Wednesday 17 July 2019

The Sign of Jonah and Millennial Day Theory

St. Augustine of Hippo

As most regular readers of this blog will already know, a post I had published immediately after the publication of the second edition of my book Unveiling the Apocalypse: The Final Passover of the Church in November 2016 went viral in the run-up to the Great American Solar Eclipse, after being plagiarised by Pastor Mark Biltz (see here). I used the core content of this material as supporting evidence of the central thesis presented in my book - i.e. that the prophetic vision of Pope Leo XIII can be used to interpret the unbinding of Satan for the "little while" described in the Apocalypse, which takes place at the end of the "thousand years":

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. (Rev 20:1-3)

I had noted that there was good reason to believe that the Great American Solar Eclipse was also related to the two solar eclipses which appeared over the site of ancient Nineveh in 1914 and 1999, which had bookended the 20th century. It is highly unusual for a total solar eclipse to occur over any single location during the course of just one century, since there is usually a wait of several centuries for such an event to recur. The fact that the site of ancient Nineveh was in the path of totality at these two crucial junctures in history - at the beginning of the First World War and on the eve of the turn of the millennium (which marked the Great Jubilee Year of the Incarnation), gives us serious pause for consideration.

The first of these Nineveh eclipses, at the beginning of World War One, had occurred on the feast day of Our Lady of Knock on Aug 21st, 1914 - an apparition which I also argued had announced the opening of the scroll sealed with seven seals by the Lamb of Revelation described in Rev 5. The opening of the seven seals begins with the release of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which I argue is also recapitulated in the period of the unbinding of Satan at the end of the Millennium in Rev 20. Both events share the theme of the release of evil spirits towards the end of the world, and they should be compared side-by-side as a theological diptych in order to draw out a fuller understanding of the symbolism involved.

I had noted that a solar eclipse occurring over the site of ancient Nineveh was the most likely explanation for the original meaning behind the "sign of Jonah" - the historical Bur Sagale Eclipse which had appeared over the site of ancient Nineveh during the ministry of the Prophet Jonah. This event is thought by some theologians to be the primary cause of the repentance of the Ninevites, which is left unexplained in the Book of Jonah itself.

In my book, I argue that the mysterious "sign of Jonah" mentioned by Christ is one of the principle signs that marks the period of the unbinding of Satan at the end of the Millennium described in Rev 20. This was primarily because the sign of Jonah is mentioned in the immediate context of the "binding of the strong man" in Matt 12 - a passage which St. Augustine of Hippo had linked to the period of the unbinding of Satan described in Rev 20 while he was formulating his amilliennial view of the Apocalypse.

In turn, I also argue that the element of the "sign of Jonah" concerning the three days the prophet is said to have spent in the "belly of the great fish" provides an interpretive key to the "millennial day" theory discussed by the Early Church Fathers. Each of the days represented in the Sign of Jonah also represents a thousand years, indicating there is to be a separate division of a period of three thousand years to be made in the concept of the "Great Week" discussed by the Early Church Fathers. So the "sign of Jonah" factors into the symbolism of the prophetic understanding of the Sabbath Millennium, which St. Augustine had proposed would usher in the period of the unbinding of Satan at the end of the thousand years described in Rev 20:

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself says, No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man — meaning by the strong man the devil, because he had power to take captive the human race; and meaning by his goods which he was to take, those who had been held by the devil in various sins and iniquities, but were to become believers in Himself. It was then for the binding of this strong one that the apostle saw in the Apocalypse an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss, and a chain in his hand. And he laid hold, he says, on the dragon, that old serpent, which is called the devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,— that is, bridled and restrained his power so that he could not seduce and gain possession of those who were to be freed. Now the thousand years may be understood in two ways, so far as occurs to me: either because these things happen in the sixth thousand of years or sixth millennium (the latter part of which is now passing), as if during the sixth day, which is to be followed by a Sabbath which has no evening, the endless rest of the saints, so that, speaking of a part under the name of the whole, he calls the last part of the millennium — the part, that is, which had yet to expire before the end of the world — a thousand years; or he used the thousand years as an equivalent for the whole duration of this world, employing the number of perfection to mark the fullness of time....

