Sunday, February 28, 2016

Nowhere to Go but Down

“Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done. “He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all.”          Daniel 11:36-37  NKJV

Have you ever found yourself in the position of wanting to see someone embarrassed or humbled because of their arrogance and pride?  I think most of us would have to admit that, like or not, we all have been there.  There is just something about seeing people with that sort of attitude of superiority which makes us all hope for their fall, and suffer for their actions as they profess their own magnificence.  Fortunately as believers, we are promised that the proud will in fact get their just rewards so although we might not be witnesses to the fact; we are assured of their ultimate humility.  This conclusion is never more apparent than in the fall of the antichrist, and his eventual destiny.

The seeds of his fall, as we saw last week, come from the desire of Satan to magnify himself above God, and to be worshipped accordingly.  This passage from Daniel spells out in detail exactly how arrogant this attitude of the man of sin will be as he not only claims himself to be God, but totally reject the consideration of what has been revealed by God Himself, His Son Jesus Christ, or any other of the gods man has created throughout history.  Now hopefully you noticed I referred to Jesus and wonder where that might be found in the passage above.  

Although we do not have the time to examine in detail an exhaustive interpretation of these two verses I encourage you to do your own research.  The phrasethe desire of women” has unfortunately been incorrectly taught by many to suggest that the antichrist has no affection for women.  In truth, in the Old Testament times the phrase “desire of women” was commonly used to refer to the longing of devoted Jewish women to be the mother of the coming Messiah.  Daniel was well aware of this and if we too understand that, the passage examined within its context concerning worshipping gods makes much more sense when we see the man of sin believes he is greater than God, His Son, or any other god.

Unfortunately for him, although he might see himself that way and certainly desire for all the remaining people on the earth to as well, we will find that in reality a good portion of the population of the world will eventually reject him and his claims.  It is interesting to note that while earlier in Daniel we were told that he becomes the ruler of the world, and leader of the one world government, it is after the first half of the tribulation when he claims to be god that the rebellion of his rule begins.  Is it because of his desire to be worshipped as god?  Does the world think maybe he has lost his mind, or is delusional as he begins to persecute and kill any who reject his authority?  Whatever the reasons, we are told his absolute rule begins to crumble.

“At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. “He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. “He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. “He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels. “But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many. “And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him.”                 Daniel 11:40-45  NKJV

Did you notice the very last words of this passage from Daniel?  “And no one will help him.”  When it is all said and done, the antichrist will find himself all alone with absolutely no one to help him, much less worship him as a god.  I think it is telling that the man, who came to power as a peacemaker, ends his career as a tyrant at war with the world.  Notice too how he chooses to react to “news from the east and the north”.  What does it say about a great “peacemaker” that he reacts with “great fury to destroy and annihilate many” on the basis of just troubling news rather than an outright attack?  As we saw last week we are told that if God did not put an end to the tribulation, eventually there would be no survivors at all on the earth, so the stage is set for the intervention of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 

"Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war."   Revelation 19:11  NKJV

Have you ever wondered why Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey at His first coming but rides a horse at His second coming?  It wasn’t until recently that I became aware of the fact that in ancient times, during times of peace a king always rode a donkey but in times of war he always rode a horse.  Understanding that explains the fact that at His second coming Jesus is riding a horse, and that He is coming to make war.  God has seen enough, the time of Jacob’s trouble is about to be concluded, and Jesus Christ returns to put an end to all that the man of sin, Satan, and the false prophet have tried to accomplish in the last three and one half years.

“Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God “that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.”   Revelation 19:17-21  NKJV

I hope you noticed that in these verses it appears that there is someone missing?  Although Satan chooses to indwell the antichrist at the midpoint of the tribulation, it would appear that he is quick to leave when judgment arrives.  In the Greek, the word translated capture carries within it the idea of pursuit and apprehension.  Can you just see these two running for their lives believing that somehow they can escape, only to be caught?  I can also see Satan coming out of the man of sin at that point thinking he too can keep on running while leaving the other two behind?  Not to worry though because no one escapes the judgment of God.

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.”   Revelation 20:1-3  NKJV

Nowhere to go but down.  Have you ever experienced falling in such a way as to have the time to realize you have absolutely no control over your circumstance?  Unfortunately I have experienced this several times and I can assure you it is a terrifying experience.  Did you notice Satan is thrown into a “bottomless” pit?  Can you imagine falling for a thousand years having no control at all?  This is Satan’s reward for trying to rule the world, become like God, and persecute all who choose not to worship him.  

