APPRECIATION TOWARD OTHERS

ThankYouforWeb1The month of October is pastor appreciation month in the Southern Baptist Convention and other denominations around America. The church I pastor, Vaiden Baptist Church, has done several things to show their appreciation to me as their pastor and to my family. This is not unusual for VBC. I have often said that every month is pastor appreciation month at VBC. I do want to say thank you, VBC, for being so good to my family and myself. I am not worthy.

This subject got me to thinking about appreciating others. Read what Peter says in I Peter 4:8-11, “Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10 Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.” Peter teaches us that our words should show what is in our hearts and that should be an appreciation toward others.

I began running through my mind a few people who go through their days, every day without being shown much appreciation. I then thought of some ways of showing them gratitude. Here is my list. I hope this list will motivate you to form your own list and add to it until we can show all people appreciation.

People that know me much at all know that I really enjoy eating Popeye’s fried chicken. It is about my favorite place to eat. I began thinking about the cooks in the kitchen. I bet the only time they hear from a customer is when they make a mistake with an order. I began the practice of walking to the counter and asking someone to get the cooks’ attention. I then say something like, “You guys did a good job on my meal. I enjoyed it. Thank you very much.” It is amazing the smile that comes to their faces when they hear these comments. I am sure this blesses the cooks, however, I am also sure I receive the bigger blessing by thanking them. It makes my day and I hope theirs.

Let’s be honest, you would have to be very strange to enjoy telemarketers. We can block telemarketers from our homes but there is no law in the state of Mississippi to block them from calling a place of business, which is how a church office is classified. For this reason, we get many, many, many calls from salespeople each day. We answer the phone, “Vaiden Baptist Church.” I got under conviction a while back about how short I was with many of these telemarketers. Proverbs 14:23 says, “In all labor there is profit:” This even means telemarketers. To be honest there are times these guys are overbearing and difficult to show kindness. I have now begun trying to say thank you for taking the time to call me and being conscientious about your job and product but I am not interested in any purchases. They usually say thank you very much as we end our call. This is better than hanging up but maybe not as much fun.

Being a government official is a thankless job. If a person does the job well or gives a half-hearted effort there will be some people that just are not satisfied. From tax collector to governor of the state there is no official who has the ability to make everyone happy. In our me-first society if attention is given to one particular area of a town, county or state many people in other areas will cry favoritism or neglect and go on the offense. Can you imagine how many phone calls a day some government officials have to field? Here is the catch, most people have the attitude that is what we pay them for or they ran for office and that is their job. Those statements are true but does it give us as believers the right not to maintain an intense love for each other as Peter instructs us in verse 11 above? There are thousands of miles of roads through your county that might be perfect but the supervisor will hear a hundred times this week about the bad spots in a particular road. There are dozens of excellent teachers doing a great job in every school district but the school board member will receive many calls this week about the one teacher who no one appreciates.  I wonder how your mayor, supervisor, town alderman would feel if you were to give them a call and say thanks for working hard to provide us all the wonderful things we have in our area.

One final example, I too feel like the managers of Walmart should be stripped and beaten with rods for having 25 check out lines open and only 2 being manned with personnel. When we turn the corner from the produce section and see the two lines backed down the  store isles 15 deep it make us all want to walk away from our buggies, get in the car and leave. I have heard many a person after being in line for 30 minutes blast their cashier for there being no other registers open. It is not this worker’s fault. I am sure they would appreciate some help so their work experience would not be so frantic. I want to give you something to try. The next time you are in a particular long line reach and get a coke or a candy bar that is near the registers. When the clerk rings it up ask that item not  be bagged and present it to the clerk after the transaction thanking the person for working so hard to get the customers checked out. The clerk will be overwhelmed and it probably will cool off the hothead behind you who is rehearsing their speech for the clerk.

I appreciate you, all of you.

EBOLA, A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE.

ebolaThe last few days my allergies have been wreaking havoc on my sinuses. This morning I visited my favorite health provider to get the magical shot that makes all these issues go away. As I sat in the examining room waiting for the Doc I noticed the paper on the examination table was wrinkled. The thought went through my mind that maybe that paper hadn’t been changed after the last examination. I confess that I am just a little OCD but things have changed so much in our world that most people are noticing things they ignored in the past.  I have been asked by a few people to share my thoughts on Ebola. I pastor health care providers and have heard them speak of long phone calls and meetings setting up plans to deal with Ebola in case it comes to Central Mississippi.

