What do we Know about The Antichrist?

When Will the Antichrist Be Revealed?

© 2023 C. O. Bishop

2nd Thessalonians 2:1-12


Several times recently, someone has expressed to me concern about “The Antichrist,” or, as he is called in Revelation 13, “the Beast.” Other questions have also come up. (Has the Tribulation already begun? Will the church go through the Tribulation?

The internet is loaded with such suggestions, and we are tempted to feel alarmed, that somehow we have “missed out!” When the Covid vaccinations were being offered, people were saying it was the “Mark of the Beast.” (It absolutely is not!) Whether you choose to take such medicines is up to you. But the “mark” discussed in Revelation 13 is definitely not something that could be hidden in a vaccination. It also is not something that can be “secretly” administered.

So, in light of all these concerns, it seems entirely appropriate that we are just now coming to a passage that will address many of those fears.

Meet the “New Fear!” (Same as The Old Fear!)

There was a fear among the believers in Thessalonica that they had somehow “missed the Rapture.” Or, perhaps, that the Tribulation had already begun. Remember, this is an account from almost 2000 years ago: They didn’t even have television, let alone the internet! But someone told them that the day of the Lord had come! Do you wonder how it happens that the same fear was triggered in Thessalonica 2000 years ago, as is being triggered in us, today? You would almost think that the same deceiver was responsible!  (And he IS!)

Paul assured them that the rumors were not true. Then he gave them the order of events that will begin the tribulation and the final countdown. Let’s read what he said:

1Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

Where did the Fear Come From?

Notice, first, that Paul begged them not to be deceived: He recognized that there were enemies involved. “Someone” may have claimed that a spirit had told them these things. Or perhaps someone said that they had been told by some “authoritative person.” Or it seems that someone had even gone so far as to write a letter, and claim that Paul had sent it to them. Paul said it didn’t matter from where the falsehood had arisen: it was simply false!

Notice that the various possible “sources” still add up to one root source. This is increasingly obvious when we consider that these specific fears and deceptions have been dumped on believers nearly continually, ever since the beginning.

Who would gain by Christians always being afraid and trying to “prepare for a coming tribulation and judgment?” (Especially, as it means we concentrate on that, as opposed to joyfully, fearlessly living out the great Commission which we have received from Jesus?)

What is the Day of Christ?

We have discussed the “Day of the LORD” (all uppercase) as it is addressed throughout the Old Testament Prophets. In the New Testament it is also called the Day of the Lord (normal capitalization.) In several places it says the “Day of the Lord” comes “as a thief in the night.”

The Day of the Lord begins with the Rapture of the Church, as seen in 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18. That is the only portion of the Day of the Lord about which it can be said, “it will come as a thief in the night.” All the rest of it is fully laid out in scripture.

It is often given in rather obscure terms, though, and that makes sense. The people who initially received the prophecy (including the prophets themselves) did not understand the message. In Daniel 12:8, 9 Daniel commented that he heard it, but he didn’t understand it! And he was told, effectively, “Write it down, close the book, and run along! The message is not for you, but rather, for the people of the end times!”

Paul’s End-Time Teaching (Eschatology)

In 1st Thessalonians chapters 4 and 5, Paul began to lay out the End-time truths, (sometimes called “eschatology.”) The first “act” in the “Day of the Lord” is the Rapture, and it sweeps directly into the Tribulation, which will culminate in the return of Christ, and the immediate “Judgment of the Living Nations.” (But John tells us this same “Day of the Lord” then continues through the Millennial Kingdom, and it will end with the Great White Throne Judgment.)

As far as I can tell, the “Day of Christ” is identical to the previously named and often referenced “Day of the LORD” (All uppercase, in the Old Testament, showing where the tetragrammaton (YHWH) is used in the Old Testament. The New Testament “Day of the Lord,” (with the lowercase “ord”) is the same event, but using Jesus’s title as “the Master:” the Lord. It is mentioned throughout the New Testament. (Especially, see 1st Thessalonians 5:2)

The only difference might be simply that the New Testament believers are specifically looking forward to the return of Christ, whereas the Old Testament prophecies were including everything from His return at the Rapture and His physical return as Judge and King, all the way through the millennial Kingdom.

When is the Day of the Lord?

In Acts 1:7, Jesus said that it is not given to us to know the times or the seasons. And, here in Thessalonians, Paul makes it clear that neither we nor any other human will know the time of His coming. We won’t know until it is too late to change anything based on that knowledge. But he does give us ample reason to not fear that we have been “left behind.”

