Evil Empires and Evil People—Wild Beasts of the Bible
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The Bible has much to say about literal wild beasts and ravenous animals of prey, but it is fascinating to see how God’s Word applies their characteristics and conduct to worldly powers and empires, especially as they are described in their relationship to “Israel,” as well as to ungodly sinners who are persecuting God’s people.
Attacks against the modern descendants of the ancient Houses of Israel and Judah and against God’s disciples—spiritual Israelites—are prophesied in these end times.
When those attacks are described, the Bible uses metaphors of wild and vicious animals many times to show the nature and character of the persecutors, as well as the kind and severity of their actions, while emphasizing that it is Satan the Devil who is behind such attacks, walking around like a roaring lion to see whom he can devour (see 1 Peter 5:8).
But Satan is no match for THE Lion—God Himself. When man, under Satan’s influence, behaves like lions, then God will do likewise, and He will intervene very soon to make an end to man’s atrocious rule and God-defying conduct.
Part 1—Wild Animals Symbolize World Powers and Empires
Chapter 1—The Final Rise of the Ancient Roman Empire
The first part of this booklet deals primarily with the rising European power bloc (referred to as the “beast” in the book of Revelation) which will attack and conquer the modern descendants of the ancient houses of Israel and Judah (that is, the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and other English-speaking nations, as well as the state of Israel).
We will begin discussing important biblical passages and historical records pertaining to the emerging European Empire, before addressing in detail the character and nature of the end-time beast power.
The Ten Revivals of the Roman Empire
In Daniel 7, four great world-ruling empires (called “kingdoms” in Daniel 2 and 7) are described, which are seen by Daniel in a vision as four wild beasts. That fact should tell us something—they are not described as harmless and peaceful pets.
When Daniel saw the vision, only the first empire was in existence—the Babylonian Empire, which was symbolized as a lion (verse 4). It was to be followed by the Medo-Persian Empire, which was symbolized as a bear (verse 5). It, in turn, was to be replaced by the Greco-Macedonian Empire, which was symbolized by a leopard with four heads and four wings (verse 6).
In his vision, Daniel also saw a fourth vicious beast with ten horns (verse 7). Although the exact identity of that beast is not revealed, nor is it identified by name, it is unanimously accepted by biblical scholars and historians that the fourth empire, which subdued the third beast, represents the Roman Empire. It was to exist, through numerous revivals, until the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God here on earth (verses 19–27).
After its fall, the Roman Empire would be revived ten times. Revelation 13 describes the Roman Empire as a beast with seven heads and ten horns.
Quoting from our free booklet, “The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation”:
“The beast with the seven heads and ten horns was like a leopard, with feet of a bear and a mouth of a lion (Revelation 13:2)…
“Comparing [the] four beasts in the book of Daniel [chapter 7] with the one beast in Revelation 13, we can see that the beast in Revelation is a conglomeration of those four beasts in Daniel. It has seven heads, because it combines the head of the lion, the head of the bear, the four heads of the leopard, and the head of the fourth beast with ten horns.”
As mentioned, virtually all Bible scholars confirm the historical fact that the fourth beast in Daniel 7 was the Roman Empire. The beast in Revelation 13 describes the continuation of the Roman Empire, through its ten revivals.
Continuing with quoting from our booklet:
“According to Daniel 7:24, ten kings were to arise out of the Roman Empire… the beast or the Roman Empire would have ten successive resurrections or revivals… The first three resurrections or revivals of the Roman Empire after its fall occurred under Geiseric of the Vandals; Odoacer of the Heruli; and Theodoric of the Ostrogoths… The actual ‘healing’ of the deadly wound [compare Revelation 13:3] signifies the fourth resurrection of the ancient Roman Empire, which occurred in 554 A.D., when Justinian, who was heavily influenced by his Roman Catholic wife, defeated the Ostrogoths and marched into Rome. He united the Eastern and Western parts of the ancient Roman Empire and restored the entire Empire…
“The fifth resurrection occurred under Charlemagne in 800 A.D.; the sixth under Otto the Great in 962 A.D.; the seventh under Charles V of Hapsburg in 1530 A.D.; and the eighth under Napoleon (which lasted from 1804 A.D. until 1814 A.D., when Napoleon abdicated at the battle of Leipzig).
“Following Napoleon, two more resurrections were to occur, as the fourth beast in Daniel 7 and the beast in Revelation 13 had TEN horns. The ninth resurrection happened under Mussolini and Hitler. We are observing right now the beginning of the tenth and final resurrection of the ancient Roman Empire in continental Europe…”
The last seven revivals of the ancient Roman Empire would be a unification between church and state (compare Revelation 17). The last revival, under the beast and the false prophet, will only last for a very short time, and it and its leaders will be destroyed by the returning Jesus Christ “and given to the burning flame” (Daniel 7:11).
For more information on these startling prophesies, please read also our free booklets, “Germany in Prophecy,” “Europe in Prophecy,” “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord,” “The Book of Zechariah,” and “The Ten European Revivals of the Ancient Roman Empire.”
When Christ returns, the final revival of the Roman Empire (the fourth beast of Daniel 7) which is also called “Babylon,” will be burned with fire (Revelation 17:16; 18:8–9)—as will be the human leaders (Revelation 19:20).
Daniel 7:12—“Their Lives Were Prolonged”
Daniel 7:12 refers to the three beasts in existence prior to the Roman Empire. Even though they had long disappeared by the time of the destruction of the final revival of the Roman Empire—which is even now still in the future—we read: “As for the rest of the beasts, they had their dominions taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.”
While the modern Roman Empire—the coming United States of Europe under the leadership of the beast, receiving his power from ten core nations—will be suddenly and quickly burned with fire at the time of Christ’s return (Daniel 7:11), the prior three empires were swallowed up, gradually, by the Roman Empire. When John saw the beast in Revelation 13, it described the Roman Empire which was in existence at his time, which had absorbed the characteristics of the previous three beasts (the lion, the bear and the leopard, compare verse 2).
The three beasts—the former kingdoms—”survived as nations, but without power” (“The One Volume Bible Commentary” by Dummelow). Or, as the Nelson Study Bible puts it, “Though these nations [Babylon, Persia and Greece] passed away, their ‘dominion’ was inherited by their respective successors.”
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible adds:
“The other three which represent the Babylonian, Persian and Grecian monarchies… had their dominion taken away; not at this time when the fourth beast, or Roman empire, is destroyed, but long ago; and not together, but successively; the dominion was taken away from the Babylonians, and given to the Persians; and then their dominion was taken away, and given to the Grecians; and after that the dominion of the Grecians was taken away from them, and given to the Romans.
“… yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time: these monarchies did not at once become extinct, as the fourth beast or monarchy will, but by degrees… whereas, when the fourth monarchy is destroyed, all rule and authority will be put down, and the kingdom be given to Christ and his saints…”
The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary agrees, but adds a few more striking comments which show that true Christians today are not to concentrate on ruling (in) this world today, but rather, on preparing to rule in the Kingdom of God, during the Millennium, after Christ’s return:
“… the rest of the beasts—that is, the [first] three… continued to exist but their ‘dominion was taken away’; whereas the fourth beast shall cease utterly, superseded by Messiah’s kingdom… It is striking, the fourth monarchy, though Christianized for fifteen hundred years past, is not distinguished from the previous heathen monarchies, or from its own heathen portion. Nay, it is represented as the most God-opposed of all, and culminating at last in blasphemous Antichrist [better: the beast and the false prophet]. The reason is: Christ’s kingdom now is not of this world…
“Rome was worldly while heathen, and remains worldly, though Christianized. So the New Testament views the present æon or age of the world as essentially heathenish, which we cannot love without forsaking Christ… The object of Christianity is… to rule with Him in His millennium… This is to be our hope, not to reign in the present world course… There must be a ‘regeneration’ of the world, as of the individual, a death previous to a resurrection, a destruction of the world kingdoms…”
We also need to focus on the statement in Daniel 7:12 that the lives of the three beasts were “prolonged for a season and a time.” According to the Nelson Study Bible, this phrase is “an idiom for an indefinite period.” The Soncino Commentary explains in more detail that the words “a season and a time” are “synonymous terms signifying an unspecified period known only to God.”
In our free booklet, “Are You Predestined to Be Saved?”, we state:
“We are told in Acts 17:26–28, that God has decreed, in advance, the times of nations, prior to their existence: ‘And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being…’
“The Bible emphasizes God’s foreknowledge in regard to the life span of certain nations and their leaders. For instance, we read in Genesis 15:13, 16, that God told Abraham that the children of Israel (not yet in existence) would be afflicted in Egypt for ‘four hundred years,’ and that in the ‘fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites [which were possessing the land at the time] is not yet complete.’ God allotted a certain time to the Amorites to live in the land, but when that time had expired, Israel would drive them out and possess the land.
“We are also told, in Daniel 7:12, that certain world-ruling empires would exist for a certain, pre-determined time. In that prophecy, these Gentile empires are described as ‘beasts.’ We read: ‘As for the rest of the beasts…, their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.’ Other translations make the intended meaning clearer. The Menge Bible says: ‘Their duration of life was fixed for time and hour.’ Die Grosse Bibel states: ‘They kept their lives until a determined time.’ The Elberfelder Bible translates: ‘Duration of life was given to them until the time and hour’…
“The Bible tells us, in Revelation 13:5, that the revived Roman Empire would exist exactly for ‘forty-two months’ since the healing of its deadly wound (compare verse 3). History confirms that it did in fact reign [at first] for 1,260 years (42 prophetic months consist of 1,260 prophetic days or years), from the healing of the ‘deadly wound,’ under Justinian, in AD 554, until the fall of Napoleon I, in AD 1814. After Napoleon’s fall, two more resurrections of the ancient Roman Empire were to occur. One has already occurred—the last and final one is shaping up right now in Europe.”
The Modern Chaldeans
An interesting reference to the beast—especially the final revival of the ancient Roman Empire—can be found in the book of Habakkuk which deals with the modern Chaldeans or Assyrians.
Isaiah 23:13 tells us that the ancient Assyrians founded the land of the Chaldeans. And so, it will be the modern Assyrians—mainly the German-speaking peoples—who will lead the final resurrection of the “Holy Roman Empire” (For instance, as we have seen, the German Otto the Great and the Austrian Charles V. were previous emperors of the “Holy Roman Empire” or “the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.” Arguably this is also true for Charlemagne or Charles the Great, who was crowned as Emperor in the German city of Aachen and who is viewed by the Germans as a German, by the French as a Frenchman, and by the Belgians as a Belgian. In addition, the collaboration of the Austrian Adolf Hitler and the Italian Benito Mussolini with several popes constituted the sixth revival of the “Holy Roman Empire”).
