Be Stirred, Not Shaken

"We ask you not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled..." ~ II Thes. 2:2 *** "But stir up the gift of God that is within you by the laying on of hands..." ~ II Tim. 1:6

The Pursuit of Happiness…What Does That Mean?

The beginning of the Declaration of Independence makes an interesting statement.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The writers believed that this was self-evident, meaning that it was completely obvious and didn’t need explanation.  The right to life (a.k.a. to stay alive) and right to liberty (a.k.a. freedom) make perfect sense to us.  But the phrase “the pursuit of happiness” doesn’t have the same meaning to us today as it did to the patriots in 1776.

We live in a world today that is obsessed with the pursuit of happiness.  But it’s not a world that our founding fathers would even recognize.  Today the words “happy” or “happiness” have become watered down, speaking more to a temporary mood or shallow state of being.

But when that sentence was written, the phrase signified a combination of fulfillment, contentment, self-worth, dignity, and community or civic duty.  I love the quote from this article, which sums it up by saying that “happiness was about an individual’s contribution to society rather than pursuits of self-gratification”.

So our founding fathers thought that this was a core tenet of humanity, but is the pursuit of happiness a biblical principle as well?

Related:  Comparison & Envy: the Key to Unhappiness

What does the bible say about happiness?

A lot, it turns out.

It’s worth just getting this out of the way to begin with:  pursuing happiness does NOT mean pursuing your own desires at the expense of others, or at odds with God’s way.  It does not say “the pursuit of pleasure”.   And it’s NOT the pursuit of materialism, humanism, and hedonism (II Tim. 3:1-4).  Solomon was clear that pursuing these things was pointless vanity (Eccl. 12), and the bible reiterates this again and again.

Who is the Antichrist? Part 5: Jewish False Messiah Theory (cont…)

Editor’s note: This is the final installment in a six-part series on theories and prophecies about the Antichrist and a continuation of the previous posts, Part 3: Jewish False Messiah Theory and Part 4: Jewish False Messiah Theory (cont.).  At very least we strongly recommend starting there before diving into this post, as this jumps right into the middle of the theory. 

If you have the time we’d also suggest starting with the Introduction, as well as Part 1: Roman Antichrist Debunked and Part 2: Muslim Antichrist Debunked.  

Mystery Babylon is eschatological Jerusalem

First, let’s establish that another significant event of the end times is the re-establishing of the temple services and daily sacrifice.  I alluded to this in the opening.

And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.  (Dan. 12:11 KJV)

Next, I will attempt to demonstrate that the Mystery Babylon figure from the book of Revelation is eschatological Jerusalem, and the verses used to describe Mystery Babylon reveal the peoples of eschatological Jerusalem getting RICH on the backs of those that come—by force—to worship the weird talking statue and/or the actual beast himself.

The people of Mystery Babylon are also made rich by selling the goods needed for temple services and the sacrificial system.  Which begs the question: Was it mere coincidence that the only time Messiah showed real anger in the gospels was when He turned over the merchants’ tables and chased them from the temple?

To begin, let’s list out what we know about Mystery Babylon.

Revelation 17 and 18, where Mystery Babylon is described, are passages of scripture loaded with symbolism and allegory, but there are some literal descriptions of Mystery Babylon that we can use to develop a hypothesis about who and what Mystery Babylon is.

For instance:

She is RICH Rev 17:4
She is the Mother of Harlots Rev 17:5
She is drunk on the blood of the saints Rev 17:6, 18:24
She herself is a prostitute Rev 17:16
She is a City Rev 17:18, 18:10, 16,18
She is full of Sin Rev 18:4-5
She boasts that she is not a Widow, and never will be Rev 18:7
The Kings of Earth commit sexual immorality with her Rev 18:9
She makes her merchants RICH Rev 18:11-12

Now let’s analyze each of these descriptions to further develop the hypothesis.

She is rich

In ancient times, wearing garments of scarlet and purple was a sign of great wealth.  The clothes of commoners, the rank and file, were the natural color of the wool or cotton that the garment was made from.  The dyes used to make a garment colorful were expensive, and the bold colors of scarlet and purple were the most expensive of the dyes.

I believe there is additional significance to the use of scarlet and purple and the notable absence of the color blue, but we will get into that later.

Spiritual Leprosy, Part 1: Recognizing the Symptoms

Some years ago, I read a book that had a chapter specifically devoted to pain.  I don’t recall the chapter heading, but if I had to guess, it would be something like, “The Blessing of Pain”.  The premise was essentially that pain was a good thing, because without it the body wouldn’t know that there was a problem, or that there was something that it shouldn’t be doing.

In that chapter, there were a few pages that addressed leprosy, because as it turns out, leprosy is an excellent illustration of why pain can be a blessing.  The disease’s physical ramifications were discussed, along with experiences from leper colonies (yes, they still exist, although they’re a foreign concept to us “first-worlders”) and observations from those in the medical field who have devoted their lives to pursuing a cure.

The observations about this disease frankly left me staring open-mouthed at the book while I mentally connected the physical with the spiritual.  I began to gain an understanding of why the issue of leprosy was addressed in scripture, which I’ll get to in a bit.

