SHAPE OF THE FUTURE (3F)

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3 – THE FINAL EMPIRE: ITS SPIRITUAL GEOGRAPHY

3-A. Physical and Spiritual Geography in Daniel 2
3-B. Modern Day Cultures of Darkness
3-C. How “Iron” Continues in Today’s World: Domain of the Antichrist
3-D. “Clay” Power in Ancient Times
3-E. Rise of “Clay” Power in the Modern Age
3-F. “Clay” in the 20th Century 

3-F. “Clay” in the 20th Century: Domain of the False Prophet

Around the turn of the 20th Century, the world saw another dramatic upsurge in the power of money through the introduction of laissez-faire capitalism (when restrictions on trade and commercial exchange all but disappeared). The original idea brought forth by Adam Smith in the 18th century provided some useful guidance: break away from rigid, controlled economies and allow more freedom in the economic realm. And the new philosophy did help individuals and nations to prosper. The virtue of free enterprise came to the fore. In this respect, the new system had its advantages. And these virtues are enshrined now in the term “democracy”. Freedom, individualism, universal voting, these began as noble ideals.

But the new system’s fatal weakness centered around the fact that the big merchants now had free rein to dominate the economic landscape. As so often happens, the forces of Darkness like to usurp mankind’s useful ideas and inventions, corrupting and distorting them in such a way as to harness them into serving a destructive purpose instead of the constructive one for which they were originally intended. And so, it wasn’t long before the seemingly noble ideals of laissez-faire economics degenerated into a greedy scramble for the almighty Dollar and the good life.

In like manner, the noble concept of Democracy, which was supposed to mean rule by the people and freedom from tyranny, provided a loophole through which the commercial/capitalist forces could enter into nations and gain the upper hand in controlling world affairs. Instead of the ideal, republican, democratic system in which authority stems from the people through responsible, elected representatives, wealth began more and more to override that authority and became the new basis of power in the world.

Giving so much power to the people (in democracies) has often played into the hands of the money moguls, for the “people” can be manipulated easily via the media. In theory the “people” are supposed to be in control. In practice those wealthy enough to guide the thinking of the people through the media – as well as pay off the politicians – end up dominating the political landscape. And so the wealthy have used “people power” time and again to force governments to implement policies favorable to them, or to oust those governments not cooperating with them.

And so the arrival of democracy has made it easier for the “clay” regime to ascend to power. And sometimes in the other direction, “democracy” has worked as the means by which military dictatorships were able to rise to power (as in Hitler Germany). For the most part though, the nations where democracy is practiced have acted as a springboard from which the “clay” power was able to catapult itself into supremacy.

Just as the military dominated the ancient Roman world, so the business-commercial forces have grown so strong and organized that they also are able to dominate the world in modern times. That doesn’t mean that the influence of “iron” has petered out; it still exists everywhere in the modern world. For as Daniel 2:41 states, “Yet the strength of the iron shall be in it.” 

Similar to the rise of European colonialism in the former era, this “clay” presence is again the power that has led the way to enlarging America’s borders – the borders of her Dollar capitalist empire and media culture. And this is somewhat different from the ancient Roman conquest, which was accomplished mostly by means of military invasions and occupations. So the American empire is an example of one where iron and clay “mix”; the army and big business combine their resources so that, together, they can bear rule over much of the world.

Now besides the rise of democracy, there is another factor that has boosted the clay earth-Beast’s power: as mentioned already, the great expansion of scientific knowledge and technology over the last 150 years or so has unlocked the Earth’s resources in ways those in olden time could not have imagined. This greater access to resources has led to an increased flow of wealth in the world of trade and industry. And through their clever manipulation of the world’s purse strings and means of exchange, the financial wheeler-dealers have acquired a disproportionate and tremendous share of this new-found wealth.

Furthermore, these who have the money have come to own the various new avenues of power that have sprung up as a result of modern technology: rulers now have the capacity to keep a close surveillance over vast populations through the use of omniscient computer information systems; the same computer technology has facilitated financial transactions, making it easier for the ultra-rich to increase their wealth; in addition, modern media systems enable rulers to psychologically manipulate the masses, and this has proven very effective in the game of installing new leaders or deposing them. And so it has come to pass in the modern world that, because of advanced technology, these grand new domains of power are flourishing, which, in times past, existed only in a very primitive stage.

Judging by what Revelation 13:11-18 says, it looks as if these new avenues of power belong, or are about to belong, under the jurisdiction of the “beast from the earth”, whose leadership is comprised of these mega-businessmen and powerbrokers. From behind the scenes they pull the strings that can cause certain events to happen according to their wishes on the world stage. The earth-Beast is using these new avenues of power to structure a modern style of empire, one based on the power of wealth and all that it controls.