I am going to share a few thoughts on Ebola from a pastor’s viewpoint. These thoughts will be brief as I do not have the knowledge to elaborate much on this issue.

1. I have no confidence in the Centers for Disease Control but I do not see them as an enemy or part of some big conspiracy. The CDC has made too many contradictory statements to be blindly trusted. Their director, Thomas R. Frieden, gave America the assurance that U. S. hospitals were ready to deal with Ebola. Then our first case of Ebola arrived. Eric Duncan visited one of our hospitals saying he recently came to America from Liberia and even though his symptoms were consistent with Ebola the severity of his condition was not grasped by hospital personnel. Secondly, the hospital failed to keep its own personnel safe. Two nurses who treated Mr. Duncan were infected. Nurses at this hospital have stated they were not given special attire to deal with Ebola and had to improvise precautions for themselves.

If this were not enough, Amber Vinson, a second nurse who had treated Mr. Duncan, came down with the virus as well. Somehow she was allowed to fly on a commercial airliner from Cleveland to Dallas on the say-so of CDC officials in Texas.(1) Do not confuse my words, the health care providers are heroes in America. The issue is the CDC has failed them. Consider the words of Dr. Frieden before and after dealing with our first case of Ebola:

Frieden then: “We will stop it in its tracks, because we’ve got infection control in hospitals and public health that tracks and isolates people if they get symptoms.”

Frieden now: “Stopping Ebola is hard.” . . . “We have to rethink the way we address Ebola infection control.”(2)

Not the stuff confidence is made of.

2. Dr. Kent Brantly is a hero. Dr. Brantly is a member of Southside Church of Christ in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Brantly moved to the West African nation of Liberia, where he served as medical director for the Ebola Care Center. He contracted Ebola while serving in this position and working with Ebola patients. Before he returned to America for treatment he received a unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy who had survived Ebola because of Dr. Brantly’s treatment. There can be no way of knowing how many lives will be saved because of Dr. Brantly but now his patients in Liberia who are better are sharing their blood with new patients as a form of treatment. Recently Dr. Brantly, who is now well, donated a unit of blood to Nina Pham, one of two nurses who contracted Ebola while treating Eric Duncan. Some, like Ann Coulter, have been critical of Dr. Brantly for going to Liberia in the face of Ebola. Some argue missionaries should avoid places populated heavily with Ebola cases because of the risks. I believe in an American exceptionalism but as God’s children we are to share the love of God with the world and minister to the hurting. We cannot remain in America simply because the world is dangerous. Hell is eternal and that is enough to make us missionaries.  The New Testament is clear enough on this.

3. Hiding the facts is not showing leadership. The last thing we need is to panic over Ebola. However, it appears our leadership in America is willing to hide the facts from us. At best they do this to avoid a panic and at worst they do this for political gain. Here are a couple of statements by President Obama:

“What we’re seeing is that the public health infrastructure and systems that we are now putting in place across the board around the country should give the American people confidence that we’re going to be in a position to deal with any additional cases of Ebola that might crop up without it turning into an outbreak.”

Again President Obama, “And I want to emphasize again:  This is a very hard disease to get.”

The World Health Organization estimates there could be as many as 10,000 new cases of Ebola a week in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone by the end of this year.(3) If this figure is anywhere close to accurate then you are speaking of hundreds of thousands of new cases of Ebola being diagnosed next year around the globe. With the number of people coming in and out of America daily both legally and illegally it is naive to believe that some infected people will not find their way to America. When we come to I Samuel 17 we are introduced to the Philistine Giant named Goliath. It would be foolish for the king of Israel to declare the giant will not be much of a threat and act as if he is not a big deal. Saul saw the giant as a real problem and David saw God as the solution to that problem.  True leadership tells the truth about giants, not acts as if they are butterflies.

