"Great Words Against the Most High"
RICHARD RUHLING: Retired Minister, General Conference
We are often criticized, not only by the Catholic Church, but also by Protestant churches, for our interpretation that in Daniel 7:25 and Revelation 13:6 the Papacy is meant. Some say they cannot see that the expressions in Daniel, "great words against the most High," and in Revelation, "he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God," have anything to do with that church.
I have at hand a little book, Zepter und Schlussel in der Hand des Priesters (Scepter and Key in the Hand of the Priest), written by Franz Xaver Esser, S.J., printed in German at Freiburg in 1924 by Herder and Company. It has the following imprimatur (printing permission):
"Coloniae, die 30 Octobris 1923
Bern. Bley S.J.
Praep. prov. Germ. Inf."
"Friburgi Brisgoviae, die 27 Augusti 1924
That means it is from the highest Catholic authorities.
It would be very profitable if the entire book could be translated and put into the hands of every Seventh-day Adventist minister, but we surely would not be able to secure permission to do that. Therefore I have translated a few quotations which show us that we are certainly correct in our Bible interpretation. This book is written primarily for Catholic priests. It is noteworthy to remember that these expressions were made, not in past centuries, but less than thirty years ago. We hope they will be of value to every minister.
The writer of the book maintains that every priest receives symbolically at his ordination the golden scepter and the miracle-working key.
"With Christ's Consummatum est [It is finished], thank the Lord, the golden scepter fell from the hands of Satan and his accomplices, and others were allowed to bow down before this jewel and take it in their hands: first the eleven apostles, whom the Lord during the Last Supper selected to be His priests, and whom He commanded to celebrate the holy mass. Each time that they, after that consecrated hour, walked up the steps of the altar to the holy sacrifice, the wonderful control over the true body of the Lord became a reality in them. They spoke a few rapid words during the holy transformation, and the Lord incarnate descended from heaven, took on the shape of bread and wine, and allowed Himself to be crucified again!" Pages 7, 8.
"Now to us [the priests] in submission is He obedient, 'who out of the womb of the morning from the Father of Eternity was begotten as the Lord!' (Ps. 110:3.) Bending before us is He who is 'up holding all things by the word of His power" (Heb. 1:3), 'upon whose shoulders the government rests' (Isa. 9:6)." Page 8.
"Since the priests carry the golden scepter in their hands, the carefully guarded heaven stands open to them. They can command there with a power which one might best call Omnipotence. That is what they do. For every morning during the holy mass they enter the heavenly hall, not only the great and strong among them, those who like the patriarch Jacob are able to wrestle with an angel of God, but also the weak and frail, who are like broken reeds. All the angels give way humbly, respectfully, and make room, although they know that they [the priests] now take from the heavenly tabernacle the Holiest of all, the Son of God, and bring Him down to earth upon the altar." Pages 11, 12.
"The word of the priest gives to the Son of God during the holy mass a proper manner to exist and to be." Page 13.
"Priest, here you have a presentiment of your whole unmeasured greatness! One can sing, with a little change, a song of praise about you also that has been written in poetry to praise the exalted mother of God with the Child in her arms: 'With scepter in hand you perform numberless miracles.'" Page 14.
"But you, priest, take the scepter in your hand, approach that great mistress, Nature, during the holy transformation, and command: 'Away with this and that law,' and without the slightest contradiction, she obeys you! How superhumanly great are you, O priest, like the Saviour, who commanded the wind and sea, and walked upon the unstable water!" Page 15.
"The last and highest sphere of power is still awaiting: the Son of God Himself becomes subject to him [the priest], and obeys him 'unto death, even the death of the cross.'" Pages 15, 16.
"He [the priest] takes the golden scepter in his hand and speaks to the eternal Son of God in words which once cut into Abraham's soul like sharp swords: 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee.' Gen. 12:1. But how is this land named? Calvary with the cross! And Jesus obeys him immediately and without opening His mouth in contradiction. Oh, if the priests could only once see with their own eyes how willingly the Son of God submits to their words! How their own greatness would grow before them like a sky-high mountain! The holy Parson von Ars said rightly: 'How great sublimity has every priest within himself! If he could comprehend himself, he would die from it. God Himself obeys him.'" Pages 16, 17.