Leprosy is a topic that really isn’t on our radar screens.  For the most part, it doesn’t impact any of us.  We all know someone—close to us or not—with a serious disease:  cancer, diabetes, cardiac problems, dementia, etc.  Because of this, we have a sense of the seriousness and impact these have one people’s day-to-day lives.

I don’t personally know anyone with the physical disease of leprosy.  Not one person.  And I doubt that most people do.  That’s why the topic is not on our radar—it isn’t visible in our lives.  But scripture actually gives this disease a fair amount of attention.  In the Bible, we can find the word leprosy in the bible upwards of 40 times, depending on which translation you’re using.  Leviticus 13 and 14 is a major section that deals with this disease, a part of the “cleanliness” laws.  These chapters are somewhat technical and tedious, and because of that are not my favorite section of the Bible to read.  What they essentially cover are the identification of the disease, when to quarantine, and the remediation of the person/clothing/house.

So what are we to get from this?  In recent years I feel that I’m getting a glimmer of why this subject is covered so heavily in God’s word.

“…Written for our example…”

Although Paul made the statement in 1 Corinthians 10 specifically about the exodus from Egypt, we can be sure that this concept of scriptures being “written for our example” applies to the rest of the Old Testament scrolls.  Paul also described the purpose of the Old Testament scrolls, saying, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).

So what can we learn about leprosy, and especially how it can apply to us in a spiritual sense?  Well, here’s what I have learned…

The physical impact of leprosy

Let’s start with some of the characteristics of the physical disease.  As we go through these, you’re free to get out ahead and start thinking of the spiritual implications and analogies for what we consider the ecclesia of Christ:

  • Leprosy has a long incubation period.  It can take years, even a decade or two, for symptoms to definitively show up.
  • It’s actually not easily contagious.  It takes close and repeated contact with someone who has untreated leprosy.  Children are more susceptible than adults.
  • Leprosy primarily attacks the nerve endings.  Left unchecked, this will lead to loss of feeling and muscle weakness, leading to atrophy and deterioration.

Who is the Antichrist? Part 4: Jewish False Messiah Theory (cont…)

Editor’s note: This is the fifth installment in a six-part series on theories and prophecies about the Antichrist and a continuation of the previous post, Part 3: Jewish False Messiah Theory.  It’s followed by the last in the series, Part 5: Mystery Babylon.  At very least we strongly recommend starting there before diving into this post, as this jumps right into the middle of the theory. 

If you have the time we’d suggest starting with the Introduction, as well as Part 1: Roman Antichrist Debunked and Part 2: Muslim Antichrist Debunked.  

The “first beast”

One thing that seems abundantly clear about the coming Antichrist figure is that he is a man of war. He rules with a rod of iron to be sure. Let’s now take a look at some of the scriptures that I believe show him as a man of war and others that detail some of the wars that he wages.

Revelation 13 describes a seven-headed beast rising out of the sea and that the “dragon” gives this beast “his own power and throne and great authority” (Rev. 13:1, 13:2 NLT).

It is almost universally believed that the beast in Revelation 13 is the Antichrist figure that we are studying. To be sure, interpretations that are “universally believed” are not always a good thing, but in this case, I tend to agree with this position. With that said, it is also almost “universally believed” that the dragon in question is Satan.

The NET Bible translates that scripture as, “The dragon gave the beast his power, his throne, and great authority to rule.” So, if those “universally believed” interpretations are correct, then we can deduct that Antichrist is somehow empowered by Satan himself, and as the interim ruler of this world, Satan will grant the Antichrist a great deal of authority with which to rule.

In verse 4 we read about people worshiping the dragon for “giving the beast such power.” Those same people go on to say, “Who is as great as the beast?” and “Who is able to fight against the beast?”. It seems from these statements that the people of the earth don’t think that any fighting force could defeat this beast. Now, this could partially be due to the beast receiving a mortal head wound, and then coming back to life, in the previous verse, verse 3.

We will discuss the mortal head wound in the next section, but I think it is safe to say that the people believe the beast cannot be killed. Who could fight against something that can’t be killed?

In verse 7 of Revelation 13 we learn that this beast is “allowed to make war with the saints and to conquer them.” Now, it is clear to me that the figure that does ALL “allowing” is God. God is in total control at all times. If it were up to Satan, he would “allow” the killing and conquering of the saints today…if that were in his power to do. No, this is God Himself allowing the beast to make war with the saints and to eventually conquer at least some of them. I guess the little bit of good news from this verse is that there are, in fact, saints left on the earth in the end—though it sounds like it will be a quite a tumultuous time for them to say the least.

The false prophet…a false Elijah?

While we are here in Revelation 13, I would like to draw the reader’s attention to the second beast that is described towards the end of the chapter. This second beast is near “universally believed” to be the false prophet figure mentioned elsewhere in Revelation.

Before we read the scriptures describing the second beast—the false prophet—I want to point out that nearly ALL adherents of Judaism are still awaiting Elijah the prophet, whom they believe will precede the coming of Messiah.