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first,…

The Greek word translated “falling away,” here, is “apostasis.” It is where we get our English word, “apostasy.” And it means a “falling away,” just as it is translated, here. It is only used a few times in scripture, and it always is used in a negative sense. While some would like to view it as the catching away of the church at the Rapture, it simply is not used in that way. It is never used in the sense of a “rescue,” or any other “positive” thing.

However! The organized church “falling away from Christ,” and denying Him the honor due Him would be a true apostasy. In Luke 18:8, Jesus posed the question, “When the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith?” (It was a rhetorical question, the implied answer being “NO!”) But, for the complete apostasy of the organized church to occur, the remnant of true believers would have to be entirely removed from the mix, first. And that is what we saw happening, back there, in 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18…the removal of the believers.

When Will the Antichrist be Revealed?

With the genuine believers gone, the tribulation can begin, and the “Man of Sin” can be revealed. Paul goes on to describe that person and the events surrounding his entrance on the “World Stage.” (verse three continued.)

3 …and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

This is the one we see in Revelation 13 and in Daniel 9:27. He is the one we call “the Antichrist.” (He is also called the “Son of Perdition:” Ony he and Judas Iscariot are called this name…,and both end up possessed by Satan, personally. There is no other such example.)

Avoid Foolish Speculation

When I was a new Christian, many people speculated that a certain politician was “the Antichrist.” A few years later, they were pointing to a different politician. Obviously, the fifty years of history since then have repeatedly proved them wrong! People repeat this folly every time there is a politician they don’t like. But it is foolish to keep speculating! Right here, in verses three through eight, we read that the Man of Sin will not be revealed until certain things happen. One of those is the apostasy of the church at large. Another, necessarily, is the Rapture which will leave the apostasy of the church complete.

We already read in 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18, that the believing church would suddenly be removed. And then, in chapter five, immediately following the departure of the believers, we saw that the Tribulation will begin.

Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

So, this is the second letter Paul has written to the believers at Thessalonica. And he reminds them that he taught them this when he was still there with them in Thessalonica. (Paul and Silas evidently told them these things before they left town, in Acts 17! We are getting told today!)

What’s the Holdup?

And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth (restrains) will let (restrain), until he be taken out of the way.

So long as the Person, the Holy Spirit, is present, indwelling all the believers, the person of the Antichrist will not be revealed. In 1st John 4:3, we see that the spirit of Antichrist is already in the world and working. But the man called the Antichrist will not be revealed until the Holy Spirit is removed. In John 14:16 we see that the Holy Spirit will be with us forever. Therefore, when He is taken out of the way, we will be going with Him!

When Does all this Take Place?

And then (and not before!) shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

In Revelation chapter 13, we see what kind of “wonders” are in question. Notice that, right here in verse nine, Paul labels those supposed “miracles” as “lying wonders.” They are not “miracles,” but rather, they are false, and specifically intended to deceive.

Most “magicians” today are entertainers. Some are very honest, publicly pointing out that what they are doing is not magic, but rather, a trick that looks like magic. The problem is that, as humans, we are “easily deceived,” and we can be led astray by tricksters who are not honest enough to say, “ This is not magic! It is a trick!” So, we have been warned in advance that such a deceiver is coming and that he will deceive the majority of the world.

Who will be Deceived? (Notice the Tenses, Here:)

The people who (future tense) will be deceived all made choices in the past (before The Rapture unveiled the truth.) And God will (in the future) send them a strong delusion, so that (in the future) they will stick with their earlier (past tense) choice, and so face eternal judgment.

10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not  (past tense) the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall (future tense) send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might (future tense) be damned who (past tense) believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

This is similar to what happened in Egypt: Pharaoh originally hardened his own heart against God. But in the end, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he persisted in his bad decision, past the point of insanity. Everyone else knew God had destroyed Egypt, but Pharaoh was blind to that truth. Those unbelievers who rejected Christ before the Rapture will not “change their minds” when it occurs.

Unbelievers who simply never heard of Him (or who had only heard “bits and pieces,” (never enough to make any sort of decision) will hear the Gospel (through the witnesses God provides during the Tribulation) and millions of them will believe…and many will die for their faith.

But You are NOT to be Deceived!

1st Thessalonians 5:4-11 “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.

But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

So, we are to believe God, and trust Him for the future, and not be deceived by the clamoring voices in the world around us. Then we will be free to serve Him rather than constantly worrying. In doing so, we can comfort one another and build one another up in the Lord. (That is what “edify” means.) That is part of what Jesus calls us to do.

