"He [the beast from the land] performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived." Revelation 13:13-14
It is well- known that within catholicism, "miracles" have often taken place: appearances of Mary, stigmata, miraculous cures, and the like. A recent example which has been officially sanctioned by the Roman church, is the Zeitun Church apparitions of Mary, which took place in Zeitun, Egypt, in 1968, witnessed by thousands over the course of three years, accompanied by miraculous healings.
This is only one example in a long list. Such a record does not exist with any other organized religion. When we consider that the result of these miracles is that people remain firm in their faith that the holder of the office of the papacy is in fact the Vicar of Christ on the earth, then we see the prophecy in Revelation fulfilled:
"And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived." Revelation 13:14
What about the fire from heaven? In order to understand this aspect, we should go back and look at Revelation 11:5, where it is said of the two witnesses that fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. What is this fire?
I do not believe it is literal fire, like we think of when we think of fire- breathing dragons, for example. When a town in Samaria did not receive Jesus, and the disciples suggested that they call fire down from heaven to devour the town, Jesus rebuked them and corrected them. He and his witnesses did not use literal fire to devour their enemies.
But they were baptized with fire, i.e., with the Holy Spirit and with power; and when words inspired by the Holy Spirit, by that holy fire, proceeded from their mouths, their enemies were devoured, in this way: citizens of earth had their eyes opened to the truth of the gospel, they died to their earthly citizenship and were raised in new life to their heavenly citizenship. They were no longer enemies, but brethren, and this was accomplished by the fire, the spoken witness under the unction of the Holy Spirit, which proceeded from the mouth of the witnesses.
I believe the fire which the beast from the land wields in Revelation 13 is in the same vein, in other words, it is not a literal fireball which comes down from heaven a la the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. So what is it?
To be continued …
Update: continued in Revelation 13: fire from heaven, part two