The Catholic Church authorized the massacres of the Waldensians.

This article is a summary of primarily the following Wikipedia articles:

Waldensians
Waldensian Wars

Our knowledge of the medieval history of the Waldensians comes almost exclusively from the records of the Roman Catholic Church, the same body that condemned them as heretics and persecuted them fiercely. 

The Waldensians are an ascetic movement within Christianity, reputedly founded in Lyon around 1173.  (Lyon is the third-largest city and second-largest urban area of France.)  This movement quickly spread to areas that today are part of France and Italy.

SUMMARY

The Waldensians were characterized by lay preaching, voluntary poverty, and strict adherence to the Bible. They were critical of Catholic beliefs and spoke of the Catholic Church as the harlot of the Apocalypse.

The Catholic Church declared the Waldensians heretical.  In 1487 Pope Innocent VIII issued the Bull of Extermination against the Waldensians, which enjoined all to destroy the Waldensians in any way possible, absolving all who perpetrate such crimes.

The Waldensians found the ideas of reformers similar to their own and quickly merged into the larger Protestant movement.

But the Waldensians were still fiercely persecuted, for example, the Massacre of Mérindol in 1545

In 1655 the soldiers of the Duke of Savoy did not simply slaughter the Waldensian; they looted, raped, and tortured. This became known as the Piedmont Easter massacre, and was caused by constant pressure exerted by the Council of Propagation of the Faith and the Extermination of Heresy, an institution of the Roman Catholic Church; established in Turin in 1650.

In 1685, King Louis XIV of France started to purge his territory of Waldensians.  French troops forced 8,000 to convert to Catholicism, killed about 2,000 Waldensians and incarcerated about 8,500 in several fortresses.  The government confiscated Waldensian properties and the valleys were resettled by Catholic subjects. 

Such persecutions continued intermittently until the French Revolution when the Waldenses were assured of liberty of conscience.

WALDENSIAN BELIEFS

Waldensian symbol – A light shines in the darkness

The Waldensian movement was characterized by lay preaching, voluntary poverty, and strict adherence to the Bible. They translated the New Testament into their own language.  The French Bible, translated in 1535, was based in part on this Waldensian translation.

They rejected a number of beliefs that were widely held in Christian Europe of the era. For example, the Waldensians held that temporal offices were not meant for preachers of the Gospel, that relics were no different from any other bones and should not be regarded as special or holy, that pilgrimages served only to spend one’s money, that holy water was no more efficacious than rainwater, and that prayer was just as effectual if offered in a church or a barn. They scoffed at the doctrine of transubstantiation.

They spoke of the Catholic Church as the harlot of the Apocalypse (Babylon) and considered the Papacy as the Antichrist.

RESPONSE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

The Catholic Church excommunicated them in 1180 and forced them from Lyon.  By 1215, the Catholic Church declared them heretical and subjected them to intense persecution.

Illustrations depicting Waldensians as witches in Le champion des dames, by Martin Le France, 1451
Waldensians depicted as witches

In 1487 Pope Innocent VIII issued the Bull of Extermination against the Vaudois (Waldensians – see the book Israel of the Alps-chapter II), by which he enjoined all rulers of nations to take arms for their destruction. He summoned all Catholics to a crusade against them, absolved all who should take part in this crusade from all ecclesiastical penalties, legitimized their possession of goods which they might have stolen and promised the remission of all sins to everyone who should kill a heretic.  Moreover, he annulled all contracts with the “Vaudois, commanded their domestics to abandon them, forbade anyone to give them any assistance, and authorized all and sundry to seize upon their goods.”

REFORMATION

The Waldensians found the ideas of reformers similar to their own and quickly merged into the larger Protestant movement. In 1532, they formally became a part of the Calvinist tradition.  Some Protestant scholars regard the Waldensians as early forerunners of the Reformation, similar to the followers of John Wycliffe and Jan Hus, who had maintained the apostolic faith in the face of Catholic oppression, and who were also persecuted for it.

SIXTEENTH CENTURY

The Massacre of Mérindol took place in 1545, when Francis I of France ordered the Waldensians of the village of Mérindol to be punished for dissident religious activities. Provençal and Papal soldiers killed hundreds or even thousands of Waldensian villagers. 

In 1560, the Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy ordered all Protestants in his domain to revert to Catholicism. The Waldensians petitioned him, saying they had always stayed loyal to him and that their religion was the same as Jesus Christ originally taught. 

The duke’s noblemen were Catholic while the Waldensians were peasants. Tensions between them rose and eventually escalated to violence from 4 April to 5 July 1560.

CHARLES EMMANUAL II

In the 17th century the Duke of Savoy attempted to exterminate the Waldensians. This led to the exodus and dispersion of the Waldensians to other parts of Europe.  (Savoy is a region in Europe.  It was annexed to France in 1792.)

The Savoyard–Waldensian Wars were a series of conflicts between the Waldensians and the Savoyard troops from 1655 to 1690 (The Savoyard state is a name used by historians to denote collectively all of the states ruled by the counts and dukes of Savoy.) The Savoyard–Waldensian Wars were largely persecution of the Waldensian Church, rather than a military conflict.  The Waldensians were nearly annihilated. In summary: 

In January 1655, Charles Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy commanded the Waldensians to attend Mass or to move to the upper valleys of their homeland. Being in the midst of winter, the order was intended to persuade the Waldensians to become Catholics.  However, the bulk of the populace abandoned their homes in the lower valleys. They “waded through the icy waters, climbed the frozen peaks, and at length reached the homes of their impoverished brethren of the upper Valleys, where they were warmly received.”

