Tag Archives: end times prophecy

Apostasy and the Man of Sin

Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4, ESV)

The Rebellion

Literally, Apostasy or falling away. The Apostasy or Rebellion is a large scale turning away from God’s Law, and from faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Son.

“Since the reference here is to a world-wide rebellion against divine authority at the end of the age, the ideas of political revolt and religious apostasy are combined.”  -FF Bruce (Word Biblical Commentary on 2 Thessalonians)

“This rebellion, which will take place within the professing church, will be a departure from the truth that God has revealed in His Word. True, apostasy has characterized the church almost from its inception, but Paul referred to a specific distinguishable apostasy that will come in the future”   -Walvoord/Zuck (Bible Knowledge Commentary).

This is what we are seeing in the USA now, and what has been happening in the Christian lands of the West beginning in the 1700s. There is a great falling away from faith in Jesus Christ, which founded Western Civilization. We re primed for a strongman to take over and change times, laws, morals and values. Academia, the Entertainment Industry, the most powerful corporations, all have turned against Christianity in our time. The most alarming apostasy, however is in the church. Mainline denominations turned away from confidence in the Bible 50-100 years ago. Now those same nominally Christian organizations have turned toward the validation and celebration of sexual immorality and the culture of death (abortion industry). Increasingly they reject the miraculous, acts of Jesus, his resurrection, and even his deity. This last certainly marks them as apostate, not part of God’s chosen people. The essential confession of faith is: Jesus is Lord. Apart from that no one is saved.

Man of Lawlessness

This figure has a several names in the New Testament, two here: Man of Lawlessness (also translated Man of Sin) and Son of Destruction (also Son of Perdition). John calls this figure the Anti-Christ, and in Revelation The Beast. In Daniel, the Little Horn (7:8). Jesus quoted Daniel in calling this leader’s image the Abomination of Desolation (Matt. 24:15, cf Dan. 11:31, 36)

There are numerous examples of powerful political leaders who opposed the faithful up to this point and beyond.

Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate.” (Daniel 11:31, ESV) This was Antiochus Epiphanes who abolished sacrifices, set up an altar to Zeus, offered pigs blood on it and punished those who circumcised their children.

Antiochus Ephiphanes may be the archetype, and we may read of him in the so called Apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees, which Roman Catholics and others accept, but which were rejected as canon by the Jews and by most Bible believing Christians.

Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, and that all should give up their particular customs. All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath. And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, 45 to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths and festivals,  to defile the sanctuary and the priests, to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and other unclean animals, and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, so that they would forget the law and change all the ordinances. He added, “And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die.” (1 Maccabees 1:41-50)

Now on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-fifth year, they erected a desolating sacrilege on the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding towns of Judah, and offered incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. The books of the law that they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire. Anyone found possessing the book of the covenant, or anyone who adhered to the law, was condemned to death by decree of the king. They kept using violence against Israel, against those who were found month after month in the towns. On the twenty-fifth day of the month they offered sacrifice on the altar that was on top of the altar of burnt offering. According to the decree, they put to death the women who had their children circumcised, and their families and those who circumcised them; and they hung the infants from their mothers’ necks.” (1 Maccabees 54-60)

 

Near the time of Paul’s visit to Thessalonica the Emperor Gaius, also known as Caligula was in power. He insisted that he be known as a god. Other emperors, beginning with Augustus were deified after death, but Caligula insisted on being worshiped. He decreed that a statue of him be erected in the Temple at Jerusalem, but was assassinated in AD 41 before these orders could be carried out. This would certainly be fresh on the minds of Paul and his readers.

In both of these notorious leaders (Antiochus and Caligula) we find an initial fulfillment of the prophecy about the Abomination of Desolation in the temple (Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11). Evidently there will be a greater example, and a final fulfillment of this prophecy immediately prior to the return of Christ.

Next there was Nero, who persecuted and martyred Christians in Rome. Coating Christians with pitch and burning them to light his garden.

Then there was Domitian, who insisted on being referred to as “Dominus et Deus,” Lord and God.

The first empire-wide persecution occurred under Decius circa AD 250.

The worst persecution was the last under Diocletian circa AD 300.

Throughout history other anti-Christs like Hitler have murdered millions of Christians and/or Jews.

But none of these has been the ultimate and final fulfillment of Anti-Christ. That one is still to come.

