Recently it was reported that Pope Francis is considering a second trip to Jerusalem. While we do not know the details of the visit, it is believed that his key focus will be peace in the Middle East. Could this be the beginning of the "covenant with many" from Daniel 9:27? Only time will tell. Of the many implications from this visit, it reminds us of a coming showdown in Jerusalem that is depicted in the book of Revelation.
The book of Revelation is a book of opposing entities. In Revelation 6, we see a white horse that seeks to conquer. In Revelation 19, we see Jesus on a white horse, riding to conquer the enemies of God. In Revelation 12, we have a pure woman, but in Revelation 17, we see a harlot. In Revelation 11, we see two true prophets sent from God. In Revelation 13, we see two beasts. The second beast is a false prophet who causes people to worship an image. These beasts will wage war against God's people and all who refuse to submit to idolatry.
The second beast of Revelation 13 has uncanny similarities to the pope. In Revelation 13:11-18, a beast comes up out of the earth. Just as Adam came from the dust of the earth, this beast represents a person (Gen. 2:7). This beast has horns like a lamb, but it speaks like a dragon. Jesus said that "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matt. 12:34). This human appears to be Christ-like, but it has the intent and heart of the dragon (Satan, the devil). This second beast breathes life into an image or idol and causes people to bow down to it.
The pope outwardly looks pious, wearing white and performing acts of kindness. The danger, historically and today, is the words spoken by the pope. In 1095, Pope Urban II told the Crusaders that Christ commanded them to invade the Middle East. He then goes on to say that, "All who die by the way, whether by land or by sea, or in battle against the pagans, shall have immediate remission of sins. This I grant them through the power of God with which I am invested." But only God can grant forgiveness of sins (I John 1:5-10).
In Sept. 2015, the current pope said that Christ's life "humanly speaking, ended in failure, the failure of the cross". Paul said the cross was proof of Christ's triumph (Col. 2:15). In 2016, the pope said that our family life must be guided by conscience, not dogma. Yet Paul informed us that we should be led by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:1-14).
In addition to these statements, the Catholic Church advocates the use of idols and images as instruments of worship. This mirrors Revelation 13. Not even Islam advocates idols and images. The pope also wears a garment called a pallium, which is made from lamb's wool.
Let's consider these details. The pope always dresses in white, wears a garment made from a lamb, advocates images and idols and speaks against God's will. The pope is the second beast of Revelation 13. He will call down a false fire from heaven that imitates the real fire from God (Rev. 13:13).
During the great tribulation, the pope is going to face a major showdown in Jerusalem. The two witnesses of Revelation chapter 11 will be God's true prophets during this time. They will tell the world to turn to God Almighty.
There is some debate as to the identity of the two witnesses. We know they are prophets, and they are presently in heaven waiting to be sent to earth (Rev. 11:3-4). Most ministers would agree that Elijah has to be one of the two witnesses. First of all, he is specifically mentioned in Malachi as returning to earth before the return of Jesus. "See, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreaded day of the Lord (Mal. 4:5).
Revelation 13:5-6 describes the two witnesses as being able to send fire from their mouths and cause drought. Elijah manifested these signs as well. He called down fire from heaven (2 Kings 1) and caused a drought to occur (I Kings 17). Some believe that Enoch is the other witnesses since (among other details) he has never died. These two witnesses prophesy for three and a half years. Once that time is finished, they will be killed in Jerusalem. The pope and the beast government will put an end to them. However, they will be resurrected and called to heaven.
As we see this pope or any other pope preparing to visit Jerusalem, we are reminded of these two powerful prophetic chapters—Revelation 11 and 13. We learn of true prophets that have the true fire of God that battle the false fire and words of the pope. I encourage you all to seek the true fire that comes from God alone, even more so as we see the day approaching.
Kelly McDonald Jr. is an ordained evangelist at Hungry Hearts Ministries in Jackson, Tennessee. He has written over 40 books and booklets on pursing Christ, Hebrew roots and end-times prophecy. He is currently president of the Bible Sabbath Association (BSA). You can follow him at kellymcdonaldjr.com.