Apocalypse 12-20: the Dragon Works over ALL of Church History

Summary: Apocalypse 12-20: the Dragon Works over ALL of Church History

In preterism, the Woman is mostly the Virgin, and most of the dragon scenes are symbolizing early events in Mary and Jesus’ life as the dragon pursued them with Herod and the wicked empire, etc.

In futurism, the Fundamentalists think the Woman is modern Israel, etc, which is absurd for Catholics.

In idealism, the Woman is largely the Catholic Church, and no chronology is claimed, simply, rather, viewing each scene of the dragon as something that can apply many times in Church history, like a type!

But this, then brings us to the final layer not much explored in modern times: historicism, or, in my take, spiritual historicism, ages of the Church! That is, what if the scenes of the dragon, starting right after the Ascension of the child, and all the way across to the final rebellion of the dragon after the “millennium”, can be seen as a perfect chronology of the history of the Church, from beginning to end? Sound crazy? It is not!

For, in light of the now evident mystics' scenario, if we see the millennium as a symbol of the coming age of peace--the coming indeterminate period of substantial diminishing of serious sin in history, a glorious near worldwide renewed, voluntary Catholic Christendom, in which Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart reigns--then seeing the scenes of the dragon from the ascension of the child of the woman till the last judgment as complete symbol of all Church history, from the Ascension to the Second Coming, there is no need to argue lack of chronological order. Everything fits perfectly!

On the Dragon Scenes of Apocalypse and Spiritual Historicism

We all know the wondrous imagery of Apocalypse Chapter 12: The Woman clothed with the Sun and the Moon under her feet, and the great flaming red dragon that seeks to destroy her and her child. Now, so far in most theology across Christendom of modern days, three ways to approach the profound imagery exist, according to three of the four possible layers of apocalypse: preterism, futurism, and idealism.

Let us look at each of them:

In futurism, or the Fundamentalists, the book is being almost totally compartmentalized to the very END of Church history, and the Woman is seen as modern day Israel. Hence, in their highly speculative and ridiculous view, the dragon scenes are describing events at the very end of the world surrounding the Jewish People. Obviously, for Catholics, this is absurd. The Woman, or the People of God in one context, is the Catholic Church, not the Jewish People, who are stepping out of the primary spotlight of human history until the very end, when they will convert in the times of the Antichrist.

For preterism, and idealism also, the Woman is the Virgin. This interpretation is probably most common to Catholic knowledge. In that vein, much of Apocalypse 12 is describing the events we already know about in the Gospels: how Mary and Jesus had to “flee into the desert” to escape Herod, who was like a “dragon”, the Roman Empire. The beast scenes of Apocalypse 13 then, appropriately shew forth the Roman Empire and its vicious persecution of the “other offspring of Mary”, Christians. This leaves the chaining of the dragon after the conquering of the beast and false prophet in late chapter 19 and chapter 20 as the conversion of the Empire to Christianity and the general age of the Church’s renewal of humanity, in which diabolical activity is diminished for a great period, until the end of the world, when the dragon is “loosed” from his prison beneath the earth to raise the great apostasy and assault on the Church, after which, “eternity commences”, the actual Second Coming, and the Eternal New Creation.

As for idealism, Papa Emeritus Benedict XVI has actually delved into this view. Here, after the early scene in Apocalypse 12 of what is clearly, on one layer of meaning, the Ascension, e.g., “But the child was caught up to God and His Throne, destined to rule the nations with a rod of iron...”, the Woman becomes, primarily, as we have just seen, the Catholic Church. HOWEVER, in IDEALISM, one is not seeing a strict CHRONOLOGY but, rather, in the various scenes of the dragon, spanning, at various points, the story of Apocalypse from chapter 12 to 20, images of different WAYS to look at how the dragon RELATES to the Church REPEATEDLY in Her history.