At the same time, as Revelation 13 outlines, this earth-Beast empire, by combining with the other one (the Antichrist “beast from the sea”), will structure a modern style of religion – a secular one based on Materialism and demagogic worship of the Antichrist.

In summary, this unusual figure, in keeping with the symbolism of him as a “beast”, will head such a powerful regime that it will rule much of the world economically; and along with that (or because of that), have the ability also to control and guide the world’s thinking towards giving their allegiance to Materialism and the Antichrist – which means, essentially, that his influence is a “religious” one. And because of this “religious” aspect, the “beast from the earth” is referred to elsewhere in the Revelation Book as the “false prophet”.

So, what we have in Revelation 13 is rather intriguing – a description from an ancient viewpoint of our modern historical reality. Although John the Apostle in ancient times could not express that reality with the proper technical terms, nevertheless he does get across the spiritual side of it well enough: a beast-like “false prophet” would deceive the world into worshiping another beast-like anti-Christ figure.

As for the practical side, John expressed it (according to his 1st-century mindset) as a new form of idolatrous emperor worship generated by (as it seemed to the apostle) the False Prophet’s miraculous manufacture of a live “image”. The masses would acknowledge their “worship” of this “image” through use of a peculiar“mark”, which, along with a “666-number”would also have the unusual capacity to govern buying and selling activity in that distant future age.

We in modern times can see what John was getting at – the practical side of the future historical reality, unfolding now before our eyes in this age of advanced technology: such scientific “miracles” as worldwide distribution of “living” images through TV broadcasting and cashless commercial transactions using credit cards, implanted chips, and 666 bar codes. (See posts “Seemingly Miraculous Nature of the Image” and “666 and the Mark of the Beast for more information on this subject.)

Who Is Behind the Rise of the Earth-Beast?

Although we may sense that a new controlling body, not under the thumb of national or international governments, is rising in today’s world, who or what is causing this historical reality to emerge can be difficult to pinpoint. Because of the unsavory nature of their activities, these mega-“merchants” tend to cover their tracks as best they can. As a result very little is taught in mainstream history books about their activities.

However, some courageous historians have tried to do so. The following quotes, for example, give a lucid explanation of how these behind-the-scenes powerbrokers influenced the course of history in World War II. (From Descent into Slavery by Des Griffin, 1980:)

◊ (Pgs. 156-157, about the course of fighting in the middle of World War II:)

Why wasn’t the Allies’ “tremendous fighting machine” allowed to continue its powerful advance from northern Italy up through the “soft underbelly” of Europe towards the heart of Hitler’s Germany? What was the real reason behind the fact that [German] Kesselring’s army, which was reeling in disarray before the onslaught of the Allied Fifth Army, was allowed to regroup, reorganize and rearm so that it could continue the struggle for nearly another two years?
       
It is generally acknowledged by military experts that, had the Allies taken the logical and direct route to Germany, four important results would have occurred:

(1) The duration of the war would have been shortened by at least a year.
(2) The lives of more than 100,000 Allied troops would have been spared;
(3) The United States National Debt that resulted from the war, would have been greatly reduced, and
(4) The political face of Europe would have been vastly different. [Eastern Europe would have been spared from the oppression of communism; the whole world would have been spared from the Cold War.]

The answers to the above questions are as simple as they are shocking. The men who were outwardly “leading” the United States – Roosevelt, Marshall and Eisenhower – were under strict orders from their hidden masters [“merchants… great men of the earth” – Revelation 18:23] to conduct the concluding stages of the war in the European “theater” in such a manner that [their hidden masters’] goals… would be furthered. It was of no concern to the international power brokers that the delay in finishing the war resulted in hundreds of thousands of needless deaths, and unnecessary expenditure of many billions of dollars. They view humanity as so much cannon fodder to be used in the accomplishment of their Satanic purpose.

◊ (Pg. 162)

We have seen clear evidence that the top authorities in Washington forbade the Allied army to strike for the heart of Hitler’s Germany following the victorious Italian campaign in 1943. Dramatic evidence has also been presented to prove that at the same time as huge numbers of Allied troops were being diverted in order to participate in an irrelevant invasion of Southern France, the top officials in Washington refused to pay any attention to repeated German offers to surrender. As a result of those apparently senseless “blunders”, dramatic changes took place in the political make-up of Europe. The course of history was changed!
       
