The Roman Catholic Church is traditionally very cautious about endorsing any particular relic or miracle, recognizing the danger of having the object of such an endorsement being disproved later. So it’s rather interesting that Pope Benedict XVI himself came out to endorse the Shroud of Turin:
“This is a much-awaited moment for me. In another occasion, I found myself before the Holy Shroud, but this time I am living this pilgrimage and stop with special intensity. Perhaps, it is because the passing of years is making me understand even more the message of this extraordinary icon; perhaps, or I should say especially because I am here as the successor of Peter, I carry in my heart the entire Church, indeed the whole of humanity. I thank God for the gift of this pilgrimage, and for the opportunity of sharing this brief mediation with you, which was suggested to me by this solemn display, namely “The mystery of Holy Saturday”.
“It is possible to say that the Shroud is the icon of that mystery, the Icon of Holy Saturday.”
I happen to be among those who believe that the Shroud is most likely the genuine burial cloth of Yeshua HaNetzeri (Yeshua of Nazareth), our Messiah. However, I have to admit a certain leeriness at the Pope’s endorsement.
Scripture tells us that God commanded Moses to create a serpent of brass and put it on a pole so that all who looked to it might be healed (Num. 25:5-9). Yeshua Himself tells us that this was symbolic of His own sacrifice, when the One who knew no sin would become sin for us (John 3:14f). And yet, Hezekiah found it necessary to destroy that brazen serpent because the people were worshipping it and burning incense to it (2Ki. 18:4). Human beings always tend to turn our worship to tangible creations rather than the invisible Creator.
Even so, the Shroud does add another piece of evidence to the massive and growing pile that demonstrates that the Scriptures are not only accurate history, but are the very Word of God. It’s not a piece that I would hang my whole belief system on (that’s what prophecy is for; ), but as a secondary, supporting piece of evidence, it’s rather fascinating.
And yet, more fascinating to me than the Shroud, or the possibility that someone will find Noah’s Ark, or even the incredible historical accuracy of the Gospel accounts and Acts–or the way a handful of fishermen, a tax collector, and a Pharisee managed to change the world with the absurd claim that a crucified carpenter had risen from the dead–is the fact that we are living in days where not just one, or two, or a half-dozen prophecies are coming to pass, but when every thread of End Times prophecy in the Bible is being fulfilled before our eyes all at once (note 2Pt. 1:19).
And that is why I don’t fear for Israel when America’s administration turns our back on her. I fear for America.