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This is part of the series on the end times and it is a very significant and important part of God’s total revelation concerning the end times. Personally I believe that Christians who do not take the trouble and seek God to find out the basic teaching of the Word of God about the antichrist are in great danger of being swept away with deception. God has made knowledge available to us and we are responsible for what we do with it.
This is not an easy study and, as I said the other night, you will need your mind. So, switch it on if you’ve switched it off and let’s trust God together to give us understanding and insight.
First of all, we need to study the meaning of the word or the phrase antichrist, because we can learn a lot from that. The word Christ is taken from the Greek word cristos which corresponds to the Hebrew word meshiach, or messiah. It means the anointed one, the Messiah, the Christ.
The preposition “anti” in front of it has two meanings, both of which I believe apply. First of all, anti means against. And, of course, we use that in modern speech: anti war, antinuclear armaments, et cetera. But the other one is a little less understood, it means “in place of.” So, the operation of antichrist has two phases. Number one, against the true Christ to get Him out of the way, and number two, to replace Him with a false christ.
In 1 John 2:18, John speaks about the relationship of this to the last days. He says:
“Little children, it is the last hour...”
Not just the last day but the last hour.
“...and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come by which we know that it is the last hour.”
This is a distinctive mark of the end time.
And then in the same epistle, chapter 4, verses 2–3:
“By this you know the Spirit of God [the Holy Spirit]: every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God...”
That is, every spirit that confesses that Jesus came as God/man and lived here as man and walked in the flesh, is of God.
“...and every spirit that does not confess Jesus...”
Now there are various different texts but I’m taking the one which I consider to be the most reliable.
“...every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not of God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and now already is in the world.”
Now there you have antichrist in three forms: many antichrists, plural; the antichrist, singular; and the spirit of antichrist. The spirit of antichrist operates through every antichrist. And down through the pages of history from the time of John till today there have been many antichrists. But there is one who is called “the” antichrist who has not yet appeared on the stage of human history, he is the ultimate manifestation of the spirit of antichrist. Personally, I’m inclined to think that his coming is so near that you can say his shadow has already fallen across the stage of history. That’s a personal opinion.
Now, it’s very important that we understand what are the marks of the spirit of antichrist. They’re given to us. 1 John 2:19:
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest that none of them were of us.”
This is very important. The spirit of antichrist begins in association with the people of God. It’s not paganism, it’s something very directly connected to Christians. But, they don’t remain with Christians; they go out from Christians. This is very significant because it indicates, if I understand it rightly, that the antichrist will arise somehow in association with professing Christians. In other words, he’s not going to be some dictator that has no Christian profession or association, but he’s going to arise closely associated with the professing church.
And then in verses 22–23 of 1 John 2, John says:
“Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”
So there’s another mark of antichrist’s spirit, it denies the relationship of the Father and the Son within the Godhead. It does not acknowledge that revelation of the unique God.
This is very conspicuous in one of the most powerful anti-Christian forces in the world; that is, Islam, the religion of Mohammed, which ferociously denies that Jesus is the Son of God. They will acknowledge that Jesus may have been the Messiah. I was praying once with a Moslem who wanted salvation. He came up and I said, “I’ll lead you in a prayer.” When I said “Jesus, the Son of God,” his mouth shut like a trap, he would not say it.
Some years ago Ruth and I were in Pakistan before Don and his team went there. Because we announced healing meetings we had thousands of people come, although it was a Moslem state. We reckoned that about eight or nine thousand people actually indicated that they wanted to be saved. So I always led them in the prayer and they said it after me. Now what results followed, that’s known only to God. But, I always started this way, “Lord Jesus Christ, I believe that you are the Son of God and the only way to God.” But any spiritual authority or force that denies the relationship of the Son and the Father in the Godhead is a mark of antichrist. The great mosque of Omar which stands on the temple site in Jerusalem has inscriptions in Arabic and twice they say emphatically, “God has no need of a son.” Actually, this is a personal impression. I think probably Islam is the most active, powerful anti-Christian force at work in the world at the present time. Unfortunately, multitudes of Christians are deceived because they haven’t learned the tests.
Then in 1 John 4:3 it says:
“...every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not of God; and that is the spirit of the antichrist...”
That’s a more general mark. Any spirit that does not acknowledge what the Bible says about Jesus is a spirit of antichrist. So you understand, the spirit of antichrist is not paganism, it can only arise where the claims of Jesus have been stated. It’s Satan’s ultimate counterattack against Jesus and against the gospel.
It’s very interesting to me, and this is a personal impression I have, the Bible records the first time the spirit of antichrist really moved. I find it in Matthew 27:21–22. This is where Jesus is before Pilate and the Jewish religious leaders are accusing Jesus.
“The governor answered and said to them, ‘Which of the two do you want me to release to you?’”
And remember, the issue was should it be Jesus or should it be Barabbas? He was going to release one prisoner, which would they choose?
“They all said to him, ‘Barabbas.’ Pilate said to them, ‘What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ [or Messiah]?’ They all said to him, ‘Let him be crucified.’”
You see, there was a deliberate rejection of Jesus and the choice of another in His place. Barabbas who was chosen was a political figure, he was a man of violence and a murderer. If you ponder on that for a moment, it’s one of the most amazing facts of human history, that the Jewish people rejected Jesus and chose Barabbas. Because, Jesus had done nothing but good. He had never harmed anyone, He had healed countless multitudes, He brought peace and love to multitudes. Why did the Jews make that tragic mistake? The answer is they were overwhelmed, without understanding it, by a spirit which was the spirit of antichrist.
I believe that that is a preview of what is going to happen in the world, and I think very shortly. I think God is going to confront the human race with choice. Do you want Jesus or do you want this other? I think the same spiritual force will cause the vast majority of humanity to say, “Away with Jesus, we’ll choose...”—someone infinitely worse than Barabbas. That’s why I think it’s so important to teach this, because I think every Christian needs to be instructed, that they will not make the wrong choice or follow the crowd.
