Eschatology 2

“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery–so that you will not be wise in your own estimation–that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” (Romans 11:25)

As we travel on in our End Time adventure we recall last week we began our discussion on God’s divine purpose for the present age that we are now in, the Church Age. We determined that there are no events to happen in prophecy before the Church is called out setting the stage for the Great Tribulation. We discussed God’s divine purpose for the nation of Israel and how they were His chosen people to be a nation of Holy Priest. Yet they rejected Jesus as their Messiah and for that reason the gospel message was given to the Gentile nations. We discussed Christ’s Church and some of its important characteristics. The Jewish faith and the Christian faith have some similarities and we looked briefly at those as well.

Because of the Jewish nation’s rejection of Jesus as their Messiah God’s Kingdom program was altered and its coming was delayed. God in His foreknowledge new that this would happen as we recall Daniel’s 70 week prophecy. (Daniel 9:24-27) There is a gap between the 69th week and the 70th. This Gap was a mystery to biblical scholars of the Old Testament. This gap in the prophecy is the time of the Church age that we are now presently in. When the Church is called out the last week will begin. This is the 7 year Great Tribulation which will be followed by the return of Christ who will reign on earth for 1,000 years.

In Matthew chapter 13 there are several Parables told by Jesus which reveal the course of the present age until the return of Jesus. These Parables are The Sower, The Tares among the Wheat, The Mustard Seed, The Leaven, The Hidden Treasure, The Costly Pearl, and The Dragnet. The Parable of the Sower teaches that during this age the seeds of the Gospel will be sown into different types of soil. (Matthew 13:1-23) Various people will have different responses to the gospel because of opposing forces in the world. Such as the world itself, the flesh that man is sheltered in, and Satan himself.

In the Parable of the Tares among the Wheat we see that the true sower will be hindered by a false counter sower. (Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43) After the future Great Tribulation a judgment will follow separating the tares, unbelievers and false believers, from the wheat, the true believers.

In the Parable of the Mustard Seed we learn that God’s Kingdom will have an imperceptible beginning but as the Mustard Seed, which is very small, God’s Spiritual Kingdom will grow and become very large in the world, as the mustard seed grows to a plant 15 feet tall. (Matthew 13:31-32)

The Parable of the Leaven teachers that there will be false teachers that will penetrate the Church and try to deceive the believers. “Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.” (1 Corinthians 5:6-8)

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure points to the incredible value of God’s Spiritual Kingdom. This parable may have been taught by Jesus to offset the counterfeit belief systems in the world. (Matthew 13:44)

With the world continuing to fall further from the truth of God’s Word, people becoming more morally deprived, and the world moving towards a one world ruler to solve all its problems, people wonder why God doesn’t bring about the end immediately.

The Apostle Peter gives us this instruction. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) God in His love and mercy towards man is not wanting for any to perish suffering the penalty of sin. As God is longsuffering we too must be patient waiting for that last one to answer the call of God by their repentance. “What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?” (Romans 9:22)

As Christians we must work hard at the good work that God has prepared for us. Time is ever moving to the end. In 70 A.D. when the Temple was destroyed by the Romans Israel ceased to be a nation. Then in the year 1948, miraculously Israel was reborn as a nation on their ancestral ground of Palestine. This was the fulfillment of a key prophecy of the Prophet Ezekiel. “I will multiply men on you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities will be inhabited and the waste places will be rebuilt.” (Ezekiel 36:10) Israel in the past had been in bondage to different nations. Egypt, Assyrians, and the Babylonians all held Israel in bondage. Never in history past has Israel been delivered from all the nations as in 1948. This too was prophecy. “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land.” (Ezekiel 36:24)

With Israel once again becoming a state the stage is set for more key prophecy to become reality. Israel could not have made an agreement to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem if they were not a state in possession of the city of Jerusalem. This fulfills that prophecy of Daniel that the antichrist will set himself up on the throne in the Temple as god. “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4) Israel could not make an agreement with the antichrist if they were not a state in possession of land in Palestine. “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” (Daniel 9:27)

As the times come to an end Apostasy will increase. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4) Apostasy comes from a Greek word which means “falling away.” The Betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot is a prime example of Apostasy. (Matthew 26:14-25, 47-57; 27:3-10) Judas sold Jesus out for thirty pieces of silver.

Demas, as associate of the Apostle Paul, turned away because of his love for the present world. (2 Timothy 4:10) It may be the love of wealth and possession or just a love for this world, or it can be something else that pulls them away from their commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. Apostasy has severe consequences and can be fatal. The Apostles warned of the dangers of Apostasy often. (Hebrews 6:4-8; 10:26-27)

The Church must always be on guard, as false teachers are always trying to creep in and teach new and false doctrine. Paul warned the elders of the Church that after his death false teachers would come and seek to lead the Church members into Apostasy. “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29-30)

Many of the false religions that are present today emerged out of the Christian Church. Some of the leaders of these false religions claim to have received revelations from the angels. If that is true, then these angels are fallen angels, or demons. Mormonism is an example of this. The founder, Joseph Smith, claimed to receive his doctrine from an angel named Moroni. Another example is Islam which is based on a vision from the arch angel Gabriel that he gave to the prophet Muhammad.

Apostasy is visible everywhere these days. One can surf the television channels and find many false teachers which preach doctrines that appeal to the passions of their listeners, such as the health and wealth gospel. This Apostasy will continue to increase to a fever pitch during the time up to the Great Tribulation. As Paul warns us, “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3) As a follower of Jesus Christ we must be on the alert, watch and pray that we do not fall into temptation.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick, First Baptist Church of Durant, June 29, 2017

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