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.