The reader must grasp the fact that although these amazing and unprecedented events “staggered” and “startled” individuals like Commander Earle, General Mark Clark, General Kesselring and Admiral Canaris, these same decisions made a lot of sense to the unseen manipulators who were calling the shots and pulling the strings behind the scenes. They were working to a definite plan. They had their strategy clearly marked out.

◊ (Pg. 180)

Who was responsible for the barbaric Dresden Massacre which took place when Germany was clearly beaten and when no strategic purpose could be served by such wanton destruction and loss of life? “I can only say,” states Air Marshal Sir Arthur Harris, the top man in the British Air Force, “that the attack on Dresden was at the time considered a military necessity by much more important people than myself” (Bomber Offensive, 1947, P, 242).
       
Those “much more important people” were obviously the men who were running the European “theater of war” for their own profit and for their own ends. They were clearly looking beyond the end of the war, to the vast fortunes that could be picked up in “redevelopment projects” in such cities as Dresden. The fact that millions of “peasants” were incinerated in such “urban renewal” projects was of no import to them.
       
The destruction of human life is of little importance to those who would rule the world!

◊ (Pg. 201)

“World War II, which had been prolonged for up to two years to permit the Soviets to occupy Eastern Europe, cost the United States a staggering $400 Billion and raised the National Debt to $220 Billion. This forced the United States deeper into the clutches of the international bankers.”

The above quotes mention a few times the term “hidden masters”, something which may require some explanation. This term could also describe the False Prophet. In Revelation 13:12 we read, “And he [False Prophet]exercised all the authority of the first beast [Antichrist](NLT). His power and authority equals that of the Antichrist.

Looking back into the first part of Revelation 13, we notice the passage states six times that power is given to the Antichrist in various forms: “The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority… The dragon who gave authority to the beast… he was given a mouth… he was given authority to continue for forty-two months… it was granted to him to make war with the saints… authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation…” (13:2,4-5,7)

So, the Antichrist is empowered by the Dragon (the Devil) who “gives” him his worldwide authority to rule. But who is the Dragon’s agent in the Earth? The False Prophet, whom John observed to be speaking “as a dragon”, would seem the obvious candidate for that job.

So it seems likely the Dragon works a lot through his agent, the False Prophet, and uses him, as verse 12 explains, to establish the Antichrist as the world’s god and ruler – to administer the Antichrist’s kingdom while promoting him as an object of worship.

The False Prophet will resemble very much the “hidden masters” (mentioned in the above quotes), who were able to pave the way for certain men to seize power in the U.S., which in turn enabled these “hidden” powerbrokers to influence the decisions of World War II politicians. In similar fashion the False Prophet will pave the way for the rise of the Antichrist and consequently, have a great deal of influence over him.

It is a powerful but largely unseen role that prophets and priests, magicians and soothsayers, the “hidden masters” – some good, some bad – have played throughout history in the halls of government. And the False Prophet, like the powerbrokers who have operated rather secretly to engineer events in the modern world, will also be a “hidden master” to engineer much of what happens in the Antichrist’s new world order of the future.

One difference, however, may be that he will be a more public figure than the false prophets and “hidden masters” of the past, as suggested in Revelation 13:13. “He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.”

Regarding the historical misdeeds mentioned in the above quotes, needless to say, these are not much advertised or known to the general public. And such activities didn’t stop with World War II. They are still going on; it’s just that the behind-the-scenes manipulators prefer to remain out of sight, for that makes it easier for them to carry on with their power-brokering, while giving the world the impression that governments are the ones in control of things.

This façade of political respectability provides a useful cover for all the dirty dealings, corruption, deception, murder, and mayhem they engineer behind the scenes to make sure their plans get carried out. It can be quite shocking and difficult to grasp the full extent of corruption going on under the veneer of respectability that governments and politicians try to exude on behalf of their hidden masters. Thank God for those brave government officials who do try to stand up for truth, justice, and righteousness. But unfortunately, they are few and far between in our present world system.

In contrast to the “hidden masters” and the “earth-beast”, the “beast” governments “from the sea” are visible superpowers whom the people acknowledge, respect, or even worship. And so in addition to the military, this loyalty and patriotism from their people provide a powerful engine that can strengthen a sea-Beast superpower into a potent, ruling force.

We can understand this from the “sea” symbolism in Revelation 13 and 17: “The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.” (Revelation 17:15) The symbolism seems to show us that the “beasts”, as leaders of their people, rose from the sea whereas the “whore” mentioned in the above Scripture merely sits on the sea of people and sits on the “beast”. She is like some kind of freeloader, using the people and their governments to make herself rich. (More on this subject coming in a future study.)

As we’ve learned, the Beast from the earth governs in a different way than does the Beast from the sea – almost invisibly and in secret – and doesn’t have to interact in the same way with the people. A legion of conspiracy advocates have tried to expose the inner workings of this, what amounts to a world government carrying on behind the scenes whose power is based on its control of the world’s wealth.

Even if we don’t believe all the conspiracy theories, there is still such a preponderance of evidence that it would be naïve to deny the existence of a powerful ruling force operating behind the scenes, exercising a considerable degree of control over world affairs through its crafty manipulation of financial resources.

In spiritual terms, the Revelation Book sums it up well: “For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived.” (18:23) From this Scripture we learn that “the great men of the earth”, these “merchants”, exercise control over society through deception and even, it would seem, the use of spiritual power (from the Dark side – “sorcery”). In that chapter 18 of the Revelation Book these “merchants” are the leaders of the “great harlot”, a term that was symbolic of the commercial system that was to rule the world during the Modern Age. As mentioned earlier, this term has some connection to other terms – like “clay”, ”earth-Beast”, and “false prophet”.

The chapters of Revelation 17-18 graphically portray this “harlot” as a powerful empire in the Last Days, one which saturates the nations with her shameful, corrupting influence: “the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication… having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication… the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury… her sins have reached to heaven… And in her was found the blood of… all who were slain on the earth.” (17:2,4, 18:3,5,24)

(“Fornication” is a term for a type of sexual activity common in the ancient Mediterranean world: sexual favors associated with demon worship. That is, prostitution was a way of canvassing for local pagan temples. Thus, “fornication” is used symbolically here to depict how the modern system of materialism, like ancient temple prostitution, is aggressively drawing the world away from faith in God and obedience to His ways and into the worship of things – the modern equivalent to the worship of the demon god Mammon.)

Not a very complimentary picture is given then in the Sacred Book of these backroom powerbrokers who, as we’ve learned, caused so much devastation in World War II; and who knows what havoc they are wreaking nowadays? It is difficult to know much about their activities because, as the Revelation Scripture points out, they are masters of deception. (“By your sorceries all the nations were deceived.”) And we seldom learn about how they were the cause of the mayhem until long after it has passed.

Going back to the 19th Century, we can get a revealing look at a time when the commercial forces’ struggle to gain supremacy came to a major head in the U.S. during the rule of President Andrew Jackson (1828-1836). Back then, the European money-lenders were conniving to infiltrate the banking system of the resource-rich nation of America. Jackson realized what was going on and fought hard to prevent the money system from falling into the hands of private bankers. His summation of the perils that lay ahead if his opponents should win out is contained in the following statement:

◊ “Controlling our currency, receiving our public moneys, and holding thousands of our citizens in dependence… would be more formidable and dangerous than a military power of the enemy.”

This echoes a similar statement from Thomas Jefferson a few decades earlier:

◊ “I sincerely believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. The issuing power should be taken away from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs.”

As time went on, the American money system eventually did fall to the private bankers in the form of the creation of the Federal Reserve (in 1913). The same has happened in much of the rest of the world, which has surrendered control of its money systems to the rule of these elite bankers (whom we may consider as belonging to the “earth-Beast” empire and/or the “great harlot” empire).

◊ For an in-depth study of the history of our money system’s downward spiral, the documentary Money Masters is well worth watching.

And the world has seen the sad results in the last century: the unnecessary or prolonged wars, the creation of communism, the Great Depression and recent Recession, the extreme poverty and debt-ridden condition of many Third World countries, and many other woes can be traced back to the behind-the-scenes meddling of the mega-merchants and bankers

Over the last century the commercial powers seem to have dominated the political landscape, especially those who are based in America. But the commercial system is destined to suffer decline in the future. This is a whole other subject which is described vividly in Revelation 17-18. These chapters portray the eventual fall of the commercial system, symbolized there as the “great harlot”. To go into this now in detail would be too much of a diversion.

Briefly though, the “harlot” stands for the once-loyal “bride”, a godly people who had once observed the statutes of their God but then went astray and thus transformed into a “harlot”. She will oppose the Antichrist’s rise to power, but because of her own corruption and poor example to the world, God will have to allow her to fail in this and suffer a great collapse.

However, this does not mean the clay-earth rule will come to an end. For, as proposed in this study, it will continue in the EU (or China?) and the False Prophet’s kingdom. Presumably, the EU will avoid America’s fate because she will be helping the other up-and-coming Beast into power rather than hindering him. This relates well to the “clay” in the Daniel 2 “image” vision. This vision symbolized, among other things, the cult of emperor-worship that has prevailed throughout history.