In ancient times, the Chaldeans were Babylon’s religious leaders, astrologers and magicians. Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible says about the ancient Chaldeans:
“A people still of late mean and low, famous only for their soothsaying, divination, and judicial astrology; but now become a powerful and warlike people, rising up under the permission of Providence to universal monarchy, and who would quickly add Judea to the rest of their dominions…”
Even though a partial fulfillment of Habakkuk’s entire prophecy can be seen in ancient Judah’s captivity through the Babylonians, due to Judah’s transgressions (compare verse 4), Habakkuk’s prophecy of Babylonian warfare is clearly awaiting an end-time fulfillment. This will COINCIDE with the powerful, but short, revival of the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
Habakkuk 1:5–10 reads as follows: “Look among the nations and watch–Be utterly astonished! For I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you. For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, A bitter and hasty nation Which marches through the breadth of the earth, To possess dwelling places that are not theirs. They are terrible and dreadful… They all come for violence… They gather captives like sand. They scoff at kings…”
Paul later quoted these words and applied them as a warning to the people in his time and age who would reject the gospel message.
We read in Acts 13:32–41: “And we declare to you glad tidings–that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He raised up Jesus… David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. BEWARE therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets COME UPON YOU: ‘Behold, you despisers, Marvel and perish! For I work a work in your days, A work which you will by no means believe, Though one were to declare it to you.’”
God said through Habakkuk that His Work—the end-time preaching of the gospel—would be powerful, but short. Romans 9:28 confirms this, saying: “For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because the LORD will make a SHORT WORK upon the earth.”
The Bible prophesies that at the time when the powerful preaching of the gospel message is being revived, modern Chaldea or Babylon will rise once again in Europe as the seventh and very SHORT-lived resurrection of the ancient “Holy Roman Empire”—a combination of church and state—when the (religious) fallen woman will be once more riding the (political and military) beast (compare Revelation 17, especially verses 10 and 12).
God will use modern Babylon in a literal SWIFT blitzkrieg to punish the modern houses of Israel and Judah for their transgressions (compare also Isaiah 29:13–14). But God will then punish modern Babylon (Habakkuk 2:8)—a system less righteous than modern Israel and Judah (compare Habakkuk 1:12–13).
With this background, we can now proceed reviewing the many ways in which God compares the European power bloc—and other empires, including the people doing their bidding—with vicious devouring wild beasts.
Chapter 2—Core European Nations—Lions and Locusts
The ancient Roman Empire will be revived one more time in continental Europe just prior to the return of Jesus Christ. It will attack and destroy the modern descendants of the ancient houses of Israel and Judah, and it will be subsequently involved in warfare with other Gentile nations.
The last European revival will consist of ten nations or groups of nations who will give their power and authority to a charismatic political and military leader. This leader is referred to as the beast, the king of the North, and the king of Assyria, named King Jareb. He will be of German or Austrian descent, and he will work in conjunction with the leader of a worldwide religious power. That leader is called the false prophet, the man of sin and the prince of Tyre.
The political, economic and military power which the “beast” represents, is also referred to as the “beast,” as well as the “Chaldeans”; and the religious power which the false prophet leads, as the “image of the beast” and as the “harlot” or fallen woman riding the beast. That harlot is also described as “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots,” and the entire political and religious system of the last revival of the Roman Empire is also referred to as (modern) Babylon.
In addition, especially the last revival of the ancient Roman Empire and its political leader are quite often described with metaphors depicting animals. In most cases, those animals are depicted as blood-thirsty ferocious beasts; at other times, they would not be wild per se, but they can cause tremendous damage, or they are being used as a comparison for certain attributes and characteristics.
In this chapter, we will mainly discuss the Bible’s metaphors of lions and locusts when describing the future European power bloc, its leaders and their military might.
To better understand the lion-like nature and behavior of the emerging European power bloc, let us focus on some facts regarding literal lions and the way in which Satan operates—who is directing world powers and their officials and who is attacking true believers, many times through his human instruments.
In that context, we read this warning about Satan: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:6–9).
Regarding literal roaring lions, we read in gotquestions:
“Lions are legendary for their strength, beauty, and fearlessness. The lion has been called the king of the beasts and the king of the jungle, and, in the Bible, Jesus is called the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5)… [and] as the conquering King of kings, a roaring lion taking vengeance on His enemies (Revelation 19:16).
“Lions are mentioned in several contexts throughout Scripture, sometimes positively to describe God (Hosea 11:10) and sometimes negatively as symbolic of evil and destruction (Proverbs 28:15). Peter compares Satan to a ‘roaring lion’ and warns us to beware of the enemy’s schemes that will destroy us…
“A lion’s roar can be heard up to five miles away and is intended to terrify all who hear it. Lions roar to establish their territory and to communicate their power. But a roar can do nothing. It is threatening but powerless unless we give in to fear and allow the lion to overtake us. Our enemy, Satan, roars his threats, doubts, and accusations in an effort to terrify us into giving up so he can defeat us…”
“… lions are dangerous whether they are in the wild or in zoos. They are territorial and always ready to fight anything that may challenge them. Not to mention, they are natural hunters that can reach speeds of up to 50 miles [80.5 kilometers] per hour…
“Comparing the devil to a lion suggests at least four things about his nature and work.
“First, the devil wants to consume you just as lions consume their prey. Lions hunt by staying hidden so their prey will be inattentive to their presence. Once they get close enough to the unsuspecting animal, they chase them until they are caught. This is precisely what the devil does to believers. The devil is always hidden, disguised as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). And he will attack when you are ignorant of his presence.
“Second, like a lion, the devil attacks the weak. Lions don’t normally hunt elephants or giraffes because they are too challenging to kill—they are much larger than lions. Instead, lions will stalk smaller and weaker animals—antelopes, zebras, or wild hogs. Likewise, the devil hunts the spiritually weak. The devil will tear you apart when you are frail and defenseless without your spiritual armor (Eph. 6:10–20).
“Third, the devil intimidates just as lions do. Lions roar to show how big they are—to scare their prey and competitors. The devil also roars to instill fear and he does so through persecution, fierce trials, and strong temptations.
“Finally, the devil devours just as lions devour their prey… Like a lion, the devil wants to consume you until there is nothing left and he will leave a mess…”
Also, a lion cannot change its nature, as a leopard cannot change its spots. Even when “tamed,” a lion still remains wild and dangerous, ready to attack when the opportunity arises. Likewise, Satan is incurably evil and wicked; he is unwilling and therefore incapable of learning from his mistakes. His mind has been corrupted beyond any hope of change. He does not want to repent and submit to the government of God; therefore, he cannot repent.
This is very similar to “the dog in the manger” syndrome. A vicious dog which does not, of course, eat the straw in the manger, will prevent other animals from eating it. Satan is of the same mindset. He would rather see humankind destroyed completely than turn over his rule to Jesus Christ and those who will rule with and under Him (Revelation 5:10; 20:4, 6).
It is also interesting to consider the behavior of some rats. If a strong animal chases rats into a corner and there is no escape route for them, they will actually turn on each other or on the animal which is chasing them.
The European Power Bloc—a Fierce Lion
With this background and keeping the described characteristics of wild roaring lions and Satan in mind, let us review many biblical passages comparing the emerging European power bloc, but also other world empires, with the fierce conduct of lions.
In Revelation 13:2, we are introduced to the ancient Roman Empire, which had emerged from previous powers such as ancient Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece; and which would be revived ten times after its fall. That peculiar-looking beast had a mouth “like the mouth of a lion,” with which it would “roar” and speak great things and blasphemies against God and His holy angels (verses 5–6). In Daniel 7:4, the ancient Babylonian Empire (which had been absorbed by the Roman Empire) was depicted as a lion as well, and we might recall how Nebuchadnezzar spoke proud words for which God punished him (compare Daniel 4:29–33).
Additional passages compare the final revival of the Roman Empire and its end-time leader with a lion or lions. In Revelation 9:1–21, John sees in a vision the European power as fighting in war with the powers from the East. The weapons used are described as “teeth… like lions’ teeth” (verse 8). Prior to that event, the European power bloc under the beast will attack the modern houses of Israel and Judah—the USA, Great Britain and other nations of the British Commonwealth, as well as the state of Israel. Note how the Bible is picturing the end-time European power bloc:
“… ‘The lion has come up from his thicket, And the destroyer of nations is on his way, He has gone forth from his place to make your land desolate. Your cities will be laid waste, Without inhabitant… Lament and wail, For the fierce anger of the LORD Has not turned back from us. And it shall come to pass in that day (“in that day” ALWAYS refers to end-time events),’ says the LORD, ‘that the heart of the king shall perish, And the heart of the princes; The priests shall be astonished, And the prophets shall wonder’” (Jeremiah 4:7–9).
With a similar metaphor, God continued to say in Jeremiah 5:6 that “‘…a lion from the forest shall slay them… Because their transgressions are many… Your children have forsaken Me’” (Jeremiah 5:6–7).
In Jeremiah 50:17, references are made to ancient and modern Assyria (Germany/Austria) and Babylon (United Europe under Assyrian rule). We read: “Israel is like scattered sheep; The lions have driven him away. First the king of Assyria devoured him; Now at last this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has broken his bones.” Verse 20 makes clear that this is [also] a prophecy for the end–time, indicating that a modern king of Assyria and a modern “Nebuchadnezzar” will arise on the world scene.
Isaiah 5:29–30 adds that the “roaring” of the future Babylonian army attacking Israel (verse 25) will be “like a lion, they will roar like young lions; Yes, they will roar And lay hold of the prey… And no one will deliver. IN THAT DAY they will roar against them Like the roaring of the sea. And if one looks to the land, Behold, darkness and sorrow; And the light is darkened by the clouds.”
But after modern Babylon has brought havoc on this earth, God will deal with her as well. This is vividly told in the book of Nahum, describing the destruction of ancient Nineveh, but this prophecy is clearly meant for the end time as well:
“Where is the dwelling of the lions, And the feeding place of the young lions, Where the lion walked, the lioness and lion’s cub, And no one made them afraid? The lion tore in pieces enough for his cubs, Killed for his lionesses, Filled his caves with the prey, And his dens with flesh. ‘Behold, I am against you,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘I will burn your chariots in smoke, and the sword shall devour your young lions; I will cut off your prey from the earth, and the voice of your messengers shall be heard no more” (Nahum 2:11–13).
The mighty armies of the emerging European power bloc are also compared in the Bible with “locusts.”
The devastating effect of huge swarms of locusts is well-known. A desert locust swarm can be 460 square miles in size and pack between 40 and 80 million locusts into less than half a square mile. A swarm of just 1 square kilometer—about a third of a square mile—can consume as much food as would be eaten by 35,000 people in a single day. To say it differently, each locust can eat its weight in plants each day, so a swarm could eat 423 million pounds of plants every day. Locusts swarms can fly up to 150 km in a day, and one desert locust can live a total of about three to five months.
