Thursday, September 20, 2007

Expected by Many and Welcomed by Many

“3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. (2 Thessalonians 2:3,4)

As a Christian who believes in the future rapture of the Church before the final world calamity known as the tribulation period, I understand 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 to be referring to the person of the final anti-christ. I have been raised in churches (across denominational lines) that preach and confess a pre-millennial eschatology with a pre-tribulational rapture of the living members of the Church. I make this point because this is a doctrinal stance that I would confess, but I must also say that I have not studied the pertinent Scriptures with anything but a pre-millennial bias. I am interested in studying in order to find out what the true and correct Biblical eschatology is (as a matter of fact that is one of two big areas that I want to investigate in the near future), but my purpose here is not to set forth my arguments for why I believe what I confess. It is more to present a thought that has come up recently that falls in line with this theology. Furthermore, it may well happen that when I revisit this same issue and or theological topic in the near (or not so near) future, that I will either vigorously defend my current stance or vigorously oppose my current stance.

As I understand it, the man of lawlessness known as the epitome of human evil who is the embodiment of the (final) spirit of anti-christ, will appear on the scene of the earth prior to rapture of the Church, and he will have power over the world during the final seven years of the current age. As Christians, we learn about him from the Scriptures because he is a key figure during the time of God’s final outpouring of wrath onto mankind and the world. As a believer, I may have the tendency to care less about the intricacies of this time because…I will not be around. I will either be dead or I will have been raptured. But, these details are important because God has chosen to reveal them in His Word.

So why am I treading on this ground now? In the past two months, I have seen two different videos, both of which seem to point to anticipation in the larger world of just such a figure. We don’t need to look to other religions, necessarily, to see that there is hope for a global “daddy” or leader who will take charge and make things right. It seems to me that this is where a lot of the idealistic hopes for the U.N. come from. But, I don’t want to speculate on the world’s political systems now; I want to look at religious anticipation.

CNN did a three-part series called “God’s Warriors” where the host focused on Jewish, Muslim, and Christian followers who want to impact the world for God. As it happens, I felt that the overall tone of the documentary series was very slanted. A large portion of time of the Jewish episode was spent on the hand full of times when Pro-Jewish activists have used terrorist type actions in order to further their cause. In fact, a very large portion of the hour-long episode was spent detailing an attack on Palestinian school children that never took place because it was thwarted by the Israeli government. Whereas the episode centered on Islamic “warriors” did go into detail on the numerous attacks made by Islamic terrorists. CNN alluded to many, but never focused on targeting of children or other innocents by Islamic terrorists in the same way that they did with the Jewish program. It was a sad spectacle of the media’s inability to deal with Islamic, Jewish, and Christian problems all on the same page. People opposed to Christianity and our desire for social change in the West have to worry about being told that they are sinners and need to repent and place their faith in Christ Jesus whereas people opposed to Islam in any Islamic country would be happy if all they had to worry about was a thoughtful and loving call to faith, but instead they have to worry, more and more, about being killed.

All tangents aside, the one particularly interesting thing that I received from this documentary was an introduction to the fact that there is some (predominantly Shi’a) Muslim anticipation of someone called the hidden Imam. Basically, the belief is that this Islamic leader will appear and bring peace to the whole world be establishing Islam throughout the whole world. And, according to the clerics interviewed by CNN, they believe that God will send Jesus back in order to persuade Christians and Jews to go along with this Imam.1

As far as Jewish people are concerned, one of the reasons that the Jews rejected Christ when He came the first time was that He did not come as a conqueror to throw out the Romans. How far fetched is it to surmise that when a conqueror comes on the scene bringing peace to Jerusalem, that he will be hailed as the Messiah by the religious Jews of the world? I don’t think that it is far fetched at all.

Finally, there will be a harlot left on earth after the Church is raptured. This will include professing Christians of all stripes who were not truly born again. The Left Behind series, as I understand it, focuses on some of the people who would fall into this camp. In fact, during the motion picture version of the first book, some of the characters are seen watching a video description of the tribulation period left by the pastor who’d been raptured. A sad side note is that in this movie, the pastor was played by T.D. Jakes, a heretic who does not believe in the Biblical Christ, who is lost, and who will not be raptured with the true Church.

But there will be a harlot, a false church, left on the earth to give false comfort and false direction to those who will still be deceived by her and by the anti-christ. This is where I will look at the Roman Catholic Churches anticipation of the completion of some form of Marian prophecies. As far as I understand it, the prophecies from Fatima will culminate in an era of peace. Because of what was said at Fatima, and other similar apparition-type revelations of Mary, is so contrary to anything in Scripture, I have no choice but to see these different apparitions as, at best, figments of human imagination or, at worst, the well planned and executed demonic deception on the false church.2

The fallen world, religious and secular, will joyously applaud and receive the appearance of the man of lawlessness onto the world’s stage. The Bible seems to indicate that he will come to power as a diplomat, not as a warrior, and that may be one reason why the non-religious world will love him.

Why am I not shocked at these different similar anticipations of false religions? Well, false religions may be birthed out of human sinfulness as much as demonic influence, but the supernatural power and proofs of these false religions are all haphazardly aiming for a single goal by the Devil. He has no new tricks. All false religions have forms of works righteousness and of vain sacrifices and actions. Why would they not have similar expectations too?

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has come to save sinners and will come again to judge the world in Righteousness. May God use me in my witness and testimony as a vessel to open the eyes and hearts of the lost to the truth of the Christ as revealed in the Scriptures so that they may be saved and not be deceived.



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