The Smoke of Her Burning
By Pastor Hal Mayer
Welcome to Keep the Faith Ministry once again. Thank you for joining me today as we study God’s word concerning our times. There is much to think about concerning the Notre Dame Cathedral fire. It is a powerful reminder that the time will come when God will end the system of false teaching and idolatrous and fraudulent practices that engage so many in superstition and falsehood. As we think about the history of the Cathedral and the judgments of God, we need to understand what makes our salvation secure. Is it a massive structure? Is it rituals and ceremonies? Is it in worshipping images, saying the rosary, going to confession, or venerating saints?
If we are going to be saved, my friends, we must follow the call of Jesus to obey the Bible while letting Him live within us.
So, as we begin our study today, let us pray. Our Father in heaven, You are the God of all Gods. Men have tried to place other gods in Your place, yet they have always failed. Their monuments to their own selfishness, though they may appear on the surface as timeless and enduring as the Rock of Gibraltar, are really as shifting as the sands of the sea below it. As we open Your word today, help us to see and understand with heavenly wisdom our subject today. Send Your Holy Spirit to teach us, we pray, in Jesus’ name, amen.
Open your Bibles to Revelation 18. This important chapter is usually brushed aside by most Christians who do not think that it concerns Roman Catholicism. Many have reinterpreted these verses to apply to something quite different, so their views of it are distorted and inconsistent. But this chapter is a repeat and enlargement of the third angel’s message of Revelation 14 that pronounces serious punishment on those who align themselves with Rome and her false religion. Listen carefully to these words. Speaking of Rome, the apostle says in Revelation 18:7-8:
“How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.”
The Notre Dame Cathedral fire is a symbol of what is to come upon Rome and her global minions. Many were horrified to watch the roof of that massive edifice burn with unmatched ferocity. They wept and mourned over the loss of one building, one of the most renowned buildings in Western Civilization. How will they weep and wail when the whole of Rome and its global system of false worship, corrupted economics and degraded political relationships are destroyed by fire?
Listen to these words of Scripture that should truly be understood by all of God’s people today. Revelation 18:9-10 says:
“And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.”
Notice the lamentation and wailing among the rulers, or kings of the earth, in that verse. Speaking of the fire at Notre Dame, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, said he was “sad to see this part of us burn.”
His predecessor as president, François Holland, declared, “Notre Dame is our common heritage, it’s a wound to see her ravaged by the flames.”
Notice the word “wound.” Will this wound be healed? Macron said he was going to raise funds to rebuild and restore the Cathedral. Perhaps it will be healed, like the healing of the deadly wound of the church the Cathedral represents.
“The Vatican,” said Pope Francis, “has seen with shock and sadness the news of the terrible fire that has devastated the Cathedral of Notre Dame, symbol of Christianity in France and in the world.”
Yes, the Cathedral was a symbol, but in ways that Pope Francis cannot comprehend and would, perhaps, like to spin quite differently.
U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted: “So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.” He also personally called Pope Francis to offer his condolences.
Globalist Hillary Clinton, in true globalist fashion, tweeted: “My heart goes out to Paris. Notre Dame is a symbol of our ability as human beings to unite for a higher purpose – to build breathtaking spaces for worship that no one person could have built on their own.”
Unite for a higher purpose? That sounds like the common good, which, to Hilary, would mean a world of socialism that supports all kinds of perversions without accommodating religious freedom.
The former US President Barack Obama tweeted: “It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost – but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can.”
It’s interesting that you don’t hear a lot of mourning over the invaluable ancient Christian artifacts and monuments that were destroyed by ISIS in the Middle East. But when Rome’s monuments are destroyed, they get special treatment.
Mr. Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, said it was “heartbreaking to see a house of God in flames,” as he described the Cathedral as “an iconic symbol of faith to people all over the world.”
House of God? It is the house of the enemy. It even contains a sculpture of a dragon. After all, Revelation 13:4 tells us that the world would worship the dragon and the beast, which work together.
Justin Welby, Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, tweeted that he was praying “for everyone in France and beyond who watches and weeps for this beautiful, sacred place where millions have met with Jesus Christ.”
Is that so? Did they really meet with Christ? Or were they deceived into thinking they met with Christ, while really meeting with the enemy? How many children were abused by the priests in Notre Dame Cathedral? How much tainted money was laundered through its precincts? How does Welby justify that statement in light of the martyrdom of true followers of Jesus that were burned at her doorstep?
“Leaders from other countries including Australia, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Poland, and Spain also expressed their sadness and said their thoughts were with the people and leadership of France.”
The president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said that our Lady of Paris “belongs to the whole of mankind,” describing the fire as a “horror” of which “Notre-Dame de Paris is the prey.” Meanwhile, Donald Tusk, the president of the EU council, said: “Notre Dame of Paris is Notre Dame of the whole of Europe. We are all with Paris today.”