"Therefore during that time [the writer is obviously speaking of the holy mass] not only the gears of the whole world machinery should come to a standstill; the sun, moon, and stars, and all the million other celestial bodies should pause in their wild and impetuous course, and at leisure follow the holy act. Yes, even the angel choirs would do well to suspend their anthems, leave heaven, and gather around the altar." Pages 25, 26.
"Not only men are jubilant when priests walk to the altar, but also the angels. One might expect just the opposite; because, now that there are priests, there is stirred up in them something close to envy. At first it was found only in hell with the devils. But after the first ordination of a priest, winds have carried that seed pollen into the blessed regions above." Page 32.
"For following their authoritative order, the Saviour allows Himself to be crucified again during the holy mass." Page 43.
"Will not therefore the same key, which the Saviour on Easter evening handed over to the priests, likewise radiate around them with the same light of glory? O marvelous hour of this presentation! How much splendor and greatness is enclosed in thy lap! In you it became a joyful reality, that which the serpent, full of deception, once promised in Paradise: 'Thou makest us to be gods.'" Page 71.
"What wonderful spirits are the angels and arch angels, the cherubim and seraphim! How they shine in wisdom and power! One of them smote all the firstborn in Egypt, so that that mighty kingdom of the Pharaohs passed away in anxiety and fear. Another came to the rescue of the Lord's city and laid 185,000 of their enemies in one night as corpses on the battlefield. But now you, priest, guide these mighty heavenly princes to one poor sinner that they might take his guilt away. And if they would offer anything, and try as hard as did the disciples at the base of Mount Tabor to heal the demoniac; in vain. But you take the key and declare in power Ego te absolvo, and behold! What all the angels are unable to do, you, a poor human being, accomplish easily. We are almost dizzy at the sight of that cloud-high peak to which the key has raised us, but we are permitted still to climb in comparably higher." Pages 72, 73.
"After all this the envy of heaven is understand able, as it finds expression in the verse it has com posed: 'O key of David, you open my gates to the sinner, and none among us is able to prevent it!'" Page 73. [How does the author know that heaven has composed such a verse?]
"Suppose the stars in the firmament were radiating in their brightest noonday light. You would take the key and by its power would create such a shining sun that it would, after the manner of the soap bubble which a child sucks out of a basin and then pushes from a blade of straw, go up into the universe like a gigantic ball of fire and make everything else seem dark by contrast. How great you would think yourself to be, even inconceivably great! If even the angels stood around you as spectators of this noble exploit and admired you and fell down before you, and in their overflowing enthusiasm wanted to make you their king, you would go out of your senses from sheer reverence for yourself. But with that key you perform infinitely more you restore in the sinner, with the Ego te absolva, the supernatural image of God, and thus make him a small God." Pages 77, 78.
"How all those who were healed praised the great Miracleworker from Nazareth! Yet, priest, if you had taken the key in your hand and pronounced over a single one of them the Ego te absolvo, you would have done more than He. And this one act would not only have obscured the miracle of Capernaum, but likewise the others which the Saviour performed in the three years of His public life." Pages 78, 79.
If these words are not blasphemy, then there is none!
"A More Sure Word of Prophecy"
FRANK R. ISAAC: Retired Minister, Riverside, California
There is considerable controversy over the J. meaning of "a more sure word of prophecy." (2 Peter 1:19.) There are those who claim that Peter meant that prophecy is more sure than his eyesight and hearing, but far from it. Neither Peter nor the other two disciples were in any way blinded or illusioned when they were on the mount of transfiguration and saw Jesus glorified. They were awed, inspired, and filled with greater zeal for the Master. The sub lime scene impressed them with the greatness of the celestial Being who mingled with them and did His utmost to impress them with the fact that He came from God.
The prophecies in the Old Testament and the fulfillments in the New are the greatest evidence that Jesus is divine. (The Desire of Ages, p. 799.) Jesus gently chided the two disciples on the way to Emmaus for not heeding the prophecies, and "expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." Luke 24:27. Christ is the center of all the prophecies, and when the three disciples heard the voice tell who He was, they were able to say, "We have not followed cunningly devised fables." They were eyewitnesses of His majesty, and therefore could confirm the prophecies pointing forward to the Lamb that was slain on the cross of Calvary. That is what Peter meant by a more sure word. The word was made more sure as a result of the scene on the mount.
