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Monday, November 28, 2016

Sparkling Gems 1, November 27: The Appearance of the Antichrist


   Sunday, 27 November
  

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The Appearance of the Antichrist
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; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. — 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4
From my early childhood, I heard about the antichrist. In the many years that I’ve been a Christian, I’ve heard people speculate that this person or that person could potentially be the antichrist. However, although these individuals may have been forerunners to the antichrist, none of them turned out to be the long-anticipated Man of Lawlessness described in the Scriptures.

The Bible teaches us that at some point in the future, an evil ruler called the antichrist is going to step onto the platform of the world stage and take the leading role for a short time in the affairs of mankind. Many predecessors of the antichrist have already come and gone, but according to this scripture in Second Thessalonians 2, the real antichrist is still yet to be revealed in the last times.

Paul tells us about the supernatural appearance of the antichrist when he writes about the last days in Second Thessalonians 2:3,4. Paul writes, “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; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”

Paul says that before the antichrist can be revealed, first there must be a “falling away” that takes place in the world. The phrase “falling away” is taken from the Greek word apostasia, which describes a falling away or a revolt. The writer Plutarch used this word to describe a political revolt. In First Maccabees 2:15, the word apostasia is used to picture people who are turning away from the Lord. This word also occurs in the Septuagint version of Joshua 2:22, where it conveys the idea of rebellion against God. Thus, the word apostasia is a word that denotes rebellion, mutiny, and defiance.

Before the antichrist can be welcomed with wide-open arms by the world, a change in society’s mentality must first take place. Paul uses this word to predict a rebellion or mutiny against God that will occur in the last days. The text does not imply that this mutiny will occur within the Church; rather, it seems to point to a change in society’s attitude toward God.

Paul is describing a time when society’s attitude toward God and holy things will become mutinous. Once this anti-God and anti-godliness mentality pervades society, the world will be primed and prepared to receive this man whom Paul calls “that man of sin.”

The Greek word used here for “sin” is the word anomia. Translating the word anomia as “sin” is unfortunate, for the word anomia actually means without law and carries the idea of a lawless attitude. It has a definite article in Greek, which tells us emphatically that this individual is not just any person with a lawless attitude; rather, this is a reference to the man of lawlessness or the antichrist.

Paul points to a time when this evil leader will be “revealed.” The word “revealed” is the Greek word apokalupto. It is a compound word, using the words apo and kalupto. The word apo means away, and the word kalupto is something that is veiled, covered, concealed, or hidden. When these two words are compounded, they form the word apokalupto, depicting a veil that has been removed, exposing what is behind the veil that was formerly concealed or hidden from view. Paul uses this word to inform us that a day is coming when the antichrist — who has been concealed and hidden from public view — will suddenly appear. In that moment when he suddenly emerges on the world scene, it will be as if a stage curtain has been pulled out of the way so that he can make his grand appearance.

Paul calls this wicked leader “the son of perdition.” The word “perdition” is from the Greek word apoleia, which speaks of something that is doomed, rotten, ruinous, or decaying. Although this world leader may boast that he will lead the world to a higher and better day, what he will actually bring to the world is doom, destruction, ruin, rot, and decay. No redeeming value can be found in anything produced by the antichrist’s rule. In the Greek text, Paul uses a definite article, loudly signaling that this evil world ruler is in a category like none other before him. He is not simply another evil person. He is THE Son of Doom and Destruction.

Next, Paul tells us that this wicked world leader will be one “who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” The Greek word for “opposeth” is antikeimai, which means opposed to or against everything that is established. There is no doubt that this is a clear reference to the antichrist.

The word “antichrist” means against Christ. Thus, the Greek word used in this verse tells us that this evil leader will be against everything having to do with God. It is important to note that the Greek grammar used in this verse paints the picture of a continual, unending, and perpetual resistance against the things of God. This is not just a one-time resistance against the things of God; rather, this poisonous quality will be deeply ingrained in the character of the antichrist. Everything in this evil ruler will be opposed to God and all that He represents.

Paul also warns that the antichrist “…exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped....” The word “exalteth” is the Greek word huperairo, which means to exceedingly exalt oneself or to be exalted highly. In this case, it is the idea of someone being exalted too highly. According to Paul, the antichrist will go to all lengths to exceedingly exalt himself in the eyes of the world. As we continue to study this verse, we discover that this wicked ruler will even attempt to sit in God’s rightful place in the temple and elevate himself higher than God Himself!

Paul says that the antichrist will oppose and exalt himself above all “that is worshipped.” The word for “worship” is the Greek word sebasma, which refers to anything that can be worshiped, including God. Here we see that the antichrist will attempt to stop the practice of worshiping God and demand that he become the primary focus of human attention and worship.

Then Paul prophesies that the antichrist will sit in the very place of God in the temple. The word “temple” is the Greek word naos. It is sometimes used to refer to the innermost part of the temple and may be interpreted as the Holy of Holies. On the basis of this verse, many scholars assert that the antichrist will enter a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, where he will go into the Holy of Holies and decree himself to be God incarnate.

Wasn’t this exactly what Lucifer attempted to do when he declared that he would exalt himself above the very throne of God? Isaiah tells us of Lucifer in Isaiah 14:13,14: “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”

Following the long-held desire of Satan, the antichrist will again attempt to take the very place of God in the temple. Paul tells us that the antichrist will commit the ultimate offense of “…shewing himself that he is God.” The Greek word for “shew” is the word apodeiknumi, which actually means to vividly portray; to point out; to illustrate; to show off; or to make a vivid presentation. This is the picture of the antichrist using all possible means to demonstrate that he holds a rank that is even higher than God Himself.