However, all the lamentations and condolences are nothing compared to the weeping and wailing the Bible says is coming when Rome is punished for her sins. The Bible is telling us that the whole system will be burned and there will be a lot of smoke. The kings of the earth, which are the rulers of the earth, will lament for her. Listen to how Revelation 18:15-19 says that the merchants of the earth will react to the burning of Rome:
“The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off, And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city! And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.”
You see, my friends, Rome’s punishment will be sudden and quick. The kings and merchants of the earth love Rome because she helps them get power and wealth. They collaborate with her and these benefits happen. There are always some anomalies here and there, but the trajectory is still the same century after century.
The burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is seen by many people as symbolic in one way or another. Many Catholics see it as symbolic in the sense that “the Virgin,” for whom the Cathedral is named and dedicated, is unhappy with France for her secular ways and that she is calling France back to her Catholic roots. In fact, the Virgin is said to have appeared more often in France than in any other place throughout history, making the Cathedral of even greater importance to the people who for centuries were swept up in the superstition and imposition of it all.
Others see the burning of the Cathedral as a symbol of the threatened state of Christianity by secularism. “Western Christianity is burning,” they say. And some see the burning as symbolic of the decay of Christianity and a call to return to its moral roots. Lastly, some simply see it as a tragic loss of one of the great symbols of Catholicism’s ancient history and influence on society.
But, for God’s prophetic people, the symbolic significance goes way beyond all this and straight to the heart of the end-time conflict over truth and error, right and wrong, righteousness and wickedness.
I was traveling the day of the fire, and, in front of me, as I sat in my airline seat, was a TV screen with channels expounding the news of the Notre Dame Cathedral fire. I watched as the spire collapsed live on the screen. As I sat there, I thought about the Notre Dame Cathedral as a symbol of all that Romanism stands for. This massive edifice, which figured so significantly in French and Catholic history, brings to mind some very important inspired statements.
The third angel’s message is a compelling appeal to disconnect from Rome’s enchantments and deceptions because she is going to be burned with “fire and brimstone” (Revelation 14:10). Given the times in which we live, it is vital that we study the third angel’s message to understand why it is given and how it will be proclaimed. If we say that Babylon is fallen or that association with Babylon is going to subject us to the plagues and to fire and brimstone, we have to explain what Babylon is from Scriptures.
Our mission today is to understand something about what God is going to do to Rome for her determined apostasies, systemic corruptions, false doctrines and moral evils. The Cathedral fire is but a symbol of the larger destruction that will come upon Roman Catholicism at the end of time. Let me say that it is not the people that we are talking about here; it is the system that is corrupt and that Scriptures condemn.
Listen to the words of Revelation 18:1-10.
“And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.”
This verse, my friends, describes the latter rain that will fall upon God’s true people, those that understand and live by God’s full message and have Jesus living in their hearts all the time. During this time, they will present the last call to come out of false worship and join God’s remnant people in the worship of the Creator on His holy Sabbath day. Listen to the message that they will bear to a lost world:
“And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.”
This is not some weak and lifeless message. This is potent stuff. Being the third angel’s message repeated by the fourth angel, it is present truth. And people in darkness will be stirred deeply. Some will decide to follow Jesus and reject all false religion. Others will turn against it. It confronts the wicked with their wickedness, and it exposes Rome’s deeper sins that the mainstream media have not exposed. Right now, Rome is going through a process of cleaning up her act to placate the media who keep exposing her filthy scandals. However, the media don’t realize that false doctrine is the cause of all this evil. So, as far as Rome’s doctrines are concerned, they are silent. They suggest that, if only Rome would stop doing these evil, socially unacceptable things, they would support her. But notice what verse three says about why Rome is the cage of every unclean and hateful bird and is full of devils and foul spirits and all manner of vile filth.
“For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”
In other words, her power over nations is intoxicating and she grasps for more and more. The nations have drunk of her wine, her doctrines, especially the mixing of church and state, and all that goes with it, because they want power. They unite with Rome to achieve more and more control. And in order to have Rome’s blessing, they don’t object to her false doctrines and practices.
I’ll read on, “The kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.”