This thought is substantiated by a number of translations:
1. Moifatt "And thus we have gained fresh confirmation of the prophetic word." *
2. The New Testament in Modern English "And so we possess the word of prophecy made yet more sure."
3. Miniaturbibel (German "And we hold now the firmer to the prophetic Word."
4. Brockhaus, Elberfeld "And so we possess the word of prophecy more certain" (or "established").
5. Menge "So much the more firm now for us stands the prophetic Word."
6. Luther "We have all the more steadfast the prophetic Word."
That is, since they had been eyewitnesses of His majesty, prophecy had become more sure to them.
George Lamsa, translating from original Aramaic sources, after telling of the experience on the holy mount, puts it this way: "We have also a true word of prophecy." That is, they were convinced of "the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:16) by seeing and hearing.
Weymouth has a translation all his own, but it too does not discount the eyewitnessing of the disciples. He says, "And in the written word of prophecy we have something more permanent." Evidently Peter felt that the old established prophecies were more permanent than what he was writing, although he beheld how Christ received from God honor and glory "when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory." Verse 17.
Peter saw with his own eyes the fulfillment of the "old established prophecies." What the prophets had written and longed to see, that Peter saw. He saw Christ Himself. Peter did not discount what he had written, neither did he nor the other apostles subordinate their writings to those of the prophets. (Matt. 13:17; Luke. 24:25.) They wrote what they had seen. The Old Testament prophets wrote but did not see their prophecies fulfilled. The apostles saw the Object, or Person Christ of the prophecy. Can prophecy (or the word of prophecy) be more sure than the person of prophecy? Without the person (or the object) there can be no prophecy. To say that the word of prophecy is more sure than what the apostles saw and heard "in the holy mount" is to say that the word of prophecy is more sure than the person of Jesus and that of Moses and Elias yes, than the whole scene on the mount.
Jesus took Peter, James, and John up into the mount to see Him glorified and meet the celestial beings, Moses and Elias. They were to confirm the prophecies regarding His identity. The sublime scene in the holy mount is part of the plan of redemption, and there is nothing more sure than that and those who were there; namely, Jesus, Moses, Elias, Peter, James, and John. Those apostles saw and heard what had been prophesied in the long ago, and that made the word of prophecy more sure to them, and to us because of their word.
The eyes of the apostles were not deceived. There was nothing to deceive them. There was no optical illusion. They saw Jesus glorified, and Peter wrote about it later to confirm prophecy. That made prophecy more sure.
God's Two Covenants With Man
V. THE Two ADAMS.
A. Adam's Failure as a Son of God.
1. How did the man Adam come into being? Gen. 1:27; 5:1, 2.
2. In what state was this man in his physical, mental, spiritual, or moral nature? Like God; called the son of God. Luke 3:38.
3. What caused the fall of Adam, the son of God? Rom. 5:12, 19. The sin of disobedience under the suggestion by word of Satan the serpent, the tempter. Gen. 3:1-6, 12, 13.
4. In this disobedience to a known command, what did Adam do to the authority of God? He rejected the authority, or right, of God to rule his conduct.
5. What happened to his faith in God's word? He disbelieved.
6. What happened to his love for God? It became secondary to selfish ambition.
7. Whose spirit came in and took possession of his soul? Rom. 6:16; 1 John 3:8.
8. What inheritance could he pass on to his posterity? 1 Cor. 15:47, 48, first part of each verse. See also Rom. 7:14.
9. What did God give to Adam on the day of his failure to save him from the sinful state into which his disobedience had plunged him? Gen. 3:15. The word of promise revealed a coming Deliverer; the everlasting covenant promise.
B. Jesus Overcame Satan as the Son of God.
1. Where did the Deliverer have to begin to make good? Just where the first son of God failed.
2. At His baptism Jesus became the Shiloh, the Anointed One, the promised Deliverer for Adam and all his posterity. What temptation came to Him immediately after baptism? Matt. 4:2, 3.
3. Why should appetite be Satan's first point of attack? Because on this point the first son of God had failed.
4. How did Jesus, when hungry, meet the temptation suggestion of the devil? Verses 3, 4.
5. By letting the words of God control His con duct, what was Jesus doing to the authority of God? Putting it above hunger, making God supreme.
6. What happened to His faith in God's Word under this temptation? Christ's faith in the Word of God sustained Him. His senses became a servant to His faith.