4. God is still bigger than any giant today. This does not mean that Ebola won’t kill thousands maybe even hundreds of thousands even in America. What it does mean is that God’s children are not to worry about such things. When you worry about something as a Christian you are saying that thing is bigger than God. My favorite verse in the book of Job is Job 13:15, “Though he slay me yet will I trust in Him.” We are people of peace. God’s peace was sweet to Job even as he lost everything. Ebola is no match for our God.

5. There will be a day when the earth is wrecked by disease. Read Revelation 6:7, 8, ”

And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”

During the tribulation period there will  come war, famine and pestilence. According to these verses 1/4 of the world’s population will be wiped out by these three killers. Consider for a moment the killer of disease. The advanced nations of the world have stockpiled bacteria to use as  biological weapons of war. Disease and pestilence most surely will be used in biological weapons of war in the tribulation period. One of my favorite commentary writers, John Phillips, says the most destructive creature to human life has not been the lion or the bear but the rat. If 95% of the population of rats were destroyed in any given area they would repopulate that area completely in 1 year. They carry up to 35 known diseases and in the 14th century their fleas carrying the bubonic plague wiped out 1/3 of the population of Europe. During the war and famine of the tribulation period pestilence will strike the world.  The nations working hard to control Ebola right now may indeed use it during times of war in the tribulation period. However, the truth of Revelation does not stop at chapter 6 with war, famine and pestilence. It carries right on to chapter 19 where Jesus returns to rule as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. By the way, I didn’t change the paper on the examination table.

1. Baltimore Sun on Ebola.

2. Chicago Sun Times on Ebola.

3. CNN on spread of Ebola

KINGDOM AUTHORITY

kingdom authorityIn my last blog I discussed the recent subpoena by the city of Houston of the five local pastors who opposed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) mainly because of the bathroom ordinance. I shared what I would do if my sermons were subpoenaed. In a nut shell, I shared I would give them the sermons or go through the legal appeals process afforded me as a U. S. citizen. I would not simply choose to disobey the government. My rationale is Romans 13 commands us to place ourselves under our governmental authorities because they are ordained by God. In this blog I want to briefly elaborate on submitting to authority. A key to having kingdom authority is submitting to authority.

Examine Luke 7:1-10.

Luke 7:1-10 (HCSB)
1  When He had concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum.
2  A centurion’s slave, who was highly valued by him, was sick and about to die.
3  When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to Him, requesting Him to come and save the life of his slave.
4  When they reached Jesus, they pleaded with Him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this,
5  because he loves our nation and has built us a synagogue.”
6  Jesus went with them, and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell Him, “Lord, don’t trouble Yourself, since I am not worthy to have You come under my roof.
7  That is why I didn’t even consider myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be cured.
8  For I too am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under my command. I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”
9  Jesus heard this and was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following Him, He said, “I tell you, I have not found so great a faith even in Israel!”
10  When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

In this account we are introduced to a centurion who had a servant that was sick and near death according to verse 2. The centurion was a wealthy man and had built a synagogue for the Jews to worship at in Capernaum (vs. 5). This would make him a friend to the Jews. For this reason he sent Jewish elders to Jesus requesting Him to come save the life of this sick servant (vs. 3).

As Jesus is nearing Capernaum the centurion sends word telling Jesus not to come to his home. He tells Jesus he is not worthy to have Jesus come into his home and Jesus can say the word where He is and the servant will be healed. Verse 8 is a key verse to understanding kingdom authority. The centurion says he too is a man under authority giving orders for people to come and do this or that and they obey. The centurion would have 100 soldiers under his command and they would obey his orders. The reason he was given this authority is because he placed himself under authority. No military will allow a man to have authority over one hundred soldiers who would not place himself under his superiors’ authority. According to Warren Weirsbe the centurion saw a parallel to the way he commanded soldiers and Jesus commanded diseases. He is saying to Jesus I recognize you have authority to heal diseases and cast out demons because you are under your Father’s authority.

Jesus said the centurion had the greatest faith of anyone he had encountered in Israel (vs. 9) Jesus even marveled at this man’s faith. Imagine Jesus marveling at the faith of someone!