In Second Thessalonians 2:9, Paul warns that the antichrist will even employ supernatural signs and wonders to try to prove that he is God. He says, “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.”

The words “with all” are from the Greek words en pase, which emphatically declares that the antichrist will come with all power — implying that he will make his grand appearance with all kinds of power and supernatural displays. The Greek word for “power” is dunamis, which describes something that is explosive or dynamic. It is where we get the word dynamite. This means that when the antichrist appears, he will come with all kinds of powers that are truly extraordinary in the opinion of the lost world.

The Greek word for “sign” is semeion. This word denotes an act that points the viewer in a
certain direction
or an action performed to prove a point. It also means a beacon, a signal, or a sign. Just as a sign on the road gives directions to a driver, these supernatural feats are intended to point the attention and focus of the world to the antichrist.

The word “wonder” is the Greek word teras, and it is often translated miracles. This refers to something that causes people to marvel or to be amazed. The same word is used in Matthew 24:24, where Jesus warns that false prophets will perform wonders in the last days to deceive and to draw people away after themselves. Here it is used to say that when Satan finally has the opportunity to introduce his antichrist to the world, the evil ruler will energetically attempt to take the very place of God — even using lying signs and wonders to show that he is God.

When you put all these Greek words together, you discover that Paul’s words in Second Thessalonians 2:3,4,9 could be interpreted:

“In light of these things, I urge you to refuse to allow anyone to take advantage of you. For example, you won’t need a letter to tell you when the day of the Lord has come. You ought to know by now that this day can’t come until first a worldwide insurgency, rebellion, riot, and mutiny against God has come about in society.

“Once that occurs, the world will then be primed, prepared, and ready to embrace the Man of Lawlessness, the one who hates law and has rebellion running in his blood. This is the long-awaited and predicted Son of Doom and Destruction, the one who brings rot and ruin to everything he touches. When the time is just right, he will finally come out of hiding and go public!

“Do you understand whom I am talking about? I’m describing that person who will be so against God and everything connected with the worship of God that, if you can imagine it, he will even try to put himself on a pedestal above God Himself — sitting in God’s rightful place in the temple and publicly proclaiming himself to be God!

“This evil one will be energized by Satan himself as he makes his arrival known to the world with all kinds of dynamic supernatural powers — powers that are truly extraordinary. These lying signs and wonders and supernatural feats have only one purpose: They are designed to draw attention to the Lawless One and to make the world stand in awe of him.”

Any Christian who is sensitive to the Spirit of God is keenly aware that we are living in a time when society’s attitude toward God is radically changing. The world is being primed and prepared to throw open its arms and receive this world ruler who will oppose God and bring rot, ruin, and destruction to mankind. Unfortunately, the lost world doesn’t realize that it is being slowly seduced and trained for this moment the devil has long awaited.

As believers, we have no need to be afraid, for none of this will affect those who know Jesus Christ. However, it will affect those who are lost and without God. They will fall under the supernatural hypnotism of this devil-anointed leader. And if they don’t come to know Jesus Christ before all of this occurs, they will be ensnared in the trap that the entire world is about to fall into in the days to come.

Please realize what a critical time you are living in right now. Jesus is coming quickly. Those who know Him will escape many of these trials and temptations, but those who don’t know Him will be caught in the delusion and devastation. It’s good to rejoice that you will escape, but what about those you love? What are you going to do to ensure that they escape the evil days that are coming upon the earth?

In light of this clear teaching of Scripture, don’t you think it’s time for you to reach out to your unsaved friends and family members and speak to them about the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ? Ask the Holy Spirit to give you an opportunity to speak to them; then let Him fill your mouth with the right words as you earnestly plead with them to make Jesus Christ the Lord of their lives.
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I ask You to give me the boldness I need to present the Gospel to my friends and family members who are unsaved. I know that if they don’t receive Jesus, they will be lost in sin and caught in the delusion that is coming upon the world in the days to come. I don’t want to stand before You knowing that they are lost because I was too afraid to open my mouth and tell them of Your saving blood. Holy Spirit, please give me the boldness I need and the right words to speak to those who are near and dear to my heart. When I stand before You, I want to be assured in my heart that I did everything I could to rescue those who are lost and perishing. Please help me to do this and to start today!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am not afraid to testify of Jesus Christ to others. In fact, the love of God compels me to reach out to those who are lost. I know I will give account for those I could have reached but didn’t, so I will do everything I can to speak to them, to reach them, and to make sure they have an opportunity to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. If they refuse to listen or to receive, I will be freed from my responsibility. My part is just to make sure they had a chance to hear and to believe. The Holy Spirit is empowering me to testify, so starting today, I will follow His leading and speak to unbelievers about Jesus as God provides opportunities for me to do so.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO ANSWER
1. Do you have unsaved friends or relatives who need to know the Lord before all these terrible events begin to unfold on the world stage? Who are these loved ones? Do you regularly pray for their salvation?

2. How long has it been since you have personally presented the Gospel to those loved ones who are still unsaved? Is the Holy Spirit tugging at your heart, trying to prompt you to share Christ with them at this time?

3. Have you asked the Holy Spirit to give you an opportunity to present the Gospel to your friends and loved ones? When the Holy Spirit gave you an opportunity in the past, did you take advantage of it, or did you let it pass you by? If you let it pass you by, why don’t you ask the Holy Spirit to give you another opportunity to present Jesus to those whom you love?
 
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