For example, the dragon many times “wages war in heaven” against the Church, as in Pagan Rome, or how Islam constantly warred with the Church. Other times, he “pursues her” Other times, she gets some “rest”, for example, possibly, the Middle Ages; or brief periods of restoration, like how our beloved Saint Francis De Sales brought back tens of thousands of Calvinists in France back to the Church; or how there was a brief resurgence of faith in France after the catastrophes of the Revolution; or how priestly vocations boomed after WWII, since many men had seen horrors enough on the battlefield to shock them into a hard-core consideration of the meaning of life. Too, these scenes can be reminiscent, again, of the so called “Millennium”, where diabolical activity diminishes for a time.

Too, there are scenes like the dragon spewing a flood of heresies after the Church. In the first 300 years of post-Constantine history, the dragon spewed many heresies after Her in the form of attacks on God and His Nature as Trinity and Incarnate One. In Protestantism, he spewed a whole horrendous river of lies and confusion, and ditto for the Enlightenment, where Reason was confounding ad infinitum.

But here, again, no chronology is claimed, simply, rather, viewing each scene of the dragon as something that can apply many times in Church history, like a type!

But this, then BRINGS us to the final layer not much explored in modern times: HISTORICISM, or, in my take SPIRITUAL HISTORICISM, ages of the Church! That is, what if the scenes of the dragon, starting right after the Ascension of the child, CAN BE SEEN as a PERFECT CHRONOLOGY of the HISTORY OF THE CHURCH, FROM BEGINNING TO END? Sound crazy? It is not!

Well, most modern Catholic scholars do not believe that a fully chronological interpretation can be given of the cumulative dragon scenes, seeing as amillennialism, as it is called, is the prevalent view. Meaning, you cannot take the Millennium of Apocalypse 12, in their view, as anything OTHER than the WHOLE age of the Church, or at least between pagan Rome and the Antichrist at the end.

BUT, in light of the now evident mystics' scenario, if we see the millennium as a symbol of the age of peace--the coming indeterminate period of substantial diminishing of serious sin in history, a glorious near worldwide renewed, voluntary Catholic Christendom--then seeing the scenes of the dragon from the ascension of the child of the woman till the last judgment as complete symbol of all Church history, from the Ascension to the Second Coming, there is no need to argue lack of chronological order. Everything fits perfectly!

To fully explain, let us review a theology of Apocalypse 20:

A Word about Dispensationalism

A word about Dispensationalism. Now, Several Early Church Fathers see the days of creation as a metaphor for the ages of the recreation of man, or his redemption. Now, St Methodius of Olympus, like St Augustine, in commenting on these ages, says five ages are of the old law. However, St Methodius goes on to elaborate on the New: The sixth is designated to the church, in which she labors to work against heretics, the seventh is the "Millennium of rest", and the eighth is the eternal New Creation, not the seventh.

Now, this "millennium of rest" that St Methodius references is a source of contention that we must address for this analogy that is forthcoming.

It references a passage from Apocalypse chapter 20. More specifically, starting in Apocalypse chapter 12, the dragon appears from many scenes of apocalypse, here and there, culminating with a beast and false prophet At the peak, this diabolical trinity, as it were, seduces man into self destruction, at which time, in Apocalypse 19, Christ "descends from heaven", and the beast and false prophet are cast into the fire, while the dragon is not yet totally vanquished but temporarily "chained in the abyss" for "a thousand years". During this period, Christ "reigns" on earth with resurrected saints. After the "thousand year period", the dragon is let loose for a final assault on the good, along with the resurrection of evil people. And then in the midst of this final attack, the dragon and evil persons are thrown into fire and evil is utterly vanquished. Then, we see the general judgement and New Creation.

Obviously, this is problematic for an orthodox Christian: per the Creed, Christ's Second Coming represents the definitive end of human history (from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead). It is then that both the just and unjust rise and all to the general judgement and eternal recompense. It is then that the elements are destroyed and remade in the New Creation. We cannot split up the resurrection of men into first the just, and then, after some temporal period of time, the unjust. Christ cannot yet again enter human history within human history. Christ's return is the end of time. It divides history from eternity.

Hence, when the Church sat down to form the NT Canon in the early fifth century, though the West was fairly certain that St John indeed wrote the Apocalypse, this passage was called into question.

Luckily, our beloved Doctor, St Augustine, rendered a way to look at it symbolically that enabled the book to enter the canon.

Here, in this interpretation, the Millennium symbolizes the entire Church age, from coming to coming. Christ reigns spiritually through the baptized who are in new life and the martyrs in heaven. At the end of this general period of evangelization, the release of the devil symbolizes the final assault on the Church with the great apostasy and persecution. Then Christ will come again literally.

Hence, the Fundamentalist position, common to dispensationalism, which takes the Apocalypse 20 literally, also known by them as PREmillennialism, or Christ returning "before" the "Millennium", is condemned by the Church for the aforementioned reasons just above.

For this reason, at least at first glance, St Methodius' claim of seventh and eighth phases after a general age of "labor for the Church" seems spurious.

However, there is an additional view of the Millennium that Augustine suggested that is not condemned but has fallen by the way side because it suggests a deeper specificity to Church history that is not necessarily apparent. Here, there is a "hybrid," never condemned but set aside. In this view, the "Millennium" is a spiritual Sabbath toward the end of the world but before the final apostasy of the very end, provided it is spiritual and not literal--a special reign of Christ figuratively on earth that is peaceful, and not confrontational with heresies and persecution and such, like the last 2000 years. More specifically, when i attempt to apply this to the overall dragon scenes, the scenes of the dragon before the chaining symbolize, in one dimension, the history of the Church up until the intermediate apostate age of our time. The chaining of the dragon then symbolizes Christ's spiritual victory over the intermediate apostasy through the massive repentance of the Gentiles that is coming and the reunion of Christians. The millennium here is then, again, a hybrid: it is not the entire period of Church history but this final age of indeterminate length but spiritual rest, where the Church has brought humanity, at least temporarily, into a civilization of love (e.g., the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart, the Era of Peace), but the millennium is not literal; it is a spiritual reign of Christ, like Augustinianism. The release of the dragon after the age of peace symbolizes the great apostasy and final attack of the dragon, and then the last judgement is the Second Coming, all like Augustine.

Interestingly enough, this corroborates what Fatima and most fully approved mystics give: in current times, we are not at the end of the world, though an apostate culture reigns in former Christendom. We await, perhaps quite imminently, a Minor Chastisement--minor compared to the very end of the world--after which an unbelievable reversion of the former Christendom back to the Catholic Gospel will occur, leading to the near total renewal of the whole world. Christians will be reunited to Peter and there will be a substantial period of historical, spiritual peace on earth for a long but indeterminate time.

Then, at some point, the world will get finicky and forget that their secular godlessness almost ended the world, and shall fall into the great apostasy, at which time, the ultimate Antichrist shall arise, the bestial ultimate persecution of the Church, the conversion of the Jews, the Great Tribulation, and of course, the actual, literal Second Coming, which, as we know, brings the end of time as we know it.

With this view in mind, the whole of the dragon scenes can be seen in a fully chronological light for Church history, from beginning to end!

The effective parts are as follows:

War in Heaven: Pagan Rome, the dragon persecutes Church to prevent conversion of empire. Up until the Coming of Christ, the dragon ruled the world, the Gentiles being in darkness and sin. He is "in heaven", shewing forth, symbolically, this domination. But with Christ's Ascension and Pentecost, the Church is founded and is now going out to change the world forever, to bring the near whole of humanity into the Gospel, the fullness of light and love. This will spell doom for the dragon, but he will not go down without a fight! Hence, the war in heaven! The dragon instigates false accusations against the Christians to spur persecution [cannibals, traitors, insurrectionists], in order that the Church might be destroyed before it ever brings renewal. (Day and night he accused them before our God). But [Tertullian], “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians!” (But they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and they loved not their lives UNTO DEATH). The martyrs only backfired the dragon’s war back to himself: the witness of their blood, courage, and love of enemies progressively moved the hearts of the Empire and won its conversion. The dragon was cast out, and the Church now rules the world, the Christ also, from above, while, nevertheless, tribulation will continue, but on a level playing field: the woman and dragon on the same plane of earth.