In the book of Joel, destruction of modern Israel and Judah is prophesied just prior to the end-time “day of the LORD” (compare Joel 2:1, 11; 2:31; 3:14). Many regard the description of this coming destruction in the first chapter of the book of Joel as a literal invasion of locusts which will devour the produce of the land. It is however very possible that that “great army” of locusts (Joel 2:25) refers to the weapons of modern Babylon. We read in Joel 1:6 about this army of locusts that “… a nation has come up against My land. Strong, and without number; His teeth are the teeth of a lion, And he has fangs of a fierce lion. He has laid waste My vine, And ruined My fig tree; He has stripped it bare and thrown it away; Its branches are made white” (Joel 1:6–7).
Deuteronomy 28:42 may include another reference to the modern European army overtaking Israel as an army of “locusts,” stating, “Locusts shall consume (Margin: possess) all your trees and the produce of your land.” Notice the context in verse 36: “The LORD will bring you and the king whom you set over you to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods—wood and stone.”
We also find that in Revelation 9, describing the beast power’s war with the kings of the East, its weapons are pictured as locusts associated with smoke, which were not to devour the grass or any green thing or any tree (clearly, these are not literal locusts), but they were to torment people for five months (Revelation 9:3–5). The “shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle” (verse 7), and they were very noisy and had tails like scorpions with stings in their tails to hurt people with them (verses 9–10). We see that modern weapons and military equipment, including helicopters, are described which will cause such torment. But as we have seen, God will deal with modern Babylon as well. Nahum 3:15–17 tells us that fire will “eat [them] up like a locust” so that they “flee away,” even though they had multiplied their army and the commanders and generals of their army “like locusts.”
Satan—the Ruler over the European Empire
Returning to the biblical description of a lion, why would God compare the Babylonian system with ferocious lions? First of all, we read that Satan “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Even though God allows it, it is actually Satan who will give his power and authority to the beast (Revelation 13:4). Also, the “locusts” in Revelation 9 “had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon (Destruction), but in Greek he has the name Apollyon (Destroyer).” That angel is none other than the great Destroyer, Satan the Devil, who brings destruction wherever he goes. (Compare Luke 9:55–56.)
The lion is described as “mighty among beasts And does not turn away from any” (Proverbs 30:30; compare Judges 14:18 and Amos 3:8). Likewise, the final European revival of the ancient Roman Empire will become a mighty military power (compare again Joel 2:2–3) which will not turn away from fighting the USA and the UK, as well as the state of Israel and other countries in the Middle East, and also the kings of the East. Satan, the Destroyer, will give the Babylonian system and the final leader power to destroy—remember that the modern king of Assyria is referred to in Jeremiah 4:7 as the destroyer of nations.
God—THE Mightiest Lion
We also read that God compares Himself with a powerful lion (Jesus is referred to as the Lion of Judah, Revelation 5:5), especially when dealing with and judging His enemies. We are told that God will become a lion to modern Israel and Judah. Hosea 5:14 quotes God’s words as follows: “I will be like a lion to Ephraim (Great Britain, by extension including the USA as well), And like a young lion to the house of Judah (the state of Israel and the modern Jews). I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away and no one shall rescue…” He also says in Hosea 13:8 that He will “devour them like a lion…”
Even though Satan will give his power to the beast, it will nevertheless be God who will allow it and who will actually use the modern king of Assyria to punish Israel. God will behave as a lion by using the “lion king” of Assyria and his followers to defeat Israel in war. We read in Isaiah 10 that God will send this future king or European military leader “to an ungodly nation And against the people of My wrath” (Isaiah 10:6). He describes this ungodly nation (mainly the USA and UK, as well as Judah) as “a sinful nation, A people laden with iniquity, A brood of evildoers, Children who are corrupters” (Isaiah 1:4).
He speaks of its leaders as “rulers of Sodom” (Isaiah 1:10) and of the people as “people of Gomorrah” (same verse). God also warns that those “who lead” the people of the USA, the UK and Judah “cause you [the people] to err, And destroy the way of your paths” (Isaiah 3:12; compare Isaiah 9:16). God also asks those in America’s, Britain’s and Israel’s legislative bodies “who decree unrighteous decrees” (Isaiah 10:1) what they will “do in the day of punishment” (verse 3).
Modern Israel and Judah—Roaring Lions
It is also noteworthy that God will behave as a lion towards Israel because Israel’s princes “are roaring lions” (Zephaniah 3:3). God had compared Israel and some of its tribes with a lion, to show its potential strength (Numbers 24:9; compare Genesis 49:9; Deuteronomy 33:20, 22; Micah 5:8). But with false pride and self-reliance, Israel used its strength and abilities to turn against and forsake God, similar to the Cherub and Lightbringer Lucifer whose name was changed to Satan when he became proud of his beauty and turned against his Maker.
God wants Israel to repent, but most will refuse to do so, and great punishment will be the consequence. Destruction is decreed, and the modern Babylonian system under the “beast” will be used as a roaring, devouring lion to bring this punishment on the roaring lions of the nations of Israel and Judah.
Protection for Christians
True Christians need not be afraid. God promises them angelic protection so that they “shall tread upon the lion… the young lion… [they] shall trample underfoot” (Psalm 91:13).
This can refer to protection from Satan and his demons (Romans 16:20), as well as protection from people and worldly powers (Psalm 22:20–21; 57:4).
A Peaceful Future
A remarkable transformation will take place in the Millennium and during the Great White Throne Judgment period. The wild nature of lions and of people and nations behaving like ferocious lions will be changed. Isaiah 11:6 says that the “calf and the young lion” shall lie down together, and that “a little child shall lead them.” Isaiah 11:7 says that the “lion shall eat straw like the ox,” and Isaiah 65:25 tells us that formerly wild animals, including the lion, “‘shall not hurt NOR DESTROY in all My holy mountain,’ Says the LORD.” Isaiah 11:9 states the same, but adds an important component: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, FOR the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”
Men and worldly powers have become hateful and destructive under Satan’s influence. But once God’s Kingdom is ruling this earth, they will learn of God’s ways and embrace true knowledge. As a consequence, their mindset and nature will change so that “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4). For instance, Israel and Assyria will become a “blessing in the midst of the land” (Isaiah 19:24). Assyria will be called “the work of [God’s] hands” and Israel will be referred to as “[God’s] inheritance” (Isaiah 19:25).
Chapter 3—Core European Nations—Flying Eagles, Swift Horses and Fast Leopards
In the previous chapter, we discussed the biblical metaphors of lions and locusts when describing the future European power bloc. In this chapter, we will show further biblical comparisons between the sudden arrival of a future core Europe, under German leadership, which will attack other powers with incredible speed, and the swiftness and speed of flying eagles, swift horses and fast leopards.
Some eagles can fly up to 200 mph or 300 km/h; and they are able to fly up to 125 miles without landing. Some horses are known to run up to 55 mph or 88.5 km/h; and some leopards have a top speed of 37 mph or 60 km/h. According to some sources, they can even reach speeds up to 80 km/h or almost 50 mph.
Revelation 13:2 pictures the ancient Roman Empire and its ten European revivals as a “beast” with seven heads and ten horns. It states that the beast was “like a leopard,” but with further animal characteristics of a lion and a bear. We will recall that the Roman Empire (the beast) had emerged from previous powers, such as Babylon (pictured as a lion), Medo-Persia (pictured as a bear), and Greece (pictured as a leopard). Daniel 7 tells us that the lion “had eagle’s wings” (verse 4), and that the beast, symbolizing Greece, was “like a leopard, Which had on its back four wings of a bird” (verse 6).
Later in the eighth chapter of the book of Daniel, another vision describes Greece, under Alexander the Great, as a male goat (verse 21), attacking the Medo-Persian Empire (pictured as a ram, verse 20) with great speed (“without touching the ground,” associating the ram with a flying animal) and with furious power and rage (Daniel 8:5–7). As the beast in Revelation 13 combined the previous three world empires, it also included the animal metaphors for these empires, such as the wings of an eagle and of an unidentified bird, which show the great speed with which the last European revival of the Roman Empire will pursue its affairs.
Focusing on the eagle as a metaphor for the European power under German leadership, we note, first of all, that Germany (and ancient Assyria) had and has a black eagle [some call it a “scary black eagle”] as a symbol for their nation.
According to Wikipedia, “From the reign of Frederick Barbarossa in 1155 the single-headed eagle became a symbol of the Holy Roman Empire. The eagle was clearly derived from the Roman eagle and continues to be important in the heraldry of those areas once within the Holy Roman Empire. Within Germany the placement of one’s arms in front of an eagle was indicative of princely rank under the Holy Roman Empire… The German Reichsadler (‘Imperial Eagle’) was… used… in modern coats of arms of Germany, including those of the Second German Empire (1871–1918), the Weimar Republic (1919–1933) and the ‘Third Reich’ (Nazi Germany, 1933–1945). The same design [a black eagle with a red beak, feet and tongue] has remained in use by the Federal Republic of Germany since 1945, albeit under the name Bundesadler (‘Federal Eagle’).”
In addition, the symbol of the single-headed black eagle is also used for Austria’s “Bundesadler.” Black is a color which oftentimes describes spiritual darkness, and red refers many times to blood and war (Revelation 6:3–4). Both colors are sometimes associated with Satan and his demons (Revelation 12:3; Ephesians 6:12) and with sinful conduct (Isaiah 1:18; Jude 13).
We have all heard the word “blitzkrieg” or “blitz,” describing the speed with which Germany moved at times towards and attacked her enemies. Something similar is prophesied for the future, and the metaphor of an eagle is highly appropriate. Eagles are many times associated with swiftness, especially when attempting to catch their prey (Job 9:26).
In Deuteronomy 28:49–50, we read about the future European power bloc’s end-time attack on the USA, the UK, and the state of Israel: “The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand, a nation of fierce countenance…”
Hosea 8:1–3, 12, 14 sheds further light on the soon-coming nuclear attacks (Ezekiel 6:6) by the final revival of the ancient Roman Empire: “Set the trumpet to your mouth! He shall come like an eagle against the house of the LORD, Because they have transgressed My covenant And rebelled against My law. Israel [including the modern tribes of the house of Israel, as well as the house of Judah] will cry to Me, ‘My God, we know You!’ Israel has rejected the good; The enemy will pursue him…. I have written for him the great things of My law, But they were considered a strange thing… Israel has forgotten his Maker… But I will send fire upon his cities, And it shall devour his palaces.”
After the fall of Jerusalem, Jeremiah contemplated in the book of Lamentations about Judah’s enemies, but this book is also and especially a prophecy for our immediate future. We read in Lamentations 4:19 about the attack through ancient Babylon, and prophetically, the attacks through the modern Chaldean/Babylonian system: “Our pursuers were swifter Than the eagles of the heavens. They pursued us on the mountains And lay in wait for us in the wilderness.”
