Pope Benedict XVI and other world leaders are right that we do need a new "world political authority." But what does the Bible say about how it will come?
by Paul Kieffer
Just one day before the start of the G8 (Group of 8) summit meeting in Italy last month, the Vatican released the third encyclical published during the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI. Benedict’s new encyclical is titled "Caritas in Veritate" ("Charity in Truth") and addresses the theme of international social responsibility for the general economic welfare of all mankind.
The papal letter took two years to produce and continues a theme that was a favorite of Benedict’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II. Its release the day before the summit meeting of the world’s leading industrialized nations and Russia was apparently chosen to signal the Vatican’s discontent with the way the new world economy, driven by globalization, is enlarging the gap between the planet’s rich and poor.
According to Benedict, "the pernicious effects of sin are evident" in the world’s current economic system. The pope singled out the desire to achieve profits above all else as a major problem in the global marketplace: "Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty."
Call for a "true world political authority"
The most remarkable aspect of the pope’s message was his call for the establishment of a "true world political authority" to oversee the world’s economy and work for the "common good" of all people instead of economic pursuits being determined largely by the interests of financiers and international big business.
A Vatican spokesman emphasized that the language of the encyclical is phrased in general terms instead of outlining specific steps that need to be implemented. Nevertheless, the language of the document is quite direct in places as seen in these excerpts (emphasis ours throughout):
"Globalization is a multifaceted and complex phenomenon which must be grasped in the diversity and unity of all its different dimensions, including the theological dimension. In this way it will be possible to experience and to steer the globalization of humanity in relational terms, in terms of communion and the sharing of goods…
"Today, as we take to heart the lessons of the current economic crisis, which sees the State’s public authorities directly involved in correcting errors and malfunctions, it seems more realistic to re-evaluate their role and their powers… Once the role of public authorities has been more clearly defined, one could foresee an increase in the new forms of political participation, nationally and internationally…
"The significant new elements in the picture of the development of peoples today in many cases demand new solutions."
The pope’s appeal for an international authority that transcends national borders is not limited just to economics. The Vatican envisions a new "world political authority" that would have wide-ranging influence in other areas as well:
"To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority."
The release of Pope Benedict’s remarkable encyclical was reportedly delayed several months to include the current financial crisis. However, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Vatican’s Council for Justice and Peace, emphasized that the lengthy document is "not an encyclical done for the crisis. If the encyclical had come out before the crisis, you would have said it was prophetic."
Finance crisis or not, little does Cardinal Martino realize how prophetic the Vatican’s call for an international political authority is—especially one guided by a "theological dimension."
A coming world power guided by religious influence
Prophecies in the book of Revelation describe a superpower that will appear on the world scene shortly before the return of Jesus Christ. The real power behind the scenes guiding this superpower will be Satan the devil. This end-time military-political alliance will reflect aspects of the four empires described in the book of Daniel, beginning with ancient King Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian empire (Daniel 2:38) and encompassing the subsequent Persian, Greek and Roman empires.
With the fall of Rome in A.D. 476, that ancient system supposedly came to an end—as if mortally wounded. But its surprising revival, from the ashes of the Roman Empire, is described in the book of Revelation: "And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast" (Revelation 13:3).
The end-time configuration of this healed "beast" will be an alliance of nations. The world will fear and marvel at the enormous power of this alliance: "So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’" (verse 4).
Notice the configuration of this political and military alliance as described in Revelation 17: "The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour [a short time] as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them" (Revelation 17:12-14).
Revelation 17 also reveals that this final resurrection of a prophetic "beast" will be guided by a spiritual—i.e., theological—influence. That influence is pictured in the form of a fallen woman, a harlot: "And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH" (verses 3-5).
The fallen woman sits on and guides the first beast (the alliance of 10 kings, rulers of nations or groups of nations). She is the world’s chief advocate of Satan’s disgraceful doctrines. She artfully preserves the pagan mysteries—the fundamentals of ancient Babylon’s religion—in her traditions and teachings. She will be a fierce advocate of these ancient religious customs and practices at the end of this age, again making them internationally popular.