Lord Jesus, we ask that you teach our hearts to trust in you and not to be discouraged by the deceivers in the World. Draw us along to follow you faithfully and fearlessly.

Refocusing for the Last Days

Refocusing for the Last Days

© 2021 C. O. Bishop

2nd Peter 3:1-9


It is interesting to me that Peter is reminding us ofwhy he is writing: to “stir up” our new nature, through a reminder to focus on the Word of God. That is interesting to me, specifically, because that is my goal here at True Hope Christian Fellowship as well: to stir up the new nature of those who have already been born again, so that they desire the sincere milk of the Word, as Peter said in his first epistle. This is how the saints of God (defined by God as those who have entered into a covenant with Him by sacrifice…specifically, through faith in Jesus’s blood at the Cross) …this is how the saints of God grow into the servants and soldiers of God, and are manifested as the Sons of God. (Romans 8:14 says “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God.”)

The Goal of the Twin Epistles of Peter

So that is our goal: we want to give the Holy Spirit “free rein” in our lives by being obedient to His Word, since that is specifically how God has chosen to lead His people: through His Word.

1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

Peter reminds us that both epistles had the same goal: to “stir up our pure minds.” (What “pure minds?”) The only “pure minds” we have are our new natures, created by God in righteousness and true holiness, according to Ephesians 4:24. Paul had pointed out that “no good thing dwells in” our old nature. (Romans 7:18) In fact, by the end of Romans chapter seven, Paul concluded that the old nature is no longer us. God no longer sees your old nature as “you” at all. This is a hard concept to grasp, because the old nature still feels like “me.” But God says (Romans 6) that He has separated me from my old nature to the degree that He considers me dead to sin and, more than that, a “new Creation.” (2nd Corinthians 5:17) It is hard for me to grasp that I am a new creature. I don’t feel new! But I can tell something is new, in that I do desire to walk with God…where before, I had no such desire. So I know I have a new nature: I just need to learn to see my new nature as the “real me,” just as Paul did, in Romans 7:17. Just as Paul struggled with his old sin nature, which he called “the flesh,” we also struggle. But we can learn from his experience, accept by faith the fact of the new birth and the resulting new nature, and begin learning to feed that new nature and watch it grow strong and stable.

So the “pure mind” Peter refers to is our new nature, which, as we know, must be fed, strengthened and exercised.  But how is it to be fed, strengthened, exercised and “stirred up?”

He says that we are to “be mindful of” (to keep in mind…to remember…to focus on) the words of the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament Apostles. (In short, “read your Bible and apply it to your life!”) Why does he consider this to be such an important message?

The Last Days are Coming.

Peter has already told us that we are to grow through the Word. He has already told us that we are to become partakers of the nature of God through the Word. He goes on to say what the end times will hold and what our response should be:

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

Scoffers have been around since the beginning: there is nothing new about that. But the trend is growing stronger, wherein the scoffers are very vocal and very public: They loudly proclaim Jesus to have been a myth or a self-deluded fool, and that anyone who believes in Him is mentally deficient at best, and probably socially unacceptable at every level.

When the believers confidently assert that Jesus will return, they are elated, because they consider 2000 years plenty of time to “prove” that He will not return. So they loudly condemn all those who trust in His Word. They say nothing has changed in all these years, so it isn’t going to change. They make assumptions about the world and base their decisions on those assumptions. They deny the creation even happened; or they claim that the impersonal “Universe” is responsible for all things and that it has a “will” and makes choices for their lives. All of this is what we have called “pantheism” for centuries, and we have seen the wretched results of it in the nations which continued to embrace it. Life has been very cheap in those nations, and persons are not seen to have intrinsic value as individuals.

And Peter says that the day is coming when those sorts of beliefs and values will be all over the world, and that, collectively, the world will insist that it is folly to believe the Bible. They will also violently oppose those who teach it. So we have to be aware of these things in advance.

For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:

He reminds us of the Creation:

He reminds us that God spoke the World into existence! He reminds us that it was initially completely covered with water, but that God had caused the dry land to emerge from beneath the water, to stand out of the water, but surrounded by water. When we read the entire Genesis account, we see a number of things that God confirmed in His Word, and that people witnessed on earth, but which geologists claim happened hundreds of millions of years ago, and which, in any case, they only in the last century admitted happened at all! One of those is that the land once existed as a single “supercontinent” and was broken up into the tectonic plates we now see slowly drifting on the surface of the globe. Another is that the breakup actually happened within human memory! (Genesis 10:25)

But then he takes a step forward in history to the time of the flood, pointing out that God chose to use that same water that was present at the creation, to judge the earth.