By mid-April 1655, the Duke sent troops into the upper valleys.  The Duke’s forces did not simply slaughter the inhabitants. They are reported to have unleashed an unprovoked campaign of looting, rape, and torture. According to a report by a Peter Liegé:

Little children were torn from the arms of their mothers and their heads dashed against the rocks. Mangled bodies were thrown on the highways or fields, to be devoured by beasts. The sick and the aged were burned alive in their dwellings. Some had their hands and arms and legs lopped off, and fire applied to the severed parts to staunch the bleeding and prolong their suffering. Some were roasted alive, some disemboweled; or tied to trees and their hearts cut out. Others were buried alive. Parents were compelled to look on while their children were first raped, then massacred, before being themselves permitted to die ( Wylie, J. A. (1996) [1860]. History of the Waldenses. Hartland. p. 132. ISBN 9780923309305).

This massacre became known as the Piedmont Easter.

Alexis Muston, a 19th-century French Protestant pastor based in Bordeaux, claimed in L’Israel des Alpes (Israel of the Alps – Paris 1852) that neither Duke Charles Emmanuel II of Savoy nor the Waldensians themselves had sought to wage war and that both parties were content to maintain the peace. These atrocities were committed due to the constant pressure exerted by the New Council of Propagation of the Faith and the Extermination of Heresy (Concilium Novum de Propaganda Fide et Extirpandis Haereticis), an institution of the Roman Catholic Church established in Turin in 1650.

KING LOUIS XIV

The 1598 Edict of Nantes guaranteed freedom of religion to the Protestant subjects in France.  In 1685, King Louis XIV of France revoked this edict and started to purge his territory of Waldensians.  French troops sent into the Waldensian areas forced 8,000 to convert to Catholicism through baptism and by placing children in Catholic homes.  On 22 May about 2,000 Waldensians were killed in the fighting or massacred afterward.  About 3,000 left for Germany.  About 8,500 were incarcerated in several fortresses.  The government confiscated Waldensian properties and the valleys were resettled by Catholic subjects. 

On 3 January 1687, the released prisoners were granted permission to leave the country, but only 3,841 had survived by that time and only 2565 reached Geneva.

The Genevan Waldensian exiles formed a rebel army of about 900 men in the summer of 1689, with the objective of returning home and to retake possession of their valleys. This event is known as the “Glorious Return“. The Waldensians suffered many losses due to hardships during the journey. French troops blocked their way, but the Protestants defeated them and reached their valleys on 6 September. They plundered the farms of the new Catholic settlers and ambushed ducal patrols. The Glorious Return was a great success, despite the heavy casualties.

VICTOR AMADEUS II

But Louis XIV was determined to crush the Waldensians once and for all.  He demanded Duke of Savoy, Victor Amadeus II to cooperate.  Victor Amadeus requested several times that the Waldensians would pack up and leave his domain again without being attacked, but this offer was refused.

Louis moved to finish the Waldensians off himself.  However, on 28 May 1690 Victor Amadeus signed a truce with the Waldensians and made plans for a joint attack on the French invaders. Also, on 4 June, Victor Amadeus II recalled the Waldensians from abroad back home to Piedmont.  The vast majority did indeed return to their valleys in northwestern Italy.

In this way, Duke Victor Amadeus effectively put an end to the Savoyard-Waldensian Wars, as the duchy once again tolerated the presence of Protestant subjects on its territory, and protected them against the French troops invading Piedmont.

But this was not to last long. On 29 June 1696, Savoy concluded a separate peace with France, which required that all Protestants be expelled from Savoy. In 1698, Victor Amadeus forced about 3,000 Protestants to leave the Waldensian valleys.

FRENCH REVOLUTION

After the French Revolution, beginning in 1789, the Waldenses were assured of liberty of conscience.

 

The three seven-headed beast of Revelation are three of the seven heads.

PURPOSE

DragonRevelation has three beasts that each has seven heads and ten horns:

      • a great red dragon” (12:3);
      • a beast coming up out of the sea” (13:1); and
      • a scarlet beast” on which Babylon sits (17:3).

These beasts are identified in the article: The Seven-Headed BeastsRevelation 17 explains these heads as follows:

“The seven heads are seven mountains
on which the woman sits,
and they are seven kings;
five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come;
and when he comes, he must remain a little while”
(Rev 17:9-10 NASB).

SEVEN KINGS

The seven heads, therefore, are seven kings that reign one after the other.

These are not literal beasts or literal heads.  Neither is the sea, out of which the second beast comes, literal.  These are all symbols.  The woman—Babylon—that sits on the third beast is also not a literal woman. 

Both the heads and horns of the beasts are explained as “kings” (17:10-12).  That does not mean that there are 21 different head-kings or 30 different horn-kings.  Since the three beasts each has exactly seven heads and ten horns, it is concluded that the seven heads point to the same seven “kings.” And the ten horns of the three beasts are the same ten “kings.”  In other words, it is actually one beast with seven different heads and three different bodies

PURPOSE

The purpose of the current article series is to identify the seven heads.  The purpose of this first article in the series is to show that the three seven-headed beasts are three different manifestations of the beast-power, using the term ‘beast-power’ to refer to the entire beast with his three bodies, seven kings as heads and ten kings as horns.  In fact, the purpose of this article is to show that each of the seven-headed beasts is one of the seven heads.    

SUMMARY

The great harlot “sits on many waters” but she also sits on the scarlet beast.  The beast and the “many waters” are therefore symbols for different perspectives on the same reality.