The devil, then, is bound and shut up in the abyss that he may not seduce the nations from which the Church is gathered, and which he formerly seduced before the Church existed. For it is not said that he should not seduce any man, but that he should not seduce the nations — meaning, no doubt, those among which the Church exists — till the thousand years should be fulfilled,— i.e., either what remains of the sixth day which consists of a thousand years, or all the years which are to elapse till the end of the world.

(St. Augustine of Hippo, City of God XX:7)

As the Catechism points out, Christ had compared the sign of Jonah with His own resurrection three days after His death on the Cross:

It is Jesus himself who on the last day will raise up those who have believed in him, who have eaten his body and drunk his blood. Already now in this present life he gives a sign and pledge of this by restoring some of the dead to life, announcing thereby his own Resurrection, though it was to be of another order. He speaks of this unique event as the "sign of Jonah," the sign of the temple: he announces that he will be put to death but rise thereafter on the third day… (CCC 994)

The Early Church Fathers had discussed the possibility that the biblical chronology pointed to a prophetic week of millennia, which they had widely concurred was of major prophetic importance. The Epistle of Barnabas was one of the earliest such works to use the "sexta-septamillennial tradition" to interpret the significance of the Millennium described in the Apocalypse:

Attend, my children, to the meaning of this expression, “He finished in six days.” This implieth that the Lord will finish all things in six thousand years, for a day is with Him a thousand years. And He Himself testifieth, saying, “Behold, to-day will be as a thousand years.” Therefore, my children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, all things will be finished. “And He rested on the seventh day.” This meaneth: when His Son, coming [again], shall destroy the time of the wicked man, and judge the ungodly, and change the-sun, and the moon, and the stars, then shall He truly rest on the seventh day. Ye perceive how He speaks…I shall make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world. (The Epistle of Barnabas Chap XV)

While some of the Early Church Fathers had proposed that Satan would be bound at the end of the six thousand year mark in the millennial day system (including the author of the Epistle of Barnabas himself), St. Augustine proposed that the binding of Satan had already occurred through the ministry of Christ, implying that it was the period of the unbinding of Satan that would take place at the end of the millennial week - as we can see from the above passage in City of God.

It has long been noted that there appears to be a division of this prophetic week of millennia into two separate sets - four millennial "days" leading up to the Advent of Christ, and then three other millennial "days" pointing towards the period of the unbinding of Satan before the restoration of the Church.

The kernel of the millennial day theory discussed by the Early Church Fathers can be found in Psalm 90:4 and 2 Pet 3:8: "But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." Some Protestant dispensationialists incorporate a further passage found in the Book of Hosea into the millennial day theory, in order to provide a bridging connection between the three days of the Sign of Jonah and the three days of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ.

After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. (Hos 6:2)

During the approach of the turn of the third millennium, Protestant dispensationalists had typically used the above passage in order to suggest that the "first resurrection" of the dead would soon take place during the Second Coming of Christ. This understanding led to the view that Christ would return around the turn of the millennium in order to establish a thousand year reign on earth after the resurrection of the righteous dead, during which Satan would be bound for the duration of the Sabbath Millennium. Once we apply St. Augustine's view concerning the significance of the Sabbath Millennium to the millennial day theory, a significantly different scenario emerges.

St. Augustine had suggested that the Sabbath Millennium should be used to interpret the timing of the period of the unbinding of Satan at the end of the thousand years. For St. Augustine, Satan was already bound through the sacrificial death of Christ, and he would be until the period of his unbinding at the end of the Millennium of Rev 20. For St. Augustine, the "first resurrection" was the resurrection of the soul after baptism, so there was no need to posit two separate periods of resurrections in the Apocalypse, before and after the thousand years, as is forwarded by the dispensationalists. According to St. Augustine's amillennial view, there will only be one resurrection of the dead at the end of the world, just before the Last Judgment.