So, the moneymen of the world get rich because of their connection to Rome. And they don’t speak out either; they are silent. Somebody has to speak up, otherwise many souls will be lost that could be saved. Guess who must speak out. You and I must, if we are faithful to the Lord. You will have to expose Rome’s false teachings. You can’t just talk about the sex scandals or the banking scandals because, by that time, Rome will have cleaned up her appearance. Evangelical leaders and others will tell you, “Rome has apologized for that. We have forgiven her.” So, the Lord knows you have to have something even more compelling and something quite different from what the newspapers proclaim. You must know your Bible in order to do that, and you have to have the Holy Spirit to guide your words. Now, think about what you are going to say. Here it is in verse four:
“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
This call is God’s final appeal to anyone still connected with Rome to give up on her and to learn to live by faith in Christ, not by faith in Rome. If you are going to tell people to come out of her, you have to be able to explain to them why. And it’s not just to avoid punishment. Being connected with Rome taints you spiritually and soils your character. You want a pure character if you are going to live in heaven throughout eternity, so you have to tell them that they must separate from Rome so that they can get really close to Jesus. In order to proclaim the message, you must be so close to the Savior that you hate sin and won’t want to sin anymore. Let me ask you: Are you living that way? I don’t feel like I am. But don’t forget that we are told that, the closer we come to Christ, the more unlike Him we see ourselves to be.
Let us read verse five through seven:
“For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.”
“I sit a queen,” she says. But she is not the queen of heaven. She is the queen of the earth. “I am no widow. I’m married to Christ. And shall never experience sorrow.” If ever there was fake news, that’s it. And just when Rome boasts of this, her punishment comes upon her like a thief in the night. It steals her self-proclaimed glory. It rips off the veneer of righteousness and godliness. It ends her dominance and triumph over the true saints of Jesus Christ. Her punishments will cut her down and she will not get up. Listen to verse eight.
“Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.”
She shall be utterly burned with fire? The Cathedral fire is a reminder of the judgments that will fall upon Rome for her wickedness and debauchery. And it will be the Lord that will cut her down. No human hand is going to end her prominence on the geopolitical stage. Her end will come, obviously, by supernatural means.
By this time the “other sheep” that are not of “this fold” will have all separated themselves from Rome and her fallen daughters. They will keep the Sabbath of the Lord on the seventh day just as the commandment tells them to do. They will purify their lives in obedience to the truth. They will let go of all their trappings – their fancy clothes, their jewelry, cars, muscle trucks, and anything else that they don’t need – and will give their resources to God’s cause.
The latter rain will be fantastic, my friends. It will reach down into the deepest bowels of Rome and find those lost souls who long for truth and righteousness. It may be nuns or monks in their humble habits, hidden in obscure monasteries and convents. It may be priests in their priestly garments that the Holy Spirit will touch with the fire of truth. They will leave behind their old connections to the Church and join God’s true Sabbath-keeping people. It may be humble church members who have lighted so many votive candles that will hear the call. It may be Protestants, evangelicals, Pentecostals, and others who have been confused by the ecumenical movement and who have been devoted to Sunday worship, not realizing that it is a child of the Papacy. They too will leave their former connections when they hear the call to “come out of her my people,” and join God’s true remnant people and obey His law. This call to come out of her means that they are called to leave communion with all false religion, and, in particular, that of Rome and her ecumenical daughters.
Friends, listen to this statement. Here is a description of the Latter Rain and the response to it:
“The message will be carried not so much by argument as by the deep conviction of the Spirit of God. The arguments have been presented. The seed has been sown, and now it will spring up and bear fruit. The publications distributed by missionary workers have exerted their influence, yet many whose minds were impressed have been prevented from fully comprehending the truth or from yielding obedience. Now the rays of light penetrate everywhere, the truth is seen in its clearness, and the honest children of God sever the bands which have held them. Family connections, church relations, are powerless to stay them now. Truth is more precious than all besides. Notwithstanding the agencies combined against the truth, a large number take their stand upon the Lord’s side.” That’s from The Great Controversy, page 612.
Now let us read verses nine and ten of Revelation 18.
“And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.”
Yes, the time will have come for the judgments of God to be poured out on the guilty world. Listen to this statement from The Great Controversy, page 614.
“When He leaves the sanctuary, darkness covers the inhabitants of the earth. In that fearful time the righteous must live in the sight of a holy God without an intercessor. The restraint which has been upon the wicked is removed, and Satan has entire control of the finally impenitent. God’s long-suffering has ended. The world has rejected His mercy, despised His love, and trampled upon His law. The wicked have passed the boundary of their probation; the Spirit of God, persistently resisted, has been at last withdrawn. Unsheltered by divine grace, they have no protection from the wicked one. Satan will then plunge the inhabitants of the earth into one great, final trouble. As the angels of God cease to hold in check the fierce winds of human passion, all the elements of strife will be let loose. The whole world will be involved in ruin more terrible than that which came upon Jerusalem of old.”
Did you hear that the destruction will be worse than what happened to old Jerusalem at the hands of the Roman armies? Do you remember how that is described? You can read about that in the first chapter of the book The Great Controversy.
Do you think your connection to the church will save you? It did not save the Jews. Do you think that you can be saved by your family line of pastors? Do you think your knowledge of the truth will save you? Forget that, too, my friends. Only Jesus and your knowledge of Him will save you. Just because you can clearly articulate the various doctrines of the church will not get you into heaven, either.