And the Flood:

 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:

We know the story of that destruction, from Genesis chapters 6-9; and we can see the truth of it written in the layers of sedimentary stone all over the world. The highest peaks frequently have seashells in the strata, even on the highest peaks, showing that they were once under water. And this is repeated all over the world. Science refuses to consider the flood as a possible explanation for the phenomenon, though the evidence continues to build.

How do we “Tell time?”

The “geologic clock” can be read from the point of view of a worldwide flood, which telescoped the history of the world down to less than ten thousand years, or it can be read from the point of view that everything took millions of years to form, making the world billions of years old.

I recall, as a child, being told that the limestone caves with their hanging stalactites and great stalagmites below then took millions of years to build. Yet the concrete sidewalks through those caves, where visitors see the amazing limestone structures, and hear that solemn lecture, have stalagmites growing on the concrete, and stalactites growing from the railings. (Must be old sidewalks!)

And when the geologists first visited the Toutle River canyon, near Mt. St. Helen, immediately after the waters broke through the volcanic ash dam, they all exclaimed that, “If we hadn’t known that this happened last week, we would have sworn it took millions of years to carve away these layers of rock!” (Reaaalllly! So, what happens if you take that idea a step further, and consider the ramifications for the rest of your world view?)

One recent find, in Cornwall, England delighted me: workers in a quarry discovered the intact fossil skeleton of a whale. So they stopped work and called in the paleontologists to dig up the fossil. The problem was that the whale was fossilized upright, standing on its tail! And, no, the strata had not been tilted after the whale was buried in silt: the stratified layers of sediment were horizontal, and the whale had literally been buried “upright.” So…what are our three options?

  1. The whale died, and sank (but, you see, dead whales float, as a rule) and it slipped into an underwater chasm which subsequently filled with sediment, and then fossilized, leaving the fossil as they found it. The problem with that idea is that the layers of sediment were not broken by a different sediment as if a chasm had been filled…all the layers fully engaged with (and permeated) the fossilized whale!
  2. The whale died in a cataclysmic flood and was caught up in the roiled waves of settling silt from the flood (which naturally settle in layers by relative density and particle size,) so that it was literally buried upright, with the silt entombing it as the heavy mud rapidly filled and solidified to make the stratified layers which are visible in the rock today. (The problem with that idea is that if we believe the flood really happened, it gives credence to the rest of the Bible! And the world can’t allow people to believe that kind of stuff!)
  3. The whale stood on its tail and waited for millions of years while it was buried in all those layers of silt. (That must have been one very patient whale!)

So, the “Geologic Clock” poses some problems for the unbelieving world: to them, it clearly says that the Biblical account of the Creation is false, which adds to their confidence as they rail against God. But the fact is, they are “reading the clock” incorrectly.

What should we expect for the future?

Peter points out that the world we see today is also headed for destruction, but not by flood.

 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

Consider the horror of a prairie fire or a forest fire, or even a house-fire: This goes far beyond anything we can imagine. Colossians 1:17 says that Jesus is the one “holding all the physical world together.” (The phrase in KJV “…in Him all things consist” is usually translated, “in Him all things hold together.”) Jumping ahead to 2nd Peter 3:10, we see that the heavens and the earth will melt and pass away with a fervent heat and a great noise. If I understand Colossians 1:17 correctly, it sounds as though Jesus is simply going to “let go,” and the entire physical world will disintegrate at an atomic level, like a sun going nova! (Yep! I would call that a “fervent heat and a great noise!”) It will be impossible to escape and will spell the absolute end of the world we call home. Peter says that the same authority that created the World is going to destroy it.

When should we expect it to happen?

Looking at Revelation 20, I can see that this World will end immediately after the Millennial Kingdom age ends, and immediately before the Great White Throne Judgment.

And there is one more thing to point out in that verse: The first is obvious, that the world will be destroyed by fire. The second should be obvious, but we tend to brush over it: The coming judgment is specifically the judgment and perdition (eternal loss) of ungodly people. In that particular judgment, God’s saints will be untouched! (Remember, this means those who have made a covenant with Him by sacrifice: they have trusted in Jesus’s blood at the Cross as their blood sacrifice for sin…these are they whom God calls His saints.)

In many of the world’s judgments, wars, etc., the godly were hurt along with the ungodly. But this one is different: This judgment is only for those who have rejected God’s Grace, and have spurned His sacrifice. These are they whom God calls the “ungodly.”