Remember, the Jews don’t believe that Jesus was the Christ; therefore they also don’t see John the Baptist as the Elijah figure that prepared the way for Messiah. So the Jews are still waiting for Elijah to prepare the way for Messiah. Some Jewish people go so far as to set a place for Elijah at their table during the Seder meal.

In Malachi 4:5, we read: “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives.” It cannot be stressed enough here how much the adherents of Judaism are expecting a literal reincarnation of Elijah the prophet.

Now let’s read the description of the ‘false prophet’ in Revelation 13, starting in verse 11 (from the NLT):

Then I saw another beast come up out of the earth. He had two horns like those of a lamb, but he spoke with the voice of a dragon.

He exercised all the authority of the first beast. And he required all the earth and its people to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed.  (Rev 13:11-12)

So this ‘false prophet’ figure is granted authority that is like the first beast, and he requires that the inhabitants of the earth worship the first beast. Take note of how the first beast is being described, kind of reminding the reader which beast is in view by calling the first beast the beast “whose fatal wound had been healed”. Keep this in mind as we go forward.

He did astounding miracles, even making fire flash down to earth from the sky while everyone was watching.  And with all the miracles he was allowed to perform on behalf of the first beast, he deceived all the people who belong to this world.

He ordered the people to make a great statue of the first beast, who was fatally wounded and then came back to life. [There it is again]  He was then permitted to give life to this statue so that it could speak. Then the statue of the beast commanded that anyone refusing to worship it must die.  (Rev 13:13-15  NLT)

The verse that I really want to draw attention to is verse 13, where the false prophet, the second beast, is said to perform astounding miracles—even making fire come down from the sky. Please take note of how the bible makes sure that we know that this false prophet calls down the fire “while everyone was watching.”

Imagine that on the evening news: “Tonight in Jerusalem, a man calls down fire from heaven,” while they roll footage of the event. I think it is safe to say that any person that calls down fire from heaven would garner quite a lot of attention from the ENTIRE world.

Now, recall—what was the prophet Elijah famous for in the book of Kings? Stopping the rain for a few years, being risen to the heavens, and…calling down fire from the heavens.

The story of Elijah is one of the great stories of the Old Testament, the way he laughed at and taunted the priests of the false god Ba’al. I love the story myself.

But, to modern-day Jews who see a man calling down fire from the heavens on the evening news, they will immediately equate that event to mean that the prophet Elijah has returned, and the coming of Messiah is imminent.

I really don’t quite know what to say about a statue that comes to life and demands to be worshiped. I think this is probably symbolism, but I guess anything is possible during this time period.

The wars of the Antichrist

OK. Let’s circle back now to our study on the wars of the Antichrist.

In part two of this presentation, we briefly looked at Daniel 11. Let’s now go deeper and peel back the layers of these scriptures a little bit. I’m going to go verse-by-verse using the NIV, starting in verse 40.

“At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood.  (Dan 11:40)

The “him” of course, I believe to be the Antichrist.

During the Cold War, most scholars believed the king of the North to be Russia. Who else? It was the Cold War, after all. However, in his paper titled “Daniel’s ‘King of the North’: Do We Owe Russia an Apology?”, Dr. J. Paul Tanner, a professor of Hebrew and Old Testament Studies, suggests that the king of the North is “a confederation of northern Arab nations that will attack the Antichrist and his forces.” The modern-day nations of Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Afghanistan are brought to mind, but that is speculation on my part.

It is widely believed that the king of the South is Egypt. So Egypt attacks ‘him’ first, and then Antichrist invades many countries and sweeps through them like a flood. Floods move fast and they destroy everything in their path.

He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand.  He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape.  (Dan 11:41-42 NIV)

The NLT renders the first part of verse 41 as “He will also enter the glorious land of Israel”. So, I think we can assume that Antichrist enters the land of Israel.

But I feel that the NIV might be in error for rendering the Hebrew word eiserchomai (ice-er’-khom-ahee) as “invade”. Most all other translations use the word “enter”. For instance the King James translates Daniel 11:41, “He shall also enter the Glorious Land”.

Other translations also use terminology that is more along the lines of ‘entering’ rather than ‘invading’.  For instance, the ESV renders it as, “He shall come into the glorious land”.  The Stongs definition of the word also points more to ‘entering’ or ‘coming into’ rather than ‘invading’.

After ‘entering’ Israel, many nations fall; by that we can assume that he conquers many nations, but Moab, Edom, and the leaders of Ammon escape. These three names seem to point to modern-day Jordan. However, Egypt does not escape. So the Antichrist conquers Egypt. Egypt picks a fight but ultimately they get their hats handed to them.

He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Cushites in submission.  (Dan. 11:43  NIV)

After conquering Egypt, the Antichrist takes their money, and also makes Egypt’s neighbors his servants. To me, it sounds like he takes control of the entire area. Let’s also make note here, as we did in part two, that all of the nations mentioned in these verses are modern-day Muslim nations.

But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many.  He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.  (Dan. 11:44-45  NIV)

Antichrist hears of news to the east and north, and in a rage, he storms out to annihilate many. Then verse 45 is very interesting. He “pitches his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain”. In verse 41 he “comes into” Israel, and now we see him “pitching his tent” there. In my opinion, the “beautiful holy mountain” is the Mount of Olives.

