Posts

Showing posts from March, 2020

Signs and Wonders or Christ Crucified?

Image
SYNOPSIS :   Claims that God will reap a great harvest of souls because of the mighty “signs and wonders” performed by the church do not square with Scripture. Source:   Unsplash.com I hear a lot of stress these days on seeking “signs and wonders.” Seemingly, church “leaders” are convinced, or they want to convince you, that it is through mighty supernatural “signs and wonders” that God will reap a final harvest of souls before the return of Jesus, an idea that does not fit comfortably with the gospel accounts of the New Testament. I am all for genuine miracles that meet real human needs, but Jesus did warn of coming “ false prophets that will show great signs and wonders; so that, if possible, they may deceive the elect .” Whether such men perform false miracles is not stated in the text. Taken at face value, one can assume he meant that the false prophets will produce very real “signs and wonders” ( Matthew 24:23-27 ).

Beasts in the Church

Image
Throughout the present age, the Church has been plagued with deceivers bent on deceiving the saints and causing their apostasy .  The term “ antichrist ” occurs in John’s first two epistles. In his first, he warns “ it is the last hour, and just as you heard that  antichrist  is coming, even now  many antichrists  have come .” The letter does not deny that an individual “ antichrist ” is coming, but its point is that many “ antichrists ” are active in the church already - [ Wolf Pack - Photo by  Thomas Bonometti  on Unsplash ] .

144,000 Priests on Zion

Image
The 144,000 “males” on Mount Zion comprise the “first-fruit” of the final harvest, the priestly company that “follows the Lamb” – Revelation 14:1-5 .  Previously, John saw the 144,000 “ males ” from the tribes of Israel encamped in the wilderness. Now, they appear together on “ Mount Zion ,” a priestly company and the “ first fruits ” of the greater harvest to come. They stand with the “ Lamb ” in contrast to the “ inhabitants of the earth ,” who bowed and rendered homage to the “ beast .” - [ Photo by lovely shots on Unsplash ].

Mark of the Beast

Image
All men and women that refuse to follow the “Lamb” will render homage to the “beast” and take its “mark”  –  Revelation 13:16-18 .  The “ false prophet ” uses economic power  against anyone who refuses to give full allegiance to it. The “ mark of the beast ” is an economic tool. Commerce is the lifeblood of the World-Power and leveling economic sanctions against peoples is its primary enforcement mechanism. And economic restrictions mean deprivation and suffering - [ Photo by Dmitry Demidko on Unsplash ].

Beast from the Earth

Image
The beast from the earth mimics the Lamb. It is the mouthpiece of the Dragon, and the propagandist for the first beast  –  Revelation 13:11-15 .  The “ great voice in heaven ” pronounced “ woe ” on the “ inhabitants of  the earth  and of  the sea , because the Devil descended to you, having great wrath .” He then launched his war against the “ seed of the woman ” by summoning his own “seed” - the “ beast from  the sea ,” and now, the “ beast from  the earth ” - [ Photo by  Elena Mozhvilo  on Unsplash ].

War Against the Saints

Image
The Beast is authorized to wage war against the “saints” for its overlord, the Dragon  –  Revelation 13:6-10 .  The “ Dragon ” tasks the “ beast ” with the annihilation of the church. To  facilitate this, he receives authority over all nations and peoples. Men are divided into two groups: Those who “ render homage to the beast ,” and those who “ follow the Lamb ,” that is, the “ saints .” - [ Dragon Fire - Photo by  Carlos Cram  on Unsplash ].

Beast from the Sea

Image
The Dragon began his war on the “seed of the woman” by summoning his “seed,” the beast from the sea  –  Revelation 13:1-5 .  The “ Dragon ” was poised to launch his “ war ” on the “ seed of the woman .” Standing on the seashore, he began to summon his own “ seed ,” beginning with the “ beast from the sea. ” Having failed to destroy either the “ son ” or the “ woman ,” he determined to annihilate her “ seed ,” those who have the “ testimony of Jesus .” - [ Photo by Thom Holmes on Unsplash ].