The waters” symbolize humanity.  The beast is, therefore, a certain perspective on the peoples of the world.  Since its heads and horns are “kings,” and since, in Daniel, and therefore in Revelation, each king represents a kingdom, the beast gives us a picture of humanity as divided into kingdoms.  

ONE OF THE SEVEN HEADS

The seven heads are seven consecutive phases of the beast-power’s oppressive rule.  “The beast … is one of the seven” heads.  This is said of the scarlet beast specifically, but applies to all three beasts.  Each of the three beasts is one of the seven heads and therefore ONE SPECIFIC MANIFESTATION of the beast-power, existing during one specific period of time:

      • The Dragon represents the Roman Empire.
      • The Sea Beast is a specific organization that follows in time after the Dragon.
      • The Scarlet beast is the sixth head.

The following confirms that each beast is a head:

First, the harlot sits on (which means reign over) BOTH the beast and on the heads.  The heads (beasts) follow one another over time, but Babylon reigns over each successive head (beast). 

The beast received the fatal wound but it is one of the heads that is wounded (13:3, 14).

THE MAN IN DANIEL 2

The relationship between the beasts and the heads may be compared to the image of a man in Daniel 2.  That image consists of four metal-kingdoms.  Each metal-kingdom and each seven-headed beast in Revelation is ONE SPECIFIC MANIFESTATION of humanity, existing at one specific period of time.   

EIGHTH HEAD

The angel explains that the beast is himself also the eighth head.  The ten horns are the last part of the seventh head.  They will “receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour” and “give their power and authority to the beast.”  This final part of the seventh head in the eighth head.  In this time the beast will prepare the world “to make war against Him who sat on the horse,” which refers to Christ’s return.

These principles will now be explained in more detail

WATERS

The book of Revelation explains beast and its seven heads particularly in chapter 17.

John HEARS that the great harlot “sits on many waters” (17:1), but when he looks, he SEES a woman sitting on a scarlet beast (17:3).  This is one of the hear/see combinations in Revelation.  Another example is in Revelation 5:

John hears of the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” (5:5), but when he looks, he sees a “Lamb as if he had been slain” (5:6). These are not literal animals.  The Lion and the Lamb are different perspectives of the same Reality:
 – As Lion, Christ is invincible, but
 – As Lamb, He was slaughtered for us.

In the same way, the beast and the “many waterssymbolize different perspectives of the same reality.

HUMANITY

The angel explains that “the waters … where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues” (17:15). 

Revelation here uses four words to describe humanity because the number four in Revelation symbolizes the ‘whole world’ (e.g. 7:1, 9; 10:11; 11:9).  The waters, therefore, symbolize total humanity.  The relationship between the waters and the beast means that the scarlet beast is also a certain perspective on the peoples of the world:

The waters represent humanity as one continuous mass over time and geography, while the scarlet beast has heads and horns; both explained as “kings” (17:9-12). 

In prophetic symbolism, the term “king,” referring to a person, represents “kingdom,” just as a leader represents his people.  For example, Daniel referred to Nebuchadnezzar as the “head of gold” but explains that another “kingdom” would follow (Dan 2:37ff).  Similarly, in Daniel 7:17 and 23, the four beasts are first explained as “kings” but later as “kingdoms”.  Most non-Preterist interpreters, therefore, take the seven kings to be world empires, but they disagree on which.

The scarlet beast, therefore, gives us a picture of humanity as divided between kingdoms. 

From the time perspective of Revelation 17, five of the head-kings are in the past, one is now and one is in the future (17:10).  The scarlet beast, therefore, presents humanity from the perspective of a specific point in time.  The other two seven-headed beasts reflect different time perspectives, as discussed below.

EACH BEAST IS ONE OF THE SEVEN HEADS.

There are three beasts in Revelation that each has exactly seven heads.  These heads follow one another over time.  They represent the different phases into which human history is divided.  But then we read in 17:11:

The beast … is one of the seven” heads.

This refers specifically to the scarlet beast of Revelation 17.  It has seven heads, but, at the same time, it is one of the seven heads.  This principle also applies to the other two seven-headed beasts in Revelation.  Each of them exists only at one specific point in time:

The dragon represents Satan (12:9), but since it also has seven heads and ten horns, which are “kings,” it also represents human government.  When it stands before the woman, ready to devour Jesus as soon as He is born, it specifically symbolizes the Roman Empire, for that empire reigned when Jesus walked the earth.

The Sea Beast follows in time after the dragon, for the dragon (Roman Empire) waits on the sand of the sea for the sea beast to come out of the sea (13:1 – The many waters of the sea represents humanity).  The sea beast, therefore, exists LATER than the dragon and therefore represents A SPECIFIC ENTITY existing at a specific point in time.

The scarlet beast is identified as the sixth head, for, when John sees this beast, “five (heads) have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come” (17:10).  Again, it is a specific entity existing at a specific point in time.

DEADLY WOUND

Each of the three seven-headed beasts of Revelation is, therefore, actually one of the heads.  This principle is confirmed by Revelation 13, which states that one of the heads receives a fatal wound, but then adds that the sea beast receives the wound:

One of his heads as if it had been slain” (13:3).
The beast who had the WOUND” (13:14).

SITS ON

Further support for the conclusion that the beasts are heads is that the harlot (Babylon) sits on BOTH the Beast and on its seven heads (17:3, 9).    

The harlot sits on the heads.  The heads are kings (v10).  But Babylon “reigns over the kings of the earth” (17:18).  This means that ‘sit on’ means to ‘reign over’.  The heads, and therefore the beasts, are therefore successive kingdoms over which Babylon reigns.