So the resurrection after three days being described in the Book of Hosea isn't necessarily limited to the general resurrection of the dead at the end of the world, as it could also point to the restoration of the Church after the period of Satan's unbinding, since St. Augustine held that the Devil would once again be spoiled after the period of his unbinding, in order to allow for the Gospel to be proclaimed to the ends of the earth before the Second Coming of Christ:

For in accordance with this true saying that order is observed — the strong one first bound, and then his goods spoiled; for the Church is so increased by the weak and strong from all nations far and near, that by its most robust faith in things divinely predicted and accomplished, it shall be able to spoil the goods of even the unbound devil. For as we must own that, when iniquity abounds, the love of many waxes cold, Matthew 24:12 and that those who have not been written in the book of life shall in large numbers yield to the severe and unprecedented persecutions and stratagems of the devil now loosed, so we cannot but think that not only those whom that time shall find sound in the faith, but also some who till then shall be without, shall become firm in the faith they have hitherto rejected and mighty to conquer the devil even though unbound, God's grace aiding them to understand the Scriptures, in which, among other things, there is foretold that very end which they themselves see to be arriving. And if this shall be so, his binding is to be spoken of as preceding, that there might follow a spoiling of him both bound and loosed; for it is of this it is said, Who shall enter into the house of the strong one to spoil his goods, unless he shall first have bound the strong one?
(St. Augustine, City of God XX:8)

I had previously identified the tumultuous events of the 20th century with the unbinding of Satan at the end of the Millennium described in Rev 20 with the famous prophetic vision of Pope Leo XIII. After experiencing a vision of a horde of demonic entities surrounding the city of Rome (reflecting the scene of the camp of the saints being surrounded by the forces of Satan at the end of the Millennium in Rev 20), Pope Leo XIII had composed the Prayer to St. Michael, which was said at the end of every low mass up until the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. In my book, I argue that the beginning of this time period was most likely indicated by Pope Leo XIII himself, when he consecrated the entire human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1899. He called this consecration "the greatest act of my pontificate".

The link between a 100 year time frame and the act of consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was famously made by St. Margret Mary Alocoque. Exactly 100 years to the day after Christ had appeared to St. Margret Mary on 17th June, 1689, requesting the king of France to consecrate his country to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Third Estate rose up against the French Monarchy during the Revolution, stripping the king of his legislative powers on 17th June, 1789. This 100 year period in relation to the consecration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was also alluded to by Sr. Lucia:

Make it known to My ministers, given that they follow the example of the King of France in delaying the execution of My command, they will follow him into misfortune. It is never too late to have recourse to Jesus and Mary.’ (Sr. Lucia, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words, p199)

It is surely no coincidence that another solar eclipse took place over the site of ancient Nineveh on 11th August, 1999 - 100 years after Pope Leo XIII consecrated the entire world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This means that the "sign of Jonah" had once again appeared to delineate the boundaries of the "short time" given to Satan at the end of the "thousand years". The beginning of which was augured by the outbreak of the First World War, timed to coincide with yet another solar eclipse over Nineveh on 21st, August, 1914. The fact that the "three days" aspect of the sign of Jonah is so closely associated with the concept of the millennial day theory in Hosea 6:2 leads us to the conclusion that the period of revival on the "third day" described in this biblical passage is linked to the various prophecies of the restoration of the Church during the Second Pentecost, commonly described in the Middle Ages as the renovatio mundi.

In my book, I attempt to show how the chronology of the short time given to Satan can actually be broken down into several different components, just as the period of the Great Week is itself divided into two separate lots consisting of four thousand years and three thousand years. In his recently published book Pope Leo XIII and the Prayer to St. Michael, Catholic author and seminarian Kevin Symonds examines the history behind the composition of the Prayer to St. Michael. Here, Symonds presents a wealth of scholarly evidence which attests to the authenticity of the vision of Pope Leo XIII. The author has obviously undertaken a painstaking amount of research for this book, and has translated several key documents which were previously unavailable in English. A fresh batch of information is brought to light here, including additional material emanating from the eyewitness testimony provided by Fr. Pechenino, and a homily on Pope Leo's vision attributed to Cardinal Pedro Segura y Saenz. Among these new findings we find the surprising fact that the earliest accounts of this vision records that Satan had actually requested a period of 50-60 years in which to destroy the Church, rather than in the later versions which assert a 75-100 timeframe.