War in Heaven

Image
The saints overcame the Dragon through the death of the Lamb and their faithful witness, “even unto death”  –  Revelation 12:11 .  In Chapter 12 of  Revelation , the “ sign of the Great Red Dragon ” appeared in the heavens, signifying that the “ war ” had commenced between his forces and those of the messianic “ son ” who was destined to “ shepherd the nations .” The result was the expulsion of Satan from “ heaven ,” and the proclamation of the victory of the “ brethren ” - [ Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash ].

Seed of the Woman

Image
After his expulsion, Satan waged war against the “seed of the Woman” – Those who hold the “testimony of Jesus”  -  Revelation 12:7-17 .  Having failed to destroy the messianic “ son ,” and thoroughly enraged, the “ Dragon ” vents his rage by pursuing the “ woman ” into the “ wilderness ,” and not by waging war against the unsaved " inhabitants of the earth .” Instead, prevented from destroying the “ woman ,” he persecutes her offspring - [ Photo by  Bofu Shaw  on Unsplash ].

Son versus Serpent

Image
War broke out in “heaven” with the “Dragon” poised to destroy the messianic “son” as soon as he was “born”  –  Revelation 12:1-6 .  John saw a new “ sign ” in the heavens, the woman “ clothed with the sun, and the moon beneath her feet ,” and wearing a “ crown of twelve stars .” She was pregnant and about to give birth to her “ son ,” which was in fulfillment of the messianic promise in the second Psalm - The one who was destined to “ rule the nations .” - [ Dragon - Photo by FĂ©lix Besombes on Unsplash ]

Seventh Trumpet - Third Woe

Image
The seventh trumpet or “third woe” ushered in the consummation of the kingdom and the final judgment  –  Revelation 11:15-19 .  When the seventh seal was opened, a half-hour of “ silence ” in heaven ensued  before  the seven angels began to sound their “ trumpets ” when the prayers of the “ saints ” were heard. When the “ seventh trumpet ” sounded, “ loud voices ” in heaven declared the triumph of the kingdom and the “ Lamb ,” for the nations had become his possession as promised - [ Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash ].

Two Witnesses Testify

Image
The “two witnesses” must complete their “testimony” before the Beast is unleashed from the “Abyss”  -  Revelation 11:3-7 .  In  its  task of  prophesy ing   before   “ nations and kings ,” the  church is   symbolized by the “ t wo  witnesses ” as they give “ testimony ” against  the “ inhabitants of the earth .” Their  work  continues for  the entire  “ twelve hundred and sixty days ” or   “ forty-two months ”  until they   “ finish ” their work. Afterward, they  are  “ slain by the  B east   from the  abyss . ” - [ Twin Lighthouses - Photo by  insung yoon  on Unsplash ].

Sanctuary Measured

Image
The sanctuary must be “measured” before the city can be inhabited, but first, it must be “trampled underfoot” by the nations  -  Revelation 11:1-2 .  In the preceding vision, John was commanded to “ prophesy again over many peoples and nations and tongues and kings ,” setting the stage for the next two visions, the “ measuring of the sanctuary and altar ” and the “ two witnesses .” Both visions are connected by the equivalent figures of “ forty-two months ” and “ 1,260-days .” - [ Photo by  Isaac Smith  on Unsplash ].

Little Scroll

Image
John saw the scroll again, now unsealed and completely open, signifying his call to prophesy once more to peoples and kings  –  Revelation 10:1-11 .  The first six trumpet  plagues  failed to cause the “ inhabitants of the earth ” to repent. Instead, they only further hardened their hearts.  Something more was needed to complete “ the mystery of God .” The narrative now takes a new direction. Rather than another plague, John is commissioned to prophesy to the “ nations and kings of the earth ” - [ Photo by  Timothy Eberly  on Unsplash ].