The fire in the Notre Dame Cathedral is a warning to all those with eyes to see it that the Day of Judgment for Rome is coming rapidly. Those who mourn over the Cathedral are the deceived millions who love Rome and what it stands for in one way or another. They may not even be religious. They may have a taste for the magnificence of the edifice, the beauty of the windows, or other art. But this Cathedral is part of Rome’s deception to make people think that Rome has a good side. As a result, they excuse her sins.
Think about what Rome gives them. The merchants of the earth live deliciously with her. She gives them power and success. She manages their economies and makes herself and them rich. Have you ever wondered, by the way, how Rome can survive financially even though not many people attend her churches? Rome gets money in a number of ways. Yes, she gets some for her services to the people, but she also gets gifts from wealthy people with whom she is connected. And lastly, as an insurance policy in the event that she can’t get money from anywhere else, long ago she acquired property and buildings in the centers of major cities that she now rents to governments and private companies for offices and other functions. These revenues she puts in her coffers and then uses them to build her influence wherever she can.
Multitudes honor Rome by accepting her doctrines, namely Sunday worship and her teaching on the immortality of the soul. Multitudes, even among those who are not her members, think that the true Sabbath is actually Sunday, thanks to Rome’s misrepresentations of God. They also believe what the Bible does not teach, that their souls will go straight to heaven when they die. Rome patronizes them in their moments of sorrow. She offers them priestly mercy when they suffer pangs of guilt. She gives them freedom to sin and live as they please and then eulogizes them into heaven so they will think that she offers them spiritual value. Tragically, many people believe to their own destruction that, even though Rome is corrupt, she is still the representative of God.
But the medieval Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is one of the grand monuments to papal power and prowess, as well as to her deceptive doctrines.
Notre Dame has stood in its completed condition in a prime spot on an island between two branches of the Seine River as it meanders through the middle of Paris. It is built on the most ancient inhabited site in the city, the old Celtic town of Lutetia dating back to at least the first century BC.
The Cathedral’s location illustrates its philosophy of being with the people yet separate from them. The Cathedral is built on the island, apart from the city, yet in its midst. The church was and is an integral part of the state, yet separate from it. This is the genius of Rome. Her temporal power relies on this relationship of closeness and separation. Rome breaks the flow of the river of humanity and at the same time subdues it. This relationship will become the root of her punishment.
When Jesus was transfigured with Moses and Elijah, the disciples suggested that they build a memorial to the three of them. Listen to Peter’s words in Matthew 17:4:
“Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.”
Peter was suggesting that they build a temple for each of them so that they could be worshipped. This would have been idolatry and it would have been a place where, for centuries afterward, people would go to worship Moses and Elijah. But notice in the next verse how God refuted what Peter had proposed:
“While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”
In other words, God is only pleased with His Son. He was saying that we are not to build temples for anyone other than Jesus – not Moses, not Elijah, not Mary, not St. Stephen, not St. Michael, not St. Joseph, no one! Yet that is exactly what Rome and many of her fallen daughters do. They name their churches after supposedly venerable saints, especially Mary. Notre Dame is a monument of idolatry to someone other than Christ.
Notre Dame Cathedral has stood on the same spot for over 850 years. Construction on the audacious monument began 859 years ago in 1160. It was built over the course of 185 years and was completed in 1345. Its architectural design is French gothic style. It is 420 feet (128m) long and 157 feet (48m) wide. It has two towers and its spire was 300 feet (91m) high until it fell during the fire. Notre Dame pioneered the use of the flying buttress, which set it apart from other older cathedrals and allowed it to be built very tall. The grand Notre Dame Cathedral is part of the Catholic Archbishopric of Paris.
Think for a few minutes about what it took to build the Cathedral. Think of the tremendous logistical effort that would have been needed, even today, to identify the 1,300 old-growth oaks. That’s more than 50 acres of massive trees to hold up the Cathedral’s mammoth roof.
Imagine the effort needed to find, cut down, and transport those trees in an age when the meaning of horsepower was very literal. Laborers, motivated by the idolatry of the Virgin Mary, cut and hauled stone to the site, mixed mortar, forged iron, and carved wood. The very island on which Notre Dame sits had to be enlarged by workers who drove piles into the riverbed and moved mounds of rubble to build it up and make room for the vast new church.
The amount of blind faith and civic pride needed for so many to work on a project that they’d never see completed in their lifetime is a testimony to the power of the Church and the bishops over the lives of ordinary people. Stone by stone, the building rose from money extracted from the people in exchange for fake absolution of their sins – past, present, and future –, getting their relatives out of the fires of purgatory, or other forms of simony. Now, the building was burning as if it was purgatory itself.