IMAGE OF A MAN

The seven heads may be compared to the image of a man in Daniel 2 and the four metals of which the image consists:

Both the metals of the image in Daniel 2 and the heads of the beast in Revelation represent kingdoms or phases in human history that exist one after the other.  (Daniel 7 represents the four metal-kingdoms in Daniel 2 as four beasts.)

Each of the metal-kingdoms in Daniel 2 and each of the beast-kingdoms in Revelation is one specific manifestation of the image of the man, existing at one specific period of time.

EIGHT HEAD

The beast … is himself also an eighth” head (17:11).

Since the eighth head is also a head, this is also discussed in this article.

Revelation uses the number seven to symbolize a completed period of time or for a completed process.  This symbol is derived from the seven days of the week.  The seventh is always the last; for example, the seventh seal, the seventh trumpet and the seventh plague.  The same applies to the seven heads.  The eighth head would, therefore, exist after the seventh; beyond the last.

ARTISTS TYPICALLY DIVIDE THE HORNS BETWEEN THE HEADS.

According to 17:10 to 17:12, the sixth head is the ‘current’ head, but both the seventh head and the ten horn-kings will reign in the ‘future’.  Horns grow out of heads; they do exist on their own.  There is, therefore a relationship between the seventh head and the ten horns.  In Daniel 7:24 we see that horns are later extensions of the beast.  This means that all ten horns will grow out of the seventh head.  In other words, the ten horns are an extension of the seventh heads.  They are the last part of the seventh head

TEN HORNS

Revelation 17:12 to 14 describes the reign of the ten horns.  The ten horns:

Receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour” (17:12).
Give their power and authority to the beast” (17:13). 

This the eighth head when “the beast … is himself also an eighth” head.  In other words, the beast will rule directly.  It will be a short period of time—perhaps months—as symbolized by the “one hour.”   This will be discussed further in the article on the Ten Horns.  But in brief:

The ten horns “give their power and authority to the beast” (17:13).  We also read of this in the sixth plague, when the demon spirits “go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God” (16:14).  They are gathered for Armageddon (16:16).

The ten horns “will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings” (17:14).  This corresponds to the description of the Return of Christ:

TEN HORNS (17:14) RETURN OF CHRIST
will wage war against the Lamb The beast and the kings of the earth … assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse (19:19)
the Lamb will overcome them The rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse (19:21).
because He is Lord of lords and King of kings Jesus Christ comes as “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (19:16).

CONCLUSION

There are three beasts that each has seven heads and ten horns; a red dragon, a sea beast and a scarlet beast on which Babylon sits.  The three beasts have the same seven heads.  It, therefore, is actually one beast with three different bodies and seven different heads. 

The heads are seven kings that reign one after the other. 

The beasts symbolize the population of the world, divided between kingdoms.  

The beast … is one of the seven” heads.  This is said of the scarlet beast specifically but applies all three beasts.  In other words, each of them in one of the seven heads.  These and the other four heads are identified in the next article.

The beast himself is the eighth head.  This is the last part of the seventh head when the ten horns “give their power and authority to the beast.”  This is when demon spirits “go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God;” Armageddon.

 

Satan presents his principles as good and God as a cruel murderer.

SUMMARY

antichrist last seven yearsThe previous article has shown that the Purpose of the Plagues is to teach that God judges people correctly:

On the one hand, the plagues will show that the people with the mark of the beast are hardened beyond repentance and that the only solution for them is eternal death

On the other hand, the plagues will show that the repentant sinners, who put their faith in Jesus, will rather die than to disobey God, and therefore are worthy of eternal life.

The purpose of the current article is to explain WHY it is necessary to show that God judges people correctly.

WHY DOES SIN EXIST? 

God wants us to love Him, but love can only be real if it is freely given.  Therefore, God creates intelligent beings with the freedom to love or to hate Him.  Perhaps the universe existed for millions of years in complete happiness, but eventually evil grew out of this freedom.

WHY GOD ALLOWS EVIL TO CONTINUE? 

Satan’s strategies did not appear to be evil at first.  He marketed his rebellion as something that will benefit God’s creatures; that will elevate them to a higher state of existence and happiness. 

God said to Adam and Eve, “in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”  Satan accused God of being a cruel murderer. 

For these reasons, God had to allow sin to develop to demonstrate the real nature of evil.  The plagues will be extremely important in this regard.  The purpose is to show that it is not God who kills sinners, but that separation from Him NATURALLY results in degeneration and eventually destruction.  

WHO NEED THIS PROOF? 

Satan did not openly admit his intentions but covered his motives under a cloak of lies.  The angels did not understand what the end result of Satan’s strategies would be.  Even the angels that remained loyal to God did not understand.  Therefore, even the loyal angels need answers.

WHEN WILL GOD MAKE AN END OF SIN? 

God wants to make an end of sin as soon as possible, but He will only do that when it will benefit the universe.

God condemned Satan and his angels. To defend himself, Satan accuses God of unfair judgment.  Satan is able to confuse anything that is clear so that the angels do not understand whether Satan is correct.  If God destroys evil before all the accusations with respect to the fairness of His judgments are answered, doubt over His goodness will linger, even in the minds of His loyal angels.  That doubt will become the seed for another rebellion in the future eternities.  God will, therefore, only destroy evil when His loyal angels and people agree that the destruction of evildoers is the best thing to do. That is the reason for the delay.  Time is required to provide answers to Satan’s accusations.

Jesus’ death demonstrated God’s righteousness.  It proved that God is just when He justifies sinners who have faith in Jesus Christ, but God needs more than the cross to make a complete end to evil. 