Here is the conclusion of this matter, all sincere Christians want authority. Fathers want to be the authority in their homes. Mothers want to have authority over their children. Pastors want to have authority in their churches and to preach with an anointing from God. We will never have this kingdom authority until we submit to God’s authority. Romans 13 clearly states this world’s governments are placed here by God and we are to submit to them unless the government compels us to sin or do something to hinder the Gospel. We must submit to authority to have authority. That is the way God ordains it for He will not give authority to a rebel. For more on kingdom authority I recommend you read Adrian Rogers book, “The Incredible Power of Kingdom Authority.”

PASTOR, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

civil-disobedienceOver the last few days I have been asked one question several times, “Pastor, what would you do if your sermons were subpoenaed? Allow me to give you are little clarification as to why that question has been asked. Annise Parker, a lesbian and the mayor of Houston, has led the city of Houston to pass a non-discrimination ordinance known as Houston’s Equal Right’s Ordinance (HERO). I am not an attorney and could be wrong about my conclusions but it seems that much of the resistance to this ordinance was because originally it called for individuals to be able to use the restroom of the gender they felt matched their gender. So if a man felt his gender was female he could use the female restrooms. While most of the Christians in Houston undoubtedly oppose homosexuality they may not have raised such a ruckus if not for the bathroom language.

The Christian community in Houston organized and gathered over 50,000 signatures on a petition seeking a referendum to overturn the ordinance which passed by an 11-6 vote of the city council of Houston. The organizers needed only approximately 17,000 signatures so they gathered almost 3 times the amount needed. For unknown reasons the city council rejected the petition saying there were irregularities. It is worth nothing that the petition was certified by the City Secretary before the council threw it out.

The community was outraged by the 50,000 petitions being dismissed by 11 individuals. Concerned citizens filed a lawsuit, Woodfill v. Parker, over the dismissal of the signatures. The city attorney then subpoenaed five Houston pastors demanding their sermons and communications with church members that made referrence to homosexuality, Mayor Parker, the petition or the ordinance be turned over.  IT HAS TO BE NOTED THAT NONE OF THE FIVE PASTORS ARE NAMED AS BEING PART OF THE LAWSUIT.

Here is how the subpoena reads, “All speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”

A few things seem evident to reasonable people. This is political intimidation on the part of a homosexual mayor to push her agenda. She wants the church to remain silent on this issue. This is a way for her to threaten not only pastors in Houston but everywhere in America to be silent on homosexuality. Secondly, the subpoena is over reaching at best and completely unconstitutional at worse. In America those that practice religion have been guaranteed that our religion is beyond the reach of the government. This case absolutely threatens that guarantee. Not only Christians but all citizens should be angered over this action by the city of Houston.

Now to answering the question, “What would you do if someone subpoenaed your sermons?” My answer is going to be so disappointing to many. I would probably send them both a manuscript and video of my sermons. Romans 13:1 and 2 reads, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resists the power resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”

Based on Romans 13, I probably would surrender my sermons for review. Governments may be just or corrupt. They may be weak or strong. They may be democracies or dictatorships. They can be benevolent or cruel. But Romans 13 says God has ordained them and is working through them for good. I would rather be subject to an unjust government than to have no government. We would live in anarchy without our government and authorities. I can’t imagine how our streets would be if there were no police.

The standard I am comfortable with for civil disobedience in the face of our government is when it compels you to sin or forces you to do actions that would hurt the cause of Christ. If our nation ever forbids the preaching of the entire Word of God then I am more than ready to disobey our officials. If I determined that the seizing of these sermons would be used for hurting our Lord’s cause then I would not surrender them. However, I would seek the counsel of an attorney and follow our nation’s appeals process.

I want to leave you with this thought, we have already overcome the world. We should not panic and we need to remember we are commanded to fight this cultural battle we face with love, kindness and mercy. We should prepare for what is coming our way as our society is going to oppose Christianity more vehemently in the days ahead. However, we need to tone down some of the rhetoric and flavor our language with love and kindness. We must never let anyone intimidate us, especially the gay agenda, into compromising the Word of God. God’s children need a boldness as we fight for the very soul of America. However, we must do all of this in accordance to the Word of God and a way that honors our Lord Jesus.