There are various passages in the New Testament that teach very specifically about antichrist. I’m going to deal with two of them briefly. The first is 2 Thessalonians 2, the other will be Revelation 13. We’ll turn to 2 Thessalonians 2 first. I’m going to go through this, more or less, verse by verse but I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it. So, if you have your Bible it’s good if you can follow it. I’m going to summarize it as follows:
Verses 1 and 2 teach us that the manifestation of antichrist must precede the actual return of the Lord Jesus. Paul says don’t let anybody convince you in any way as though the day of the Lord has already come, the day of the return of Jesus.
“Let no one deceive you...”
And how important those words are. I’d like to say them again.
“Let no one deceive you...”
I said in a previous talk in this series the greatest single danger that threatens us as Christians is deception.
“Let no one deceive you by any means, for that day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition.”
The man of lawlessness, the son of perdition, is the antichrist. Who else was called the son of perdition? There’s only one other person called that. Judas, that’s right. What was Judas? He was an apostle who apostasized. Again, that’s a clear indication that the antichrist will have some kind of association with the church.
And, he’s called the man of lawlessness. John says the spirit of lawlessness is already at work. But the antichrist will be the final, ultimate manifestation of man’s rebellion against God. It will take the form of choosing a ruler who is in rebellion against God and who is against God’s appointed ruler, the Lord Jesus.
But, and this is very important, Paul says that will not happen until the falling away takes place. That’s the New King James translation. The NIV says “the rebellion.” But the Greek word is apostasia, from which we get the English word apostasy. Apostasy is a deliberate turning away from revealed religious truth. The word is only used in one other place in the New Testament where Paul is accused by the Jews of teaching apostasy in turning the people away from the laws of Moses. So, its primary significance is to turn away from revealed religious truth and Paul teaches that the antichrist cannot be revealed until there has been “the” apostasy in the church. Because, the church is the spiritual barrier to the activity of Satan. So Satan has to undermine the church before he can fulfill his evil purposes.
I want to suggest to you that we are living in the days of “the” apostasy. There has been wickedness and immorality and covetousness and violence in the church through countless centuries. But it’s only in this age and particularly in this generation that nearly all the major denominations have officially rejected the great basic truths of the gospel, which are that Jesus is the Son of God, that He was born of a virgin, that He led a sinless life, that He died an atoning death, that He was buried and He rose physically the third day, and that He’s coming back again. I don’t need to acquaint you with the fact that these basic truths have been openly flaunted and denied in almost every major denomination. And not only in the denominations but there are many much smaller groups in which these truths are being attacked.
Some years back my first wife and I had friends who attended a Methodist church in the United States—and this is not an attack on Methodists. These friends said to us, “In our church you can talk as much as you like about Plato or Socrates or Buddha, or Martin Luther King. But, if you start to talk about Jesus, people get upset.” What spirit is that? It’s the spirit of antichrist in its first phase, get Jesus out of the way. The second phase is replace Him with another. And that spirit is at work in almost every area of the body of Christ today. You better identify it, it can be very subtle, it can be very intellectual, it can be very theological, but it’s still the spirit of antichrist.
Verses 4 and 5 stated the antichrist will:
“...oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he will sit in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
There’s a lot of discussion about what the temple of God is. I have come to believe myself that it will be a physical temple built on the temple mount in Jerusalem by the Jewish people. I have to say that many Jews are actively preparing for that, so much that they have schools for the Levites to teach them how to practice the sacrifices. Because you understand, it’s a very elaborate ritual. It’s not easy. You have to know how to skin a sheep, what to do with the various different parts of the sheep. There’s also those who are actually weaving the robes of the priests. And, there have been two attempts to break through onto the temple mount. It is suggested by some scholars that the actual place of the Holy of Holies was not where the Mosque of Omar now stands, so that it could be possible to rebuild a temple without demolishing the Mosque of Omar. I’m not saying that’s the way it will happen but I’ve been awakened to the fact in the last few years that there is an intense pressure at work amongst the Jewish people to rebuild the temple.
There is a teaching in Judaism, which is not scriptural and it’s not taught in all Judaism, that the one who will give us back our temple is our messiah. That’s not scriptural but if you’re not familiar with the Jewish people you have no concept of how significant for them the temple of Herod was. I’m always amazed because they never go back in their thinking to the temple of Solomon, it’s always the temple of Herod. Which is amazing because Herod was an Edomite, he was a wicked man who murdered all sorts of people, including members of his own family. And, built this temple in order to propitiate the Jewish people. But there’s a kind of spirit at work that says “we want our temple back, and the one who will give us our temple back we will acknowledge as our messiah.”
So, I personally believe that the antichrist will at some time sit in a temple that has been rebuilt by the Jewish people. People say it couldn’t be the temple of God because they’re the unbelievers. I’m not convinced of that because the Jews are God’s people whether they’re believers or unbelievers. God is the God of the Jews whether they acknowledge Him or not. If Jews build a temple to their God, then it is the temple of God. This is just one way of looking at it.
As you understand, I’ve spent a good deal of time meditating on this and I’ve done it because I feel pressured, living as we do in Jerusalem, there’s such a sense that the shadow of the antichrist is fallen across the city. It’s not something remote, it’s something very close at hand.
Then in verses 5 and 6, Paul says:
“Do you not remember that when I was still with you, I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he [the antichrist] may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.”
Again, this is a question that is discussed. But the restraining force is called both he and it. Who and what? I agree with those who say that it is the Holy Spirit. Until the Holy Spirit withdraws Himself in some way, the antichrist cannot be fully manifested.
“And then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.”