This prophetic invasion of Judah and the Promised Land through modern Babylon under German (Assyrian) leadership is also described in Isaiah 8:7–9:
“… The LORD brings up over them… The king of Assyria and all his glory; He will … pass through Judah, He will overflow and pass over, He will reach up to the neck; And the stretching out of his wings Will fill the breadth of Your land, O Immanuel.”
Immanuel, meaning “God With Us,” is one of Jesus Christ’s names (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23), showing that even in these terrible times of trial for the USA, UK and the state of Israel, God will not forsake them forever. The reference to Assyria’s “stretching out of his wings” shows again the swiftness of the flying eagle.
The Bible tells us that the final European revival of the ancient Roman Empire, under Assyrian leadership, will also invade Moab (Jordan and Western Iraq) and Edom (Turkey). Even though these countries will at first escape from the hand of the “king of the North” (compare Daniel 11:41), they will later be conquered as well.
Jeremiah 48:40–44, 46–47 tells us regarding the future of Moab:
“‘Behold, one shall fly like an eagle, And spread his wings over Moab… the mighty men’s hearts in Moab on that day shall be Like the heart of a woman in birth pangs. And Moab shall be destroyed as a people, Because he exalted himself against the LORD. Fear and the pit and the snare shall be given upon you, O inhabitant of Moab… For upon Moab… I will bring the year of their punishment,’ says the LORD… ‘your sons have been taken captive, And your daughters captive. Yet I will bring back the captives of Moab In the latter days,’ says the LORD.”
Jeremiah 49:22 tells us about Edom’s future in our time:
“Behold, He shall come up and fly like the eagle, And spread His wings over Bozrah; The heart of the mighty men of Edom in that day shall be like the heart of a woman in birth pangs.”
This translation, quoted above, is taken from the New King James Bible, which capitalizes the words “he” and “his.” This interpretation is not compelling. If we want to accept it, then it would mean that it is God who flies like an eagle and spreads His wings over Bozrah, which might indicate that He will conquer Edom through the king of Assyria. Or, the reference in Jeremiah 49:22 is directly addressing the king of Assyria, so that the words “he” and “his” should not be capitalized.
For information showing that Assyria will ultimately turn against and conquer Edom after “modifying” the “confederacy” described in Psalm 83:2–8, see our free booklet, “Middle Eastern and African Nations in Bible Prophecy,” pages 37–42, discussing in detail the Scriptures in Obadiah 6–9 in conjunction with Psalm 60:8 and Psalm 108:9.
On Eagles’ Wings
God compares Himself and His loyal angels with eagles. He told Israel that He brought them out of Egypt on eagles’ wings (Exodus 19:4), signifying His supernatural protection (compare Deuteronomy 32:10–12; see also Psalm 91:4 and Psalm 17:8). In the future, God will again supernaturally protect His people, pictured as a “woman,” by bringing her to a place of safety here on earth, giving her “two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place… from the presence of the serpent (Satan the Devil)” (Revelation 12:14).
God also shows the strength of an eagle in Scriptures such as Psalm 103:5 and Isaiah 40:29–31. In addition, God compares His angels with eagles (Matthew 24:28; Luke 17:37), and some of them even look like eagles or have facial features of an eagle (Revelation 4:7; Ezekiel 1:10; 10:14). The same is true for the appearance of angels as lions (same Scriptures).
As eagles reflect strength and swiftness in the spiritual realm, so they do in the physical realm, except that when God uses the metaphor for the surprising swift revival of the last resurrection of the Roman Empire, He shows the utmost cruelty associated with it (compare Ezekiel 7:24; Isaiah 19:4). We read in Habakkuk 1:5–10:
“Look among the nations and watch—Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you. For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, A bitter and hasty nation which marches through the breadth of the earth, To possess dwelling places that are not theirs. They are terrible and dreadful… Their horses are swifter than leopards, and more fierce than evening wolves. Their chargers (lit., horsemen) charge ahead; Their cavalry comes from afar; they fly as the eagle that hastens to eat. They all come for violence… they gather captives like sand…”
We explained before that God’s Work of raising the modern Chaldeans will happen quickly and unsuspectedly. It will be a short work—a work which will be cut short (Romans 9:28; compare also Matthew 24:22), and it will be accompanied by a final announcement of the coming establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth, just prior to Christ’s return (compare Acts 13:40–41, quoting the passage from Habakkuk 1:5, but applying it to the preaching of the gospel message).
Symbolic Swift Horses
As we have seen, the passage in Habakkuk, chapter 1, includes another comparison with two animals to emphasize the swiftness of the attacks of the coming European superpower—leopards and horses, and the horses are described as even swifter than leopards. As the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great was compared with a swift leopard with wings on its back (being subsequently absorbed by the Roman Empire), the coming attacks of the modern Assyrians will be much swifter than the conquest of the ancient Greeks.
The symbolic horses of the future Babylonian army are mentioned, as we may recall, in Revelation 9:7, where terrible modern weapons are described as locusts which were shaped like horses prepared for battle. As we will also recall, the book of Joel describes that powerful army as well. In Joel 2:4–5, the soldiers and their weapons are pictured in this way: “Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; And like swift steeds, so they run. With a noise like chariots Over mountaintops they leap, like the noise of a flaming fire that devours the stubble, Like a strong people set in battle array…”
The swiftness and the fierceness of these symbolic war “horses” are also described in Jeremiah 8:16, where a warning of a future Assyrian attack is uttered from or concerning Dan (modern Ireland and/or parts of Denmark; note also Jeremiah 4:15–16):
“The snorting of His [or his] horses was heard from Dan. The whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing of His [or: his] strong ones; for they have come and devoured the land and all that is in it, the city and those who dwell in it.”
We note that “his” does not have to be capitalized; in that case, it would refer directly to the modern king of Assyria. If one prefers the interpretation that the word “his” should be capitalized, then it would indicate that God, perhaps with the assistance of His angels, who are also described as horses (compare 2 Kings 2:11–12; 6:15–17; Zechariah 1:8–11; 6:1–8; Revelation 19:11, 14), will be using the modern “arrogant” and “haughty” king of Assyria to carry out His plan (note again Isaiah 10:5–6, 12; compare also Jeremiah 22:7).
The future nuclear attacks of the European army will be powerful, brutal and merciless (compare Jeremiah 6:23), with devastating results of utter destruction. The prophesied blitzkrieg will happen soon and very quickly and suddenly (compare Jeremiah 6:26). The modern Babylonian army will move as swift as an eagle flies or as a horse runs; and swifter than leopards. The time from the beginning of Babylon’s attacks, starting World War III, until Christ’s return will not be longer than 3 ½ years… and it could be even shorter, since those days will be shortened (Mark 13:20). But the devastating results of this relatively “short” World War will be unparalleled in the annals of man’s history.
Swift and Powerful Leopards
In addition to the swift speed of a leopard, who cannot change its spots (Jeremiah 13:23), the Bible also describes it as a powerful foe which, in a sense, “guards” its captives. Jeremiah 5:6 reads:
“Therefore a lion from the forest shall slay them, A wolf of the deserts shall destroy them; A leopard will watch over their cities. Everyone who goes out from there shall be torn in pieces, Because their transgressions are many; their backslidings have increased.”
In a blitzkrieg, modern Assyria and its armies will conquer and destroy the USA and the UK, and those who survive the attack will become captives of war. They will not be able to escape captivity as Assyrian soldiers, like leopards, will watch over them. If they attempt to escape, they will be killed or “torn in pieces.”
1 Thessalonians 5:2–3 leaves us with this warning:
“For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.”
God has given His end-time Church a commission and a responsibility—to “stand watch” and announce these coming terrible events as a warning to all nations. Habakkuk 2:1 says: “I will stand my watch And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me…’”
Isaiah 21:8–9 adds: “Then he cried, ‘A lion, my Lord! I stand continually on the watchtower in the daytime; I have sat at my post every night. And look, here comes a chariot of men with a pair of horsemen!’ Then he answered and said, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen!’…”
The warning of future Babylon’s terrible conduct in war and its subsequent destruction is going out, but most people will not listen!
Chapter 4—Core European Nations—Bears, Wolves, Scorpions and Snakes
In the last two chapters, we discussed the biblical metaphors of fierce lions, destructive locusts, blazing-fast flying eagles, swift horses and quick leopards, when describing the future European power bloc and its political leader.
In this chapter, we will show further biblical comparisons between a future core Europe under German leadership, and devouring bears, savage wolves, tormenting scorpions and poisonous serpents and snakes.
Revelation 13:2 pictures the ancient Roman Empire and its ten European revivals as a “beast” with seven heads and ten horns. It states that the beast was “like a leopard,” but with further animal characteristics of a lion and a bear. We will recall that the Roman Empire (the beast) had emerged from previous powers, such as Babylon (pictured as a lion), Medo-Persia (pictured as a bear), and Greece (pictured as a leopard). Daniel 7:5 describes the bear in this way:
“And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear… And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’”
The vicious nature of literal bears is noticeable.
Many species of bears are very aggressive and are known to attack humans, mainly to protect their food, cubs, or space.
The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary writes:
“The large brown bear of Syria, in her rage at the loss of her whelps, was to the Israelites the strongest type of brute ferocity.”
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible adds:
“A bear is a very fierce and furious creature, especially a she bear; and she is still more so when robbed of her whelps, which she has just whelped, and been at great pains to lick into shape and form, by which her fondness to them is increased; and therefore, being stripped of them, is full of rage; and ranging about in quest of them, falls furiously upon the first she meets with… those who have written of the nature of beasts say, that, among all wild beasts, there is none more fierce than a she bear, when she has lost her whelps, or wants food…”
The Pulpit Commentary states:
“The Syrian bear was once common throughout Palestine; it is now found in but few localities… The ferocity of the bear when deprived of its young had become proverbial…”
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges adds:
“The Syrian bear is fiercer than the brown bears to which we are accustomed. It attacks flocks and even oxen.”
The final European revival of the Roman Empire will also appear “suddenly” and “devour” many enemies. God will allow and even use the modern revival to punish Israel:
“So I will be to them like a lion; Like a leopard by the road I will lurk; I will meet them like a bear deprived of her cubs; I will tear open their rib cage; And there I will devour them like a lion. The wild beast shall tear them” (Hosea 13:7–8).
The Revised Standard Version continues: “I will destroy you, O Israel; who can help you… I have given you kings in my anger, and I have taken them away in my wrath” (verses 9 and 11).
God uses an interesting comparison between a bear deprived of her cubs and a foolish godless person: “Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, Rather than a fool in his folly” (Proverbs 17:12). This comparison is quite adequate in our context, as God describes the modern nations of Israel and Judah as foolish (Jeremiah 4:22). Another comparison is found in Proverbs 28:15: “Like a roaring lion and a charging bear Is a wicked ruler over poor people.”
