The Pope Addresses The European Parliament
As is typical of the approach of Pope Francis, his address was not controversial or aggressive. His genteel mannerisms, positive ecumenical messages, cheerful smile and friendly charisma have served him well at the start of his reign and helped him earn the prestigious title of man of the year for 2013. These hallmark characteristics were used to great effect as the Pope addresses Europe's top brass.
The very fact that this religious leader is able to influence the leaders of Europe in this way, helping to give them advice and exhortation, shows the great authority the Church has in the heights of power in Europe. No other religious leader has been given such a privilege as the papacy. Most of Europe's leaders are self proclaimed Catholics, most belonging to so called Christian Democrat parties (like Angela Merkel) and so to them it must actually be surprising they don't have the Pope speak more often, seeing that he is supposed to be God's representative on earth. His words will certainly not have gone ignored by the fervent Catholic faithful amongst the leaders he addresses.
Pope Francis addresses the European Parliament (image source: ctvnews)
The content of his address is most interesting to consider. The Vatican radio reported this summary:
"Pope Francis called on a “haggard” and “lonely” Europe to recover its role as a world protagonist, its identity as a defender of the transcendent dignity of man, the poor, the migrant, the persecuted, the old and the young, to recover its soul: Christianity."
For anyone who has studied the history of the Church during the dark ages, this summary of the content of the Pope's speech will resound with the echoes of hypocrisy. The pope asks Europe to consider the persecuted. Consider the persecution of Protestants and Jews of ages past which suffered so cruelly at the hands of the Catholic inquisition. Was Europe a defender of the transcendent dignity of man as it watched people being burnt at the stake for owning an English Bible? The Pope asks Europe to consider the poor having traveled from The Vatican, one of the most prestigious buildings in the world, whilst in Rome, a few miles away, there are very poor communities of people suffering. The key point reported though is that the Pope wanted Europe to recover its soul, Christianity. By this, of course, he means the Catholic version of Christianity. A Christianity so far removed from the truth of the Bible it is barely recognisable. It is in his interest to push this concept for in ages past the Papacy enjoyed much more power than it does now as it was part of the political powers of Europe and not simply a religion. The papacy lost this temporal power in the 1800s and has been working slowly but surely to try and regain it. It has come someway but it in no way enjoys the tyrannical power it once had (thankfully we might add). The leadership of Europe from a religious perspective though is something the Pope pushed. Here are a few extracts:
"I consider to be fundamental not only the legacy that Christianity has offered in the past to the social and cultural formation of the continent, but above all the contribution which it desires to offer today, and in the future, to Europe’s growth. This contribution does not represent a threat to the secularity of states or to the independence of the institutions of the European Union, but rather an enrichment. This is clear from the ideals which shaped Europe from the beginning, such as peace, subsidiarity and reciprocal solidarity, and a humanism centred on respect for the dignity of the human person.
I wish, then, to reiterate the readiness of the Holy See and the Catholic Church, through the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (COMECE), to engage in meaningful, open and transparent dialogue with the institutions of the European Union. I am likewise convinced that a Europe which is capable of appreciating its religious roots and of grasping their fruitfulness and potential, will be all the more immune to the many forms of extremism spreading in the world today, not least as a result of the great vacuum of ideals which we are currently witnessing in the West, since “it is precisely man’s forgetfulness of God, and his failure to give him glory, which gives rise to violence”.
The pope is here reminding the leaders of Europe of the statement written into law in the Lisbon treaty that Europe has to work with the Church. He dresses it up in nice words but the bottom line is he is asking for MORE influence in the direction Europe takes. This is exactly what we would expect from Bible prophecy.
The Pope focused on the idea of "humanism" (image source: Catholic Herald)
Before briefly considering a few Bible prophecies though, I just want to note that the single core theme which the whole talk is peppered with, is the doctrine of humanism. The ideas of human rights and unity on the basis of this were brought out time and time again. Here are a few extracts:
"Recognition of the importance of human rights came about as the result of a lengthy process, entailing much suffering and sacrifice, which helped shape an awareness of the unique worth of each individual human person. This awareness was grounded not only in historical events, but above all in European thought, characterized as it is by an enriching encounter whose “distant springs are many, coming from Greece and Rome, from Celtic, Germanic and Slavic sources, and from Christianity which profoundly shaped them”, thus forging the very concept of the “person”... Today, the promotion of human rights is central to the commitment of the European Union to advance the dignity of the person, both within the Union and in its relations with other countries. This is an important and praiseworthy commitment... Promoting the dignity of the person means recognizing that he or she possesses inalienable rights which no one may take away arbitrarily, much less for the sake of economic interests... ...I believe, therefore, that it is vital to develop a culture of human rights which wisely links the individual, or better, the personal aspect, to that of the common good, of the “all of us” made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society. In fact, unless the rights of each individual are harmoniously ordered to the greater good, those rights will end up being considered limitless and consequently will become a source of conflicts and violence... ... A Europe which is no longer open to the transcendent dimension of life is a Europe which risks slowly losing its own soul and that “humanistic spirit” which it still loves and defends..."
We clearly see here then, from the mouth of the Pope, his adoption of humanism. The concept that all humans have certain rights and that humans can answer the world's problems themselves. He does not mention the problem of sin. He does not mention the principles of Yahweh God of Israel. This man is standing firmly with the powers of this world and seeking to harmonise and make palatable his version of Christianity with the secular humanistic leaders of the day. This man it seems, is very cleverly seeking more influence and power from the European institution in the coming years.