7. When Satan saw that this Son of God was standing on the Word, what second temptation was pressed upon Him? Verses 5, 6.
8. What answer did Jesus make? Verse 7. This answer shows that in the exercise of faith we cannot go beyond the limitations of God's written Word to subject God to trial or proof. We cannot set up our own standards and then expect God to sustain us. This sin is called presumption.
9. How was the sin of presumption to be treated in ancient Israel? Num. 15:30, 31; Deut. 17:12.
10. Should we pray for deliverance from this wicked conduct? Ps. 19:13.
11. Ambition for greatness came in the first temptation. How was Christ tempted on this point? Matt. 4:8, 9.
12. How did Jesus gain the victory over ambition for honor or power? Verse 10.
13. What spirit remained in control by His obedience to the written Word? Heb. 9:14. The eternal Spirit had control.
C. The Secret of Our Victory Over Sin.
1. Because Jesus overcame where Adam fell, what inheritance can He pass on to every Christian believer? Col. 1:12-14, 21-23; Acts 26:18.
2. Which is the stronger, the inheritance of sin from Adam, or the inheritance of righteous ness from Christ? Rom. 5:20, 21.
3. Can this inheritance through Christ be lost out of the soul? Heb. 3:14.4. What is the secret of constant victory? Heb. 4:16.
VI. FULL RESTORATION IN CHRIST.
The everlasting covenant is the agreement between God and Christ made before the foundation of the earth was laid, that man should be redeemed and given the privilege of full restoration to divine likeness by the sacrifice of Christ.
A. The Human Will and Restoration.
1. In Adam's disobedience, what happened to Adam's love and trust in God? He turned away from God. How was his will perverted in disobeying? Rom. 7:14, 15. What change came over his mind? He lost the consciousness of oneness with God, and a sense of condemnation filled his mind. This encouraged false ideas of God. Gen. 3:8. What part of Adam's life was weakened by his disobedience? His spiritual life. Eph. 2:1, 12. What change also affected his physical being? Gen. 2:17.
2. What part does the will perform for each individual? The will is the deciding faculty that dominates mental and bodily action.
3. Why do we now have power to will and do God's pleasure? Phil. 2:13; Heb. 13:20, 21. The right of choice was restored to fallen man for a probationary period.
4. When is the sense of guilt and condemnation lifted from the soul? Rom. 8:1.
5. When is the spiritual life lost by Adam's dis obedience restored to the individual? John 3:3; 5:24.
6. What place has spiritual enlightenment in the work of restoration? Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:23.
7. By a change of mind and restoration of spiritual life, to what state of perfection is the believer in Christ to be brought? Matt. 22: 36-40.
8. Can this be done in this world while the majority are selfish sinners? Christ demonstrated that it could be done from childhood to death.
B. Jesus' Oneness With God.
1. How did Jesus love God with all His heart, soul, mind, body? John 8:28; 4:34; 5:30; 6:38.
2. How did Jesus receive the strength of will to keep God and His Word always in mind? Ps. 16:8; Heb. 5:7, 8.
3. How did He retain the consciousness of the love and approval of God? John 15:10.
4. What is Christ's earthly life to reveal to us? John 14:6, 7, 9.
5. What are God's characteristics that we may receive through Christ? Ex. 34:6, 7. Merciful, gracious, long-suffering, abundant in good ness and truth. Jer. 9:24. Loving-kindness, judgment, righteousness.
6. In what way is Jesus a demonstration of God's love for us? John 3:16; 1 John 3:16.
7. How did Jesus reveal that God is merciful? John 6:37, 38; Matt. 9:13.
8. How did Jesus show that God is gracious? Stooping low to be kind to an inferior. Heb. 2:14, 15.
9. How was the long-suffering of God revealed in Christ? Matt. 27:27-31; Luke 23:34.
C. Oneness With Christ the Secret of Godliness.
1. What is Christ to accomplish for us in this revelation of God's character? Phil. 2:5. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." Eph. 5:2. Walking in love as Christ did.
2. What promise of oneness with God was made through the prophet Hosea? Hosea 2:19, 20. The agreement of betrothal when two become one in righteousness, judgment, loving-kind ness, mercy, faithfulness.
3. How did Jesus state this same promise as God's purpose for us? John 17:23, 26.
4. What, then, is the main key to the full trans formation of our character to this divine like ness? John 14:22-24.
(End of Series)