Friday, May 18, 2018
Many Western Christians have a dismissive disinterest in the end-times because they’ve been taught by trusted theologians and false teachers that the seven-year tribulation will have no impact on them; that they’ll be spared from it by a pre-tribulation rapture. But they deceive themselves and their listeners. Consequently, many are unprepared for what’s just ahead.
In Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was given a very troubling dream of the four kingdoms that would rule the earth from his day to the end of this age, which was interpreted by the Prophet Daniel. Babylon would be followed by Persia, then Greece, and finally Rome whose rule would have a former and latter reign, the latter being our present day wherein the European Union is now the revived ancient Roman Empire, and is also the seat of Antichrist.
After his dream Nebuchadnezzar had a gold image made of himself ninety feet tall and “set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon” (Dan. 3:1), and said, “To you it is commanded, ‘O peoples, nations, and languages, that at the time you hear…all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that Nebuchadnezzar set up; and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace’” (Dan. 3:4–6).
Consider: Israel was in captivity, and when the time came to “fall down and worship”, all Israel, God’s people, also fell down and worshiped, except for three men. Don’t miss the relevance of this. God’s people had not prepared for this test, nor were they spared the event. But they had a choice to make: believe and honor God or the king of Babylon. And almost all Israel bowed and worshiped the image in order to spare their lives! But today, another image, one far more subtle and deceptive, has been erected over the centuries, an image of Satan’s counterfeit church.
When the prophet “saw a beast rising up out of the sea” (Rev. 13:1), he was seeing the rise of the false church, Satan’s counterfeit church, Roman Catholicism. He saw the seat of the papacy “the great harlot who sits on many waters…arrayed in purple and scarlet…The waters…where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues” (Rev. 17:1, 4, 15). For centuries now, the beast-image of the end-times has been erected across the world on the guise of being the true church. But Satan’s counterfeit church is what gave rise to the 16th century Reformation.
Will the “image of the beast” (Rev. 13:14–15) be a literal, physical image, because we know Antichrist comes “with all unrighteous deception among those who perish” (2 Thess. 2:10)? An image made of a man like King Nebuchadnezzar’s would not be deceptive to people of common sense…unless…that image could breath and speak. Well, God said: “He [the false prophet] 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” (Rev. 13:15).
To worship the image or be killed was also the same choice set before ancient Israel. This should sound familiar to those who know the history of Roman Catholicism and her brutalities, murders and forced false traditions and beast-system indulgences. Globally, there are about 1.2 billion members of Roman Catholicism, of which 70.4 million reside in the United States. And unless they repent of their worship of Mary, and are born again by faith in Christ alone, will her members not logically be the first to accept her soon-coming mark of the beast?
But today Catholicism’s veneration of the woman’s headship is not alone. By the mid to late 20th century many evangelical churches exalted the woman to offices of headship biblically reserved for men, regardless of God’s command that “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence” (1 Tim. 2:12). The result? Another deceptive reason for the growing alliance between Roman Catholicism and the evangelical church!
For two millennia Satan has been about the business of establishing his counterfeit church, for, “where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues” (Rev. 17:15). In nations, cities, towns and communities nearly everywhere one will find Catholicism. In preparation for the end-times Antichrist’s beast-system is entrenched globally. Are you prepared for its rage?
God has lovingly given us all ample warning. Ignorance will not be an excuse. We have God’s plain Word of truth in our possession. The question is, will we by faith believe the Son of God, or will we prefer tradition-peddling false teachers who now live luxuriously because their pre-trib rapture and wealth and prosperity books, videos and tape series have made them rich!
At the point of mid-tribulation, “the serpent [Satan] spewed water [those with his mark] out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, [“the freewoman” Gal. 4:21–31] that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 12:15–17). Christ foretold this mid-tribulation escape by those “counted worthy”, another way at Luke 17:20–37.
At Rev. 12:15–17, there are two kinds of saints: those who know about the safety and provision of God, and were “counted worthy to escape” (Luke 21:36) at the appointed time, and those who didn’t know and became open game, as it were, for those with the mark of the beast. This is just one of the many reasons why the teaching of the end-times is so critically important at this time. Don’t think there’s nothing to be concerned about, because there is. Your spouse, children, and loved ones need to be taught these preparatory truths.
Antichrist, his church, the false prophet and all who worshiped the image have this end: “Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse” (Rev. 19:20–21).
But eternal life and glory awaits those who faithfully endure to the end. “And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years…This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection” (Rev. 20:4–6). May we endure to the first resurrection!
Marlin J. Yoder