At this point, one has to ask themselves the question: Are the people of Israel accepting of the Antichrist, or are they in a position of having been conquered, and thus in bondage to the Antichrist?

I believe, and will continue to attempt to demonstrate, that it is the former. The people of Israel will welcome the Antichrist with open arms, considering him to be the long-awaited Messiah whom they are expecting to rule from Jerusalem. Where does he pitch his royal tents according to Daniel? “Between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain”.

Most commentaries, however, believe verse 45, coupled with verse 41, depict the Antichrist as conquering the land of Israel. They assume that Antichrist is going into Israel to make war and ‘invade’.

However, I would ask: Does this necessarily mean that the fight is with the Jewish peoples in the land of Israel? Could it not be pointing to the Antichrist going into Israel and “invading” Israel’s enemies, such as the Muslim Palestinians that control Gaza and the West Bank?

OK. Back to our narrative. So here we have a man soundly defeating and conquering Egypt. Remember also, the Jews believe that a big portion of Egypt should be theirs due to God’s declaration in Genesis 15:18, “On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates”.

Thus, the Jews believe that from the Nile in Egypt to the Euphrates River is and always will be their God-given land.

So imagine this:

  • A man comes and calls down fire from heaven and is considered by many to be a prophet while paying homage to and promoting a second man..
  • After that, the second man conquers all of Egypt and thoroughly defeats almost all of Israel’s enemies, most notably Israel’s neighbors that they have been fighting with non-stop since the tiny nation was established in 1948.
  • After that, this same man comes to Israel and submits the Palestinians and Muslims to his authority—thus, giving the “Jews” near total control of the land that they believe to be their God-given land, for the first time in millennia. And this same figure sets up shop “at the beautiful mountain” (again, this has to be the Mount of Olives in my opinion).

It would be hard to imagine a Jew NOT believing this figure to be the long-awaited Messiah.

In my opinion, a GREAT number of modern Christians—who don’t read their bibles closely—after seeing these events, where fire is called down from the sky, Israel’s enemies are finally subdued, etc., will believe that the Millennium has come. This person MUST be the Messiah. In other words, the majority of Christians will buy this lie too, just as the Bible prophesies.

In the interest of time, I need to move on, but I would point the reader to Zephaniah 2 for further corroboration of my assertion that the Antichrist is not only a man of war, but he specifically wars with the enemies of modern-day Israel.

Antichrist ‘resurrected’

At this point, I want to re-look at the “resurrected” Antichrist. I really don’t like using the term resurrected in accordance with Antichrist, so let’s just refer to it as the healed head wound going forward.

Going back to Daniel 11:45, we read about the Antichrist “coming to his end” and that “no one will help him”.

For whatever reason, a chapter break has been placed here, but you can be sure that Daniel didn’t place a chapter break there, so let’s keep reading, this time from the NKJV:

“At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time.  (Dan 12:1  NKJV)

To fully comprehend this verse, I think we should also look at Matthew 24, where Messiah Himself describes a time that sounds very similar to this “time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation”:

“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation’, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains”  (Matt. 24:15-16  NKJV)

Skipping down to verse 21:

“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be”  (Matt 24:21  NKJV)

In these verses contained within the Olivet Prophecy, the Messiah seems to go out of His way to make sure that everyone listening knows that He is making reference to specific prophecies made by Daniel.

OK, let’s continue to try to put all of these things together. First, the Antichrist pitches his tents in Jerusalem in Daniel 11:45. He then commits the abomination of desolation from earlier in Daniel that Messiah makes reference to in Matt. 24:15. Which is to say, that the Antichrist will go into a temple of God and claim to be God and defile the temple. This act will cause those with understanding to flee from Israel to the mountains. And then, Antichrist will “come to his end”, with a mortal head wound described in Rev 13, but he will come back to life, at which time the period known as the “Great Tribulation” will begin. “A time of trouble like there never has been, and there never will be again.”

Are you with me?

You might be surprised to know that many Jewish people are waiting for a man to do exactly the things I just described. Namely, they are waiting for a man called Messiah ben Joseph to destroy the enemies of Israel and after these wars march victoriously to Jerusalem, where he will be killed by his enemies, but then miraculously be brought back to life. These events are thought by many Jews to happen at the end of this age or the beginning of the Messianic Age.

Allow me to explain.

In the Talmud, when trying to reconcile the various natures of the Messiah in the Bible (suffering servant, king, and conqueror), the writers came up with the idea that there will actually be two Messiahs in the end times. The first, Messiah ben Joseph, will precede Messiah ben David. Ben David is considered to be the superior Messiah. Ben Joseph will do all of the things that I just mentioned, and then Ben David will actually rule over the Messianic Age as king.

To be sure there are many differing views about how the end times will play out within Judaism, but the view of there being two Messiahs is widely accepted.