These artisans worked to eat, of course, but for many of the laborers on the site, their real reward was in the idea that they were doing something to honor God and the Virgin. An inscription left in 1258 by Jean de Chelles, one of many master masons who worked on Notre Dame, reflects this devotion; he said he “commenced this work for the Glory of the Mother of Christ.” In other words, this Cathedral is the centerpiece of Rome’s idolatry, spiritualism, and worship of the Virgin Mary in France.
They had no idea what a deception it was. Notre Dame is a monument to the monstrous veneration of the worship of Mary. Needless to say, for centuries ordinary Parisians went to the Cathedral to hear Mass, to light candles, to confess their sins to a priest, and to witness baptisms, marriages, and funerals. They probably didn’t believe the rumors when one of its priests abused a choirboy or an altar boy. Notre Dame is connected to the people quite emotionally. And when it burned, they wept.
Notre Dame has one of the world’s largest organs and has a set of immense bells. It is the depository of several famous (and probably fake) relics, such as the alleged “Crown of Thorns” placed on Christ at His trial and crucifixion, an alleged sliver of the “true cross” on which Christ was crucified, and a nail used at the crucifixion, etc.
The alleged crown of thorns is a mesh of thorny rushes supposedly used to make crowns of thorns. However, so many bits and pieces of it have been allegedly spread around Christendom that John Calvin said, “it would seem that its twigs had been planted that they might grow again. Otherwise I know not how it could have attained to such a size (or number). . . . It is most evident that there must here be falsehood and imposition. How will the truth be ascertained? It ought, moreover, to be observed, that in the ancient Church it was never known what had become of that crown. Hence it is easy to conclude, that the first twig of that now shown grew many years after our Saviour’s death.” In other words, Calvin was convinced that it was fake.
The crystal tube in which the crown is placed is decorated with gold and some beautifully painted blue insignia. But in spite of its beauty and its obvious earthly value, it is a mockery of Christ’s humility and is of no spiritual value whatsoever.
While some of the decorations on the Cathedral, such as the rose windows, are beautiful, others, in fact the majority, reveal the evil and corrupt nature of the beast that Rome actually is.
The gargoyles perched here and there as well as the statuary are yet another blasphemy. The half-man, half-beast carvings out of stone, known as chimeras, have adorned the gutters of the Cathedral for centuries. While the official explanation of them suggests that the inside of the church is a safe place from these menacing creatures, it happens that some of them are inside the Cathedral as well. For instance, a carved chimera in the form of a dragon is perched inside the Cathedral. Whom would that remind you of? These evil beasts no doubt please the enemy and suggest to those with eyes to see that they make the Cathedral overtly the synagogue of Satan.
Some of these ugly beasts have been there for over 800 years. Does that make them any less evil? Not at all. The passage of time makes them even more vile and dishonors God more than ever. Listen to 2 Corinthians 6:14-16:
“For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness. And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?”
The whole Cathedral is an immense blasphemy to the true Christ who ever lives to make intercession for us in the heavenly sanctuary. It is not a symbol of Christianity, but a symbol of the power and false worship of Rome. It is verily a fitting symbol of the synagogue of Satan.
Listen to Revelation 2:9: “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.”
Those who claim to be followers of the true faith, but who are not, are characterized this way by the apostle John who saw in symbolic vision the works of the devil and his followers. Do you think that this Cathedral is begging for the judgment of God?
To illustrate Rome’s corrupt connection to the political powers of the nation of France through the Cathedral, we must bear in mind a few things. In 1431, King Henry VI of England was crowned king of France at Notre Dame. It is also where King James V of Scotland married Madeleine of France in 1537. It is also where Joan of Arc, who helped France battle England, was beatified. It was also the site of the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte as emperor of France. And, of course, it is the funeral and burial place of French papal prelates and a few rulers symbolizing the deep connection between church and state and the resulting spiritual “fornication.”
The history of the Cathedral, however magnificent its structure may be, is rather horrific. While most people were shocked and horrified by what happened to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, most of them have no idea what horrors the Catholic Church inflicted on some of the followers of Jesus under the shadow of that massive edifice. Perhaps there is something symbolic involved in the fire that devastated her vaults and spire.
Since the Middle Ages, the Cathedral has been the backdrop against which the city’s inhabitants have lived their lives. The building was there amid the conflicts over the Protestant Reformation. It was there when the Church slaughtered many, many thousands of French Huguenots in the Massacre of St. Bartholomew and stripped France of “the very flower of the nation, the purest and noblest, the most intellectual and highly educated, pious and devoted pastors, industrious and patriotic citizens, brilliant scholars, talented artists, skillful artisans” (The Great Controversy, page 235). Rome’s fanaticism destroyed the very advancement of the French nation and left it an intellectual desert, a corrupt and vice-enslaved people.