The plagues also provide answers to some of the accusations.  The plagues will reveal the true nature of both the end-time Pharisees (the people with the mark of the beast) and God’s people.

But unanswered questions will remain even after the plagues, for sinners will be resurrected at the end of the Millennium.  The purpose of the war of the Gog and Magog is still to provide the final answers to Satan’s accusation. Only then will evil finally and safely be terminated.

These concepts will now be explained in more detail.

INTRODUCTION

The previous article concluded that the Purpose of the Plagues is not to save or to punish, but to teach:

The people with the mark of the beast are the modern Pharisees.  They appear to be Christians, but the plagues will show that they are hardened beyond repentance, even under the most severe circumstances. Therefore the only solution is eternal death.

The plagues will also show that the repentant sinners would rather die than to disobey God, and therefore are worthy of eternal life. 

These teachings together will show that God’s judgment of people, as to who will live and who will die, is perfect.

Normally, the articles on this website are fairly exegetical in nature; deriving its views strictly by analyzing the Bible.  In contrast, the current article is more philosophical in nature.  It deals with matters such as free choice, and, as the reader will be aware, that is hotly contested by both theologians and philosophers.  A number of articles on this website—(The Origin of Evil and the War in Heaven series)—discuss related topics more exegetical.  

The current article is the best explanation that I can offer with respect to who needs to learn that God’s judgments are perfect, and why.

WHY DOES SIN EXIST?

Why did God allow sin to develop in the first place? 

God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). He is light, and in Him, there is no darkness (1 John 1:5).  His government is based on unconditional love.  He loves all His creatures.  He loved them so much that He was willing to give His only begotten Son to die for them (John 3:16). 

Love requires freedom – God also wants us to love Him in return (Mat 22:37-38).  The only obedience that He desires is obedience that results from love.  Obedience that is FORCED or based on FEAR, even in the slightest degree, is no obedience at all.  Real love is freely given. 

Humans have free choice – Because God desires us to really love Him, He creates intelligent beings with the freedom to love or to hate.  He could have created robots, programmed to always say ‘I love you’, but He chose to create free intelligent creatures, with the ability to curse Him. 

Sin comes from this freedom.  Freedom creates the potential for evil; to hurt and even kill.

This explains why the first evil came to exist, but why did God not exterminate the first sinner (Satan) as soon as he had the first evil thoughts?  God could have erased any memory of Satan from our minds, for He is Almighty. 

However, such action would negate the freedom of His intelligent beings.  If He would do that, our freedom would not be real.  We can take extreme comfort in the fact that God did allow Satan to continue, for it shows that, although God is Almighty, and although every thought and every action depend on His supporting power, He protects our freedom, even if it costs Him the life of His only begotten Son.

WHY DID GOD ALLOW SIN TO DEVELOP?

SATAN CLAIMS THAT HIS PRINCIPLES ARE GOOD.

Satan has myriads on angels on his side (Rev. 12:7).  To get those angels on his side, he marketed his rebellion against God as something that will benefit God’s creatures; that will elevate their existence and happiness.  Satan’s proposals did not appear to be evil at first.  

SATAN ACCUSES GOD OF BEING A MURDERER

In the garden of Eden, God said:

From the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
you shall not eat,
for in the day that you eat from it
you will surely die
” (Gen 2:17).

Did God say that He will kill Adam and Eve, or did He tell them that the fruit is poisonous? 

SEPARATION FROM GOD KILLS.

The current article proposes that the purpose of the plagues is to prove that it is not God that kills sinners, but that separation from Him NATURALLY results in degeneration and eventually destruction.  This concept can be explained as follows:

God is life.  All the energy and all the wisdom that created all things came out of God.  He also continually upholds everything by His power (Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:17).  He is not somewhere out there, while we carry on down here.  He is, rather, continually upholding every aspect of His creation; even Satan himself. For that reason, it would conceptually not be wrong to say that only God exists and that we are part of Him.  We must not underestimate the meaning of the fact that God is Almighty.  He really can do anything, and our existence, from second to second, depends fully on Him.  Therefore, to reject God is to reject life itself, for God is the life of the universe and of every living being.

Circle of life – The law of the universe is the law of love.  Because He loves us, He gives us everything we need.  Because we love Him, we return to Him a flood thanksgiving.  Satan disconnected himself from this circuit of life.  That caused the degeneration which eventually also engulfed the planet.

CONCLUSION

Because Satan, on the one hand, presented his principles as beneficial, and because he, on the other hand, accused God of being a cruel murderer, God had to allow sin to develop to where it is today, and also to develop to the frightening level to which it will grow during the plagues, to explain the real nature and consequences of evil.  The plagues are intended to show that evil destroys; not God.  We have no need to be afraid of God; we must be scared of sin. 

HEAVEN NEEDS ANSWERS

Many people think that sinless heavenly beings (including angels) do not need more information to understand that rebellion against God is bad, but that is not true.  To understand this, we need to understand a little about how sin developed.

ORIGIN OF EVIL

Sin existed before man was created, and was brought from heaven to earth by the Serpent of old (Gen. 3; Rev. 12:9).

Sin originated in Satan.  God said of him: “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you” (Ezek. 28:15). 

Satan was (is?) the most beautiful being ever created (Ezekiel 18:13).  He was adored by all, but he wanted to be adored equal to God (Is. 14:13, 14).  Logically, evil did not suddenly spring up in Satan one day; it developed slowly over a long time of time.  Given how God deals with sinners on earth, we can safely assume that God warned Satan clearly and repeatedly of the consequences of the direction he was taking.  But eventually, Satan became fully committed to the path he chose.

EVEN LOYAL ANGELS NEED ANSWERS.