These metaphors and analogies are not accidental. They can be applied to the modern resurrection of the ancient Roman Empire, which will fight against self-righteous and ungodly Israel and Judah like a roaring lion and a raging bear robbed of her cubs. When describing the end time just prior to the return of Christ, God says in Amos 5:18–19:
“Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! For what good is the day of the LORD to you? It will be darkness, and not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion [one characteristic of the revived Roman Empire], And a bear met him [another characteristic]! Or as though he went into the house, Leaned his hand on the wall, And a serpent bit him!”
As we will discuss below in more detail, the serpent can refer to the modern Babylonian system, the “beast,” and also to Satan himself, who gives his power and authority to the beast (Revelation 13:4). God makes the point here that He does not prevent the terrible events and the brutal Gentile armies from proceeding during the Day of the Lord and that no one will escape if he is not protected by God.
We already quoted Jeremiah 5:6 previously to the effect that no one will be safe from a lion, a leopard, and a wolf of the deserts.
God announces in Jeremiah 5 that He will bring a mighty ancient nation against the people of Israel and Judah (verse 15)—the modern descendants of the ancient Assyrians and Chaldeans. He compares them with a lion from a forest, a wolf of the deserts, and a leopard, which will tear the people in pieces.
We are also familiar with the passage in Habakkuk 1:6–8, which describes the final rise of the modern Chaldeans—a bitter, hasty, terrible and dreadful nation. In verse 8, God says that they are “more fierce than evening wolves.” (We will discuss the nature of a ravenous wolf, and how this description can apply to humans, later in this booklet.)
So we see that God compares the final Babylonian/Chaldean system with fierce and destructive wolves which will tear the people in pieces… alluding to the kind of horrible nuclear and other modern weapons which will be used in the coming World War.
Israel and Judah—Devouring Wolves
We also read that God will let this happen because modern Israel and Judah are described as devouring wolves (compare Zephaniah 3:3 and Ezekiel 22:27, referring to Jerusalem’s judges as wolves, leaving not a bone till morning, and also to Israel’s princes as wolves, tearing the prey, shedding blood, and destroying people).
In Genesis 49:27, Benjamin (modern Norway and Iceland) is described as “a ravenous wolf,” who will devour the prey in the morning and who will divide the spoil at night. Benjamin’s fierceness is recorded in passages such as Judges 20:21, 25, when they fought against the other tribes of Israel, even though they were in the wrong.
Savage Wolves Oppose Christians
Savage wolves are also used as metaphors for people who are opposed to God and His Church. Christ speaks about false prophets, coming to God’s people, as “ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15), and Paul warns the church at Ephesus that after his departure, savage wolves would come in among them, not sparing the flock (Acts 20:29).
Christ said that those wolves would catch the unprotected and forsaken sheep and scatter them (John 10:12), because they trusted in uncaring hirelings and not in God’s true shepherds.
Christ told His disciples that He would send them as sheep in the midst of wolves (Matthew 10:16). Especially in the end time, when the beast (the final revival of the Roman Empire as well as the final leader) will be manifested on earth, it will behave as a ravenous savage wolf against God’s people. While the world will admire, adore and even worship the beast, it will blaspheme God and persecute the saints (Revelation 13:6–8).
We already discussed in previous chapters the weapons used by the Babylonian system in Revelation 9, where they are compared with locusts which had teeth like lions’ teeth, and which were shaped like horses prepared for battle. Let’s notice how else these locusts are being described. We read in verses 3, 5 and 10:
“… And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power… Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man … They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months…”
In Ezekiel 2:6–8, the rebellious people of the modern house of Israel are being compared with scorpions: “And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house. You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house…”
We find the same thought conveyed here, as we saw earlier, when reviewing other metaphors of animal characteristics, that God will be using the Babylonian system to fight the modern house of Israel with weapons which are compared with scorpions, because the people of the house of Israel are compared with scorpions. (Technically, the events described in Revelation 9 occur AFTER the war between Europe and the houses of Israel and Judah, which had already ended in victory for Europe and in defeat for America, the United Kingdom and other English-speaking nations, but the European weapons remain the same.)
Serpents and Poisonous Snakes
God tells His people—as He told Ezekiel—not to be afraid of scorpions and serpents, because He gives them the power to overcome them. He promises that nothing will by any means hurt them (Luke 10:19). Even though He speaks primarily about Satan and his demons in Luke 10:19 (note verses 17–18, 20), comparing them with scorpions and serpents, He also promises protection from the terrible Babylonian weapons, described as tails of scorpions which will hurt the people of this world for five months.
We have repeatedly alluded to the animal metaphor of serpents and poisonous snakes, when referring to the modern Babylonian system, and need to emphasize a few more details:
The end-time weapons of the Babylonian system are compared with serpents as well. (You may also notice that in Revelation 9:13–21, the modern weapons of the kings of the East are described, which are very similar to the weapons of the last European revival of the ancient Roman Empire: We read of horses with heads like the heads of lions; we are told that fire, smoke and brimstone come out of their mouths; and that the horses have tails like serpents with heads [military commanders], with which they do harm. As the Babylonian system uses these kinds of destructive weapons against the kings of the East, so the kings of the East retaliate with similar weapons—only, that their retaliation will be much more fierce and destructive than the initial European attack).
Jeremiah 8:17 reveals that God will send the European power bloc against modern Judah, describing Judah’s attackers in this way: “‘For behold, I will send serpents among you, Vipers which cannot be charmed, And they shall bite you,’ says the LORD.”
Babylon’s modern weapons and warfare are also described in other prophecies, such as Jeremiah 46:22–24, where we read about Babylon’s attack on modern Egypt:
“‘Her noise shall go like a serpent, For they shall march with an army And come against her with axes, Like those who chop wood. They shall cut down her forest,’ says the LORD, ‘Though it cannot be searched, Because they are innumerable, And more numerous than grasshoppers. The daughter of Egypt shall be ashamed; She shall be delivered into the hand Of the people of the north [the king of the North and his armies].’”
Another very similar metaphor is applied to Babylon’s ancient and future war with Philistia or the Philistines (According to the Pulpit commentary, the Greeks called Philistia “Syria of the Philistines.” Today the Philistines can also be found among Palestinians and other violent groups in the Middle East):
“Do not rejoice, all you of Philistia, Because the rod that struck you is broken; For out of the serpent’s roots will come forth a viper, And its offspring will be a fiery flying serpent… Wail, O gate! Cry, O city! All you of Philistia are dissolved; For smoke will come from the north [the king of the North and his armies], And no one will be alone in his appointed times” [or, “without a straggler in the ranks,” or, “there are no deserters in those battalions”; compare New American Bible and New Jerusalem Bible] (Isaiah 14:29, 31).
The reference to a fiery flying serpent describes the swiftness of the attack and also modern weapons used by flying destructive machines, such as war helicopters and military airplanes.
The Serpent of Dan
Modern Dan (Ireland and part of Denmark) is also compared with a serpent by the way and a viper by the paths that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider shall fall backwards (Genesis 49:17), picturing Dan’s deceitful and mischievous actions. God adds that Dan must wait for His salvation (verse 18, Revised Standard Version), and it is remarkable that no one from the tribe of Dan will be among the 144,000 (compare Revelation 7:1–8), who are to be protected from the plagues during the Day of the Lord. In addition, a sober warning of the destructive effect of the consumption of too much alcohol can be found in Proverbs 23:29–35, comparing the consequences of excessive drinking with the bites of a serpent and the stings of a viper.
Hypocritical Figurative Serpents
On occasion, God compares evil people, such as the Pharisees and scribes, with serpents and brood or offspring of vipers (Matthew 23:33). In addition, He speaks of their evil words in such way: “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit; The poison of asps is under their lips; Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:13–18). To an extent, Paul echoes here what is written in Psalm 140:3: “They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; The poison of asps is under their lips.”
In Psalm 58:4, David compares the poison of a serpent and a deaf cobra, which has stopped its ears, will not heed and cannot be charmed or tamed, with the words and actions of evil persons with which they hurt and destroy.
Satan—the Serpent of Old
The Bible pictures Satan the Devil as the serpent of old who deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9; 20:2). Ultimately, Satan is responsible for all violence and warfare. He is the destroyer of mankind. But God offers us protection and help in time of need, promising us this: “You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation” (Psalm 91:13–16).
God protects us from human enemies and powers which want to do us harm. And He protects us from Satan and his demons, as we also read in Luke 10:17–20.
After Christ has returned to set up the rule of God on this planet, a transformation will take place. We mentioned this previously, but let us again review a marvelous and beautiful prophecy: Satan will be bound, unable to destroy or deceive, and incapable of influencing humans to go to war. And as animals will become peaceful and tame, so will be human powers—including real and figurative, symbolic fierce lions; destructive locusts; blazing-fast flying eagles, swift horses and quick leopards storming into battle; devouring bears; savage wolves; tormenting scorpions; and poisonous serpents and snakes.
Isaiah 11:6–8 tells us: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea.”
Part 2—Individuals as Wild Animals
Chapter 1—Vicious Wolves and False Teachings
Wild beasts, such as wolves, are not only used as metaphors for nations and powers, but also for individuals, and especially for false prophets and those opposed to God’s Way of Life.
In Acts 20:28–30 we read: “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.”
Paul is here describing a flock, and shepherding, which means that the members of the Church of God whom the apostle was addressing were likened to sheep. Wolves are the enemy of sheep and sheep can be part of their diet. There are other Scriptures where this same analogy is used. In Matthew 7:15 we read: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”
On the National Geographic website, we read about wolves: “Wolves are the largest members of the dog family. Adaptable gray wolves are by far the most common and were once found all over the Northern Hemisphere. But wolves and humans have a long adversarial history. Though they almost never attack humans, wolves are considered one of the animal world’s most fearsome natural villains. They do attack domestic animals, and countless wolves have been shot, trapped, and poisoned because of this tendency.”
In Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers, we read: “Which come to you in sheep’s clothing. The illustration implies something like the conception of the wolf disguising himself as a sheep in order to gain entrance into the fold.”
The Benson Commentary observes: “All those are false prophets who teach any other way than that which our Lord hath here marked out. Who come to you in sheep’s clothing — With a form of godliness and fair professions of love; but inwardly they are ravening wolves — Not feeding but destroying souls; feeding themselves by the destruction of the flock. ‘A wolf in sheep’s clothing,’ says Doddridge, is ‘grown into a proverb for a wicked man that makes a great profession of religion, yet cannot dissemble so well as not to be discovered by attentive observation; which was just the character of the Pharisees in our Saviour’s days.’”