The Cathedral was still standing when the French Revolution erupted in Paris in the 1790s in reaction to the abuse of power by the Catholic Church. Angry mobs defaced and vandalized it. They stripped out and beheaded its religious statuary. Up until then, the Church had enormous power. Most of the French people were Catholic, Catholicism was the state religion, and the Church owned vast swaths of property and collected heavy tithes from most people’s incomes. But a growing number of French people had tired of the Church’s almost inconceivable power, and it finally reached critical mass. During the Revolution, the Cathedral was renamed the “Temple of Reason.”
And the Cathedral was still standing after the terrors of the Nazi occupation and the horrors of war had stripped Paris of its Jews (many of them Sabbath-keepers), devastated its cities, and destroyed its national sovereignty. Yet it stood as a symbol to the French people of the unchangeable Catholic Church, whose influence had so deeply embedded itself in the lives of the common people. The Notre Dame Cathedral has been a cathedral of the common people. They identify with it even if they aren’t religious. It has historical significance beyond its religious functions.
But most have forgotten Notre Dame’s terrible history. Let us consider its darker side for a few moments with excerpts from the book History of Protestantism.
“We select another from this band of pioneers. Pavane, a native of Boulogne and disciple of Lefevre, was a youth of sweetest disposition, but somewhat lacking in constitutional courage. He held a living in the Church, though he was not as yet in priest’s orders. Enlightened by the truth, he began to say to his neighbors that the Virgin could no more save them than he could, and that there was but one Savior, even Jesus Christ. This was enough: he was apprehended and brought to trial. Had he blasphemed Christ only, he would have been forgiven: he had blasphemed Mary, and could have no forgiveness. He must make a public recantation or, hard alternative, go to the stake. Terrified at death in this dreadful form, Pavane consented to purge himself from the crime of having spoken blasphemous words against the Virgin. On Christmas Eve (1524) he was required to walk through the streets bare-headed and barefooted, a rope round his neck and a lighted taper in his hand, till he came to the Church of Notre Dame. Standing before the portals of that edifice, he publicly begged pardon of ‘Our Lady’ for having spoken disparagingly of her. This act of penitence duly performed, he was sent back to his prison.
“Returned to his dungeon, and left to think on what he had done, he found that there were things which it was more terrible to face than death. He was now alone with the Savior whom he had denied. A horror of darkness fell upon his soul. No sweet promise of the Bible could he recall: nothing could he find to lighten the sadness and heaviness that weighed upon him. Rather than drink this bitter cup he would a hundred times go to the stake. He who turned and looked on Peter spoke to Pavane, and reproved him for his sin. His tears flowed as freely as Peter’s did. His resolution was taken. His sighings were now at and end: he anew made confession of his faith in Christ. The trial of the ‘relapsed heretic’ was short; he was hurried to the stake. At the foot of the pile he spoke of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper with such force that a doctor said, ‘I wish Pavane had not spoken, even if it had cost the Church a million of gold.’ The fagots were quickly lighted, and Pavane stood with unflinching courage amid the flames till he was burned to ashes.”
“The martyrdom of Pavane was followed, after a short while, by that of the Hermit of Livry, as he was named. Livry was a small burgh on the road to Meaux. This confessor was burned alive before the porch of Notre Dame. Nothing was wanting which his persecutors could think of that might make the spectacle of his death terrible to the on-lookers. The great bell of the temple of Notre Dame was rung with immense violence, in order to draw out the people from all parts of Paris. As the martyr passed along the street, the doctors told the spectators that this was one of the damned who was on his way to the fire of hell. These things moved not the martyr; he walked with firm step and look undaunted to the spot where he was to offer up his life.”
The terrible slaughter of Protestants after the affair of the placards also played in the history of Notre Dame Cathedral.
“The day fixed on arrived. Great crowds from the country began to pour into Paris. In the city great preparations had been made for the spectacle. The houses along the line of march were hung with mourning drapery, and alters rose at intervals where the Host might repose as it was being borne along to its final resting-place on the high alter of Notre Dame. A throng of sight-seers filled the streets. Not only was every inch of the pavement occupied by human beings, but every door-step had its little group, every window its cluster of face; even the roofs were black with on-lookers, perched on the beams or hanging on by the chimneys.
“The long procession rolled in at the gates of Notre Dame. The Host which had been carried thither with so much solemnity, was placed on the high alter; and a solemn mass proceeded in the presence of perhaps a more brilliant assemblage than had ever before been gathered into even the great national temple of France.
“Having sworn this oath in Notre Dame – the roof under which, nearly three centuries after, the Goddess of Reason sat enthroned – the assembly reformed and set forth to begin the war that very hour. Their zeal for the ‘faith’ was inflamed to the utmost; but they were all the better prepared to witness the dreadful sights that awaited them. A terrible programme had been sketched out; horrors were to mark every step of the way back to the Louvre, but Francis and his courtiers were to gaze with pitiless eye and heart on these horrors.
