St. Bonaventure and the Angel, by Francisco de Zurbaran (1629)
The duration of the era of peace foretold to take place immediately before the coming of the Antichrist, is one of the topics contemplated by the Seraphic Doctor, St. Bonaventure, who linked the beginning of this period to the shout of the angel of the seven thunders:
“no one knows how long that time of great peace will last since “when they said ‘Peace and security,’ then suddenly destruction came upon them” (Matt 24:21). The seventh time or age, that of quiet, begins with the shout of the angel who “swore through Him who lives forever and ever that there would be no more time; but in the days of the seventh angel the mystery of God will be completed” (Rev 10:6-7).
In the sixth age three things take place – excellence of victory, excellence of teaching, and excellence of the prophetic life…. In this age there ought to come a life through an order which will possess the prophetic life. This age is double. Just as in the Lord’s Passion there was first light, then darkness, and then light, so it is necessary that first there be the light of teaching and that Josiah succeed Hezekiah, after which came the tribulation of the Jews through their captivity. It is necessary that one ruler, a defender of the Church, arise. He is either still to come or has already come. (He added: Would that he has not already come!) After him will come the darkness of tribulations…”
It was said to the angel of Philadelphia, the sixth angel: “He who is holy and true, who has the key of David, who opens and no man closes, closes and no man opens, says this – ‘I know your works, and behold I have placed an open door before you’” (Rev 3:7). (And he said that now for the first time the understanding of Scripture would be given and that the revelation, or key of David, would be given to a person or a large group, but I think rather to a large group.)
In the seventh age we know that these things will take place – the rebuilding of the Temple, the restoration of the city, and the granting of peace. Likewise in the coming seventh age there will be a restoration of Divine worship and a rebuilding of the city. Then the prophecy of Ezekiel will be fulfilled when the city comes down from heaven (Ezek 40); not indeed that city which is above, but that city which is below, the Church Militant which will then be conformed to the Church Triumphant as far as possible in this life. Then will be the building and restoration of the city as it was in the beginning. Then there will be peace. God alone knows how long that peace shall last.
(St. Bonaventure, Collation 16:17-19. Translated by McGinn, B. Visions of the End, pp199-200)
In the above text, St. Bonaventure connects the coming of the era of peace to the idea of a “seventh age” of the Church, which was a common interpretation of the meaning of the seven oracles addressed to the Churches of Asia Minor found in Rev 2-3. This in turn was partially based on the earlier tradition of a “Great Week” or “Sabbath Millennium” discussed by the early Church Fathers, which proposed that the whole of human history would consist of a week of millennia corresponding to the seven days of creation – in accordance with the words of 2Pet 3:8: “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” Using the chronology given in the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament, many early Christians, such as St. Hippolytus, calculated the date of creation to around the year 5,500BC, which placed the end of the Sabbath week of millennia at around the year 500.
However a completely different chronology can be found by using the original Hebrew version of the Old Testament, which yields a difference of 1,500 years. This alternative chronology was used during the 2nd century AD by Rabbi Jose ben Halafta to date the creation of the world to 3761BC, and this is still the date given for creation using the Anno Mundi system in modern Judaism. During the 17th century, Anglican Archbishop James Ussher of Armagh used the chronology given in the Hebrew Bible to calculate the date of creation as 4004BC - meaning that the seventh millennium of the “Great Week” actually began around the year 1996. If we are to interpret the significance of the Sabbath Millennium in relation to the more obvious symbolism of the Anno Domini calendar however, the primary point of reference would be naturally shifted to align with the turn of the millennium.
Although it must be noted that the seven ages of the Church discussed by St. Bonaventure is different from the idea of a prophetic week of millennia, they start to make a lot more sense once we reapply his meditations on Scripture to parallel this much older view of the Sabbath Millennium. St. Bonaventure states that the “time of quiet” during the seventh age, or the “time of great peace” would begin with the shout of the angel holding the little scroll in Rev 10:
Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. He had a little scroll open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land, and called out with a loud voice, like a lion roaring. When he called out, the seven thunders sounded. And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.” And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven and swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there would be no more delay, but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.
Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me again, saying, “Go, take the scroll that is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll. And he said to me, “Take and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter. And I was told, “You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.”
