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History tells us that 18th Century France could be described as a country riddled with empty religion, tyranny, unrelenting taxation, and extreme poverty.  The two richest entities were the royal family and the Catholic Church.  Most Frenchmen made barely enough to feed their families.  On top of government taxes, French farmers were required by law to pay the Catholic Church a tithe, ten percent of their crops,  even if they weren't Catholic.  When King Louis XVI wanted to impose yet another tax increase, the French people decided that enough was enough.  It was 1789 and the French Revolution was on.                        

The madness and anarchy of the French Revolution led to the rise of Napolean.  In 1799, just ten years after the fall of the Bastille, Napolean became emperor of the New France that was still faithful to the principles of the revolution.                         

One of Napolean's earliest military campaigns was against Egypt.  In July 1798 Napolean invaded Egypt with the goal of severing England's trade-routes with colonial India.  But there was another French invasion five months earlier that receives little if any coverage in today's high school history books - Napolean's invasion of the Papal States.                                     

In February 1798 French General Louis Alexander Berthier entered Rome with his army and took the pope prisoner. During a forced march to France the pope, who at the time was Pius VI, died in captivity  Shortly thereafter Napolean offically abolished the Papal States and made that territory into  a province of the growing French Empire.  The Papal States, which had existed as independant sovereign political states with their own flags since the 700s, were no more.                               

Why is this military campaign so important?  Remember the political edicts of Justinian in 538 gave the papacy power that it otherwise would not have had.  According to Daniel 7:25 the little horn, which became the seventh head (the papacy) will reign for 1260 days meaning 1260 years.  If we add 1260 years to 538 we land on 1798 - the exact year of the French invasion of Rome.                              

The Bible calls this event "the deadly wound to the head".  By this time many people in France were shouting "Le catholicisme est mort" (Catholicism is dead). True, Catholicism did not disappear in 1798 but its temporal power was taken away, temporarily.                               

Rome would be invaded by the French again in 1814.  A year later Napolean dispatched his army to Belgium to fight the British and Prussians at Waterloo.  On June 18, 1815 Napolean fought his enemies and lost.  Not only did he lose the battle but he was sent into exile until his death on May 5, 1821 at age 52.                               

After Napoleans's defeat and exile the Congress of Vienna re-established the Papal States in 1815.  The papacy's political goals in the future would go even further.  In 1929 Pope Pius XI signed the Lateran Treaty with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.  Thereafter the papacy was granted its own independant government with its own flag, constitution, and Secretary of State.  No other headquarters of any western religion enjoys such rights.  Clearly...                      

"...his deadly wound was healed." (Revelation 13:3)               

Once again the papacy was given back everything it needed to become an international player in the areas of politics and religion.                                  

I realize that this interpretation of Revelation 13 has its critics; even within Protestantism.  Not all prophecy teachers will accept this view.  Some believe that the beast was Nero despite the fact that Nero committed suicide almost 30 years before Revelation 13 was written.  Others, including those who follow the Left Behind series, believe that Revelation 13 refers to a future world dictator.  I reject both of those views.                             

There is one other interpretation that is worth reviewing that I will briefly highlight.  The 1260 year period could refer to symbolic time.  It might not be a literal 1260 years.  Rather it could refer to the block of time when the papacy held the world in spiritual darkness from the time of Justinian to the time of Luther and Calvin.                                    

The deadly wound to the head could refer to the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century when God's spirit was able to break the papacy's chokehold on Europe.  Thereafter a whole flurry of spiritual activity took place.  Multitudes experienced salvation!                             

The deadly wound being healed could refer to modern ecumenicalism.  Protestants (the so-called separated brethren) are now being called upon to join in unity for the sake of world peace.  Today many Protestants leaders including Billy Graham and Kenneth Copeland refer to Rome as just another Christian denomination.  Others even claim that Luther's protest is over.  What would Martin Luther think today?  More importantly, what does God say in His Word?                                     

"Be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers"    (2Cor. 6:14)                      

Unity with fellow believers can be a wonderful thing.  The Bible encourages fellowship.  But doctrinal truth should never take a backseat to unity.                   

Whether one accepts the former "1798" view or the latter "symbolic time" view of the beast, one thing does stand out in both - the papacy is still the beast's seventh head.  Either of these views are plausible.  Yet what should concern us the more isn't which view is correct but how can each of us effectively live for Christ in this fallen world?  Time is running out.  Souls are at stake.  May each of us be faithful to our Lord and never compromise His Word.                                

PLEASE CONSIDER THIS.  If all that I have said concerning the papacy in prophecy sounds crazy, consider for a moment these verses:                     


"When he (an angel) cried out, seven thunders    uttered their voices.  Now when the seven thunders   uttered their voices, I was about to write; but   I heard a voice from Heaven saying to me 'Seal up  the things which the seven thunders uttered, and   do NOT write them"  (Revelation 10:3 and 4)                

These two verses pose two puzzling questions.  What was the message of the seven thunders?  And why was John forbidden to write them?  This strikes me as odd.               

Here's a theory.  Note that there were seven thunders and the beast had seven heads.  Note the use of the number seven.  We've identified the seventh head as the papacy.  Is it possible that John was shown visions of each kingdom of the beast?  Is it also possible that in regards to the seventh kingdom, John was shown visions of the papacy?  Could he have seen visions of the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the tyranny of Mary I, and the plight of French Protestants during the time of Louis XIV?  Is it possible that all of that information would be too much information for the early church to handle because it would show that the Second Coming would not occur for at least another 1800 years?                              

Again this is just a theory but it is a theory that at the very least could explain why John was forbidden to write about what he saw.

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