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Chapter 8

The Deadly Wound Is Healed

 

THE San Francisco Chronicle, Tuesday, February 12 1929, exploded with the headlines, "Mussolini and Gaspari Sign Historic Roman Pact. . . . Healed Wound of Many Years." It was hardly likely that the correspondent and the editors of the San Francisco Chronicle had any concept of the significance of the dramatic event they were reporting. The previous day, February 11 1929, Cardinal Gasparri (representing pope Pius XI) and Benito Mussolini (representing King Victor Emmanuel III) signed the Lateran Treaty.

When the nation of Italy was reunited, in 1870, by Garibaldi, no temporal kingdom was allotted to the Papacy. In fact, the Papal States were forcibly wrenched from Vatican control and ceded to the kingdom of Italy. This festering sore left a major rift between the Italian monarchy and the Papacy. As a protest against the decision of the Italian monarchy to cede the Papal States to the kingdom of Italy, no pope had set foot outside the Vatican from 1870 to 1929; however, things changed with the signing of the Lateran Treaty. Among other things, the kingdom of Italy guaranteed the international sovereignty of the Holy See, giving it absolute and sole jurisdiction over the Vatican State. This territory was merely 108 acres. The words chosen for the San Francisco Chronicle report were most remarkable. These included "healed the wound of many years" and "healing the wound which had festered since 1870." These very words paralleled the words used in Scripture almost two thousand years before in the prophecy of the revival and the renaissance of the Papacy.

And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. (Revelation 13:3, emphasis added)

Revelation, chapter 13, provides dramatic insight into the final efforts of the antichrist power to deceive the world and coerce all its inhabitants to obey his edicts. It offers evidence that the Papacy would dominate the Christian world for 1260 years (see chapter 5 entitled "The Medieval Reign of the Papacy"). This period ended in 1798 when General Berthier of Napoleonís army conquered the various Italian states, and eventually took the reigning pope, Pius VI, prisoner to northern Italy and then back to southern France, where he died in August 1799. This act inflicted the deadly wound that was prophesied in Revelation 13:3. At that time, few foresaw the future revival of the Papacy, because of its apparently complete destruction.

In the year 1797, the Directoire (revolutionary government of France) had commissioned Joseph Bonaparte (brother of Napoleon), who was already at Rome, to make plans that, upon the death of the sickly Pius VI, no new pope would be elected. The Directoire saw the Papacy as the irreconcilable enemy of the French Republic. To the dismay of the French leadership, Pius VI survived and recovered from his illness. Had Pius VI died in 1797, as seemed certain, the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation which told of the 1260-year medieval rule of the Papacy, would have proved wrong by one year. Biblical prophecy is accurate to the very year.

On arrival in Rome in 1798, Berthierís officers demanded that Pope Pius VI surrender his temporal power. When he refused, he was dragged from the altar, his rings were removed from his fingers, and he was taken prisoner. With the death of Pius VI, in August 1799, and Napoleonís declared determination that no successor would be elected, it was believed almost universally that the Papacy had come to its final and irreversible end. One correspondent wrote the obituary of the Papacy.

However, the sure word of biblical prophecy said that the deadly wound would be healed. (Revelation 13:3) That healing has been a long and slow process, but it began surprisingly early. Shortly after the death of Pius VI, the French Revolutionary forces had serious catastrophes, and troops had to be withdrawn from southern Italy. Taking advantage of this situation, the cardinals met and elected Barnabas Chiarominti as Pope Pius VII on March 14, 1800, only six and a half months after the popeís death; thus began the re-establishment of the Papacy.

Surprisingly, Napoleon soon became reconciled to the fact that most of the French citizens supported the Roman Catholic Church. He signed a concordat with the Catholic Church, declaring that the state acknowledged the Catholic Church as the religion of France, and called for the loyalty of the bishops to the state. On December 2 1804, reluctant Pope Pius VII had traveled to Paris in order to crown Napoleon as the emperor of France in Notre Dame Cathedral. Napoleon took the crown from the surprised pontiff and crowned himself as emperor. Today, the Vatican museum displays the magnificent pair of eight-feet-tall porcelain candlesticks used during the coronation ceremony which followed Napoleonís assumption of the title of emperor. Napoleon offered them as a gift to the restored Papacy. Step by painful step, the Papacy began its rise until the Lateran Treaty of 1929 was signed. From this point onward, the power and influence of the Papacy experienced steady growth. More recently, that growth has been dramatic.

It is strikingly significant that the deadly wound of modern spiritual Babylon parallels the wounding and resurgence of ancient Babylon. From the early time of the restoration of civilization after the Noachian flood, Babylon and Nineveh dominated the world. For at least 1,300 years, the city of Babylon was held the pride of the Middle East. This period of time was very similar to the 1260 years of papal domination in medieval Europe; however, in the year 700 b.c., ancient Babylon was to receive its deadly wound. At that time, Assyria (to the northwest) had assumed domination over Babylon. Just as France held similar religious beliefs to those of Italy, so Assyria had held pagan concepts similar to those of Babylon.

In 721 b.c., Sargon II completed the captivity of the Israelites commenced by his predecessor, Shalmaneser V. After the death of Sargon II in 705, Sennacherib cast his eyes upon the southern kingdom of Judah. Marshaling a mighty army, Sennacherib would have succeeded, but the miraculous intervention of God left 185,000 Assyrian soldiers dead outside the walls of Jerusalem (see 2 Chronicles, chapter 32).

After the death of so many soldiers, the army of Sennacherib was depleted. Sensing the weakness of Assyria, the Babylonians revolted; however, Sennacherib succeeded in putting together another army that ruthlessly put down the revolt of the Babylonians, destroyed multitudes of its people and its images, and razed the city to the ground. This destruction seemed to be the final demise of ancient Babylon. It had received a deadly wound.