The specific judgment involved, of course, is described in Revelation 20:7-15. Please remember that the Judge sitting on that Great White Throne is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. We tend to think of it as being God the Father, but according to John 5:22, it is not…Jesus said that He is the only Judge: the Father judges no one.

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

All we can say for sure is that God is never late: He is not failing to keep His Word. He is holding back that final judgment, offering time for people to change their minds. It is easy for Him to call an event in History the “day of the Lord” when, to us it seems to be over 1000 years!

The Day of the Lord, in fact, begins with the Rapture of the Church, which is the portion said to be “as a thief in the night,” but it immediately transitions into the Tribulation, which according to Daniel 9:23-27, is specifically aimed at a final purge of both the unbelieving World and Israel. Even during that tribulation, God will provide thousands of witnesses, offering salvation to anyone willing to receive it..

That seven-year period of terrible disasters on earth is cut short by the sudden appearing of the Triumphant Christ, not coming as savior, but as King. The living nations will be judged by Jesus in person, as recorded in Matthew 25:31 and following. Some will be admitted into the 1000-year kingdom on earth. Others will be sent to Hades to wait out the Kingdom age there.

But when the Kingdom age ends there will be one final rebellion, summarily stopped by God the Father, and then we will see the fulfillment of verse 7. And that final judgment, described in Revelation 20:7-15, includes the fact that Hades proper, along with all the unrighteous dead of history will be cast into the Lake of Fire. That is the end of the day of the Lord… and that is final!

So: How should we respond?

We tend to want to just “hunker down and wait it out.” But that is not what we are called to do. We, who by God’s Grace and faithfulness are guaranteed to spend eternity with Him should be driven by the priorities which drive Him. What are God’s priorities?

Well, He just said that He is “…longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Who is He patient with? The World? No…with us! He wants people saved! He desires that all would come to repentance, and even though He knows that will not happen, he wants us to act as His ambassadors, offering that eternal life to all.

There are people in each of our lives for whom we may be their only light in this dark world: How are you shining that light? Are you deliberately angling the light so that they can see their way to Jesus? Or is it just random flashes from an otherwise unstable walk with God?

If you were a pilot on a dark night, and, as you approached an airfield, you were told that the runway-lights below were actually flashlights taped to the backs of box tortoises, and that they were free to wander anywhere on the airfield, how comfortable would you feel? You would hope you could head for some other airfield, wouldn’t you? We do not want to be “wandering lights.” We need to provide stable, steady light, to show the Savior to the dying World.

We need to take this seriously, and realize just how important our testimony may be to the people with whom we live and work. You may be their last chance to choose life! Don’t turn off the lights! Walk by faith and hold forth the Word of truth.

Lord Jesus, fix our fading vision on Your face, and teach us to reflect the light of your Love and truth in the deepening darkness of our World. Raise us up as your Saints and allow us to serve you faithfully.,

Looking for the Lord’s Return

Looking for the Lord’s Return

© 2020 C. O. Bishop

2nd Peter 3:12 “Looking for and hasting unto the Day of God”


From what we see in God’s Word, we can easily see that, literally from the beginning of the Church Age, nearly 2000 years ago, the Church has been under spiritual (and sometimes physical) attack from the enemy. And yet it has grown under those conditions. I just read a very interesting comment, supposedly made on National Public Radio, to the effect that things are changing in Communist China, in part because the younger generation is turning to Christ! This is not good news to NPR, but it is good news to me! The Church has always grown under persecution! We are not warned to flee persecution, but rather, to endure it!

So, since we don’t know when He is coming back, only knowing that the Rapture of the Church is the “next major event” in His plan, what are we to do while we wait, and how are we to respond to the threats against the Church, and the many hoaxes against our peace of mind?

Should we hunker down and hide? Should we become militant and try to fight back, physically? Should we waste what little time we have, trying to argue against the endless array of accusations against God’s Word and the Lord Himself? Or do we have a definite assignment?

The problem is that, in our flesh, we all fear persecution! We want to escape it entirely! But part of the message of the New Testament is the admonition to “take up thy Cross!” Embrace the Cross! Philippians 1:29 says, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake;” The fact is, we don’t like that part of the Gospel! And we are not alone in this tendency:

The Disciples wanted the Kingdom!

As Jesus prepared to leave this world, and was saying His final goodbyes, so to speak, the disciples (evidently all of them) were still stuck on their own agenda: Acts 1:6 says, “When they were therefore come together, they asked of Him, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?”