Sin did not remain only with Satan.  He succeeded to lead a very large portion of the perfect angels away from God (Rev 12:7).  He was, therefore, able to convince many of the angels, but the others not.  What was Satan’s modus operandi?  Satan is the master advocate.  He is able to confuse anything that is clear.  He did not openly admit his intentions, but covered his motives under a cloak of lies, masterfully flattering the angels when they agree with him but, when they disagree, accusing them of not willing to suffer for the goodwill of the universe.  The angels did not understand what the end result of Satan’s strategies would be.  Even the angels that remained loyal to God did not understand.  Therefore, even the loyal angels need answers.

WHEN WILL GOD MAKE AN END OF SIN?

Obviously, God wants to make an end of sin as soon as possible.  Why does He allow sin to continue?  What prevents God from making an end of sin?  Why did God not make an end to sin after Jesus won the victory on the cross?

GOD ACCUSED OF BAD JUDGMENT

God had condemned Satan and his angels to the lake of fire (Matt. 25:41). To defend himself, Satan attempts to convince the universe that God judges unfairly.  Not only does Satan attempt to exonerate himself and his followers; he also accuses God of bad judgment with respect to God’s own people, for example in the cases of Job (Job 1:9, 10) and Joshua (Zech. 3:1).  Revelation, therefore, refers to Satan as the accuser of the brethren (12:10). 

If God destroys evil before all questions are answered, doubt over God’s goodness will linger, even with His loyal angels.

GOD IS NOT THE JUDGE

Freedom is without fear of punishment.  If we fear that God will punish us if we sin, then we are not completely free, and our obedience is forced.  Therefore, God’s intelligent creatures are free to do whatever they wish, without fear of punishment!  GOD WILL NOT PUNISH EVILDOERS. 

God will eventually destroy evil and all beings that have become permanently attached to evil, but it will not be a punishment in the sense of recompense for deeds in the past.  He will destroy evil with the eye on the FUTURE; not on the PAST.  He will only destroy evil to protect the future safety and happiness of the universe.

But it will only be to the benefit of the universe when the remaining members of the universe agree that the destruction of evildoers is the best thing to do. God, therefore, is not the judge.  The universe judges: 

In the judgment scene in Daniel, many thrones are set up, and the books were opened (Dan 7:9).  It is therefore not only God that judges and God does not need books. 

The judgment will be given to the saved (rev. 20:4). 

THE DANGER OF UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

God wants His created beings to judge for themselves.  God knows and understands all things, and He knows what is the best, but before He can execute His will, His sinless intelligent creatures must agree with Him.  In particular, they must understand why He will destroy some of the people whom they love. If unanswered questions remain, if a lingering doubt with respect to God’s goodness remains, that doubt can become the seed in the future eternities for another rebellion.  Only when all questions with respect to the nature and consequences of evil have been answered, to the satisfaction of the sinless intelligent creatures, can God safely eliminate the destructive forces from the universe.  Only in that way can evil be prevented from ever again developing anywhere in God’s infinite universe.  In the new heavens and new earth, which God will create, God’s intelligent beings will have the freedom to sin, but there will not be any sin because all intelligent beings will understand what the end result of selfishness is.  Then we will live in complete safety and trust in the wonderful, perfect new world which He will create:

Behold, I am making all things new” (21:5).

That is the reason for the delay.  Time is required to provide answers to Satan’s accusations against God.

CHRIST’S DEATH

There are many theories of the atonement (why Christ had to die).  This website supports the view that by the church in the first few centuries, namely that Christ’s life and death was a battle between good and evil, and He overcame evil with good.  Jesus’ death demonstrated God’s righteousness:

Christ Jesus, whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood … This was to demonstrate His righteousnessso that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:24-26)

In other words, Christ’s death was a demonstration of God’s righteousness.  His death proves that God is just when He justifies sinners who have faith in Jesus Christ.

Christ’s death therefore also provided evidence with respect to the nature and consequences of evil, but if Christ’s death on the cross was all that was required to eradicate sin from the universe, God would not have allowed sin to continue.  Since evil and its consequences are still thriving 2000 years later, we must conclude that God needs more than the cross to make a complete end to evil.

PLAGUES

The plagues also provide answers to some of the questions.  As discussed in the previous article, the plagues will reveal the true nature of both the end-time Pharisees (the people with the mark of the beast) and God’s people (the people with the seal of God). 

But unanswered questions will remain even after the plagues, for sinners will be resurrected at the end of the Millennium (20:5).  Then Satan will also be released from his prison (20:7).  The purpose of the war of the Gog and Magog (20:8) is still the same, namely to provide answers to the questions raised by Satan.  Only when all these questions have been answered, will the devil be exterminated in the lake of fire and brimstone (20:10).

ARTICLES ON THE PLAGUES

Introduction to the Plagues of Revelation
First four plagues:
     The First Four are non-specific.
     Overview
Fifth Plague:
     The Throne of the Beast
     The Mighty Angel of Revelation 18
     Conclusions
Sixth Plague:
     The Great River, the Euphrates, dries up.
     Kings from the East 
     Armageddon 
     Revelation 16:15 and the Rapture
     Euphrates dries up to prepare the way 
     Conclusions 
Seventh Plague
Purpose of the Plagues:
     I   To show that God judges perfectly
     II Satan presents his principles as good.(Current article)

Why Euphrates dries up to prepare the way for the kings from the east.