Who is this spiritual harlot? The ancient city of Babylon (verse 5) controlled vast empires, subjecting many nations and kings to their traditions and culture. Revelation 17 tells us: "And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth" (verse 18).
When the book of Revelation was being recorded in about A.D. 90, if you had asked anyone in that part of the world where Christianity was developing to name a city that fit this description, there would have been one answer: Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire. Prophecy reveals that a modern city will assume a similar role at the time of the end.
This world religious center will also be powerfully influential in this world’s political and economic arenas. By the time the fallen woman—this Babylon the Great—is destroyed by Christ, it will be the case that "all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury" (Revelation 18:3).
Just as Revelation 17 describes the spiritual influence guiding this end-time alliance, Revelation 18 describes its economic reach. It will be a powerful trading system, bringing riches to merchants all around the world (verses 11-15).
World government the only answer
With his call for a new "world political authority," Pope Benedict indirectly acknowledged the inability of the United Nations in its current form to solve the world’s problems.
In fact, the new encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" urges a reformation of the United Nations: "In the face of the unrelenting growth of global interdependence, there is a strongly felt need, even in the midst of a global recession, for a reform of the United Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth."
Even UN leaders like former Secretary-General U Thant have admitted that their organization lacks the authority to bring lasting change to the earth.
In 1970 Thant called for the creation of a "global authority with the support and agreement of governments and of other powerful interests, which can pull together all the piecemeal efforts now being made."
Nuclear physicist Edwin Teller, who helped develop the atomic bomb, urged the creation of a world government with "real teeth": "We must work for the establishment of a world authority sustained by moral and physical force—a world government capable of enforcing worldwide law."
Pope Benedict is obviously not the first to call for the establishment of a new "world political authority"—nor will he be the last to do so.
In a confrontation with Jesus, Satan the devil boasted of his power and control over "all the kingdoms of the world" (Matthew 4:8-9). Satan, the master deceiver, often deludes human agents into marketing his deceptive arguments. He uses them to champion his basic concepts, even masquerading as true servants of God (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
At the time of the end, Satan’s philosophy will be vigorously promoted as mankind’s final hope for world peace and security (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3). It will be championed as the world’s greatest opportunity to work together for the good of all.
Scripture refers to Satan’s main advocate in the time of the end as "the man of sin…, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
His efforts will be "according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie" (verses 9-11).
This man’s persuasive powers will be enormous, and the book of Revelation confirms Satan’s direct religious influence over the final resurrection of the Beast by means of a religious system—itself described as "another beast" that will claim to represent Jesus (Revelation 13:11-12).
Tragically, multitudes from all nations will believe his clever lies. They will enthusiastically endorse the concepts Satan introduced at the Tower of Babel. They will be thoroughly deluded into believing deceptive assurances that these satanic concepts will produce world peace and harmony. Rather than enjoying peace and safety, mankind will fall victim to Satan’s desperation and wrath. The devil will once again pit mankind against the true God.
Right and wrong
Despite their inability to implement an equitable system of international peace and welfare for all, visionary leaders are right about one thing: Our modern-day problems do require a global solution—a globalization of another sort.
We do need a world-ruling government equipped with the authority to enforce world laws and maintain peace. However, that world government will not be brought about by Satan’s attempt to control mankind via a religiously dominated union of nations, a final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire. Instead, it will be achieved by Jesus Christ upon His return when He establishes the Kingdom of God on this earth—a literal world-ruling government.
Pope Benedict XVI and other world leaders are both right and wrong: We do need a new "world political authority." However, it won’t be brought about by the goodwill of human beings working together to solve their problems.
Instead, it will be achieved by divine intervention in human affairs, despite resistance from a final union of leaders deceived by Satan to give their power and authority to a central figure in an attempt to overcome the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ of Nazareth (Revelation 17:12-14). WNP