“The first to be brought forth was Nicholas Valeton. The priests offered him a pardon provided he would recant. ‘My faith,’ he replied ‘has a confidence in God, which will resist all the powers of hell.’ He was dealt with as we have already described; tied to the beam, he was alternately raised in the air and lowered into the flames, till the cords giving way, there came an end to his agonies.
“Other two martyrs were brought forward, and three times, was this cruel sport enacted, the king and all the members of the procession standing by the while, and feasting their eyes on the torments of the sufferers. The king of France, like the Roman tyrant, wished that his victims should feel themselves die.
“The spectacles of the day were not yet closed. On the line of march the lieutenant-criminal had prepared other scaffolds, where the cruel apparatus of death stood waiting its prey; and before the procession reached the Louvre, there were more halts, more victims, more expiations; and when Francis I re-entered his palace and reviewed his day’s work, he was well pleased to think that he had made propitiation for the affront offered to God in the Sacrament, and that the cloud of vengeance which had lowered above his throne and his kingdom was rolled away. The priests declared that the triumph of the Church in France was now forever secured; and if any there were among the spectators whom these cruel deaths had touched with pity, by neither word nor sign dared they avow it. The populace of the capital were overjoyed; they had tasted of blood and were not soon to forego their relish for it, nor to care much in the after-times at what expense they gratified it.”
That is all from History of Protestantism, by J. A. Wylie, book 2, pages 214-218.
The Notre Dame Cathedral’s burning is symbolic of the punishments that the Catholic Church will face when confronted by the Judge of all the earth for her crimes against humanity and the violence she perpetrated against the true followers of Jesus. Perhaps the Parisians ought better to weep for themselves than their Cathedral. On His way to Calvary, after being beaten and tortured, Jesus had some very important words for the women that were following Him weeping. Listen to His words from Luke 23:28. They seem to have special meaning to those who wept for the Cathedral.
“But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.”
He was saying that they should weep for the destruction that was rapidly coming upon them for their rejection of God’s mercy. He had predicted the destruction of Jerusalem. And today, He has predicted the destruction of Babylon and all who reject His mercy and remain connected with it.
As the burning spire fell into the church, there was an audible gasp among the bystanders. In a way, it was a collective gasp of global proportions. That 750-ton oak spire covered with lead had stood there atop the transept since the 19th century. It had replaced an earlier 13th century spire that had been bent and twisted by the wind – another fitting symbol of the many twists and bends of Scripture that have been molded by winds of Rome’s ambitions.
For those with eyes to see, the spire was something of a symbol of the might and power of the popes who stood atop the church like the spire. Just as that spire fell into the nave, Rome’s popes will succumb to the fires of the wrath of God.
People around the world wept as they saw the spectacle. Why did they weep? Many came to watch the Cathedral burn and sing hymns and pray as their cherished monument burned in the flames.
Would those Protestant martyrs have wept over the burning of the Cathedral? Would the Huguenots, whose massacre by papal fanaticism figured in the Cathedral’s history, have wept at the loss of the Cathedral’s spire and roof? Would the Protestants like Lefevre, William Farel, and John Calvin have wept over the loss of the ancient structure that stood opposed to the Word of God? I think not. What about the other French reformers or the reformers in Germany, the Netherlands, and even the few in that most Catholic of all countries, Italy? Impossible.
Yet, today, the mourning and eulogizing of the Cathedral occurs even among their formerly Protestant successors who have all but given up their Protestant heritage. Remember, Rome has continued the idolatrous mass in that Cathedral for over 850 years, lifting the wafer as if it becomes the actual body of Christ. Why would Protestants mourn the burning of the Cathedral to which they strenuously object? The Catholic Church made Joan of Arc a saint at this Cathedral, so that everyone can worship her, instead of or in addition to Mary. They still revere the (fake) relics and pay little attention to the Bible and the teachings of Christ.
They were emotionally tied to the great beast of Revelation and its worship. How will they feel when Vatican City itself burns under the judgments of God? By then, it will be too late to repent.
“The time is near when Christ will say, ‘Come, My people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.’ Isaiah 26:20, 21. Men who claim to be Christians may now defraud and oppress the poor; they may rob the widow and fatherless; they may indulge their Satanic hatred because they cannot control the consciences of God’s people; but for all this God will bring them into judgment. They ‘shall have judgment without mercy’ that have ‘showed no mercy.’ (James 2:13.) Not long hence they will stand before the Judge of all the earth, to render an account for the pain they have caused to the bodies and souls of His heritage. They may now indulge in false accusations, they may deride those whom God has appointed to do His work, they may consign His believing ones to prison, to the chain gang, to banishment, to death; but for every pang of anguish, every tear shed, they must answer. God will reward them double for their sins. Concerning Babylon, the symbol of the apostate church, He says to His ministers of judgment, ‘Her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.’ Revelation 18:5, 6.” That’s from Christ’s Object Lessons, page 178.