Somehow, in my imagination, I see Jesus heaving a sigh, and once more, explaining to them the priorities of God!  But all it actually says it that Jesus clearly stated that we will not know the time of His return, thus, we will not be told, ahead of time, when the Rapture of the Church (which they knew nothing about), the Tribulation, and the Lord’s physical return, would occur: (nor, therefore, His coming Kingdom, which is what they wanted first; though, as we have seen from the scripture, the other things had to happen first! Jesus spent all of Mathew chapter 24 explaining the tribulation, and then capped it with the Matthew 25 statements as to His imminent physical return, after the great tribulation, and showed the Kingdom coming after that!

There on the Mount of Olives, in Acts 1:8, He gave the disciples their final “marching orders:” They were to be His witnesses, to the uttermost parts of the Earth!

Looking for and hasting unto the Day of God

We do have an assignment! The great commission, (Matthew 28:19-20)which was given to the eleven disciples, includes the words, “go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations,” and ends with the words, “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world (age).”

So…what had he just commanded them to do, and, more specifically, is that part of our marching orders as well? Yes, it is! The Great Commission is directed to us, simply because we are among those taught. Thus, part of how we are to respond to the sure knowledge that His return is imminent (meaning that it could happen at any time) is that we are to be doing what He asked us to do.

When we know that “company is coming” we run around, getting ready, making everything “just so,” until we know they are about to arrive. Then we try to just relax and wait to hear them in the entryway, so to speak. But that is when we know they are coming, and we know the appointed time!

In this case, it is not just “company:” it is the Master! And we only know that He is coming: we do not know when, and He clearly stated that we will not know the time of His coming! So all we can do is to faithfully be doing what He assigned, all the time, so as to not be ashamed at His arrival. There is no time when we can say, “OK, He should be here in the next ten minutes! Let’s sit down and wait!” We are to “look for and haste unto” the coming of the Day of God! We are to anticipate His imminent return and act accordingly, getting on with the job: specifically evangelism and discipleship.

So What about all the rumors and attacks?

I have had several people send me literature about “current bills in Congress” or secret agendas, conspiracies, etc. The first thing we want to remember is that our enemy is not flesh and blood. It is Satan and his emissaries. The second thing would be to look back in the Bible, and see that this sort of attack has been his “modus operandi” since the beginning: what was the first thing he did, in order to misdirect Eve in the Garden? First, he twisted God’s Word, then he flat out denied its truth, and finally, he said the words we so often hear today:  “thou shalt not surely die! For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (This is “Stuff God doesn’t want you to know.”) We are constantly presented with “things the government doesn’t want you to know,” or “things your church doesn’t want you to know,” or similar offerings. These are the root of “conspiracy theory.” These ideas are very tempting to us, just as Satan’s ploy was to Eve. It works!

So, skip forward about 4,000 years: When Paul had gone through Thessalonica and preached the Gospel of the Cross, there was immediately an uprising of people fighting against that Good News: And, their weapon? Making false accusations against Paul and his entourage, as well as against those who received them. There was very nearly a riot: the local government stepped in, and demanded a peace-bond of the believers, and that night, the believers had to smuggle Paul out of town under cover of darkness, to keep him safe. One would think that this would be the end of the Gospel in Thessalonica, but the seed had taken root! The letters to the church at Thessalonica were to that core group of believers and those whom they had subsequently led to the Lord. So…how long had Paul been teaching there? Less than three weeks, apparently. It says he taught there for three Sabbath days. So, at least two weeks, but less than four.

And what form did the subsequent attack against them (the believers) take? 2nd Thessalonians 2:2 says they were told by “someone” that they had somehow missed the Lord’s return. We have multiple cults today that tell us similar things. Well, this was one of the very first, and it began happening before the Church-age was 20 years along. Today, it is nearly 2000 years later, and the Enemy is up to the same tricks! And it is getting much easier! He no longer has to depend upon some misguided person to go out of his or her way to spread lies personally: we have the internet, and anyone who thinks it is great fun to watch Christians run for cover has only to fire up Facebook and spin a tale of conspiracy! And it works every time!

Also, for some reason, some well-meaning believers (even those well-taught in the Word) suddenly get the idea that they can “ferret out the truth” about “what God doesn’t want us to know” and figure out the date of the Lord’s return.