I’m personally glad that the true Christ will take care of the false christ. I don’t want that task assigned to me because the antichrist is a person of extraordinary cunning and wisdom and power. I think it’s appropriate the true Messiah will deal with the false messiah.
“...the coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved.”
It’s very important to emphasize that the coming of the antichrist will be attested by many supernatural miracles and signs. I’ve always said for years the obvious place for the antichrist to arise is in the Charismatic movement because Charismatics go overboard on the supernatural. I believe in the supernatural myself but I don’t believe that every supernatural miracle is from God. I think it’s so important that we learn to distinguish because otherwise we are inevitably going to be deceived.
Then it says “with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved.” There is only one protection and that is to receive the love of the truth. If you sincerely love the truth, that will protect you from deception. But the word love in Greek, agape, is a very strong word. It means a passionate devotion to the truth. It doesn’t mean that you just read your Bible once every day or go to a church that preaches the Bible, it means that you esteem the truth above all else in your life. Lots of people who are called Bible believing Christians don’t exhibit the love of the truth.
There are two ways you can understand the truth. The truth is Jesus and the truth is the Word of God. I want to exhort you to love the Word of God passionately. To take more time with that than you take with your television set or any other activity. Because, if you don’t, you’ll be deceived.
I would say at the moment there is a great lukewarmness in this nation and in many other nations amongst the professing Christians toward the Word of God. A friend of mine came here to Britain, I must say this, I hope it will offend nobody. Lance Lambert, who is probably known to many of you. He held a series of meetings throughout the British Isles and even in Jersey and in Northern Ireland, and in Dublin. They were attended by about twice as many people as anybody had made provision for. They had overflow crowds in almost every meeting. Lance told us afterwards he understood one main reason why people were coming was that they wanted to hear the Bible taught. They did not hear it. They heard all sorts of prophecies and revelations and theories, but very little real teaching of the Bible. That has to change or the church in Britain will be swept away with the deception of antichrist.
It says in verse 11:
“For this reason God will send them strong delusion...”
Have you ever thought about that? If you don’t receive the love of truth and practice it, God will send you strong delusion. And brothers and sisters, if God sends you delusion there is no way you can avoid it, you will be deceived. It’ll be a judgment of God because of our failure to love and obey the truth.
It says in verse 11:
“...God will send them strong delusion because otherwise they would believe the lie...”
I think the word “the” is important. I think it’s not just any lie, it’s “the” lie. I believe it’s the first lie that Satan told humanity, it was “you shall be as God.” The amazing thing is that preachers in the Charismatic movement are teaching this today. I’m not theorizing because I’ve read the actual words that they have uttered. You see, Satan doesn’t have to think up a new lie because the old one still works. What does it appeal to above all else in humanity, in one word? Pride, that’s right. Pride, a lot of people say it goes before a fall. But that’s not what the Bible says. It says that pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. One of the things we are going to need to learn to do, all of us, is to humble ourselves. And bear in mind what I said the other day, God doesn’t do it for you. You cannot say, “God, make me humble,” because God says, “Humble yourself.” It’s a decision of the will.
I suggest to you that you should welcome any opportunity to humble yourself. Everything in us resists it but it can be the mercy of God. When people are unjust to you or make bad statements about you or don’t treat you with appreciation, do you know what you should do? Praise God, it gives me an opportunity to humble myself. The Bible says every one that humbles himself will be exalted. But everyone that exalts himself will be abased. See, your business is to humble yourself and let God exalt you. Don’t do it the other way around and exalt yourself because God will have to abase you.
There’s a beautiful pattern of this in the eternal relationship. There are two significant persons. One humbled Himself and one exalted himself. The one who humbled Himself was Jesus who became obedient even to the point of death. Then the scripture says “therefore God also highly exalted Him.” What’s the therefore there for? Because He humbled Himself. See, Jesus did not get exaltation as a spoiled Son, He was exalted because He met the conditions to be exalted.
This principle runs throughout the universe. There are no exceptions whatever. Everyone who exalts himself will be abased, but, thank God, everyone who humbles himself will be exalted. I don’t want to get involved in this because I could go on for a long while. But let me just suggest to married couples one very good way to humble yourself, is to apologize to your wife or your husband every time you say or do something that’s out of place. Don’t brush it off, don’t shrug your shoulders, say, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that, I was unkind, I was impatient, I was irritable. Please forgive me.” And then thank God for an opportunity to humble yourself. God will provide you with the opportunities if you’re open!
I think we’ve dealt enough with 2 Thessalonians 2, let’s go to Revelation 13. Again I want to go through it as quickly as possible because I’m moving on. Revelation 13, I’m going to take the text which I believe is the best, which is essentially that followed by the NIV, although I’m reading from the NKJ.
“Then he [that is the dragon] stood on the sand of the sea.”
And then John says a beast, and the Greek says a wild beast. It’s very important that we translate it, it’s a fierce, destructive creature.
“A wild beast rose up out of the sea, it had seven heads and ten horns...”
Let me point out to you that I don’t think there’s any good creature that has more than one head. All the creatures in the Bible that have more than one head are evil. I want to emphasize the church has only one head.
The wild beast came up from the sea which I just understand to be the world of politics. But that’s just a personal feeling. It had seven heads and ten horns. Verse 2 says:
“...it has the body of a leopard, the feet of a bear, the mouth of a lion.”
What does the Bible teach about the leopard? One significant thing about the leopard, that it cannot change its spots. So, don’t be deceived, it cannot change its nature.
One doesn’t know what the bear and the lion are but there are two nations that are traditionally identified with the bear and the lion. The bear is Russia and the lion is Britain, that’s right. I don’t say that but it could well be. It would be a central European confederation which got a little bit from Britain and a little bit from Russia. That’s just a possibility, time will show.