My intent over the past few weeks was simply to introduce you to this man, and the circumstances surrounding his rise to power and eventual end.  I would encourage you to find a good commentary on the books of Daniel and Revelation and discover for yourself in detail the events that many, myself included, believe are set to begin at any time.  If you have never taken the step of making a decision to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and allow His forgiveness and sacrifice to grant you eternal life in Heaven with Him and to deliver you from this time that is coming I encourage you to do it today.  All you need to do is ask Him for forgiveness, believe that His Son Jesus Christ died for your sins, and invite Him to come into your life and help you become the person He intended you to be.

Keep watching.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


“He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time.”   Daniel 7:25  NKJV

Have you ever wondered where the concept of a “halftime” in a sporting event originated, and just exactly why it was decided that it was necessary?  Now your first thought might run to the idea of giving the teams a much needed rest, yet I ask you, how often have you also seen the second half of an event completely different from the first?  I have mentioned before that I studied education with the intent of becoming a coach at the secondary school level, and as a student teacher was able to observe firsthand just what an effect a good halftime speech could have on a team, especially if they were behind.  For the most part I would have to say that based on what I was able to observe, it had less to do with correcting mistakes and much more to do with getting inside the players heads and changing their mental outlook to produce the change that was needed to succeed.

Any study of the tribulation time revealed by Daniel and John in the book of Revelation makes it clear that the period of seven years which we know as the tribulation is divided exactly in half with two periods of three and one half years each.  The Word of God even breaks it down into days for us as well, two halves of 1260 days for a total of 2520, so that there is no mistake about how long it will last.  As always with me, the question I always seem to ask whenever something jumps out at me like this is simply, why?  Why is it divided, and what happens at the midpoint which causes it to be divided so obviously and dramatically, especially when we consider the events which take place during the second half.  Much like what I observed as a coach, the antichrist seems completely changed after “halftime” and it begs the question; “what got into his head?”

“And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”    Revelation 12:7-9  NKJV

We talked last week about the coming man of sin and the source of his success as a result of the power of Satan directing the events of this world.  I say success because by the world’s standards, in spite of what is going on around him, this man’s actions do result in a consolidation of power and a realignment of nations of which he becomes a most prominent leader.  Yet while up to this point he has only had Satan’s “help”, a major event occurs in Heaven which defines what is to come for the second half of the tribulation.  For reasons we are not told, but possibly a result of the “success” Satan feels he has had on earth, he starts a war in Heaven with Michael and his angels.

"For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ "  Isaiah 14:13-14  NKJV

I think it more than likely this is Satan’s attempt to do exactly what we are told in this passage from Isaiah, but not only does Satan lose the war, he and his angels are cast out of Heaven never to return. As you might expect, Satan’s reaction to this humiliating loss is to take his fury out on the earth, specifically the tribulation saints who have come to believe in Jesus Christ during the first half of the tribulation and the remaining Jews who reject his claim to be God. This claim occurs after an apparent assassination attempt on the antichrist which results in a head wound which by all accounts appears to be fatal.  Yet a defeated and enraged Satan indwells his body, the wound is healed, and he proceeds with his plan to make the entire world worship him.

“Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?”   Revelation 13:1-4  NKJV

Although at first the plan might seem to be working, not all choose to follow and worship him, and the event which draws the line in the sand is when he goes to the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and proclaims himself to be God in the flesh.

“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”   2 Thessalonians 2:3-4  NKJV

“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. “Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. “And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! “And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”   Matthew 24:15-22  NKJV

The reason the tribulation period is divided into two halves is simply because what is set to occur during the second half, called the Great Tribulation, is so terrifying and destructive to mankind that if God were to allow events to play out over time eventually there would be no one left alive on earth.  As the antichrist, Satan proclaims himself to be God and demands the world to worship him and even goes so far as to require that all take a mark to show their acceptance.  Anyone not taking the mark will be pursued and killed, and the horror of these times is behind the warning from God in the passage from Matthew that the Jews flee immediately for their lives.  Because the rage of Satan during the Great Tribulation is so great, God has shortened that time to the three and one half years which He has revealed to us through the scriptures, and at the end of that time the end will come.