I remember the evening I left the missionary training camp in Baker, Oregon, in 1980. I stopped in the tiny town of Union, Oregon, to say goodbye to the little Baptist church I had attended there for two years. There was a meeting in progress, and the place was packed. So, I sat in the back and listened, waiting to say my goodbyes. The guest speaker was a well-known local preacher: the subject was “When the Lord is returning?” (Yep! That will draw a crowd all right! You see, we don’t really believe Jesus when He says we will not know.) Everyone was listening earnestly, and taking notes, writing down all he had to say: he had found a “way around” Jesus’s statement. He said “The Lord said you won’t know the day or the hour! He didn’t say you can’t know the month and the year!” (Do you see a problem with that? If we knew the month and the year, we’d only have to worry about His return for the last thirty days or so, right? That means, ultimately, we would know the day and the hour, as well, within a 30-day bracket.)

So…when was the Lord’s Return “supposed” to occur? It was “scheduled” for March of 1982! (Guess I must have missed it, huh?) It was false teaching, regardless of his honest effort to teach good doctrine. He was a good man, and a faithful man of God, but the study was doomed from the beginning, because he had taken the bait of “things God doesn’t want you to know!”

Other “Conspiracy theories”

There are other such examples: people claiming to have portions of scripture that were “left out” of the Bible, so that we Christians “aren’t playing with a full deck,” so to speak. You can look these things up, and read them: Usually, a careful reading, even in English, makes it obvious why it was left out. It simply is not authored by God, and it is obvious: it teaches contrary to the rest of the scriptures. There are many such attacks, and I don’t propose to attempt to answer them all. Look up “pseudepigraphal writings,” and you can see a long list. “Pseudepigraphal writings” means “false writings.” They were recognized as bogus epistles (or whatever they claimed to be) at the time they were first presented. It did not take the Council of Trent to disclose them for what they were. The original recipients had recognized them as false, years before.

So what about today? What is the latest buzz, today? I remember when I first became a believer, the rumor was running around that Henry Kissinger was the Antichrist. There are several problems with that sort of rumor. One, is that he does not fit the description in scripture. The biggest, however, is the fact that scripture makes it clear that we will not see the Antichrist, because he will be revealed after we are removed from the earth! The primary passage is found in 2nd Thessalonians 2…but even if we didn’t have that passage, we can see in the Revelation that the church is to be removed from the Earth in Revelation chapter four, while the Antichrist is to be revealed in chapter thirteen! This is pretty hard to get around! The same goes for the “Mark of the Beast,” which Christians have been fearing for years. “What is it?! How do I avoid it?! How can I recognize it?!) That mark shows up in Revelation 13, long after the Church is to be evacuated in chapter 4.

What about the Mark of the Beast?

Recently, more than one person sent me “documented” evidence that “the government is conspiring against us” to force us to receive an imbedded computer chip (similar to those implanted in pets, for identification purposes) and that they are “gonna do it by means of a vaccination!” (This time, it’s the COVID virus vaccine.)

I’m going to pass up the temptation to argue the obvious physical and technological objections inherent in this hoax. (And, yes, it is yet another hoax, meant to terrify the people of God and keep them from doing their assigned task.) The physical size of an implantable chip is far larger than the interior of a vaccination needle. But let’s set that objection aside, and just stick to scriptural reasoning: What three things from scripture would tell me that this is a hoax?

  1. The Mark of the Beast is to be either in the forehead or the right hand; No vaccinations are given in either of those two places: they are simply not good places to administer medicine. This alone would make me believe that “it just isn’t so!” But that isn’t all!
  2. The Mark of the Beast is a voluntary compliance associated specifically with the choice to worship the image of the antichrist (this is spelled out in Revelation 13.) No one can “slip it to you unawares!” You can’t just innocently go to the doctor for a vaccination, and come home headed for hell.
  3. The bottom line still is the fact that the Church is leaving Planet Earth in Revelation chapter four, and the Antichrist and everything associated with him is not revealed until we are gone…specifically, in Revelation chapter thirteen!

What about the “One World Government?”

We hear a lot about this. It is good to remember two things:

  1. The way the people of Bible times saw “the world” implied “the civilized world,” which, in the time of Daniel, meant the Babylonian Empire. In the time of Alexander the Great, it meant the Grecian empire, and under Rome it meant the Roman Empire. (By the way, each of these was successively larger than the ones before. But Rome never went to Canada, or Australia, etc.)
  2. When Daniel gave the prophecy regarding the world’s governments to come, in Daniel 2, it gave the progression of Babylonian Empire, Medeo-Persian Empire, Grecian Empire, Roman Empire (though unnamed) and the revived Roman Empire (also unnamed). But it was all one image: not four images. The World system of government as a whole was to be smashed by the “Stone cut out without hands.” This is the Return of Jesus.

