Suppose you find yourself in unbearable circumstances.
That seems a rather odd thing to write because I am also involved with a Recovery program and, even if our immediate safety may not be at stake, our sanity might be. Having been rescued, in a sense, you often have to return to the only dry place you know, but that is where the factors that feed your instability or addiction are. At times and seasons like this, it feels like you are going to die here, and that is not what I really wanted.
It is possible that the Apostle John felt that way. First ask yourself, where is he? This dream/vision that he is having did not come to him while sleeping in the penthouse of some safe, warm hotel. He is stuck on a small island, intended for prisoners, and he might be in a cave. Why is John here? Because he is a dissident - someone who thinks differently, not conforming to government standards. The possibility that he will never know life off this rock he is living on is good.
Out of the midst of the most incredible dream a person could have, God says to him:
Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me again, saying, "Go, take the scroll that is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land." So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll. And he said to me, "Take and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey." And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter. And I was told, "You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings." (Revelation 10:8-11 ESV)
I am involved with several bible studies. The people who write the questions for them have probably been sitting in a comfortable, safe, well-lit place. As they sit there this brilliant question comes to them. How does it make you feel as you read that God is saying to you, “You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings”? Wow, my mind runs through a huge range of emotions in a moment like this:
If what I was doing got me here, would I be willing to do it again?
If it seemed as if there was no hope, what would I be hoping in this time?
Can God really come through for me?
Does he really care about me enough to get me out of here?
Hey, I am just being honest; sorry if you can't handle that. Oh, and this message that John received, it is not going to be valid or highly understandable for a couple of thousand years, which puts the message in our ballpark. Did John know all that? Because many of us in the church have lived in an expectancy of Jesus return ever since?
Think about this. Once Saul/Paul gets put back on the road as an evangelist, a huge aspect of his message is based upon on what is known from the Old Testament, and it consists of this, that Jesus is coming back soon and that we can have a strong hope in that; evidence of this comes from the letter Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica. One line there reads:
“ and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thessalonians 1:10 ESV)
And yet, Paul had to write them a second letter because someone or something had gotten them off track. They had lost their hope or, at least, had it dashed to bits. One of the prominent things I see when I read Paul's letters to this church body is that we as a church will be delivered from wrath, just as Noah was, and so was Lot. Wrath is God's punishment upon the nations – those who fight against God, and the Jews who reject him. It is not a judgment upon the church (those of us who are in Christ). And, it is a primary focus of the Revelation. That brings us to Paul's second letter, which states,
“Don't be fooled by anything they might say. That day of the Lord will not come until the turning away from God happens. And that day will not come until the Man of Evil appears, the one who belongs to hell.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3 ERV)
The turning away has a name, apostasy, and you find it in many translations. Look around you, and be honest; do you see people turning to God, or rejecting him?
On a recent Friday morning, 1/29/2016, one of my older friends shows me a portion of some thesis about apostasy. There was no title, and the author was not listed, but the theme was wrapped around judgment, sin, and hopelessness; standard religious junk. The comments I read proved to me that the author did not understand the character and nature of God. My friend asks for my thoughts and comments. When I began to share why this paper was wrong, my friend began to defend this garbage. As I thought about this throughout the day, and how I had referenced the apostasy in this post, I felt I needed to talk about the apostasy for a moment.
What apostasy is may have been best defined by John MacArthur (Note: I am not a huge fan of John MacArthur because he despises the work of the Holy Spirit, but he is very intelligent and worthy of paying attention to in many other areas.) In commenting on 2 Thessalonians 2:3, he speaks of the apostasy or the falling away, when he says,
The “Day of the Lord cannot occur until a deliberate abandonment of a formerly professed position, allegiance, or commitment occurs (the term was used to refer to military, political, or religious rebellion). Some have suggested, on questionable linguistic evidence, that this refers to "departure" in the sense of the rapture. Context, however, points to a religious defection, which is further described in verse 2 Thessalonians 2:4. The language indicates a specific event, not general apostasy which exists now and always will. Rather, Paul has in mind the apostasy. This is an event which is clearly and specifically identifiable and unique, the consummate act of rebellion, an event of final magnitude.”
