Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tribulation: The Key Players

Beginning with this post, I plan to give a broad overview of what will be happening in the world during the tribulation, a time that I strongly believe is going to be here very soon, beginning with a rundown of the key individuals who will be "running the show" here on earth.

Remember that if you are a true believer in Jesus Christ, you will not be here (1 Thess. 5:9). Also, remember that this information should not scare you (2 Tim. 1:7). The study of ALL prophecy, including end times prophecy should draw us closer to God, confirm the power and sovereignty of God, and ignite within us an insatiable urgency to spread the gospel.

Let's get started! Who are the key players?

The One World Government:
  • We see in Daniel 2 (Nebuchadnezzar's dream) and Daniel 7 (the four beasts), a picture of 4 different world kingdoms. Through Daniel, God predicted in great detail the Babylonian Empire, the Medo-Persian Empire, the Greek Empire, and the Roman Empire.
  • The reference to the Roman Empire is one and the same as that of the fifth and final empire which will arise in the last days under the rule of the Antichrist. (Dan. 2:41-43; 7:7,23-25)
  • The reason the Roman Empire and the final world kingdom are referenced with the same imagery is because this one world government will arise out of the ancient Roman empire (Dan. 7:24a); There will be a 10-nation confederation within Europe, 10 nations whose origins are rooted in ancient Rome and, ultimately, in ancient Babylon. There will be a resurrection of Babylon.
  • There will be 10 "kings" or political rulers who will form this union, but when the Antichrist, who may or may not be one of the 10, rises to power, he will replace 3 of them. (Dan. 7:24b)
The Antichrist:
  • The Antichrist is a human being who is quite possibly demon-possessed, though he is NOT possessed by Satan, nor is he Satan himself.
  • He is referred to several different ways throughout Scripture: Satan's seed (Gen. 3:15), a king (Dan. 8:23, 11:36), a prince (Dan. 9:26), the man of sin and the son of perdition (2 Thess. 2:3), the lawless one (2 Thess. 2:8,9), antichrist (the only time he is actually referred to by this name) (1 John 2:22).
  • He will be immensely popular (Rev. 13:3). He will likely be elected to his position of power. He will appear to be a friend to Israel, a false shepherd, a wolf in sheep's clothing (Zech. 11:15-17), which will allow him to form the 7-year peace treaty with her (Dan. 9:27a), but half-way through the tribulation, he will break the treaty, setting himself up in the rebuilt temple, claiming that he is God and demanding to be worshipped (Dan. 9:27b).
  • He, as Satan has always done, will mimic Christ in many ways, appearing to be like God, and eventually actually claiming to be God:
    • He will appear and claim to be a savior and a redeemer, something the world is going to be desperate for in the midst of the chaos that will ensue after millions of people disappear from this earth in the rapture.
    • He is depicted in Revelation 6:2 as the rider on a white horse, an image that we readily attribute to Christ. Yet, while Christ wields the sword, this rider carries only a bow, with no arrows to speak of. This "savior" will be all talk and no action. He will be empowered by Satan and allowed by God to perform many signs and wonders, but he holds no real eternal power.
    • He will be "mortally wounded" (though it is unclear whether he will actually die or only appear to die) and will be resurrected, as Christ was, causing the world to be in awe of him. (Rev. 13:3)
    • He will offer promises much like those of Jesus, but his words will be empty. He, like Satan, is entirely self-serving. He is blood thirsty and he is arrogant and proud. He will lure the world in with sweet words of promise and false values, but he will devour those who turn to him. He wants everyone to worship him, and during the second half of the tribulation, he will be given the power to pursue that passion at all costs.
    • He, in conjunction with Satan himself and with the false prophet, is the "son" of this UNholy trinity, meant again to mimic the holy trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Satan being like the "father" and the false prophet like the "spirit". 
The False Prophet:
  • This man is the Antichrist's cohort. He will be the spokesperson, pointing the world's eyes towards Satan and the Antichrist.
  • Revelation 13:11 says he will appear as a "lamb" but will speak like a "dragon". Again, he will be a wolf in sheep's clothing.
  • Verses 12 through 14 tell us he is granted the same power as the Antichrist through Satan (and allowed by God) to perform all kinds of signs and wonders, deceiving the world. He will claim to be the true prophet of God and will proclaim the Antichrist to be God.
  • He will be given authority to enforce the worship of and allegiance to the Antichrist, forcing everyone on earth to either receive the mark of the beast or be killed. (Rev. 13:16-18)
  • He will be the leading force, along with the Antichrist, that will persecute and kill all who believe in Christ during the tribulation and resist the Antichrist.
Notice the recurring theme in the descriptions of these individuals: They are fully evil yet appear to be good, faithful, and self-sacrificing; true friends for a hurting world in a time of desperation and need. They are repeatedly referred to throughout the Bible as wolves in sheep's clothing as well as other symbols of deception. Satan himself is said to "masquerade as an angel of light." (2 Corin. 11:14) Satan does not appear to us as the true beast that he is, the great dragon described in Revelation 13:1. He appears in the sweetest, most tantalizing, most appealing, most relatable, most culturally relevant and logical ways. And once he's hooked you, he will devour you. Hell was not created for humans; it was created for Satan and his angels. But he is determined to take as many people with him as possible, and he's going to be working in overtime during these last days before the rapture and especially during the tribulation to accomplish that task.

It is so important to understand the deceptive power and mysterious nature of Satan and of the antichrist. Many may hear these words and tell themselves that when they see these things happen, when people disappear, then they'll believe, but God tells us that this will NOT happen:
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. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thess. 2:9-12
If you don't believe now, you won't believe then. If you don't love truth now, you won't love truth then. If you harden your heart now, it will be hardened forever. You will believe the lies that Satan will so cleverly and logically proclaim through the antichrist. There will be many who come to Christ during the tribulation. As far as I know, the Bible doesn't specify, but perhaps they will be people who have never heard before or whose hearts were not ready. But I believe, based on this verse above, that for the most part, anyone who has had the opportunity before the rapture and has rejected Christ, perhaps repeatedly, that God will harden their hearts and they will NOT be able to receive him. You have to make that choice NOW, before it is too late. And you have to be committed to sharing the gospel with the world around you.

Finally, we must remember, as always, that GOD IS IN CONTROL. 
Zechariah 11:16 says, "For indeed I will raise up a shepherd in the land who will not care for those who are cut off, nor seek the young, nor heal those that are broken, nor feed those that still stand. But he will eat the flesh of the fat and tear their hooves in pieces."
GOD will raise up the antichrist and the false prophet. He is preparing these men to fulfill prophecy that was written thousands of years ago. Satan empowers these men, but only to the extent that God allows it. Never believe for one second that it is even a close or "fair" fight. God IS in control, and God WILL win the battle and He WILL reign for eternity. Satan has been given this world for a time. And the Antichrist will likewise be given authority and power for 3 and a half years, during the second half of the tribulation. But when that time is up, Christ will return and will snuff out this evil ruler once and for all.

Do you recognize the battlefield that you are living in right now? Do you recognize Satan for who he really is and all of the "pleasant" things he has used to invade your life? As a believer in Jesus Christ, are you aware of the battle that is being fought around you? Do you trust that God is sovereign and that the battle belongs to him? Do you believe the prophecies written in his word, and will you take them to heart, take them literally, and let them ignite a fire in your heart to share the gospel with everyone around you? You cannot serve God with one hand and the world with the other. Who do you serve?

    No comments:

    Post a Comment