ANTICHRIST REVEALED AFTER THE TWO WITNESSES
ANTICHRIST REVEALED AFTER THE TWO WITNESSESCopyright Š 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
It is obvious that our world, including the United States, is decaying morally. Former years were bad enough. There always has been crime. Self-seeking in our government is nothing new. However, it appears to me that matters are becoming worse.
In our own country, the Bible and Jesus Christ used to be honored. But no more. The president of our country has declared that America is not a Christian nation. It appears obvious that his ideals are elsewhere. One can see that our abandonment of God is resulting in unusual crimes and lawlessness.
Loyal Americans are endeavoring to correct this national backsliding by political efforts. They are to be honored as they seek to restore our old values. But from my point of view, they will fail. Not because they have not tried hard enough but because it is Satan who is orchestrating the weakening of the United States. He does not like us because for so many years we have held up the banner of Christ.
The reason for our decline, and that of the other nations of the world, is that we are self-willed. As long as man is on the throne, every form of desolation will result.
Antichrist is the name of an attitude, and eventually of a person. Antichrist, which is the rule of man as opposed to the rule of Jesus Christ, has been with us at least since the first century.
Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. (I John 2:18)
The only valid Ruler of the creation is God the Father. The Father has given of His authority to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore the will of Christ is the only valid will in the creation. When man becomes his own ruler, he is antichrist, that is, against the rule of Christ.
The Apostle Paul has some interesting things to say about Antichrist, who is to be revealed at the close of the Church Age. The antichrist (against Christ) spirit and attitude will be personified in a person, whether a man or a woman. Paul reflected on this personage:
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God. Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. (II Thessalonians 2:1-9)
Now, what can we learn from the words above!
First of all, the Day of Christ, the time when we are gathered together with all saints, will not come until after the great rebellion. The great rebellion against God and His Bible has begun already, at least in America, but by no means has reached its climax.
We can see the signs of the great rebellion today as people around the world are demanding their "rights." This, I believe, is an outgrowth of Humanism, an Antichrist philosophy. People who speak of an any-moment "rapture" need to read their Bible. There will be no gathering to Christ until after the great rebellion and the revealing of the man who personifies the Antichrist.
The day will come when the Temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem. The man called "Antichrist" will sit on the Mercy Seat in the Most Holy Place, and cause a statue of himself to be erected on the roof of the Temple, where Christ was tempted to exercise His own will instead of the will of His Father.
This is the abomination that causes desolation, and time for the Jews to flee from Jerusalem, because this exaltation of human self-will shall bring into the world the Great Tribulation.
He will confirm a covenant with many for one "seven." In the middle of the "seven" he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. (Daniel 9:27)
It is my point of view that "the middle of the seven" refers to the "week" during which the two witnesses give their testimony. Notice the following:
And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. (Revelation 11:3)
If we regard the events of Revelation, Eleven as taking place during seven years (a week of years), then the two witnesses give their testimony for half of that time, that is, "the middle of the seven."
Notice what takes place after God lifts the anointing that rested on Christ and His victorious saints (the two witnesses):
Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. (Revelation 11:7)
He will confirm a covenant with many for one "seven." If the "he" refers to Antichrist, it sounds to me like the rebellion against all authority will mount in intensity for the forty-two months (three and one-half years) until the final revelation of the man or woman who personifies the antichrist (man being his own god).
All of this rebellion and lawlessness must occur prior to the gathering of the saints to Christ. This is what Paul taught. He was responding to those who were teaching that the Day of the Lord already had come.
We might apply this to ourselves. Many are teaching that a "rapture" will occur any day now. But the Antichrist has not been revealed as yet. His spirit indeed is working, as we see the beginning of the drift toward the elevation of man and the resulting drift toward lawlessness.
Apparently things will get much worse before the Lord Jesus appears and gathers His saints to Himself.
At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:30,31)
And as for the gathering to Christ taking place prior to the Great Tribulation:
Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. (Matthew 24:29)
"Immediately after." The signs in the heavens heralding the appearing of Christ and the gathering of the elect to Him, shall take place "immediately after the distress of those days", that is, after the Great Tribulation.
So there appears to be no scriptural evidence for a "rapture" to take place before the Great Tribulation or before the appearing of Christ and the gathering to Him of His elect.
