Michael casts out rebel angels. Gustave Doré
The fact that today, 28th July, 2014, marks the centenary of the First World War gives us some pause for thought on the prophetic vision of Pope Leo XIII, concerning the 75-100 years of Satan's greater power. Most Catholics who lend credence to this vision connect it to the two World Wars of the 20th century, meaning that the outbreak of the First World War is the first moment in history that Satan's period of greater power had immediate and tangible effects. As we have noted several times throughout this blog, Pope Leo's vision is directly based on the "little while" given to Satan in the Book of Revelation, which tells us that the Devil would be unbound for a short period of time towards the end of the world for the purpose of gathering the nations together for war:
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.
And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea.
So the primary consequence of Satan being unbound at the end of the Millennium is that he would deceive the nations of the world to make war against one another. It is these wars that Christ foretold would occur amongst the signs that announce the beginning of the birth pangs of the end of the age, and the increase of lawlessness during this time of great turmoil would cause many to question their faith, leading to the age of the Great Apostasy:
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
...because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.
The ultimate goal of the Devil in gathering the nations together for war is not just limited to the destruction of life, but is rather aimed at the loss of faith in the face of the philosophical Problem of Evil. Just like the story of Job (which forms the basis for the vision of Pope Leo XIII), the true purpose of the Evil One is to lead the servants of God into open rebellion:
Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.”
In pitting the nations of the world against each other, the true focus of Satan's attack is against the Church itself, by calling faith in an omnibenevolent God into question. This ambition is reflected metaphorically in the vision of the forces assembled by Satan that lay siege to the Church, which is represented by the Heavenly Jerusalem:
And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city...
The theme of Satan gathering the nations together for war at the end of the world is given earlier in the Apocalypse, which places these events at the Mount of Megiddo (Hebrew Har Megiddo - from which we get the word Armageddon), which should be equated with Mount Carmel - the location of the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal for the fate of the land of Israel.
The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”) And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.
The Apocalypse gives a number of signs that mark the beginning of the "little while" given to Satan, upon which he gathers the nations together for war. The above passage cites one sign as the drying up of the river Euphrates, which could possibly be linked to the construction of the Hindiya Barrage (completed in 1913), which required the river Euphrates to be temporarily dammed. Rev 9 mentions two further signs that herald the unbinding of Satan in the abyss towards the end of the age - a star falling down to the earth and the appearance of metal-clad flying "war horses" that look like locusts:
And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth.
The most famous occurrence of a "star" or meteorite falling to the earth, and the largest impact event in recorded history, is that of the Tunguska Event in 1908 - which just so happened to coincide with the invention of military airplanes. In addition to this, the key to the bottomless pit/abyss/hell/Hades which is given to the angel in Rev 20:1 is equated in Rev 1 with the seven stars held in the right hand of Jesus - which appears to suggest that the opening of the abyss would also be marked by a rare alignment of the seven classical planets - which occurred at the beginning of Advent in December 1899, just months after Pope Leo XIII consecrated the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:
In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
It seems then that the "angel" who is given the keys of Death and Hades is none other than the figure of the pope himself - which accords with the words of Christ when he conferred St. Peter with the keys to heaven:
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
This appears to suggest that one of the ways that Peter exercises his authority over heaven and hell is through performing requested acts of consecration, which can only add to the level of importance of the consecration asked by Our Lady of Fatima. In Zech 3, Joshua the High Priest (who also seems to represent the figure of the pope as pontifex maximus) is similarly granted the authority over entry into the house of God, in the context of Satan accusing him in a manner which is startlingly similar to the story of Job (which again forms the basis for the prophecy of Pope Leo XIII):
"Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by.
And the angel of the LORD solemnly assured Joshua, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here."
We can thus see why this vision was given to the pope himself, rather than anyone else, as the figure of the pope is an important part of the scriptural symbolism which is alluded to here. It would appear that Pope Leo XIII was chosen to be the recipient of this vision because he was the leader of the Church at the turn of the 20th century - a century during which Satan would be unbound in order to test the servants of God. Once the full influences of Satan were unleashed at the beginning of the 20th century, he set about gathering the nations together for war in order to test the faith of the people of God, which began with outbreak of the First World War on 28th July, 1914, following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
The Apocalypse mentions this gathering of nations together for war against the Church in Rev 19 also, this time elaborating upon another sign that would occur during this moment in history - the appearance of an angel "standing in the sun". Does this description of an "angel standing in the sun" in the Book of Revelation refer to the Miracle of the Sun seen at Fatima on October 13th, 1917, during the height of the First World War?:
Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army.
