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Note: This blog post is part of a series titled "God's Labor Laws." To view all parts, click the link below.
We live today at the end of an age—actually, the end of multiple ages, each varying in length, yet ending together. The short, final era is that which is described in Revelation 13:11-18. It is the era in which the “beast” from the earth enters the stage to influence men’s philosophies and to dominate through the creation and use of money.
The Feudal System (Bondage)
The previous beast, which was said to arise from the sea (Revelation 13:1), was the religious system of the church, primarily the Roman church which reigned supreme in the West. Based upon Justinian’s Corpus Juris Civilis, western civilization had produced a system of near slavery known as the Feudal System. It flourished from the ninth to the fifteenth centuries.
The Feudal System structured societies around three classes of people: nobility, clergy, and peasants. In this arrangement, the nobility constituted the landowners and the military, the clergy established religious practice, and the peasants worked the lands to produce food and goods.
Justinian’s law in 529 A.D. revised the original Roman laws and established Church Law in its place. Hence, it is the basis of canon law in the Roman church, as well as civil law in European countries. Unfortunately, the Church was fulfilling the prophetic reign of King Saul, rather than David, and so it was fatally flawed and could not endure forever (1 Samuel 15:23).
The Feudal System directly contradicted the biblical pattern of the Kingdom. Whereas Joshua divided the land among the families of Israel so that everyone would be able to steward his own portion of land, the kings and nobles in the Feudal System laid claim to all or most of the land, leaving the peasants dependent upon noble slave masters for their livelihood and defense.
This social arrangement was massively disrupted by a key event in world history: the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Thousands of refugees, many of them carrying Greek copies of the New Testament, flooded into Europe. Likewise, many brought classical literature from the ancient Greek era. Men began to learn Greek in order to read the New Testament from the older Greek texts, rather than having to rely upon Jerome’s Latin translation.
At the same time, the printing press was developed from Chinese technology that had been brought to the West by the Mongol invasion two centuries earlier. The first Bible to be printed was the Gutenberg Bible in 1452. It was a German translation, and hence the Protestant Reformation first took root in Germany. In the following century the Bible was translated into English, and it was not long before England took the lead.
The printing press brought education of all kinds to the average people, because suddenly books were available at much lower prices. Education took two forms: religious and secular. Those who studied the Scriptures searched for the biblical way to establish Kingdom government. Those who studied classical Greek literature and its concept of Democracy began to work against the Feudal System and its canon law.
By the year 1500 the Feudal System was all but an empty shell, displaced by new theories of government. The world was changing. But the most dramatic end of the Feudal System occurred on August 4, 1789, when the National Assembly in France announced, “The National Assembly abolishes the feudal system entirely.”
This coincided with the start of the French Revolution, fomented by the secular revolutionaries. It also marked the end of the era dominated by the beast from the sea (Revelation 13:1-10). France was the most powerful nation dominated by the Roman church until the French Revolution (1789-1794).
The Two Beasts
The beast from the sea was given “forty-two months” in which to dominate (Revelation 13:5). That is the equivalent of 1,260 days, which, in long-term prophecy is 1,260 years. Justinian’s Corpus Juris Civilis, which changed the laws (Daniel 7:25), brought about the era of the “little horn” which was given 3½ “times” of dominion. John quoted from Daniel and interpreted the 3½ times to mean “forty-two months,” which was actually 1,260 years.
Whereas Daniel saw only one beast dominating the end of the age, a beast which he called the “little horn,” John saw two beasts. Hence, Daniel’s revelation was incomplete, and God raised up John to supplement the prophecy, so that we would understand the conditions at the end of the age. John says that the first beast comes out of the sea, and the second from the earth.
The first beast (from the sea) is marked by the “little horn” who would “intend to make alterations in times and in law” (Daniel 7:25). This was fulfilled by Emperor Justinian, who first changed the calendar to mark the year of Jesus’ birth, instead of the founding of Rome. He then set about changing the entire legal system, changing it from Roman law to Church law.
Justinian’s law, establishing canon law and the Feudal System, was first written in 529, revised in 530, and took effect at the end of 534 A.D. The era of the beast from the sea then ended 1,260 years later with the French Revolution (1789-1794).
Out of the French Revolution came the rise of Napoleon, the overthrow of the Pope in Rome, the church beast’s “deadly wound” (Revelation 13:3), and the subsequent healing of that wound when Napoleon reinstated the pope in 1804 in order to have a worthy man crown him as emperor.
In the same year that Napoleon took the pope captive (1798), Nathan Rothschild left his home in Frankfurt, Germany and established his banking empire in London. This marked the rise of the financial beast from the earth (Revelation 13:11), which was given dominion until the time came for the saints to possess the Kingdom (Daniel 7:22).