Dragon on earth, pursues Woman: The Dark Ages, Europe is progressively Christianized, the Divine Nature of God as Triune and Incarnate is attacked: Arianism, Monophysitism, Monothelyte heresy, Nestorianism, Islam.

Woman flies to temporary rest from Serpent: The Middle Ages. The woman acquires the wings of the eagle, and flies to a trying time, but nevertheless one in which the dragon is eluded for a time. Firstly, the Middle Ages were the pinnacle of Catholic influence in the world so far in history. The Church, while having some tribulation, nevertheless flourished like no other time since then. Too, Scripture has seen many times wings as things of the transcendent. The transcend soul of the human has two faculties, intellect and will. The Church, in the Middle Ages, borrowed the two great pillars of Greece in a natural sense to elevate and develop the marvel of the Church’s intellectual and heart-felt life with the two Greek things that relate to the faculties of soul: Philosophy and Art. Philosophy elevates the mind and assists in arguing and defending the truths of God, Scholasticism. And Sacred Art elevates the mind and heart to God: paintings, statues, magnificent edifices: These two great features, taking two wings from the four winged Leopard of Daniel 7 (the Leopard imaged Greece, by orthodox interpretation, quite likely Philosophy, Art, Drama and Athletics)—Scholasticism and the intellectual life of the Church, marvelously propped up by natural philosophy, and Sacred Art, which, following the victory against the Iconoclastic heresy of old, transformed the blasphemous pagan idols into images of our Lord and the Saints—enabled the Church to flourish and “rest from the serpent” for a time.

Dragon spews flood after Woman: Protestantism, Enlightenment. The period of relative rest and flourishing for the Church in the Middle Ages abruptly ended fiercely with the great heretical rebellion. Never before had the Church been so recklessly assaulted with heresies and confusion. This was indeed a great river or flood of heresies. Now, the dragon is spiritual, and what proceeds from him can only be spiritual. Too, water is the substance of the ocean, which tosses heretics to and fro by every wave of doctrine. Only the stable pillar and “ground” of truth (1 Tim. 3:15), the solid earth of the Magisterium, the infallibly guided Bishops, Tradition, and Pope, can hold the Church together in the face of a torrent of false teachings intended to carry the faithful away into error and oblivion. Too, the lies only multiply in more deadly form with so called “Enlightenment”, where the world is no longer seeking a Christian solution to man’s troubles, but only natural, Reason. And if it is true that there were as many forms of Protestantism as there were Protestants, there were equally as many forms of infidelity (deism, rationalism) as there were infidels (deists, rationalists). Hence, the deluge coming forth from the dragon in order to carry her away is a deluge of lies and heresies, of the Protestant Rebellion and Enlightenment, and the earth, or foundation of truth, the Magisterium (1 Tim. 3: 15), opens its mouth at Trent and Vatican I, and swallows the lies of the dragon. Indeed, Trent so wonderfully synthesized the deeper truths of justification, the sacraments, Apostolic Succession, the canon, and other things contested by Protestantism, that a subsequent council was not needed till some over 300 years later. Too, as the Enlightenment tried with vile attempts to solve economic and social issues with purely worldly thought, or Reason, divorced from the light of the supernatural Gospel, the Church progressively responded with teachings that clarified the social and political order, culminating with Vatican I, which solidified Papal Authority, answered atheists false claims that God’s existence cannot be known by reason alone, and other things. The earth, or solid foundation of the Apostolic College, infallibly guided by the Spirit, swallowed all these errors and preserved the dear faithful Catholics in the world from being “carried away” by the confusion of this great setting the sun toward the greatest spiritual war, the modern times of near utter darkness!