SUMMARY

According to Revelation 16:12—the first verse of the sixth plague—the waters of the Euphrates dries up to prepare the way for the Kings from the east:

The Euphrates River symbolizes the people that support false Christianity.  That the Euphrates dries up means that the people’s support for false Christianity dries up.  This will happen after false Christianity suffers a lethal blow to its authority during the first five plagues (See Fifth plague). 

The Kings from the East have been interpreted as Christ and His angels at His return.

According to the next verses, after false Christianity loses its popular support, it receives renewed strength in the form of “spirits of demons, performing signs” (16:14).  This means that God allows Satan direct control.  This supernatural support enables false Christianity to gather “the kings of the whole world … for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty” (16:14, 16).

PEOPLE WITH THE MARK OF THE BEAST

The people with the Mark of the beast are similar to the Pharisees of Christ’s day.  They are Bible-believing, church-going Christians, but for them, traditions are more important than truth.  In reality, Satan is their god.  In their view, God is cruel and quick to judge, for they ascribe Satan’s character to God.  Then they interpret the Bible accordingly.

However, through the first five plagues, they come to realize that they are serving Satan; not God.  But they do not change, for they have become so hardened that they are unable to repent

When Satan sends his demons to gather the kings, the people with these modern Pharisees accept this new power with the full knowledge that this power is from Satan. 

QUESTION

The question in this article is why the Euphrates dries up to prepare the way for the kings from the east.  Literally speaking, why must false Christianity realize that it is false before may Christ return?

GOD’S JUDGMENT QUESTIONED

The rebellion against God on earth actually began in heaven when a huge number of God’s HOLY angels joined Satan.

God condemned Satan and his angels to hell.  To defend himself, Satan accused God of unfair judgment.  God also sentenced the people with the Mark of the Beast to death.  Satan, therefore, similarly accuses God of bad judgment with respect to the people with the Mark of the beast.

Due to Satan’s enormous intellect and skill, many of even the sinless heavenly beings do not know whether Satan is telling the truth!

PURPOSE OF THE PLAGUES

God wants all intelligent beings to trust Him fully.  In particular, He wants all intelligent beings to understand His judgments.  For that reason that He pours out the plagues, even after the eternal destiny of every person on earth has been permanently fixed.  Through the plagues, He will shows, to all of God’s intelligent creatures, throughout the universe, that His judgment is correct

In particular, the plagues reveal to the on-looking universe the true nature of these modern Pharisees.  To do that, the plagues will reveal to the modern Pharisees that they are deceived and that they are, in reality, followers of Satan, persecuting God by persecuting His people.  This is done so that all the universe can see how modern Pharisees respond.  Through the refusal to repent it becomes clear that they really are committed to Satan’s principles, which confirms God’s judgment of them, namely that they must die the second death.  

These principles are now discussed in more detail.

PURPOSE

The waters of the Euphrates must dry up to prepare the way for the kings from the east (16:12).  Previous articles have discussed:

      • What the Euphrates represents;
      • What the drying up of the waters symbolizes, and
      • Who the kings from the east are. 

To explain WHY the Euphrates dries up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east, this article provides a chronological overview of the final events, as explained in the other articles in this series.

BEFORE THE PLAGUES

Persecution – As discussed in the Introduction to the Plagues, before the plagues are poured out, the Image of the beast persecutes God’s people and kills some of them (13:15; 14:13).  They are not all killed and neither are they raptured prior to these events because later—in the sixth plague—Jesus warns them to keep their clothes (16:15).

Mark of the Beast – The Image of the beast is able to identify and persecute God’s people because they refuse to accept the Mark of the Beast (13:16-17).  In this way, the people of the world are divided into TWO CLEARLY DELINEATED GROUPS.

End of mercy – In Revelation 15:8, the temple fills up with smoke from the glory of God “and no one was able to enter the temple.”  This symbolizes the end of the time for mercy.  From this point forward, nobody will be saved.  Now, the eternal destiny of every person has been sealed; either with the Mark of the Beast or with the Seal of God.

FIRST FIVE PLAGUES

Beast targeted with plagues – At that point in time, the plagues start to fall, but they fall SELECTIVELY only on the people with the Mark of the Beast (16:2, 10).  These modern Pharisees, therefore, must begin to at least suspect that they are resisting and opposing God. (See First Four Plagues)

Beast loses authority – The fifth plague falls on the Throne of the beast.  Its throne is a symbol of its authority, which is  Christian religious authority.  As a result, its kingdom is darkened; it suffers humiliation before all human eyes.

Falsehood unveiled – The fifth plague is the consequence of the message proclaimed by the mighty angel Revelation 18). Through that angel, all people come to understand that false Christianity “HAS BECOME a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit” (18:2).  Previously, the people with the Mark of the beast believed that the Beast spoke for God.  Now they realize, through the message of the mighty angel, that that claim is false.  This realization is the darkness in his kingdom. (See Fifth plague)

EUPHRATES DRIES UP

In the sixth plague, in 16:12, the Euphrates dries up to prepare the way for the Kings from the East:

Babylon – The Euphrates River belongs to the City of Babylon, for Babylon sits on it (See Euphrates).  Babylon is a symbol of the false religious system that has corrupted mankind for thousands of years.  In the end-time, Babylon is represented by false Christianity (See Throne of the beast).

The Euphrates dries up – The Euphrates River supported life in the ancient city of Babylon. In Revelation, The Euphrates River symbolizes the people that support false Christianity.  That the Euphrates dries up means that the people’s support for false Christianity dries up.  This will happen after false Christianity is shown to be false, as explained above.

The Kings from the East symbolize Christ and His angels at His return.

The purpose of the current article is to explain why the waters must dry up to prepare the way for the kings from the east.  Literally stated: Why must false Christianity be shown to be false before Christ may return?