Then it says, and this is important, in the end of verse 2 of chapter 13:
“The dragon [the devil] gave him [this creature] his power, his throne, and great authority.”
So he is supernaturally empowered from Satan.
And then in verses 3 and 4 he goes through some experience of a death and a resurrection. It says:
“I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.”
I’ve often asked what would have happened if John Kennedy had been raised from the dead. I think basically he would have had the whole world at his feet. Well, it didn’t happen but sometime or other something like that, it may not be a real experience, but something is going to happen that will convince the people that this person died and came back to life. Verse 4:
“...so they [the world] worshiped the dragon, and gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast, who is able to make war with him?’”
Now, here is a wonderful contrast. Keep your finger in Revelation 13 and turn to Matthew 4 for a moment. You’ll see the difference between the true and the false christ. In Matthew 4:8 and following, this is part of the temptation of Jesus:
“The devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; and the devil said to Jesus, ‘All these things I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’”
Satan has been looking for many centuries for one man whom he could empower to gain control of humanity and cause humanity to worship him. You see, you know the original claim of the devil was equality with God. When he made that claim he was thrown out of heaven and he can no longer openly assert that claim. But there’s one way he can still assert equality with God, because there’s one thing that belongs only to God and must never be offered to anybody else. What is it? Worship, that’s right. So, if the devil can achieve worship, he is in effect saying, “There you are, I’m equal with God.”
“But Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’’”
The true Christ turned down the offer, He wouldn’t make a bargain with Satan for the sake of worldly power. The false christ will make the deal, that’s the difference.
“...so they [the people of the world] worshiped the dragon [the devil], who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast, who is able to make war with him?’”
That to me suggests that somehow he will accumulate an arsenal of nuclear weapons which nobody would dare to challenge. That may not be true but that’s a possibility.
“He was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and he was given authority to continue forty-two months.”
This is very important. Who gave him that authority. God. See, we’re going to face a situation in which God permits a certain evil ruler to exercise authority for three and a half years. It could well be that many of us will be alive at that time. We need to bear in mind this is God’s doing. I think that’s one reason why the Bible is so explicit enough. We could be astonished and say, “God, why do you permit this wicked man to rule the nations and to persecute the true believers?” I’m not sure that God gives an answer but He says it’s going to happen and when it happens you better know I’m the one who has permitted it.
If you could see your faces! I think some of you have never entertained that thought before. I think personally that a lot of us are going through experiences which are preparing us. We’re learning that we cannot manipulate God. I mean, we know all the truths about healing but we don’t always get healed, is that right? Why not? God doesn’t always explain. There are things God doesn’t explain. One thing that’s essential to success in the Christian life is to acknowledge the sovereignty of God. He does what He wants, when He wants, the way He wants, and He asks no one’s permission. Not even yours!
“Then he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven.”
That’s open blasphemy of the true God.
“And it was granted to him [by God] to make war with the saints and to overcome them...”
Just absorb that for a moment. God gave him permission to make war with the true believers and to overcome them. If in this life only we have hope in Christ we are of all men the most to be pitied. Maybe that’s one of the lessons we’re going to have to learn. Our hope is not fixed in this world, it goes beyond time into eternity. And not everything will be straightened out in time. Some of you don’t look happy!
See, there is a weakness in the contemporary Charismatic movement that suggests you get all you want now and live in peace and prosperity for the rest of your life. I didn’t intend to say this but Ruth and I recently worked through the book of Job. At the end, God, I hope I’m saying the right thing, I don’t want to disappoint anybody. But at the end after it all happened, you know, God appeared to Job. And interestingly enough, Job had no more questions after he had seen the Lord. He didn’t have to have an answer to every point and detail. Just meeting the Lord was sufficient. Then the Lord said, in effect, “Job spoke about me what was right but your three friends have spoke about me what is not right.” I’d been pondering on that for more than a month. Let me say it this way—I really didn’t mean to say this but I think God wants me to—when you analyze the words of Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, what were they preaching? The answer is the prosperity gospel. If you study it carefully, everything will be all right, you’ll never be sick, you’ll always have plenty of money. In a sense, it’s all true but God says they didn’t speak about me what was right. Job came out and said some very bitter things about God and God said he said what was right. Ponder that. I believe the prosperity gospel, I’ve taught it for years, longer than most of the people that are teaching it. In fact, some of them got it from me! I’m saying that because they’ve told me that. But it isn’t the last word. Amen? I mean, I’m saying this because I’m really concerned about you because you may end up in bitter disillusion disappointments if you don’t make room for God’s sovereignty in your life.
What Don said about the fear of the Lord, I said amen and amen and amen. What He wants more than anything else is reverent respect for Him and a willingness to acknowledge He knows His job. He knows what He’s doing, He never makes a mistake, every choice He makes is right. Do you believe that? Put your hand up if you believe it, because I do. Remember you put your hand up a week from now.
We’re going on in Revelation 13, verse 8:
“All who dwell on the earth will worship him...”
That’s the beast. And in worshiping the beast they worshiped Satan.
“...whose names have not been written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
So who will be exempt? Only those whose names were written in the book of life from the foundation of the world. In other words, God preserves those whom He has chosen. The most important thing, in a way, is to know that God chose you. Again, this is not widely taught in the church today but it happens to be true. You’re not a Christian because you chose to be a Christian, you’re a Christian because God chose you. And that makes it much more secure. Many Christians are kind of anxious and striving and trying to make it through and wondering if they will. They haven’t understood that God chose them from eternity, that He has a plan for their live which is going to be worked out. Relax. Stop trying to be so good and enjoy God.
I want you to know that Ruth and I have learned these lessons the hard way. I’m not preaching a theory.
“If anyone has an ear, let him hear.”