Sixth Trumpet - Second Woe

Image
The sixth trumpet unleashed the demonic horde from beyond the “Euphrates” to afflict the “inhabitants of the earth”  -  Revelation 9:13-21 .  The sounding of the “ sixth trumpet ” also marks the commencement of the “ second woe .” While the description of the “ plague ” unleashed by the trumpet only continues until the end of chapter 9, the “ second woe ” does not end until the sounding of the “ seventh trumpet ” just before the final judgment. Presumably, the “sixth trumpet” also concludes at that same time - [ Photo by Thom Holmes on Unsplash ].

Fifth Trumpet - First Woe

Image
The fifth trumpet unleashed the first of “three woes,” as malevolent creatures began to ascend from the Abyss  –  Revelation 8:13-9:12 .  When the fifth angel sounded his trumpet, John saw smoke “ ascending ” from the “ Abyss ,” a place ruled by an “ angel ” associated with “ destruction .” The “ Abyss ” is prominent in several of the book’s visions. It is the source of malevolent entities hostile to the “ Lamb ” and his people that “ ascend ” from it to wreak havoc, sometimes on the “ inhabitants of the earth ,” but more often on the “ saints .” - [ Photo by Leon Pauleikhoff on Unsplash ].

True and Greater Temple

Image
Jesus is the Greater and Final Temple foreshadowed by the ancient Tabernacle and the later Temple in Jerusalem .  Jesus is the true sanctuary that was foreshadowed in the ancient religious structures and worship rituals of Israel. He is the dwelling place of God’s presence and glory, and the true and final mediator between heaven and earth. Christ is the temple “ made-without-hands ” that was destroyed by evil men but restored when his Father raised him from among the dead - [ Photo by  Manuel Rheinschmidt  on Unsplash ].

Lawless One Destroyed

Image
Jesus will destroy the works of the “Lawless One” and “paralyze” him at his “arrival” in glory  –  2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 .  Next, Paul explains how Jesus will deal with the “ lawless one ” at his “ arrival .” In doing so, he employs language from Daniel’s vision about the “ little horn speaking great things .” Originally, that image represented the Seleucid ruler who attempted to destroy the Jewish faith through deceit and persecution,  Antiochus Epiphanes  - [ Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash ].

Until Revealed

Image
The mystery of lawlessness is at work even now preparing the way for the Lawlessness One  –  2 Thessalonians 2:5-7 .  Paul has explained why the “ Day of the Lord ” has not commenced. Two events must precede it, the “ apostasy ,” and the “ revelation of the man of lawlessness .” Now, he will describe the “ mystery of lawlessness ” that has been operating behind the scenes to set the stage for the “ arrival ” of the “ son of destruction ” who will oppose God and employ “ signs and wonders ” to deceive many - [ Photo by Chris Buckwald on Unsplash ].

Missing Events

Image
Two events must occur before the “Day of the Lord” - The apostasy and the unveiling of the Man of Lawlessness  –  2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 .  Next, Paul explained why the “ Day of the Lord ” had  NOT  commenced. Two key events must occur first - the “ apostasy ” and the unveiling of the “ man of lawlessness , the son of destruction .” In Thessalonica, the men who were spreading false information about the coming of Jesus were deceiving believers by raising false expectations about the nearness of that day - [ Photo by  Thomas Bormans  on Unsplash ].

Last Days Disinformation

Image
Disinformation about the “day of the Lord” caused alarm among many in the congregation at Thessalonica  –  2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 .  Paul addressed the claim that the “ Day of the Lord had set in ," false information was disrupting the congregation in Thessalonica, rumors that were being spread either by a “ spirit ,” by a word ( logos ), or by a letter, “ as if from us .” In response, Paul listed two events that must occur  BEFORE  the “ parousia ” of Jesus - the “ revealing of the man of lawlessness ” and the “ apostasy ” - [ Photo by Andrew Dunstan on Unsplash ].