Prophetic Dates Beyond the Cross of Christ in the Judgment Hour?
A good starting place for Christians to begin to mature in their God ordained role of proclaiming the Gospel to all the world would be for God's people to begin to understand that the early Christian church of John's day recognized the seven headed beast of Revelation 13:1 as symbolic of the Roman Empire of their day.
The falling away and apostasy from the true Gospel began in Paul's day while the Roman Empire was still in its ascendency. It was Paul in 2 Thess 2 who predicted the "taking away" of the Pagan Roman Empire as the persecutor of the church to be replaced by a pseudo-Christianized "Man of Sin" and an "image to the Beast" (Rev 13:7) that would be the final persecuting power that makes the final war with the "woman in the wilderness" (Rev 12).
With this in mind, we must understand that it is the apostate religions of the world called "Babylon" and united under the Papacy which have made war and continue to make war with the true persecuted evangelical Christian church. This apostate pseudo-Christian papal religion which took over the fallen Roman Empire is represented in Revelation 13:11 as a "lamb-like two horned beast", the Papacy, who takes over the governance of the fallen Roman Empire and ruled over the "Holy" Roman Empire, symbolized in Revelation 13 by the "10 horns" or divisions of the Roman Empire.
To believe as some Christians do that the "1260 days" of the persecution of the church would begin in AD.538 and end in AD.1798 when the Pope would be taken prisoner by Napoleon's general, Berthier, is indeed a very immature and Biblically unfounded interpretation. The metaphorical time prophecy of "42 months" and "3 and 1/2 years" and "1260 days" of Revelation must be interpreted as symbolic of the era spanning the time from the ascension of our Lord until the finishing of the mystery of God at His second advent.
This symbolic time period is the entire era of great suffering and tribulation for the church of Christ throughout church history as she bears her testimony to all the world in the proclamation of the Gospel. It is very poor prophetic interpretation to try to put the rise of the "image to the beast" as taking place after the year AD.1798 with the rise of the Unites States of America. The "Image to the beast" power called the "false prophet" came into full power following the fall of the Pagan Roman Empire, as the Papacy. But the roots of the Papacy began to sprout even in Paul's day in the form of the Gnostic Judiaising Circumcision party who sought to destroy the Gospel truth of justification only by faith in the doing and dying of Christ on the cross. They sought to impose salvation by good works of obedience upon the church and in so doing mostly eclipsed the gospel truth of justification by God's unmerited grace alone through faith in Christ's doing and dying alone until God commenced the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.
This Reformation is now to be completed today by the evangelical Protestant movement to restore all that the Man of Sin has "cast to the ground". It is justly impossible for most honest Protestant bible students to take some Christian groups seriously so long as they continue to place so much reliance for the proof of their prophetic role in church history upon dates like October 22, 1844 and 1798 as being dates that are taught in the Bible as fulfilling Bible prophecy.
We do not need any "date" other than knowing that our Lord died upon the cross for the sins of the world in aproximately AD 31. This is the last prophetic date of the Bible and is the only date that the Bible teaches in Daniel 9. To try to teach that the Bible foretold the date of the formation of the Papacy in AD. 538, the fall of the Papacy in AD. 1798, the date of the Lisbon earthquake, the date of the "falling of the stars", and the date of October 22, 1844 is to stretch the Historicist school of prophetic interpretation to the breaking point. It is time for some Christian groups to learn the full truth of the Gospel and to unlearn some of their immature teachings of the past.
The Roman Catholic church and her doctrines and work of persecution are those of the Antichrist prophesied by the Apostles Paul, John, and Jude. This is the "Man of Sin" who would cause a "falling away" in the Christian church, and then after the collapse of the Roman empire, take over the reigns of both the church and the Empire. Most of the Protestant reformers believed and taught this. This is exactly what the 13th chapter of Revelation describes: the first "beast" is the Roman Empire of the apostolic era, the second "lamb-like beast" is the Roman Catholic "image to the beast" which revives and restores the mortally wounded Roman Empire.
The Bishop of Rome took over the "seat of the Beast", Rome, and then ruled the divisions of the divided empire through a union of the church and the state. The "deadly wound" of the first "beast" occurred when the empire fell, and the "healing of the wound" represents the emergence of the office of the Papacy to govern the "Holy Roman Empire" through the Dark and Middle Ages and even today as the Pope sits upon the throne of Rome in the Vatican.
The 3 and 1/2 prophetic "years" are an allegorical reference to the era of the "last days" when the true Christian church will prophecy in "sack cloth" as the "woman in the wilderness". The "last days" or the allegorical "1260 days" began at Pentecost and will end when our Lord finishes His ministration as our great High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary above.
Clearly the Lord has begun this restoration of the gospel in the movement of the Protestant Reformation and the final manifestation of this Reformation in the evangelical Seventh-day Adventist movement that we see taking place today. The final physical fall of Babylon will be effected by the "seven last plagues", but her spiritual fall has been and will continue to be proclaimed to the end of time by the true Christian people of God. John in Revelation promises us the spiritual defeat of the powers of "Babylon" in the final proclamation of the everlasting Gospel (Rev 14) which defeats the "false prophet", the beast, and the "image to the beast". All these events take place in the symbolic era called the "3 and 1/2 years", or "42 months", or the "1260 days". This is an allegorical era, not a strictly literal 1260 years of history.