WAKE UP – THE IMMINENT COMING OF CHRIST

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The Cambridge Dictionary describes the word “Imminent” as “coming or likely to happen very soon.”

EXPECTATIONS OF THE EARLY CHURCH

Christ could come at any moment according to Scripture. From the very earliest days of the church, the apostles and first-generation Christians had an earnest expectation and hope that Christ might suddenly return to gather His church to heaven. The New Testament writers often wrote of Christ’s “appearing,” and they never failed to convey the sense that this could happen imminently. James, probably the earliest of the New Testament epistles, expressly told his readers that the return of Christ was imminent:

“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!” James 5:7-9

Peter echoed that same expectation when he wrote, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers” (1 Pet. 4:7). The writer of Hebrews cited the imminent return of Christ as a reason to remain faithful: “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:24-25). He wrote, “Yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry” (v. 37). And the apostle John made the most confident pronouncement of all: “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). John wrote “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 2:28; cf. 3:2; Col. 3:4; 2 Tim. 4:8; 1 Pet. 5:4). When John recorded his vision in the book of Revelation, he prefaced it by saying that these things “must shortly take place” (1:1).

When the apostle Paul described the Lord’s coming for the church, he clearly was convinced that he himself might be among those who would be caught up alive to meet the Lord: “According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” (1 Thess. 4:15, 17). He obviously looked for Christ to return in his lifetime. He furthermore made it plain that a watchful, hopeful expectancy about Christ’s Second Coming is one of the godly attitudes divine grace teaches all believers: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13).

 WILL THE TRIBULATION PRECEDE CHRIST’S COMING FOR THE CHURCH?  

Nonetheless, according to some students of Bible prophecy, “the blessed hope” becomes relevant only after the church has gone through the Tribulation. When Christ outlined the events of the last days, He included many prophecies about tribulation and hardship, and He said these signs would precede and point to His return (Matt. 24:21, 30).

First, they argue that all the general “signs of the times” given in the New Testament either have been fulfilled or are being fulfilled before our eyes. They are, in fact, characteristics of the entire church age. Apostasy and unbelief, self-love, sin, wars, rumors of wars, and natural disasters have all been common throughout the church age. Practically every generation of Christians since the time of Christ has believed they were seeing the end-times signs fulfilled before their very eyes. And the church was already in the last days even before the apostolic era ended. In fact, “last days” is a biblical term for the Christian era itself (Heb. 1:1-2).

Second, those who believe the church must suffer through the hardships of the Tribulation period invariably cite 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 as proof:

“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.

If 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 indeed means that Christ’s coming for the church cannot occur until after the Antichrist was revealed and the seven years of Tribulation took place, it nullifies everything the New Testament teaches about the imminence of Christ’s return.

So, on the one hand, the New Testament reflects an eager sense of expectancy and the conviction that the blessed hope of Christ’s return is imminent. On the other hand, we are warned about trouble and affliction that will precede Christ’s return. How can we reconcile these two threads of prophecy? How can we cultivate a daily expectation of Christ’s return if these preliminary signs must yet be fulfilled before He returns?

But look carefully at the context of 2 Thessalonians 2. The Thessalonians had been confused and upset by some false teachers who were teaching that the persecutions and sufferings they experienced were the very judgments associated with the Day of the Lord’s final apocalyptic wrath. They were deeply troubled by this, for in his earlier epistle Paul encouraged them by telling them of the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:14-17). He even instructed them to comfort one another with the promise of Christ’s coming for them (v. 18), so they obviously feared they had missed the Rapture.

“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him” (v.1) is a clear reference to the Rapture. But “The day of Christ” mentioned later in verse 2, however refers to the Day of the Lord (in fact, the older manuscripts use the expression “day of the Lord” in this verse). So when Paul says, “that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition” (v.3), he is talking about the Day of the Lord and its apocalyptic judgment, not the Rapture.

He most certainly was not suggesting that the coming of Christ for the church would be delayed until after the Tribulation events had all played out. If this was what he meant, it would overturn everything the New Testament has to say about Christ’s return being imminent, comforting, and hopeful.

So, the consistent teaching of the New Testament is that Christians should be looking for the imminent coming of Christ for His church, and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 is no exception.

 THE SCOFFERS AND THE MOCKERS  

Some argue that Christ’s coming could not possibly have been imminent for the early church, given the obvious fact that 2,000 years later He has still not returned, even though James, Peter, John, Paul, and the writer of Hebrews all believed Christ’s return was very near—“at the door” (James 5:9); “at hand” (Phil. 4:5; 1 Pet. 4:7); “approaching” (Heb. 10:25); “coming quickly” (Rev. 3:11; 22:7).

Some sceptics even claim that the apostles have been in error about the timing. What shall we make of this charge against the truthfulness of Scripture? Does the passing of 2,000 years indeed prove that Christ’s coming was not imminent in the early church era and that the apostles were mistaken?

