This week we examine the power and influence of the Catholic Church in Europe and the part it has to play in the dramatic events before the return of Christ. This is Matt Davies joining you.
The Pope to Address the European Parliament
It was announced on Sunday 21st September 2014 that Pope Francis will be addressing the European Parliament on November 25th of this year.
The following is from an article on the Catholic News Service:
"In visiting the parliament, the pope will be accepting an invitation made by Schultz during a visit to the Vatican in October 2013. "The decision to come to Strasbourg before visiting any individual EU member state as such gives a strong signal that the pope supports and encourages the pursuit of European integration and unity," said a statement by German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, president of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community. "We hope that the Holy Father will encourage European parliamentarians in their work and that he will indicate how the foundational values of the Union -- inspired to a large degree by the Christian faith -- may shape the Europe of tomorrow."
Consider the power the Pope has here. No other religious leader can address political leaders in this way and it is significant to remember that many of the European politicians subscribe to the Catholic religion.
A mission begun long ago
The Catholic church has long been behind the gradual unification of Europe in it's dream to help re-establish the Holy Roman Empire of old where it enjoyed a high level of authority and power. It has strived to revive this since it was stripped of its power in the 1800's.
It was back in 1975 when addressing the bishops of Rome that the then Pope, Pope John Paul clearly stated “Can it not be said that it is faith, the Christian faith, the Catholic faith that made Europe? It is there that our mission as bishops of Europe takes a gripping perspective. No other human force in Europe can render the service that is confided to us, promoters of the faith to re-awaken Europe's Christian soul, where its unity is rooted”.
This sentiment was echoed by John Paul’s successor, Pope Benedict XVI, who quoted and reinforced this statement in a speech held on 24th July 2005.
Earlier this year on 27th of May whilst addressing Italian workers this same Papal terminology was again regurgitated by the current Pope, Pope Francis:
"What can we say, when faced with the very serious problem of unemployment that affects various European countries?… This great challenge requires the involvement of the Christian community as a whole … The first challenge is to revive the roots of faith and of our adhesion to Jesus Christ”
The Catholic church has long been campaigning for the unification of Europe. This mission is well underway as we have seen in recent years the gradual unification of European power. From the outside it might seem that this has been done purely on a political basis but it is clear when one looks at the facts that the European Union is steered slowly but surely by it’s religious backbone. The Catholic church who behind the scenes is guiding The European Union for its own interests.
This is exactly what we would expect to see as we near the end of gentile times.
Symbology in the Bible
In the Bible we often have prophecies which are proclaimed in symbol. It is so that only those who put the time and effort into understanding them will be able to decipher their meaning.
One of these symbols is a symbol of "beasts". In Daniel 7 we have recorded four such beasts.
v4 - Lion
v5 - Bear
v6 - Leopard
v7-8 "dreadful and terrible" forth beast
We read in verse 17 the interpretation of what these symbols mean:
"These great beasts, which are four, are four kings [or kingships / kingdoms], which shall arise out of the earth."
These four kingdoms then correlate to a previous chapter about the Kingdom of men in Daniel, chapter 2. They represent the Kingdom of Babylon, in the Lion. The Kingdom of Medo Persia, in the Bear,. The Kingdom of Greece in the Leopard and the Kingdom of Rome in the Forth Beast.
It is this fourth Kingdom which stays on the earth in different guises from the times of the original Roman Empire, right up, past our day until it is removed by the Lord Jesus Christ when he returns.
This is spoken of in Daniel 7 in verse 13:
"I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."
This person termed "one like the son of man" also has a host of people with him called "saints" or "called out ones". We read they are instrumental in taking away the Kingdom from the beast in verse 17-18:
"These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever."
It is interesting to note that associated with this fourth beast are ten horn powers v7. One of these horn powers is picked out in the prophecy and we are given more details about it. It is a religious power. We read this in verses 20-22:
"And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom."