THE ANTICHRIST, HIS DESTRUCTION

Battle of Armageddon
Battle of Armageddon

In this blog I will share what the Bible says about the Antichrist’s destruction. We would do well to remember that in the future this man will set himself up to be God and will be worshiped in the temple at Jerusalem. II Thessalonians 2:4 says of the Antichrist, “He opposes and exalts himself above every so called god or object of worship, so that he sits in God’s sanctuary, publicizing that he himself is God.” Just a casual reading of the Bible will lead to understanding that God destroys anyone or anything that attempts to usurp His position. It may take some time for this destruction to take place but it will come. It has been said the hands of God’s justice may turn slow but they continually turn. Therefore we can anticipate when we read in II Thessalonians 2:4 that the Antichrist has set himself up as God that God will indeed deal with him. You have to read just 4 verses until you see God’s plans for the Antichrist. II Thessalonians 2:8 reads, “The Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of His mouth and will bring him to nothing with the brightness of His coming.” When Christ returns the Antichrist will be brought to nothing by the Lord’s appearing.

This event in prophecy is described in Revelation chapter 19. In Revelation 19:11-16 you read of the glorious coming of the Lord. These verses culminate in verse 16 with the inscription that will be on the Lord’s robe, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.  Allow me to share with  you in sermon outline form what will happen according to Revelation 19:19-21 to the Antichrist when the Lord returns.

1. WE SEE A WAR. (VS.19)

Revelation 19:19 “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. ”

All the armies of the world will gather with the Antichrist to make war against the One who sits on the horse and his army. That is Jesus, His angels, Old Testament saints and Christians. It is worth noting in verse 14 that the Lord’s armies that come with him will be clothed in white. They are not going to battle so they do not need fatigues and military garb. The Lord will fight this battle Himself.

There are many theories given to why these armies will gather at Megiddo to begin with. I offer one suggestion why they would gather to battle Christ. Remember II Thessalonians 2:10, 11 describes those who have rejected Christ before the tribulation period begins will at some point have a delusion sent on them by God that they might believe a lie. I believe that delusion is they will believe the Antichrist is God. The armies of the world follow their god into battle against Jesus. Jesus came the first time and the world opposed Him. It is not hard to believe the world will oppose Him when He returns again.

2. WE SEE A WORD. (VS. 21)

Revelation 19:21 “And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.”

The Antichrist will be a man of eloquent speech. He will use words to motivate people to do his deeds. He will motive the world to persecute Israel and the saints saved during the tribulation. He will use his words and signs to motivate people to worship his image. He will use words to gather the armies of the world against Jesus. He will be a man of words.

It is ironic with one word he and his empire will be finished. Jesus spoke a word and the world came into being. Jesus spoke a word and Lazarus was raised from the dead. Jesus spoke a word and the fig tree withered. Jesus spoke a word and demons came out of the demoniac. He speaks a word and the Battle of Armageddon will be over. His sword is the words that come from His mouth. According to verse 21 all the armies of the world fed the birds. The vultures have been summoned in verses 17 and 18 that they may eat the flesh of the armies that oppose the One that sits on the horse and whose name is KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

3. WE SEE WISDOM. (VS. 20)

Revelation 19:20 “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 worshiped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.”

It seems that the order of this battle will be that Jesus will take the Beast, which is the Antichrist, and the False Prophet which preached the gospel of the Antichrist and will cast them into the lake of fire. These two will be the first inhabitants of the lake of fire. Once Jesus has dealt with the Antichrist and the False Prophet then He deals with the armies which followed them. Jesus in His wisdom allows all the world’s armies to see their god judged by the Righteous Judge. There will be no mistaking who is God. Jeremiah 10:6 reads, “No one is like you, LORD; you are great, and your name is mighty in power.” So in verse 20 we see the Antichrist will have a final home in the lake of fire. This man who was exalted will be cast down and Jesus will be exalted forever more.