It seems to me that the teaching of the any-moment secret "rapture" not only is unscriptural but has left multitudes of Christians unprepared for the days of moral degeneration and the resulting social chaos that are ahead of us.
We have spoken of the Great Rebellion and the appearing of Antichrist, with the resulting Great Tribulation. These obviously must occur prior to the return of the Lord.
However, there is a third consideration, and that is the ministry of the two witnesses.
Remember, there shall be a special prophetic week of years (seven years) before Jesus returns. The rebellion against all authority, that has begun already, will increase until finally Antichrist sits on the Mercy Seat in the Most Holy Place of a restored Temple in Jerusalem, and erects a statue of himself on a wing of the temple.
During the first half of the week of years the philosophy of man being his own god will increase. During the second half of the week, Antichrist will reveal himself and the Great Tribulation will result. Tribulation and desolation always will accompany a human being representing himself as god.
But something else will be occurring during the first half of the week of years. God will pour out an unprecedented amount of His Spirit, a double-portion, Elisha amount we might say, on prepared saints.
Notice the proclamation that God was about to do this:
Then I was told, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings." (Revelation 10:11)
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:12)
And now the preparation of the saints who will bear the testimony:
I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, "Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there." (Revelation 11:1)
The measuring of the temple of God and the altar refers, I believe, to the preparing of the saints who will bear the witness. It is my point of view that the "altar" is speaking of the heart of the saint as he is brought to the place where he cries out in every circumstance: "Not my will but yours be done."
When God gives this kind of power to people it is easy for them to begin to act out according to their adamic nature, expressing their self-will, as has happened in past years with some who had been given gifts of healings and miracles.
Those who will give the last witness before the coming of the Kingdom of God must themselves be a testimony of God's holiness and righteousness. Outstanding preachers have no place here. This is a sackcloth group who do not call attention to themselves but to the nearness of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
Elisha may be the Old Testament figure who, with his double-portion, most closely prefigures the saints who bear the end-time testimony.
Who are the two witnesses? Of course, Christ is One. The other is the Lampstand drawn from the seven Lampstands of the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation. They are the church within the churches, the Firstfruits unto God and the Lamb, the conquerors.
Do you remember that Jesus said He was one Witness and His Father was a second Witness, thus the testimony of two Men is valid?
Yet the Jew could see only one witness.
So it will be in the end-time witness. The world will see only the people who are working miracles. But the real Miracle Worker, the Lord Jesus, cannot be seen. He is living in the saints who are giving the witness, just as the Father was living in the Lord Jesus when He worked miracles at His first appearing.
The Lord Jesus today is preparing us to bear this last great testimony to the world of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God. Of special importance is that we learn to live by the Life of our Lord. All sin and self-will must be dealt with. We cannot bear a true testimony of God if we ourselves are sinning; and especially if we are filled with self-will and self-seeking.
There are numerous Christian preachers in the world today seeking to bear witness of Christ. But their personal sinning and self-seeking is not a true testimony of God's Person, His will, His way, and His eternal purpose in Christ. The words may be biblical; but the character of the minister may be in question. He may be invalidating his testimony of Christ by his behavior.
There is so much evil in the world of today it is a battle to keep our mind on that which is lovely, and to avoid fretting. We just have to imagine some sort of joyous situation and keep bringing it into our mind, when we feel ourselves drifting toward hating the evil people in the governments and elsewhere.
If we yield to the desire to hate, then we lose sight of the Lord. We want to fight Satan's fire with some fire of our own. Satan always wins that battle.
It is difficult but quite possible to keep our mind on the Lord and His Glory.
When we keep in mind that the greatest testimony of all time will be given during these days of spiritual darkness and the self-aggrandizement of people, it helps us to grow spiritually instead of being overcome by the darkness.
Each person, young or old, male or female, can prepare himself or herself to participate in the last great testimony. The Lord Jesus will welcome your participation. But rememberwe must through Jesus gain victory over our besetting sins, as the Spirit of God points them out to us. We must remain in the prisons where the Lord places us until our self-will and personal ambition are burned out of us and the Lord releases us.
Never before in human history has there been such an opportunity to have fellowship with the Lord, as He prepares Himself for the final battle against evil. Never before in history has Satan been so busy, rushing about with his demons to deceive the elect so they cannot join in the battle against Satan and his helpers.
There is so much to be gained in the Kingdom in the present hour. We indeed are foolish if we spend our time and energy playing with the toys of this world.