The End of Days, part I
February 15 05
With the recent hospitalization of pope John Paul II, and the subsequent stirrings within the Vatican regarding a possible resignation of the pope, I thought it would be appropriate to consider the prophecy of a twelfth century Roman Catholic named Malachy.
Malachy apparently had visions concerning the succession of popes from Celestine II (1143) up until the "end of the age." According to his prophecy, there would be 111 popes dating from Celestine II and then the end would come. John Paul II is number 110. Many centuries after Malachy's death, someone added one more pope (112), but according to the original document, there will be only one more following John Paul II.
Malachy used "mottos" to describe the popes and the motto for the next pope is "gloria olivae," or "glory of the olive." We know that the olive branch speaks of peace and it is assumed, then, that the next pope will usher in world peace -- a pseudo peace, of course. This would coincide with Bible prophecy where we see a world leader coming on the scene who will broker a 7-year peace treaty with Israel and her neighbors, and usher in a general peace around the globe.
The added (112th) pope is named Petrus Romanus, Peter of Rome, and the prophecy goes thus: "In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the Roman who will feed his flock among many tribulations, after which the seven hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people." If such a pope were to exist, his rule would coincide with at least the latter half of the tribulation period (if not earlier) after which Yeshua will return in judgment (that is, the sheep and goat judgment of Matthew 25).
So, if John Paul II is due to leave office soon, whether due to death or resignation, the next pope would be the one to usher in the tribulation period, or at least reign until just before the tribulation period.
In thinking about the prophecies of Malachy, one must consider the possibility that Malachy was a false prophet. He was Roman Catholic, which means he most likely did not have a proper understanding of God. In addition, I do not know if he wrote any other visions aside from the vision of the succession of popes, so I do not know if any other such vision has come to pass. At any rate, I do not put weight on such visions that would elevate them to Biblical status, as you know. I am not saying that Malachy was a true prophet of God and very likely he was a false prophet, much like Nostradamus whose prophecies were not one hundred percent accurate. However, many of the prophecies of Nostradamus have been fulfilled and, thus far, it would seem that Malachy's vision of the popes has been accurate. I am simply saying that his vision is interesting and it does seem to coincide with what is happening in the world right now. The only true authority, of course, is God and His written word.
But upon re-examining Malachy's vision, I also have been going over some of my other notes. Did you know that the Mayan calendar, which was created over 2000 years ago, is set to expire in 2012? There is a procedure for beginning another cycle of the calendar, but the original calendar ends just seven years from now. I was then thinking about my own study of the Book of Enoch. We know that Enoch "walked with God" (Genesis 5:24) and one of his prophecies is quoted in the Book of Jude in our New Testament. That quoted prophecy is taken from the Book of Enoch, so even though Enoch's book is not included in the Bible, I do find it interesting to read. Enoch had a vision that specifies a certain number of generations until the end of the Millennial Reign and, according to my calculations, the tribulation would have to begin sometime around 2011. I am not setting a date for the return of Yeshua; I am merely applying mathematical calculations, much the way Yeshua had expected the Jews to have done regarding His first coming (Luke 19:41-44). The Jews could have known, to the day, when their Messiah would have come by using the prophecies of Daniel and knowing the dates of the return from Babylonian exile, the rebuilding of the Temple, and the rebuilding of the Wall.
I find it fascinating that God has set the universe in motion and everything He does has form and structure. Even what seems like chaos has an underlying mathematical pattern. We should not ignore those signs around us that point to the return of our Lord. I am not advocating that we go out and study Nostradamus or adopt a Mayan lifestyle simply because these people seemed to have some insight into the end of days. Clearly, we are not to follow anyone but Yeshua and we are to weigh all things against His written word. But He did command us to watch for His coming (Mark 13:28-37). If we are to watch, then we must be aware of the signs. We should not ignore the signs around us, but realize that if they coincide with the signs stated in Scripture, then they are useful, if only to show that God is in control of all things and "the whole of creation groans and labors with birth pangs" (Romans 8:22), awaiting the deliverance to come.
Even if we do not know the time of His coming, we are commanded to watch for it, and we are commanded to continue our work for Him until the very end. He is coming and we have work to do. He is forming His Bride and it is our commission to go out and tell everyone about Him so that He will have the Bride He desires. We do not have much time left. We must be sober and vigilant. That means we are to be serious-minded and not take our life here so casually. He is worthy of our serious study of His word and the serious application of it.