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The Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
There Is Much Biblical Prophesy
More than one forth of the Bible is dedicated to prophesy. There is prophesy relating to the first coming of Christ and prophesy relating to the second coming of Christ. The vast majority of these prophesies are dedicated to the second coming of Christ and the period preceding His coming after which He will come "in the clouds with great power and glory" (Mt 24:30; Mk 13:26; Lk 21:27). There are more than 1800 verses in the Bible that speak about the second coming of Christ and over 10,000 verses that are surrounding texts to this event. It is not by chance that there are so many prophetic verses in the Bible; these verses are for us to read! "Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand" (Rev 1:3; 2Tim 4:8); this verse proves that the book of Revelation is not some deep, mysterious and confusing book.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Pope John Paul II spoke often of the second coming of Christ in his numerous talks. One also finds references to Christ’s second coming, as well as to the period of his second coming, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: 840: "The coming (or the return) of the Messiah"; 2816: "The kingdom of God is just ahead of us; in Christ we shall reign"; 2818: "Thy kingdom come" (in the "Our Father") refers primarily to the final coming of the reign of God through Christ’s return"; 2817 (also see 671, 2853): "The petition "Marana tha" is the cry of the spirit and the Bride: "O come Lord Jesus", indeed come as soon as possible"; 349: "The eighth day begins the new creation (the 7th day is the 1000-year reign of Christ (Rev 20:4)); 1042: "The universe itself will be renewed" (not recreated); 1047: "The visible universe itself is destined to be transformed and restored to its original state"; 674: “The glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by “all Israel,” for “a hardening has come upon part of Israel” in their “unbelief” toward Jesus” (Rom 11:20-26; cf. Mt 23:39).
Father Desmond A. Birch, a leading Catholic scholar and author who wrote the book, "Trial, Tribulation and Triumph", asks the following: "Is eschatology (or the study of things to come) still important in the 20th century? There are those Catholics who would tell you that to study doctrine concerning the Antichrist or the latter end times is either a waste of time or unimportant. That opinion is even held by some orthodox Catholic scholars. There are also those who say that we must not abandon ourselves to terror or to anxiety about the imminent end. However, if eschatology is a waste of time or something frightening, then why is it treated with such importance in Scripture, in Tradition and the Magisterium or the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church?"
It is unfortunate that there are many people and cults today, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons, that misuse prophesy for there own interests and attention; this misuse of prophesy causes many to reject all prophetical studies.
The "Last Days"?
Are we, as many Christians believe, living in the last days? We read in the book of Daniel: "And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, “Go your way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end"” (Dan 12:8-9). Certainly the many signs of our times, that were not present years ago, as well as recent revelations of God, help us to open up these sealed prophetic verses. See “Signs of the Times” below.
But according to the teachings of the Catholic Church, the "last days" refers not only to the "end of time," but to the last two thousand years. Scripture teaches that the Incarnation ushered in "the last days." According to Hebrews 1:1-2, "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world." At Pentecost, Peter preached that "the last days" had arrived, in fulfilment of the words of the prophet Joel (Acts 2:15-17; cf. Joel 2:28-32).
"The last days" or "the end times," properly understood, refers to the time of the New Covenant, the gathering together of God’s people in the Church, which is "on earth, the seed and the beginning of the kingdom" (CCC 567, 669; Lumen Gentium).
This understanding of the "last days" differs from that of those who believe in premillennialism or the Rapture. Catholics agree that there will definitely be an "end of time" and that history as we know it will one day be complete. But we also recognize that each of us will face the end of our time on earth, and that this should, in many ways, concern us more than the end of the world (see CCC 1007).
The Church Interprets the Word of God
As Catholics, we believe that “all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (CCC 119).
This does not mean that the Catholic Church has definitively interpreted every single passage of Scripture or that individual Catholics cannot study Scripture for themselves. On the contrary, the Church has definitively interpreted less than a dozen passages, while encouraging Catholics to read the Bible in light of the "living Tradition of the whole Church" (CCC 113).