Angel of the Revelation, by William Blake
St. Bonaventure’s contention that the “time of great peace” which takes place at the start of the seventh age would be marked with the shout of the seven thunders is noteworthy in the fact that the sound produced by the angel here is described as being like a “roaring lion”. In the earlier post The Third Secret of Fatima and the Angel with the Flaming Sword, we have already discussed how the prophecy of the angel of the seven thunders can be connected to the terrible events of 9/11. We shall discuss this in some more detail shortly below. The link between the shout of the angel of the seven thunders and the attacks on the World Trade Centre recalls some remarkable private revelations given to Venezuelan mystic Maria Esperanza (1928-2004), who was proclaimed a Servant of God by Bishop Paul Bootkoski in 2010. The following material is taken from Catholic author Michael H. Brown’s website Spirit Daily:
It was Venezuelan mystic Maria Esperanza — whose cause for sainthood is now under investigation by the diocesan tribunal — who in December of 2000 claimed to Spirit Daily that enemies were on American soil — one of them a “small” enemy — and planning to strike. Our headline: “World-known mystic Maria Esperanza warns U.S. of foreign danger, sees world ‘saddened’ in a short while, is concerned with the Mid-East, the Pope, and two nations.” She was warning of two foreign “powers,” one that she described as small, the other larger, acting in such a way as to provoke America. “The United States has to be very careful,” she stated. “It has to act with a lot of prudence.” As her son-in-law and interpreter explained to us at the time (ten months before September 11), “She feels in her heart that there is a certain big thing that is about to happen.” He went on to say that a heaviness in her heart indicated something was on the way. She repeated this warning while in New Jersey that following March of 2001. It would be something that “will shake the world.”
Then, in mid-August of 2001, her family sent Spirit Daily a fax warning that the event of which she had been speaking was about to occur — which, of course, it did, less than three weeks later. The exact date: August 25 at 9:35 p.m. The fax said the event would occur in “three weeks or three months.” It happened 17 days later.
In the frenzied day after 9/11, Maria — who happened to be in northern Manhattan on September 11, during a long stay in the U.S.! — said she saw a “roaring lion” behind the attacks. This is before the world knew of Al Qaeda. It later turned out that Osama means “lion.” Years before, in the 1990s, she had described to pilgrims a vision she had of two large towers in New York on fire and collapsing…
(Read the full article here).
This particular insight, which appears to link the events of 9/11 with the sound of the “roaring lion” at the shout of the angel holding the little scroll, would further strengthen my hypothesis that the attacks on the Twin Towers during the turn of the millennium are directly related to the “blood, fire and columns of smoke” described by the prophet Joel. In the Book of Joel, it is prophesied that a number of visible signs would accompany the eschatological outpouring of the Holy Spirit during the Second Pentecost:
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
“And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.
The view that the events of 9/11 are related to the “signs in the heaven” predicted in the Bible, is apparently shared by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who upon returning from officiating Sr. Lucia’s funeral Mass in Feburary 2005, stated to journalists during an interview with the Italian daily newspaper La Republica newspaper that: “prophecy must always be interpreted: It is enough to think of the Apocalypse, of the signs in heaven. Have these perhaps not already been seen with the airplanes that toppled the Twin Towers?”
(La Republica, 17th Feb, 2005: cited in Socci, A. The Fourth Secret of Fatima p119)
The portion of the Apocalypse that the then Secretary of the Congregation of Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) was referring to during this interview is the signs in heaven that occur at opening of the sixth seal:
When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale.
The signs in heaven are also mentioned by Christ during His eschatological discourse on Mt. Olivet:
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn…”
This begs the question whether the connection between 9/11 and the “signs in heaven” was merely the personal musings of the Secretary of the CDF here, or whether this interpretation has been widely discussed within the highest circles of the Vatican hierarchy. Although the reference to the “blood, fire and columns of smoke” is omitted in the Apocalypse as part of the events which unfold at the opening of the sixth seal, we are prompted to compare this passage with its scriptural precedents in order to flesh out a fuller picture. When we do so, we can safely conclude that the “signs in heaven” consist of the following events:
A powerful earthquake
A total solar eclipse (the Sun becoming black like sackcloth)
A total lunar eclipse (or blood moon)
A great meteor shower
The appearance of the mysterious “sign of the Son of Man”
Some sort of major disaster which involves “blood, fire and columns of smoke”
As we have already discussed at some length in the post Signs in the Sky, all of these events occurred at the turn of the millennium (or the beginning of the Sabbath Millennium according to the chronology of the Hebrew Bible) – which can be linked to the start of the “seventh age” that St. Bonaventure believed would be inaugurated by the shout of the angel holding the little scroll (which sounds like a lion roaring).