Certainly not. Remember the clear statement of Christ in Matthew 24:42: “You do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” The exact time remains hidden from us, as it was from the apostles. There are no other events that must occur on the prophetic calendar before Christ comes to meet us in the air. He could come at any moment. And it is in that sense that Christ’s coming is imminent. In the very same sense, His coming was imminent even in the days of the early church.

It is also possible that Christ could delay His coming another 2,000 years or longer, but given the rapid decline of society, another 2,000 years do not seem possible. That is why Christ taught us to be prepared, whether He comes immediately or delays longer than we think possible (cf. Matt. 24:42—25:13).

Peter anticipated the scoffers who would arise, mocking the promise of Christ’s return (2 Pet. 3:3-4). Peter’s reply to those scoffers? “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (v. 8). The amount of earthly time that passes is certainly irrelevant from God’s timeless point of view. He is not bound by time as we are, and no amount of time can ever nullify His faithfulness. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (v. 9).

In other words, the real reason for the Lord’s delay is simply because He is longsuffering and kind, delaying Christ’s coming and the wrath that will accompany it while He calls people unto salvation. And Christ will not return before the merciful purposes of God are complete.

Therefore, the fact that 2,000 years have elapsed is utterly irrelevant to the doctrine of Christ’s imminent return. The command to be ready and watchful is as applicable to us as it was to the early church. In fact, the return of Christ should be an even more urgent issue for us because it is drawing nearer with the passing of each day. We still do not know when Christ is coming, but we do know that we are 2,000 years closer to that event than James was in those earliest days of the Christian era, when the Holy Spirit moved him to warn the church that the coming of the Lord was “at hand” and the Judge was already standing “at the door.”

 WHY IS CHRIST’S IMMINENT RETURN SO IMPORTANT?

The hope of Christ’s imminent coming has a powerful sanctifying and purifying effect on us. “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). The knowledge that Christ’s coming is drawing closer should motivate us to prepare, to pursue Christlikeness, and to put off all the things that pertain to our former lives without Christ.

The apostle Paul says in Romans 13:11-14: “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

The Lord is coming soon, and the event draws nearer every moment. The time to obey is now. The only time we can take for granted is now. And since there is no guarantee of more time, it is unconscionable to defer our obedience. Paul was stressing the urgency of this commandment in his day, 2,000 years ago. How much more urgent are these things for our time? Rather than despairing because He tarries, we ought to realize that the time is nearer now than it has ever been. Our hope should be growing stronger, not diminishing, as He delays his coming.

Christ rebuked the Pharisees for lacking discernment. “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times” (Matt. 16:1-3).

The society in which we live caters to the flesh, offering many material comforts and earthly amusements. Spiritually many fall asleep and sometimes it seems as if the entire church today is in a state of spiritual drowsiness. Where is the sense of expectation that characterized the early church? Most Christians are far more concerned about the arrival of a new cell phone or a new vehicle than what they are with the arrival of the Millennial King! They have become unresponsive to the things of God. They are like the foolish virgins who “while the bridegroom was delayed . . . all slumbered and slept” (Matt. 25:5). It is high time to awake from that slumber.

Paul sent a similar wake-up call to the church at Ephesus: “‘Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’ See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:14-16). Never was such an alarm more needed than today. In the words of our Lord Himself, “Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping” (Mark 13:35-36).

When Paul says “our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Rom. 13:11), he is speaking, of course, about the consummation of our salvation. He was not suggesting that the Romans were unregenerate or telling them their justification was a yet-future reality. He reminded them that what began at their regeneration was drawing closer by the moment. “Salvation” in this context refers to our glorification, the final goal of God’s saving work (Rom. 8:30). Throughout Scripture this is connected with the appearing of Christ. “We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2). We “eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body” (Phil. 3:2021). “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4). “He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Heb. 9:28). Notice that the writer of Hebrews employs the word salvation the same way Paul uses it in Romans 13:11.

In Romans 8:23: “We ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” That is the aspect of our salvation that is nearer than when we first believed, and it only awaits Christ’s coming.

If the Tribulation was going to occur prior to Christ’s return for the church, Paul would have surely urged the Romans to prepare for it. But far from warning them that a dark era of tribulation was in their future, what he told them was virtually the opposite: “The night is far spent, the day is at hand” (v. 12).

We have no idea how much sand remains in the hourglass of human history. But we ought to realize that a lot of sand has passed through the hourglass since the apostle Paul said the dawning of daylight was already at hand. How much more urgent is this wake-up call for the church today!