So it ends rather anticlimactically; after seven years of tribulation on earth the armies of the world follow the Antichrist to Megiddo to battle Jesus. There is not much to this battle. He speaks a word and this man of sin is done away with. For centuries people have studied various aspects of the Antichrist. He is cast down in an instance. Jesus is indeed KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

THE ANTICHRIST, HIS ACTIONS

the-rapture-1In this post I will discuss the actions of the Antichrist during the seven year tribulation period. It has to be noted that I am giving a concise discussion on the actions of the Antichrist and in no way do I consider this discussion to be exhaustive. Much, much more could be said about the actions of the Antichrist. I also remind you that I write as one who embraces dispensational theology. I believe the tribulation will be the time when God fulfills all His promises to the nation of Israel made to Abraham and his descendants in the Old Testament. I believe the church will be removed from the earth before the tribulation begins and God begins to deal with Israel. With the removal of the church the Holy Spirit will be removed as well and the Antichrist no longer restrained will be free to unleash his terror on the world. The removal of the Holy Spirit is described in II Thessalonians 2:7, 8.  Let’s examine a few actions of the Antichrist in the future.

1. He will become the leader of the world.

Revelation 6:2 says, “And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering and to conquer.” Some believe this rider is Jesus. Some believe it is the Gospel. Some believe he is no one in particular but a personification of the times and events.  I believe this rider on the white horse is the Antichrist. This verse says he goes forth conquering and to conquer. He does so with a bow. A bow is not a weapon. No one is afraid of a bow. Arrows are what will hurt and kill. This seems to indicate the Antichrist will conquer the world by brokering peace. Can you imagine a leader coming on the scene today that had the diplomacy to broker true peace in the Middle East? This man will be able to broker that peace and the entire world will follow him.

Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, has a dream of an image of a human like creature in Daniel chapter 2. That image had a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, a belly and thighs of brass and his legs were iron and his feet were a mixture of iron and clay.  The legs and feet represent the Roman Empire that was to come. The original Roman Empire fell in 476 A.D. (I know some say the Empire did not fall until 1453 when the Byzantine Empire fell but I will use the 476 date.) Daniel 2:41-44 describes the Roman Empire being revived in the last days. That revived Roman Empire is symbolized in the ten horns of the beast in Revelation 17:12-14, “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.   These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” Notice in verse 13 these kings give their power to the beast. The world leaders will yield power to the Antichrist. The Antichrist will lead all the armies of the world into battle against the returning Christ and all the armies will be annihilated.  

There is one thought I would want you to consider about this one world ruler who sets up a one world government, the lack of any strong leaders in the world today is paving the way for a dynamic leader to rise to power. Never in history have the world’s leaders been so weak. History is full of strong people both good and evil who were tremendous leaders: Alexander the Great, Winston Churchill, Napoleon, Mussolini, Franklin Roosevelt, Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, George Washington, Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar are a  few that come to my mind. I recently read an article in Fortune Magazine that listed the 50 greatest leaders in the world today. Bono, the lead singer for U2, was ranked number 8 and Derek Jeter, shortstop for the Yankees, was ranked number 11. If our world is looking to Jeter and Bono for leadership models then there can be little doubt our world is ripe for a dynamic leader to intoxicate the world  to the point it will follow him. The world is ripe for the Antichrist.

2. The Antichrist will broker a treaty with Israel and break that treaty.

Daniel 9:26, 27 describes the coming of the Antichrist and his making and breaking a covenant with Israel.  “26  After those 62 weeks the Messiah will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the coming prince will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come with a flood, and until the end there will be war; desolations are decreed.
27  He will make a firm covenant with many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and offering. And the abomination of desolation will be on a wing of the temple until the decreed destruction is poured out on the desolator.”

The Messiah of Israel, Jesus, has come but He was rejected and crucified in A.D. 33. The Antichrist will broker a treaty with the people of Israel who still are looking for their Messiah. This treaty is for one week which means 7 years in Daniel’s symbolism. He breaks his treaty with Israel in the middle of the seven years of tribulation and begins a terrible 3 1/2 year tribulation on Israel. This leads to the third future action of the Antichrist.

3. The Antichrist will be worshiped as god.

Read II Thessalonians 2:3, 4, “3  Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way. For that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. 4  He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he sits in God’s sanctuary, publicizing that he himself is God.”