I didn’t even know that verse was there. Now, verse 10, I’m going to turn to the NIV because I believe it’s the more accurate translation. That’s verse 9 and 10, which says:
“He who has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go; if anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed.”
That’s almost fatalism, isn’t it. If I’m due for captivity, that’s where I’ll go. If I’m due to be killed, to be killed I will.
Then it says, and this is the application:
“This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.”
No matter what is happening, no matter how you’re treated, no matter how badly things may seem to go, God expects patient endurance and faithfulness.
Shall I tell you something about endurance? There’s only one way to learn endurance, do you know what that is? It’s by enduring. God is putting many of you through things that you don’t understand and you don’t like because you’re going to have to learn endurance if you’re going to survive. He’s preparing many of us to endure much more than we’re enduring right now. Can you say praise the Lord?
I’m sorry to say things that disappoint you but they just happen to be true, I believe. I really am sorry. I mean that sincerely. I wouldn’t want to dash your hopes or leave you feeling downcast.
We’re going on in verse 11:
“Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke like a dragon.”
Now the earth, I believe, represents religion. That’s just my personal opinion. Here is a religious figure. And remember that religion is the most powerful force in humanity. It’s far more powerful than atheism or materialism. And so, if Satan is going to captivate the human race he has to have somebody religious to do it. If the antichrist is going to exercise total authority, he has to use religion as a way of attaining that.
And it says in verse 11 this beast had two horns like a lamb, and spoke like a dragon. He claimed to be a lamb but he was really a dragon. He claimed to be a follower of Jesus but he didn’t have the spirit of Jesus.
“And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.”
Notice the supreme thrust of this is worship of the beast.
“He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs by which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast.”
What’s the danger there, in one word? Deception, that’s right. Because of miraculous signs. Not all miracles attest the truth of the Word of God. Some miracles are done in order to affirm lies. And, it was granted to him. God, do you really mean that? Are you really going to permit these practitioners of evil to do miracles? God says yes.
And then he says in verse 14:
“...he tells those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and died. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.”
So here is something that is probably in the realm of the supernatural, an image that can speak, although with present electronic achievements, you can do that. How many of you have been to Disneyworld and seen the speaking image of Abraham Lincoln where he stands and he makes a speech? So, I’m not saying that will be, I think it will be on a higher level than that.
But anybody who will not worship the image of the beast, there’s only one destiny, to be killed.
I point out here that we have a satanic trinity. I’d just like you to notice that for a moment. The dragon, Satan, is the counterpart of God the Father. The beast, the antichrist, is the counterpart of the Son. The false prophet is the counterpart of the Holy Spirit. And, the idol that they produce is the counterpart of the church. See, Satan has no inventiveness, no creativity. He can only imitate what God has already done. There is a famous Latin saying, Diabolos, simeus, dei, “the devil, the ape of God.” He has no creativity.
Now then, let’s come to these exciting verses that everybody’s interested in, verse 16:
“And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand, or on their forehead, and that no one may buy or sell, except one who has the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”
You can get away in that system with three things: the mark, the name or the number. But, without those you cannot buy or sell, you’re excluded from all society.
Now the number of the name of the beast fascinates many people and it says in verse 18:
“Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man; his number is six hundred and sixty-six.”
The fact is that amongst Jewish people every name has a number. And, I believe the same is potentially true in Greek society. Because both in Hebrew and in Greek the letters of the alphabet also are numerical values. The first ten letters are one through ten. After that it goes up by ten. Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety, one hundred. After that it goes up by hundreds. Two hundred, three hundred, four hundred. And it depends how many letters there are in the alphabet how high you can go. The Hebrew alphabet only goes to four hundred, the Greek goes higher.
So, my dear wife Ruth, come and stand here for a moment, sweetheart, so that they can see you’re really there. Ruth has a Hebrew name which is Ruth, which is just the same as English, except the final letter is just one sound. It’s R, resh; (unintelligible). All those have numerical values. So, if you write her name vertically and write opposite each letter the value of the name, then all you have to do is add up and you get the number of the name. Now, Ruth met a rabbi in Israel when she first went there and he said to her, “Your name, Ruth, is a very powerful name because it has a high number.” But I’ll tell you what her name is and this is rather critical because of the 666 thing. R is 200, the last letter is 400, so that makes 600. So, where are we with the middle letter? The answer is it’s 6. So, Ruth’s name is six hundred and six, do you understand? This is not obscure, it’s an accepted fact. Thank you, sweetheart.
Because of this I checked on the value of Jesus’ in Greek, which is the language in which we get this book. I wrote the letters down vertically, wrote opposite them the numerical value, added it up and do you know what I got? Eight hundred and eighty-eight. I personally believe that’s significant. The false christ is six hundred and sixty-six, the true Christ is eight hundred and eighty-eight. There may come a time where there’ll be a name that you’ll need to add up. And if it adds up to 666, you better pack your bags and get ready to move. You’re laughing but I think it’s serious.
Now, we just turn to Revelation 17 for a few quick moments. Verses 12 and 13. Remember, the beast had ten horns and it says here:
“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom of yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind and they will give their power and authority to the beast.”
So the ultimate expression of Gentile authority is, let’s say, a community of ten kings.
Now I want to go back to the Old Testament and deal a little bit with Daniel because much of Revelation is based on Daniel. If you don’t understand Daniel, there’s a limit to how far you can understand Revelation. So, gird up the loins of your mind and hold on because we’re going to go into something now. In Daniel 2, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and when he woke up in the morning he couldn’t remember what he had dreamt. And so, being a total autocrat, he sent for all his magicians, sorcerers, soothsayers, Chaldeans and all the rest, and said, “Tell me my dream and the interpretation.” They all said, “King, that’s unreasonable. You tell us the dream, we’ll tell you the interpretation.” He said, “No, I want you to tell me the dream and the interpretation. If you don’t, you’ll all be executed.” So, they sent out the executioner to start executing and they came to Daniel. Daniel said, “Why so hasty? Give me time and I’ll tell the king his dream and the interpretation.” He prayed and God showed Daniel in a night vision what he was praying for. So this is what Daniel says to the king in Daniel 2:31 and following:
“You, O king, were watching and behold, a great image; this great image whose splendor was excellent, stood before you and its form was awesome. This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broken them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed together and became like chaff from the summer threshing floor; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.”