The nighttime of Satan’s dominion will soon give way to the dawn of Christ’s coming for His own. The apostle Paul used precisely the same imagery of darkness and dawn when he wrote to the Thessalonians:

“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 THESS. 5:1-9)

God did not appoint us to wrath. The day of wrath that will come in the Tribulation is not what we are to be prepared for. The sudden appearing of Christ to take us to glory is our hope. Wake up. Be sober. Be alert. Your redemption draws nigh.

Throw Off! The approaching of dawn means it’s time for a change of garments. “Let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light” (Rom. 13:12). Paul’s imagery evokes the picture of a soldier who has spent the night in a drunken orgy. Still clad in the garments of his sin, he has fallen into a drunken sleep. But dawn is approaching, and now it is time to wake up, throw off the clothes of night, and put on the armor of light.

Put On! There’s another aspect of being prepared for the Lord’s appearing. We’re not fully prepared for the dawn of the new day unless we have put on the appropriate attire: “put on the armor of light . . . put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 13:12, 14).

“Armor” suggests warfare, and that is fitting. Though the return of Christ is imminent, that is no warrant to forsake the battle. There is never any suggestion in Scripture that His people should sit on a hillside somewhere to await His coming.

In fact, between now and His coming we are locked in a battle “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). Now is not the time to slacken our diligence; in fact, the opposite is true. We should engage the battle with new vigor, knowing that the time is short. “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (v. 13).

The Christian who is not living a holy and obedient life with heavenly priorities is a Christian who does not grasp the significance of the Lord’s imminent return. If we genuinely are expecting our Lord to appear at any time, that blessed hope should move us to be faithful and to walk properly, lest our Lord return to find us walking improperly, disobeying or dishonoring Him.

The hope of Christ’s imminent return is therefore the hinge on which a proper understanding of sanctification turns.

Let’s review some of the key texts that speak of the imminence of Christ’s return, and notice specifically what kind of practical duties this doctrine places on us.

Steadfastness: “Be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (Jas. 5:8).

Kindness: “Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!” (Jas. 5:9).

Prayer: “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers” (1 Pet. 4:7).

Faithfulness in assembling together and encouraging one another : “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:24-25).

Holy conduct and godliness: “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (2 Pet. 3:11).

Purity and Christlikeness: “When He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).

Those cover several broad categories, embracing every aspect of our sanctification. The hope of Christ’s imminent return is a catalyst and an incentive for all these things—every fruit of the Spirit, every Christian virtue, everything that pertains to holiness and Christlikeness, everything that belongs to life and godliness.

That’s why it’s so important to cultivate a watchful expectancy for the imminent coming of Christ. The point is not to make us obsessed with earthly events. In fact, if your interest in the return of Christ becomes a consuming fixation with what is happening in this world, you have utterly missed the point. The knowledge that Christ’s return is imminent should turn our hearts toward heaven, “from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).

“Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.” (2 Pet. 3:14)

(Key Source: John MacArthur – The Second Coming: Signs of Christ’s Return And The End of The Age)

IMAGES IN A SCATTERED MIRROR (THE LATTER DAYS)

(WRITTEN BY A DEAR BROTHER IN CHRIST – HENNIE VAN HEERDEN)

“For now we see in a mirror, darkly…”(1Co 13:12 ASV)

If there is one thing eminent in these last days, it is that we are living in the days of a scattered mirror, where the various dogmas became distorted images and views of the Word of God. It is therefore prophesied that: “the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.” (Isa 28:13 KJV)

The seed of confusion always follows truth, because since the beginning in the Garden of Eden the distortion of the Word of God came from the master of lies and distortion of the truth, Satan. As in the days of Moses in Egypt with the plagues, Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses and resist the truth, because they were men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. (2Ti 3:8)

It is clear what Jesus utilised to explain many things Himself to unveil what has been kept secret from the foundation of the world: “All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.” (Mat 13:34-35)

In aftermaths on Jesus’ teachings, many are still willingly blind and deaf and their vail yet not removed. Therefore it is written: “But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.

Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2Co 3:14-18)

If people do not even come to the basic truth of Jesus Christ and His teachings, who will be the candidates of what Paul warned about: “Even him (Antichrist), whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2Th 2:9-12)

The confusion of the scattered mirror in the prophecies, created by expositors of Eschatology over centuries, became a dangerous ground as many pieces are even more scattered regarding the end-times, and it requires a sound and careful observation. Many are right in what they say, but create confusion in what they don’t say.

Yes, there is a lot to say about the scattered view of the rapture (harpazō), the millennium, Israel, etcetera, but as we are standing close to events in preparation for Christ Jesus’ return, it is important to observe the proses to what Pauls said in 2 Thessalonians 2 about the falling away and the strong delusion God will send.

The problem is not God, but if a nation wants evil leaders, God will send them evil leaders. If they want ear tinkling preachers, God will send them ear tinkling preachers. The truthful and sincere believer would not compromise the Gospel, to please and accommodate the world and they will contribute to the falling away and the strong delusion which will follow.