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
'The beast' then represents a system of power which exists down through time until Christ returns. Daniel 7 is an overview of this system but later in the prophecy of Revelation we are given further details.
In Revelation we find that this great and terrible fourth beast actually goes through various phases.
In Revelation chapter 12 we read in verse 3:
"And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads."
We have that connection then with a beast-like animal, the dragon, which has 'ten horns' - but this system develops.
In chapter 13 we read of two further phases. For example in Chapter 13 and verse 1 we read:
"And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority."
The same system but just a different phase!
In verse 11 we read of an 'earth' beast which exercises the same power as the previous sea beast. Again another phase in it's development.
Sadly time does not permit a full historical exposition of these various phases - but as an overview; the 'Dragon phase' is speaking about the Pagan Roman Empire, the 'Sea Beast phase' is all about the Christian Roman Empire and then the 'Earth Beast phase' is a prophecy of the time of the Holy Roman Empire.
What is fascinating though in the light of recent news, is the final phase depicted of the beast system in Revelation. The details are extraordinary when we consider current world events.
This final phase is given to us in chapter 17. We read this in verses 3-6
"So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the 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:
And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration."
So we have the connecting characteristic then of the 'ten horns' showing us this is the same system.
Sitting on this beast is a woman who applies herself as a whore. In the scriptures a woman represents a community of people (see Ephesians 5:23, John 16:21 and 2 Corinthians 11:2). A whore denotes an unfaithful community, a people who have gone astray from the things of God (see Hosea 1:2, Jeremiah 3:8 and James 4:4). This woman is closely related to Babylon which take us back to Genesis 11 and the place where false worship began, Babal.
This religious system is riding the beast, the political empire. It is steering the territories of the Roman Empire of old. We read this system which runs the beast is the "mother of other harlots". A mother of many apostasies!
In verse 6 she is known for her persecution of the true saints. She is a community known for ruthless opposition to the truth of the Bible.
By the way, this links with Dan 7:26 - with the blasphemous little horn which speaks great things and persecutes God’s true saints.
The Revival of the Beast
In verse 8 we read that this system revives from being almost forgotten on the world stage:
"The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is."
This beast system then, “was” somehow around before. Then it almost disappeared because it “was not” and yet, at the time just before Christ returns it revives and is on the earth!
The final aspect of what we want to consider is what is recorded in verse 12-14:
"And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. ¶ These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful."
So we can be sure that this is the final phase of the beast system because it is the phase which Christ, 'the lamb', and those saints who are with him will remove. This is the same prophecy as Daniel 7, just with more detail.
We see from these verses that on this final phase ten horns appear to be 10 notable kings, or dynasties which are on the territory of the beast. These all pool their resources and powers to receive a Kingdom with the beast.
The signs of the Times
So to summarise our expectations then, just before Christ returns we should see a force in the world, a political system, “the beast” which will revive and be based on the old Roman Empire system. We would expect to see nations giving their economic, military & sovereign control to it and uniting together. We would expect to see a religious “woman” community which will heavily influence its politics.
This is exactly what we see when we consider Europe today.
The Pope is calling for this unification. He is making ready to address all the political leaders of Europe on 25th of November this year. You can be sure he will use this to instil Catholic church dogma into the leaders who mostly subscribe to his church. We will see him, and his church, guiding Europe as a woman riding a beast.
As time goes on more and more calls for integration are being echoed around the media. For example The Telegraph on 22nd June 2014 had an article entitled "Italy to push for 'United States of Europe' when it hosts the EU presidency". The nations are giving their power to the beast. The harlot woman community is ready to take her seat. The question is - are we ready? Whose side will we be on in the climax of the dramatic events soon to take place? There can be only one victor.
Back in Daniel 7 we read: "And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him."
Let us therefore strive to follow the gospel of Jesus Christ in the time that remains. Let us live as "the people of the saints" having taken on the saving name of Christ in baptism and in striving together for the faith of the gospel.
Join us again next week God Willing, for another Bible in the News.