The “clay” kingdom is there in the vision, not because its leader will be worshiped as were the leaders of the metal kingdoms, but because it will contribute to the worship of the Antichrist. (And this agrees with the portrayal in Revelation 13 of the earth-Beast’s kingmaker role in the future government of the Antichrist.) So, although the Great Harlot and the False Prophet Beast are closely related as representations of the commercial system, there are differences. (This subject will be explored later in another study on Revelation 17-18.)

As mentioned earlier, these “clay and iron” forces that ravage the Earth were also portrayed in another form as the “black horse” and “red horse” in Revelation 6:4-6. And the two work together. Warmongers and arms merchants connive in cooperation with each other. They start wars or prolong wars. And as a result the merchants profit from selling weapons to both sides in the conflict or from collecting interest on massive war debts. At the same time the militarists have their reward – generous kickbacks and the people’s adulation. All this deceit and double-dealing, just for selfish gain. No principles or conscience in this lowly, degraded “clay” part of the “image”, this earth-Beast who “spoke like a dragon”.

“He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress.” (Hosea 12:7 – KJV) These words referred originally to the dishonest traders who were corrupting the nation of ancient Israel, but they echo loudly through the ages to describe what is going on in our modern world. “For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived.” (Revelation 18:23)

Although the earth-Beast exercises great power and even seems to dominate world affairs, the material of “clay” whom we’ve linked to the earth-Beast, seems like a rather weak component in the Daniel 2 “image”. Of course, “clay” appears to symbolize the religion of materialism and wealth coming from earth’s resources, and this contrasts it with the “iron” religion of man-worship; so “clay” is hardly weak in that sense. However, the symbolism of the earth-Beast having “two horns like a lamb” conveys an impression of weakness.  

This could indicate a lack of military power, whereas the sea-Beast, by contrast, has “ten horns”. Well, it is true that the big financial power brokers do not usually exercise political or military authority directly (although that does happen indirectly). They are not the ones who can rally the aspirations of the world and unite it in a cause (although they support those who do). So in this way “clay” is weak, for it is not a strong metal-type military power.

But the “clay” does contribute to weakening the power of the “iron”. World War II was a good (or bad) example of this. As mentioned earlier, that war dragged on and on – a series of incredible blunders and poor decisions made because of the meddling influence of wealthy, behind-the-scenes power brokers who were trying to profit as much as they could from the War. By way of contrast, ancient Rome, the original “iron” power, fought its wars with greater efficiency.

Although “clay” seems like a weak substance, nevertheless, the satanic power behind the “clay” rule is plenty strong enough. Revelation 13:11 says of the earth-Beast, “he spoke like a dragon”, and later on the Book refers to him as the “false prophet”. (19:20, 20:10) Perhaps because of the diabolical influence this Beast conveys into the world, the corresponding substance in Daniel’s “image” was portrayed as cheap and undesirable. His work may be less obvious, but it is just as influential, if not more so. In order for the Antichrist to carry out his side of operations, the world must first get entrapped in the False Prophet’s web of deceit and delusion. Perhaps even more than the Antichrist, this Beast is working in diabolical opposition against the forces of Truth and Light..

This “beast” from the “earth”, who “spoke like a dragon”, this power of “miry clay”, is working hard to get mankind mired into the quicksand of materialism, ensnared into his barren utopia. To win the world’s favor, the False Prophet may try to save mankind from economic collapse by bringing about a more even distribution of wealth – at least for those nations willing to give their allegiance to the Antichrist and join the “mark-number” system.

It is well to remember, if and when this re-distribution of wealth happens, that in the past this Beast’s predecessors were squeezing the wealth out of much of the world (such as during the Colonial Age or in the Great Depression). The economic tyranny of western industry and commerce over the poorer nations is no less oppressive than the rule of political superpowers. The greed of the ultra-rich has caused as much misery and hardship, both in their own countries and in poorer Third World nations, as have the wars and violence of the warmongering militarists.

Any changes that the Antichrist-False Prophet combine might make towards more equitable economic distribution in the world of the future may be helpful for awhile. Such an economic program will, of course, serve to greatly strengthen the hand of these two rulers, but from there things will begin to hurtle downhill.

It would be well to remember this example from history: during the 1930s, Hitler’s economic reforms revitalized Germany and confirmed him as undisputed master of the Third Reich. But what happened as a result? World War II and genocidal persecutions against Jews, dissidents, and religious minorities who refused to worship the Fuehrer or go along with his plans. History has an unfortunate tendency to repeat itself once new generations have had time to forget the hard-learned lessons of the past.

Continue to 4A: Merger: Two Separate Beasts Become One “Iron and Clay” Dominion

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