We have noted in a previous post that a bridging connection between the angel of the seven thunders and the angel of the Third Secret of Fatima can be found once we examine the exact portion of the Old Testament which is alluded to in Rev 10. The motif of the angel raising his hand to heaven to swear an eternal oath in Rev 10:5 is directly lifted from Deut 32, which provides the additional detail that it is this same angel who holds the flashing, flaming sword which protects the way to the Tree of Life – the angel seen in the Third Secret of Fatima:
For I lift up my hand to heaven and swear, As I live forever, if I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand takes hold on judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and will repay those who hate me.
In the Third Secret of Fatima, the flames spewed forth from this sword which threaten to consume the world are temporarily quenched by the rays of grace that emanate from the hands of the Blessed Virgin, in order to allow a time of penance to take place before the final Passover of the Church – a period which should be equated with the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
…at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’. And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it’…
The imagery here is clearly based on that of the Miraculous Medal, which shows rays of light emanating from the hands of the Blessed Virgin, and the head of the Ancient Serpent being crushed underneath her heel. The focus of the wrath dealt out by the sword is now directed away from humanity, and is aimed at the head of the Adversary instead. Although the head of the Serpent is metaphorically crushed under the heel of the Woman Adorned with the Sun (in order to indicate who is ultimately responsible for his defeat – in accordance with the Protoevangelium of Gen 3:14), it is the Archangel Michael who is tasked to deal the fatal blow to the Enemy.
Archangel Michael Hurls the Rebellious Angels into the Abyss, by Luca Giordano (c.1666)
The fact that the angel of the seven thunders in Rev 10 is based on the angel holding a sword swearing an eternal oath in Deut 32, helps us to identify both figures as St. Michael – the angel who delivers the fatal head wound to the Ancient Serpent when he is cast out from heaven.
The imagery of the angel holding the open scroll is clearly modeled on one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – the torch-bearing Colossus of Rhodes. The Colossus was thought to have similarly stood with one foot on the land and one foot on the sea, largely based on the fact that the ancient dedication poem to the statue mentions its dominion “over land and sea” twice:
To you, o Sun, the people of Dorian Rhodes set up this bronze statue reaching to Olympus, when they had pacified the waves of war and crowned their city with the spoils taken from the enemy. Not only over the seas but also on land did they kindle the lovely torch of freedom and independence. For to the descendants of Herakles belongs dominion over sea and land.
(Anthologia Graeca 4, 171 H.)
The oldest representations of the Colossus of Rhodes in works of art always present the posture of this statue as standing with one foot on the land and one on the sea, holding aloft a blazing torch (which in visual terms readily evokes the imagery of a “flaming sword”). The depiction of the statue standing with one foot on the land and one on the sea was intended to symbolize the Rhodians’ military superiority over both land and sea. St. John would have been thoroughly acquainted with the story of the Colossus, since a particularly strong tradition informs us that he stayed for some time at the nearby coastal city of Ephesus, and the Apocalypse itself was composed on Patmos, one of the neighbouring islands to Rhodes.
The Colossus of Rhodes, from The Book of Knowledge, The Grolier Society, 1911
The Statue of Liberty, designed by the French Freemason Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, was directly modeled on the Colossus of Rhodes, and incorporates not only the same torch-bearing motif, but was also based on the presumed dimensions of the ancient wonder of the world. Bartholdi feminised his version of the colossus as a personification of liberty, and drew on similar themes found among the imagery of the goddesses of ancient mythology. Most notably, we find that the characteristics of the Statue of Liberty closely parallels that of the Greek goddess Hecate. As well as sharing the rays which form an aureole around her head, the goddess Hecate is similarly depicted in ancient art as bearing a torch.
The Hecate Chiaramonti, which resides in the Vatican Museums
Hecate wearing a crown of rays
Hecate was closely associated with the Egyptian goddess Isis and her counterparts in the Mesopotimian pantheons as the goddesses Ishtar/Inanna/Astarte. These were in turn derived from the same archetype as the goddess Semiramis – the legendary wife of king Ninus, who Greek historians identified as the eponymous founder of Nineveh.
As early as the Clementine literature, which dates to circa 300-400AD, Ninus was equated with the biblical king Nimrod, who the Book of Genesis tells us was also the founder of Nineveh:
Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD. Therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD.” The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went into Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.
In the mythology of ancient Assyria, the goddess Ishtar was the daughter of Ninurta, the god of Lagash – who has also been identified by scholars with the biblical king Nimrod. An interesting aspect of the Assyrian goddess Ishtar/Astarte, and her Sumerian counterpart Inanna is that her symbols in ancient art were the lion, and an eight pointed star which represented the planet Venus (the Daystar or Lucifer). Ishtar/Inanna was the goddess of erotic love (not marriage) and promiscuity, and because of her unpredictable nature, she was also associated with war and chaos. According to an ancient Sumerian text known as the Hymn to Inanna:
“She stirs confusion and chaos against those who are disobedient to her, speeding carnage andinciting the devastating flood, clothed in terrifying radiance. It is her game to speed conflict and battle, untiring, strapping on her sandals.”