So, how does that tie into the idea of the One World Government? If we read carefully, in both Daniel and Revelation (which are closely-linked, and, ideally, should be taught together) we see that the antichrist is plagued by wars all around him, even though he has secured that “One World Government. So it isn’t as “monolithic” as we tend to make it out to be. Remember the Revived Roman Empire of the “ten toes” of Daniel chapter 2: that “empire” is comprised of parts of the old Roman Empire. Those parts have been trying to reassemble ever since the Roman Empire imploded. Remember, Rome was never conquered, so much as it fell apart through corruption and neglect and social disunity. (Sound familiar?)

When the Czars were in power in Russia, their very name gave us a clue as to their thoughts. The name “Czar” is the Russian word for Caesar. When Kaiser Wilhelm declared himself the Emperor of the German Empire, again, we can see his intent, as the German word for Caesar is “Kaiser.”

And, according to J. Vernon McGee, when the current European Union was first organized, the treaties were not signed in Brussels, Belgium as I would have expected: They were signed on Capitol Hill, in Rome! Is the EU the “revived Roman Empire” of Revelation? I don’t know! Could they at least be a predecessor to the coming political structure over which the Antichrist is destined to rule? Sure!

But, if it is, what should our response be? To tremble in terror and find a place to dig in, and hide? Nope…but that is what the disciples were doing after the crucifixion. And Jesus came and preached peace to them! He had said, earlier, “In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer! I have overcome the World!” And that was before the Crucifixion! But now, afterward, he was speaking to them as the Resurrected Christ! And that is how he speaks to us as well! We are not to cower in fear: Jesus said “I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” That is not a recipe for helpless fear!

2nd Timothy 1:7 says “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of Love and of a sound mind.” And that is how we are to respond to the threats brought by the Enemy!

A Famous Historical Example of Satan’s Attack

Remember, back in the book of Nehemiah, the assignment was given to “rebuild Jerusalem.” In chapter four, the threat had come of an attack, specifically to prevent the people from carrying out God’s command. Their response was good. They were watchful, but they went on with the work. Nehemiah 4:18 says, “For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side and so builded.” They were prepared for an attack, but their primary attention was given to the assigned task of building the wall. (The wall was specifically what their enemies did not want built, as it once again made Jerusalem a walled city, and very defensible.)

There were other such threats, some more subtle: in chapter six the enemies tried to draw away the leader of the assembly, Nehemiah, himself. But he knew their intent was to ambush him in some way, and he said, in effect, “Sorry, I’m too busy to meet with you!”

Later they threatened to accuse him to the Emperor, saying that he was trying to make himself a king.  He called them on it, saying that it was a lie, and that they were simply trying to put fear into the hearts of the people.

In another attempt, they claimed to be “prophetically” warning him of an attack on his person. Nehemiah 6:13 states that he recognized that the man was hired to bring a false message, in order to frighten Nehemiah into dropping the work he was commanded to accomplish. The rest of the passage (Nehemiah 6:15, 16) goes on to say that even their enemies could see that the work had been done through the power of God, as they had rebuilt the entire city wall in 52 days, even when under the constant threat of attack and various means of dissuasion by their enemies.

The testimony of God’s people when under persecution and attack is important, as our response will let the World know who is really in charge in our lives. If we are easily shut down, silenced, and turned away from our assigned task as the ambassadors of Christ, they will notice! If we continue to function regardless of circumstances, then they will notice that as well.

We have to choose which kind of behavior will go on record as our “normal.” Will we be “children, carried about by every wind of doctrine,” as Ephesians 4:14 warns us not to be? Or, as 1st Corinthians 15:58 encourages us to be, will we be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord?”

Ultimately, the choice is ours! We cannot choose what events may happen in our lives, but we can choose our response! We can’t control the actions of the World, and we are not told to do so. We cannot “rewrite the book of Revelation!” Those things are going to happen! We can either:

  1. Rejoice in the fulfillment of God’s Word, and lift up our collective heads, knowing the Lord’s return is near, or we can
  2. Cower in fear, hoping to avoid things that may not be pointed at us in the first place.

Let’s choose faith, and rejoice before the Lord together, knowing that our release is near!

Lord Jesus, turn our collective and individual eyes upon you and let us leave our fears behind! Fill us with the joy of knowing that you are coming soon, and the courage born of knowing you are with us even now!