Hence, the long age of tribulation which began with the fall of Jerusalem in 604 B.C. is now coming to an end. The final portion of that long tribulation is the age where the beast from the earth has reigned supreme, controlling the world through its power to create money.
The Rise of Socialism
Socialism arose out of the French Revolution. Hence, from a biblical point of view, Socialism is the political philosophy of the beast from the earth. It declares theft to be a righteous principle.
Socialism started out as a way to deal with the inequities of the Feudal System. The slogan, “Liberty, Fraternity, Equality,” was their secular way of setting the people free from religious oppression during the era of the beast from the sea. The movement, however, was quickly taken over by rich and powerful men acting in secret, who saw in this revolution an opportunity to overthrow their greatest rival for power—the Roman church.
To them, Socialism was a way to equalize all men and all wealth—except for their own, of course. The Socialist philosophers were deceived (or bribed) into thinking that they could create a better world by stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Certainly, there were huge inequities in “Christian” society that needed to be addressed, but the revolutionaries assumed that the Bible was the problem, and that the solution was to overthrow Christianity.
They did not understand that the Church did not reflect biblical teaching, nor could the Feudal System be remotely compared to the liberty established by the law of God (James 2:12). The Socialists advocated “fraternity,” whereas the Bible establishes “fellowship” in the family of God (1 John 1:3). The Socialists advocated “equality,” whereas the law of God defines and protects all rights equally and demands “impartiality” in the administration of justice (Deuteronomy 1:17).
Yet from prophecy we know that when the beast from the sea fell, it was not yet time for the saints to possess the Kingdom. Hence, the Socialists grew in power throughout the 1800’s, as men came under the spell of the beast from the earth. Socialism soon split into two factions: Nationalist and Communist. Nationalism was the secular form of “Fraternity.” Communism was the secular form of “Equality.” Both were rooted in atheism, which is secular religion. (This has now evolved into occult religion, i.e., the replacement of the true God with false gods/spirits.)
The main split in the Socialist movement came in the 1840’s between Marx and Proudhon. Marx wrote The Communist Manifesto, which advocated the destruction of Capitalism. His views clashed with Proudhon, the father of anarchists, and his war against the centralized, bureaucratic state. Marx’s teachings were strongest in Germany and Russia; Proudhon’s teachings were strongest in Latin and Slavic countries.
Proudhon’s primary maxim was that “property is theft.” By this he meant that “property is the right to use and abuse” [Pierre-Joseph Prudhon, What is Property?]. Because property is usually claimed by robbers—especially monarchs—“property engenders despotism.” He argued that if property is a natural right, then this natural right is anti-social.
His theories were applied in the Socialism of the Soviet Union in the last century, through probably in precisely the opposite way that Proudhon had envisioned. Proudhon wanted people to live in equality without government bureaucracy, for this was the ideal of Communism. The problem with Communism is that it first requires Socialism, where it is claimed that all property belongs to the people (collectively), but in practice, it is used and controlled by a privileged government bureaucracy.
In effect, Socialism steals all territorial property by stealth by claiming decision-making power over its use. Secondly, it steals men’s labor, which is also property, by claiming the right to decide how that which he produces should be spent. In Socialism, a man no longer owns his own labor, for he is a slave of the State.
In a biblical system, one’s labor is a natural right of property that is protected by government. In Socialism, there are no natural rights, because the State recognizes no God above itself. The State then assumes ownership over all men and their labor. Whether men work hard or very little, they receive equal reward. This is Socialism’s definition of equality.
The Bible gives everyone equal rights to work or not to work and rewards them according to their labor. Everyone has the opportunity to work, at least on a basic level, because everyone has a land inheritance by which he may increase his wealth.
In the past century, Socialism has become ingrained in the laws and politics of most nations. It was most prevalent in the Soviet Union until it collapsed upon itself, but the principles of Socialism are evident everywhere. It was implemented slowly through a gradual increase in taxes, along with the rise of government-sponsored “welfare.” The Bible respects the labor of all as a natural right. Welfare is built into the system as well in the law of gleanings.
Beyond that, men are told to love their neighbors as themselves and to assist people in whatever way they are able. Yet Kingdom government does not have the right to steal from one who has property just to give it to another who is poor. Socialism is a secular system that tries to achieve equality through a counterfeit love that is lawless and violates the eighth commandment.
The dominion of the earth beast has now concluded, and the time of ungodly government is ending. It is important for us to know how past “beast” nations have oppressed the people so that we are able to teach the nations the principles of the Kingdom in fulfillment of Isaiah 2:2, 3.
Note: This blog post is part of a series titled "God's Labor Laws." To view all parts, click the link below.