SPIRITUALISM

Verse 13 represents a turning point in human history.  Up to this point in the plagues, the Beast power has only suffered losses.  It has nearly died off due to the plagues.  But now:

I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon
and … of the beast and … of the false prophet,
three unclean spirits like frogs;
for they are spirits of demons, performing signs,
which go out to the kings of the whole world,
to gather them together
for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty” (16:13-14)

In other words, God’s enemies receive reinforcements in the form of “spirits of demons, performing signs” (16:14).  This implies a new strategy and work method for false Christianity.  The beast’s claim to be God’s spokesperson has been ruined, but God now allows Satan direct influence over the affairs of the world.  This demonic power is sufficiently powerful that the beast is able:

to go out to the kings of the whole world,
to gather them together for the war
of the great day of God, the Almighty
” (16:14, 16).

False Christianity has now become spiritualism.

UNABLE TO REPENT

Now follows an important but horrible conclusion:

Earlier, the people with the Mark of the beast were led by Satan, but they thought that they were serving the God of the Bible.  But when the first five plagues teach them that they really do not serve God, but Satan (cf. 7:22-23), they do not change.  They are now no longer deceived, but they have become so hardened that they are unable to repent.  This is indicated by how frequently it is said in the plagues that they refuse to repent:

“They blasphemed the name of God …
and they did not repent so as to give Him glory” (16:9).

“They blasphemed the God of heaven …
and they did not repent of their deeds” (16:11).

“Men blasphemed God” (16:21).

When Satan sends his demons to gather the kings, the people with the Mark of the Beast accept this new power, but they are no longer deceived.  They now know that they oppose God.  They allow the miracle-working demon spirits to lead them against God.

WHAT DOES THIS SHOW?

This brings us back to the question: Why the Euphrates dries up to prepare the way for the kings from the east?  Or stated literally, why must false Christianity be shown to be false before Christ may return?  Why must these modern Pharisees realize, before Jesus can return, that the Beast is not speaking for God, but is actually Satan’s agent? 

This is actually part of the bigger question: Why does Jesus not return immediately when all people have been marked for eternity?  Why does God allow the plagues when nobody will repent?

GOD’S JUDGMENTS CRITICIZED

We need to remember that this crisis on earth is the result of a rebellion in heaven against God’s government which started when a huge number of God’s HOLY angels joined Satan (Gen 3:1, read with Rev 20:2; Rev 12:4; Dan 10:13; Job 1:6).  The following are some of the articles which the reader may want to consult in this regard:

Origin of Evil
Why Satan thought he could win
What weapons are used in the War in Heaven?
When was Satan Defeated?
Did Michael defeat Satan in Heaven by physical force?

Satan’s strategy, to defend himself, is to accuse God of unfair judgment.  Due to Satan’s enormous intelligence and skills, many of even the sinless heavenly beings do not know whether Satan is telling the truth.

GOD’S JUDGMENTS VINDICATED

God wants His intelligent beings to trust Him fully.  He, in particular, wants to make sure that they all understand His judgments.  By faith, we live today and by faith, we must live for all eternity.  God, therefore, does not simply judge; but He proves to the universe that He judges fairly.  That is why the plagues emphasize the fairness of God’s judgments:

Righteous and true are Your ways …
your righteous acts have been revealed
” (15:3-4).

Righteous are You …
because You judged these things
” (16:5).

True and righteous are Your judgments” (16:7).
His judgments are true and righteous” (19:2).

The peoples with the Mark of the Beast were deceived:

He deceives those who dwell on the earth
because of the signs which it was given him to perform
in the presence of the beast” (13:14).

On judgment day, they could have claimed that they truly are Christians that were only deceived on some technical points.  God knows that that is not so, for He knows exactly what is inside each person, but His intelligent creatures are not omniscient.  It is, therefore, necessary to reveal what the true nature of these modern Pharisees really is. 

To do this, it will necessary to reveal to the people with the Mark of the Beast that they are deceived so that all the universe can see how they will respond.  When they refuse to repent, the on-looking universe can see that they, in reality, are committed to Satan’s principles.

EXPERIMENT

The plagues are an experiment.  On judgment day there will be many Jews and Christians who have died in previous centuries who could similarly claim that they were only deceived:

Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name?” 

But God will allow the world to continue, even after all people have been marked for eternity, to reveal the true nature of these modern Pharisees.  This experiment is not only to reveal the true nature of the people that live in the end-time but will apply to all Christians and Jews who died in the same spiritual condition.

This is the final test that is required before Jesus may return to the world He created.  Jesus’ death was also a test.  See Why Jesus had to die.  Lot’s torment was a test,  See, Why Satan thought he could win.  Everything is tested because the crisis in the universe is about whether the Almighty God can be fully trusted.

In conclusion, the purpose of the plagues is to prove to all of God’s intelligent creatures, throughout the universe, that God’s judgment is right and perfect, and that we, therefore, can look forward to spending eternity knowing that we can rely 100% on the Source of all things.

See the Purpose of the plagues for further analysis of these principles.

ARTICLES ON THE PLAGUES

Introduction to the Plagues of Revelation
First four plagues:
     The First Four are non-specific.
     Overview
Fifth Plague:
     The Throne of the Beast
     The Mighty Angel of Revelation 18
     Conclusions
Sixth Plague:
     The Great River, the Euphrates, dries up.
     Kings from the East 
     Armageddon 
     Revelation 16:15 and the Rapture
     Euphrates dries up to prepare the way (Current article)
     Conclusions (Next)
Seventh Plague
Purpose of the Plagues.