Tuesday, March 5, 2013
“And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time” (2 Thessalonians 2:6 KJV).
The recent resignation of Benedict XVI as pope is being greatly discussed within “Christian” circles in light of eschatology. Are we seeing Bible prophecy fulfilled today, or is this simply the (usual) failure to “rightly divide the word of truth?”
Firstly, why is the antichrist in Scripture?
2. To deal with the nation Israel: to separate the believing Jews from the unbelieving Jews.
The Romans destroyed Israel’s Temple in A.D. 70, but the antichrist will rebuild it and re-institute its ceremonies and rituals. He will institute a false religious system, although, deceptively enough, it will resemble the Mosaic Law. According to Daniel 9:27, it will involve animal sacrifices and oblations, which God had commanded Israel to offer in time past (however, the antichrist is operating under Satan’s control, so it is now devil worship).
At the midpoint of the seven-year Tribulation, “he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” (Daniel 9:27). Halfway through the seven years, the antichrist will desecrate that rebuilt Temple, forbid those animal sacrifices, and demand that Israel worship him instead (2 Thessalonians 2:4; cf. Daniel 11:36,37; Revelation 13:5-18).
The antichrist, a political leader, will have an assistant, a religious leader, the “false prophet” (Revelation 19:20), who will encourage people to build an image (idol) to the antichrist. Those who will refuse to worship the image—that is, believing Jews—will be executed. Jesus Christ described this graphic persecution in Matthew 10:16-42 (God’s encouragement to those believing Jews). Contrariwise, unbelieving Jews will eagerly receive the antichrist’s religious mark and worship his image—thus, instantly sealing their fate in everlasting damnation (Revelation 14:9-11).
Unbelieving Jews and believing Jews will be thus differentiated, as Jesus Christ explained in Matthew 10:32,33: “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”