Thursday, June 29, 2006

Eschatology 101 (Part 10)

We read in Mark 13:24-27 "But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven."

The final things which will happen for Christ returns are that the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. The concept of the the sun and moon being darkenedd is quite popular in scripture and on many occasions it is related to the final coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (see Isaiah 13:10, Isaiah 24:23, Joel 2:10 and Revelation 6:12-15).

The question which comes to mind is this: Is this is literal event or is it a symbol for something else.

If it is symbolic then it can mean that certain fixed institutions will be shaken and ultimately no longer give their light. With the sun and moon used to represent the steadfastness of such institutions be they governments, empires or systems.

If it is literal then it means that the return of Christ will have a cosmological effect. Some say it means there will be an eclipse (scheduled or otherwise) at his return or that the sun, moon and stars won't be visible due to His glorious brightness.

I tend to edge towards an actual physical dimming or destruction of these heavenly bodies as it says in Revelation 6: 12-14 "And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places." Which is a description of the end of the world.

Also the verses about the sun and moon being darkened are quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost. In those verses there was (and still is) a literal pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Man and women can be saved by calling on the name of the Lord, it is no symbolic. And so the darkening of the sun and moon isn't symbolic either.

Remember, watch and pray. Next time we shall look at how God will gather his elect from from the ends of the earth.



Eschatology 101 (Part 9)

In his second letter to the Thessalonians Paul, by the Spirit, writes: "Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God." (II Thessalonians 2:3-4)

The literal meaning of the English word antichrist is "instead of Christ". The antichrist is not so much as a person opposed to Christ but rather someone who sets them self up as a replacement for Christ. Here in 2 Thessalonians we see that the return of Christ will not happen (that day will not come) until the man who proclaims himself to be God appears.

Throughout history there have been many who have demanded worship, who have claimed to be a deity or who have claimed to be God. Amongst them we find Roman emperors, fascists and communist dictators, but have any of them been the antichrist, the man of lawlessness or have they just been an antichrist, a man of lawlessness. In 1 John 2:18 we read "Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour."

A quick search on the Internet for the "who is the antichrist" will give you lots of interesting links and ideas including a comical site which claims that David Hasselhoff is the Antichrist! For a general discussion of the subject I recommend Antichrist - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

There is also the charge that the Pope or more specifically the office of the Pope is the antichrist and some expect the antichrist to be one of the future Popes.

John Wesely wrote "He [Papacy] is in an emphatical sense, the Man of Sin, as he increases all manner of sin above measure. And he is, too, properly styled the Son of Perdition, as he has caused the death of numberless multitudes, both of his opposers and followers... He it is... that exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped... claiming the highest power, and highest honor... claiming the prerogatives which belong to God alone." Taken from “Antichrist and His Ten Kingdoms” by John Wesley, page 110.

Martin Luther (1483 - 1546) wrote "We here are of the conviction that the papacy is the seat of the true and real Antichrist. ...personally I declare that I owe the Pope no other obedience than that to Antichrist." August 18, 1520 Taken from "The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers" Vol. 2 Page 121.

The Antichrist is also known as the beast in the book of Revelations. In fact the imagery of a false Christ grows in the book of Revelation with the appearance of an unholy trinity (a false father, son and holy spirit) made up of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet. These 3 conspire to bring about a great rebellion against God.

Has the antichrist come? Maybe. Is the antichrist yet to appear? Similarly, maybe. If the antichrist is the beast in Revelation, then he is yet to appear, he has yet to start his final assulat against God and his saints. The great tribulation is yet to come.

Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first.

As always, we need to watch and pray. Luke 21:7-8 "And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

More soon,