Before being diverted by wild speculations about the book of Revelation's (chapter 13) first "beast" (also commonly referred to as "Antichrist"), it is vital to understand that the generation we live in is more rational, skeptical, and well-informed than ever before. It is highly unlikely that a charismatic spiritual-political leader will suddenly "pop-up" out of nowhere and quickly convince the world to follow him by the appeal of charisma and even signs and wonders.
The first "beast" of Revelation 13 must be equally influential both spiritually and politically, for we know from Revelation 17:12-18 that ten nations will come under the geopolitical influence of this "beast" in order to attack the "harlot" (see Why did God name America "Mystery Babylon?"). This Antichrist is likely a man who has achieved greatness during a lengthy spiritual-political career, being gradually vindicated by a succession of past, present and future supernatural prophetic signs, which will peak at the opportune time (see Revelation 13:13-15).
Although there are plenty of celebrity figures with great social (e.g. Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, etc.), symbolic (e.g. Prince Charles, King Hussein) and even spiritual (e.g. Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra) influence, they have little or no geo- (i.e. worldwide) political influence. Even as the leader of the world's greatest superpower, President Bush's spiritual influence hardly goes beyond his personal faith -- all his attempts to do so would likely be dismissed as politically motivated, and in violation of Church-State separation. On an international level, almost every nation in the world (including Islamic theocratic states) must abide by a similar separation of internal religious affairs from their roles in world politics.
To date, the Vatican State (Holy See) is the only religio-political power in the world, making Roman Catholicism the only world religion to have a political role in world affairs. During his Pontificate, Pope John Paul II has been making historical political (i.e. diplomatic) and religious amends in relations with countries and religious leaders all over the world -- he contributed to the "liberation" of the U.S.S.R., made a historical conciliatory millenial tour to Israel and Arab nations, and has made historical progress in pacifying Cuba's and most recently China's communistic hostility towards Catholicism, all within the missionary context of "consecrating" these nations to the "Immaculate Heart of Mary." It is important to note that certain Marian prophecies/apparitions that have been endorsed by the Catholic Church directly relate to this Pope, such as one given to seer Conchita in Garabandal, Spain (click here for full message):
In addition to these events, Conchita has stated that she was told by the Blessed Virgin in 1962 that after the death of Pope John XXIII, "There would be two more popes after Pope Paul VI and that one of the popes would have a very short reign. After that would come the end times but not the end of the world." If Conchita has interpreted this vision of Mary correctly, then Pope John Paul II is the last of the popes before the end times begin. Conchita said that she has been given the date of the Miracle by the Blessed Virgin and will announce the date eight days before it is to occur. Since the Miracle will occur after the Warning, it is highly likely that both the Warning and Miracle will occur within the next thirty years given Conchita's present age (late forties) if this apparition is valid.To understand how the "miracle" (also described as a "Great Sign" like fire from heaven) relates to the events performed by the second beast (i.e. false prophet) in Revelation 13, click HERE...
The Pope has largely remained behind-the-scenes in the Middle-East since his unsuccessful attempts to intervene in the escalating Palestinian-Israeli tensions during 2000. Nevertheless, the securing of Vatican-Israel (December 1993) and Vatican-PLO (February 2000) agreements have granted the Pope legal, economic and religious authority in Jerusalem to reappear as a peace-maker at the "opportune time" (i.e. very soon), likely as a last resort to the UN's and US's failing attempts to bring Israeli-Palestinian peace. Already, at the close of Islam's 40-day Ramadan fast in December 1999, the Pope pleasantly surprised Muslims in SE Asia by fasting for peace with them. And PLO leader Arafat's unsuccessful attempts (i.e. blocked by the Israeli government) to attend a 2000 Christmas Mass in Bethlehem reveals a further warming in relations between the Vatican and Arab Muslims.
There is also evidence that the Vatican holds some of the treasures of the Second Jewish Temple destroyed in 70 A.D. These are instrumental to the rebuilding of the biblically prophesied Third Temple in which the "abomination of desolation" (Daniel 9:27; 12:11; Matt. 24:15; Mark 13:14) will be set up by the Antichrist and his False Prophet (the second Beast of Revelation 13:11-17). The Vatican may very soon use its diplomatic bilateral relations with Israel and the PLO to help Israelis and Palestinians come to an agreement about the coexistence of their respective holy sites - this would create a Muslim-Jewish peace (albeit temporary) that would elevate the peacemaker in the eyes of many. There is a prime candidate in the Vatican who seems to have the credentials to do this - Cardinal (and Archbishop of Paris) Jean-Marie Lustiger, a Jewish survivor of the holocaust who is also a staunch Zionist. He is also numbered among the possible successors to the Pope. Could the Judeo-Christian Lustiger indeed become the false prophet who elevates the Antichrist (Pope John Paul II) so that the whole world (especially Jews and Christians) may worship him and his image (the "Blessed Virgin")?
And how will the Pope and Vatican seduce the largely secular world leaders of the EU and UN? Pope John Paul II endorsed the 2000 "euro" currency takeover as a "heaven cent", blessing the European economy's progression towards centralized "One-World" economic control (described in Revelation 13:16-17):
"Meanwhile, the Pope has emerged as a big fan of the euro and not because his profile will adorn some 670,000 coins being minted by the Vatican.
"The Holy See pays careful attention to the building of a united Europe," the pontiff said last week. "This spirit of negotiation and dialogue has allowed nations that were once enemies to work together and the single currency is a further step in that process." Price that, if you can.
Although the Vatican's minting of papal euro coins is regulated by the European Central Bank's guidelines (which allow an annual quota for every EU member according to its population, the Vatican being the smallest member-state), it does raise suspicions about the nature of the image/mark of the beast described in Revelation 13:15-17. For now we at least know that a hard copy of the "image of the beast" will be hoarded into the pockets of many Europeans as a collectors item.
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