The Sumerian goddess Inanna, depicted alongside her symbols, the lion and an eight-pointed star representing Venus
The Assyrian goddess Ishtar, shown standing on two lions
Although it is not explicitly mentioned in the text of the Old Testament itself, both Jewish and Christian tradition hold that it was king Nimrod who was responsible for constructing the Tower of Babel after the flood. The purpose of this tower was to reach heaven itself, but ultimately wrought the disunity of mankind as a result of the confusion of languages:
Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
The story of king Nimrod, which appears immediately after the narrative of Noah’s flood in the Bible, may also be alluded to in the fact that there are clouds and a rainbow above the head of the angel of the seven thunders (Rev 10:1), since these are the visible signs of the Noahic covenant:
I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh.
When viewed together as a collective whole, the imagery of the angel holding the little scroll thus not only alludes to the Colossus of Rhodes, but it also foreshadows the symbolism of the goddesses of ancient Mesopotamia which would be incorporated into the Statue of Liberty – goddesses who were represented by the symbol of a lion and Venus/Lucifer, and who were closely associated with the story of king Nimrod and the building of the Tower of Babel.
The imagery of the angel holding the open scroll in Rev 10 is further reflected in the fact that the Statue of Liberty similarly clutches on to a tabula ansata - a tablet bearing dovetail handles which resembles an open scroll.
An ancient tabula ansata bearing a Greek inscription. The handles indicate that the text is an open scroll containing an authoritative proclamation
The legs of the angel of the seven thunders being like “pillars of fire” further recalls the “blood, fire and columns of smoke” listed by the Book of Joel as one of the signs in heaven during the eschatological outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
A further link to the confusion of languages can be found during the events of the original Pentecost, when one of the principal signs of the descent of the Holy Spirit onto the apostles together with the Blessed Virgin in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, was the miracle of speaking in tongues.
The Confusion of Tongues, by Gustave Doré
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”
The miracle of speaking in tongues was in effect a reversal of the confusion of tongues which took place at the building of the Tower of Babel in Gen 11. This unique miracle symbolized the fact that God was now ready to reunite all of humanity through the proclamation of the Gospel. At Pentecost, mankind had now indeed reached the heavens; but it was not accessed by a tower constructed through his own inflated sense of self-determination – which presumes that the creation can ascend to the throne of the Creator. The only tower through which humanity could truly reach the gates of eternal paradise was that which was opened by the sacrifice of the Lamb – the eternal Word of God who humbled Himself to become incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Virgin.
At the construction of the Tower of Babel, which acted as a sort of “anti-Pentecost”, bringing division to humanity, the uncompleted tower itself was left intact, and the punishment for this act of hubris was the confusion of languages. Pentecost itself miraculously reversed this confusion of languages as a sign of the restoration of unity in humanity in Christ (who is the Light brought to the gentiles), at the very birthday of the Church. The only tower to reach the heavens during this episode was Jesus Himself, who had allowed entrance to Kingdom of God through His Death and glorious Resurrection. It seems apt then that the beginning of the Second Pentecost, which will eventually unite the scattered people of God under one shepherd, was marked by the destruction of towers in the presence of a statue which invokes the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, whose mythology is inextricably bound with the story of king Nimrod.
This is not to say that the terrorists of 9/11 were acting on behalf of God, or that those who lost their lives on that dreadful day were deserving of punishment. This truly was an unspeakable evil, committed by twisted fanatics whose only destiny is the road to eternal punishment. But God sometimes permits evil to happen to fit the purposes of His overall plan for creation. This is not only to make us aware of His anger, but as a Father who chastises His children to prevent them from greater harm.
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.
The events of 9/11 serve as a warning, not only to America, but to the entire “Christian” West, of a worse punishment to come if we do not amend our ways, and depart from this current state of apostate secularism.
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds…
When we look at the context in which this imagery is used throughout the rest of the Bible, we can gain a further insight into the significance of the shout of the angel holding the little scroll. The noise produced by the angel in this vision – the sound of a lion roaring, is particularly important. The symbolism of a roaring lion is used in the First Epistle of St. Peter to describe how Satan roams the earth in search of prey:
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
(1 Pet 5:8)
Could this be a further reference to the casting out of Satan from heaven, when he is thrown down to the earth by the Archangel Michael? The imagery of the Devil prowling around back and forth on the earth in search of prey is used in the Book of Job – the text that forms the basis for the Prophecy of Pope Leo XIII (which also points to the significance of the turn of the millennium, as the end of the period of Satan’s greater power).
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” 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.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.
After Satan has been granted his period of greater power, or the “little while” of Rev 20:3, he is no longer tolerated to stand in the heavenly throne room in order to accuse humanity, but is thrown down to the earth, whereupon he pursues the Woman Adorned with the Sun with renewed vigour:
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
Although this text is based on the events of Lucifer’s primordial fall from grace, it is also clearly eschatological in nature, and concerns events that will only occur towards the end of the world. Even though Satan had already fallen from grace and earned his place in the abyss, he was still permitted to flit between earth and the heavenly throne room, and bring the sins of humanity before God in order to accuse them (as is evidenced by the Book of Job). But the Book of Revelation informs us that this situation is only tolerated up to a certain point, and towards the end of time, Satan is cast from heaven down to the earth, upon which he rises in the form of the seven-headed water dragon, variously known in ancient mythology as Levithan, Rahab, Tiamat or Lotan.
It is when Satan is cast from heaven down to the earth that the head of the Serpent is crushed under the feet of the Woman, and the Archangel Michael deals the head of the Dragon a fatal blow with his flaming sword:
In that day the LORD with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea.
The Book of Job describes this moment in context with the appearance a number of the signs in heaven – the covering of the face of the full moon (i.e. a lunar eclispse), and also the trembling and astonishment of the “pillars of heaven”:
Sheol is naked before God, and Abaddon has no covering. He stretches out the north over the void
and hangs the earth on nothing. He binds up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not split open under them. He covers the face of the full moon and spreads over it his cloud. He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness. The pillars of heaven tremble and are astounded at his rebuke. By his power he stilled the sea; by his understanding he shattered Rahab. By his wind the heavens were made fair; his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.
In comparing the Egyptian Pharaoh to the Devil, the Book of Ezekiel similarly informs us that the casting down of Satan to earth at the end-time is marked by the appearance of the signs in heaven – solar and lunar eclipses; in a passage which also contains echoes of the eschatological banquet described Rev 19:17-21:
“Son of man, raise a lamentation over Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him:
“You consider yourself a lion of the nations, but you are like a dragon in the seas; you burst forth in your rivers, trouble the waters with your feet, and foul their rivers. Thus says the Lord GOD:
I will throw my net over you with a host of many peoples, and they will haul you up in my dragnet.
And I will cast you on the ground; on the open field I will fling you, and will cause all the birds of the heavens to settle on you, and I will gorge the beasts of the whole earth with you. I will strew your flesh upon the mountains and fill the valleys with your carcass. I will drench the land even to the mountains with your flowing blood, and the ravines will be full of you. When I blot you out, I will cover the heavens and make their stars dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give its light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over you, and put darkness on your land, declares the Lord GOD.
An earlier passage in Ezekiel also describes the wicked Israelite royalty in a similar fashion, and speaks of the destruction of cities at the sound of a roaring lion:
He prowled among the lions; he became a young lion, and he learned to catch prey; he devoured men, and seized their widows. He laid waste their cities, and the land was appalled and all who were in it at the sound of his roaring. Then the nations set against him from provinces on every side; they spread their net over him; he was taken in their pit. With hooks they put him in a cage and brought him to the king of Babylon; they brought him into custody, that his voice should no more be heard
on the mountains of Israel.
The same theme is taken up in the Book of Amos, which as well as mentioning disaster being visited to a city at the roaring of a lion and the sounding of a trumpet, adds the detail that God will also reveal his secrets to those who serve him at this time – which parallels the sealed words of Scripture described in the Book of Daniel, (which is alluded to by St. Bonaventure above):
Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?“For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken; who can but prophesy?”
The portion of the Book of Daniel which mentions that its words are sealed up until the end of the world similarly describes the defeat of Satan by the Archangel Michael at the end-time, and states that it will be at this moment that the prophet’s people will be delivered. This is the end-time conversion of the Jews during the Second Pentecost, which St. Paul tells us will ultimately bring about the General Resurrection of the Dead (which takes place after the Second Coming and destruction of the earth by fire):
“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
Then I, Daniel, looked, and behold, two others stood, one on this bank of the stream and one on that bank of the stream. And someone said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream, “How long shall it be till the end of these wonders?” And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream; he raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven and swore by him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time, and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished. I heard, but I did not understand. Then I said, “O my lord, what shall be the outcome of these things?” He said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end. Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.