Often the puzzling and sometimes shocking images of Revelation are interpreted in clever, bizarre, and often laughable ways. Most Catholics who encounter such misinterpretations usually steer clear of the biblical books that deal with apocalyptic themes, Daniel and Revelation. They are content to let their non-Catholic friends battle over these confusing matters.
This is unfortunate for a couple of reasons. First, Catholics should study all of Scripture, including difficult books such as Daniel and Revelation, because God gave it to the Church for that purpose. Second, the Catholic Church offers two thousand years of reflection and study of Scripture, resulting in a rich, balanced, and nuanced understanding of the whole Bible. If the Catholic Church has the authority that Catholics believe she possesses, then they need to take seriously her understanding of Scripture. At the very least, doing so will help them avoid the serious misunderstandings of some other Christians and will equip Catholics to discuss these misunderstandings with them.
Many non-Catholic Christians believe in a theological system known as dispensationalism. The core of dispensationalism is incompatible with Catholic doctrine, although there are some secondary issues compatible. Dispensationalism is a Christian theological view of history and Biblical interpretation that became popular during the 1800s and early 1900s and is held today by many conservative Protestants. Dispensationalism refers to the belief that God works in history through a series of different epochs, or dispensations. In each of these periods, God tests man in a certain way. Man fails the test, and then God judges man. On this view, man now lives during the "Church Age," which is so full of apostasy and error that only a remnant of "true believers" remains.
Dispensationalism advocates a form of premillennialism in which it sees the past, present, and future as a number of successive administrations, or "dispensations" (Eph 3:2, KJV), each of which emphasizes aspects of the covenants between God and various peoples at various times. Consequently, it places a heavy emphasis on prophecy and eschatology, the study of the "end times."
According to dispensationalism, God is pursuing two purposes in history: one involving an earthly people (Israel) and the other, a heavenly people (the Church). Dispensationalists believe that when Jesus Christ came, He offered the earthly people, Israel, a physical, earthly kingdom, but that they rejected Him as their Messiah. Consequently, Jesus formed a heavenly people, the Church, who are not meant to reign here on earth, but will reign with Him in heaven.
However, God will still fulfil the many Old Testament promises to Israel, His earthly people, because, dispensationalists insist, those promises were unconditional. When Christ founded the Church, all of those promises were "put on hold" until the heavenly people were removed from the earth in the Rapture. Since Israel has now been re-established as a nation, most dispensationalists believe that the removal of the Church via the Rapture can occur at any moment.
The Rapture will be a secret "snatching up" of all true believers in Christ to heaven; it will be immediately followed — according to most dispensationalists — by seven years of Tribulation and the reign of the Antichrist. At the end of the Tribulation, Christ will come again to establish an earthly, thousand-year reign, based in Jerusalem, where a new temple (complete with animal sacrifices) will exist.
None of the Church Fathers believed in a secret removal of true believers prior to the Tribulation. On the contrary, they taught that the Church would undergo a period of intense tribulation prior to the Second Coming. Christians are called to follow Christ crucified in order to share also in His resurrection! It seems to me that the Rapture is too easy! The Rapture theory is a novelty; this idea only began with John Nelson Darby in the 1830s.
The Church and Israel
Eschatology, the study of the last things, flows directly from ecclesiology, the doctrine of the Church. This explains some of the significant differences between what Catholics and many Fundamentalists believe about the end of time. While most dispensationalists teach that God has two people, the Church and Israel, the Catholic Church asserts that God has always had only one people, or family, throughout history. According to the Catechism, "This ‘family of God’ is gradually formed and takes shape during the stages of human history, in keeping with the Father’s plan. In fact, ‘already present in figure at the beginning of the world, this Church was prepared in marvellous fashion in the history of the people of Israel … Established in this last age of the world and made manifest in the outpouring of the Spirit, it will be brought to glorious completion at the end of time" (CCC 759).