Before the end of the seventh century b.c., Nabopolassar, the Chaldean, assumed the throne of Babylon. He destroyed Nineveh, and established a kingdom greater than any before. Under his son, Nebuchadnezzar, the neo-Babylonian Empire became the greatest in the world. And the city of Babylon was established as the center of culture and education. The deadly wound certainly was healed; yet Jeremiah accurately prophesied the events which were to occur during the height of its power.

Out of the north there cometh up a nation against her, which shall make her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein: they shall remove, they shall depart, both man and beast. (Jeremiah 50:3)

Come against her from the utmost border, open her storehouses: cast her up as heaps, and destroy her utterly: let nothing of her be left. (Jeremiah 50:26)

Therefore the wild beasts of the desert with the wild beasts of the islands shall dwell there, and the owls shall dwell therein: and it shall be no more inhabited for ever; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation. As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the Lord; so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein. (Jeremiah 50:39, 40)

And will send unto Babylon fanners, that shall fan her, and shall empty her land: for in the day of trouble they shall be against her round about. (Jeremiah 51:2)

And the land shall tremble and sorrow: for every purpose of the Lord shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without an inhabitant. (Jeremiah 51:29)

Subsequent to the dramatic healing of the deadly wound of ancient Babylon, the city was destroyed, at the height of its glory and power, by Medo-Persia in 539 b.c. In an amazing parallel, the Bible foretells the wounding, restoration, and final destruction of modern Babylon at the height of its glory and power.

And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all the nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. (Revelation 14:8Ė11)

And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. (Revelation 16:19)

We are living during the time that the Papacy is being restored to even greater power than it exercised during the Middle Ages. The influence of the medieval Papacy was, for the most part, confined to the sphere of Europe; however, the neo-papal power is asserting its mighty influence over the whole earth.

And all the world wondered after the beast. (Revelation 13:3)

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8)

And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth. (Revelation 17:18)

As lads growing up, we well remember Pope Pius XII (successor to Pius XI). As Cardinal Pacelli, he had been papal nuncio to Nazi Germany. He was greatly suspected, during World War II. of being sympathetic to the Nazi and Fascist causes. It was still an era of contention between many Protestants and Roman Catholics. We cannot forget our maternal grandfather, John Bailey (of northern Irish Protestant heritage), and his unwavering bigotry against Roman Catholics. He was an avid reader of The Rock, a weekly paper put out by anti-Catholic Protestants who reported every excess of the Roman Catholic Church.

Many years later, Russell (then a physician in Sydney) happened to have the editor of The Rock, Mr. Campbell, as his patient. Russell mentioned our grandfatherís loyalty to his paper. The editor bitterly reported that in the 1940s this paper had enjoyed a weekly circulation of 40,000 copies, but had dropped, by the 1970s, to a monthly paper with a circulation of about 2,000. Then, with strong emotion, he added, "Itís all the fault of those ecumeniacs." Times had certainly changed.

The suspicion that Pope Pius XII engendered was especially strong in the allied nations. At that time, it was easy to distrust the Papacy and the Roman Catholic Church. After the death of Pius XII, in 1958, the College of Cardinals unexpectedly chose the 76-year-old Cardinal Roncalli as Pope John XXIII. Many expressed the view that he would be an interim pope until the cardinals could agree upon a more suitable younger man. But John XXIII, in four and a half short years, changed the face of Catholicism. His Vatican II Council altered the image of the Papacy from one of intrigue and suspicion to that of love and social justice. The impact of this change was more obvious in the United States than in most countries. Just prior to the Lateran Treaty, Al Smith had accepted the Democratic nomination as the 1928 presidential candidate. But Smith, a Roman Catholic, was overwhelmingly defeated by the Republican, Herbert Hoover. Anti-Catholic feelings clearly governed the votersí decision at that time. Some predicted that no major party would be foolish enough to again field a Roman Catholic presidential candidate.

Little more than thirty years later, the ecumenical climate was so favorable and Pope John XXIII had so modified the papal image that John Kennedy, a Roman Catholic, not only received his partyís endorsement but won the presidency. Since then, the relationship between the Papacy and Washington has shown dramatic improvement. American presidents now commonly visit the pope. In the 1980s, Protestant Ronald Reagan utilized the growing popularity of the Papacy to his political advantage. He correctly perceived that he could enhance his reelection prospects by meeting with Pope John Paul II, in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1984. A few decades earlier, such a meeting would have almost certainly doomed his reelection prospects; further, President Reagan engendered remarkably little opposition to his move to reestablish full diplomatic relations with the Papacy for the first time since the 1860s.

In the latter part of the 1980s, we witnessed even greater evidences of the revival of papal influence. For decades the relentless advances of atheistic communism, which had engulfed almost half the population of the world, had seemed like an irresistible force that threatened to envelop the whole planet. Communismís advances were so spectacular that most overlooked the steady resurgence of the Papacy. Only those who continued to diligently search the sure Word of scriptural prophecy were not deluded. They were brave enough to declare that it was not communism but Catholicism that would be the major "player" in the events culminating in the return of Jesus.

The latter part of the 1980s left the world spellbound with the rapidity of the changes occurring in both the political and the religious worlds. As communism was being dismantled in Eastern Europe, the religious world was relentlessly pursuing union, not only among Protestant denominations but even more significantly between Catholics and Protestants (see chapter 9, entitled "And All That Dwell Upon the Earth Shall Worship Him"). The stage was being set for the great final test of loyalty to God.

 


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