That is a figurative description of the coming of Jesus and the establishment of His kingdom. But when it comes, the stone cut without hands, the first thing it does is fall on the feet of the image. And as a result, the whole image is disintegrated totally and just disappears like chaff.
That’s God’s estimate of Gentile power that’s not based on God’s authority. And really, it’s almost comical how God expresses His view because, first of all, it was an image, it was not reality. Second, it was in a dream, not reality. Third, the person who had the dream couldn’t remember his dream. Fourth, the progress was from the head down to the feet and it was always a less valuable metal than the previous one. It was from gold to silver to bronze to iron to clay. That’s God’s estimate of the Gentile nations and their history.
We hear a lot about evolution, and doubtless it applies in some places, but people neglect the fact that there is also de-evolution. This very clearly depicts the de-evolution of humanity and of its temporal power always going down, always less valuable, and ultimately dissipated so that nothing is left of it.
Let’s consider the significance of the parts of the image. The head is interpreted, very simply, it’s Babylon represented by Nebuchadnezzar.
Babylon was succeeded in the history of the Middle East by Medo-Persia, the empire of the Medes and the Persians, which is the silver chest and arms. And it’s interesting, there were two arms signifying there were two elements to Medo-Persia. There was the Medes and the Persians.
The next empire that followed was Greece, brought into being by Alexander the Great. It is represented by the belly and thighs of bronze. It’s interesting to me, I just observe this, that the belly and thighs represent the reproductive area. Out of all those four empires the one that has been reproductive spiritually is Greece. Greece is the source of democracy, it’s the source of humanism, it’s the source of all western philosophy of which I was a student, it’s the source of relativity. The first Greek philosopher of whom we have any record, named Protagoras, said certain very simple things. He said, “Man is the measure of all things.” That’s humanism exactly. He said, “You cannot step twice into the same river because the second time the water will be different.” He presented a totally relativistic picture of reality. And, if you look at the culture of the western world, the European nations including Britain, they really are dictated largely by Greece.
You have a slightly different form of education than what I went through but when I went to school I started learning Latin at the age of 9 and Greek at the age of 10. By the age of 12 I was expected to be able to write verse in Greek and Latin. And the schools I attended were, to a certain extent, Christian. But the most important thing was to be able to quote Greek, to know the Greek poets and the Greek philosophers. And our culture was molded on that. When I met Jesus, one of the things I had to do was renounce my whole involvement with Greek culture and philosophy.
So, this is just an illustration of how exact the Word of God is. In fact, I would say that Britain has got to be delivered from the slavery to the classics before it will have a real revival.
We come to the legs of iron, the fourth empire which is Rome. I mean, these interpretations are agreed by almost all Bible commentators. Like the arms, the legs are two. This warns us that there’s going to be some kind of division. This is very significant because of its interpretation. So, the Roman Empire came into being as one but in the fourth century it was split into two, western empire and eastern empire, in the time of Constantine. The capital of the western empire was Rome, the capital of the eastern empire was Constantinople. So you have the two legs.
Now, on the two legs are the toes. Everybody understands that. Any normal figure doesn’t have nine toes on one foot and one toe on the other. It has five toes on one foot and five on the other. So now let’s look at the next picture. Do you recognize that? I hope you can, that’s basically southern Europe. And do you see those two legs coming down with the feet partly of iron and partly of clay? Incidentally, my appreciation to the person who made these. The right leg’s toes are on Rome, the left leg’s toes are on Constantinople. If this is accurate, and there are to be ten kings and a confederation of ten kings, at the present time a lot of people are excited about the European community and think this is going to be it. But I say that’s impossible because you don’t have nine toes on one leg and one toe on the other leg. Furthermore, there are a lot more than ten nations now part of the European community. I think the European community is a picture of the way things are going to go but it’s certainly not the ultimate.
So let’s consider, I’m giving you inferences. They’re not necessarily statements of doctrine, they may not work out exactly as I suggest. They’re not intended to tell you the final truth, they’re intended to get you thinking along a certain line so that from now on you’ll be able to assess things for yourself in the light of scripture. So, if we have five toes on the right leg, that is the eastern half of the Roman Empire, we have to ask ourselves what five nations might be there. And this is merely a “might,” but my answer is Spain, France, Germany, Italy, and if there’s one more it could easily be Austria. Now, one thing to bear in mind about those nations is that they all by background are Roman Catholic and they’re all imperial nations. Every one of them has had an empire. My comment is the leopard will not change its spots. Ultimately, those will be the decisive factors in the conduct of those nations.
Now we go to the eastern half, the left leg, and we have possibly Greece, Turkey, Syria, Israel [Palestine or whatever], and Egypt. Again, this is merely a possibility. But it meets the requirements because we have five toes on each foot. Furthermore, the ultimate battleground, the final place where things are going to work out is not Europe, it’s the Middle East. And the Middle East has to be involved. So that’s just a way of thinking, okay? I’m not by any means claiming it will work out exactly that way. But I do think it’s much more probable than any theory that says it will grow out of the European community.
See, we all tend to be self centered. And we are, more or less, Europeans. So we tend to think it all revolves around us. But the truth of the matter is the one area of the world which plays the major part in biblical revelation is the Middle East. And it’s got to be the place where the focus ends.