So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!
Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?
It is noteworthy that the angel the prophet Daniel sees in this vision also raises his hand to heaven to swear an eternal oath, which indicates that this is the angel holding the little scroll – the scroll which is sealed up with seven seals. This should thus be equated with the “sealed book” mentioned in Dan 12. It is perhaps no coincidence in this regard that the Third Secret of Fatima was first published at the turn of the millennium – which I believe is a vital key for interpreting Scripture (the key of David mentioned by St. Bonaventure?).
The fact that the scroll held in the hands of the angel of the seven thunders is open, indicates that the seven seals mentioned earlier in Rev 5 has by this stage now already been opened. The text then enigmatically acts as a sort of “feedback loop” here, and the open scroll of the seven thunders is sealed again, and sent hurtling backwards in time to be opened by the Lamb in Rev 5 – an act which sets the events of the Apocalypse in motion, when the nations of the earth are gathered together for battle by the Devil at the beginning of his period of greater power, during the appearance of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
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.
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.
The opening of the scroll sealed with seven seals is equivalent to the “little while” given to Satan, when many shall fall away from the faith because of the widespread chaos that ensues.
…because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.
At the end of the “little while” given to Satan, the Devil is cast from heaven down to the earth, upon which he continues his pursuit of the Woman, and transfers his great power and authority to the Beast which rises up from the sea. Although the fatal head wound dealt to the Dragon when he was cast out of heaven seems to be healed, it will ultimately bring about his complete demise – when the appearance of the Antichrist is brought to nothing by the Second Coming of Christ:
And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast.
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.
Just as the Gospel was allowed to be spread during the first Pentecost, after Christ had bound the strong man to plunder his goods, so too will the Gospel be able to spread once more during the Second Pentecost, when the powers of Satan are restricted again when the head of the Serpent has been crushed. Indeed it is only by studying the events of the first Pentecost that we can gain a sense of what to expect during the Second Pentecost. Evil continued to exist after the first Pentecost, even though Christ had defeated Satan once and for all by His Death on the Cross, descent into Hell, and glorious Resurrection from the dead. Evil continues to exist after Satan is thrown down from heaven to earth at the end of his period of greater power. As Pope Benedict noted during his interview with journalists during his pilgrimage to Portugal in 2010: “The Lord told us that the Church would constantly be suffering, in different ways, until the end of the world”. Evil will persist in the world right up until Satan is finally thrown into the lake of fire, along with the Antichrist and False Prophet, during the Last Judgment.
In fact if anything, the level of spiritual warfare intensifies once Satan has been cast down to the earth, as the Church is now positioned to face its greatest enemy, when Satan gives his great power and authority to the Antichrist. Whilst the heavens can rejoice in the fact that the Gospel may now once again be spread, the inhabitants of the world are warned to be prepared for even worse times, since the Devil has now come down to them in great wrath:
Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
As Pope John Paul II once famously declared during a trip to America before he was elected to the chair of St. Peter:
We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has ever experienced. I do not think the wide circle of the American Society, or the wide circle of the Christian Community realise this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the antichurch, between the Gospel and the antigospel, between Christ and the antichrist. This confrontation lies within the plans of Divine Providence. It is, therefore, in God’s Plan, and it must be a trial which the Church must take up, and face courageously.
(Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, Address at the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, 1976)
When Satan is cast down to the earth, his powers are once again reduced to the level they were before he was granted his “little while”. This allows the Gospel to be spread during the Second Pentecost. But the very people responsible for bringing about the new Springtime of the Church – the Two Witnesses, are put to death by the Antichrist during the final Passover of the Church:
And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified.
This directly parallels the events which took place after the first Pentecost. Although the Church was flourishing when Gospel was first spread to the gentiles, it also was constantly beset by persecution – a scenario which eventually culminated in the deaths of Ss. Peter and Paul under the Roman Emperor Nero (the precursor to the Antichrist). The era of peace promised by Our Lady of Fatima should therefore not be confused with the end of all evil on earth. This is an event which belongs solely to the world to come during the new creation. It is the spiritual peace found in embracing Christ that is granted to the world at this time, not the end of evil itself. There will always be tribulation in the world.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
While not everyone will accept the Gospel during this time, the eschatological outpouring of the Holy Spirit will bring in the “fullness of the gentiles”, leading to the conversion of the Jews:
Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”
Since the above evidence suggests that the casting down of Satan from heaven took place at the turn of the millennium (marked by the appearance of the signs in heaven), we are prompted to look for further evidence that this truly did signal the beginning of the age of the Second Pentecost. While this age still obviously needs to come into full fruition, the Holy Spirit may already be sent out into the world to accomplish the new Springtime of the Church. We have to keep in mind that the Holy Spirit works invisibly to bring about the restoration of the Church, and He does so by inspiring each of the individuals who make up the Church on a personal level. Given that this involves a gradual, rather than immediate process, the work of the Holy Spirit is not always going to be immediately obvious to us. Yet it may be possible to find some tangible evidence that the Holy Spirit is already operating in a mysterious, invisible manner to restore the Church, in a way that is fully consistent with the eschatological outpouring of the Spirit described in the Book of Joel.
Since the turn of the millennium, there has been reports of thousands of Muslims turning to Christ after He had appeared to the them in dreams. This new phenomenon, which has been dealt with in several recent books, such as Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World, by Tom Doyle, directly echoes Joel’s prophecy of the eschatological outpouring of the Holy Spirit: “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions (Joel 2:28). The remarkable feature of this phenomenon is that it is centred on the turn of the millennium itself. While there were relatively few such conversions that took place before the turn of the millennium, we find that an explosion of these conversion stories have surfaced after the events of 9/11 further polarised the Western and Arab worlds.
One further connection between the events of 9/11 in relation to the eschtological outpouring of the Holy Spirit described in the Book of Joel, is found in the Book of Isaiah, which similarly forwards a paradox that juxtaposes a time of great disaster (this time the “falling of towers”) with the Second Pentecost:
And on every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the LORD binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.
The brightening of the Sun and Moon is used in a figurative sense here, to describe the interior illumination which takes place during this period, when people will be able to clearly see the Light shining out of the darkness to the gentiles. An event which is spoken of in the preceding chapter, which also mentions the opening of the sealed book in relation to the conversion of the Jews at the end-time:
And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” And when they give the book to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read.”…
…In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel…
“Jacob shall no more be ashamed, no more shall his face grow pale. For when he sees his children,
the work of my hands, in his midst, they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
(Isa 29:11-12; 18-19; 22-23)
The seven-fold increase of the Sun foretold in the Book of Isaiah is also alluded to in a prophecy made by St. John Bosco, which foretells that the appearance of the “rainbow of peace” (also seen behind the Angel of the Seven Thunders) will take place “before two full moons shall have shone in the month of flowers”:
Things follow too slowly upon each other, but the great Queen of Heaven is at hand; the Lord’s power is Hers. Like mist She shall scatter Her enemies. She shall vest the Venerable Old Man with all his former garments. There shall yet come a violent hurricane. Iniquity is at an end, sin shall cease, and before two full moons shall have shone in the month of flowers, the rainbow of peace shall appear on the earth. The great Minister shall see the Bride of his King clothed in glory. Throughout the world a sun so bright shall shine as was never seen since the flames of the Cenacle until today, nor shall it be seen again until the end of time…
The vesting of the “Venerable Old Man” of Lazio (a term which St. John Bosco frequently uses for the pope) with his former garments, alludes to the Book of Zechariah, when Joshua the high priest (who is a template for one of the Two Witnesses) is dressed in pure vestments after the captivity in Babylon (which symbolises the Great Apostasy):
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.
This takes place when Satan is rebuked by God for accusing the high-priest, which recalls both the story of Job and the prophecy of Pope Leo XIII. The rebuking of Satan at this point would therefore be equated with his casting out of heaven by the Archangel Michael. The above prophecy of St. John Bosco is directly related to his March of the 200 Days:
It was a dark night, and men could no longer find their way back to their own countries. Suddenly a most brilliant light shone in the sky, illuminating their way as at high noon. At that moment from the Vatican came forth, as in procession, a multitude of men and women, young children, monks, nuns, and priests, and at their head was the Pope.
But a furious storm broke out, somewhat dimming that light, as if light and darkness were locked in battle. Meanwhile the long procession reached a small square littered with dead and wounded, many of whom cried for help.
The ranks of the procession thinned considerably. After a two-hundred day march, all realized that they were no longer in Rome. In dismay they swarmed about the Pontiff to protect him and minister to him in his needs.
At that moment two angels appeared, bearing a banner which they presented to the Supreme Pontiff, saying: “Take the banner of Her who battles and routs the most powerful armies on earth. Your enemies have vanished: with tears and sighs your children plead for your return.”
One side of the banner bore the inscription: Regina sine labe concepta [Queen conceived without sin], and the other side read: Auxilium Christianorum [Help of Christians].