The Antichrist will set his image up in the temple of the Jews and claim to be god. The world will flock to this dynamic figure but the Jews will rebel against this abomination of desolation in their temple and the great tribulation for the Jews will begin as the Antichrist persecutes the Hebrews. This worldwide worship will be accomplished because the Antichrist will mimic the Lord’s death and resurrection. Revelation 13:3 says of the Antichrist, “And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded unto death and his deadly wound was healed and all the world wondered after the beast.” Revelation 17:8 says of the Antichrist, “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit…”

The Antichrist will be raised from the dead by Satanic power. Some argue the Antichrist will only appear to have been killed and raised from the dead. I believe it is a literal death and resurrection. Listen to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24:24 about the end times, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets and shall show great signs and wonders insomuch that if it were possible they shall deceive the very elect.” The Antichrist will mimic the resurrection and all the world will marvel at this great leader who was killed and is now alive again.

I believe this death and resurrection to be the great deception that God sends on  the world. Read II Thessalonians 2:10, 11, ” 10  and with every unrighteous deception among those who are perishing. They perish because they did not accept the love of the truth in order to be saved.
11  For this reason God sends them a strong delusion so that they will believe what is false.” These verses teach those who have rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ and live into the tribulation will at some point have a strong delusion sent on them by God and they will believe what is false and their eternal fate will be sealed. I believe that strong delusion is the death and resurrection of the Antichrist.

4. The Antichrist will persecute tribulation saints.

Read Revelation 7:9, “After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were robed in white with palm branches in their hands.” John asks who these were standing before the throne. He was given the answer by one of the elders in Revelation 7:14, “These are they which came out of the great tribulation and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.”

These are tribulation saints who have called on the name of Jesus during the tribulation and have been martyred for their faith. They are not Old Testament saints and they are not in the church age. They are tribulation saints and they pay with their lives for calling on Jesus while the Antichrist is ruling the world unrestrained.

In my next blog I will share what the Bible says about the destruction of the Antichrist.

 

 

The Antichrist, His Nationality

beast_of_revelationIn this post concerning the Antichrist I will attempt to answer one question I have heard again and again concerning the Antichrist. One would do well to remember that studies of the Antichrist and all end times theology fall under what is called speculative theology. The Bible describes much of the end times with apocalyptic literature. One characteristic of apocalyptic literature is its use of mysterious and symbolic language. Because of this there will be much debate concerning the meaning of the symbols and much of what we believe and teach concerning the end times will be speculative. The person who is dogmatic about the meaning of the sealed book or scroll in Revelation chapter five may be a dangerous person to teach you the Biblical truths of the end times.

What nationality will the Antichrist be?

This question is usually posed by someone who has read an article that says the president  or the pope is the Antichrist. My answer will sound like  a cop-out but it honestly is what I believe the Bible teaches concerning the nationality of the Antichrist. Revelation 13:1 says a beast, which is the Antichrist, having seven heads and ten horns will rise out of the sea. This sea has to be the Mediterranean Sea. Many conservative scholars believe this represents the people around the Mediterranean Sea which are Gentile people. The Antichrist will come from Gentile people.

Daniel 7:7 describes a fourth beast having ten horns. This beast represents the Roman Empire which will be resurrected in the last days. The ten horns represent ten kings or kingdoms that will rise out of the reborn Roman Empire. In Daniel 7:8 we see a “little horn” rise from among the then horns. This little horn is the Antichrist. When you compare this passage with Daniel 9:26 which refers to the Antichrist as the prince of the people who shall destroy the city and the sanctuary we see the Antichrist will be Roman. The people who destroyed Jerusalem and the sanctuary were the Romans and this happened in A.D. 70 when the Roman general, Titus, destroyed the city of Jerusalem. So the Antichrist will be a Gentile, predominately Roman.

However, the great scholar A.W. Pink offers much proof that the Antichrist will also be Jewish. I will look at a few of the passages he mentions as proof of the Jewish origin of the Antichrist.

