Monday, June 20, 2011

Revelation Chapter Six, Part 2 of 6

There is something withholding the Antichrist until it is his time to be revealed. Someone must be removed, or taken out of the way, before the Antichrist can appear. Again, if we infer that the “falling away” is the Rapture, then this someone taken out of the way is the Holy Spirit’s presence in the body of Christ, the church. Recall Paul’s inspired words: “for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first (Rapture), and that man of sin be revealed.” We see the Holy Spirit before the throne of God with the raptured saints earlier in Revelation. Now we see that His removal via His indwelling presence in Christians leaves the door open for Satan’s champion to arrive. I am not suggesting that the Holy Spirit is altogether removed; that would be impossible since He is God and omnipresent. No, it is His peculiar presence in the church, the salt of the earth that preserves the world, which is taken away. When the preservative is removed deterioration is immediate.

Paul also pens a succinct outcome of his brief encounter with the genuine Lord of Heaven: Jesus will consume him with the breath of His mouth and the brightness of His coming. This is in future reference to the Second Coming, when Jesus returns to the Mount of Olives to rescue the Jews from the armies of the Antichrist, Zechariah 14:3-4; Revelation 19:19-21.

There are also other differences between the two conquerors. The man of sin has a crown; Jesus has many crowns, Revelation 19:12. The Antichrist has a bow without arrows, which suggests peaceful delegation during the first portion of his career, Daniel 9:27; 11:21, 24; Jesus carries a sharp sword, Revelation 19:15. Satan is very good at mimicking God. We shall see later that Satan creates his own perverted trinity with himself as the Father, the Antichrist as the Son, and the false prophet as the Holy Spirit, fulfilling the Spirit’s office of bringing glory and notice to Jesus Christ; instead the false prophet will bring mankind’s worship to the Beast.

Jesus our Lord also warned of the arrival of false christs during the Tribulation and the deception that would result on a global scale, Matthew 24:4, 23-24. He likewise warned the Jewish leaders of His day, “if another [Christ] comes in his own name, him you will receive,” John 5:43. Satan failed to destroy Jesus; his last hope is to destroy Israel to prevent God’s word regarding their restoration from coming to pass. This he has attempted for the last two thousand years. The Antichrist will be his finest effort, for the man of sin will dupe the Jews into a false peace by pretending to be the Messiah they have long waited for. The Greek prefix “anti” can mean both “opposed to” and “instead of.” The Antichrist will oppose Jesus by masquerading as the genuine article. Satan’s magnum opus is about to launch.

What is the result? The man of sin will come with lying signs and wonders “and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness,” 2nd Thessalonians 2:10-12. God will harden or strengthen the unregenerate hearts of rebellious men who reject Him in preference of the Antichrist. As it was with Pharaoh when he refused to let Israel go free, so now it will be on a global level; those who will not repent shall become the objects of God’s wrath, following in the footsteps of proud Pharaoh.

When the Antichrist appears the “clock” begins to tick for the seven years of Tribulation. Daniel’s seventieth week will begin, Daniel 9:24-27. We cannot be dogmatic about these events, because even with Scripture as our guide and the Holy Spirit within us we will not know with crystal clarity all that is going to happen in that allotted time. But we can know this: Christians will not be there.

If you have been saved through faith in Jesus Christ you will not be facing the wrath of God on this earth. Why? When Jesus died He (not us) paid the penalty for our sins on the cross. God was satisfied with His Son’s payment on our behalf. We are saved from wrath through Jesus Christ, Romans 5:9. Jesus delivers us from the wrath to come, 1st Thessalonians 1:10. What wrath to come is this? The judgment of God on all sin not atoned for by the blood of His Son. This will be most severely demonstrated during the Tribulation, when the people on this earth who casually reject God’s gracious offer of eternal life begin to realize that they have sinned against and offended a holy God, Zephaniah 1:17. Yet we know that God did not appoint Christians to wrath, but to obtain salvation through Jesus Christ, 1st Thessalonians 5:9.

If you still believe the church, or some remnant of the church, must proceed through the Tribulation I urge you to consider Christ Jesus. Did He pay for your sins? The only reason a Christian would be “left behind” is to apparently purify/pay for some sin that Christ’s atoning blood did not. Do you have this sort of low view of our Savior? Repent and give God the glory; Jesus Christ saves entirely and forever, and we may rest secure in this knowledge.

Before we move on you may be asking: what are Daniel’s seventy weeks? It is a fair question, and I will address it briefly here and more thoroughly later in our exposition, God willing. The prophecy of Daniel’s seventy weeks should more appropriately be named Gabriel’s seventy weeks, or God’s seventy weeks. Daniel received this message; he did not prophesy. The message was this:

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” Daniel 9:24-27.

Each of these “weeks” is a span of seven years from the old Hebrew calendar of 360 day years. As you can see Messiah shall appear at the conclusion of 69 weeks (7 weeks + 62 = 69); or the equivalent of 483 years of 360 day years according to the ancient calendar. His death shall conclude those 69 weeks. Then shall the people of the prince to come (the Roman army) level the city and sanctuary. This was done in 70 AD under Titus when he laid a siege against Jerusalem and leveled the entire city; the temple was burned and the soldiers rent everything apart to retrieve the gold that had melted from the fire and trickled between the brickwork, in fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy, Matthew 24:2.

The final (70th) week begins with the making of a covenant between a group of people (many believe this refers to the Jews) and the Prince who shall come: John’s Antichrist and Paul’s man of sin. The week in question is a period of seven years, and part way through the Antichrist will go back on his word and break his covenant with the people, cause sacrifice to cease (likely a reference to restored Jewish worship) and cause abominations and desolation.

Paul says that the man of sin shall sit in God’s temple (a restored Jewish temple similar to Solomon’s; with the building instructions taken from Ezekiel’s closing chapters) showing himself to be God. A lot to assimilate? Yes; but we will leave off with this for the moment and press on, touching on the subject again as the subject matter allows. To summarize: the final week of Daniel’s prophecy is the seven year Tribulation period. The first three and a half years is the Tribulation, and the second half, when the Antichrist breaks his covenant, is the Great Tribulation Jesus spoke of, Matthew 24:21. Jesus prefaced this declaration with the fact that this final three and one half years would be triggered by the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place, Matthew 24:15; see also 2nd Thessalonians 2:4. More on this later.

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