Therefore, the Catholic Church has always understood herself as being the New Israel (Gal. 6:16; Eph. 2:11-12) and the new People of God (1 Pet. 2:9-10), the recipients of the New Covenant given through Christ (Heb. 8:8-13). The Old Covenant was not rejected by Christ, but fulfilled and taken up into the New Covenant; it concluded with the New Covenant and is included in it. This difference between dispensationalism and Catholic doctrine is the basis for other disagreements, including those involving the Rapture and the nature of the millennium.
Another issue is the fate of Israel. What will happen to Israel in the end? According to the Catechism, "The glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended at every moment of history until His recognition by ‘all Israel’, for ‘a hardening has come upon part of Israel’ in their ‘unbelief’ toward Jesus" (CCC 674). The Church, reflecting upon Romans 9-11, believes that Israel will somehow come to recognize Christ for who He is. The Church has not indicated how this will precisely occur.
The Kingdom of God
Catholic doctrine also teaches that the Church is intimately related to the Kingdom of God. The Church is "ultimately one, holy, catholic, and apostolic in her deepest and ultimate identity, because it is in her that ‘the Kingdom of heaven,’ the ‘Reign of God,’ already exists and will be fulfilled at the end of time" (CCC 865). The Kingdom is not yet complete, but began with the Incarnation and will be fully realized at the end of time: "The kingdom of heaven was inaugurated on earth by Christ. ‘This kingdom shone out before men in the word, in the works and in the presence of Christ.’ The Church is the seed and beginning of this kingdom. Its keys are entrusted to Peter" (CCC 567). In its fullness, the Kingdom is not an earthly reign, but the final triumph of Christ over the power of sin and Satan, culminating in an eternity spent in communion with the Triune God: "The kingdom has come in the person of Christ and grows mysteriously in the hearts of those incorporated into him, until its full eschatological manifestation" (CCC 865).
In contrast, dispensationalists believe that the Kingdom will be a thousand-year, earthly reign of Christ, known as the Millennium (from the Latin word for "thousand years"). Belief in a literal thousand-year earthly reign is called millenarianism or millennialism. It has been explicitly rejected by the Catholic Church. In 1944, the Holy Office warned against ". . . the system of mitigated Millenarianism, which teaches . . . that Christ the Lord before the final judgment, whether or not preceded by the resurrection of the many just, will come visibly to rule over this world. . . . The system of mitigated Millenarianism cannot be taught safely" (CCC 676).
The reign of Christ and the thousand-year period found in Revelation 20 is popularly called the millennium. The millennium is a forerunner of the end of the world, and Revelation 20 is interpreted in three ways by conservative Protestants. The three schools of thought are called postmillennialism, amillennialism, and premillennialism.
Postmillennialism is that view of last things which holds that the kingdom of God is now being extended in the world through the preaching of the gospel and the saving work of the Holy Spirit, that the world eventually is to be Christianized, and that the return of Christ will occur at the close of a long period of righteousness and peace, commonly called the millennium.
This view was popular with nineteenth-century Protestants, when progress was expected even in religion and before twentieth-century horrors were tasted. Today few hold to it, except such groups as Christian Reconstructionists, an outgrowth of the conservative Presbyterian movement.
The amillennial view interprets Revelation 20 symbolically and sees the millennium not as an earthly golden age in which the world will be totally Christianized, but as the present period of Christ’s rule in heaven and on the earth through his Church.
Amillennialists also believe in the coexistence of good and evil on earth until the end. The tension that exists on earth between the righteous and the wicked will be resolved only by Christ’s return at the end of time. The golden age of the millennium is instead the heavenly reign of Christ with the saints, in which the Church on earth participates to some degree, though not in the glorious way will it participate in at the Second Coming.
Amillennialists point out that the thrones of the saints who reign with Christ during the millennium appear to be set in heaven (Rev 20:4; cf. 4:4, 11:16) and that the text nowhere states that Christ is on earth during this reign with the saints.