The following is what the Jewish Encyclopedia says about the two Messiahs:

“Messiah b. Joseph will appear prior to the coming of Messiah b. David; he will gather the children of Israel around him, march to Jerusalem, and there, after overcoming the hostile powers, reestablish the Temple-worship and set up his dominion. Thereupon Armilus, according to one group of sources, or Gog and Magog, according to the other, will appear with their hosts before Jerusalem, wage war against Messiah b Joseph, and slay him. His corpse, according to one group, will lie dead in the streets of Jerusalem; according to the other, it will be hidden by the angels with the bodies of the Patriarchs, until Messiah b. David comes and resurrects him.”.

Now, not all modern Jews believe in the concept of two Messiahs. But when these events transpire, most Jews would likely start reading the teachings about the two-Messiah theory that has been taught by nearly every sage since the Talmud was written. I would also point out that a false Jewish Messiah Antichrist and/or a false Elijah could exploit these teachings themselves when the time came.

All this is to demonstrate that there are many Jews that believe in two Messiahs. They even believe that the first Messiah, Messiah ben Joseph will suffer a mortal injury, but will be brought back to life. This, of course, is eerily similar to the verses in Revelation 13 where we read:

I saw that one of the heads of the beast seemed wounded beyond recovery—but the fatal wound was healed! The whole world marveled at this miracle and gave allegiance to the beast.  (Rev 13:3  NLT)

The two words in focus here are the words translated as “wounded beyond recovery” and “fatal wound”. The first comes from Strong’s G4969 sphazo, meaning “to butcher or slaughter or maim, kill, slay, wound”. The other is Strong’s G2288 thanatos, meaning literally and figuratively death or deadly, or as Thayer puts it “the death of the body.”

Every translation that I analyzed this verse in uses terminology that points to the wound being a death wound. This beast is believed to be DEAD.

Let’s also analyze the word translated as allegiance, as in, they “gave allegiance to the beast”. In the Greek, the word is thaumazo from Strong’s G2296, meaning “to wonder; by implication to admire: – have in admiration, marvel“.

I like the way the NLT translates this as “gave allegiance to the beast”. Most other translations render this sentence as “and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast.” In plain modern English…they give their allegiance to him.

Later in Revelation 13, as we read earlier, John then uses this concept of mortal injury and being brought back to life as a way to identify the particular “beast” that he is speaking of.

Rev 13:12 (NLT) – “… the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed”

Rev 13:14 (NLT) – “… the first beast, who was fatally wounded and then came back to life”

I think it is safe for us to assume that the calling down of fire from heaven by the false prophet, and the suffering of a mortal wound and being brought back to life are significant events during the end times.

To be concluded soon.


Catch up on the other parts of this series:

A New Lump, Purged From Sin

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow…Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:7, 10)

In a previous year’s study as the Days of Unleavened Bread drew to a close, we explored how the command is that we must eat unleavened bread for seven days—the focus being on taking in Christ as the Bread of Life, rather than on thinking, even unintentionally, that we can get sin (leavening) out of our lives on our own.

One of the scriptures we really focused on in that study was a key passage where Paul tells the Corinthians:

Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you are truly unleavened.  For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity (clearness, purity) and truth” (I Cor. 5:7-8)

The word translated “purge” in this passage means to cleanse thoroughly, with the implication of cleaning or purging out rather than just wiping down.  It’s a very evocative, active word, and I think the King James translators used it very intentionally in this passage and one other (that we’ll get to later).

I hadn’t ever really thought about why and how the word “purge” is used here, but it caught my attention these past Days of Unleavened Bread, and brought to mind a few trains of thought that I wanted to share.

How are we supposed to become a new lump?

You can’t get leaven out of or “deleaven” your leavened bread dough.  The yeast spores so thoroughly permeate every inch of the dough that it’s physically impossible.  You have to start fresh with new dough.  When the Israelites left Egypt, God forced them to completely throw out their old dough starters, with yeast that had built up multiplied over potentially decades.  But He didn’t want them bringing any of that old leaven with them.

We, too, have to start fresh with new dough, metaphorically-speaking.  Paul covered this topic a LOT.  He illustrated it for us when he said, “For I am crucified with Christ:  nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).  In a letter to the Corinthians he told them, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (II Cor. 5:17).

When we came to understand the gravity of our former sins, repented, and were baptized, we entered into covenant with God and symbolically died in the watery grave of baptism.  We came out of it as a new being (Rom. 6), free from sin, a new, unleavened lump.  This is our purging, and it continues throughout the rest of our physical lives. 

So let’s explore a couple things related to purging out our old leaven and being purged from sin.  I’ll try not to get *too* graphic, but there are some parallels to our physical experiences that are hard to ignore.  Like I said, they chose the word for a reason 🙂

Studying Bible Prophecy: Where to Start

When I was growing up, bible prophecy was something that was discussed quite a bit in my family, so it’s always been a part of my life.  The church I was in also talked about it quite a bit, though it seemed to be falling out of favor around that time.  What I’ve witnessed in the last 15-20 years has been a pendulum swing the other way, to where talking about prophecy in the bible in any kind of detail almost makes people uncomfortable.  People who study it in-depth are looked at as radicals, and the very idea of speculating about events, times, etc. gives people hives.

