Scripture tells of seven major observable seasons or events coming our way, “our” meaning the people of God of all generations. They are:
I. The season of apostasy.
II. The rise from sleep of the Roman Empire.
III. The next ruler of that revived Roman Empire. (Empires 7, 8, and 9, on the way)
IV. The rule of antichrist, also known as the Great Tribulation. (Who Is the Antichrist?)
V. The Great Day of the Lord, His coming and our going to Him. The Judgment of the world and the church. The First Resurrection. (Yes. We Will)
VI. The Millennial Kingdom of Jesus Christ and the Saints, followed by the second resurrection. (The Kingdom Handbook.)
VII. Eternity with Christ.
In my last work, Yes.We Will I attempted to refute the arguments of those who have been saying for two hundred years that Jesus will make a secret appearing. I used Biblical passages that have been around for two thousand years and more. But there was still something that needed to be said. I will include that work inside this one.
Just what season are we in? If we must endure the antichrist, are we close to his appearing? As a “watcher” I must be honest in what I see and say. And as I “watch” the Scriptures I see some things that must precede even that dark figure.
Apostasy, of course. Paul mentioned that, and we must investigate further. But if the man of sin is to be revealed, it will have to be on Scriptural terms. He will appear to do something. He will be somewhere geographically. The stage must be set for him.
That stage is the revived awakened Empire so dreaded in its day, and to be more than dreaded in its last day.
We have all studied the Reformation of Rome. I believe the re-formation of Rome is upon us.
Then comes a ruler of revived Rome. I know that many will be screaming “antichrist” when they see this man. But the Bible is clear, if we read the small print, that number seven is not the evil one. Number eight is.
So what about number seven? Only speculation here, but necessary to fill in the blank between no world empire at all and the final reign of the Man of Sin.
Then, antichrist comes and takes over the Empire. His rule and the deterioration of civilization go hand in hand. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy, even still.
Then Jesus comes and turns everything around. A one thousand-year reign is inaugurated. And yes, God’s saints really do “live happily ever after.”
This is our hope, our joy. But much comes before it, for those who happen to live in those days.
God help those dear ones to be ready. May this treatise be of assistance to them.
I. The Season of Apostasy
In Pentecostal circles, when one sees a man dancing and praising God they say the Spirit is “all over him.” If I may borrow that term, the Holy Ghost was all over Paul when he was writing to his son in the faith, Timothy.
In his first letter, chapter 4, Paul says that the Spirit expressly , explicitly, specifically was speaking to him about something that would occur in the future. Here he calls that future “latter times” “last times” or “later times”, depending on your choice of translation.The Greek is husterois kairois and has the idea of eventuality. Eventually there will come a season…
In his second letter, chapter 3, the term is “last days” uniformly. Here the underlying Greek is eschatais hemerais. Those two words can only mean what they say in virtually every translation: the last days of our history.
So both passages are telling us what the world will look like when Jesus comes.
Did I say the world? I was correct, but I also meant the professing church. Much of the church will have departed, not from the world in a rapture, but from the faith. Much of the church will, because of their itching ears, be listening to demons while thinking they were listening to men of God.
Much of the church will then take these doctrines in, to the point where they will speak them to others. They will have violated their conscience so many times, disobeyed the Word of God so often, that it will be as though they had no conscience.
The “church” will come up with demonic rules, like, “You cannot marry if you want to serve the Lord.” This will lead to church rulers, burning with lust, violating young boys, cohabiting with other men, bringing disgrace on the church and the work of God in general.
Others will force people to refrain from eating otherwise good foods, to prove their religiosity.
Fables will abound. False miracles will be heralded from ear to ear by women with nothing better to do.
The context suggests that even Timothy will have to deal with some of these things. The apostasy was already on the way, but would multiply.
Men in the “church” of the last days will love themselves more than their flock. They will use the church to get rich. They will be boastful and proud. From the pulpit they will blaspheme, and the people will only laugh with them.
The home will be affected in these fallen churches. Children will be disobedient to parents, even as their counterparts in the world.
People will stop giving thanks for food or anything. Their lives will not accuse them of being holy in any way. Love will not be the object of the Christian life any longer. Forgiveness will disappear as court cases by church members will increase.
Church members will accuse other members, ruining their reputations. Men and women will lose all sense of self-control. Eating and drinking and being merry like the world will be the new “in.”
Brutality and violence will be practiced by these end-time “Christians” and the world will give up on the church altogether.
Christians will despise goody-goodies, and lift up “real” men and women.
As Jesus predicted, they will betray one another. Anyone who is too “religious” will be reported to the authorities of that day, when religious activity is outlawed.
Headstrong haughty men and women will rule the church with an iron fist, having their own way or no way. They will be given also to their lusts and habits, and no one will dare correct them.
But in spite of all this, on Sunday they will put on suit and tie, brand new dress, as always, and come to the “sanctuary” looking for all the world like a saint from heaven. But the power of God, the Gospel, the Word of God, will not be talked about from those pulpits.
And later in the week, these men who have gained authority over other men will visit some of the ladies of the congregation and bring them deeper into sin.
Smart men. Smart women. They even know the Scriptures well enough to argue themselves out of their rightful control over their lives. They know everything but the truth. They will withstand anyone who dares proclaim that the Scriptures, every word, are true and relevant today.
We’ve seen much of this already. We will see more and more, says Paul to Timothy.
Evil men and impostors like these will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived, says Paul, just before he launches into a defense of the Scriptures and exhorts Timothy to continue in them.
The apostasy was coming.
The church of Ephesus, where Timothy ministered, was given a personal exhortation from the same apostle when he said his goodbyes to them, as recorded in Acts 20:28-30.
He knows he is on his way to prison. He knows he will not see these Ephesian elders again. And as with Timothy, so now, the Spirit within him is burdened heavily for the future of this church. He has been told by God that as soon as he is off the scene, and unable to protect his little lambs any more, wolves are coming.
Wolves. Vicious wolves. They will not hesitate to eat anything in their pathway. They will come from the outside, and infect men on the inside, so that lambs will turn into wolves also. Be careful.
Fast forward thirty years. Jesus speaking to that very church that Paul had to leave behind. Jesus is pleased about something. The Ephesian church hates those who are evil, tests those who claim to be apostles, found them to be liars. They did it! They did what Paul said to do. They fiercely defended the faith of Jesus and sent the wolves running.
But then what? Another apostasy, another “falling away.” They fell away from their first love. They got comfortable, perhaps proud of their accomplishments, perhaps centering on dogma and forgetting human need.
Apostasy. It can come in so many forms. Jesus gave us a parable predicting how apostasy would set in. (Matthew 13:24-43)
A man plants a good batch of seeds in his field. An enemy comes behind him and plants a batch of bad seeds, that look a lot like the good, so as to keep the farmer from realizing the full potential of that field and his work.
Jesus spelled out what it all meant. Jesus plants good people in the world, the enemy plants bad people. One day Jesus will judge the bad people and gather His own harvest to Himself.
Bad men are out there, in the world, competing with good men for the souls of man. We are told not to kill them, even harm them physically, but no other limitations are put on us.
We continue to grow and prosper in the midst of the evil around us, being salt and light and good seed. Jesus will take care of the judging of evil men among us.