They explain that, although the world will never be fully Christianized until the Second Coming, the millennium does have effects on earth in that Satan is bound in such a way that he cannot deceive the nations by hindering the preaching of the gospel (Rev 20:3). They point out that Jesus spoke of the necessity of "binding the strong man" (Satan) in order to plunder his house by rescuing people from his grip (Mt 12:29). When the disciples returned from a tour of preaching the gospel, rejoicing at how demons were subject to them, Jesus declared, "I saw Satan fall like lightning" (Lk 10:18). Thus for the gospel to move forward at all in the world, it is necessary for Satan to be bound in one sense, even if he may still be active in attacking individuals (1 Pet. 5:8).
Premillennialism is currently the most popular among Fundamentalists and Evangelicals (though a century ago amillennialism was). Most of the books written about the End Times, such as Hal Lindsey’s ‘Late Great Planet Earth’, are written from a premillennial perspective.
Like postmillennialists, premillennialists believe that the thousand years is an earthly golden age during which the world will be thoroughly Christianized. Unlike postmillennialists, they believe that it will occur after the Second Coming rather than before, so that Christ reigns physically on earth during the millennium. They believe that the Final Judgment will occur only after the millennium is over (which many interpret to be an exactly one thousand year period).
But Scripture does not support the idea of a thousand year span between the Second Coming and the Final Judgment. Christ declares, "For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done" (Mt 16:27), and "when the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats … And they [the goats] will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Mt 25:31-32,46).
Most of the mainstream Protestants fall into the amillennial camp. Fundamentalists and evangelicals use to be amillennialist, but in more recent times most commonly fall into the premillennial camp. The Catholic position, the position of the Reformation fathers, and the position of historic Christianity, is in the amillennial camp.
The Period of Tribulation
The Church also says relatively little about the time of trial or tribulation in the final days. The Church will go through the great trial, but we do not know how long it will last. The Catechism declares, "Before Christ’s Second Coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth" (CCC 675; also see CCC 2642).
This time of trial will be at the start of the "last days" in the sense of the end of history: "According to the Lord, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by ‘distress’ and the time of evil which does not spare the Church and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and watching" (CCC 672).
Interpreting the Book of Revelation
The Catholic Church has not officially interpreted the difficult passages in Revelation. There are four main approaches to the book of Revelation: futurist, preterist, historicist and idealist. Futurists believe that most or all of the book of Revelation has yet to be fulfilled; preterists say that most or all of it was fulfilled in the first century; historicists claim that events described in Revelation have been transpiring for the last two thousand years; and idealists believe that the book of Revelation is allegorical and has little or nothing to do with historical events.
The Catholic Church allows a wide range of interpretive possibilities, including forms of futurism, preterism, historicism and idealism. For example, a Catholic may believe the book of Revelation describes the conflict of good and evil as experienced by individual Christians or the Church (idealism), and makes prophetic utterances about events still to occur (futurism), and also refers to events that have already occurred, either in the early Church or later Church history (preterism and historicism). Catholic flexibility here is based on the fact that Scripture, inspired by God, often has different, yet complementary, meanings.
From early times, the Church, following the examples of Christ and the Apostles (i.e., Lk 24:25-27; 1 Cor 10:1-4), understood Scripture to have different senses, a literal and a spiritual sense (CCC 115). As the Catechism explains, the spiritual sense is always rooted in the literal sense: "The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: ‘All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal’" (CCC 116).
A common misconception is that Catholics interpret Scripture, especially the book of Revelation, "symbolically," while Evangelicals interpret it "literally." This has often been used to explain why the Catholic Church rejects an earthly, thousand-year reign of Christ. Yet few "literalists" bother to interpret literally other images in Revelation, such as the Beast, the dragon, the locusts, and the four horsemen.
