The thorny, controversial business of eschatology. Well, we all believe Jesus is coming again, that is all that matters, yes? Let’s not speak of the details as to how, when, or the circumstances of his coming. That surely will disunite us even more. There are those of us who live with the expectation of a coming tribulation but tempered with the hope that we will be ‘whisked’ out of it, to the safety of heaven. Then there are the eternal optimists, whose expectations are for the spread and triumph of Christianity on a global scale. A spiritual resurgence leavening the entire world. A Christianised civilisation embracing all nations. This latter breed would see the church requiring major modifications along the way, adapting to the new and dawning age. The leaders with modern and progressive thinking. The organism must evolve, as they believe did creation itself, it must adjust to its present circumstances, whatever they may be. So the church, its doctrine, policies and workings must respond to the demands of the new age, adapt itself. The church must progress or perish, so they think. That Christendom has over many centuries been down this road, modified its principles, policies and practices, only to find that they have failed, is no deterrent to these progressive optimists.
The church finds itself at war with a world that has grown up, it is now more intelligent. Unbelief has reached adulthood. We must bring a new religion to such a world, much more eclectic. In terms of origins and ethics, the church also must evolve, fit in with the age, or perish. Where this progression will end no one knows, but optimism knows no bounds and all thoughts pessimistic must be abolished. For those who see in the present wide-spread apostasy and a world that thinks it has outgrown Christianity as the harbingers of the Antichrist, away with such pessimists. To the sword with them. A world growing worse? Perish the thought. Thus the blind optimist leads the blind, and both end up in the ditch. To bury our heads in eschatological sand and disregard all that our prophetic Scriptures have forewarned us of, regarding the signs of and the reign of the Antichrist, invites catastrophe. Is to lay the church bare to the wiles, deceptions and attacks of Satan’s final General, “the man of lawlessness…the son of destruction…proclaiming himself to be God.” A pessimistic theory? More than.
It is in this person that the spirit of the age will find its truest representative. The sovereign head of humanity without God. The kingdom of man without God is the kingdom of the Antichrist. But, his kingdom will be welcomed by one and all (excepting a small remnant) as the “kingdom of God.” Such will be the overwhelming consequence of his deception. It is only in the light of Holy Writ that we can understand fully the character and the work of the Antichrist. It is of the utmost importance that we study, and heed the Bible’s teaching concerning the Antichrist, lest we too be deceived. Those of course who despise Scripture’s teaching will undoubtedly be taken in. Those also who have succumbed to a false ecumenical spirit will also be deceived. This ecumenism will see Christianity evolving into a larger global religion, the instrument of the second beast (Revelation 13:11-18), its members bearing the mark of the beast, 666.
For those of us who accept, adhere to the Divinely inspired Scriptures, who believe them to be an intelligent revelation of God’s purpose for the world, there is light. Abandoning our prejudices and what is unreasonable, and for some of us perhaps what we have long-held to, we ask the age-old question, what does the Scripture say? As there were many long years of preparation for the coming of the Son of Man, from creation, through the Patriarchs, Moses the Law-giver and the prophets of the Old Testament, so too has there been for the coming of “the man of lawlessness.” He appears not overnight. As there was a fulness of time for God sending his Son (Galatians 4:4). So too is there a fulness of time for the coming of the Antichrist. The antichristian leaven must spread first throughout Christendom. Note I said Christendom, not God’s church, true church. He, the Antichrist, has his types and shadows in the Old Testament as does Christ. We see him typified in Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar to name but two. They were Satan’s tools also. The Antichrist, the first beast (Revelation 13:1-10) is Satan’s last General. The second beast (Revelation 13:11-18) is the Antichrist’s prophet. Satan is the father of lies, deception is what he is best at, he is the master of deception, and his servant’s task is, with the releasing of Satan (Revelation 20:3) to deceive the nations.
The deception will be gross. If it were possible even the elect would be deceived in this period of history (Mark 13:20-22). That is, those who despise the prophetic word and disbelieve the appearance of such a figure on the stage of history, will be deceived. They will believe the strong delusions, they will be attracted to him and fettered by him. His appearance is by no means ugly. He will not be an open blasphemer of God. He will not appear as an enemy of all religion. He will not appear detestable because of gross vices. He will appear as a saviour of the world and, yes, a religious leader. The word of God (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12)is the Divinely inspired antidote to this fatal attraction and deception. He will not compel, that is ‘make’ people worship him. Neither by brute force, sword or fire, it will be done willingly, voluntarily. He will appear to men as one who is without doubt worthy of divine worship. He will appear so Christ-like, if I may so say. He will not appear as some horrid ghoul but as an angel of light. So those who succumb, who worship him? Not irreligious people. It will be the most religious period of history. He will rise before the world in great pomp, a king. A king with a kingdom, the kingdom of the Antichrist. Which is the kingdom of man without God, that’s what the number 666 means. He will herald an end of the world’s social problems, war and famine, the evolvement of the unity of the nations. The highest expression of social democracy. He, it, will be welcomed by multitudes.
This will be the last test for the true church of God. The final battle between the two forces, good and evil, Christ and Satan, the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of man without God. So what are the signs of his appearing, are we examining our present day, what do we see, and are we looking at it through the lens of Scripture? What are our eschatological hopes, are they dreams or nightmares, real, sure, concrete hope, or just religious sand. We must progress you cry, but what are you progressing to? Or are you progressing away from the God-appointed path? This is not a defence of antiquarianism. This is a demand that’s God’s elect stand upon and remain with their God-given Scriptures. This is a demand for courage amongst true believers, to not only maintain the truth but declare it fully, fearlessly whatever the outcome, the cost to ourselves. It is a demand for preachers to stop giving God’s people stones for bread. It is demand for the church to preach and teach the truth, to give to God’s people a truly biblical perspective on the where this world is going and what to expect. It is a demand to prepared God’s people for suffering. God has not declared and promised a Christianised version of this present world. God has declared war on evil and he is sending his Son back again to destroy it completely, and to usher in a new heaven and a new earth, in which only righteousness will dwell. Do not be deceived!
(© James R Hamilton, written 23rd, May 2014)