“Let no one deceive you by any means, for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” (2 Thess. 2: 3-4)
“”But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24)
Almighty God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – has told us in no uncertain terms that Our Lord Jesus Christ will come again with armies of angels to judge the living and the dead, to separate the sheep from the goats. But at the same time we know that first there must be a falling away (apostasia) and the “man of sin” will be revealed. He is the Beast or the Antichrist of Revelation. Judas Iscariot is referred to as a “son of perdition” (John 17:12) so we know that the Antichrist or Beast is a betrayer. He will claim loyalty to Christ, closeness with Christ; he will perform miracles in the name of Christ, and he will affirm fellowship with Christ, but will demand worship and Lordship for himself and not for Christ.
Like the Beast, the Antichrist will express a certain type of remarkable recovery or restoration (Revelation 13:3) which will be portrayed as a type of resurrection by which he hopes to identify himself with Jesus. History is filled with types of Antichrists. Even Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt might be seen as a type of antichrist. He had an amazing recovery from polio to become President of the USA, presumably to save us from the Great Depression and from the scourge of Nazism represented by Hitler and Mussolini. Millions, like this writer’s parents, admired him as if he were God, but of course he was not.
Also, the Popes of the Roman Catholic Church are considered types of the Antichrist. They come claiming to be God’s representatives on Earth. While the Apostles often had to remind those who bowed down before them because of their supernatural powers that they were men just like those they healed (cf. Acts 10:25-26), the Popes accept the oblations and glorifications as befitting their high office as “vicars” [sic] of Christ. They not only have accepted but have demanded obeisance from kings throughout history until the kings started telling the Popes that it was they, not the Popes, who call the shots. Then they humbled down a bit, but they still accept the cheers of millions as they ride down boulevards in their bubble-topped Pope-mobiles.
But why is it that Christ must come to straighten out our sinful world? To answer this question, we must (1) understand God’s INTENT, (2) understand the role of PROVIDENCE in world history, and (3) understand the BOUNDLESS REACH OF HIS POWER AND GLORY.
INTENT: What well-meaning Christians and earnest prayer warriors often fail to understand is that God intends that His righteousness be established both on Earth and in Heaven. But – here’s the game changer – this can only happen by a process that is supernatural. The heavenly kingdom cannot be established even by believing men and women. We should do good deeds, but not make the mistake of thinking that we are building thereby the Millennial Kingdom. Its shape, purpose, and institutions can only be established supernaturally by Christ.
The dreadful reality is that humanity is teeming with tares as well as sheaves. Weeds and grass grow side by side. There are the sheep who are the righteous heirs of the Heavenly Kingdom who sweetly and humbly submit to His Lordship. And there are the goats. The goats with their horns and rambunctious ways bleat day and night: “Baa! Baa!” They are not as sweet as the sheep. What a short step from the “baa” of the goats to the “bah humbug” of Ebenezer Scrooge. His bah humbug was a rejection of the coming of Christ’s love to save fallen humanity celebrated at Christmas. But we can’t be superficial readers of “A Christmas Carol.” We are not to think that Christ is coming again for all those who celebrate Christmas, and will reject those who don’t have Christmas trees, or don’t exchange presents, or don’t participate in the festivities. He intends to come again to bring judgment upon all those who have not received Him as their Lord and Savior, who have not been born again as we are commanded to be in John 3: 7.
PROVIDENCE: History and current events clearly represent a working out of the Divine Plan for humanity, but identifying specific events or images from the Bible with specific historical events may be an oversimplification. In the 17th and 18th century English-speaking Protestant world, the institutions and circumstances of mankind were not considered discrete or separate. The hand of God was believed to lovingly guide the people in the way(s) they needed to go in care of their families, property, governance, education, and religious observances. The institutions of man and the Divine Plan were not considered as two separate spheres of life. They were like Venn Diagrams where the two circles overlap and there is an overlap of the earthly and heavenly spheres.
Thus, Providence was not a theoretical category about Almighty God, but his “Plan” could be seen as a revealed day-to-day truth. Circumstances of all spheres of everyday life were not analyzed via theories of experience such as we see with Karl Marx and his class struggle imagery or Karl Jung with his overflowing cup of unconscious symbols that are archetypes.
Rather, everyday life – political, legal, social, educational, familial, and religious – was seen as concretely expressing the Divine Will and the Divine Plan. Without an intimate walk with the Lord, day-to-day experience will not be experienced as a revelation of His Providential Will. The ungodly will not be able to figure out any of it, and guess what happens and has happened: the word Providence has all but disappeared from our vocabulary. In days gone by there was a perceived coalescence of the Spirit of God and the Spirit of man, even though we lived day by day in our fallen, sinful estate. Nowadays, a confused and largely unbelieving public is stumbling around asking itself repeatedly “Where is God in all this mess?” But “this mess” is full of signs and portents of God’s person and God’s plan from beginning to end. However, the contemporary mindset, lacking faith, too often cannot discern His PROVIDENTIAL WILL.
BOUNDLESS REACH OF HIS POWER AND GLORY: Jews regularly confront Christian evangelists and missionaries with this question: If Jesus is the Messiah, why don’t we have peace in the world? Where is the perfect justice promised in Isaiah or Daniel? When this writer was on an outreach team at a subway station in Brooklyn, NY, I heard a woman ask this very question. The answer lies in the sequence for the second coming. First there must be salvation, then there must be a falling away (apostasy), then, despite multiple anti-Christs over time, a unique man of sin must appear, and only then will there be THE Second Coming. At that time, the key word is judgment—only after Judgment can and will there be true peace and justice.
Many people today are in reality calf worshippers. There is a semblance of holiness, but false images, hypocrisy, and distortions are pervasive. Almighty God’s intent, providence, and boundless power and glory are denied. We are told in John 14:7 that “he who knows the Son knows the Father.” This is an important teaching and doctrine because He who worships the Son other than in the context of the Trinity is an idolater and will not be received by the Christ when He returns.