I get where some of the reaction is coming from, to some extent—for a long time, people were setting specific dates and claiming to know things, and none of it was true.  And certainly, there are many other things besides prophecy that we should be focusing on, such as growing in Godly character, showing love to our brethren, and readying ourselves spiritually for the kingdom.  I’ve had people argue that if we’re doing all of these things, it doesn’t really matter if we’re studying prophecy in the bible.  But I don’t agree with that argument.

This post is meant to be a thought-starter for people who don’t or haven’t studied prophecy, not an all-encompassing look at the topic.  This was originally a presentation that’s been adapted into article form, so we’ve included a downloadable Powerpoint at the end that covers the highlights and can be printed out if desired.  The main purpose of this post is to talk about why studying prophecy in the bible is important, and then offer some key insights and direction for getting started or digging back in.

3 reasons we should care about prophecy in the bible

The bible is a lot more seamless than we give it credit for—prophecy is one of the major common threads, if not THE major thread, through the entire thing

You’d be hard-pressed to find a book in the bible that doesn’t contain prophecy (there may be a couple, but you have to try really hard).  In fact, Genesis—which many people wouldn’t list as a prophetic book—is one of the most important prophetical books we have, the foundation of all bible prophecy.  Go read Genesis 3, when God pronounces the punishment of Satan and Adam and Eve, and basically tells them that they’d totally screwed up, but it’s okay because He’d thought ahead and already had a plan to fix it.  Read about the Tree of Life, and God commanding the start of a family.  In fact, the bible starts and ends with a marriage and the establishment of a family—think that’s a coincidence?  It all starts there.

Additionally, the holy days give us a framework for God’s plan for mankind.  They’re the macro view of prophecy, a large-scale roadmap of when He plans to step in and how He plans to accomplish His will.  Bible prophecy is a constant reminder of God’s power and omnipotence, His everlasting nature, and His ability to accomplish everything He says He will.

Who is the Antichrist? Part 3: The Jewish False Messiah Theory

Editor’s note: This is the third installment in a multi-part series on theories and prophecies about the Antichrist. If you haven’t already, we recommend starting with the Introduction before diving into this post, as well as Part 1: Roman Antichrist Debunked and Part 2: Muslim Antichrist Debunked.

So, without further ado…. I will now lay out an outline of my current working theory on who the Antichrist is.

The “Jewish False Messiah” Theory

My current working theory is that Antichrist will present himself as the prophesied Messiah.  A FALSE CHRIST.  Just as the scriptures prophesy.  I don’t really have an opinion as to whether he will present himself as the second coming of Jesus (the true Messiah), or if he will claim that Jesus was not Messiah and he is.  That really isn’t my point.  My point is that Antichrist will claim to be of the line of David, born in Bethlehem, etc.—i.e. a ‘Jewish’ Messiah.  A figure that the end-time “Jews” will believe to be THE Messiah, and many Christians too.  He will work to convince Jews and Christians that he has come to usher in his millennial reign and kingdom.

I think Antichrist will be promoted by a ‘FALSE PROPHET’ that will claim to be a reincarnation of Elijah the prophet.

Not many of us have truly studied the eschatology or end-time beliefs of the adherents of Judaism.  In this presentation, we will explore some Jewish eschatology according to the Talmud and other rabbinic writings.  I will demonstrate how these writings seem to encourage Jews to accept as Messiah a man with very similar characteristics as the biblical Antichrist, and how I believe Antichrist will use the Jewish end-time beliefs to his advantage.

With that said, let’s get something straight right here, right now.  I am NOT taking an anti-Jewish stance, nor am I arguing anything that should be perceived as such.  If you feel that I have degraded or put down the Jewish people at any point in this presentation, then I have spoken poorly, or you have simply perceived my words incorrectly.  Period.  I am not against the Jewish people in any way.

With that announcement out of the way, I would first point out that I am not alone in this belief of a Jewish Antichrist.  In fact, many of the 1st- and 2nd-century elders believed in a Jewish Fake Messiah.  There are also a few modern-day writers and videographers that hold to the Jewish false Christ theory as well.

The person whose writings I have most studied on this subject is Chris White.  Please note – Chris is a Sunday keeper.  In fact, he created a series of videos on why Christians should not keep the Sabbath.  Normally I would pass right by such a person’s work, but I felt very compelled to read his books titled “False Christ”, and “Mystery Babylon”.

Truth be known, this presentation started out to be presenting a Muslim Antichrist theory.  In the midst of doing the research for my “Muslim Antichrist” presentation, I was moved to read Mr. White’s books.  And I have to admit, Chris’ argument for the Jewish False Christ is just simply stronger than any other argument for the identity of Antichrist that I have heard to-date.

As I mentioned in a previous post, all of my non-core beliefs I hold like a scientist holds their theories—the theory is what I believe until a better theory is presented and tested.  White’s theory is simply the best I have heard so far.  If a new theory comes along and is better than the Jewish False Messiah, then that will be my theory.  Until that time, I will be studying and continuing to test the Jewish False Messiah idea.

With that said – I would like to openly admit that I am borrowing HEAVILY from White’s book “False Messiah” in this presentation.  Some might call that plagiarism.  Whatever.  I’m telling you the reader up front that a lot of what is presented, comes from that book.  I am not claiming that these are my theories.

There are several things that I disagree with White on, and those things will, of course, be omitted from this presentation.