Dragon runs off to make war with the Woman: Leo XIII Locution on 20th century. Following the witness of the Church in the great time of spiritual distress and intellectual confusion, at the close of Vatican I, the dragon stood poised to raise up the supreme assault until that time he was on earth: the terrible secular destruction of our last century: war, godlessness, apostasy. Toward that end, we are all familiar with Pope Leo XIII’s frightening locution on the verge of the new century, where the dragon challenges God that he can destroy the Church. He is effectively given 75 to 100 years. There is no question that from the last century unto our own day inclusive, the Church has not faced such assaults on the Gospel since pagan Rome. Atheism, which ran terrible darkness and persecution on the East, for half to nearly a full century, and, in the latter half of the last century, the hedonistic, relativistic materialism, has dragged much of the former Christendom into a culture that is effectively utterly opposed to the Gospel. This is very appropriately imaged by how the dragon, having waged the flood against the woman and failed, runs off in anger and takes his position on the shore of the sea, preparing to raise up the ultimate confrontation in the forthcoming beast, false prophet, persecution, and tribulation of the bowls.

Beast and False Prophet: Our modern secular apostasy in last century (or any godless age or kingdom). We have already described this beast in the former scene. Effectively, if the dragon is the father of lies, the beast is like the incarnation of these lies in human history in any age that is largely opposed to God. The False Prophet then images these lies themselves, like a diabolical Trinity. Too, there is meaning in the shore, the sea, and the earth. We have seen that the earth is like a foundation, the Church. The sea is a place of chaos, heresies and lies, tossing man to and fro. The shore would seem to be somewhere in the middle: part lies, part truth. In this view, the devil hides behind half-truths to confound the world, much like extremes of right and left, each of which has some good and some bad.

From this, total godless indifference arises, the beast from the sea. This would image the objective reality of godlessness. It has no foundation, only lies, and in the end, it will be tossed and drowned to its death. This is in contrast to the second beast, the false prophet, which, again, can be seen as the lies themselves. Here, too, the lies are seen in their SUBJECTIVE presentation by the dragon, the DECEPTION. The dragon presents his lies, or the second beast, as arising from the earth, or foundation. Hence, that the false prophet takes his stance on the earth presents the idea that the supreme lies of the dragon, or the lies of the fall (Do not listen to God, decide for yourself what is true, do as you wish, and live for the Creation rather than the Creator, or materialism [desire the fruit made by God rather than God Himself]) are a supreme foundation for prosperity and peace, on the “earth”, when, in reality, the end of such is the OBJECTIVE first beast, in the SEA, where the passions of man and his selfishness will toss him into tribulation and ruin. That the deception takes root in humanity is seen in the world that says, “Who is like the beast, and who Is able to wage war with it?”, i.e,, “Behold, we have a supreme materialistic power and grandeur, and we have no need of God or religion. What will stop us from the ultimate paradise, or utopia?” See also, Babel, where God says, “There will be nothing they shall not be able to do.”

The frogs, or unclean spirits, emerging from the mouths of the diabolical trinity in the sixth bowl of wrath also fits here: frogs were considered divine by the Egyptians. Hence, man, looking down upon a mere animal, elevates in delusion the animal to a place higher in the hierarchy of existence than himself. Too, the frog has a peculiar a nature: it is amphibious, that is, able to live on land or water. From the standpoint of our earth, sea analogy, we see that man can only truly live in peace and prosperity to the degree that he founds his societies on the truth and grace of God, the ultimate foundation of which is the Church, in her teachings and sacraments. This, again, is like the earth, the only literal place that human beings can actually survive. In the ocean, man, unlike the frog, will die objectively, both because of no true foundation, and secondly, the water stifles his capacity to breath the breath of life, and so perishes. Yet, the frog CAN live in water. This heralds back to above: The dragon effectively tells man, with the false prophet, that he can live in the water, that is, without God’s truth and grace. He directs him to follow the first beast of the sea, while telling him, in the lies, that it is nonetheless firmly standing upon the earth. Here, then, is what humanity does to itself relative to God. Man, who is infinitely beneath God in the hierarchy of existence, considers himself a frog relative to God, of higher divinity than Him! And, that, like a frog, he can live in the land OR the water. He can have the earth of religion if he LIKES, but he ultimately does not NEED It. He can live in the water. Again, this is a supreme lie, since the water ultimately brings death. Herein, then, the seduction of the diabolical trinity is made manifest.

