Sunday, July 19, 2020

Adult Ed, July 16th -- Catholic Commentary on the Apocalypse, Session 7, The Sea and Land Beasts, 666, and the Antichrist, Chapters 13-14 (Part 7 of 9, Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi)

Outline of Session 7:  Commentary on Revelation chapters 13-14. Who or what do the Sea Beast and Land Beast represent? The mysterious number 666 and it’s meaning in the first century as well as for the end times. Discussion of the Antichrist from Revelation and other books of Scripture.

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Catholic Commentary on the Apocalypse
Studying the most perplexing book of the Bible with the great Catholic Scholars
Session 7 – The Sea and Land Beasts, 666, Revelation 13-14

Outline of Session 7:  Commentary on Revelation chapters 13-14. Who or what do the Sea Beast and Land Beast represent? The mysterious number 666 and it’s meaning in the first century as well as for the end times. Discussion of the Antichrist from Revelation and other books of Scripture

I. Review of last week: The Woman and the Dragon
If the Dragon is a real historical person (Satan) and Michael is a real historical person (St Michael) and the child is a real historical person (Jesus), then the Woman is not only Israel and the Church, but also a real historical person (Mary).

III. Chapter 13: The Sea Beast and the Land Beast, 666
13:1 “And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea” – This is a different beast from the dragon, the Sea Beast. Symbolizes all the enemies of the Church and especially the secular kingdoms and governments of the world.
“having seven heads and ten horns”  13:2 “was like to a leopard … a bear … a lion” – Obvious reference again to Daniel 7. These seven heads are seven kingdoms. Haydock: “of these, five were then fallen, viz.: the Egyptian, Assyrian, Chaldean, Persian, and Grecian monarchies: one was present, viz., the empire of Rome: and the seventh and chiefest was to come, viz., the great Antichrist and his empire.”
The animal likenesses could reference certain Roman emperors (Maximian Herculeus, Galerius Maximin, and Diocletian who was like a ferocious lion). Many saints and theologians think this beast could refer specifically to the Antichrist, but all this is difficult to interpret with certainty.

13:3 “And I saw one of his heads as it were slain to death: and his death’s wound was healed.” This could refer to the Roman Empire which would become Christian under Constantine in AD 313 (the mortal wound to the beast’s head), but then returned to Paganism and persecution under Julian the Apostate ca 360 (the wound healed).  It seems that the Land Beast represents most especially Rome.
On the other hand, the wounded head recalls that the heal of Mary and of Jesus have crushed Satan’s head, but the devil still seems to have power on the earth.

13:4 “saying: Who is like to the beast?” This is the opposite of the name of Michael.

13:6 “And he opened his mouth unto blasphemies against God” – The language of Satan and of the damned is blasphemy. We must not tolerate blasphemy in TV or movies etc.

13:8 “the book of life of the Lamb, which was slain from the beginning of the world.” The Lamb once slain, is our Lord. The crucifixion was planned from he beginning of the world, to heal the wound of original sin and all actual sins.  The “book of life” touches upon predestination and divine knowledge.

13:11 “And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth” – This is yet another beast, the Land Beast. This beast seems to be connected more with false worship rather than specific earthly governments.
“he had two horns, like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon” – The two horns symbolize heathen priests and magicians.   Notice a sort of unholy trinity: The Dragon, the Sea Beast, the Land Beast.
This Land Beast is the prophet of the Sea Beast – could be the prophet of the antichrist, or could be all the pagan priests who promoted Roman idolatry.   “like a lamb” especially indicates an antichrist. Consider the terrifying painting in the Cathedral of Orvieto
.  This could also refer to the Jewish priests and Jewish persecution of the early Christians.  Or again this could be wicked Catholic priests.
Some think that the antichrist will be Jewish, and his prophet will appeal especially to the Jews – even as the High Priest of the first century worked with the Roman authorities to persecution Christians.

13:12 “He executed all the power of the former beast in his sight” 13:13 “He did great signs” – This refers to false miracles that the antichrist and his prophet will work, imitating the true Messiah.

13:18 “It is the number of a man: and the number of him is six hundred sixty-six” – This number could represent Nero Caesar. In Hebrew and Greek, letters are used to count numbers (before we had Arabic Numerals). The name Nero Caesar in both languages adds up to 666.  Also, the mark of the Emperor was put upon all the coins, which fulfills the references to buying and selling.
*Note that some manuscripts say 616, which is taken from the Latin version of Nero Caesar transliterated into Hebrew.

Also, 666 symbolizes 6 three times, which is to say all the power of the beast and of man – because man and beast was made on the 6th day. Further, 6 is one less than 7 which symbolizes heaven and perfection and covenant – thus, 666 is the greatest worldly false covenant.

Does 666 refer to the end of the world? Social Security numbers? COVID vaccine?  Religious syncretism? The EU and the Euro? Etc etc etc?

IV. What does the Church mean when speaking of the Antichrist?
The word “anti-Christ” is used only in St John’s Letters, though it has parallels in Revelation, and St Paul’s Letters, as well as the Gospels and the Book of Daniel.
1 John 2:18-19 “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that Antichrist cometh, even now there are become many Antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last hour. [19] They went out from us, but they were not of us.”
1 John 2:22  “Who is a liar, but he who denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is Antichrist, who denieth the Father, and the Son.”
1 John 4:3 “And every spirit that dissolveth Jesus, is not of God: and this is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh, and he is now already in the world.”
2 John 7 “For many seducers are gone out into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh: this is a seducer and an antichrist.”

In the Apocalypse, some point to the beast of chapter 11, others to the dragon of chapter 12, others to the sea beast of chapter 13 or the land beast of chapter 13, or even later to the scarlet beast of chapter 17.

In St Paul, we look especially to 2 Thessalonians 2. The day of the Lord (the day of Judgement) is preceded by a revolt and the revelation of the “man of sin” (the Antichrist) who will sit in the temple of God, showing himself as if he were God, working signs and wonders by Satan’s power. He will seduce many, but will himself be destroyed by the Lord in his coming.
Thus, there is a sequence of events: The “mystery of iniquity” which is all the false teachings and persecutions the Church suffers, which leads to a revolt or “great apostacy” in which the “man of sin” or Antichrist will reveal himself. Then comes the end.

It seems that the Antichrist will not just be a movement or a false doctrine, nor a large group of people, but a real historical person. He will not be a demon or an incarnate devil, but a human being who is perfectly possessed. Most likely he will be of Jewish descent, perhaps from the tribe of Dan, and may try to rebuild the Temple in order to reign from there (Gen 49:17, “Let Dan be a snake in the way, a serpent in the path, that biteth the horse’s heels that his rider may fall backward.” And the tribe is omitted from the listing of the saved in Revelation 7).

IV. Chapter 14: The Fall of Babylon and Victory of the Lamb
14:1 “And I beheld, and lo a lamb stood upon mount Sion”  Just when all seems lost, suddenly John sees the Lamb triumphant over all the power of hell, and the faithful are saved!
14:8 “That great Babylon is fallen, is fallen”


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