Let’s get back on point here, as I continue to lay out the theory on the Jewish False Messiah.

Who is the Antichrist? Part 2: Muslim Theory Debunked

Editor’s note: This is the third installment in a multi-part series on theories and prophecies about the Antichrist. If you haven’t already, we recommend starting with the Introduction before diving into this post, as well as Part 1: Roman Antichrist Debunked; links to the rest of the articles are at the bottom of this post.

Is the Antichrist Muslim?

The next theory on the identity of the Antichrist I personally came to believe was the Muslim Antichrist theory. I must admit, this thesis was very easy for me to believe due to the current geopolitical landscape of the world we live in. Since 9/11 this theory has become very popular.

To be honest, I bought the Muslim Antichrist theory hook, line, and sinker. I even pushed some brethren to read about and consider this line of thinking. I regret that now.

But, I eventually came to the conclusion that the Muslim Antichrist theory is just too easy. It’s too neat. Let us remember, the Antichrist will fool almost everyone. If the Muslim theory were to come to fruition, it wouldn’t fool anyone except the Muslims themselves.

Now before we start this phase of the presentation, let’s first do a little homework on the religion of Islam, shall we?

Background on the rise of Islam

During the last 22 years of his life, beginning at age 40 in 610 AD according to the earliest surviving biographies, Muhammad reported having revelations that he believed to be from God and conveyed to him through the archangel Gabriel or Jibril. (Somehow I don’t think that was Gabriel, but I digress.) The content of these revelations, known as the Qur’an, was memorized and recorded by his companions.

The Qur’an is considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God, and also by its teachings an example and way of life (or sunnah). It also is composed of prophetic traditions of Muhammad called the Hadith.

Muslims believe that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed many times before through prophets including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. They maintain that the previous messages and revelations have been partially misinterpreted or altered over time, but consider the Arabic Qur’an to be both the unaltered and the final revelation of God.

At the time of Muhammad’s ‘revelation’, Mecca was largely polytheistic, with the main false idol of worship being Allat, the goddess of the crescent moon. Muhammad pleaded with the people of Mecca to abandon polytheism and to worship the one god, that he named Allah.

Although a few people at that time did convert to Islam, Muhammad and his followers were largely ridiculed by the rank and file, and ultimately persecuted by the leading Meccan authorities. This resulted in Muhammad and his followers migrating to other lands, mainly to the lands of the Aksumite Empire. After 12 years of persecution and migration, Muhammad found a home in Medina where he established his political and religious authority.

Muhammad developed a constitution in Medina and was subsequently at war within a few years of his arrival. Muhammad’s Muslims fought with Mecca and many of the tribes of Arabia over the next several years. However, by the time of his death in 632 (at the age of 62), Muhammad had united Mecca, Medina, and the tribes of Arabia into a single religious state.

After his death there was much disagreement, strife, and ultimately war over who would succeed Muhammad as leader of the Muslim community. This person would come to be known as the caliph.

To make a long story short…over the next 1,200-1,300 years, the Muslims fought MANY brutal and bloody wars, ultimately controlling much of the Middle East as the Ottoman Empire or as they called it, the Caliphate. The Ottomans controlled vast lands, including parts of Europe, Northern Africa, and much of the Middle East.

Next, let’s get some of the basics of Islamic eschatology (study of end-time events)

There are only a few denominations of Islam (not NEARLY as many as there is in Christendom). The two main denominations are the Sunni and the Shia. The Sunni are much more prevalent than the Shia. The Shia represent about 10-20% of Islam and are mainly located in modern day Iran. The Sunni make up about 75-85% of the Muslim population.

The Sunni and Shia have very different views about the end times. However, they do agree about the figure they call the Mahdi, though they differ in their beliefs as to how the Mahdi will come to power. But they both believe that the Mahdi is the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will rule for seven, nine, or nineteen years (according the differing interpretations).

The Mahdi comes onto the scene just before the Day of Judgment. Ultimately they believe the Mahdi will rid the world of infidels and usher in an Islamic revolution where Sharia Law will be the foundational constitution of every nation on earth.

According to Islamic tradition, the Mahdi’s tenure will coincide with the second coming of Jesus Christ (who they call Isa). And Isa will assist the Mahdi against the Masih ad-Dajjal or Dajjal (literally, the “false Messiah” or their version of Antichrist).

Who is the Antichrist? Part 1: Roman Antichrist Debunked

Editor’s note: This is the second installment in a multi-part series on theories and prophecies about the Antichrist. If you haven’t already, we recommend starting with the Introduction before diving into this post, and links to the remainder of the posts are at the bottom of this article.

The Roman Antichrist thesis has two main interpretations that are the most widely-held beliefs, and are used as proof texts for the Roman Antichrist theory. I will address these one at a time.

First, let’s analyze the assertion that Antichrist is of Roman descent. Or maybe better stated: that Antichrist has Roman blood, or is from a Roman bloodline.

Roman Bloodline Theory

The best I can tell from my research, this theory is based on an interpretation of Daniel 9:26. So, let’s establish some context of Daniel 9 before we dive into the verse.

