Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Answer Man

Now that the election is over and America has voted for change, a natural question arises as to how much just one man can change the world in which we live? I'm sure that most people would come to the conclusion that one man can't, given the complexity of the world's governments, financial institutions, and even religions that exist today. Unfortunately though, the Bible makes it clear that there will be a man who not only can and will accomplish great change, but will also change the course of history by sending the earth as we know it on a path to certain destruction; the man the Bible calls the Antichrist.

A question I often hear is if this man is going to be so evil, how in the world does he manage to rise to such a position of power? I think the answer to that is becoming more and more obvious as we take a close look at what is happening in the world today. In reality, can anyone look at the world today and find someplace where there isn't some sort of problem that needs fixing? Of course, if you were to ask anyone on the street today what the biggest problem facing the world today is, I'm sure they would respond "the economy", but as we all know, that isn't the only one. The unrest in the Middle East is certainly foremost in the minds of many people not only there, but here as well considering the United States has so many troops in that part of the world. There is another problem, not widely recognized, that is a direct result of the worsening financial situation we see in the world today and that is famine. Always a problem in some parts of the world, there are now signs that entire Third World countries are in danger because entire populations are becoming unable to afford even the subsistence level of their daily food requirements. So with all these problems and more besides, is it possible that one man could come along and rise to such a position of power that the Bible describes? Absolutely! How? Simple; he has all the answers!

A fact that most students of this period of time realize is that for the first three and one half years of the Tribulation, people and governments willingly give authority to this man. Why? Simply because he seems to have the answers to the problems facing the world today. The Bible tells us that the very first problem that he appears to solve is the conflict between Israel and all the surrounding nations that seek to destroy it. How many nations, how many administrations, how many politicians, and how many years have so many tried to solve this problem with no success whatever? Yet this man does what no man has been able to do; bring peace to that part of the world. That in itself will make this person a household name all over the world, but in effect, it will only serve to bring him to the attention of the entire world in order for him to begin to consolidate his power.

Speculation about who this man may be is the source of all too many strange if not curious conclusions. I have often been asked if I have any "favorites" as far as candidates for this position, and many have shared their picks with me. My favorite by far is Barney the Dinosaur, but please don't ask me to explain how they come up with that one. The fact remains that among believers today, many are interested in trying to identify potential candidates as a sign of the end. Although the Bible gives us 43 names of this man, as well as a complete physical description, I believe we also need to understand that the Bible suggests it is fruitless for us to try and identify who he may be.

There are several points the Bible makes clear about the identity of this coming world leader that we as believers need to be aware of. Of these, the one that is the most important to our discussion here is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8. It is here that Paul tells us that there is a prerequisite for the revealing of this man to the world and that is the removal of someone or something called "he who now letteth" or "he who now restrains" depending on the translation you use. Who or what is this "restrainer"? Some feel this is a reference to world governments that exist at the time, but the most common interpretation is that this is referring to the Holy Spirit which at this time is present in all believers, the body of Christ, also known as His Church. So if Paul tells us that in order for this man to be revealed the Church must be removed, it seems obvious he is talking about the rapture. The obvious conclusion then is that we won't be here when the Antichrist is revealed and begins his rule.

Does this mean that we are wasting our time studying about him? On the contrary, if that was God's intent I'm reasonably certain He wouldn't have told us so much about him in the first place. Rather I believe God wants us to know about him in order to help us recognize how it is that the world embraces someone who claims to be able to solve the worlds' problems. What a shame that the world will choose to believe this "man of sin" rather than believe in the One who really can save the world! If our recent election showed anything, it showed how easily someone can convince so many not only in this country, but around the world that one man can bring change.

But what price will the world pay for that change?