Parameters of the Catholic Church
The Catholic Church says relatively little about future events leading up to Christ’s Second Coming. Many of her teachings are rejections (either implicit or explicit), not affirmations, of particular beliefs such as the dispensational dichotomy between the Church and Israel, the "secret" Rapture, and the earthly millennial kingdom. What she does teach is quite clear, as well as succinct: there will be a Second Coming, a time of trial which the Church must endure, an Antichrist, a conversion of Israel to Christ, a definitive judgment of all people, and the fulfilment of the Kingdom that has already begun in the Church. Within those parameters, Catholics may freely roam, search the Scriptures, and seek to better understand the Word of God.
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The following, up to the appendix, while staying within the parameters given to us by the Catholic Church, is my own personal speculation based on my findings and study. In studying prophesy one must have much humility because it is always easier to understand prophesy after the events have taken place.
"Even At the Doors"
It is true that we do not know "the day and the hour" of the second coming of the Lord, but we can "know that it is near, even at the doors" (Mt 24:33,36). God’s Word admonishes the Christian to be wise (Mt 10:16) and watchful (Mt 24:42; 2Tim 4:8; Tit 2:13), especially as the day of Christ’s return approaches (Heb 10:25).
Let Us Trust God
God wants us, especially in times of great tribulation, to put our trust and confidence in Him (Ps 23:4; 1Pet 3:14) as well as not to fall prey to the powerful snares of the devil. If we know before hand about the types of traps of the devil, we will less likely fall into Satan’s eternal pitfalls in this coming crucial period of the world.
The Super Rich
If one knows even a little about the history of the world, the powerful have never been satisfied with the power that they have or had acquired. They always wanted more. Many of the super powerful and past dictators of the world even arrived to the point of wanting to be adored as GOD (Heil Hitler!)! I do not think that anything has changed. The powerful people of the world who control the economy and petroleum of the world and embezzle from everyone in many ways, including by way of the Federal Reserve Board and similar entities in each country of the world (which are not controlled or owned or operated by the respective governments), are not content to control and steal from all of us to become very rich and powerful. They want to become absolute dictators of the world, just like the dictators of the past.
It is very interesting the recent comments of Henry Kissinger’s about the "New World Order"! We have known about this for a long time but the real surprising thing is that these super powerful of the world are now so bold, after the election of Obama, that for the first time ever they are coming out publicly with their intentions! A perfect world! Without GOD!?!?
Kissinger on Obama: "The Reception of him is so extraordinary around the world … a New World Order can be created"; January 5, 2009 (http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/jan/09010704.html).
See quotes about the New World Order to help wake you up; July 28, 2005; http://xiaodongpeople.blogspot.com/2005/07/quotes-about-new-world-order-to-help.html.
Less than a hundred years ago these super-rich succeeded in deceiving each government in the world to turn over to them (i.e., the Federal Reserve Board, etc.) the power to print money or insert into our economic systems as much money as they decided without any governmental control; before this trickery, inflation did not exist. Who is profiting by this insertion of money into the economic system??? Only a few years ago the dollar was stronger than the Euro. What is the real cause of this rapid change???
These powerful and very rich people, in their pride, believe that they are the ones to be the saviors of the world from all its problems. They meet regularly in groups such as the Bildeburgers, the Tri- Latteral Commission, the Council on Foreign Affairs, the Freemasons, the Illuminati, to increase their wealth and power. Probably some of the members of these groups are of good will and do not see how they are being used and manipulated in an overall plan to slowly take over the world. But the great majority of these super-rich are blind in their pride and do not realize that they, in fact, are the puppets of Satan. Most likely these very rich international bankers also use some of our stolen money to fund international terrorists groups so that, when they are ready, they will step forward to offer the solution to the world as our saviors but without God. Our Lady of Fatima told us that wars are caused by the sins of everyone (not just the heads of state). The more we sin and the less we pray and do God’s holy will, the more the followers of Satan have power. The more we pray and do God’s will and avoid sin, the less power these prideful powerful of the world have.
The “Mark of the Beast”, 666
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