Original thinkers appeal to me—those who think out of the box. Some of this ilk naturally end up far-afield and are completely wrong. Others go against the grain of doctrine, i.e. what we know because that’s what we’ve always believed. But, as Dr. Michael Heiser, one of my favorites in this thinking out-of-the-box category, says: “What you know may not be so.”
A thinker and writer in the prophecy realm that I like a lot is Bill Salus who broke on the scene with his book Psalm 83 – The Missing Prophecy Revealed. Here Salus disrupted the long-held thought that this psalm was an already completed prophecy, likely having been fulfilled in 1948 when Israel became a nation and was immediately attacked by neighboring countries that wanted to wipe her off the map. That was certainly true, but in digging deeper, Salus concluded that this earlier war may have simply been a foreshadowing of a latter days, i.e. current times prophecy that is close to actual fulfillment and will likely happen prior to Ezekiel’s War. There is much Scriptural evidence to support this view.
Salus followed up Psalm 83 with a series of books dealing with Now, Next, and Last prophecies. It’s his thinking in The Next Prophecies that I want to comment on regarding the Catholic Church because of a recent news article.
In the same vein as Dave Hunt, who elaborated on the role of the Catholic Church in the Tribulation in his extensive work A Woman Rides the Beast, Salus examines this idea further in The Next Prophecies. As do many, he ties Catholicism into the Church of Thyatira, but he goes beyond that.
We know from Daniel 9:27 that the beginning of the Tribulation occurs when the Antichrist makes or confirms a covenant between Israel and an unidentified third party.
“And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” (ESV)
“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” (KJV)
Most scholars leave it at that. Not Salus. In his studies, he came across Isaiah 28:15 and 28:18 and connected the dots. These verses say:
 “Because you have said, ‘We have made a covenant with death,
and with Sheol we have an agreement,
when the overwhelming whip passes through
it will not come to us,
for we have made lies our refuge,
and in falsehood we have taken shelter’. . .
 “Then your covenant with death will be annulled,
and your agreement with Sheol will not stand;
when the overwhelming scourge passes through,
you will be beaten down by it.”
Where else have we seen death and Sheol? In the Fourth Seal in Revelation 6:7-8, we learn that:
“When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, ‘Come!’ And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.”
We have a connection between death, Sheol (Hades), and the covenant. Israel makes this covenant that will not stand. In fact, it will be destroyed when the overwhelming scourge comes along. The question becomes: Who or what is behind the need for this devastating covenant that Israel feels it’s necessary to enter? Essentially, who is the rider bringing death and Hades upon Israel whereby she believes she must agree to this covenant for protection?
Salus posits that it’s the Catholic Church.
Let’s hold that thought and go to our recent news about this wayward religion. (And, briefly, I say it’s wayward—or worse—because the dogma of the church insists that salvation is not Jesus ONLY, but Jesus AND.) On November 18, 2019 Pope Francis attacked fundamentalists, specifically calling them out in Argentina, his native country. He said “fundamentalism is a scourge.” That sounds awful. Who could be the terrible people behind this that has so riled Pope Francis? Well, since there aren’t any Muslim or Hindu fundamentalists in Argentina, guess what? He’s talking about Christian fundamentalists. And who are these radicals? Basically, Bible believing Christians who take the Word of the Lord literally.
One of the interesting aspects of history that Dave Hunt pointed out in his book is that the Catholic Church has an extensive record of persecuting those with whom it disagrees. True Christianity has often been the target. Also, interestingly, the Vatican has never apologized for this travesty, nor has it removed from its books the dictate that requires it to conduct such atrocities.