Daniel 11:36, 37 in the KJV says about the Antichrist that he regards not “the God of his fathers.” This verse seems to offer proof that the Antichrist was a descendant from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who worshiped one God.  Pink also points to Ezek. 21:25-27 which he argues is speaking of the Antichrist when it reads, “and thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end.” This passage is speaking of the wicked king of Israel, Zedekiah. Many conservative scholars say Zedekiah is a picture of the future wicked prince known as the Antichrist. That is my opinion. Pink carries that typology so far as to argue this as proof the Antichrist will be of Jewish descent just like Zedekiah. Pink offers other evidences for the Antichrist being Jewish.

My opinion is that the Antichrist will be predominately Roman but will also be of Jewish descent. He will have both Roman and Jewish blood.  One can be dogmatic about the Antichrist being of Roman descent. This seems to be irrefutable according the Scriptures. I am less confident he will be Jewish but I do embrace that teaching. He will ascend to power and rule as a Roman and keep his Jewish heritage hid as he wages war against Israel. In my next post I will share some of the activities the Antichrist will be involved in.

THE ANTICHRIST

666_mark_of_the_beastFew topics have provoked as much thought and speculation through the centuries like the Antichrist. People have searched for the identity of the Antichrist throughout history. Several people have been identified as the Antichrist. Recently George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Pope Francis have all been mentioned as a possibility of being the Antichrist. Antiochus Epiphanes, Nero, Mussolini, Franklin Roosevelt, Stalin and Hitler were all considered candidates to be the Antichrist. The Bible never identifies who the Antichrist will be. I am going to share a few blogs on the subject of the Antichrist. You need to understand I believe in a pre-tribulation rapture of the church. I believe the church will be taken from the earth before the tribulation period begins. This tribulation period will be marked by the rule of the Antichrist over the earth. Consider a few things about the Antichrist.

1. He is considered the seed of Satan.

Following the fall of man in the Garden God makes a prophecy concerning the future of Satan. God says to the serpent (Satan) in Genesis 3:15 “I will put hostility between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15 is known as the “protoevangelium,” which is Latin for the “First Gospel.” In this verse it is prophesied that Satan will bruise the seed of Eve. This is an unusual statement for women do not have a seed. In procreation men plant a seed not women. The seed of woman is a reference to the virgin birth of Jesus. Jesus was born of a woman but not a man for God was His Father.  Satan bruised Jesus’ heel at the crucifixion but with the resurrection  Jesus crushed Satan’s head. So we see in this verse the first presentation of the Gospel.

In this “protoevangelium” we are introduced to Satan’s seed. Satan has always tried to counterfeit everything God does. Satan will produce a counterfeit messiah that the world will follow during the tribulation period. This counterfeit messiah, the Antichrist, is the seed of Satan.

2. He has several names in the Bible.

He is called the Antichrist but not much. John is the only writer to use the name Antichrist. One verse where John uses this name is I John 2:18 “Children, it is the last hour and as you have heard “Antichrist is coming.”

He is called the “little horn” in Daniel 7:8 and 8:9. He is called “the king” in Daniel 11:36-45. II Thessalonians 2:3-8 calls him “that man of sin,” “the son of perdition” and “that wicked one.” Revelation 13:1 calls him “the beast out of the sea.”

3. The Antichrist is already working in this world.

I John 4:3 says “And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is the spirit of Antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and now already is it in the world.”

John teaches us that the Antichrist will come. This is making reference to the tribulation when the Antichrist comes and rules the world. However, John says the Antichrist is already working in the world. This evil one no doubt is busy working all kinds of evil in the world. However, the primary goal of his current work is to lead others to deny Christ has come.

4. We have the comfort that the Antichrist is being restrained at this moment.

The thought of Satan’s seed, the Antichrist, already working in the world can be intimidating. The Bible is clear that he is being restrained by the Holy Spirit of God. Read II Thessalonians 2:6, 7, “And you know what currently restrains him so that he will be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; but the one now restraining will do so until he is out of the way.”

These verses teach that the Holy Spirit is restraining the Antichrist at this moment and will do so until the Holy Spirit is taken away and then the Antichrist will be free to exalt himself as ruler of the world.  In my opinion, this removal of the Holy Spirit from the world takes place with the rapture of the church as described in I Thessalonians 4:13-18. When this happens the Antichrist will be free to work all of his evil plans.

Soon I will share more of what the Bible says about the Antichrist.