In parts one and two of this series, I gave you a background based on Bible prophecy and history that leads me to believe that Revelation 17 speaks about the short reign of Benedict XVI and the installation of Pope Francis, and seems to point to him being the last pope. Here, I'll break down for you how I came to that understanding of Revelation 17.
I do believe that the world is ending, but not as is often portrayed by Hollywood or mass media. I believe it according to the sound rootedness of scripture. As the Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:16, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." And for those who don't think prophecy is something the average person can or should try to understand, Revelation 1:3 says, "Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand." At the end of Revelation in chapter 22, verse 7, Jesus says, "Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book." In Amos 3:7, the Bible says, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." A time is coming when it will be hard to find the things and the words of God all around. It will be against the law to live out a Godly life, to worship God according to his Word, the Bible. Amos 8:11-12 say, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.."
Today is the time to study for yourself. 2 Timothy 2:15 reads, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Remember that spiritual things are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14-15). So, we have to approach Biblical study with prayer, allowing God to guide us, to reveal things to us, so we don't end up like the "unlearned and unstable" who wrestle the scriptures on their own, to their own detriment (see 2 Peter 3:16-17).
Now that that bit of housekeeping has been done, let's talk about Pope Francis being l'ultimo papa. In Revelation 17:6, John says he wonders greatly, he's astonished, by this woman who was drunk with the blood of the martyrs and the saints of Jesus. But in verse 7, the angel asks why he's astonished and proceeds to explain the mystery of this woman and the beast that carries her.
- The beast "was, is not, and shall ascend" (17:8), which is reminiscent of the beast of which "the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And [John] saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed." (13:2-3)
- When the beast ascends out of the bottomless pit, it goes into perdition, or final ruin (17:8).
- Just as in 13:3, the whole world wonders after this beast whose deadly wound was healed, 17:8 points out that all those who are not written in the book of life, from the foundation of the world (which contributes to the case for a judgment that's going on now in heaven--but that's a whole nother blog post)--all those who don't accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and live according to His Word (the Bible)--wonder when they see this "beast that was, and is not, and yet is".
- 17:9 says, "Here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sitteth." 17:18 says, "And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth." One place comes to mind and that is Vatican City, the smallest country in the world. Yet it has great sway, great influence the world over in religion and politics, and many spheres of society.
- 17:10, "And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space." The wound that was delivered to the papacy in 1798, during the reign of Pius VI by General Berthier of Napoleon's army, was healed during the reign of Pius XI. The Lateran Treaty, signed in 1929 between the Italian government, headed by Benito Mussolini, and The Holy See, headed by Pius XI, granted the papacy political power once again by allowing the Vatican to become an independent nation. In 1929, Roman Catholicism also became the sole religion of the state of Italy, even though they tolerated other religions. So, Pius XI became the first sovereign, or king, of Vatican City.
- 5 pope/sovereigns reigned and died before John Paul II was crowned. I remember growing up with him as pope and thinking that there could never be any other pope. He had the longest reign of the sovereigns thus far, 1978-2005, 27 long years. I believe the reference to the king that is, refers to John Paul II. He was King #6.
- The one that comes after him and continues a short space would be #7, Benedict XVI.
- 17:11 says, "And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition." I believe there is a warning here. The beast that was and is not, was a persecuting church, selfish and greedy, power-hungry. Pope Francis, the 8th sovereign in the line of Vatican sovereigns may give a great image of ecumenism (which in a lot of ways brings the death of true, Godly worship) and love for those in poverty, etc, but all is not as it seems.
"And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."
This is assurance to me that God has His people in the Catholic Church too. And beyond--all over the world. But there comes a time when the sheep must be divided from the goats, the wheat from the tares. If you love God with all your heart and want to do His will, He will help you to know what to do, how to live for Him. Just trust Him and all will be well. He is coming back for a people ready to meet Him. Don't you want to be ready?