OVERVIEW OF PROPHECY (introduction)
My introductory article on prophecy attracted more attention than I ever expected. Therefore, I will do a continuing series from time to time. This series will look at a new concept in understanding Bible prophecy. There is a conclusion to the article "Overview of Prophecy 2005" (Here is a link) As previously stated, I did not interpret for you the information in that article. In due time, I think you will be able to grasp the full meaning of it. Most of you have already done so.
I want to introduce a concept that I was taught by my father from my boyhood. He was a craftsman, an electronic technician, with knowledge ahead of his time. He always said "You can't fix anything if you don't understand how it works." It is self evident from the Bible and history, and from the knowledge of our own time era that virtually no one has a correct concept of true prophetic knowledge. They don't know how it works. Did you ever wonder why there is universal failure to properly use prophetic information that God has inspired in the Bible. Let's talk about Bible prophecy, past, present and future and look at some examples.
THE HIDDEN TIME FACTOR
Although Daniel was given a tremendous amount of detailed prophecy, he himself did not understand it. Daniel 12:8 says "I heard but I understood not." Daniel was told that it was sealed until the time of the end. All prophecy has a time factor. But, the time frame is seldom revealed in the actual context of the prophecy, as initially given. Case in point, the 70 years prophecy of Jeremiah. Daniel did not initially understand it, but Daniel 9:2 records the time at which Daniel finally understood this prophecy.
At the time of Christ's birth, the chief priests and scribes understood the 70 weeks prophecy of Daniel 9:24 sufficiently to know that it was time for the Messiah to appear. But, they only understood part of the prophecies about Christ. They failed to understand about the Messiah being cut off in the middle of the week, and that the Messiah would establish the kingdom of God after a time gap of 2000 years, more or less. They were unable to distinguish between prophecies concerning the first and second coming of Christ, so they misapplied many scriptures. They were ignorant of the time factor.
The Apostle Paul as well as the other Apostles expected the second coming of Christ and the establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth in their lifetime. (I Thessalonians 4:17) As we look at the New Testament and the history of the early Church, it is self evident that they were expecting the immediate return of Christ. They did not understand the time factor.
In modern times, there have been self appointed prophets. There have also been true Servants of God that have misapplied many prophesies, again because they did not understand the time factor. There have been many good men who simply felt that God would be unable to accomplish His plan without their help. And therefore, these prophesies had to be fulfilled in their lifetime. God does not require any of us to accomplish His plan. Just the realization of this fact, will give us a healthier view of prophecy. Within the last few decades there have been men who have been great propagators of the word of God, but they allowed their pride and personal ego to cause them to make gross errors in prophetic understanding. One of these men did not live to see the return of Jesus Christ like he claimed he would, and his son never stood before Congress as a man of God and the earth shake at his proclamation. Both these men died and left the scene, as weak human beings.
So, for you and I, a key to understanding Bible prophecy is to get our own selves and self-importance out of the way. This is where we must begin...
WHO IS THE MAN OF SIN?
"For there shall arise false Christ's, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."
Christ said in the book of Revelation that He would someday have a new name. (Revelation 3:12) Why would He need a new name? It is because people associate His name with another Jesus. The apostle Paul said in II Corinthians 11:4,
"For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough."
There is a misconception about the name of Jesus. The name Jesus means nothing unless you connect with the right person. Just saying "Jesus, Jesus" doesn't mean anything. The word "Jesus" will not save you. You have to be connected to the actual personage of Christ, but many are confused about who the real Christ is. His identity has been stolen. It is one of Satan's best deceptions.
UNDERSTANDING THE DECEPTION....
Imagine if you had a brother named Michael and he had been missing in action for years and was presumed dead. In fact, he was only 18 when he left for Viet Nam. So you were quite surprised when 35 years later, a man appeared out of the blue on your mother's doorstep, claiming to be her long lost son. She wept such tears of joy! She called everyone in the family to come and meet him. They were all excited beyond belief----but you knew something was terribly wrong. Your brother had a large birthmark on his shoulder and this guy didn't. But that didn't seem to matter to the rest of the family, because this man had "proof" of identity. He produced Michael's old wallet, a yellowed letter from home and dog tags.
"That proves it beyond doubt," your mother exclaimed. She tearfully hugged the stranger's neck. "That doesn't prove anything, mom!! This guy's a fake!" you yelled incredulously, "What about the missing birthmark????" But it didn't matter. The first thing she did was to take you out and put him in control of the family business. No one in the family would speak to you after that day. You not only lost your job, but you were disinherited because you would not go along and accept this imposter.
Speaking of imposters, back to our real subject...a different Jesus.
There is a future imposter who will claim to be the returned Jesus. We need to find the metaphorical "birthmark on the shoulder" of the real Jesus... And believe it or not, there is one. Before we see what it is, let's look at what Paul says about the fake Jesus.
"Look, if anyone tells you that the day of Christ is at hand, don't let anyone deceive you. It will not come until a falling away happens and the man of sin is revealed. Take note that Paul calls the imposter the "man of sin." That is an interesting name...because it contrasts with who the real Christ was. Christ was sinless.
If we can tie down what the proven Jesus said about sin, it is the same as identifying the birthmark on the real Michael's shoulder. We know that the real Christ was no man of sin. He never committed even one sin...nor did He come to destroy the law.
17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot (dotting of an i) or one tittle (crossing of a t) shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Now, if we go back to what Paul says about the "man of sin," we see that Paul called him "wicked" and that word in the Greek means, "not subject to the law." So, this coming false Jesus may look like Christ, he may use phrases that Christ used, he may do miracles, but how he approaches the law is the identifying stamp that shows he is a phony Christ. Paul warns us about these things in the book of Thessalonians.
"THE MAN OF SIN" IS NOT SUBJECT TO THE LAW
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 and 7-9
1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by
our gathering together unto him,
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Verse 7 says, "For the mystery of iniquity (transgression of the law--anomia 458 ) doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. (Paul tried to restrain the mystery of iniquity or lawlessness for as long as he could, but he knew he wouldn't be around much longer to hold it back.
8 And then shall that Wicked
(not subject to the law--anomos
459) be revealed,
whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and
shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders...
The words "iniquity" (458) and "wicked" (459) used by Paul are related. These two words explain fully why Paul used the phrase "man of sin." The mystery of iniquity or better put, the doctrine of "not being subject to the law" had already begun in Paul's time...and he knew it would continue and many would be fooled. He tried to warn the Church about this new religion he called the mystery of iniquity. In 1 Timothy 4:1-3 Paul said,
1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the
latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving
heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3 Forbidding to marry, (A celibate priesthood was never part of God's system. Levital priests were allowed to marry. Some of the apostles were married. Peter had a wife. I Corinthians 9:5. Paul said, "...let every man have his own wife." I Corinthians 7:2 And, in 26-28 of the same chapter, he explains that the "present distress" was the reason he (temporarily) recommended abstaining from marriage.) and commanding to abstain from meats. which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
Paul saw another religious system developing. One that did not recognize or keep the first four commandments.
WHAT IS THE MARK OF THE BEAST?
Now we see why the son of perdition is called the man of sin and his system is called the mystery of iniquity. The primary identifying mark of the man of sin and of all false religion is the violation of the first 4 commandments. That is the identifier for those who are on guard against him. But, beware, because on pain of death, this false Jesus will demand that you transgress the first commandment (you shall have no other gods before me) by bowing down before him and taking the mark of the beast. What would that be??? Since we know that this imposter is "not subject to the law" according to Paul, then the day of worship that he demands that you keep will not be the fourth commandment, otherwise, he would be subject to the first four commandments of the law. It will be another day of worship.
The true God asks us to be subject to His law. The reason God calls them "My Sabbaths" is because they identify the fact that you have the right God. Exodus 31:13 says, "Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you." All of the first 4 commandments identify the right God, and the Sabbath is the sign or mark of it.
If God says that the seventh day Sabbath is a sign
mark) that He is your God. We have to ask ourselves, what is the sign
or "mark" of the beast? What is his day? Already in Europe, my
friends, their calendar shows Monday is the first day of the week and Sunday as
the seventh day of the week. Until we traveled over there, we couldn't
grasp the tremendous fervency they feel toward Sunday. I can vouch for the
fact that under the right circumstances, Sunday observance will be enforced on
pain of death someday. If right now, a man claiming to be Jesus Christ
told you to break the Sabbath and he used miracles to back up his right to
demand it, would you do it? Are great signs and wonders all the proof we
need to bow down?
Christ warned His disciples of imposters
24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
25 Behold, I have told you before.
26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west;
so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Just like in our story about the long lost son Michael, that supposedly came back, what tremendous excitement there will be at the return of the counterfeit Christ. Mankind has long looked for the Messiah. Very few will understand that they have been scammed by Satan. But, a few will not fall the trickery. The elect will know that this man claiming to be Christ is not the real deal, because for one simple reason, he will not come like Christ prophesied that he would come. Christ said that He would appear as lightning out of the east and shine to the west. But, the world will want to be deluded and believe in this fake Christ.
Like the son in the story on deception, who would not fall for an imposter and became an outcast, we will be outcasts on this earth. Such will be the case with all who will not accept the "man of sin." Many will be martyred because they will not bow down before this false Christ and before the government of the Beast Power that he is associated with. He will be a ruler of the world. He will have "proof" of his Messiahship every time he does a satanically inspired miracle and the world will fall at his feet. But as always, in the end, the bad guys will get what is coming to them. That is basically what the patience of the saints is. We know that "it will all come out in the wash," but as Hal Bryant used to say, it will be a dirty wash....
"And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone."
Are you sure that you can recognize the credentials of the true Jesus Christ, and not be deceived by the man of sin?