Friday, March 15, 2013

Of Popes and Prophecy, Part 2


In my last post I gave a breakdown of Bible prophecies related to the different kingdoms, starting with the Babylonian kingdom, that affected God's people, the Jewish nation.  I believe that there is something in prophecy that shows that the stepping down of Benedict XVI was not "unexpected."

From the study I did last time, let's hop over to Revelation 13.  In verse one we meet another beast.  Keep in mind that a beast in prophecy refers to a kingdom/political power.  Based on John's description of the beast, we can go right back to Daniel 7 and make a link.  It would seem that he describes in the reverse order of Daniel because he is looking backward in time, and this beast is an amalgamation (or to put it simply, a mix) of the other beasts before it.  During John's time, Rome was ruling, and he knew the history of the kingdoms going back to the Babylonian era.  Just as the beast in Daniel 7 warred against God's people, so too the beast of Revelation 13.  The fourth beast in Daniel 7 has ten horns, the first beast mentioned in Revelation 13 has ten horns.  The beast of Revelation 13 and the Roman power are one and the same.  Revelation 12, verses 6 and 14 refer to a prophetic period of 3.5 years, during which the beast of Daniel 7 and that of Revelation 13 have "power over" God's people.  In prophecy, unless the explanation following says otherwise, we use the time formula 1 day=1 year (see Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6).  And 1 year by the Jewish calendar equals 360 days.  Thus, this 3.5 years equals 1260 days or 1260 literal years.  We can confirm this practical approach by looking at prophecies that have already been fulfilled like:

  • the Jews' return to Jerusalem from exile during the reign of Cyrus, the Persian king.

  • the length of Christ's ministry.

  • the time of His death.

I think there are times we're living in the midst of prophetic fulfillment, but we don't recognize it.  However, we are given markers that can serve to wake us up.  The Bible refers to the beast receiving a deadly wound.  It loses its power.  It is silenced for a time.  But the wound is healed.  It regains its political clout and the whole world wonders after this resurrected beast.

Utilizing clues I have already mentioned and ones like them, we can gain understanding for Revelation 17.  In this chapter, we come upon yet another beast.  But we can identify it as the same beast in Revelation 13 that is controlled by the dragon (which is Satan; see Revelation 12:9).  Important clues from Revelation 17:

  • the beast has ten horns (verse 3)

  • the woman riding it is drunk with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus (verse 6)

  • the beast goes away for a time, comes back and the unbelieving world (as in those who don't believe in Jesus the Christ) wonders after it (verse 8)

  • a woman in Bible prophecy refers to a church (see Revelation 12); a pure woman is God's true and faithful church; a harlot woman is an unfaithful church.

  • this unfaithful church has a counterfeit to the priestly order established by God while the Israelites were in the desert; it has the purple, scarlet, and gold of the priestly order and the earthly replica of the heavenly tabernacle/sanctuary/temple, but it doesn't have the blue, which was to point people back to God's law (see Numbers 15:37-39; see also Exodus 36 and 39); as I mentioned before, I do believe this unfaithful church refers to the papal system--if you look at images of Roman Catholic cardinals and bishops, you will see a sea of red and purple with gold mixed in.

  • this unfaithful church was a persecuting church, "drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus" (Revelation 17:6), up until it received its deadly wound (Revelation 13:3).

  • this unfaithful church is riding political power (the scarlet-colored beast with 7 heads and 10 horns), and that combination, which is what made it "diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns" (Daniel 7:7), unites church and state together in an iron grip--a religio-political system.

  • the setting for this harlot woman/beast combo is Vatican City/Rome:  "And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth." (Revelation 17:9) "And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth." (Revelation 17:18)  The City of Seven Hills generally refers to Rome and the Bible further qualifies by stating that it is that great city that reigns over the kings of the earth.

As I read through Revelation 17, as I prayed and studied it, and looked at the historical clues, the passage seemed to be saying that Pope Francis will be the last pope, that some serious power plays will go down, that the world will end during his reign.  This is pretty powerful stuff!  We’re living in an exciting time in the world’s history.  A time that will blow a lot of people’s minds.  A lot of people will be confused, will feel lost about what is happening.  But the Bible gives me my grounding.

In my next post, we will delve into Revelation 17 some more, and I will explain how I arrived at these conclusions.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Of Popes and Prophecy, Part 1

During the Rome evening last Thursday, the Vatican closed the main door of the Papal Residence at Castel Gandolfo.  A chapter in the life of Benedict XVI, born Joseph Ratzinger, also closed.  Many people around the world were shocked when the pope announced his resignation on Monday, February 11, 2013.  I was surprised too.  But in my surprise, I found rootedness in a Bible passage I'd read countless times, but didn't understand.  It came back to me when the news was released, and I decided to prayerfully study it.  My disclaimer is that I don't know everything, but I share what I've discovered, so you can study for yourself too, with lots of prayer.

In the Biblical book of Daniel, chapter 2, we find an incredible story.  A king has a dream he can't remember, gets angry at his wise men and magicians, and orders their death.  When the word goes out, young Daniel and his friends ask if they could have some time to pray for God to reveal this dream to them.  God answers that prayer, and we get a view into earth's history all the way from the Babylonian Empire to the end of the ages.  Now, in chapter 7, Daniel gets an expanded vision of the one God showed him in chapter 2.  We see that the four beasts align with the four kingdoms represented by the metals that form the Daniel 2 statue, and we get a bit more information.

Characters in my novel, The Remnant, go into a more detailed study of the symbolism of these chapters and what they mean than I'm going to do here; but should you have questions/comments, you can leave them at the end of this post, and I will respond.  A basic breakdown is as follows:

  • The gold of the Daniel 2 statue and the winged lion of Daniel 7 refer to the kingdom of Babylon.  This is clearly identified in chapter 2 when Daniel says to King Nebuchadnezzar, "You are the head of gold."
  • The kingdom to follow Babylon was represented by silver and the bear that was raised up on one side with 3 ribs in its mouth.  At the end of chapter 5, we see where the Babylonian kingdom is overthrown by Darius the Mede.  This kingdom was actually a partnership commonly referred to as Medo-Persia.
  • From history we know that the brass from chapter 2 and the leopard with four wings and heads refer to the kingdom of Greece.
  • The fourth kingdom of iron, which is represented by a great and terrible beast with iron teeth and ten horns in chapter 7, is the Roman kingdom.
  • After iron, in chapter 2, we see that the kingdom is divided--iron and clay, which cannot mix--and eventually, a stone that is cut out of a mountain without hands comes and destroys the statue.
  • In chapter 7, we understand that a judgment happens in heaven (the Ancient of days sits and the books are opened), and then Jesus (the Son of man) is given complete dominion, and the saints (those who love and serve God) gain possession of God's kingdom forever and ever.
  • We also understand from chapter 7 that this fourth kingdom, the kingdom of Rome, becomes divided into 10 kingdoms (the ten horns) and that a little horn uproots 3 of those kingdoms.  This little horn has the eyes of a man and a mouth that speaks great things.  This little horn king is diverse from the other 10 kings, makes war with God's people, blasphemes God, and thinks he can change God's law and time.  It is a religio-political power.  Here we have the transition from Pagan Rome to Papal Rome and the institution of the pope.
We will continue in my next post.