A History of God’s Church
We know that the Church changed from apostolic Christianity to something entirely different within a relatively short period of time. In the book “A History of the True religion” by Dugger and Dodd, the following is written at the beginning of chapter 5 which reviews the Church between 100 AD to 200 AD:
“The first century closed with the death of the last of the apostles and writers of the New Testament, the Apostle John. No sooner had the apostles and disciples, who had been with Jesus, fallen asleep, then a new order arose and a different class of writers began to pen religious epistles. Hurlbut says of this change, in his Story of the Christian Church:
“‘For fifty years after St. Paul’s life, a curtain hangs over the church, through which we vainly strive to look; and when at last it rises, about 129 A.D. with the writings of the earliest church-fathers, we find a church in many aspects very different from that in the days of St. Peter and St. Paul’ (page 41).”
The wolves had been at work, and the Truth that Jesus preached and the original apostles continued to preach after Jesus’s death was replaced by error, mainly by mixing truth with error and pagan practices (syncretism) which has been carried on down through the ages. What we see today in mainstream Christianity is a far cry from apostolic Christianity.
whatchristianswanttoknow gives an excellent description of wolves, headed, “The sneaky wolf. They hide until the time is right.” Continuing:
“Wolves are sneaky. They watch the prey and plan the attack. The sneaky wolf [that is, a] false prophet is in the church watching and waiting. He is the one who calls secret meetings. He gains the trust of folks and then rises up to attack, taking innocent victims with him. The Bible is clear about how God will deal with these sneaky wolves.”
Protection from Wolves
We can read what action God will take in Matthew 7:21–23: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
Christ tells us in John 10:11–16 from where our protection comes: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”
A hireling is not a true shepherd. He sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees. The end product is that the wolf catches the sheep and can eat them and scatter them. False workers and teachers can do the same to church members in a spiritual sense; hence the reason why we have to be continually on guard.
We read in John 10:27: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” Those who stick closely to God and His ways and His Truth know Him from the written Word of God and are not distracted from the true path they have been called to. There is a sober warning in Ephesians 4:14 which is vital for our spiritual well-being: “…that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.” The phrasing of this verse clearly shows that some had been taken in by wrong and deceitful influences.
In the previous verses, Ephesians 4:11–13, we read about the ministry which is there for the protection of the sheep and the equipping of the saints: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” The true servants of God will be protectors of the brethren and of God’s Truth; however, the wolves will attack, disturb and disorientate the sheep by their false teaching and trickery.
Just before Jesus’s betrayal and arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed for His disciples, and for all believers, and we read this in John 17:17: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” In verse 20, He said, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” If the teaching is in accordance with the Word of God, then the teachers are themselves sheep and members of the flock and not wolves in sheep’s clothing. The Word of God, the Bible, must always be our guide and will protect us against any wrong teachings of man.
As we saw, in the Kingdom of God during the Millennium, things will be completely different. We read how it will be in the book of Isaiah: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6) and “‘The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, The lion shall eat straw like the ox, And dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,’ Says the LORD” (Isaiah 65:25).
The wolf and the lion will get along together, and the analogy of wolves (false prophets and teachers) tricking the sheep (church members) will no longer be applicable.
But until the wonderful time just ahead of us, we need to make sure that we are on our spiritual toes so that we don’t fall prey to any false prophets and wrong teachers. God has surely warned us about them in His Word!
Chapter 2—Christ Sends His Sheep in the Midst of Wolves
In Matthew 10:16, we read: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”
Let us review Christ’s different statements one at a time.
First, He speaks of His disciples as sheep in the midst of wolves.
We must not be dumb sheep going astray (Isaiah 53:6; Matthew 9:36), but we must be the sheep of God the Father and Jesus Christ (Psalm 100:3; 95:7). Christ is our Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25) who feeds, leads and guides us (Ezekiel 34:15).
As Christ’s sheep, we hear His voice and follow Him (John 10:27). Others who are not His sheep do NOT believe and follow Him (John 10:26).
To be a sheep of God in this world includes suffering for righteousness’ sake (Romans 8:36; 1 Peter 4:1–5), just as Christ suffered (1 Peter 4:13; Acts 8:32).
We read that Christ sends His sheep to the wolves.
Barnes Notes on the Bible states: “I send you, inoffensive and harmless, into a cold, unfriendly, and cruel world.” The Benson Commentary adds: “I now send you forth weak and defenceless among a wicked, cruel, and persecuting people.” Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary elaborates: “Our Lord warned his disciples to prepare for persecution. They were to avoid all things which gave advantage to their enemies, all meddling with worldly or political concerns, all appearance of evil or selfishness, and all underhand measures.”
In Acts 20:29 and in Luke 10:3, wolves are used as symbols of persecutors and predators. Christ sends us into the world, in the midst of wolves, to overcome them. He wants us to withstand them, and with His help, we will. But how can sheep or lambs be surviving and successful in such a hostile environment of ravenous wolves?
Christ gives the answer in His statements about serpents and doves. It may be helpful to look at some alternate translations of Matthew 10:16.
The New American Standard Bible says: “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be as wary as serpents, and as innocent as doves.”
The Good News Translation reads: “Listen! I am sending you out just like sheep to a pack of wolves. You must be as cautious as snakes and as gentle as doves.”
Smith’s Literal Translation reads: “Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore discerning as serpents, and pure as doves.”
The Mace New Testament says: “By your mission you will be exposed like sheep in the midst of wolves: be then as circumspect as serpents, and as inoffensive as doves.”
Regarding doves in particular, Moffat speaks of being “guileless as doves.”
The Luther Bibles, as well as Schlachter, Menge and Zürcher translate consistently, “be without falsity as doves” (“ohne falsch wie die Tauben”), and Die Gute Nachricht and Hoffnung fuer alle say, “without deceit” (“ohne Hinterlist”).
We might readily accept the concept of the pure, gentle, guileless and inoffensive innocence of a harmless dove without falsity, which we must incorporate, but we may have an initial problem with viewing serpents as “wise” which we have to imitate. Of course, Christ did not refer to Satan, the serpent (Revelation 12:9; 2 Corinthians 11:3), demons which we will tread upon (Luke 10:19) or the Pharisees whom He called “serpents” (Matthew 23:33). Rather, Christ had something different in mind.
gotquestions states the following:
“Jesus was using similes (figures of speech that compare two unlike things) to instruct His disciples in how to behave in their ministry. Just before He tells them to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves, He warns them that they were being sent out ‘like sheep among wolves.’
“The world, then as now, was hostile to believers—not incidentally hostile, but purposefully hostile. Wolves are intentional about the harm they inflict upon sheep… Jesus taught His followers that, to be Christlike in a godless world, they must combine the wisdom of the serpent with the harmlessness of the dove… As we take the gospel to a hostile world, we must be wise (avoiding the snares set for us), and we must be innocent (serving the Lord blamelessly)… Wisdom does not equal dishonesty, and innocence does not equal gullibility…
“Jesus showed that He was as wise as a serpent in the way He taught. He knew enough to discern the differences in His audiences (a critical skill)… He refused to be caught in the many traps that His enemies laid for Him… Jesus showed that He was as harmless as a dove in every circumstance. He lived a pure and holy life… He acted in compassion… and He challenged anyone to find fault in Him… Three times, Pilate judged Jesus to be an innocent man…”
“Jesus sends His disciples out as sheep in the midst of wolves [Matt. 10:16]. They were being sent as His ambassadors to a world that opposed His reign. His disciples are like seemingly vulnerable sheep among seemingly hostile wolves. But the key to being effective is not to be sheepish… they needed to be both wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
“To be wise as a serpent relates to being prudent, careful, and intelligent. It has the connotation of [being] able to deal with the likely challenges or dangers of life in a potentially threatening place. To be harmless as doves has an association of gentleness and peace; but the Greek term also relates to purity, innocence, and simplicity.”
The word for “wise“ (phronimos) means, according to Strong’s #5429, “thoughtful, i.e. sagacious or discreet (implying a cautious character).” Young defines it as: “mindful, prudent, provident.” It is used, for example, in an approving sense in Matthew 7:24; 24:45; 25:2; describing the wise man building his house on the rock; the faithful and wise servant; and the five wise virgins.
The Pulpit Commentary describes the “wise serpents” in this way: “Wise. Prudent… The prudence of the serpent is specially apparent in the quickness of its perception of danger and the rapidity with which it escapes from it.”
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges adds: “wise=prudent, full of precaution.”
Vincent’s Word Studies states: “Denoting prudence with regard to their own safety.”
Barnes Notes on the Bible writes: “Probably the thing in which Christ directed his followers to imitate the serpent was in its caution in avoiding danger. No animal equals them in the rapidity and skill which they evince in escaping danger. So said Christ to his disciples, You need caution and wisdom in the midst of a world that will seek your lives.”
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible commentary states: “… the wisdom of the serpent would save them from unnecessary exposure to danger.”
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible writes: “The serpent… is… to be imitated by the followers of Christ, as to make use of all proper methods to preserve themselves from the insults and rage of men, and not expose themselves to unnecessary dangers: and, as much as in them lies, they should be careful to give no just occasion of offence, or irritate, and provoke them to use them ill, and to avoid all snares and traps that are laid for them.”
A serpent escapes danger without leaving a trace (Proverbs 30:18–19). It is not wrong to hide in the face of danger (Proverbs 22:3; compare John 8:58–59; 12:36).
Harmless Innocent Doves
But Christ also says that we must be harmless as doves.
The word for “harmless”, (akeraios) means, according to Strong’s #185, “unmixed, i.e. fig. innocent,—harmless, simple (Phil. 2:15).” Others state that the word could also mean “sincere.” A related word (akakos) can be found in Hebrews 7:26.
The Pulpit Commentary describes the harmless doves as “literally ‘unmixed, unadulterated’ and emphasizes the idea of simplicity of character.”
Vincent’s Word Studies points out: “Lit. unmixed… Used of wine without water… Hence guiltless. So Luther, without falsity (Compare Romans 16:19, Philippians 2:15).”
“Barnes Notes on the Bible states: “He directs them, also, to be harmless, not to provoke danger, not to do injury, and thus make their fellow-men justly enraged against them. Doves are, and always have been, a striking emblem of innocence.”
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible writes: “… maintain the innocence and harmlessness of the dove, being free from all wicked cunning and craftiness, without rancour, malice, and wrath; not meditating and seeking revenge, but meek and humble in their deportment, leading inoffensive lives, and proceeding in the course of their calling, though liable to many insults, and much oppression.”
The Life Application Bible summarizes Christ’s statement regarding the serpents and the doves, quite appropriately, in this way: “We are not to be gullible pawns but neither are we to be deceitful connivers.”