Just as with Jannes and Jambres, things are playing out the same way and not many can see that within the church preachers will resist the truth, because they were men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. The most important of all deceptions are to imitate the last day’s events, by distorting the timing of these events.

If you have, for example A-millennium view, you most probably believe that the church is preparing the bride for the coming of Christ Jesus and not that He will come with His victorious bride. We will “meet the Lord in the air” for the Bhema judgement “and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1Th 4:17), because it is clear what John saw: “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” (Rev 20:4)

The “Kingdom Now” view is held by most of the A-millennium viewers and again, it is not necessarily wrong in what they say, but what they don’t say or displace. In almost all these views, the view of the temple is historical and preteristic fulfilled in 70AD in order to proof their view of the A-millennium. If Jesus mentioned the temple (3rd temple) in Matt. 24:15 and it is historical and preteristic, how come that Paul distinctively refers to it as crucial for the upcoming and appearance of the Antichrist?

Observe that he directly link it to the return of Christ Jesus; the falling away and the temple: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together (episunagōgē) unto him,

That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except

[1] there come a falling away first, and [2] that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in [3] the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2Th 2:1-4)

Paul direct link creates no doubt what the circumstances will be before the return of Christ Jesus. The rebuilding of the 3rd temple will be one of the major events, as it is already in process, to be observed as the beginning of the 7 year reign by the Antichrist. Both Jesus and Paul take this as signs of His coming to be observed.

However, for us now is to observe the “falling away” and the deception that is part of the process, like Jannes and Jambres, con-artists are preparing the way for the Antichrist, like John the Baptist did for Jesus Christ. Surely the Kingdom Now believers, some Calvinists and others are right about some things, but are wrong in their timing as we see the temple and the two witnesses in Rev 11 as a precondition for these events.

[1] Important indicators

The temple

“And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.” (Rev 11:1-2)

The two witnesses

“And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.” (Rev 11:5-6)

Clearly it concurs with the prophecies: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Act 2:17-21/ Joel 2:28-32)

The two witnesses’ testimony will be for a thousand two hundred and threescore days (3½ years) “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.” (Rev 11:7)

What is the danger then if the timing is wrong and “Jannes and Jambres” of our time do some of the same “signs and wonders” as the “two witnesses” and what is prophesied: “And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke.” The same illusion applies as that of “Jannes and Jambres” by promoting “signs and wonders” which the Antichrist will apply. Let’s look at this deception:

[2] Con-artists – “Jannes and Jambres”

“And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” (Rev 16:13-14)

“And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,

And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” (Rev 13:13-15)

It also relates, for example, to the world’s approach regarding marriage and food, Paul wrote: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” (1Ti 4:1-2)

[3] Replacement Theology

Although there is more to it, it is important to focus on Israel, as many see Israel outside the equation of the Bride and the Church. Were the gentiles church (wild olive tree) elected or called out of the gentile nations and crafted into the good olive tree? God didn’t change and His promises towards His elect (Israel) remain the same. In reference to Rom. 11, please observe:

“The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.” (Jer 11:16)

Did God ever call Himself the “husband” of the gentiles, but through them He would be called the God of the whole world? “For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.

For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.” (Isa 54:5-8)

If we then take these two passages into account, what about Israel if we look at Rom. 11 in total and what the conclusion is:

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.” (Rom 11:25-32)

The role of the temple and the two witnesses will play out with Israel at the end of the last days. As Israel is referred to as a green olive tree (Jer 11:16), the two olive trees referred to in Rev. 11, might as well refer to the church and the remnant of Israel who believes in Jesus Christ. It is also clear what the lampstands in Rev. 1 means and it could also be both Israel and the believing gentiles which will be part of the tribulation after their testimony.

Israel’s tribulation as referred to by Jesus Christ (Matt. 24) is without any doubt confirmed as part of the end of the last days events in bearing witness before the return of Christ Jesus: “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” (Dan 12:1-3)

Although we should see some of the mysteries yet to be unveiled as if images in a darkly mirror, the spirit of the age is to scatter the mirror even more and to distort true and sincere believer’s views. Clearly not all has been revealed yet, as it was said to John: “And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.” (Rev 10:4)

However, as things are unfolding, we are assured as in Daniel: “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Dan 12:4)

As we are sincere in the end-time events, all we can do is to take the scattered mirror pieces in the prophecies and put it together in in the right order to be forewarned and that we can discern in the timing of events. And most of all to honour the Name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, by preaching the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Maranatha, come Lord Christ Jesus.

(Hennie van Heerden has a wealth of knowledge of God’s Word. I am often amazed by his ability to present applicable Scriptural references regarding any issues I raise on social media. Knowing him is a blessing and a gift from God and I personally experience him as a great mentor in my spiritual growth.)