From A Woman Rides the Beast:
The oppression, persecution, and even martyrdom of those who refused allegiance to Rome has been her consistent policy. (p. 122)
Pope Gregory IX (1227-41) declared it the duty of every Catholic “to persecute heretics.” … Such persons were to be tortured, imprisoned, and slain. … “Of the eighty popes in a line from the thirteenth century on” writes de Rosa, “not one of them disapproved of the theology and apparatus of Inquisition.” (p. 124)
His [Pope Pius IX] Syllabus decreed the union of Church and state, that Roman Catholicism must be the state religion everywhere, that the Church may use force to compel obedience, that there is no hope of salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church, etc. The Syllabus has never been rejected or amended and remains the belief of the Roman Catholic Church today, though unenforceable in most countries. (p. 126)
Thus, Roman Catholicism became “the most persecuting faith the world has ever seen…” (p. 243)
Remember that this terror, this evil of such proportions that it is unimaginable today, was carried on for centuries in the name of Christ by the command of those who claimed to be the vicars of Christ. … She [the Catholic Church] has not repented or apologized, and she dares to pose even today as the supreme teacher and example of morals and truth. Remember also that the doctrines which supported the Inquisitions remain in force within the Roman Catholic Church even at the present time. (p. 250)
Therefore, it is not surprising that the Office of the Inquisition still occupies the Palace of the Inquisition adjacent to the Vatican, though under its new name, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. Its current Grand Inquisitor, who reports directly to the pope, is the former Archbishop of Munich, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger [at the time the book was written in 1994; Ratzinger subsequently became Pope Benedict], whom Time has called “the world’s most powerful cardinal [and] the Catholic Church’s chief enforcer of dogma…” (p. 261)
Now let’s connect the dots. What happens following the Rapture, i.e. when the true church, which generally won’t include the pope and loyal followers in the Catholic Church, is snatched into the clouds by Jesus? (I do believe that some number of Catholics are certainly saved, but they are born-again in spite of the Vatican’s teaching and not because of it; these would be Raptured.)
It will be a time of great chaos and confusion. Different entities will all vie for power even as the Antichrist makes a name for himself. The One-World Religion will be forming. More than likely this will coalesce under the ecumenical umbrella of the Catholic Church. She has been working that angle for many years, reaching out to Islam, Hinduism, and other pagan religions, telling them that all are part of the brotherhood of man under God.
Mary is a key figure in this outreach and already revered by many other faiths. The Catholic Church will become one big happy family under the banner of Catholicism and the pope who makes it all happen. Except for those left behind who realize their error in not accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior when they previously had the opportunity. These will read the Bible. They will understand that salvation comes only in Christ alone through faith alone; that the Catholic Church is telling lies for all its happy talk that the blasphemers have been removed and the world is now a better place.
Remember the Vatican “Office of the Inquisition” now called the “Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith?” My money (were I a betting man) would be on its Grand Inquisitor looking to make a name for himself. And how better to do that than round up the “heretics” who refuse allegiance to the Catholic Church? What does one do to something that is a scourge, i.e. a blight, a plague? Eradicate it. Fundamentalist Christians, new in the faith, will be a Bible-believing people, anathema to the Catholic Church that doesn’t want anyone reading and believing the Word of God.
Those who come to faith in this time, as during the Tribulation itself (because remember, this is still in a gap period after the Rapture prior to the covenant and the beginning of the seven years), will understand the seriousness of their commitment to Christ. The persecution will begin, and it will likely get ugly very quickly as the Catholic Church seeks to quash any opposition. It may very well turn into a worldwide pogrom, and many new Christians will face the renewed Inquisition that insists the heads of these dissidents be removed.
The Catholic Church has always had a problem with Jews and Israel, and that issue will also rise to prominence. Israel will watch these proceedings carefully and realize that she will be next on the Catholic agenda. With this incredible worldwide violence, this will provide a means for the Antichrist to display his diplomatic skills. What better way to bring peace to the world than to broker a covenant between the persecuting Catholic Church and Israel? And boom! The Tribulation begins at that point.
Death and Sheol have raised their ugly heads in this scenario. The Catholic Church will perpetrate great atrocities with many causalities. Satan’s demonic legions will certainly be out in force. The covenant will bring a false peace to Israel for three and a half years, protecting her from the Catholic scourge sweeping over the earth. Only after the Antichrist has shown his true colors and Israel realizes her mistake that he is not their Messiah will many Jews finally turn to Christ.
It will be an awful time, yet glorious in the sense that God’s Chosen People come to believe Yeshua, Jesus Christ, in large numbers. What grief they’ll have in understanding how long they’ve rejected the One who came to save them, yet how joyful they will be as their hearts swell with the Holy Spirit who comes to live inside them.
Truly, this will be the time when the people of Israel echo the words of Jesus in Matthew 23:39 in which He declares:
“For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
Gary W. Ritter is a lay pastor, Bible teacher, and serves as Missions Director at his church. He is also a prolific author. His Whirlwind Series is comprised of three books: Sow the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind, and There Is A Time. All these books are also contained in the collected volume of the Whirlwind Omnibus. Gary has been given the Christian Redemptive Fiction award for two novels: The Tattooed Cat and Alien Revelation. His intent in all his writings is to bring a strong Christian witness to what people read. You can reach him via his website at www.GaryRitter.com or his Facebook Author page at https://www.facebook.com/gritter3390. You can also see his video Bible teachings on his Gary Ritter YouTube page – look for the fish symbol.