The 6th vial
So why is this of interest to the student of Bible prophecy? Well because the book of Revelation says this about the time period in which we live, in Revelation 16:
"And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty."
In the next verse, verse 15, Jesus, the author of Revelation through God's spirit, reveals that it is at this time, at the time of the great battle of God Almighty, that he is revealed from heaven. It is at this time he returns to the earth in an open way.
The symbols used in Revelation are difficult to grasp at first sight. However we thought we'd spend the remaining few moments of this week's edition to briefly look at the symbols of the frog spirit, the false prophet and the beast.
The frog spirits are clearly a false teaching which permeates through the doctrines of those alien to God’s ways in the time just before Christ returns. They are Devils or idols of worship - concepts which men will live and die by. It is these teachings that will cause the great controversy of the time of the end which we speak of often in Bible in the news. The conflict is particularly over Israel and their land as is recorded in Ezekiel 38 for example.
The frog in scripture is only really used in connection with the plagues of Egypt and this helps us somewhat to unlock this symbol. Consider these concepts which connect with the plague of frogs:
- They came based on a false promise of liberty - Exodus 8:8
- They affected all levels of society - Exodus 8:2-4
- They corrupted - Exodus 8:14
Taking just these three ideas, and there are more, what doctrine do we see so passionately preached by the evangelists of our society which fits? Well, the doctrine of humanism ticks all of the boxes. The belief that human beings are able to be independent of God. The idea that, as long as a human does not directly hurt another human then they can do what ever is right in their own eyes. The idea that all human opinions are valid. This is a false idea of Liberty. It basically makes no opinion valid, especially not God's. It kills the concept of truth. It is a doctrine which makes men apathetic to the true problem of sin against Almighty God and that they have a nature bent towards disobedience to His ways. Humanism, human rights and equality has really only been developed in modern times since the French Revolution but it can now be found in all levels of society. It has corrupted many and brought them to hate or become apathetic to the God of the Bible and His Holy principles. We should however expect such ideas to exist in the time which remains before Christ's return for God will use these beliefs of man to bring about the great battle of Armageddon after which He will reveal His son to the world as the Bible outlines in its prophecies.
The False Prophet
We have read in the prophecy that one called a 'false prophet' will open his mouth and croak out this frog-like spirit. Who is the false prophet? Some have suggested perhaps Mohammed. However one has to consider a couple, of key facts in order to identify the false prophet correctly.
In the book of Revelation this is the first time this symbol has been used. We might ask why this is? Surely it is telling us that this is the first time we see this entity as a prophet. If this is correct we know when the False prophet appears on the world scene because his first appearance is here in the sixth vial in Revelation 16. The sixth vial begins with the drying up of the Ottoman power which controlled the river Euphrates and this occurred from 1820 onwards. Whoever the false prophet is therefore is someone who appears as such AFTER 1820 and not before.
Drawing of the 1st Vatican Council where the Pope declared infallibility - 1868
Mohammed and Islam have already made an appearance in Revelation chapter 9 which describes events around 600 AD - surely if this is what was meant then he would have been called a false prophet then instead of the "star which fell from heaven” - and their teachings have not changed since 1820. Islam does not fit the criteria of the time periods here.
However the Catholic Church's doctrines have dramatically changed since 1820. It was in the 1850s that the Papacy was stripped of its temporal powers and was removed from having any political authority in Europe. Shortly after this the first Vatican council was called by Pope Pius 9th in 1868. It was here that the Papacy, having no political authority left declared its dogma of Papal infallibility. The idea that when the Pope spoke ex-cathedra that he was in fact infallible.
Here then we have the papacy rising as a prophet, and a false one at that. It does this after the drying up of the power of the Euphrates and so it fits perfectly with the prophecy. Although much more could be said we hope we have demonstrated that the institution of the papacy answers to the symbol of the false prophet. As we have seen in the address of the Pope to the European Parliament, we are witnessing the beginnings of the croaking of the frog like spirit of humanism which will come from the Pope and influence the Kings of the earth to gather them for the Battle of God Almighty.
Who is the beast of the prophecy? Well one only has to study Daniel 7 to realise the beast is a symbol of the Kingdom of men in the West. This symbol of a beast is used in Revelation which outlines its various phases from the time the Revelation was given, around AD 90, right up until Christ returns. It is a symbol of the united political powers of Europe which have recently revived as Revelation 17:8 predicts.
Revelation 17 is a prophecy all about the state of the Beast just before Christ returns. It speak about its revival which tells us of the uniting of its ancient Roman territories and powers. It speaks in verse 13 of the kings of its system which give over their free will, sovereignty, political power and strength to its ideals.
Upon this revived political system sits a harlot woman. A symbol used in our scriptures of a community of people who have not been faithful to God's true ways. This woman answers to the community of the Catholic Church, who through the work of their figurehead leader, the false prophet, are beginning to take up this position of authority in Europe. They will sit on the political power of Europe as this harlot that sits on the beast, steering it in the direction she wants it to go. The speech of the Pope to the European Parlement then is a great sign of the times as he sort for the church to begin "meaningful, open and transparent dialogue with the institutions of the European Union."
True believers though will not be dismayed at the state of the fickle positions and clever words of a wolf in sheep's clothing. We are encouraged by these things for we know they must come about for they have been prophesied in God's word long ago. As we see these things happening around us we realise the power of the hand of God. We marvel at His foresight and are humbled at His revelations to His servants in revealing the signs of the times we live in. Who are we to have such blessings?