Notre Dame’s emotional appeal lies in the role it played in the emergence of France as a nation. It is the heart of Catholic France. You may remember that it was Clovis, king of the Franks, that was baptized in 496 into the Catholic Church because of the influence of his wife, the deeply Roman Catholic Clotilda. His son became known as the “Eldest Son of the Church.”
Clovis held the key to power in those days in Europe and wielded the sword with devastating blows, helping consolidate the temporal power of Rome. It was Clovis that defeated the Visigoths and in 508 pushed them south beyond the Pyrenees Mountains and made them incapable of resurrecting their power. The Alemanni, today the Germans, were watching very carefully. They hoped to take advantage of any weakness in Clovis, but his victories and his strength prevented them from attacking him. As a result, the Catholic Church now had its first European monarch that would consolidate political power and collaborate with the bishops to increase their strength as well as his own.
Later, in 538 the emperor Justinian collaborated with Clovis and further consolidated the Church’s power over temporal matters.
During the period of the Cathedral’s construction beginning in the 12th century, the French nation was consolidating its political power over the various regions we know today as France. Normandy was brought into the political orbit of the king and the Church. In fact, King Louis IX was canonized for his dedication to the control of France by the popes. It was Notre Dame that became the focal point of Louis’ kingdom as the Papacy assisted him in constructing it. The Cathedral became the symbol of privilege, power, and the intractable status quo. Eventually, the Church became understood to be the enemy of the common good. And France overthrew papal restraints and replaced Rome’s alternative reality with another – atheism.
No wonder in the 1790s the political unrest led to the Cathedral being ransacked and disfigured by the mobs of zealots who overthrew both church and state during the Revolution.
The Cathedral had stood, until it burned, as a ghostly reminder of what the church once was to the political, civil, and religious life of France, and what it will become again before the end according to Bible prophecy.
But the Cathedral is still connected to France. The 19th century system of arrondissements radiates from Notre Dame; the map of the metro constellates around it; river boats run up on either side. Small wonder then that Notre Dame has an indelible place in the hearts of Parisians and also in those of her endless stream of visitors.
The imagery is appropriate because, in many ways, the Cathedral is like a living thing. Parts of it fall away and are replaced, parts are added and others demolished, parts are joined together and others divided up. And isn’t this the way Rome works with the nations? Doesn’t she divide and conquer, cobble together, and then rule over them? Hasn’t she demolished earthly rulers and replaced them?
Notre Dame will rise again like a phoenix out of the ashes as will the Church she represents heal from her deadly wound. Rome will be given one last opportunity to rule the nations and demonstrate her evil power to control conscience and sway the world to her side in the great conflict between truth and error, righteousness and evil. Then, she will finally end in eternal destruction.
But the vast Cathedral, a symbol of Rome’s influence and power in the Middle Ages has been dealt a deadly blow. It will be empty of worshippers for a long time. And, like the Catholic Church itself, which, after Napoleon cut down its power, is now rising again, Notre Dame’s deadly wound will be repaired. Over €1 Billion was pledged to help rebuild the idolatrous building. But to what end?
The rebuilt building will continue to promote false worship and rituals until the end of time. It will continue to appeal to all who love how she helps them gain power and might. And it will strengthen the sympathy for Rome. But, God’s true people are promised that they can have Jesus live in them. They do not have to go to a cathedral to find peace with God. They don’t have to do all manner of works for salvation. They don’t have to say certain ritual prayers to be saved. Christ’s true followers confess their sins to Jesus, not to human priests. They experience true justification in Christ as well as true sanctification.
Friends, I don’t know about you, but I can see that when the people all over the world mourned for Notre Dame, they were really mourning for many things, not the least of which is the loss that Rome sustained. The problem is that they do not see that this fire is a harbinger of things to come on a more global scale to the edifice of political and spiritual fornication that Rome has built. Let us pray for them. Jesus loves them and wants to save them. And He wants to save you too. Give Him your heart so that He can put His Spirit in you and make you powerful for Him.
Let us pray. Our Father in heaven, we see the dark forces that are working to bring the world under the control of Rome. We see that the time of the end is near. And now, we see clearly that the burning of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris symbolizes the burning and smoke that will ascend from the so-called eternal city that will persecute the saints again, like she did in past centuries. Help us, Lord, to see that we have a part to play in the great drama unfolding before us. It is not about a building, even one of the most significant buildings of Western civilization. The Cathedral will burn again. So will St. Peters in Rome. And the world will mourn. Lord, give us the backbone we need to stand in the day of trouble. But, more importantly, give us the strength we need to share our faith with those who know it not. And keep us in Your love and power, we pray, until Jesus comes. In Jesus’ name, amen.