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It's there in the mysterious Dead Sea scrolls -- an allusion to the war between "sons of light" and "sons of darkness."

Is this not what it seems like today?

In these scrolls -- discovered in 1947 and confirming the authenticity of Old Testament texts that are in our bibles -- is the powerful concept of an apocalyptic war between the congregation of God and the congregation of men.

Do we not see that rising, in special fashion, around us?

What does it portend?

What does it portend -- if portend it does -- that after 2,000 years of total obscurity in eleven remote, mountainside caves the scrolls were revealed (at least in main part) during our time?

The Essenes who recorded them were the devotional, prophetic arm of the Jewish faith, alongside the Pharisees and Sadducees (who were more the institutional, non-supernatural side of their Church).

Again, they accent the unfathomable puzzle that is Israel.

While we Catholics often find Israel to be "old news," we must stop and wait, if for a moment.

We can say this: anyone visiting Israel can't help but note the incredible complexity and tension between various religions and factions of religions and surrounding nations -- who are now beginning to vastly outnumber Israelis (with Arabs thirty percent of the population even within Israel itself). It indeed could play a role in coming events (and serve as the site of a sort of "Armageddon").

It's expected that by 2014, Arabs in Israel and the Israeli-occupied Gaza, Jerusalem, and West Bank areas will outnumber the Jews themselves. Meanwhile Israel is surrounded by Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, whose total populations are expected to reach 220 million by the mid-point of this century (thirteen times that of Israel, this not counting more distant countries like Iran and Iraq). In 1950, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Turkey -- predominantly Muslim -- had a combined population of 242 million. Last year, it had risen to 885 million. Pakistan already has a highly-developed nuclear program while Iran is working in that direction.

Thrown into the mix is the Dome of the Rock:

Talk about mysticism! Many speculate that the Ark of the Covenant remains buried here.

This incredible hotspot -- captured by the Israelis in the wake of a war in 1967 -- is sacred both to Jews (as the site of the ancient Temple Mount) and Muslims (who believe that Mohammed ascended from that site and visited Heaven, returning with instructions).

It seems only a matter of time that a conflict will arise around or even at this volatile spot, where a massive mosque has replaced the Second Temple (destroyed, as prophesied by Jesus, around 70 A.D.).

Not even Israel has been bold enough to confiscate this site in territory it now fully controls; that's not to say, however, that it won't move someday in this direction as it seeks to secure what it believes belongs to its own tradition in the wake of sharply rising Islam.

The site of Armageddon is said to be Megiddo not so far from Mount Carmel and Capernaum where Jesus focused His ministry.

Although Catholic prophecy does not tend to focus on Israel, evangelicals put almost all their eggs into this particular basket -- seeing every development, minor or major there, as a harbinger; we tend to focus on what we perceive as "signs" elsewhere as well. Not everything will center on the Jewish state.

But it can be interesting. For example, one follower of Israel (as the sole augur for future events) points out that in 2014 and 2015 there will be four total "blood moons" back to back -- no partial moons or eclipses in the middle -- and they will occur in the biblical calendar on the special Jewish days of Passover and the Feast of the Tabernacles.

A "blood moon" occurs during solar and lunar eclipses when the moon often takes on that hue.

Such a convergence of events is relatively rare. It did not occur in the 1800s, 1700s, or 1600s. In the 1500s four "blood moons" were juxtaposed, but not on feast days. However, it did happen over 1949-1950 -- right after Israel became a nation -- and 1967-1968 -- when Israel recaptured East Jerusalem, where the Temple Mount (Dome of the Rock) is located!

In the Old Testament, the prophet Joel states, "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord comes." (Joel 2:31).

Harbinger, or reading too much into a coincidence?

Although those in Catholic prophetic circles do not share this focus on that sliver of land called Israel (events are sure to occur all over), Israel almost surely is destined to have some part in future events and one alleged locutionist (underline "alleged") under the guidance of  Father John Esseff, a diocesan priest of Scranton, Pennsylvania, who says he was once under the spiritual direction of St. Padre Pio, and himself served as a spiritual director for Mother Teresa of Calcutta, has recent messages pertinent to it (if we can accept them as authentic).

"For many years, I have been director for a special soul," explains this priest. "Five years ago, Jesus and Mary began to speak to this soul through the gift of locutions (as described by John of the Cross). These locutions now total over 800. I have discerned the validity of these locutions. Until now, these locutions were personal teachings given for the small community that gathered in prayer. Beginning on December 10, 2010, a new phase began, namely, some locutions were to be told to the whole world. The beginning locutions are very special; focusing on the Fatima Vision (released by the Vatican June 2000)."

Those locutions -- which must be discerned by everyone individually -- happen to focus, recently, ironically, on the Middle East -- which has seen its share of apparitions (in Iraq, before the war, in Syria, and particularly in Egypt). Can "blood moons" really be counted up like unlocking a code, and can we put stock in a locutionist (as in this case) who also sensationally foresees the death of a Pope -- in Jerusalem (as this one does)?

Still, we'll give it an airing. Test the spirits. Keep what is good. Only what is good (and credible).

"How long will it be?" the Lord is quoted as saying, on February 4, 2011. "Keep your eye on Israel. This is the center. By keeping your eye on Israel you will get to know the time. Not exactly, but you will see it coming closer. The more danger there is to Israel, the closer the time will be. I love Israel and I love Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, I shed my blood, redeemed the world and rose from the dead. It is a sealed city, sealed in my blood and in my Holy Spirit."

This 'special soul" quotes Mary saying on the same subject:

"I am a daughter of Israel and I dreamed of Israel gathered around the Messiah, for whom they had waited so long. But then, what did I experience? I saw Israel reject my Son, call him a false Messiah, reject his claims and nail him to the cross. But that was only my first sorrow as a daughter of Israel. After He rose from the dead and the apostles began to preach, I held new hopes. Certainly now, Israel would accept my Son as Messiah. Instead, I experienced a second rejection. My own people did not accept Him as their Messiah. Twice, I have been broken in heart. Twice, they have rejected Jesus as Messiah. But it will not happen a third time. I look forward to the day when all of Israel will proclaim my Son as Messiah. The moment of the greatest darkness is the moment before the greatest light. The very moment when it seems that Israel will be destroyed is the moment when I will save Israel and all will proclaim that Jesus is the Messiah. I have revealed the deepest sorrow of my heart."

Test the spirits. God speaks most directly (most often, nonverbally) to us in our own hearts.

Noted a viewer named Suellen Brewster in Amherst, New York, "I just wanted to comment on the interesting timing on your story of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Essenes. I was blessed enough to go to Mass today and yesterday and wondered about this ongoing story in Maccabees. Especially yesterday's part: 'Let everyone who is zealous for the law and who stands by the covenant follow after me!' Thereupon he fled to the mountains with his sons, leaving behind in the city all their possessions. Many who sought to live according to righteousness and religious custom went out into the desert to settle there.'

"It made me wonder if this was the beginnings of the Essenes and the root of the people St. John the Baptist would eventually learn from. It kept coming to me all through these two days, then I read your article. Definitely 'food for prayer.' I believe many of us may be called to take a stand, defy the worldly 'king's' command to sacrifice at his altar, and then flee into the desert. The word 'many' in that last line above encourages me. There certainly are many of us throughout the country and the world who do desire to live according to righteousness. I pray that we all cooperate with God's grace when the time comes."

[resources: Tower of Light and Sent To Earth]

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