The movement of the sun at Fatima reflected the vision of the angel holding the flaming sword seen in the Third Secret, which threatened to set the world on fire. The angel standing in the sun described in the Apocalypse heralds the battle of Armageddon, which is described in the context of an eschatological banquet. It seems to be beyond coincidence that the shepherd children saw the Virgin Mary appear as Our Lady of Mount Carmel during the Miracle of the Sun (the "Mount of Megiddo" or Armageddon), within a month of the publication of the Balfour Declaration calling for a Jewish national homeland in Palestine; or that the Battle of Megiddo in 1918 took place just under a year later, the consequences of which led to the land of Palestine falling under the British Mandate, which eventually resulted in the restoration of the land of Israel in 1948.
Indeed when we look to the parallel passage concerning the eschatological banquet described in the Book of Ezekiel, we find that this event is also described in the context of the restoration of the land of Israel towards the end of the world:
“As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord GOD: Speak to the birds of every sort and to all beasts of the field, ‘Assemble and come, gather from all around to the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you, a great sacrificial feast on the mountains of Israel, and you shall eat flesh and drink blood. You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth—of rams, of lambs, and of he-goats, of bulls, all of them fat beasts of Bashan. And you shall eat fat till you are filled, and drink blood till you are drunk, at the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you. And you shall be filled at my table with horses and charioteers, with mighty men and all kinds of warriors,’ declares the Lord GOD.
“And I will set my glory among the nations, and all the nations shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid on them. The house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God, from that day forward. And the nations shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity, because they dealt so treacherously with me that I hid my face from them and gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and they all fell by the sword. I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their transgressions, and hid my face from them.
“Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel, and I will be jealous for my holy name. They shall forget their shame and all the treachery they have practiced against me, when they dwell securely in their land with none to make them afraid, when I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them from their enemies' lands, and through them have vindicated my holiness in the sight of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, because I sent them into exile among the nations and then assembled them into their own land. I will leave none of them remaining among the nations anymore. And I will not hide my face anymore from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD.”
The restoration of the land of Israel is undoubtedly a prophetic sign, and will in some way facilitate the future conversion of the Jews, when God will pour out his Spirit upon the house of Israel - which the Catechism teaches must take place before the Second Coming of Christ. This event appears to be intimately connected with Our Lady of Fatima, who appeared to the shepherd children bearing the star of Esther - the Old Testament figure who delivered the Jews from persecution (see the earlier post Our Lady of Fatima and the Jewish Holocaust). The fact that so many of these signs all occurred at the beginning of the 20th century helps us to establish that the "little while" of Satan began at this exact time period, and that the first fruits of the era when Satan would be granted greater power was the outbreak of the First World War, which occurred 100 years ago today.
The meaning of the battle of Armageddon should not be confined to the First World War alone though, as the Apocalypse breaks this great eschatological war into three separate components - one belonging to the Dragon, one to the False Prophet and one to the Beast/Antichrist, represented by the three demonic spirits that issue to gather the nations for war:
And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.
So what we have here is three separate occasions on which the nations are gathered together for war - three world wars. The war instigated by the demon that issues from the mouth of the Beast is obviously still set in the future, during the reign of the Antichrist. The war caused by the demon that issues from the mouth of the False Prophet must be the Second World War, since the False Prophet is modelled after Antiochus IV Ephiphanes - a persecutor of Jews. So the demon which issues from the mouth of the Dragon must therefore refer to the First World War, and is synonymous with the flood poured out of the mouth of the Dragon which threatens to carry the Church away:
The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood.
The below video by Robert Duncan from the Catholic News Service shows how the mistakes that led to the unprecedented tragedy of the Great War are already being repeated in the modern age, and that the danger of a Third World War in the future is still very much a possibility.