Joseph Ratzinger, or Pope Benedict XVI as he is known, shocked much of the world this week by breaking with tradition. He is willingly stepping down from his office as opposed to dying in it like his predecessors have for the last 700+ years. Perhaps even more surprising, is the plethora of criticism that has followed what most consider a conservative reign.
Der Spiegel said that “his papacy failed to introduce much-needed reforms.” The Süddeutsche Zeitung writes that he has “no understanding for the third millennium” and that the “church is no longer triumphant, nor is it combative” and “has seldom needed reform as badly as it does at the end of Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy.” Die Tageszeitung, echoing similar sentiments, wrote, “It would be good if Pope Benedict XVI was the last of his kind. And if the history books could soon write: ‘The Pope’s resignation heralded a new era, the Catholic Church had understood that it could not continue as before.'”
How does the old adage go, “be careful what you wish for, because you might get it?”
The Bible predicts that there will be a great religious leader that comes from a land in the midst of the seas and from a city that sits on seven mountains. This is none other than Rome! And of course the religious leader of Rome is the Pope. The issue at hand here that many do not realize is that the great religious leader that is prophesied to come out of Rome is none other than the False Prophet.
This Pope will teach wrong doctrines and be anti-law. He will do signs and lying wonders, even making fire come from heaven. These miracles will easily fool the masses, those who will take the “mark of the beast.” He will sit in the “inner sanctuary”, and it appears that he will be sitting in a literal temple in Jerusalem at that time and even claim to be God.
Through direct influence from Satan and demon possession, this man will accomplish these things and more. He will also be able to influence world leaders — to the point that they will gather at Armageddon in preparation to foolishly fight Christ at His return.
Knowing that this is the case and that these exact events will happen, we, as Christians, are still strongly admonished to avoid being deceived by the “man of sin,” the False Prophet. Paul implies that we could succumb to the wiles of this man when he writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first….” This apostle identifies this harbinger as the end time. He actually prophesies that there will indeed be another apostasy, a move from true Christianity to false religion and that this will be at the time of this last leader of “Babylon the Great.”
The Words of the Bible are written for our benefit, to aid us in the days ahead. Not just this particular caution, but all the testimony of God. We must hear them and live them and love them in order to prevent what will inevitably befall many (1 Corinthians 10:11-12; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Will this next pope indeed be “the one?” We don’t know, but need to watch.