Daniel 9 starts as a prayer of lamentation from Daniel to the All Mighty. Daniel prays a very heartfelt prayer asking for forgiveness on behalf of all of Israel for the sins that led to the captivity—mainly that of Judah and Jerusalem—as it has become evident to Daniel (due to his own interpretation of Jeremiah’s prophecies) why the captivity has happened and the length of time for the captivity.

Toward the end of the chapter, the angel Gabriel comes to Daniel in response to his prayer, and to provide Daniel with a few prophecies of his own.

This chapter of Daniel is where the famous 70 Weeks prophecy comes from. The verse that we will analyze is part of the 70 weeks or 70 sevens prophecy.

Dan 9:26 – After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. (NIV)

So, the “scholars” have deducted from Daniel 9:26, that the people of Antichrist (his blood) would destroy the temple and Jerusalem—“the people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary”.

Many translations correctly translate “The Anointed One” as “Messiah”.

The key words here have to be “the people of the ruler”. The King James translates this as: “the people of the prince”. The term “the people” comes from Strong’s H6004 ‘am’, meaning “a people (as a congregated unit)”. Easy enough.

So the real key here is the word translated as “prince” or “ruler”. This has been translated from the Hebrew word ‘Nagid’, from Strong’s H5057:  A commander (as occupying the front), civil, military or religious; generally (abstract plural), honorable themes: – captain, chief, excellent thing, (chief) governor, leader, noble, prince, (chief) ruler.

Of course, the army that destroyed Jerusalem and the sanctuary (the temple) was in fact, a Roman army. No argument about that. However, ask yourself, would it be logical for Rome to have sent soldiers all the way from the Italian peninsula to Judea to fight?

It should be noted: The Roman Empire (at this time) stretched all the way from Europe around modern day Turkey, down through the Middle East, and all the way into North Africa. Rome had legions of soldiers strategically placed as garrisons throughout the entirety of the empire.

History tells us that Rome did, in fact, send several legions to subdue Judea. However, these legions were not from the Italian peninsula. They were legions garrisoned in and around Judea. Makes sense, right?

Let’s take a closer look at these legions and their commander.

The Roman General Titus

The temple was destroyed in 70 AD, by the Roman General Titus. Titus led the Eastern army of the Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire—not the Western army.

The Signs of Spiritual Erosion

Be my rock of refuge [strength], a fortress of defense to save me

~ Psalms 31:2

Christ once told His disciples a parable, saying, “He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock” (Luke 6:48-49).

Long-time Christians like to latch on to scriptures like this.  We picture Satan attacking in dramatic ways, provoking equally grand gestures of faith—turning down a job for the Sabbath, telling the truth though it will damage us, staying faithful despite being ostracized at school for being different.  Many of us like to imagine that, if put in a “deny God or die” scenario, we would maintain our faith and face the consequences.  And perhaps we’re right.

But the reality is that many of us won’t face such a drastic situation, and even if we do, it will be once or twice in our lifetimes.  So we think we’ve got it made since we built our house on the rock, a solid foundation that will stand the test of time.  And it’s true, the foundation we build upon is critical to our success.

But what if it’s the rock itself that becomes the problem?

Erosion:  The process by which something is diminished or destroyed by degrees. To eat into, or to eat away by slow destruction of substance, to deteriorate

I once read an article about a famous historical lighthouse at Cape Henlopen, Delaware.  The lighthouse was critical to the Philadelphia shipping industry, and they took excellent care of it for many years.  It weathered storms and hurricanes, providing light and safe passage to the ships coming through.  But it took them decades to realize that the cliff it had been built on—its very foundation—was eroding.  One day, before they could work out a solution for saving it, a storm rolled through and the giant lighthouse fell into the sea.

We are told to build our spiritual house on a rock, and most of us take that admonition very seriously.  There is no doubt that the Rock in question is God the Father and His Son.  There are dozens of verses in the Psalms alone that reference Him this way (e.g. Psalms 31:2, 92:15).  It’s obviously critical that what we build upward and visibly is made of quality materials, and that we build on the solid foundation, the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:20; I Cor. 3:11).

But we often forget that the foundation itself has to be maintained over time.  And so what happens is that the daily grinding effects of life—of temptations, worries, pressures, envies, discouragements—these are what wear us down little by little, day by day.  Until one day we, too, crumble and fall.

It’s important to understand that when this happens, it’s not God or His power that has eroded.  That simply isn’t possible.  Rather, it’s Him as our foundation—because we allow it and we don’t maintain it.  We may appear to be weathering the storm, but underneath our foundation is being eaten away, and one day we’ll slide off into the ocean or crumble beneath the weight of what we’ve built.

You might also like:  Deep Roots in Times of Trouble:  Lessons from the Acacia Tree

What is spiritual erosion?

Spiritual erosion is slow, silent, and subtle.  Like physical erosion, it starts imperceptibly, and the daily familiarity of routine keeps us from seeing it in ourselves or even those close to us.  A person will usually keep doing the same things they’ve always done, like keeping the Sabbath, asking people how their week was at church, deleavening the house, and attending the Feast.  Many Christians still attend church long after their faith is gone, because we’re creatures of habit.

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