Transitions . . .
Vol: 41 Issue: 24 Thursday, February 24, 2005
Transitions . . .
Pope John Paul II was admitted to the hospital for the second time in two weeks, suffering from respiratory distress that the Vatican officially ascribes to ‘the flu’.
According to papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the Pope’s return to the hospital was made necessary so he could receive “necessary specialized assistance and further tests,” to treat his symptoms.
The Vatican played down the seriousness of the hospitalization, saying a patient of the pope’s age is always at risk from the flu.
A medical health bulletin was to be issued Friday morning, and no details on the pope’s health were expected to be released before that, the Vatican said. Thursday’s hospitalization was the pope’s 10th since his election in 1978.
The Vatican noted that Rome has been particularly cold, wet and windy in recent days.
Only yesterday, Navarro-Valls told the press, “The pope is better and the pope is getting better, but, popes, much like the leaders of the former Soviet Union, are usually reported to be in ‘excellent’ health right up to the day that they die from ‘colds’.
Whether or not the pope is actually suffering from the flu or not, it is abundantly clear that the pontiff is, if not at death’s door, certainly well along the way up the sidewalk to it.
It is likely to the point of certainty that he will not be around to celebrate midnight mass this Christmas.
The impending death of the head of the Roman Catholic Church means a new era for the world’s one billion-plus Catholics. Taken as a percentage, Roman Catholics make up some 17.4% of the global population.
For comparison purposes, the United States represents less than five percent of the world’s total population, although the United States, according to the US Bureau of Statistics, is itself the world’s third most-populous nation, after China and India. There is a LOT of Catholics out there.
John Paul II is currently serving his 27th year as pontiff, making him the third-longest serving Pope in 1700 years of Catholic history. But his reign hasn’t been without controversy.
Liberal Catholics have balked at bans on female priests, contraception and gay marriages. They have made it clear they want a more democratic Church in the future.
History will also footnote his reign as the one under which the Church suffered its worst sex scandal in history, revealing the existence of a huge homosexual population among its clergy.
The question reverberating around the Vatican now is who will succeed him? There are a number of candidates, and any member of the College of Cardinals under the age of 80 qualifies.
Among them is Jean Cardinal Lustinger, the recently retired Archbishop of France. Lustinger is 78, and it is unlikely, but not impossible, that he will be elected to succeed the current pontiff, but should he ascend to the papal throne, he would be the first converted Jew to ever do so.
It is a tradition in the Vatican to elect popes who are already of advanced age when they ascend to the throne, so Lustinger’s age doesn’t disqualify him, although his health may.
Although it angers many Catholics, the Bible ascribes a pretty unflattering role to the Church of Rome in the last days, particularly since the Apostle John’s identification is based on some pretty unflattering, but historically accurate, observations of her characteristics.
It is NOT my intention to anger Catholics, or to provide ammunition for others to use to ‘bait’ them as part of their personal evangelistic ministries. Let me say clearly that the Catholic Church exists as a system, but it is made up of individuals who are sincere believers in that system.
Within that body of sincere believers are those that I believe sincerely trust Jesus Christ for their salvation. “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out,” Jesus promised, and I believe Him.
Saved Catholics, along with Baptists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, the unchurched and anybody else who asks Jesus to save them will be Raptured before the Time of Jacob’s Trouble unfolds.
So let’s not get into a big debate in the forums beating up on Catholics. They are NOT a system. And nobody is led to Anyone by pushing them away, if you get my drift.
That said, the Apostle John clearly identifies the religious system of the antichrist as the post-Christian Church of Rome. When I say clearly, I’m not exaggerating.
The Roman Empire was never conquered, and when it imploded, the spiritual power of Imperial Rome transferred itself to the Church of Rome. No medieval European king came to power without the Pope’s blessing, nor held it at the Pope’s displeasure.
Think of it this way. Israel, as a nation, survived its Diaspora because they held together as a ‘peculiar people’ spiritually, strictly following the Divine guidance of the Torah and its commandments.
The Church of Rome served a similar role in holding together the spirit of Rome until its appointed time in history as well. The Apostle John describes the ‘beast’ of Revelation as a beast “that was, and is not, and yet is” in Revelation 17:8
John pictures the ‘beast’ in its component elements; the ‘political’ beast [Rev 13:1]– [that element we call the ‘antichrist’]; the ‘religious’ beast [Rev 13:11] –[the false prophet]; and the ‘system’ of the beast [Mystery, Babylon].
The system is pictured as a;
“woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:” [Revelation 17:4]
The colors are the symbolic colors of Rome, depicting both the incomparable wealth of Rome and the unfortunately accurate history of the Roman papacy.
No need to debate it. The debauchery and depravity of the medieval popes of history, not to mention the Roman Inquisition era, make a letter-perfect match for the contents of the golden chalice of John’s vision.
