September 11, 2016
In this issue: The AntiChrist by Kieran Murphy
(This is the sequel to the previous article, “The Second Coming of Christ” - see last issue)
But some are unwilling to be convinced. We are told that we will know that the end is near when the antichrist appears. We have all heard of the antichrist, haven’t we? He is a prominent theme in many speculative theories about Jesus' return. We are told that the Bible teaches that he is a world leader that will shortly take a major role in world affairs. In the past Adolf Hitler, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Saddam Hussein have all been identified as the Antichrist. So have Mohammed, Henry Kissinger, Moshe Dayan and several of the Popes. The way that some preachers talk about the antichrist the layman might be forgiven for not knowing that the word antichrist is found in only three places in the Bible - 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7. Furthermore, John never says that there would be only one antichrist, but many.
(1 John 2:18) Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour.
What's more, John, who wrote near the close of the first century, said that these antichrists had already arisen in the world. So when you hear someone tell you that there is only one real antichrist and that his coming is in the imminent future you need to know that these people don’t know what they are talking about. They are not speaking where the Bible speaks!
Finally, these antichrists were not world leaders, but religious teachers who were denying either that Jesus is the Christ or that he had come in the flesh.
(1 John 2:22) Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.
(2 John 7) For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.
As a quick re-cap of what John says about antichrists and what premillennial dispensationalist teach:
1. John speaks of many antichrists while premillennial dispensationalists say that there is only one. STRIKE ONE!
2. John says that there were many antichrists in his day, but premillennial dispensationalists tell us that the Antichrist has yet to come. STRIKE TWO!
3. John identifies them as false religious teachers, but premillennial dispensationalists say that he will be a world leader. STRIKE THREE! The theory of premillennial dispensationalism is out!
But some are still not convinced! They tell us that the son of destruction in 2 Thess. 2:3 and the beast in Revelation 13 is the antichrist. But these passages are speaking about entirely different issues; and are most certainly not talking about something of our generation. I will speak more about this later.
CAN WE KNOW WHEN?
Before returning to the Father Jesus told the apostles that it was not for them "to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority" (Acts 1:7). There is always talk about how earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes and wars are signs that Jesus' return will be soon. But the belief is based upon a misapplication of what Jesus said in Matthew 24.
"For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes...when you see these things, recognize that He is near, standing right at the door." (Matthew 24:7,33).
Yes, these are signs but not of Jesus' Second Coming. Instead they were signs that warned the 1st century Christians that the holy city - the city of Jerusalem was about to be destroyed. Those who heard Jesus speak these words witnessed these signs before the city was destroyed in AD 70. And if you find this too incredible to believe, listen to Jesus' words as He explains that the fulfillment would come in that generation.
"And Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He answered and said to them, 'Do you not see all these things? Truly I say unto you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which shall not be torn down ... Truly I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away until all these things take place." (Matthew 24:1,2, 34).
To lift these signs out of first century and apply them to our own century is to misapply them.
In my generation there has been another "sign" added to the list which we are told tells us that the end is near - the bar codes found on products at the store. These codes are for the purpose of making it easier to ring up a person’s purchases, but some claim that the codes are the mark of the beast mentioned in Revelation 13:17,18. But to make their theory workable the proponents of this point of view must ignore what the book of Revelation itself says about the timeframe of these events. For the book opens by saying that it is dealing with events which were taking place or shortly would take place back in the first century.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, things which must shortly take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John...Blessed is He who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near." (Revelation 1:1,3).
And so, what was this sign that permitted people to buy and sell? A religious cult had grown up around Caesar who was given the authority to license people to buy and sell. But to get this license one had to worship Caesar as God. If they would not do this (and Christians wouldn’t) they would not get this license. This was how the prophecy was fulfilled.
There has been so much foolish and fruitless speculation about Christ’s return in spite of the fact that Jesus said that we can’t know the time of his return. Do you believe Jesus? Then let’s not get caught up in this foolishness. ~