Characteristics of the Anti-Christ to watch out for:

  1. Powerful world leader with absolute global authority (Revelation 13:1-10).
  2. Rejects Jesus of Nazareth is Messiah and God’s Son come in the flesh (1 Jn. 2:22, 3:2-3) 
  3. Exalts him/herself as God or a god, and will demand and receive worship from everyone (above Daniel 11:36, Revelation 13:8).
  4. Opposes the Bible’s revelation of right and wrong.
  5. Changes the calendar and the law to reflect rejection of Christian and Jewish faith (Daniel 7:25)
  6. His image will be set up in the Temple (Daniel 11:31). I believe that this will be his demand for ultimate allegiance from everyone, which amounts to setting up his image in the hearts of people. We see examples of this in Communist N. Korea today, ie Dear Leader Kim Young Un.
  7. He will even be given authority to make war and successfully conquer God’s people for a short time (Rev. 13:7)
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End Times Fatigue

Over the past decade and a half there have been several high profile eschatological prognostications. And now another…

This time it’s the so called “Blood Moons.” Sound’s ominous,doesn’t it? Like a title from Stephen King or Dean Koontz. This time the end times prophet is John Hagee, the pro-Israel Pentecostal pastor from San Antonio, Texas. He wrote a book  titled “Blood Moons” in anticipation of the phenomenon. If the exigencies of a busy 21st century life have distracted you, a moderately rare series of four full lunar eclipses, also known as a tetrad began early this morning (April 15, 2014). Astronomers have calculated the last of the four will occur on September 28th, 2015. What makes this Tetrad more rare is  that each of the four lunar eclipses coincide with important Jewish observances, two blood moon eclipses will accompany Passover and two will occur during Sukkot.

Today is Passover, the memorial of ancient Jewish release from Egyptian slavery. The term Passover refers to the point n the Exodus narrative when God’s Death Angel passed over the Israelite families that obediently splattered the blood of the sacrifice they ate that night on the door posts of their houses. All of the firstborn in the land of Egypt were killed by the Death Angel, but no observant Israelite household was touched by the tragedy. This was the final event that prompted Egypt’s Pharaoh to expel all of the Israelite slaves from his land. Passover was one of three pilgrimage festivals, which the ancient Israelites were to celebrate by traveling to Jerusalem. Shavout (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Tabernacles) were the other two.

Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Booths is an eight day celebration of God’s protection of, and provision for, the people of Israel. In ancient times it was a harvest festival to celebrate the ingathering of grain and grapes, and it commemorated the Israelite wilderness wandering prior to entering the Promised Land. During the festival ancient Israelites lived in outdoor shelters under the stars. These “booths” were made from the branches of trees. In Jesus’ time this was a beautiful and festive celebration (Read the Gospel of John chapter 7 for an example of Jesus’ observance of the festival) . Even in our time Sukkot is considered a significant and joyous celebration by the Jewish people, the observant of whom still celebrate by sleeping outside under shelters.

Pastor Hagee believes that the coincidence of these eclipses is a portent of ominous events to come. The Bible does speak of the moon turning red like blood (Joel 2:31, quoted in Acts 2:20); hence, “Blood Moons.” The physical cause of this at the end of a full eclipse is due to the sun’s light being filtered as it passes through earth’s atmosphere on the way to the moon. The color is reddish, from a pink to a rust hue. The question is, is there eschatological significance to these, eclipses. I’m going to say that’s a definite maybe.

You’re probably as worn out by end time predictions as I am, and, if you are like me, skepticism always accompanies the hearing of such prognostication. However, if the first century disciples of Jesus were in high expectation of his return shouldn’t I be looking for his second coming all the more?

We’re warned to be prepared. Jesus himself said, “Therefore, you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44). The Lord also told a story to illustrate. It is called the Parable of the Ten Virgins. In 1st century Palestine, bridesmaids—who would all have been virgins— waited with the bride for the arrival of the groom, so they might accompany the couple to the wedding feast. Pay attention to the story as recorded in Matthew 25:1-13 (New Living Translation).

“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids* who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’
“All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’
“But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’
“But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’
“But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’
“So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.
*Virgins

Rather than becoming weary of all the predictions, let us continue to be ready at all times for the return of Christ. He will come like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2 among many), and no one knows the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36), but those of us who believe the Bible and follow Jesus should not be surprised when it happens. Instead, let us be vigilant, let us be prepared.

“But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6, ESV).

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.  The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:11-12, ESV).

Be prepared!