The Pontiff accepted the banner gladly, but he became distressed to see how few were his followers.
But the two angels went on: “Go now, comfort your children. Write to your brothers scattered throughout the world that men must reform their lives. This cannot be achieved unless the bread of the Divine Word is broken among the peoples. Teach children their catechism and preach detachment from earthly things. The time has come,” the two angels concluded, “when the poor will evangelize the world. Priests shall be sought among those who wield the hoe, the spade, and the hammer, as David prophesied: ‘God lifted the poor man from the fields to place him on the throne of His people.’”
On hearing this, the Pontiff moved on, and the ranks began to swell. Upon reaching the Holy City, the Pontiff wept at the sight of its desolate citizens, for many of them were no longer. He then entered St. Peter’s and intoned the Te Deum, to which a chorus of angels responded, singing: Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. When the song was over, all darkness vanished and a blazing sun shone. The population had declined greatly in the cities and in the countryside; the land was mangled as if by a hurricane and hailstorm, and people sought each other, deeply moved, and saying: Est Deus in Israel [There is a God in Israel].
From the start of the exile until the intoning of the Te Deum, the sun rose 200 times. All the events described covered a period of 400 days.
1. The four hundred “days” refer to four hundred months, or thirty-three-and-a-third years;
2. The two hundred “days” refer to sixteen and a half years;
3. The first “brilliant light” before the beginning of the procession or march refers to Vatican Council II, which ended in 1965;
4. The “furious storm” that broke out refers to the controversies that arose after the council;
5. The end of the first two hundred “days” or sixteen-and-a-half years, brings us to 1982, when the Pope visited Fatima, one year after the attempted assassination on his life. At that time, speaking, in the third person the Pope said:
“Today John Paul II reads the message of Fatima again, with trepidation in his heart, because he sees how many people and societies-how many Christians have gone in the opposite direction to the one indicated in the message of Fatima. Sin has made itself firmly at home in the world, and the denial of God has become widespread in the ideologies, ideas, and plans of human beings.”
Before concluding his talk, the Pope recited a prayer, called “apocalyptic” by the New York Times, as follows:
“From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against the life of man from its very beginning, deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us.
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us, deliver us.
May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of Hope.”
It was at this time that John Paul renewed the consecration of the world and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, having invited the bishops of the world to join him in a collegial manner and thus complying completely with one of the requests of the Fatima message. Two years later, in 1984, he repeated the same consecration. Events thereafter (1989) witnessed the collapse of the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe.
6. The end of the four hundred “days” brings us to 1999. In that year two full moons occur in the same month, as also in 1988, when there were two full moons in the month of May, as a prelude to the events of 1989.
7. The splendid era of peace, with which “the first prophecy” ends refers to the era of peace promised by Our Lady at Fatima, and which is being gradually prepared by the papal initiatives for the third millennium.
(See full text here)
The prophecy of the March of the 200 Days in relation to the turn of the millennium is therefore made doubly significant in the fact that it is based on the exact portion of the Book of Isaiah which mentions the “falling of towers” at the time of the new Pentecost, when the Sun shines forth seven times brighter – which has not been seen since the time of the first Cenacle in the Upper Room in Jerusalem.
As for our previous suggestion that the events of 9/11 may have been discussed by the Vatican hierarchy as being related to the signs in heaven spoken of in the Bible, we know for certain that Bl. Pope John Paul II connected the eschatological outpouring of the Holy Spirit prophesied by Joel, which is identical with the new Springtime of the Church, to the Great Jubilee Year at the turn of the millennium – which he has called “the hermeneutical key of my pontificate“:
“As the third millennium of the redemption draws near, God is preparing a great springtime for Christianity, and we can already see its first signs”
(Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 1990)
“What these Popes have accomplished during and since the Council, in their Magisterium no less than in their pastoral activity, has certainly made a significant contribution to the preparation of that new springtime of Christian life which will be revealed by the Great Jubilee, if Christians are docile to the action of the Holy Spirit.”
(Pope John Paul II, Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 1994)
I cry from all the depths of this Millennium, I cry on the vigil of Pentecost:
Let your Spirit descend.
Let your Spirit descend.
and renew the face of the earth,
the face of this land.
(Pope John Paul II, Mass in Victory Square
, Warsaw, Poland, 2nd June 1979)
It is this new Springtime of the Church, when the branches of the fig tree puts forth new shoots, that will prepare the Bride for the coming of the Groom. And as Christ has told us, the generation who witnesses this glorious Springtime will not pass away until the completion of all things:
“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.