Christ sent us into the world to fulfill God’s commission and plan for us (John 17:18), but we are not to be of the world (John 17:16). We are to be aware of the fact that the world is hostile towards God and His Way of Life, full of ravenous wolves which are ready to tear us apart. We are admonished to be aware of people (Micah 7:5–6; Jeremiah 9:3–6); of deceitful teachers cheating us through false philosophies (Colossians 2:8); and of idols (1 John 5:21).
By following Christ’s admonition and with His help, we can be victorious, if we behave wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
Chapter 3—Don’t Give the Truth to Dogs and Swine
Matthew 7:6 reads as follows:
“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”
In the last chapter, we read about wise serpents which are circumspect in the face of danger and in regard to behavior in general. As we will see, this admonition runs parallel to what we will be discussing in this chapter.
Literal Dogs and Pigs
In pointing out the analogies and metaphors in respect to human conduct, let us also focus on the nature and conduct of literal dogs and pigs.
Commentaries explain that at the time Jesus spoke these words, dogs usually traveled in packs and were very dangerous. The only thing worse than being called a “dog” was to be called a “pig.” Under the dietary laws given by God, the pig is an unclean animal which is not to be eaten. It was common for first-century Jews to refer to Gentiles as swine because they considered them unclean.
[This does not mean that Jesus considered Gentiles as unclean. He was merely using a figurative parallel.]
The Berean Bible Society wrote:
“Swine were associated with demons (Mark 5:11–13), and the only time swine and dogs are mentioned together (2 Pet. 2:22), they are associated with ‘false prophets’ (v. 1) who, like Balaam, knew the way of God but had ‘forsaken the right way’ (vv. 15,16), men who had ‘known the way of righteousness’ (v. 21) but chose to ‘turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them’ (v. 21)…”
“At the time both dogs and pigs were poorly regarded. Dogs were part of society, but were half wild and roamed the region in packs that were sometimes dangerous to humans. The word used here refers specifically to dogs without a human master. They were unclean and would eat whatever scraps and carrion they came across. Pigs were the quintessential unclean animal and were closely associated with the Gentile communities in the region which kept them in large numbers…
“… the metaphor may be a reference to the immense appetites of pigs, and to how enraged they will be when they discover they cannot eat the pearls, and since they have no understanding of their greater value, will turn on the giver…
“Parables from the period portray such dogs as dangerous urban animals…”
Relevant Bible Teaching states:
“Swine eat the leftovers, not the delicacies, and they are content with doing so because they are pigs. That is what pigs do. Dogs eat the crumbs from the table and even things worse, and pigs aren’t much better. In fact, pigs love rolling in mud, refuse, and the like…
“Swine don’t deserve pearls of wisdom because all they will do with the wise counsel is roll around with it in the mud… the swine do more than just ruin pearls; their purpose is to ruin us. The swine to whom we keep giving our precious pearls of energy, time, wisdom, and sacrifice are not really interested in the pearls as they profess to be but in, as Jesus says, turning and tearing us to pieces…”
preceptaustin.org points out:
“Dogs in the ancient world does not refer to dogs as we currently think of them for they were seldom household pets but instead were largely half-wild, dirty, greedy, snarling, vicious, flea-bitten, diseased, mongrel scavengers, that often ran in packs. They are often on the point of starvation and were known to devour corpses, and attack humans, in the night. Clearly literal ‘dogs’ in the ancient world were dangerous and despised…
“For example we read God’s prophet Abijah’s harsh message to the wife of the evil Jeroboam declaring… ‘Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs will eat. And he who dies in the field the birds of the heavens will eat; for the LORD has spoken it’ (1 Kings 14:11). (Similar prophecies were decreed against Baasha’s family, in 1 Kings 16:4 and Ahab’s family, 1 Kings 21:24.) (For bodies to be devoured by dogs and wild birds of prey was considered one of the worst disgraces that could befall a Jew.)…
“Barclay has a helpful note on dogs – With us the dog is a well-loved animal, but it was not so in the East in the time of Jesus. The dogs were the pariah dogs, roaming the streets, sometimes in packs, hunting amidst the garbage dumps and snapping and snarling at all whom they met. J. B. Lightfoot speaks of ‘the dogs which prowl about eastern cities, without a home and without an owner, feeding on the refuse and filth of the streets, quarrelling among themselves, and attacking the passer-by.’…
“Swine are just as contemptible and filthy as dogs… Swine are not only unclean animals but can be vicious and are capable of savage attacks against people. The wild boar of the wood was frequently met with in the woody parts of Palestine, especially in Mount Tabor. In Psalm 80:13 the powers that destroyed the Jewish nation are compared to wild boars and wild beasts of the field.”
Don’t Give Pearls to Dogs and Pigs
In Matthew 7:6, Jesus told us not to give holy pearls to humans, described as or compared with “dogs” and “swine,” lest they tear us in pieces.
The Bible compares the truth about the Kingdom of God with a precious pearl (Matthew 13:45–46). At the same time, “dogs” or “swine” describe debased and quarrelsome people, filled with anger and hostility toward God and His Law (Philippians 3:2; 2 Peter 2:22; Revelation 22:15).
Barnes has the following insightful comments regarding the meaning of this passage:
“Pearls… are used to denote the doctrines of the gospel. ‘Dogs’ signify people who spurn, oppose, and abuse that doctrine; people of special sourness and malignity of temper, who meet it like growling and quarrelsome curs… ‘Swine’ denote those who would trample the precepts underfoot; people of impurity of life; those who are corrupt, polluted, profane, obscene, and sensual; those who would not know the value of the gospel, and who would tread it down as swine would pearls… The meaning of this proverb, then, is, do not offer your
doctrine to those violent and abusive people who would growl and curse you; nor to those especially debased and profligate who would not perceive its value, would trample it down, and would abuse you…”
We are asked to let our light shine, by doing good works (Matthew 5:16). A light makes no noise—if it does, then something is wrong with it. We cannot convert a person—only God can do this (Romans 2:4). It is true that we are told to be prepared to give a defense or an answer to those who ask us about the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15)—but this addresses people who are genuinely interested. This is not to say that we could not try to sow a seed by making a point in a conversation—but we must be extremely careful not to do this with people who are hostile toward “our religion.”
Even insofar as non-hostile people are concerned, we generally are to wait for them to express their interest, by asking, rather than “volunteering” to forcefully try to persuade them of our beliefs. It takes discernment to determine whether people are genuinely interested, or whether they just raise an issue for the purpose of strife and contention. Proverbs 17:14 says: “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.”
However, the commentary of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown gives us the following appropriate caution:
“Religion is brought into contempt, and its professors insulted, when it is forced upon those who cannot value it and will not have it. But while the indiscriminately zealous have need of this caution, let us be on our guard against too readily setting our neighbors down as dogs and swine, and excusing ourselves from endeavoring to do them good on this poor plea.”
Christ’s point is this: Don’t be too quick to judge and condemn (see the context of Matthew 7:6 with verses 1–5, cautioning against quick judgment of others, while at the same time ignoring our own shortcomings)—but don’t be naive and overlook blatant malicious attitudes and conduct, expressing hostility toward the Word and the LAW of God.
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible has this to say in regard to the passage:
“Here the phrase is used in a metaphorical sense; and is generally understood of not delivering or communicating the holy word of God, and the truths of the Gospel, comparable to pearls, or the ordinances of it, to persons notoriously vile and sinful: to men, who being violent and furious persecutors, and impudent blasphemers, [who] are compared to ‘dogs’; or to such, who are scandalously vile, impure in their lives and conversations, and are therefore compared to swine… men should be cautious, and prudent, in rebuking and admonishing such persons for their sins, in whom there is no appearance or hope of success; yea, where there is danger of sustaining loss.”
The Bible warns us in Proverbs 9:7–8: “He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself. Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you…”
Compare, too, the following statements in the Nelson Study Bible:
“Dogs and swine refer to people who are enemies of the gospel, as opposed to those who are merely unbelievers. Such enemies are to be left alone (see [Matthew] 15:14; 2 [Corinthians] 6:14–18). One example of such a person was Herod Antipas, who heard John gladly (see Mark 6:20), but then he beheaded him (see [Matthew] 14:1–12; Mark 6:14–28; Luke 9:7–9). Later when Christ stood before Herod, He said nothing (see Luke 23:8, 9). In the context of this verse, Herod had become a ‘dog’ or a ‘pig.’”
Note these additional comments in the Life Application Bible:
“It is futile to try to teach holy concepts to people who don’t want to listen and will only tear apart what we say. We should not stop giving God’s Word to unbelievers, but we should be wise and discerning in what we teach to whom, so that we will not be wasting our time.”
The Broadman Bible Commentary agrees, pointing out:
“Jesus is… alluding… to any person who is… unwilling to distinguish between what is holy and what is not, or between pearls and what is valueless. This saying sounds harsh, but it must be heard. Jesus… recognized that there were times when there was no opening for the gospel or for his ministry… there are times when [a Christian] can only remain silent or try to bring about a better climate for a later sharing… Three dangers threaten the Christian witness or minister who does not discern when to speak and when to keep silence: he may further damage the one he tries to help; he may try to force himself or his values upon another; and he may unnecessarily imperil himself and others.”
To an extent, Christ’s statement in Matthew 7:6 can even refer to the public preaching of the gospel by His Church. It cannot be applied, of course, in the sense that His Church is NO longer obligated to preach the gospel in all the world as a witness—just the opposite is true (Matthew 24:14)—but the passage has relevance insofar as the REACTION of those is concerned who hear the proclamation of the gospel message.
In Matthew 10:14, Christ told His disciples whom He had sent out to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God (see verse 7), to leave the house of unworthy people who would not receive nor hear the message. We also find that Paul, AFTER he had preached the gospel to the Jews, turned away from them and turned to the Gentiles, when the Jews rejected the message (compare Acts 13:44–46; 18:5–6).
When (Not) to Speak
It requires insight, discernment and prayer to be able to determine when to speak and when to be silent. In other words: To be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. However, people’s hostility to the words of God and especially the LAW of God is normally revealed very quickly. Somebody who HATES God’s commandments will express his malice in due course.
In that case, it is best to cease discussing God’s Truth with such a person, knowing that it will only lead to strife and contention (1 Timothy 6:3–5; Titus 3:9–10). A servant of God is told not to be engaged in such destructive conversation (1 Corinthians 11:16; 2 Timothy 2:23–24), lest he become affected by it too, giving in to the devouring hatred of his opponents and reacting in such a way as to allow his mouth to sin (Psalm 39:1).
Chapter 4—Beware of DOGS
What does Paul mean in his letter to the Philippians when he instructs them to “beware of dogs”?” In Philippians 3:2, Paul writes the following to the Philippians: “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!” When understanding this admonition, it should be clear that the reference to dogs is not to be taken literally. In this passage, Paul is not warning people about animals; but rather, this is a warning to the Church in Philippi about individuals who are compared to dogs in a symbolic sense.