Dragon, Beast and False Prophet Armageddon: Minor Tribulation (any tribulation following intrinsically from godlessness). Ditto, as above, the seduction of the frogs tells humanity they can preserve the foundation of peace and prosperity without regard for God and His truths and laws, and merely with materialistic power and dominion, with merely secular means. The CCC corroborates this, in saying that the modern form of secular messianism is a perverse lie of antichrist (see a section of the creed on the Second Coming). Hence, whereas the decadence and illusory prosperity in the godless Whore can last for a time, eventually the negation of God’s morality and truth brings corruption, and man, not having peace with God, all the more becomes an enemy of his fellow man. Hence, all the more has every corrupt empire or godless society suffered collapse.

See also, the ten horns in Apocalypse 17, who burn up the whore and eat her flesh. Some tradition sees in the ten horns of the beast and dragon the ten commandments, which they make war with. Too, godless, materialistically grandiose but perverse societies have seated themselves upon the negation of God, and hence also of the foundation of God’s Law, the Ten Commandments. For a time, this harlot society that does not want spousal relationship with her CreaTOR, but rather only a brute, superficial using of the CreaTION, prospers and enjoys the degrading abuse of the pleasures, possessions, and egotistical accomplishments of this world. But later, as mentioned, the negation of the ten commandments brings corruption and selfishness, which disturbs the peace of the society. Finally, at its peak, it brings about the collapse of the kingdom: economically, politically, socially, morally. Hence, again, the ten horns of the beast, upon which the woman is seated, burn her up and consume her flesh. Here, these intrinsic results of leaving God behind, “carry out the will of Christ” by allowing the world to see the true fruits of its blindness. In this way, the Lamb conquers both the Woman and the ten “kings”, for in the fall of the Whore, the society sees the fruits of the antithesis of the Decalogue, and comes back to God.

Dragon chained, reign of resurrected saints: Age of Peace, Resurrection of faith. The mystics have prophesied that after the coming minor tribulation--a result of the errors and sins of the modern world in apostasy--they will see the error of their ways and repent. Christians will be reunited, and a glorious age of peace, the Triumph of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart, shall be ushered in. This wondrous renewal of faith and love in the world can be seen in the resurrection of the martyrs, or those who did not receive the mark of the beast. The Gospel Spirit of those who persevered in faith in the dark times is brought to life again and rles in the age of Our Lady. Here, then, sin, iniquity, and lies in history are conquered in the greatest manner WITHIN human history, and this can be symbolized by the casting of the beast and false prophet into the fire. The period of peace where Catholicism is vindicated and lived in peace is then imaged by the chaining of the dragon in the abyss, his activity utterly suppressed for a great time. However, that the dragon is not cast into the fire like the beast and false prophet indicates that the ultimate vanquishing of evil yet remains, in the destruction of the great apostasy. Hence, the dragon emerges a final time after the “thousand years” [age of peace] to deceive and attack, the great apostasy. Here, then, is the eschaton: Christ literally returns to utterly destroy all evil and usher in the New Creation: The dragon is seized and cast into the eternal fire: the General Judgment, the ultimate defeat of evil, the end of human history, the General Resurrection, the New Creation.

Dragon released at end of Millennium: Great Apostasy and Tribulation

Dragon in fire forever, last judgment: Second Coming, General Judgment

Note, then, that the progressive defeats the dragon are imaging the greater sequential victories of the Church over the substantial phases of error, sin, and tribulation. The dragon is ever thrown further down in each successive greater victory: in the fall of pagan Rome and the conversion of the empire, the dragon is cast from heaven to earth. In the coming triumph of Our Lady’s Heart over our modern fulfillment of the beast and false prophet, the minor apostasy, the dragon is placed from earth to the abyss below. And finally, at the destruction of the great apostasy, the dragon is cast from earth to the lake of fire, utterly vanquished forever.

Note, also, there is absolutely no need for any portion of the discourse to said to be out of chronological sequence. It all fits one, two three, from the ascension to the Second Coming, inclusive.

This concludes our analysis of the dragon. Now for the seven letters.