“Ask now, and see, Whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins Like a woman in labor, And all faces turned pale? Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, But he shall be saved out of it.”   Jeremiah 30:6-7  NKJV

I believe the difference between the two halves of the tribulation period can be summed up this way; in the first half the antichrist is simply a puppet, but in the second half the antichrist is possessed.  Satan’s desire to “be like the Most High” will in fact be his downfall, which is why next week we will see that after all of this, he has nowhere to go but down.

Keep watching.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Not By His Own Power

“And in the latter time of their kingdom, When the transgressors have reached their fullness, A king shall arise, Having fierce features, Who understands sinister schemes. His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; He shall destroy fearfully, And shall prosper and thrive; He shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people. “Through his cunning He shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; And he shall exalt himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; But he shall be broken without human means.”  Daniel 8:23-25  NKJV

Have you been keeping up with the events in the Middle East lately?  If you have, I’m sure you have noticed how peaceful life is over there and how well everyone is getting along?  Would it surprise you to know that a great many people believe that peace in the Middle East, and between Israel and its neighbors, is in reality impossible?  We are approaching seventy years since Israel once again became a nation in 1948 and yet the world has never been farther away from seeing peace in that part of the world than it is at the present time.  Which then begs the question, “exactly how does the antichrist, the coming man of sin somehow manage to broker and enforce a peace when so many before him have failed?”

Although many have made the point of describing all of the attributes listed in God’s Word about this man as a way of explaining how he is able to somehow achieve this seeming impossibility, while not disagreeing about their importance I would like to suggest one simple explanation which may often be overlooked.  You see, in the passage above from Daniel we are told that although this coming world leader will be extremely strong, “his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power”.  So the question which follows is simply this; “if it’s not his power, who’s power is it?”  If we look at it this way, I believe the answer is clear as to where his power originates.

“Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.”    Luke 4:5-6  NKJV

I’m sure many of you remember this passage from Luke, and the events which surround it.  Yet the point is clear that Satan, as the prince of this world, has the ability to not only control kingdoms, but to give their power to whomever he wishes.  That conclusion is obvious from the fact that Jesus does not dispute this statement when Satan makes it.  This then, is where the antichrist will get the power to control the kingdoms of the earth, and to enforce a peace between Israel and its enemies in the most volatile region in the world.  Yet it also raises another question that needs to be answered and that is why does the nation of Israel agree to this peace?

“But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. “        Luke 24:21  NKJV

I believe the simple answer as to why Israel chooses to place their security in the hands of the antichrist is that they believe he is their messiah.  Now if that sounds strange to you, it might be that there is an important part of Judaism many Christians are not aware of and it is simply this; in Judaism the coming messiah is not divine, but simply a great man descended from the Davidic line who will be a great political leader.  In the passage from Luke we see that the men talking with Jesus were disappointed because they were expecting a king who would “redeem Israel”. If we look closely at the thinking and especially the words of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, we are told the real reason they were so intent on putting Him to death.

"Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. " John 5:18  NKJV

Not only is it important to understand that the messiah Judaism is looking for is not divine, there is one other matter which will cause the nation of Israel to welcome him with open arms.  You see, something else the Jewish messiah will do is allow the rebuilding of the Temple and re-establish worship as it was in Old Testament times.  This, obviously, is an accomplishment many would consider equal to bring peace to the Middle East.  The Jewish nation rebuilding their Temple for worship in the middle of a region which is almost totally Islamic, is to many, quite unbelievable.   Yet is it really so unbelievable if you consider the source of his power?

Given that his power and success is orchestrated by Satan himself, many might believe that there is no limit to what he might accomplish.  There are, however, within his seeming unlimited powers, the seeds of his own downfall.  While he will appear to be a savior to the world, his success will be short-lived and failure will be his ultimate accomplishment.  This, I believe, will be a result of a character flaw that many great men before him have suffered from, and one which we as a nation could say we see played out in our own political arena on a weekly basis.  Like many who have come before him, he too will fall from grace and his ultimate failure is guaranteed.

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."             John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton

Most of you have probably heard this quote at one time or another, and in the case of the coming man of sin it could not be more appropriate.  We have seen his rapid rise to power, but next week we will look at what occurs to cause his fall.

