Sunday, October 15, 2006

Who is the antichrist? Part 2

I’m continuing our discussion on what God’s Word reveals to us about the antichrist. We continue with excerpts from Steve Wohlberg’s book “End Time Delusions”.

In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. -George Orwell

What the majority think is often wrong. People thought the Titanic was unsinkable, yet she sank like lead. Many believed the infamous Y2K computer glitch would spark global economic meltdown as the world’s clocks ticked over to 2000 A.D., yet January 1 arrived with hardly a hiccup. What the majority of humans think will happen, often fails to occur.

When it comes to the arena of Bible prophecy, how many mistakes are being made? As we have already seen, at this very moment, millions of Christians fully expect to vanish in the rapture before the antichrist arrives. Again, the idea is: first the rapture, then the antichrist. This sequence is being taught around the world in books, magazines, seminars, on radio, television, in pulpits and on the internet.

As we saw earlier, the most quoted verse about the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:17. There Paul wrote that true believers will someday be “caught up”. In Paul’s second letter written to the same group, he referred to the same event as “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him” (2 Thessalonians 2:1). In his second letter, immediately after describing “our gathering” to the Lord, Paul wrote about something or someone that is clearly antichrist (verse 3). The question is: What did Paul teach about the sequence of events? Did he say the church would be gathered to Jesus Christ before the antichrist comes, or will antichrist come first, before we are gathered to our Savior? Amazingly, Paul gives us a straight answer, and his answer is not what the majority of prophecy-minded Christians think!

Look closely. Paul wrote:

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).

Do you realize what you just read? Paul’s words are quite penetrating when it comes to the issue of which comes first, “our gathering” or the appearance of antichrist.

Here is a more detailed analysis of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3:

Verse 1: Paul wrote about “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him.” This is obviously the same event as the descent of Jesus Christ from Heaven and our being “caught up together” to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). It’s important to realize that the Greek word for “coming” in verse 1 is “Parousia”, which clearly applies to the visible second coming of Jesus Christ (see Mathew 24:27). The exact same word is used in verse 8 describing “the brightness of His coming [Parousia]”.

Verse 2: Here Paul addressed a distortion about the timing of the coming of the Lord that was confusing the early Church. He urged the Thessalonians not to be “soon shaken” or “troubled” by false influences which were teaching, either by “word” or “spirit” or “letter” that “the day of Christ had [already] come. Because of this false teaching that “the day of Christ” was just around the corner in their own day, some of the Thessalonian Christians had quit their jobs, stopped providing for their families and were just hanging around in idle expectancy waiting for Christ’s imminent appearance (Thessalonians 3:10-12).

Verse 3: Paul clarified the truth with this warning, “Let no once deceive you by any means; for that Day [when Jesus comes to gather us – verse 1] will not come unless the falling away comes first, and that man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.”

Verse 3 is pointed and clear. Paul wrote that before Jesus Christ comes to “gather” His people to Himself, “the falling away” and the rise of the “son of perdition” (the antichrist) must come first. Thus to those early Thessalonian believers, Paul’s message was that “the day of Christ” was not just around the corner. Something big must happen first – the “falling away” and the antichrist must be revealed. Paul directly, specifically and earnestly warned the Church not to be deceived about this very thing! Evidently, he knew that satan would work hard to deceive the saints in this exact area.

When we put these pieces together, it becomes clear that before “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him (verse 1), “the falling away comes first” and the antichrist must be revealed. Therefore, contrary to popular opinion, it’s antichrist first and then the Church is “caught up”, not the other way around.

Paul’s voice echoes down through the corridors of many centuries: “Let no one deceive you by any means” (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

I know, many don’t agree with this, but remember this - people also thought the Titanic was unsinkable.

Based on what the Lord has revealed to me, it has become clear that current, popular opinions regarding our government’s ultimate motives and end time prophecy interpretations are both modern day deceptions. We want to believe that our government is looking out for our best interests. We also want to believe that Jesus will take us out of here before things really get rough. The truth is that our government does not have our best interests in mind and Jesus is not going to “rescue” us from tribulation. The crowns in heaven are forged through trials and tribulations here on earth. So, the question becomes …….Who is deceiving us? The Bible makes it very clear:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:10-12)

Evil men and women in our modern world are being influenced by satan. Through them, our enemy is working to bring about the ‘beasts’ and gain control of this world. Should you be afraid? Absolutely not! Why? “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4-3:5). No fear. Seek the Lord and His mighty power in order to stand against the enemy.

Read on as we identify the antichrist and the beasts………

No comments: