These are Stirring Days...
• What a day to be alive...!
• Strange things are happening today. World-affecting events are taking place before our very eyes. It is especially true that the world of science is advancing at a pace never before even imagined. We are seeing accomplishments never dreamed possible. There is progress in mechanical marvels, ease of living, spread of knowledge that positively dwarfs all previous attainments.
• But underneath all this accomplishment there is ominous unrest. The hearts of people are fearful and uncertain. Some of the mechanical marvels are shown to be potential monsters. It is even possible that civilization is in danger. We have new power, but will this new power be used to utterly destroy? What lies ahead? Does anyone know? Where can we find out?
• It should be no secret that the Bible has always claimed to look ahead. Without ostentation or fanfare, the Bible has calmly looked back and told of the very beginning of things. In the same spirit of assurance, the Bible exhibits the breathless secrets of the coming new heaven and new earth. Insistently, the Bible avows its ability to foretell the future. Not in the empty generalities of enigmatic, pagan-like oracles, but in sober, definite, minute predictions understandable by all.
• If this be so, does the Bible then tell of today's crisis? Is there real danger ahead for civilization? Will fearfully destructive warfare ensue? Will our boasted age of scientific achievement bring on inevitable swift death? What lies ahead...what does our future hold?
• The Bible gladly assumes its predictive task. Its ministry, among other matters is to acquaint sincere seekers after truth with the events of the future. Its pages, predictions and encouragements are offered to every sincere inquirer. No one with an honest heart and an open Bible need ever be ignorant of the future's unfolding.
• There are two stipulations for successful understanding, however. The first is that the seeker comes to know the real meaning of life as it is found in the finished work of Christ on the cross (John 14:6), The next is that one accept the gracious tutorage of the Master Teacher of the Age, even the Holy Spirit of God (John 16:13).
• With these two relationships established, the binoculars of God are yours. Lift up your eyes, look...and understand.
What Do These Mean?...
• Antichrist, Armageddon, End of the World . . . what are these?
• Let us define our terms here. Antichrist is first a quality of heart. It is the attitude of those who oppose the spread of the gospel, the knowledge of the grace of God, the heart-reign of the Son of God. It is just as the term implies...opposition to Christ.
"And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is the spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the worlds." 1 John 4:3.
• The term "antichrist" is also used in a sense of persons who are given over to Satan in his nefarious work of opposing Christ. The philosophy of their lives is that of antagonism towards Him. They are of the world, and are under the rulership and direction of the Prince of this world. They may be educated, positioned and even refined, but the aim of their life is away from God, opposed to Christ, and toward the gratification of their fleshly selves.
"Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time." 1 John 2:18.
• But the main usage of the term in Scripture is that of one person, the Antichrist. This strange person will be a man wholly given over to the will and purpose of Satan. He will be the personal culmination of the age-long spirit of antichrist, and the many "antichrists" of the centuries. To a large degree, he will personify the climax of the conflict between good and evil, between God and the Devil.
• He is called in Scripture by various names such as the Man of Sin, the Beast, the Son of Perdition, that Wicked One. But he is in every sense a man, although wholly imbued, given over, ruled and directed by the Devil himself.
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition." 2 Thess. 2:3.
• The time of his revelation is that of the Great Tribulation, immediately following the rapture of the Church. His period of destiny is that of approximately 7 years. His sphere of operation is the whole world. His doom, the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.
• By him shall be forever settled the question of good versus evil, right against wrong, God and the Devil.
• The word "Armageddon" means the hill of Megiddo. In turn, Megiddo means slaughter. It is well named, for perhaps no other spot on the face of the earth has known so often the tread of marching armies and has been so often drenched with human blood.
• Geographically, it is a spacious valley west of Jordan and in the northern section of Israel. Shaped somewhat like a triangle, it is approximately 20 miles each way with ancient and modern highways leading north, south and east.
• But for our consideration, Armageddon has come to stand for the great climactic battle of the Tribulation period. Let us think of the chain of events leading to it.
• This age of Grace began with the death and resurrection of Christ and the advent of the Holy Spirit into the world at Pentecost. It has already run a course of over nineteen long, bitter centuries. It will end with the rapture or translation of the Church.
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air..." 1 Thess. 4:16, 17.
• Concurrently, the great Tribulation period shall be ushered in with the Antichrist swiftly advancing to a place of prominence and power. For a period of nearly 7 years he will lead the entire world from a worship of God into a worship of Satan using every means at his command.
• The heavens will be strangely silent for we know that this is Satan's hour and the power of darkness. Completely drunk with stolen power he will marshal the armies of the world, a stupendous host, to blatantly defy the God of heaven. The place will be Armageddon. The incident will be the wrathful determination on the part of the Antichrist to completely exterminate the Jewish nation.
• But God has chosen Armageddon. This field of battle was ordained long before the world began. Here is the final showdown. This is the divinely decisive battle between right and wrong, between God and Satan.
"And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue, Armageddon." Rev. 16:16.
• The outcome of the battle is sure. God will triumph. . . . Satan will be vanquished, right will be vindicated, God's chosen people will be delivered. And from that time forth, and throughout eternity's ages Armageddon will be a symbol of the power, strength and victory of God.
God and Evil...
• We shall never understand the unbelievable rise of the Antichrist and the holocaust which is Armageddon until we see that these are the God-permitted culmination of the centuries of evil.
• Where did evil arise?
• No serious-minded person can doubt the existence of the conflict between good and evil. It is only too frightfully apparent on every hand. No community is free from its ravages. No society has ever known independence from its slavery. Actually, no one has need to look beyond the sphere of his own inner life to observe the daily battle being waged.
• There's no problem as to where goodness has originated. God is in Himself perfect righteousness. His every act is a righteous act. Justice, purity, holiness, goodness, truthfulness are the hallmarks of His person. All that is good in the universe has come from Him and by His power.
• The problem is rather the origin of evil. For, if God is the Author of everything that is righteous, from whence then, sprang evil? How did it come into being? Who opened the door for its existence? For a long time philosophers have pondered this problem.
• But the Bible tells the story frankly. God is the great Creator of all things (Genesis 1:1). Creation occurred in the beginning. How long ago that was, God has not seen fit to tell us. But if we are to believe the testimony of geology it must have been a long time back. This was also before the much more recent advent of Adam and Eve.
• One of God's creatures in this early creation was a beautiful, wise and powerful Angelic Being called Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-17). He is described as the "anointed Cherub that covereth" or protects (Ezekiel 28:11-19). Many, in studying these passages, have concluded that Lucifer was appointed a prince over the angelic host and commissioned to defend the very throne of the Almighty.
• From a study of the passages involved, it seems that dire tragedy struck. Lucifer's heart became filled with pride. He chose to be what God had not planned him to be. Strange as this may sound, there was rebellion in paradise and God was forced to bring swift and inexorable judgment. Lucifer became Satan. His rebellious followers became demons. He was cast out of heaven to the earth.
Always in Conflict...
• Evidently the earth too, received the judgment of God. For long ages it remained under an icy blanket of watery darkness. Then one day God began the work of rehabilitation and reconstruction. The six days of Genesis one are days in which God makes ready the earth for a new tenant, Man.
• His name is Adam and his lovely companion and counterpart Eve. Created fresh from the hand of God, the Adams are placed in an ideal environment, Eden. Everything necessary is provided for their comfort. God's peerless fellowship is freely offered for their delight. Work is given to occupy their time, and solemn warning is given of the danger of transgression.
• But sin rears its ugly head here too. Using a serpent, Satan tempts God's new creatures to disbelieve Him. He subtilely suggests that God does not mean what He says, and more he diabolically intimates that God is unjustly keeping something from them which they should possess.
• Tragedy again. The forbidden fruit is eaten. God's command is broken. Sin enters and death's separation with sin. Adam and Eve are driven from God's presence. Hard labor, sweat and tears are now their lot. Sin comes easy, for their natures are sinful. Their firstborn and the firstborn of all the earth becomes a premeditated cold-blooded murderer.
• The Bible unfolds the sad story. Evil grows, and with such proportions until there is no recourse. God is forced to wipe out civilization with a flood of water and start again. Meanwhile God's will and direction are available through divinely appointed avenues. God's prophets were repeatedly raised up to call attention to His benevolence and authority. But to little avail. Evil continues and grows worse.
• Finally, in the fullness of time, God sends His only begotten Son into the world. Christ comes to rescue man from his lost estate and to fully and finally deal with evil. The price is paid and the price is the life of the Son of God Himself.
• Following His resurrection and the ascension, the battle between good and evil, outwardly, seems to continue. But there is now a truly efficacious remedy. Those who trust Christ as Saviour are forgiven all their sins. Their destiny is secure in the hands of God. What remains is only the passing of time to exhibit the complete carrying out of the doom of Satan and the triumph of good over evil.
• Thus we may dimly see God's strategy. It is to allow evil to grow to its ugly, frightful maturity and then to crush it forever.
Present Day Battle...
• Today the mournful story continues. Present day conditions seem to intensify and magnify the conflict. A rather strange paradox exists. Never do we see either good or evil completely triumph. While the tide has at times seemed to favor one or the other, we have never seen evil absolutely predominate or good perfectly conquer.
• The battle still rages. On one side there is much good. The church is established on a world-wide basis. In some lands more than others, but in every land there are spires of Christian churches seen. The world's circumference has heard the marching of the soldiers of the cross, and has seen the banner of Christ raised aloft.
• Missionaries by the thousands have left home and country to unselfishly go forth to live and preach the message of salvation. As they have gone, churches have sprung up, hospitals have been built, schools begun. Those to whom they minister have received the story and have come to know the salvation of God.
• The printing press has come into a great ministry. The Bible has become and continues to be the world's best seller. Millions of copies are printed yearly, with the gospel portions running into the hundreds of millions. Translators are busy at work earnestly seeking to reduce to writing the remaining world's languages in order that in these too, the Bible might be translated.
• Certain societies have accepted the challenge to place gospel messages in every home, in unreached lands. Mission boards have espoused the establishment of magazines which become paper missionaries to newly literate millions.
• Radio transmitters have been erected in strategic corners of the world and have beamed their towers to reach the far corners of the globe with the broadcasted story of the love of God as it is found in Christ. Meanwhile simple radio receivers have been placed in cities and villages where the message of the towers might be heard.
• World statesmen, educators and scientists have sincerely stated that if the world is to survive there must be victory of good over evil. Kings and parliaments have soberly declared that only by cooperation can civilization survive.
• And yet it is common, if chilling knowledge, that the world sits not merely on a powder keg, but on a hydrogen bomb. The world has never lacked, nor does it lack today, the quota of demagogues, charlatans, would-be-dictators and madmen. Overnight earth's uneasy peace and safety could be exchanged for the most horrible destruction and bloodshed. What is the true picture?
• The church of Jesus Christ is split into innumerable, disagreeing factions. Efficiency is lost by poor support and indecision. The force that could lead the world for good and for God is dissipated by jealousy, lethargy and worldliness.
• The brave but wholly inadequate number of missionaries which have gone forth are losing the battle. The rising tide of pagan population is easily winning. And the home churches are seemingly more concerned with imposing buildings and expensive fixtures than in reaching the millions who are lost.
• There is more wealth than ever before in the world's history. But it is being spent in luxuries and riotous living. In so called Christian America easily a hundred-fold more is spent in pleasure and intemperance than in preaching the gospel. Literally hundreds of millions are spent in frivolity.
• Crime is increasing at an alarming rate. The cost in dollars is frightening enough, but the cost in broken hearts and blasted homes is enough to make the angels weep. Nor is this the whole story, but our youth, even the tender ages, are learning crime to practice it with a fervor of hardened criminals.
• You would think one world war was enough. But within the space of two score years we have seen another, more devastating than the former. And today, mankind has within his power, enough explosive machinery to literally blast civilization from the face of the earth.
• Nor is the battle of evil only of bombs and bullets. Sinister forces are seeking to enslave the minds of men. Evil propaganda has issued forth from press and wire to sell the world on diabolical false doctrine. Cults of pseudo-religion flourish as never before. Old world paganism makes new strides for propagation.
• We speak soberly. Never before in the world's long history has the issue of good versus evil been so pointed as today. Which is to win? Will it be God, or will it be the Devil?
• Many of God's most spiritual servants feel that the crisis is upon us. The conflict must be decided soon. What will happen? And how soon?
God Prepares for the End...
• Many people have earnestly wondered . . . why doesn't God do something? Why doesn't He wipe out evil forever? How long before He brings into judgment the Devil and his friends?
• Be assured that God is doing this very thing. Never has His plan been delayed, never frustrated. God has foreseen the whole march of evil and planned its ultimate destiny. For reasons which are part of His infinite wisdom, He has allowed sin and unrighteousness to exist and grow only that He might someday extinguish it forever.
• Even though many have missed it completely, the Bible has tersely traced the whole story of sin, step by step. From its calamitous entrance into the life-stream of humanity, unto its complete abolishment in a new earth where righteousness and peace shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, the entire account is available to the persistent Bible student.
• Some of the story has already been written in blood and bitter tears. Much still remains to be accomplished. But the whole drama must be enacted. The true character of sin must be shown clearly for what it is. And in it all, God must be vindicated.
• The startling news is that we have definitely entered the period of the end. Of this there can be little doubt. Events are taking place which unmistakably point to the final consummation. God is seen to be moving. The actors of the coming day of horror are already standing in the wings. It is entirely possible that many who live today will view the complete doom of sin in their lifetime.
• Nothing can hinder the fruition of the plan of God. For in truth, all of this was decided upon before the world began This is part of the goal of living. This is the realm of God's innermost thoughts. Evil was allowed in order that God might bring good, that mankind might turn from the wrong and look to the right. It is God's wise purpose to populate Heaven with those who have chosen to go there. Yet, not one can choose the right unless there is opportunity to turn from the wrong. Someday this will all be clear. But today we can accept it knowing that our God doeth all things righteously.
• The important thing is that we understand the day in which we live. This is the beginning of the end. The final consummation is not far off.
First, the Rapture...
• The thrilling event which will both mark the end of the day of Grace and open the door for the Great Tribulation is the rapture or translation of the Church. Before our Lord returned to glory He told the wonderfully good news to His own dear ones (John 14:1-6). This expectation has lived constantly in the hearts of believers from that day to this. But today this "blessed hope" is more widely known than at any time since the first century.
• Specifically speaking, this is not the second coming of Christ. Rather this is the rapture, or the catching up, of the true Church. Every living born-again believer will suddenly be lifted up out of this life to meet the Lord, with the believers who have gone on before, in the air (1 Thess. 4:13-18). So shall we ever be with the Lord.
• No one knows the day nor the hour of this meeting. This has been part of God's wisdom. Rather, He has planned that we be ready at any hour to be caught up. Such a prospect becomes a purifying hope, deterring Christians from engaging in pursuits that are related to worldliness.
• Such will be the believer's glorious entrance into heaven and fellowship with the Triune God. He will not have to pass through death's gates, but will be instantly transformed and thereby made into complete readiness, both body and soul, for heavenly living (1 Cor. 15:51-53).
• For a short time at least, there will not be a single believer upon the earth, all having been translated. Without a doubt, horror and consternation will sweep from one end of the world to the other. The question on everyone's lips will be that of the missing ones?
• But remember, the rapture is the signal for the opening of the time of the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21). This is the first page of Satan's diabolic day. And he will, no doubt, have some subtle cunning excuse to explain away the amazing miracle.
• Here then, is the beginning of the Devil's hour. Evidently, God temporarily withdraws His hand, recalls the Holy Spirit, catches up the believers, and for a brief space allows the Devil to do his fiendish worst. But Satan has also been preparing for this moment. He aims to bring the world to his feet...in worship. In order to do this, he must needs have a man, a symbol, a system. This too, he has prepared, and the man is the Antichrist.
Antichrist is Revealed...
• Christ was born as a babe but evidently the Antichrist will be revealed as a full-grown man. Do not expect him to be announced as the Antichrist, however. Satan's strategy will be to herald him as the returning Christ. He will call attention to the Bible promises of the Lord's return and will point to his puppet as the fulfillment.
• Antichrist will be a Gentile. This is made almost certain by his figurative emergence from the sea (Rev. 13:1), The sea in Scripture is a symbol of the nations. Some have thought that his age will be an exact 33 to counterfeitingly correspond with the age of Christ at His ascension.
• His depraved character partakes of the lightning swiftness of a leopard, the incorrigible cruelty of a bear, the brazen brute strength of a lion, all covered over with the polished diplomacy of a master strategist (Rev. 13:2). On a worldly basis, he will be invincible.
• From where he arises we do not surely know. But somewhere along the line, a man has surrendered his body and soul entirely to the infamous program of Satan. To him Satan bestows his power, his seat or throne as the Prince of this world, and his great authority as usurping King.
• Satan's use of counterfeiting is well known. Here, however, it will reach its atrocious worst. There will be a (counterfeit) Trinity proposed, with Satan assuming the place of God, the Father, the Antichrist as God the Son, and the False Prophet as God the Holy Spirit.
• It is no secret that the deep down, iniquitous ambition of Satan has always been to receive what is due to God alone, that is, the worship of men's hearts. In this day of vile dereliction, Satan will strive to realize this ambition. Standing directly behind the Man of Sin, the Devil will soon demand the worship of the world under pain of torment, torture or death.
• It is generally believed that the Antichrist will be catapulted into world-wide prominence almost overnight. Not that he may not be known beforehand. But the sudden event of the rapture and the perplexity of people will call loudly for someone who knows the answers. But the wily, hellish cunning of the Devil will have the answer. Christ has returned. Here he is. It could be something like this that will bring the coming world dictator into international prominence in almost less time than it takes to tell it. So, the stage is set, the actors are ready, the time is here, and with the false peace, the growing storm, and the horrors of satanic delusion, the events come swiftly to pass.
• It is entirely possible that the Antichrist lives today. He may be a personage already known to the world. Possibly he is to be found in the current world organization now functioning. There seems to be little doubt that at his introduction he will immediately become a world political figure. One of the first points of his description concerns the symbolic heads, horns and crowns (Revelation 13:2; 17:9-13).
• His seven symbolic heads we are told are seven hills on which a false religious system sits. Without a doubt this links him with the ancient city of Rome. Coupled with this we have the coinciding teaching of Nebuchadnezzar's dream image of the rise and fall of world empires (Daniel 2, especially verses 40-45). Undoubtedly the political headquarters of the Antichrist will be in Rome.
• Along with seven heads, the Beast is shown to have 10 horns. This too is explained in a later passage (Revelation 17:12- 14), where the coalition of 10 Kings or nations supports the Antichrist in his world rule. The ten crowns on the head of the Beast symbolize the immense power which will be in his hands as world Dictator.
• Satan will evidently find it necessary to endeavor to authenticate the claim of the Antichrist concerning his being Christ. Three times in this present chapter (Rev. 13) an unusual matter is presented. First it is said that "one of his heads was, as it were wounded to death; and the deadly wound was healed." Later the wound is said to come by the sword.
• We fully realize that the outstanding certification of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ is His resurrection. Religious leaders have lived and died but only Christ is resurrected. Apparently the wound by the sword is further corrupt fraud on the part of Satan to endeavor to deceive the world into believing that the Man of Sin is the Christ. Not that this is true resurrection, for God alone possesses the keys to life and death. But this is base trickery calculated to prove that the Beast is Christ. But results are achieved. For all the world "wonders" after the Beast, and as a result, they readily proceed to worship Satan who stands in the shadows behind.
• While it is possible for the Antichrist to be in the world at this present moment it is not possible for him to become known internationally until the rapture of the Church and the consequent taking away of the Holy Spirit (2 Thess. 2:1-12). The hindering influence in this passage is of course, the ministry of the Holy Spirit in and through the lives of Christians today. All of this will be radically changed at the translation of the Church thus opening the way for the deceit of the coming world Despot.
• What kind of a man is Satan's masterpiece? We all are familiar with the peerless qualities of the Son of God, our Lord. He is the embodiment of all that is just, holy, good and loving. His descriptive biography in nine words is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control (Galatians 5:22,23). Without any attempt at exaggeration He is said to be altogether lovely.
• The Antichrist as described by the inerrant Word of God, is diametrically opposite. His character likeness to wild beasts is indicative. He is likened to a leopard, a bear, a lion. All three are vicious, ferocious, rapacious. So he will stop at nothing to attain the gratification of his bestial desires.
• False pride seems to be a keynote in the Beast's character. So was pride the fatal sin of his precursor. It was because Lucifer's heart was lifted up with pride that he organized the rebellion against the government of the Almighty (Ezekiel 28:15). So it is with the Beast who, with unbelievable conceit, imagines himself to be a God, taking his seat in the temple and demanding the worship of men's hearts.
• Lest you wonder how such unforgivable blasphemy should ever be allowed to take place, may I remind you that this is the Tribulation period and Satan's day, and the day of the rule of naked sin. God is allowing sin to demonstrate in an unforgettable way its true character.
• With pride the Antichrist possesses a vile, blasphemous tongue. He hesitates not a minute to curse God, and to blaspheme all the holy ones in heaven. Without regard for anyone he opens his mouth and pours forth a stream of malediction. Out of the blackness of his heart, he profanes the name of God, the words of Christ, the works of the Almighty. Heaven and the saints which are there are targets of his insolent, vile tongue. He regards not anyone but himself. So great is his blasphemy that even the sin-hardened world of this evil day reels back on its heels at the blistering curses of the Beast.
• He is wise, but his wisdom is the infernal cunning of the pit of hell. As Satan is said to be the father of all lies, so his Beast is master of deception. He is said to be proficient in "all deceivableness of unrighteousness" or great seduction to evil and wicked deception. The whole world will come under the dishonest perfidy of his lying tongue. People will not know what to believe. It will be the day of gross deception. And in addition, God will send strong delusion that they may believe a lie. What a frightful day in which to live.
• He will be absolutely ruthless as far as religious belief is concerned. While at the beginning of the Great Tribulation, all true believers will be suddenly removed, still many evidences of God will remain, as for example. Bibles, Christian books and people who once heard the gospel. Some of these will believe. Others will be influenced through the ministry of God's witnesses for this period, a great company will call on God.
• On these the Antichrist will vent his hellish spleen. The choice will be to utterly surrender any vestige of belief in God, or suffer the punishment of torture and death. The aim of the Antichrist will be the complete extirpation of everyone who believes in Christ or worships God. And he will be frightfully successful, for we read of the cry of those who were cruelly murdered as they call upon God for vindication (Rev. 13:7; 6:9-11).
• The number of his name is 666. Numbers in scripture always have an important significance. Six has always been the number of man, his deeds, his accomplishments. Here the number 6 is compounded. This is then man's efforts to the uttermost. This is the logical extent of what unaided man can do. This is representation of the innate sinfulness of the heart of humanity without the restraining power of God. The Antichrist here becomes the symbol of all the depraved qualities of the natural man.
• The nation Israel comes under the special hatred of Satan's Man of Sin. In a particular sense, Israel has always stood for God. The choice of God, the power of God, the imminence of God has always been demonstrated by this called out nation. It is impossible to erase the remembrance of God from the earth while Israel remains. Therefore, all the pent-up hatred and loathing of Satan against God and God's ancient people is let lose (Rev. 13:3,4; 13-16). Only by divine intervention is the nation preserved.
• God has never left the world without a witness. And while the Church is removed from the shameful scene, God's special 144,000 witnesses go forth. These meet with varying receptions. But the Antichrist's wrath is extended, and his command is that everyone be slain. The same vicious treatment is given to the Two Witnesses in the sacred city (Rev. 11:3-14).
• God's x-ray picture of humanity without Christ is the magnified description of the character of the Antichrist (Romans 3:10-18). In him will all the unrighteousness, impurity, vice, lawlessness of sin come to a visible head. Antichrist is sin incarnate.
His Rise to Power...
• It is not only possible, but highly probable that the Antichrist is alive today. From what particular nation he arises, or the way in which he came to sell his soul to Satan, the Bible does not say. Evidently he will appear as a fully grown man ready to stride to world power the instant the rapture of the Church occurs.
• It seems perfectly logical that he could be openly presented to the world by means of the present existing world organization. His claim to rule will be the extraordinary, irresistible wisdom which he presents as the answer to vexing world problems. His first bid for recognition may come from his seemingly plausible explanation of the sudden vanishing of all Christians from the world scene. One must remember that at this time God is to send "strong delusion" (2 Thess. 2:11) upon the world which will render men easily susceptible for the lying deceit of Satan.
• The world has long since looked and longed for the ideal Man. Someone to lead the masses to their Utopia of peace and plenty. Antichrist will offer himself as just such a Leader. He will no doubt be in possession of all the blandishments of a super Demagogue. Not that he will suggest his relationship to the Devil. Rather, his first approach will be that of pious religion. He will claim to be Christ, returned. He will point to numerous passages in the Scripture to prove his point. It may be that he will also possess pseudo scars of the nail prints in his hands and feet.
• The world will readily fall for him. His rise to world prominence could be the work of a day or week. His supernatural wisdom, his satanic diplomacy, his unusual ability to do things will bring him tumultuous acclaim almost immediately. And his uncanny, supernatural, almost sinister sagacity, his power to see an answer to problems which have vexed the nations for centuries, will send him swiftly to the seat of world Leader.
• He will not show his true aims yet. First, there must be the mask of the super statesman. He has come to rule. Is that not what the prophets have written and the poets have sung of . . . Christ? So, there must be miracles too. First, there will be a demonstration of his power over life and death. In some gigantic hoax. Antichrist will be killed, will lie in state perhaps and will suddenly come forth to life, and the world will gasp, the air will be filled with their deafening shouts of acclamation. Surely this is Christ and the millennium is come!
• The Bible solemnly tells it. At first, there is to be peace. You can see a four-point main outline of the great characteristics of the Tribulation in the four horses and their riders (Rev. 6:1-8). The white horse and his rider symbolize peaceful methods of the attainment of the goals. The red horse symbolizes war which must inevitably follow, for God's witnesses and God's testimony are still in the world and there is no way to silence such but by death. Follows a black horse which means destitution, famine, starvation. The rich are not harmed, but the poor will suffer. This is the Antichrist's plan, however, and its purpose to bring to pass his nefarious aims. The fourth horse is the color of green livid death. This too, is a horse ridden by the Beast and symbolizes this tool for his brutal purposes.
• But all this does not come at once. The Antichrist begins in a flurry of accomplishment. Even the thrice-vexing Jewish question is apparently solved. The nations of the world enter into an agreement to live and let live as far as the Jew is concerned. A high-sounding treaty, guaranteeing the integrity of the nation Israel is solemnly signed. The Jewish people are told to go ahead and follow the pursuits of peace, science, medicine, literature and the arts. Their lives will be safeguarded, their land will be preserved. The weight of the armies of the world organization are pledged for Jewish safety. The age-old question of the rights of the nation Israel is answered for all time.
• When once firmly seated on the world's throne, the Beast moves more nearly toward his goal. Not only does he present himself as the promised Christ, but he is to be worshiped as such. Without a doubt the news agencies of the world are brought into line. The newspapers, magazines, radio, television and any and all media of information are harnessed to one great aim. The hue and cry is "Who is like unto the Beast and who is able to make war with him?" (Rev. 13:3-5). The saturating propaganda does its foul work and the world first wonders and then worships. Nor is there anything lacking in his ability as a speaker. He has a mouth that is capable of anything, and he demonstrates it by every means possible.
• He speaks first in soft tones, then in progressively louder harangue. He speaks great things of himself and the power he represents. But lest there should be worship ascending to God on this behalf, he soon makes it clear that he is not referring to the God of heaven, for such a God is a blasphemous one, as are those that dwell in heaven. There is protest here, but the protesting ones are swiftly silenced in their own blood (Rev. 13:4-7).
His Reign of Terror...
• We know there is a blessed Trinity of righteousness, God the Father, Christ the Son and the ever blessed Holy Spirit. In the time of the Great Tribulation Satan will counterfeit with a Trinity of Evil. He himself will assume the place of God the Father, the Antichrist will assert that he is Christ, and the False Prophet will propose that he is the Holy Spirit What a conniving unholy triumvirate to receive the poor wretches of the world!
• The False Prophet is said to arise out of the earth (Rev. 13:11). This is in distinction to the coming of the first Beast who arises from the sea. If the sea is symbolic of the nations (Rev. 17:15), and the earth or land is symbolic of Israel, we might conclude that the False Prophet will be from the Jewish nation.
• His description shows him to have two horns like a lamb. This is a pseudo symbol of meekness and gentleness. Also, there is a strong religious significance in the use of the lamb symbol. Possibly, the outward appearance of the False Prophet will be utterly deceiving as far as his true character is concerned. He will seem to possess all the loving gentleness of the Spirit of God, while underneath his heart is full of sulphurous hatred of God, and all consuming ambition for Satan's exaltation. Here is the Antichrist's henchman, ready to do his unholy will.
• He does not lack for ability to speak. As soon as he opens his mouth you think of a dragon. His aim and purpose is to exalt the person and the program of the Beast. He calls upon the world to worship him and the power he represents.
• Apparently there is something very special about the deception of the wound of the Antichrist which is healed (Rev. 13:3, 12, 14). This is a foremost theme of the propaganda. Possibly, this is the one outstanding quality which stamps the Beast as above all other leaders which have gone before him.
• Nothing more is said in the Bible concerning the False Prophet until the doom of God upon these takes place. But we are to understand that the mission of this second member of the false Trinity is to exalt and magnify in every way possible the ministry of the first.
• Evidently the same abundant supply of diabolical wisdom and power that was available from Satan for the Beast is also available for the prophet. He exercises the same authority. His mission is to enslave the hearts and minds of men. In order to accomplish these aims, he is given access to power to work mighty miracles.
• These are no ordinary phenomena in an age of advancing science. But strange, inexplicable wonders that call attention to the person rather than the miracle. You may wonder why such are allowed, and where is God when these things occur, but remember this is no ordinary time, for God is allowing Satan to do his worst. It will be tragically true that many people who are deceived have had the knowledge of the true gospel since childhood and continually rejected it. More than that, God still has his witnesses, who are impervious to the fiery darts of the Monsters of Evil until their witnessing is complete.
• One of the greatest of the deceiving signs is that of calling down fire out of heaven. You will remember that such a miracle once attested to the power of the true God as opposed to false gods (1 King 18). Now apparently at will, the False Prophet uses this sign to attest to the false premise that the Antichrist is the Christ of God.
• In addition, there is another all-important miracle. A great image of the Antichrist is erected. This could be made of marble or possibly of Gold. This calls to attention another King who did something of the sort (Daniel 3). But this image has something which Nebechadnezzar's had not. That is, the ability to speak. In some strange way the image is said to possess life. This ability to speak and the life possessed is used to bring death to all who will not worship the Beast.
• In the False Prophet's realm of operation is economic strangulation if anyone fails to comply with the command to worship. Throughout the length and breadth of the nations the edict is given that all, both small and great, rich and poor should receive a certain identifying mark which evidently will tell of their willingness to worship. This mark, and we do not know what the mark is, is to be worn so that it can be readily seen. It is to be in the forehead, or in the right hand.
• This mark is absolutely necessary for business operation and really for life itself. For all businesses are denied operation to either buy or sell, manufacture or distribute, unless they knuckle under. For the average person there can be no holding a job until they agree and no purchase of food, clothing, or goods without compliance.
• What is the significance? We must remember that the all enveloping ambition of Satan is for worship. All the activities of both the Antichrist and the Prophet are directed to obtaining this worship. So, without a doubt, the mark of the Beast is the agreement on the part of the individual and family that they are committed to daily, regular worship of the Devil.
Antichrist and the Church...
• How will Antichrist regard the Tribulation church?
• Actually, the church of this time will be a church in name only. At the instant of the rapture (1 Thess. 4:13-18), the entire true Church will be immediately translated to glory. But the professing church will be little affected. The membership rolls of many congregations will suffer no loss whatsoever.
• With the spiritual element gone, the professing church will follow the suggestions of its leaders and unite on a worldwide scale. Without a doubt, the invitations of the Roman Catholic church to come in under its banner will be readily accepted, and sooner than ever anticipated, there will be a politically powerful, though spiritually dead, church which will encircle the world.
• Pomp and ceremony, empty ritual and meaningless messages calculated to offend no one will be the order of the church's program. Everyone will be invited to join and the bars of membership will be wiped out altogether. The supposed fatherhood of a benign God will be taught, and the entire freedom of action for human behavior will be allowed.
• Ostensibly the worship of God will be continued. His name will be addressed in prayer. His praises acknowledged. But the truth of the Bible will be displaced by the superficialities of humanism. No one will care much or regard seriously the claims of a true and righteous God.
• By some grand scheme the church will swiftly become fabulously rich. The almost incalculable riches of the Roman Catholic church will be unearthed for use. Wealthy men will put their abundance into its coffers. All this will be used to further a grandiose scheme by which the church will lay plans to bring all tribes and nations into this elaborate project of world-brotherhood where everyone will supposedly love his neighbor. All of this without the living Christ.
• With these magnificent plans the Antichrist will be in outward agreement. While not disclosing his secret purposes, he will go along and offer to allow the tremendous world church to "ride" his amazing unprecedented ascent to world popularity (Rev. 17:3). While not yet heading the church organization, he will suggest the closest outward cooperation and through his favor as world Dictator it will seem as if the long awaited millennium of world peace, world brotherhood and world prosperity is about to emerge.
• But all this outward show of mutual regard and willing cooperation is just a blind. Deep in the heart of the Antichrist and deeper still in the heart of Satan is a fierce hatred for anything which even savors of the name of God. The mighty world church is a deceitful counterfeit of the most sinister order. But still, even outwardly there is a form of worship to God, and a reliance of sorts upon the great principles first enunciated in the Bible. With even this distant relationship to deity the Antichrist can have no part. For the burning, consuming passion in the heart of Satan is to know for himself the worship of the world of men's hearts.
• Suddenly, without warning, and without seeming provocation there is complete about face in the policies of the Antichrist, and his coalition of nations. In the space of perhaps a day, an unconscionable edict is given to utterly destroy the existing church in all its ramifications. Lands, buildings and riches are unjustifiably confiscated. Leaders are imprisoned. The program of world brotherhood is stopped in its tracks. The Scripture puts it: "these shall hate the whore [the prostitute woman, typifying the false church], and shall make her desolate, and shall eat her flesh, and shall bum her with fire" (Rev. 17:16).
• To be sure the world will be thrown into confusion, but so great will be the rising power of Satan's Man of Sin, and so deep will be the "strong delusion" (2 Thess. 2:11), upon the people of earth, that they will be irresistibly drawn along with the program of coming destruction.
• Possibly at this psychological moment the news of the newly erected image of the Antichrist will be flashed to the world (Rev. 13:14, 15), and the people will be both amazed and terror-stricken by the ability of this monster to kill. It may be too, that the tightening noose of world regulations shall be made public and all will know that they will neither be allowed to buy or sell except on certain conditions.
• This could also be the time when Antichrist lays down an ultimatum for the Jewish nation to either give up the worship of their fathers, the sacrifices of their Temple, or suffer the total extermination of their race (Daniel 9:27; Matt. 24:15-26; Rev. 12:13-17).
• For a brief period, Satan will come to know the atrocious fruit of his accursed heart. He will be worshiped by men. Not in the pure, true worship of sincere hearts but by men who, in abject terror, worship the hideous, frightful, monster-god who otherwise threatens them with vicious death. Never again will this occur. But once it will—so that God can deal with Satan's iniquity—forever!
Antichrist and the Jews...
• There has always been a Jewish problem. There was a Jewish problem in Egypt in the days of the Pharaohs. The problem was intensified when Israel entered into her own land expelling the nations which had formerly lived there. There was a problem in Babylon in the days of Darius and Esther, and Haman too. Israel came to be such a problem to the Roman Empire that Titus was ordered to destroy Jerusalem utterly and to scatter the Jewish people.
• Over long, bitter, painful centuries the indigestible Jew has been a never-ending problem to the nations to which he has wandered. There have been persecutions without number, and programs that are pitiful to remember. In modem times it remained for Hitler to win the dubious distinction of being the greatest butcher of all times as he, with scientific brutality, put to death six million Jews.
• Nor is the story over yet. The time of ''Jacob's Trouble" is still to come and the final drama of frightful suffering and death still to be enacted. But there is cause to thank God that following the Tribulation time the Jew will come into his own again and blessing once more will be his without measure.
• But why is the Jew hated? Is he different from other human beings? Is he some kind of strange creature which is repugnant to most people? Does he possess unusual characteristics which make him greatly offensive? Has he been cruel and hateful to others? Is there any real reason for the universal antisemitism which seems to pervade the entire earth?
• In answer we can say the Jew has been different. There is little cause to doubt that. First, because God gave to him the unique distinction of being the only nation directly chosen of God to bear His name before the other nations. This has caused envy on a universal scale. Then too, under the pressure of world-wide persecution, the Jew has been forced to develop characteristics of self-preservation and unity in order to survive. But these are not enough to account for the hatred which the Jew receives.
• Jew-hatred is Satanic. There is no other real reason why the Jew should be so universally hated. Satan has despised the Jew because the Jew has stood for God, and for God's dealings with the sons of men. When you observe the Jew you can't help but know that there is a God in heaven. The Jew has been the demonstration of God's person, power and presence in human affairs.
• God's great Book in the world, the Bible, has largely been a Jewish Book. It was humanly composed by Jewish writers. It is extensively the story of God's dealings with mankind through the examples of God's dealings with the Jewish people. As one reads the Bible one is struck with the inseparability of Jewish life and God's will.
• In the fullness of time God sent His son into the world. But his human mother was a Jewish girl. His birthplace was a Jewish city. His incomparable life with all its wonder was spent in Jewish territory. His death, which became a fountain of cleansing for an entire world, was accomplished on a Jewish hill. His burial was in a Jewish tomb. His return to heaven was from a Jewish mountain.
• The new thing, the Church, begins under Jewish auspices. It is from Jerusalem that the gospel goes forth to finally reach the ends of the world. The writers of the New Testament were largely Jewish disciples. The great Apostle to the Gentiles was a Jewish Evangelist. The Seer who looked down through centuries of time into the beginning of eternity was a Jewish writer.
• It is easily seen why Satan should hate the Jew with all the diabolical intensity of his cursed heart. The Jew is God's great demonstration in the world. People know God and what He will do for them through knowing how God loved and dealt with the Jew. The world is led into forgiveness and new life by means of Jewish ministry. God receives worship due unto His Name because of the example of the Jewish nation.
• Satan has sought to hurt the Jew. He has made attempts to utterly exterminate him. You will remember Pharaoh's attempt to kill all the Jewish boy babies in Egypt. Remember too, Haman's base attempt to wipe out the nation as they were captives in Babylon. Another great Monster of history, Antiochus Epiphanes, desperately sought to bring about the end of the nation. And when Jerusalem was razed in A.D. 70, no doubt Satan hoped this might be the final curtain call for Israel. But no, they survived nearly 20 centuries of world-wandering.
• But Satan is not through. He will yet make other attempts to erase the Jew from life. His hatred has not diminished over the span of time. Deep in his black heart he knows that neither worship nor authority can be his as long as the Jew stands as a beacon light to the faithfulness of God's dealings with the people of earth. One of the names of the Tribulation period is "the time of Jacob's trouble." But the Jew will survive because God will preserve him.
The Gathering Storm...
• Statesmen have long pondered over the irrationality of Jew-hatred. Nations have opposed the well being of the Jew for no apparent reason other than dislike. Jews have been segregated, denied, legislated against, persecuted and sadly enough, tortured and killed for no other cause than that they were Jews.
• All of this has occasioned a corresponding reaction. The peace and the equanimity of nations have been thrown off balance. Some nations have sided with the Jew in his plight, others have opposed him. The Jew has inadvertently become the cause of contention in world diplomacy. There has always been anti-semitism since God chose the Jew.
• Various solutions have been proposed. Contain them in ghettos has been the suggestion of many European countries. Gradually exterminate them was the political philosophy of Ancient Egypt. Give license for anyone to kill and with impunity to then seize the property, was the plan of the wicked Haman in Persia. Deport them to some far off land has been persistently proposed. But none of these has answered the Jewish problem. Even as of today, Jewish hatred still smolders and occasionally breaks forth in bloodshed.
• But apparently, the Antichrist will have a workable solution to this age-old problem. As he rises to power, and as he suggests answers to various matters that vex the world, he will be confronted with the question of the place of the Jew in world affairs. There will be a loud clamor that the Jew be summarily dealt with and with violence. Others may propose a happier solution. But the Antichrist, prompted by satanic wisdom, will advance a solution which will cause the nations of the world to gasp, so unusual will be its provisions.
• Do not misunderstand the mind of Satan. It is certainly not his will to favor the Jew. His sinister aim is to shed every drop of Jewish blood. The nation Israel is the object of this hatred more than any other object or people. But first, according to his plan of pseudo peace and safety, there must come a display of accord. He must prove that it is possible for Jew and Gentile to live together.
• A treaty is proposed (Daniel 9:27), whose apparent conditions guarantee the territorial integrity of Israel. They are told to use their abilities to promote the cause of science, medicine and the arts. They are promised the full support of the world's military might. The full power of world government is aligned on the side of the complete removal of anti-semitism.
• Such talk of peace among nations, and world friendship sounds like sweet music in the ears of the Jews. They have never sought to be hated. Their aim has been just the right to live. Never have they sought the conquest of other nations. So, they follow the promises of the World Leader and turn their attention to cultural pursuits and their land becomes a land of "unwalled villages" without military defenses (Ezek. 38:11).
• Provisions of the treaty include the right to worship the God of their fathers according to the laws, ordinances and sacrifices of ancient days. Apparently the new Temple is set up, and once more the Jewish people follow the statutes of the Old Testament (Daniel 9:27).
• What will cause the break in peaceful relationships between the Antichrist and the Jew we do not specifically know. But we do know that one of the projects of the False Prophet will be to set up a huge image of the Beast himself (Rev. 13:14-16). Just where this image is to be set up we do not know. But as this is a religious rite and because Antichrist claims to be the Christ it is presumed that the Antichrist will propose that the image be set up in Jerusalem,
• This, the Jews will oppose with all their might. During the years of their existence the Jews have been guilty of many sins. But no one can accuse them of idolatry. It seems that when they had a taste of this base infidelity in Babylon, they were forever cured. Now, they are told that they must worship this huge image or die.
• The rest of the world seems to knuckle under. They accept the vile mark of the Beast. But the Jews, NO! They steadfastly refuse to turn from their worship of Jehovah to pay obeisance to any other God, stone or otherwise. All of this happens in about the middle of the treaty period.
• The result is perilous in the extreme. The wrath of the Antichrist knows no bounds. True, there is a treaty of friendship in which the Jews are guaranteed right to freedom of worship. But what is a treaty to the stooge of the Father of lies? The treaty is swiftly scrapped, torn up, abrogated. The Jewish nation is given an ultimatum.
• What we must understand is, that the matter of worship is at the heart of the disreputable program of Satan. His all-consuming desire is to seize the worship which is due to God only. And here is a nation that deigns to oppose his will. In such a case, nothing must happen but their complete extermination. Satan's plan moves on.
The Frightful Battle...
• The name "Armageddon" means the Hill of Megiddo, an historic village in the northern section of the Holy Land. Armageddon is also called the Valley of Jezreel or Esdraelon, where many of the O.T. battles were fought. It is doubtful whether any spot on earth has been so often drenched with human blood as this valley some 20 miles across. This is also the place of destiny where the last great battle of earth is to be fought between the Antichrist and his army and the returning Christ with the armies of heaven.
• During the first 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation period the Jewish nation has quietly grown under the protection and encouragement of the world Ruler. But the mutual trust erupts into open disagreement as the Jews are commanded to worship the image of the Beast, apparently set up near Jerusalem. At the risk of complete annihilation they steadfastly refuse to discontinue their worship of the God of Israel.
• The Antichrist proceeds at once to tear up the treaty, and to lay plans to shed every last drop of Jewish blood. Never have things looked so hopeless to the Jewish nation. Never has the entire race of humanity been so arrayed against it. The Jews have known persecution, hardship and danger before, but always the persecutor has been but one nation or a group of nations. Now, the whole world is pledged to his death.
• The Antichrist summarily prepares to accomplish his dreadful purpose using the armies of the world as his weapons. But the exact events are somewhat confused. There will be opposition from the King of the South, (Daniel 11:40), possibly an African coalition. The King of the North shall make a feint at him (verse 40). Apparently, both of these are repulsed, and with their defeat, Jerusalem the city of the Jews is taken, destroyed and its inhabitants massacred (Zechariah 14:1,2).
• In the meantime there have been supernatural signs given to the godly remnant of the Jews. They have been urged to leave home and flee with all haste to a specially prepared place of refuge from the wrath of the Antichrist (Matt. 24:15-28; Rev. 12:6; 13-17). The sign denoting the time to flee is the "abomination of desolation" or the desecration of the sacred temple area by the Beast.
• This is the depth of hopelessness for the Jew. His land is being ravaged, his people destroyed. Apparently, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has cast him off.
• At this point, for some unknown reason, the armies of the Beast retreat from the hills surrounding Jerusalem, and are ordered to converge and re-group at the plain of Esdraelon or Armageddon in the north of the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. This is a beautiful valley somewhat in the shape of a triangle.
• The Beast's purpose is the same. He is "wroth" with Israel, and his avowed intention and purpose is to utterly exterminate every last Jew from the face of the earth. With him is an army unprecedented in size and destructiveness from the beginning of the world. There are military representatives here from all the countries of the earth. Given time, the diabolical aim of Satan's man of Sin could be easily realized. Every Jew could be slain.
• But, unbeknown-st to the powers of evil, this drawing together into the valley of Armageddon has been the work of God. It is He who has engineered the assembly of this vast host, and for the purpose of their destruction (Rev, 16:13-16).
• Then, when things look the darkest, the heavens suddenly part, and the sky is filled with chariots and horsemen of the God of Eternity. Christ rides upon a white horse, and the armies of heaven follow him on white horses. His eyes are as a flame of fire, and out of his mouth proceedeth a flaming sword, the Word of God.
• The Bible does not describe the battle. Apparently it is over in an instant, as the Son of God opens His mouth and speaks death into the ranks of the most momentous army the earth has ever produced.
• The method of description of this holocaust is most significant. A great call is issued to the birds of the earth to come and feed on the flesh of the earth's mightiest men. They are promised a supper such as never was provided before, as the food is carrion food, with human flesh being offered.
• The Beast is taken, and the False Prophet with him, apparently not slain, but reserved to be cast alive into the lake of fire and brimstone. These are still there, suffering the tortures of eternal hell, as another glimpse is given of the burning lake some thousand years hence (Rev. 20:10).
• Satan, who is the arch perpetrator of all this evil, is taken and imprisoned in the abyss, which is a place of temporary confinement and torture until the age of the Kingdom is fulfilled. After that he must be loosed a little season (Rev. 20:3).
Christ Returns to Reign...
• The coming of Christ from heaven to defeat the Antichrist and the legions of earth is also the beginning of the long awaited reign of Christ. This time His coming is with power and great glory (Matt. 24:27-31). Then will be brought to pass the multitude of predictions which the prophets have written and the poets have sung since the world began.
• The reign of Christ is to be a literal one. He is to rule the earth in person. His feet will actually stand again on the mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4) and He will personally govern the earth beginning at Jerusalem and including all nations.
• Particularly will this be a time of incomparable blessing for the Jews, God's ancient chosen people. They will come to know the favor and grace of God poured out without measure. This is the great theme of all the Old Testament predictive writers (Jer. 31:31-40; Ezek. 36:1-38; Isaiah 61:1-11).
• While many of the Jews will have returned to the land of Israel before the Lord's return, at this time there will be a miraculous restoration, evidently by supernatural means (Jer. 32:37-42) and the Lord whom the Jewish nation rejected, will be recognized as the true Messiah and the entire nation will repent and turn once more in true acceptance to their King.
• Not every Jew, however, is to be received into the new Kingdom. For there is to be a judgment by Christ, and the entire nation is to be judged as to their fitness to enter in. The basis of the judgment will be the principles enunciated in the parables of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, and that of the Talents (Matt. 25:1-30).
• Nor will the Gentile nations be allowed to enjoy the immeasurable blessings of this time of God's favor until they too, have passed under the judging rod of the Son of God. The basis of their fitness and permission to enjoy the blessings of the millennial reign of Christ will evidently be the way in which they have treated the messengers of God during the time of the Tribulation.
• God has never left Himself without witnesses in the earth. The time of the Tribulation had witnesses as well. Not the church, for the entire church was removed previous to this time. But there were the 144,000 Jewish evangelists (Rev. 7:1-8), and there were the two special witnesses in Jerusalem (Rev. 11:3-13). Apparently, the Gentile nations will be judged on the acceptance or rejection of these witnesses (Matt. 25:31-46).
• This time will be one of uncounted blessings. God will pour out blessings upon the earth without measure. There will be botanical blessings. The desert will blossom as the rose. The waste places will be removed. The storms will lose their destructiveness. The benignity of nature will be restored. The earth will literally endeavor to out-do itself in beauty and productiveness.
• The ferocity of animal nature will be removed. The lion will lie down with the kid. The bear and the calf will feed together. The dangers of death will be at an end. All of this will result from the removal of the curse which has plagued the earth since the first terrific sin of Adam in the garden.
• There will be atmospheric changes. Evidently the sun's rays are to increase in power, but not in heat. This will result in the destruction of harmful disease-causing bacteria. No one will be sick. No one will grow old. It will be common practice for one to live throughout the entire millennial period of a thousand years. Death will be a rarity.
• Man's entire philosophy of life will be radically altered. No longer will he toil from sun-up to sun-down. Life will be comparatively simple. Big business will be abolished. Everyone will dwell safely in his own home and under his own vine and fig tree. There will be no frustration, no killing competition to gain possessions. The earth and its fullness, the beauties of the Lord's creation will occupy the thoughts of the sons of earth.
• Christ will rule personally from Jerusalem. He will be readily available to see anyone who desires to come to Him. He will rule in perfect righteousness and equity. He will, however, demand unquestioned obedience. If any nation does not follow His righteous leading, upon that nation will come swift and sure judgments.
• Crime will be no more. The order of the day will be to live godly and righteously. God will demonstrate the rightness and superiority of His way of life. Men will enjoy one another's fellowship. Children will be born, family life will be preserved, happiness unknown in all the world's sorry history will be the all-prevailing characteristic of life.
• Remember however, this is not heaven. This is still earth. The people connected with this are still human beings. Heaven is still to come. But this is the time when the scores and scores of prophecies which are to be found in the Bible are to know fulfillment. It will be the greatest time of blessing the world has ever known.
Gog's Unbelievable Revolt...
• There are some things in the Bible difficult to be understood, and this is one of them. Let us go back a moment.
• You will remember that at the time of the Battle of Armageddon certain results happened. The armies of the Antichrist are slain to the last man by the sword of the Son of God. The Antichrist (Beast) and the False Prophet are taken and cast into the lake of fire to be tormented (Rev. 19:20). Satan is cast into a different place, called the bottomless pit, or more properly the abyss, where he is to be imprisoned during the entire period of a thousand years (Rev. 20:1,2).
• The reign of God's dear Son ensues with all the countless multitudes of blessings which He brings. There has never been such a time of happiness, righteousness, or harmony as this period will be. Christ has been ruling, individually, personally, completely. The earth is a theocracy. Satan is bound. Crime is unknown. Life is sweet. God is pleased.
• But the millennial reign of Christ comes to a close. This is not the eternal state. Heaven is still to come. The millennium is, as the name discloses, only a thousand years. Therefore, it is God's plan, to loose Satan for a little season.
• Had we been in God's place, perhaps we should never have loosed Satan. But God knows that this is necessary (Rev. 20:7-10). You see, many people have been born during the millennium. They have never known the arrows of temptation. Satan has never whispered evil in their ears. They have never had to choose right from wrong.
• But as rational beings, and as different from the rest of the animal creation, man must choose. He is not a man if the issues of life are not presented to him. God is primarily interested in populating heaven and no one will be received into heaven until he has chosen to go there.
• Satan is therefore loosed. And possibly with the aid of his hellish demons, he goes forth to "deceive" the nations of men once more. How terribly he succeeds is almost unbelievable. The account states that multitudes of men "as the sand of the sea" rise up in revolt.
• How this can be we find it difficult to understand. Especially since the past thousand years have been filled with the benevolence of Jesus Christ. The only aid to our thinking is that even today, under the blessings of God, and in spite of the thousands of sermons and messages, countless multitudes do not receive Christ.
• The revolt is swiftly dealt with (Rev. 20:9, 10), Satan is now cast into the lake of fire . . . forever!
Great White Throne...
• We come now, to the last great event of time. The earth has been reeling under the burden of sin and unrighteousness for time unknown. The marks of sin are here and it is God's purpose to utterly obliterate all traces of sin . . . forever.
• But one thing remains to do. The wicked-dead are to be judged and consigned to hell. This is the last great judgment of time and earth.
• You will remember that the righteous dead were resurrected at the beginning of the millennium period (Rev. 20:4-6). There they enjoyed the glory of the reign of God's Son. They are thus prepared to pass on into the eternal state. But the wicked dead have been confined in what is called in the Hebrew "sheol" or in the Greek "hades," in a story which our Lord told (Luke 16:19-31) of the Rich Man and Lazarus.
• Evidently, the place of the wicked dead has remained unchanged from the beginning of time. While it is a place of torment, it is not hell or the lake of fire. The wicked dead are not sent to hell until they first pass the Great White Judgment Throne.
• Following the revolt of Gog and its swift suppression, the Great White Judgment takes place. All the wicked dead are brought to pass before the Judge of all the earth, even Christ Himself.
• This is not a judgment to decide one's guilt or innocence. That has already been decided. The Great White Judgment is a session of sentencing. The words used here are of the utmost solemnity.
• The whole universe waits. Christ ascends the Bench. Members of the Church sit with Him, The books are opened. First, is the Book of Life. This is shown not to contain any of the names of the wicked dead. None of them had at anytime during their earthly lifetime received the dear Son of God in their hearts.
• Other books are opened which are the books of the deeds of men. These books show the times, events, opportunities, privileges which were given to those being sentenced when they were given a chance to receive the Word of God and the testimony of Christ. But in each of these there had been rejection. The wicked dead will be speechless because their own memory, now revivified, will absolutely confirm the testimony of the books of God.
• The exceedingly solemn scene concludes with the passing on of all the wicked dead to their eternal destiny, the lake of fire, where the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and Satan are, for eternity (Rev. 20:11-15).
Now New Heavens...
• This now is the end of the world. All the events up to this time have been connected with time. We now pass out of the sphere of time into the sphere of eternity. God now proposes a new order of things. And, to bring to pass this new order, He plans a complete change of scene. He plans a completely new heaven and new earth.
• Some have thought that God merely purposes to renovate, or rejuvenate the earth and heaven. That is, to purge the evidences of sin from every last corner of the universe. But this is not the testimony of the Scripture. God proclaims that he is going to make all things "new" (Rev. 21:5).
• Lest you wonder why God plans to make the heavens new, you must bear in mind that sin did not begin on earth. The first sin was a sin in heaven (Ezek. 28:12-19; Isaiah 14:12-18). There one of God's most magnificent creatures, Lucifer, rebelled against the program of God, and subsequently became the Devil as God judged and condemned him. So, heaven too, is stained with sin.
• The earth as well, is full of the ravages of sin. For it was the Devil who entered into the Garden of Eden to seduce our first parents to reject God and choose the way of selfishness and sin.
• Do not think this is too great a task for God to accomplish. For His power and His greatness is such, that it is just as easy for Him to speak back the world into nothingness as it was for Him to create the vast universe in the first place.
• Whether the entire heavens of starry galaxies are to be changed we do not know. Or, why God would be pleased to do so. But the place where the throne of God is to be found, and where the sin of Lucifer occurred, is certainly to know the purpose of God to make all things new.
• The realm of the universe or the new heavens, is to be the playground of the child of God forever. Its, as yet, unmeasured spaces, will be his delight and thrill to explore. Its distances all will be accessible to his journeying. Its mysteries, thrills and secrets will yield themselves to his adventure.
• And when the child of God has explored to the last recesses of the universe, and has seen and catalogued the mystery of it all, then God can just as easily speak it back into nothingness, and create an entirely new one. How great is our God.
• Many have wondered, knowing the infinitesimal size of the planet earth in comparison to the gigantic orbs of the heavens, why God should concern Himself with the creation of a new earth. But the promises of God are at stake here. You will remember that God has promised His ancient Jewish people that the earth was to be their possession forever (Isaiah 66:22). Israel has always been an earthly people. Their promises were always directed to earthly blessings. So, in a sense, their continued blessings are to be associated with the new earth. All the glories which are to be contained therein God has not seen fit to reveal. But you may be sure it will be glorious beyond power to describe.
• There is to be a meeting place too. This will be the concourse, so to speak, of the universe. It is God's glorious, glistening city called the New Jerusalem. An entire chapter is devoted in the Bible to its unique description (Rev. 21). Here is the great culmination of God's architectural skill.
• Never has there been a city like this one. First, the city is made of pure gold which is different gold, said to be transparent as glass. The foundations of the city are in themselves huge gems, different from each other. The gates of the city are immense pearls. The plan of the city is absolutely unique among the cities of time. It is cubical in shape. The length and the breadth of it are equal, and are given as 12,000 furlongs or say, 1500 miles. This is understandable. But the different specification is that of the height. It is also 1500 miles high. Now, just how this can be, the architects of the earth have not yet figured. This will be one of God's secrets.
• Here is the meeting place of all people . . . the Church, the Jewish saints, the Angels, and any other of God's creatures. Here too, is the presence of God. Those who enter in shall see the face of the Almighty. More than that, they shall wear in their foreheads, His great Name.
• Nothing of sin shall be here. Sin and its sorry train, shall be forever past, and remembered no more. Everything here shall be as God desires, and the Lamb of God, shall rightly be the center of all attraction.
• Here is the meeting place of all people...the Church, the toward which all forces in the universe have been moving. Here is the goal of life. Here is the home of the redeemed. Here is the throne of God.
What Does it Mean to You?...
• All these things are true and faithful. What God has said in His Book will surely come to pass. And as God in His mercy has seen fit to tell us of these things before they come to pass, it remains therefore, for us to soberly heed the admonition:
"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness? Looking for, and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless, we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" 2 Peter 3:11-13.
• For those who read these lines who have never come to know Christ as Saviour, the time is short. Now is the season to come to know Him, the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for you and rose again. If you will come to God with earnestness and sincerity, and receive the Son of God as your Saviour, you will be saved, and will be then headed for that heavenly city whose Builder and Maker is God. Why don't you look up to God's face, and on the authority of John 1:12, receive the word concerning Christ and His love for you?
"But to as many as received Him [Christ], to them [you] gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name."
• And for those who have already come to know Christ as Saviour, the admonition is urgent! Let your life so be used of God that many will come to know Christ through you. Lay aside other things which are of little or no consequence, and let your days be spent in unselfish service for Him, who died for you and rose again. Make this verse the motto of your days:
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Cor. 15:58.
• The beloved disciple John, who had given to him the marvelous privilege of writing the last great book in the Bible, closes the sacred text with the flaming invitation:
"And the Spirit and the Bride say. Come, And let him that heareth say, Come, And let him that is athirst, come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life, freely." Rev. 22:17.
From Antichrist, Armageddon and the End of the World by William W. Orr. Temple City, Calif.: Radio School of the Bible, no date.
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