While these documents which Symonds has unearthed are undoubtedly the earliest of their kind, and therefore possess the strongest claim to the full truth on this matter, we cannot fail to notice that this contradicts the common perception that Pope Leo's prophetic vision comprised the entirety of the 20th century, rather than just the first half of it. On the surface, this discovery appears to indicate that the period of Satan's greater power ended around the middle of the 20th century, at the close of the Second World War. Once again, such a scenario appears to contradict the actual sequence of historical events, and it is plainly evident that the true grip of Satan's greater power only seemed to really take hold in the latter half of the 20th century, after the events of the Second World War, when the Sexual Revolution which took place in the 1960's coincided with a massive decline in the Church - paving the way for current apostasy we are still enduring today.

Symonds is solely concerned with presenting the facts on this matter however, and his efforts are to be commended, as they allow us to see this prophecy from a completely fresh perspective. In my book, I argue that the 50-60 years requested by Satan during Pope Leo's vision was actually only Satan's first attempt to destroy the Church. The vision of Pope Leo XIII is directly based on the story of the trials of Job described in the Old Testament. If we compare this prophecy with its primary inspiration in the Book of Job, the exact manner in which Satan tests Job is comprised of two distinct parts. In his first attempt, Satan claims Job's children by tearing down the house of their elder brother. After Satan's first attempt fails, he then comes back to request another chance to destroy Job's faith, this time by afflicting the prophet himself with a plague of terrible sores:

And the LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes. Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. 
(Job 2:2-10)

So if the prophecy of Leo XIII corresponds with the trials of Job, it would follow that Satan would have returned before the throne of God to request another attempt to destroy the Church after the period of 50-60 years had elapsed, this time by changing tack - manifesting a plague of sores upon the Church itself, rather than the physical destruction of its children through war. Such an interpretation would explain why there was such a sudden swerve in the middle of the 20th century, going from the two world wars in the first half, to the modern apostasy in the second, which yielded not only great changes within the Church itself, but also saw the rise of the sexual abuse crisis, as well as the worldwide resurgence in occultism brought about by the New Age Movement.

We can find some evidence to support this hypothesis in Symonds' work, which contains the account of the vision of Pope Leo given by Cardinal Segura, who provides an additional detail about Satan's first request of 50-60 years, stating that "God granted that period and said they would talk again at a later time…" (Symonds, K. Pope Leo XIII and the Prayer to St. Michael, p50). This strongly suggests that the conversation between God and the Devil would be continued after the failure of the first attempt, just like during the trials of Job. And if Satan was granted a further period of 50-60 years during this second attempt, this would bring the total amount of time up to 100-120 years, which is much more in line with the more well known version of this prophecy, and this revised figure fits much better with the actual unfolding of historical events.

The beginning of this time period appears to have been signified by Pope Leo's consecration of the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1899, which was requested by Christ Himself when He appeared to Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart in 1898. This parallels the 100-year time period between the request to consecrate France to the Sacred Heart during Christ's apparition to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and the beginning of the French Revolution. This interpretation identifies a major turning point in the period of Satan's greater power (when blemishes would be manifested on the Church itself) at around the year 1960, which ties us into the significance of Our Lady's words concerning when the Third Secret should have been originally published.

Satan's request of 50-60 years to destroy the Church is also extremely similar to Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich's prophecy of the unbinding of Satan towards the end of the world, which she seen during a vision of the binding of Satan during Christ's Descent into Hell:

In the centre of Hell I saw a dark and horrible-looking abyss, and into this Lucifer was cast, after being first strongly secured with chains; thick clouds of sulphureous black smoke arose from its fearful depths, and enveloped his frightful form in the dismal folds, thus effectually concealing him from every beholder. God himself had decreed this; and I was likewise told, if I remember right, that he will be unchained for a time fifty or sixty years before the year of Christ 2000. The dates of many other events were pointed out to me which I do not now remember; but a certain number of demons are to be let loose much earlier than Lucifer, in order to tempt men, and to serve as instruments of the divine vengeance. I should think that some must be loosened even in the present day, and others will be set free in a short time.

Blessed Emmerich's vision can therefore be completely reconciled with the vision of Pope Leo XIII if we are to understand the period of the unbinding of Satan above as lasting for 50-60 years, starting at an unspecified date before the year 2000, rather than taking place 50-60 years before the turn of the millennium. This would mean that the 50-60 year timeframe mentioned by Blessed Emmerich is one and the same as the period of Satan's greater power, rather than placing the unleashing of the Devil at around the years 1940-1950. Interpreted in this way, the true meaning of Blessed Emmerich's words would be "he will be unchained for a time [period lasting] fifty or sixty years before the year of Christ 2000".

If the period of Satan's greater power consists of two separate lots, just like the trials of Job (bringing the total up to 100-120 years), then it is interesting to note the timing of the end of this time period points not only to the significance of the turn of the millennium, but also to the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima in 1917. In The Final Passover of the Church, I hope to show how both the separate figures of 100 and 120 years are of equal importance in this regard, as the defeat of Satan at the end time is actually also comprised of two separate events. The first is the eschatological expulsion of the Devil from heaven, when Satan is cast down to the earth by the Archangel Michael. This event, which takes place at the end of the period of Satan's unbinding, is the ultimate fulfilment of the Prayer to St. Michael, and is marked on earth by the appearance of the signs in heaven - all of which occurred at the turn of the millennium, hinging on the solar eclipse over the site of ancient Nineveh in 1999 (which corresponds with the millennial day theory espoused in the Epistle of Barnabas).

Once he is cast down to the earth, the Devil becomes even more enraged at the Woman Adorned with the Sun, and spews a flood out from his mouth in a last attempt to completely sweep her away:

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth.
(Rev 12:7-16)

If the appearance of the signs in heaven occurred at the turn of the millennium in order to herald when Satan has been cast down to earth, this means that this is the time period we are currently experiencing, and explains the significance of the 100-year element of this prophecy. However the flood sent out of the mouth of the Ancient Serpent is eventually swallowed up by the earth itself, which marks the second defeat suffered by Satan at the end of the period of his unbinding, and symbolises the restoration of the Church by the Two Witnesses during the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

If the period of the unbinding of Satan is actually broken down into two separate lots consisting of 100-120 years, demarking the timing of casting down of Satan to earth following his defeat in Heaven by the Archangel Michael, and the distinct period relating to the swallowing up of the flood which is sent forth from the mouth of the ancient Serpent after this event, then we have every reason to hope that the spoiling of the unbound Devil which St. Augustine expected to take place at the end of the short time of Satan is rapidly drawing near. 

It is perhaps no coincidence that the story of Noah's flood is similarly related to a 120 year time period. After the description of the fallen angels/Watchers sinning by engaging in sexual relations with human females given in the Book of Genesis, God said He would destroy the world by the Great Flood in 120 years as a consequence of this abomination:

When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” (Gen 6:1-3)

So Noah similarly had a period of 120 years between a warning being given and the timing of the flood, which parallels the swallowing up of the flood poured out from the mouth of the Dragon in Rev 12. It is again no coincidence that Noah's Ark is traditionally held to have settled on Mount Ararat in Armenia after the occurrence of the flood, since the Armenian people faced one of the greatest persecution of Christians the world has ever known at the start of the period of the unbinding of Satan, which was perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks at the start of the First World War. The Armenian Genocide is also alluded to in the unbinding of the four angels of the Four Angels at the River Euphrates described in Rev 9:13-15, since this location focuses on the Khabur River, which was the exact site on which the Armenian Genocide was centred in the concentration camps of Deir es-Zor. (See the post The Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the Genocides of the 20th Century for more details on the significance of the Armenian Genocide in relation to the period of the unbinding of Satan).

If the millennial day theory discussed by the Early Church Fathers is concerned with providing us with a prophetic dating of the timing of the period of the short time of Satan rather than giving a literal date of creation, this means we can dispense with the Young Earth Creationist theory. A theory which is frequently used by vocal atheists such as Richard Dawkins as fodder for the whole science versus religion debate.