“Through his cunning He shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; And he shall exalt himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; But he shall be broken without human means.”   Daniel 8:25  NKJV

If you have never made the decision to accept the salvation offered by the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I suggest you do that today so you too can spend eternity with our Father in Heaven, and watch all of these things unfold from there, rather than here.

Keep watching.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Man of Sin

“I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive."   John 5:43  NKJV

I have been surprised in the past few years by what many might consider an obsession by some to positively identify the coming world leader most commonly called the antichrist.  In many ways, it might seem appropriate given the times in which we live, and the overwhelming evidence which is pointing to the nearness of the rapture of the Church.  Many very knowledgeable Bible scholars have suggested that whoever this person is, he is alive and well and more than likely a prominent individual active on the world political stage.  Yet I also believe it is a fruitless endeavor to attempt to identify him simply because the Bible makes it clear that his identity will not be positively revealed until he tries to convince the world that he is God.

"Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."               2 Thessalonians 2:3-4  NKJV

This event occurs halfway through the seven year tribulation period so the question which should be on everyone’s mind is why is he not recognized before then?  I cannot say for certain that this man of sin is who Jesus is referring to in the passage from John, but the fact that this coming world ruler will be not only received with open arms, but embraced as the answer to all the world’s problems should certainly give one pause for thought.  There is obviously something about this individual which makes him stand out from the other leaders of the time, and the result is that he will succeed in gathering a following which will propel him to a position of immense power.

"Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?"  2 Thessalonians 2:5  NKJV

The fact that Paul had already taught the believers in this church about the antichrist raises a question many people overlook which is simply this; where did Paul learn about this man of sin?  Now you could certainly say that that it was part of the teaching he received from the Holy Spirit, but I would also like to suggest that it might have come from studying the book of Daniel which was readily available to him when he studied as a young man in the synagogue.  Remember what Paul said in his own words;

 “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today."                      Acts 22:3  NKJV

So then does it not make sense that Paul knew what Daniel had written concerning this coming world ruler, and that he used that knowledge to teach the church at Thessalonica?  Whether that assumption is true or not, the fact remains that Daniel was the first to give us a detailed description of this individual and of his future attempt to conquer the world.  With this in mind I thought we could spend a little time in examining what Daniel told us about him, not to try and identify who he might be but rather with the idea of becoming familiar with what he is like and how he is able to do what he will eventually do.

"I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things."  Daniel 7:8  NKJV

Here Daniel introduces us to this coming man of sin by calling him the “little horn”.  In the Bible, a horn is used to signify a strong ruler and in this verse it would seem applicable because the first thing he does is uproot three other horns as he starts to consolidate his power.  Most scholars agree that the scenario here is that this leader demonstrates his power by conquering three of the ten kingdoms (plucked up by the roots) and the remaining seven simply capitulate because they believe resistance is futile.  Obviously he has an agenda and his intent is for it to culminate in world domination. 

I find it curious too that we are given descriptions which not only give insight into his physical appearance but personality as well.  Remember we have already found that a horn signifies a strong ruler, yet notice also the passage mentions his eyes and his mouth.  Eyes signify intelligence and insight, along with a shrewd and clever personality which can deceive. Also the mouth which can speak “great things” which people will find attractive and believable, but in the end will be misleading and deceitful.  Remember his ultimate goal is to rule the entire world, so anything he says or does is to that end.

"The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,"   2 Thessalonians 2:9-11  NKJV

In the end, after all is said and done, you have to ask yourself why in the world do people accept this man of sin as their leader and embrace him with open arms?  Is he really so deceitful that the world is completely taken in by his lies and deception or is something else going on here?  A fact sometimes overlooked is that this man of sin somehow manages to rise from whatever position he now holds to the absolute ruler of the entire world in only three and one half years, when he sits in the temple and proclaims himself to be God!  Looking at the world as it is today, most if not all would say that the chances of that ever happening are virtually impossible.  Yet the Bible tells us it will happen, and many are convinced that it is going to happen very soon.

So just how is it that the coming man of sin is able to accomplish the impossible?  I think from what we find in scripture it would be safe to say he has a little help, whether or not he realizes it at the time.  Next week we will explore that question, and the answer might not be as simple as you believe.

Keep watching.