You say how could all this come about? I don’t know and I personally believe we are continually talking about a world government. I don’t believe, and this is my opinion, that anybody will be able to bring about a world government except the antichrist. It will take him. Meanwhile, we have how many years—we don’t know—left in which we are still free to some measure to operate and do what God has called us to do.
If we’re to have a confederation that extends from Spain to Egypt, the unifying force will probably have to be religion. There are three religions that could do it in combination. That’s Judaism, Christianity and Islam. They all have much in common. There’s really only one obstacle to some kind of world religion emerging out of them, just one obstacle. It’s that awkward historical character named Jesus. Because Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” So, if antichrist is to bring this order into being, what does he have to do first? Get Jesus out of the way. And he is working assiduously at that day and night. We have situations now in which the queen herself as the head of the Anglican church has attended a service in an Anglican building where worship was offered by Hindus and Muslims and others. The Pope has attended similar ceremonies. What does it all tell us? In the last resort, if Jesus is an obstacle, get Him out of the way and then we’ll have unity, we’ll have one world. We can have a one world government. I’m afraid it’s going to happen. I don’t want it but I think it will happen because I think God has said it will happen.
Now all this is, in a sense, theory. Not all of it but some of it. I don’t want to impose my opinions on you, all I want to do is to stimulate you to think in a certain direction.
Now, in Daniel 8 we have a prophecy about two of the empires. We don’t have time to go into it in detail but there is a ram, which is Persia, and a goat, which is Greece. That’s so typical of those nations because it’s a characteristic animal.
All this was opened up by Alexander the Great. He was the one who broke through and changed the whole world system. Out of Alexander there came four lesser empires. Maybe we should read that in Daniel 8, if I can find it quickly enough. Daniel 8:8:
“Therefore, the male goat [Greece] grew very great, but when he became strong the large horn [Alexander] was broken; and in place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven.”
But they did not have the same power as Alexander. I think history makes clear what the four empires were. Number one, Macedon which is northern Greece under Antigonus. Number two, Pergamum in Turkey under the Attalids. Number three, Syria under the Seleucids. And number four, Egypt under the Ptolemies.
Now, in Daniel 8:9–11, it tells us the antichrist is going to arise out of one of these empires in the end time. Much of the purpose of Daniel 7 and 8 is to tell us about the antichrist. But in each case it gives us a historical background and a geographical background against which we can assess the information. So it says in Daniel 8:9–11:
“Out of one of them...”
That’s these four, as they call them in Greek, (phonetic) dee ah do key, the successors to Alexander.
“Out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land. And it grew up to the host of heaven and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them. He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host...”
Now this is the antichrist who eventually sets himself on the level of Jesus. But it came out of one of the four empires. Now, which one? It says in Daniel 8:9 that “it became exceeding great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land.” If it developed towards those, it didn’t develop out of them. Are you with me? So, where would we look for it? The south is Egypt, the east is Syria, and the glorious land is the land of Israel. What’s the nearest place from which the power could arise? The answer is Turkey. I personally believe that’s where it will settle. I’m not saying it will arise out of Turkey but it will be located in Turkey and it will be located in one particular town which is Pergamum. A lot of you have not even heard of Pergamum but it’s one of the cities of the seven churches in Asia. And, if it were to arrive in Pergamum, which we’ll look at in Daniel 7:20, it says:
“The truth about the ten horns that were on its head [the ten we’ve looked at, the toes and the kings], and about the other horn which came up, before which three fell...”
Now that’s the antichrist, the little horn. Before it three of the original horns fell. If my suggestion is correct, the three horns that would fall would be Syria, Palestine and Egypt. We would have a some kind of political power that dominates the whole of the east end of the Mediterranean, which is where all the final action is going to take place. Bear that in mind.
In Revelation 2:13—be patient with me, we’re getting near the end—it says to the church of Pergamum, Jesus speaks and He says:
“I know your works and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is.”
So where is Satan’s throne located? In Pergamum.
Now, in Revelation 13:2 it says:
“The beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon [that’s Satan] gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.”
Where was his throne? Pergamum. Pergamum is an interesting place. In the period before Jesus, in the last two or three centuries, it became a quite significant city, it almost rivaled Alexandria. It was the center of certain things. It was the center of the worship of Zeus. Zeus, you know, is the god of the false gods, the father of the gods of the Greek or Roman culture. Zeus in Greek, Jupiter in Latin. I believe, and I’m sure many of you agree with me, those pagan gods are none other than the principalities and powers of which Paul and others speak. They are the satanic rulers in the heavenlies that seek to dominate the earth. And, of those the leader was Zeus. So, in Pergamum there was a temple of Zeus which had an altar which was, I think, 140 feet long, 100 feet wide and 40 feet high. It had a tremendous carved frieze illustrating the battle of the gods and the giants, all from Greek mythology. In the end of the 19th century, German archaeologists excavated it, took it apart, took it to Berlin and rebuilt it, and it is now located in a museum in Berlin. I understand this, it’s hard to prove it. When the Russians moved into Berlin, they made an exact copy of this altar and exported it to Moscow. It did play some significant role in the various ceremonies of the Communist party. But it is really the altar of Satan.
Now, the people of Bergema, which is the modern form of Pergamum, are agitating to have that altar returned because they say it really belongs to us, the Germans shouldn’t have taken it.
Another feature about Pergamum was it was the center of the worship of the god Isculapius, who was the Greek god of healing. Out of the worship of Isculapius there developed the worship of the Roman emperor, emperor worship. In the evolution of history, first of all the Roman emperor was considered to become a god after he had died. Then he was received as a god while he was still alive. So, the ruler of the empire became acknowledged as god. In other words, the whole spiritual process for the raising up of the antichrist has already been worked out in this particular set up.