The behavior of people who are described as dogs appears throughout the Bible. In all examples, dogs are described in terms of lowliness. A person described as a dog takes on characteristics that are shameful, crude, despicable, and contrary to a godly Way of Life.
Peter describes false teachers as dogs in 2 Peter 2:22: “But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: ‘A dog returns to his own vomit,’ and, ‘a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.’” This example points to the disgusting behavior common to dogs, and especially wild dogs which were discussed in the previous chapter, and it attributes it to people who return to a sinful way of life after attempting to turn away from it.
Not only do we see that people are described as dogs, but we also see that the qualities of such behavior are repulsive. As we will discuss in the next chapter, dogs are also mentioned in Deuteronomy 23:18, alluding to the behavior of homosexuality and male prostitution, which is abominable in the judgment of God. From these examples we can conclude that one aspect of the warning about “dogs” is to beware of people who live and promote a sinful lifestyle in doctrine and deed.
In Isaiah’s prophecy to the nation of Israel, the leaders are described in unfavorable terms as well: “His watchmen are blind, They are all ignorant; They are all dumb dogs, They cannot bark; Sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yes, they are greedy dogs Which never have enough. And they are shepherds Who cannot understand; They all look to their own way, Every one for his own gain, From his own territory” (Isaiah 56:10–11).
In the context of having responsibility and accountability for others, individuals who are described as dogs exhibit inconsiderate behavior, not taking care of others. Applied to the role of leadership for watchmen, this is condemned as failure.
In a prophecy about the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ in Psalm 22:16, another depiction of dogs describes Jesus’ abusers: “For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet…” Knowing about the events leading up to the murder of Jesus, we can ascribe the violent and vitriolic behavior of the individuals involved in the beating and murder of Jesus to “dogs.” This behavior may also be interpreted as a description of Satan and his demons (compare Psalm 22:12–13). Certainly, the characteristics revealed in the Bible about people described as dogs can be applied to the accusers and abusers of Jesus.
However, this example brings out the additional characteristic of violent behavior. Gnashing teeth, biting, and growling are behaviors common to dogs and also associated with violence against people working to uphold the Truth (compare Acts 7:54; Galatians 5:15; Psalm 59:6, 14). When describing individuals as dogs, an additional characteristic of meanness and violence may be applicable.
Bible commentaries support the evaluation of what it means for a person to be a dog. Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines the word in part: “As the dog was an unclean animal, the terms ‘dog,’ ‘dog’s head,’ ‘dead dog,’ were used as terms of reproach or of humiliation.” From this correct interpretation, we can see that there is a connotation of lowliness and impropriety associated with people described as dogs. Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible has this to say about the reference to dogs in Philippians 3:2: “In New Testament times, dogs were hated scavengers. The term came to be used for all who had morally impure minds.” These commentaries support the interpretation that people who are described as dogs have behavior that is brazen in its disregard to God’s Way of Life.
In the context of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we see the
individuals described as dogs mentioned alongside two other classes of people—evil workers and those promoting the doctrine of mutilation. Evil workers are malicious; those promoting a return to physical circumcision as a requirement for salvation discount the Sacrifice of Christ; and the dogs are indiscreet, violent, and self-seeking. Each of these types of people is warned about because they cause damage to the Church. A dog represents the promotion of a sinful way of living that is shameless and done in a manner that is confrontational and violent.
Today we can apply this same warning in our lives. As we see the world turn further and further away from God, we observe people behaving like dogs in our age. Confrontationally refusing to accept God’s Truth, our modern society can do damage to the peace and unity of the Church. We can also see that those who willfully behave as dogs will be excluded from the Kingdom of God and destroyed in the lake of fire.
Revelation 22:15 tells us that “outside” of the new Jerusalem will be “dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolators, and whoever loves and practices a lie.”
The Greek word for “outside,” “exo,” can also mean “without” or “away from.” Those who are “bad”; that is those who commit the sins, as described in Revelation 22:15, as a way of life, without a willingness to repent, will be “outside” or “without” or “away from” the holy city and the Kingdom of God. Many Scriptures show that those people will not inherit or enter the Kingdom (compare 1 Corinthians 6:9–10; Galatians 5:19–21; and Ephesians 5:5). Please note that the lists of sins, as set forth in 1 Corinthians, Galatians and Ephesians, are very similar to the sins mentioned in Revelation 21:8 and 22:15, including sexual immorality, idolatry, sorcery, and murders. All these lists address the same kind of people.
Christ said in Luke 13:28: “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out [and thrown into the lake of fire, compare Matthew 13:41–42].”
Moffat translates Revelation 22:15 in this way: “Begone, you dogs, you sorcerers, you vicious creatures, you murderers, you idolaters, you who love and practice falsehood, every one of you.”
Other translations render the Greek word “exo”; i.e., “outside” or “without,” as “excluded.” Those who refuse to repent will be EXCLUDED from access to the Kingdom of God and the holy city. They will be destroyed in the lake of fire which is the second and final death, from which there is no resurrection back to life.
Seeing how contrary dog-like behavior is to a life dedicated to righteousness, it is clear that we must beware of dogs today so we can avoid having damage done to the Church, while protecting ourselves from being influenced by such sinful behavior, so that we do not conduct ourselves in the same manner.
Chapter 5—The Price of a Dog
In Deuteronomy 23:18, we read: “You shall not bring the wages of a harlot or the price of a dog to the house of the LORD your God for any vowed offering, for both of these are an abomination to the LORD your God.”
Alternate renditions of this verse might make the intended meaning a little bit clearer.
The New International Version says: “You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute or of a male prostitute into the house of the LORD your God to pay any vow, because the LORD your God detests them both.”
The Living Bible says: “No prostitutes are permitted in Israel, either men or women; you must not bring to the Lord any offering from the earnings of a prostitute or a homosexual, for both are detestable to the Lord your God.”
Most commentaries are in agreement that the wages from male and female prostitutes were forbidden to be brought into the house of God; and that the reference to “dog” in the above-cited passage must be understood as applying to male prostitutes or homosexuals (sodomites).
For instance, the Ryrie Study Bible says: “… dog. A Hebrew epithet for a male prostitute or sodomite.”
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible comments:
“Thou shall not bring the hire of a whore… Which was given to her as a reward for the use of her body… or the price of a dog… figuratively of a sodomite, comparable to a dog, for his uncleanness and impudence… and the price of such an one the gain he got by the prostitution of his body to unnatural lusts; and so as the hire of a whore answers to one in Deuteronomy 23:17, the price of a dog to a sodomite here.”
The Geneva Study Bible states: “…Forbidding that any income gained from evil things should be applied to the service of God.”
What are being addressed here are “wages” or “earnings” from female and male prostitutes, as well as homosexuals (sodomites), which wages were earned in the pursuance of their “business” activities. These wages were not permitted to be accepted as tithes or offerings in God’s house—even in compliance with a “vow” to tithe faithfully to God and give Him offerings.
No Offerings from Sale of a Dog?
The translation of the Authorized Version (King James Bible) could be confusing to some, which reads, “Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God.”
From this some surmised that the Scripture prohibits tithing or giving an offering from the sale of a literal dog. But this is not what is meant. The “Personal Correspondence Department” of the [now defunct] Worldwide Church of God addressed and answered this question as follows:
“The Hebrew word for ‘dog’ in this verse means ‘a male prostitute’ (See Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary to the Old Testament, by Alexander Harkavy, page 294). The Moffat and other modern versions make it clear that this verse is speaking of sexually corrupt humans. Also notice Revelation 22:15, ‘For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers…’ This refers to various categories of unrepentant and degenerate humans who will not be able to enter God’s Kingdom.
“Literal dogs, on the other hand, are merely a part of the animal creation, which God has given man dominion over (Gen. 1:26). To tithe the income from the sale of a dog or any other animal is in accord with God’s tithing laws and principles.”
While unclean animals could not be sacrificed but had to be redeemed (Exodus 34:20), this did not apply to tithing from the sale of an unclean animal. The Church of God is most certainly permitted to accept the tithe from such increase, but the Church is not to accept tithe and offerings from the wages of male or female prostitutes in the pursuit of their “business.”
“Dogs” Don’t Apply to Repentant Humans
Note that in the article, quoted above, the reference to “dogs” (and by extension, “prostitutes”) applied to “unrepentant humans.” Jesus accepted pure and clean “services” from prostitutes who had a repentant attitude.
Remember the example of the well-known sinner in Luke 7:36–50 who washed the feet of Christ, wiped them with her hair, kissed His feet and anointed them with flagrant oil. While the prostitute was condemned by the Pharisee for anointing Christ’s feet, He defended her, saying that her sins, which were many, were forgiven. As God only forgives sins upon repentance, it is obvious that the woman had repented of her sins, which also became manifest by her entire conduct towards Christ.
Christ did not in any way violate the command in Deuteronomy 23:18, not to accept the wages of an unrepentant prostitute (or portions of her wages in the form of fragrant oil), while she would continue her ungodly conduct as a prostitute.
A practicing male or female prostitute cannot “satisfy” God by tithing from the proceeds of his or her ungodly “business” activities; nor can the Church of God be, in any way, “participating” or “sharing” in his or her sin (1 Timothy 5:22) by accepting such donations. Rather, we are told that we must keep ourselves pure (same verse).
The [now defunct] Worldwide Church of God, under its late human leader, Herbert W. Armstrong, has consistently taught that the Church is not to accept donations under certain circumstances. For instance, contributions obtained from the wages of practicing male and female prostitutes, in pursuit of their “business,” would fall under that prohibited category, as well as money earned from the production of weapons for the sole purpose of using them in war. Another obvious example would be donations stemming from illegal activities.
The Church of the Eternal God and its international affiliates abide by this practice.
One might ask the question as to why some people and some animals are very vicious today. Did God create them that way, or are there other possibilities to explain their conduct? For answers to these questions, please read our free booklet, “Heavens and Earth…Before and After the First Man!”
In this booklet, we have seen from the pages of the Bible that world powers and empires have oftentimes behaved in savage and atrocious ways, due to Satan’s influence. They have acted viciously and violently, and this will again become very true when the final revival of the ancient Roman Empire has been established in Europe.
The Bible compares these past, present and future powers with roaring and fierce lions, destructive locusts, flying prey-catching eagles, swift (war-) horses, fast leopards, devouring bears, ravenous wolves, tormenting scorpions, poisonous snakes and fiery flying serpents.
The Bible also shows us that individual Christians and God’s Church are oftentimes confronted with people who behave like vicious wolves, dangerous wild dogs and mean-spirited pigs.
In order to live victoriously in this hostile world, we, as God’s sheep, need God’s help, while behaving without fault and hypocrisy, as harmless doves, and cautiously and circumspectly, as wise serpents. In this way, Satan and his human instruments will be defeated, and the God of peace and refuge will be with us.