“And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” [Revelation 17:5]
The Roman Church is unique in its practices of ‘appointing’ saints, worshipping Mary as a co-Mediatrix with Christ, claiming authority over heaven and hell via the sacraments, praying to statues of saints, and so forth.
All of these practices were carried over from the Babylonian religion of Semiramis, Nimrod and Tammuz.
Again, one can debate it all day, but history is history, and that is how and when those practices originated.
Now, we return the “the beast that was, and is not, and yet is” and the mystery of how it could exist, not exist, yet still exist is unlocked by the historical record.
The Vatican is situated in an enclave within the ‘City of the Seven Hills’ as Rome is often referred to.
“And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.” [Revelation 17:9]
Again, please think this through. This is a SYSTEM, not individual Catholics.
I was once a Catholic, and the easiest way to close my mind was to attack my church, since the discussion immediately turned away from MY spiritual condition, something I really didn’t want to contemplate anyway.
The information is true, but the purpose here is to put the passing of the current Pope into prophetic perspective, not to drive away Catholics who are receptive to the message of salvation by grace through faith by attacking their religion.
John describes the false prophet who works in concert with the political beast as one having ” two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon”.
The imagery of the lamb suggests a form of Christianity, but the message is symbolized by the ‘dragon’ — always indicative of Satan.
Is the next Pope the false prophet? I wish I could say I knew. But 2005 appears to be a year of transitions.
The death of Yasser Arafat has changed the dynamics on the ground in Israel. There is at least a possibility of an agreement. The only sticking point, in practical terms, is security guarantees. Everything else is negotiable by both sides.
In Europe, Secretary-General Javier Solana is uniquely positioning himself to be the one who can provide those security guarantees through his personal political brainchild, dubbed the Euromed Project.
Solana heads BOTH the WEU [a SECURITY alliance consisting of ten FULL member states] and the EU [an ECONOMIC alliance encompassing the geographic old Roman Empire] thanks to a document issued by the WEU and bearing the ominous title of ‘Recommendation 666’.
Europe is steadily expanding its alliance, already encompassing most of the former Soviet Union, the Euromed states, extending all the way to the steppes of Russia, should the Ukraine’s request for EU membership be accepted.
And the Roman Catholic church is about to get a new Pope.
Please understand that I am NOT saying that Javier Solana is the antichrist figure of Revelation 13:1. Solana could be hit by a bus tomorrow — but somebody WOULD step into his job.
I think it is a grave error to try and put names to figures God has deliberately obscured, just as I believe it is a grave error to put a date to the Rapture.
In both cases, they are, at best guesses that serve no useful purpose. If one guesses right, they won’t know until the Rapture. If one guesses wrong, it only serves to sow confusion and disappointment. Guess who THAT serves?
But Jesus said that we COULD know when the Rapture was near, ‘even at the door’, and gave us clear and unmistakable signs, ‘mile markers’, so to speak, along the road leading to the close of the Church Age.
Of all the disparate elements that make up all of the signs of the last days, three elements MUST exist before the Church Age ends and Daniel’s 70th week begins.
Israel must exist as a besieged, but physical JEWISH state.
There must exist a revived form of the Roman Empire, led by a single authority figure as part of a vast, global political system ultimately accountable to ten ‘kings’.
There must exist a global religious system, large enough and centralized enough to legitimize a new system of pseudo-Christianity sufficiently modified as to accommodate all the other religious systems in the world, but excluding those who put their individual trust in Jesus.
Last, but not least, there is the relationship between Revelation 13:18 and the creation of a super European leader under the authority of Recommendation 666 to consider.
With all of that, remember that throughout God’s revelation, He uses the preface ‘Here is wisdom’. That isn’t a literary device. Exercise wisdom with this information.
Don’t allow yourself to be diverted down a rabbit trail, making more of Recommendation 666 or Javier Solana or the next pope than might be there.
“Wisdom” is found in recognizing the SYSTEMS that are evolving for what they are, not tracking down the individuals who may or may not lead them into the Tribulation.
It is irrelevant, even to those who think the Church won’t be Raptured before Daniel’s 70th Week. What advantage would there be in knowing Javier Solana is THE antichrist or Pope NewGuy is THE false prophet, even if you were there?
At best, it would get YOU beheaded FIRST, for cryin out loud.
If the SYSTEMS are in place, then what else does anybody need to know? The Bible says that somebody takes them over. Knowing who is irrelevant.
Applying ‘wisdom’ to Divine Revelation, we know that if the antichrist’s system is in place, then we know the time is short and our mission of bringing Christ to the lost is that much more urgent.
We know that every person we meet is either going to meet Christ in the Church Age or he will meet the antichrist alone and make the choice demanded in Revelation 13:16.
It is that close.
We can put faces to those who will face that choice alone if we fail in our mission, something far more productive to the kingdom than trying to put faces on the ones who will demand it.
It is enough to recognize the signs that warn that choice will soon be offered.
“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” [Romans 13:11]