I am not saying that’s the way it will happen but I’m saying as far as I understand, it’s in line with the situation and the predictions of the Bible. Time will show how far it’s correct. I trust that I have been able to persuade you that it’s all very real, it’s very relevant. It’s not remote, it’s not from another age, it’s right here and now that these things are happening. They concern us. We need to know how to respond to what Satan is planning and we have to bear in mind that for a period of at least three and a half years God is going to permit the antichrist to have his way. Does your theology make room for that? If not, I think you need to adjust your theology. Because, otherwise you’re going to be overtaken with a situation for which you’re totally unprepared. I’m not suggesting by any means that antichrist will ever triumph, or Satan will ever triumph. But I do believe there’ll be a period, and I believe it’s the same period that’s called in Matthew 24 “The Great Tribulation” that is ahead.
I know some Christians believe we’ll go out before the tribulation, some people believe we’ll go out in the middle of the tribulation, some people believe we’ll go out at the end. I think it’s important that we are prepared for whatever lies ahead without making up our minds in advance exactly how it’s going to work out. My fear is that the majority of the Christians that I move amongst and deal with today, if this were all to happen tomorrow, would be totally unprepared. Peter said to the Christians, “Arm yourself with the same mind, as Jesus suffered, you’re going to suffer.” So, if you have that mind set, you’re armed, you’ll survive. But if you go out into the conflict without that mind set you’re going out unarmed.
I’m not a gloomy person, I believe in the total victory of Jesus. But, I believe there’s things that have to happen and many of them have to happen in the church because the church is far from ready for its divine destiny. One of the things—this is subjective—but Jesus spoke to us recently, Ruth and me, He said He wants a church with muscles. Not flabby, not overweight. There’s one beautiful picture of the church in the Old Testament, it’s in Genesis 24, it’s Rebekah who was the chosen bride. It’s a beautiful parable. But when Rebekah came along, do you know what she did? She drew enough water for all ten camels. And a camel can drink forty gallons of water. So she drew four hundred gallons of water. Don’t tell me she wasn’t muscular.
How are we going to be sure that we make it through? I want to return and close with this, 2 Thessalonians 2:10:
“Satan will work with all unrighteous deception among those who perish because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved. Therefore, God will send them strong delusion...”
There is only one guarantee of safety, it is to receive the love of the truth. God is offering the love of the truth, the question is will you receive it? Will you commit yourself to be faithful to Jesus who is the truth and to the Word of God which is the truth? And don’t believe in an unscriptural Jesus.
I think I must turn to this, I didn’t intend to. But in 2 Corinthians 11, Paul writes in verse 2 to the church:
“For I am jealous for you with Godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”
In the culture of those days, betrothal was not marriage but it was as binding as marriage and it was the step to marriage. A woman who was unfaithful in the time of betrothal was treated like an adulteress. I think it’s a wonderful testimony to what the blood of Jesus can do that Paul could speak about the church at Corinth as a chaste virgin. When you think of their background, they were pimps, prostitutes, drunkards, extortioners, liars, thieves. But the blood of Jesus could produce out of them a bride who would be a chaste virgin. Isn’t that something!
But, Paul says:
“I fear somehow as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the purity and simplicity that is in Christ.”
I tell you, I fear for that. Basically, the gospel is a pure, simple message. I may not be able to communicate it that way but that’s the way it is. I am afraid of too much theology. Actually, the theological seminaries are the main breeding ground of unbelief in the church today. That’s a simple statement of fact. It’s not true of them all. I’m afraid that you’re going to be corrupted from the purity and simplicity of your faith in Jesus Christ.
“For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you may well put up with it.”
You see, the issue is, is it the real Jesus? Because if you believe in another Jesus, then you’ll receive a different gospel and a different spirit.
There are many versions of another Jesus being peddled in the church today. One is a Marxist revolutionary. That’s what’s called liberation theology, it sweeps much of South America, including the Catholics.
Another is a talented guru on a level with Buddha and others. I want to tell you, Jesus is no guru. He’s the Son of God and the Creator of the universe. If you think of Him in terms of a guru you have no concept whatever of who He is. You are receiving another gospel and you’ll be open to a different spirit.
And then there’s the vision of Jesus as a kind of Father Christmas who walks around patting people on the head, saying, “There, there, don’t worry, it will be all right.” Jesus has eyes like a flame of fire and a sharp two-edged sword goes out of His mouth. And although John had known Him intimately in the days of His flesh, when John met the resurrected Jesus in the opening chapter of Revelation he fell at His feet as one dead. That’s the Christ that we serve and we worship.
So, let’s make up our minds to receive the love of the truth and to renounce anything that conflicts. I should stop but I have to say God spoke to Ruth and me—and you’re open to judge this—and He said you can only have fellowship with those who have the love of the truth. And I understand that because otherwise we’re playing games. And fellowship is very open, very sincere, very frank, but it demands the love of the truth.
So, how are we going to end? I could pray for you and I’m not going to ask you to make any response because I’ve seen that’s an easy way out. You call people forward, they pray, they shed a few tears and they walk away no different from what they were. Some of you need to be very different people from what you are. We cannot change you but we can pray for you. Brothers and sisters, those of you who are behind me, come and pray for these dear, wonderful people.
“Lord Jesus Christ, you are the way, the truth and the life. You are the head over all things to the church which is your body. And so tonight we want to acknowledge you. We want to bow our hearts in your presence and we want to give you the preeminence which is due to you. Lord, if we don’t have the love of the truth, if we’re playing around with all sorts of religious games and theories, and our religion is a kind of play, Lord, change us. Change us, we pray. We pray for those standing before you that where necessary you’ll convict of sin, of righteousness and of judgment, but you will not allow us to go on playing religious games and calling it Christianity. Have mercy on us, Lord. Have mercy on the church in this nation and send a real revival which will change the church, Lord. In Jesus’ name we ask it. Amen.”
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