the most High” (v25).

The second reference is in Revelation 13 and refers  to the Beast of the sea (v1), whose characteristics mirror  those of Daniel’s fourth beast. One of its prominent  features is a blasphemous mouth (v5–6); another, its  persecution of the saints; and then its connection with  the number 666 (v18).

1260 years of bitter warfare against the saints

I will concentrate in this brief article on its war against  the saints. The period of this warfare is stated as being  42 months, which is 1260 days, or years on the principle  of “a day for a year” (Rev13:5). There are several overlapping  times of equal duration, but for the exercise we will  concentrate on the time of Constantine, 312 AD, to the  slaughter of the Huguenots in 1572 in France. This is  known in history as the Massacre of St Bartholomew’s  Day, and it took place on the 23rd of August, when the  Catholic French King Charles IX slew an estimated  30,000 of these courageous Protestants.

Long war against the Albigenses  and the Waldenses

In 1209 the Pope sent a Crusader army against the so  called heretical Albigenses in the Languedoc region of  southern France. Significantly, in these crusades was  the destruction of 40,000 to 50,000 Albigenses at the  Battle of Muret, September 12th 1213. Twenty years of  warfare saw most of the sect destroyed and the  Inquisition which was set up in November 1229 in  Toulouse continued the work, finding the remnants of  these peoples and extirpating them from the face of  the earth. The last known member of this group was  burnt at the stake at Courbieres in the territory of  modern Switzerland in 1321.

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This group of Protestants in southern France were also known as ‘the poor of Lyon’ and owed their  existence to an Italian, known as Peter Waldo, who  converted to Christianity in 1173. From him derives  the name of the sect Waldenses, sometimes called the  Waldensians, or the Vaudois. Some of these continued,  despite their persecution, until the 17th century and  remnants of them are still found today in Europe, and  in North and South America. Peter Waldo was always  ‘on the run’ from the Catholic Church, yet he did not  cease to preach wherever he went in France, in northern  Italy, in Germany and in the Waldensian valleys of  Switzerland. Though a branded heretic, the Church  never caught him and he died of natural causes in the  early 1200s in Bohemia. The sect mainly survived in  small clandestine groups in the Alps, always eluding the  Church and its henchmen. Thousands of Waldensians were massacred in 1545 at Merrindol in Provence by  the French King Francis the 1st. Many of the survivors  fled to Switzerland and the northern Italian Alps.

They became known as the Vaudois and were so  named because many settled in the Swiss Canton of  Vaud. Revelation 12 also describes the Christian-  Roman dragon standing before the woman and at- tempting to devour the remnant of her seed. These  valiant men and women sought refuge from persecution  in the craggy Swiss Alps, where they constructed terraced  farms on the sides of rocky slopes in order to be  far from the corrupt and venomous Church of Rome.

The treaty of 5th of June 1561 granted amnesty to  these ‘Protestants of the Valleys’, including liberty of  conscience and freedom of worship. Many prisoners  were released and those who had been fugitives were  permitted to return home. The Reformation was also  somewhat beneficial to the Vaudois, with some religious  reformers showing them respect, but they still  suffered in the French Wars of Religion (1562–1598).  The Reformation had prevented their destruction,  but the organised Protestant churches of Switzerland  would also persecute many of our brethren.

The massacre of Protestant Huguenots –  St Bartholomew’s Day, 23/8/1572

French Protestants were influenced in the 1530s by  the writings of John Calvin and were convinced of  the vanity of the rituals of Roman Catholicism. They  became a potent political force in France and by  1562 numbered approximately 2,000,000, and they  were not to be lightly set aside by the 16,000,000  Catholics. 1561 saw a temporary end to hostilities  against religious dissidents in the Edict of Orleans and  in 1562 they were officially recognised in the Edict of  Saint-Germain. But the fiercely zealous Catholic king,  Charles IX and his mother determined otherwise,  that France must be rid of the Protestant Huguenot  vermin. The city gates of Paris were shut to prevent  escape, the citizenry were armed and the king stood on  the balcony of his palace blazing away with his pistols  and joining in the carnage!

The common people hunted the Huguenots in the  streets. Men, women and children were slaughtered  both in Paris and throughout the provinces. One nonpartisan  estimate puts the total killed at this time at  70,000. The reaction of Pope Gregory XII was to strike  a medal to celebrate this great victory with his bust on  one side and the massacre of the Huguenots depicted  on the other (see illustration).

Once Philip II of Spain heard of the massacres it  is recorded that he laughed – the only time in his life  that laughter is recorded with reference to that odious  man. Scripture records that the destruction of the witnesses  would be celebrated with great merriment and  gift giving (Rev 11:10). This is precisely what happened  and the spectre of Papal wrath was magnified to the  point where the Huguenots fled France for Africa and  the New World.

The Wonder of Daniel’s prophecy

“I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints,  and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days  came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most  High; and the time came that the saints possessed the  kingdom” (Dan 7:21–22).

The fact that Daniel was even given this prophecy  is remarkable. Who would ever have imagined  that from within the Christian community violence  against their own more faithful members could  ever have arisen. Their Lord said that “he that killeth  with the sword must be killed with the sword”  (Rev 13:10). This must have been a difficult thing  to imagine from Daniel’s time forward. Christians  killing Christians! How likely was this? Yet the terrible  matter went on for 1260 years, all through the  Dark Ages. These prophecies of bitter persecution are  mixed with divine vehemence against the Roman oppressor:  “Reward her even as she rewarded you, and  double unto her double according to her works: in  the cup she hath filled fill to her double” (Rev 18:6).  This is a prominent feature in Daniel and Revelation  (Dan 7:9–11,22,26–27; Rev 16:18–19,21; 17:14,17;  18:4–8,10,21; 19:2,11–15 etc). We can be sure that  these judgments will be fulfilled against the Papal  system by God, our Lord and the saints: “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” (Rev 17:14).

We see then the need to discern this system for  what it is, to ensure we are on God’s side in this matter.  We are well-advised to keep ourselves apart from this  system upon which the ire of God is focused: “Come  out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her  sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Rev 18:4).  How thankful we are that we have been told before  of these things.