So, even before I looked at MacArthur's commentary, my mind was already going in a similar direction, and, there is no doubt that there is a generalized apostasy happening all around us. I pay attention to the not-so-mainstream news, and I am aware that the Vatican is telling us that God and Allah are the same; I see churches appointing openly homosexual priests and pastors; and, we of the “civilized nations” are sacrificing babies on the altar of abortion, just as Israel did shortly after their escape from Egypt. Are we turning our backs on God? Absolutely.
The key to identifying the event MacArthur speaks of is to find the main character, which Paul does, calling him the "man of sin." That event may not have happened yet, and it may come in the form of a Presidential order, making Christianity illegal. I know, some will shout for joy at that, but what people do not think about when things like that happen is that if they can strip the rights of one group, what makes you think they will not strip your rights too. Here in America the FEMA camps, just like pow camps, are awaiting us.
The phrase, “That day of the Lord” is used many times in end times prophecy to show a point at which God/Jesus intervenes. Because of the context, I understand that this is talking about the rapture of the church.
Within verse three we see three things happening:
- The day of the Lord coming
- The turning away from God (the apostasy)
- The appearance of the man of evil.
He has different names: The man of sin; the man of lawlessness; the son of perdition; the son of destruction, and, the Antichrist. These names are translations of the same verse, however, Daniel 9:26 gives him another name, “the prince who is to come”. Look at other translations and you get "future leader"; "their leader", and, "a coming leader."
I want to add one more thing to this conversation. As I skimmed through the apostasy thesis, the author decided to make this the unforgivable sin.
Sadly, my friend seems to agree with the thesis. I pointed out quickly to him that Jesus himself gave us the definition and said it was attributing the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan. My friend, in trying to explain to one of our group that showed a few minutes later, took my position as though it had long been his. I have heard comments about committing the unpardonable sin my entire life, and NO ONE has ever given a clear definition. Then one day, just a few years ago, while studying the Gospel of Matthew, I ran across this:
“Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” (Matthew 12:31-32 ESV)
Who was he talking to, and what did they say, that drew this kind of ire? We have to back up a little bit to find the answers we need.
“Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, "Can this be the Son of David?" But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons." (Matthew 12:22-24 ESV)
Jesus had cast the demons out of a man who was blind and could not talk. However, when Jesus gets done with the man, the man can now, both talk and see. The crowds were amazed and began speaking rather excitedly about it, and this catches the ears of the Pharisees; they respond with, “ It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”
Yep, they said it. They just said that Jesus, the Son of God, was only able to operate through the power of Satan. That must have put a real bad taste in Jesus' mouth for in response to the Pharisees, we see Jesus saying this:
Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someone enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:25-37 ESV)
The Pharisees had been far enough away to espouse their murmured hatred, but Jesus knew their thoughts and began to tear into them verbally. He was very clear when he told them that they had crossed that line of unforgivable sin, blasphemy.
So, I can comfortably say, that apostasy is not the unforgivable sin.
Why are we giving this section so much attention? Because the day is coming in which so many things will happen come upon people like a sudden devastation and far too many don't seem to believe it. You might liken the coming chain of events to an F5 tornado which you can see coming. Those of us that have not experienced a tornado perceive them as a sudden event, even though the signs have been hanging in the sky for hours. Although the tornado may be somewhat random in its direction, the devastation is widespread and complete where it touches down.
I wish I could tell you who we are looking for, then you could either be aware or find something else to scoff at. I imagine John felt the same way, but Islam and Allah had not been invented as yet.
I have my opinions and I believe that one of the major players in the prophetic scheme is Islam. I think it and it's world leaders fit nicely into the prophetic scheme of things, as do their twisted beliefs and prophecies. Since we in America, at least, those who are paying attention, know we have a Muslim president, then there is the possibility that he actually could turn out to be the Antichrist. Only months ago I would have told you that was impossible, but things have changed and anything goes now. Since we know it is a man we can clearly rule out Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany.