Note: This entire edition is devoted to musings about prophecy and the last times. People seem to be intoxicated about the subject,
but a serious look at the scriptures should be sobering. There is more than one way of getting drunk—an immodest speculation
and hallucinating on things prophetic will do as good a job as fermented grain or distilled spirits. Drunkenness is a disassociating
from reality and there is much of that these days.
“One shall be taken, and the other left.” --Matthew 24:42
It’s a terrific attention getter and moneymaker. It sells everything from movies to bumper stickers. Especially books.
Lots and lots of books. At prophetic conferences the parking lots are filled with expensive cars. Inside are people in
expensive clothes, sitting on padded pews in air-conditioned meeting rooms, hearing emotional lectures on how bad
the world is getting.
The world is getting so bad that the end of the world must be very soon, but the favored people do not need to fret about
it, because Christ will soon return to snatch His people out of the world. Did not Jesus say, “Two would be sleeping in
a bed; one would be taken and the other left. Two would be grinding at the mill; one would be taken and the other left”?
It will be a terrible thing to be left behind, because those left behind will have to go through a great time of trouble and
tribulation, endure the evil of the Antichrist and his evil kingdom, and probably have to die as a penalty for refusing
to take the Mark of the Beast in their forehead or in their hands. [See following article] The alternative will be to
take the Mark and know the pangs of eternal hell and damnation forever. How awful that will be! After all, the
righteous and pure got to escape all that and didn’t have to confront antichrist and his kingdom. [Tell that to the martyrs!]
And so it goes. Autos will be without drivers. Airplanes will crash. People will miss their babies and small children.
Preachers will be gone [maybe—this isn’t a sure thing], as the innocent and righteous are taken up in the clouds and only
the evil and defiled are left behind. It will be a terrible thing to be left behind.
The only problem is: the Bible doesn’t teach it. If we look at the whole passage, the truth is very different. It will be a good
thing to be left behind. Consider:
For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in
marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark. And knew not until the flood came, and took
them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one
shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken,
and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know
this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would
have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready:
for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. –Matthew 24:38-44
Jesus said the same thing in the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13. The tares are gathered first to judgment.
As Jesus said in Matthew 13:
Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather
ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
Vs. 30 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend,
and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and
gnashing of teeth. Vss. 40-42
This pattern is seen in all of the teaching of Christ. Another instance is the parable of the fishing net, which gathered up both good
and evil. At the end of the world:
The angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the
furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood
all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. –Matthew 13:49-51.
It may very well be that pleasure loving, ease-minded professors of religion will be in for a great surprise at the coming of Christ.
It may come as a surprise to them to realize that Christ has never promised that the church would escape the opposition of the
devil, the wickedness of antichrist, or tribulation and martyrdom. The church that suffers persecution throughout the world even
today knows it very well. Those who died under communism or are enslaved in countries under the control of fanatical Islam
know it. Jesus said it plainly: “In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” No escape
Amos understood it:
Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness,
and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned
his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light?
even very dark, and no brightness in it? --Amos 5:18-20
So did Paul:
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his
mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the
gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence
of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; II Thess 1:7-9
[Written in March, 1990. Revised, November, 2002]
Even though a great deal has been written on this subject, yet our readers might find the following of some small value.
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and is number is Six hundred threescore and six. –Rev. 13:16-18
Just as the Lord’s servants are marked by what they think and by what they do (II Tim. 1:76, Luke 6:44) so are the devil’s servants marked. It is a great mistake to think that the Holy Spirit predicts that someday it will be required of all men to have some kind of mark put on them in order for them to buy and sell in some new world order. God is a Spirit and His marks are spiritual. So are the devil’s marks. (This writer has heard it explained that the “Mark” will be something like a social security number, or some computer chip, implanted in the forehead or in the hand!) The mistake is in believing that the devil’s servants do not already have this mark. This is to mistake the true nature of the Mark.
The mark is in the mind or in the hand. Some people have good thoughts and do bad things; others have bad thoughts and do good things. One mark is sufficient to label the devil’s property.
There are two signs given throughout Scripture that distinguish the children of God from the children of the devil:
There is the Mark of Doctrine
Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. --II John 9
He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. I John 5:10
He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. John 8:47
Because the devil is a liar from the beginning (John 8:44), his children carry his mark. His servants may transform themselves into pretended “messengers of Christ,” for Satan himself comes in that guise, but their end will be “according to their works.” (II Cor. 11:13)
The Mark of Obedience
This is the second scriptural mark by which the people of God are distinguished from the children of the devil:
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. I Cor. 6:9-11
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Phil. 2:12,13.
I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. John 8:38
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: John 10:27
It is contrary to scripture to imagine that God will eternally separate people by some outward mark like a tattoo. It is inward character that distinguishes between those that are the Lord’s and those who are of the devil. Those who belong to Christ are His by the eternal decree of the Father, the redemption of Jesus Christ, and the calling and regeneration of the Holy Spirit Who implants a new nature after the image of Christ. This character is revealed by what a man believes and by what he does. “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” --II Timothy 2:19
If you belong to Christ, you will bear His mark. If you belong to the devil you will bear his mark. The children of God think the thoughts and do the works of their Father. Likewise the children of the devil.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: --1 Thessalonians 4:16
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. John 5:28,29
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Matthew 25:31-33
Why make complicated that which the Lord has made simple? The truth of the Scripture concerning the last judgment is simple indeed. Christ will return as He went away, in the clouds of heaven [Acts 1], for the purpose of rewarding His people and punishing His enemies [Luke 19:11-27]. All men will be raised from the dead, the righteous dead and living meeting Him in the air. All nations will be gathered before Him for judgment [Matt. 24 above]. The righteous will be separated from the wicked and set at His right hand, the wicked on His left. The wicked will be cast into hell and the righteous will continue forever with the Lord.
No one knows the time of the last judgment. Even Jesus Christ, according to His true human nature and knowledge, did not know the time of His return
[Mark 13:32,33 and others]. A great deal has been published, many fortunes made, and many foolish things have been preached and believed by those who did not consider that the time of the last judgment is unknown, and will remain unknown until it actually takes place. There are no “signs,” for Jesus indicated that things will continue as always, with people eating, drinking, marrying, waging war, and suffering natural disasters and troubles. The wicked will get hardened more and more and will say, “Where is the promise of his coming?” [II Peter 3].
This does not mean that there are not some very difficult passages of Scripture. In spite of the difficulty of certain passages, the broad outline is simple enough. Of course it doesn’t answer to our curiosity. The Bible is written for faith, not curiosity. The reason for the obscurity of some passages is connected to the purpose for prophecy [see the next article].
The Lord has reserved the knowledge of the last times to Himself. No one knows the day or the hour. Isaiah tells us the purpose for prophecy:
I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I showed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass. Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass; I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I showed it thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them. –Isaiah 48:3-5
The purpose for prophecy is to show that God is in control of history. Things do not happen by chance, nor do things come to pass through the instrumentality of false gods. It is false to say that God knows the future but does not will it or bring it to pass. Divine Power cannot be divorced from Divine Wisdom and Knowledge. Isaiah shows that the knowledge of God is connected to His purpose and power:
Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: --Isaiah 46:9, 10.
The simple truth is that God’s pleasure [will] is connected to His plan [counsel] and power [I will do]. This is the reason that He knows and can declare the end from the beginning.
We are now living in the last days. The last days began with the first advent of Jesus Christ and continue until the last judgment. This is clear from the following Scriptures, which are stated with little comment:
Acts 2:17 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. [Peter claims that the events of Acts 2 fulfill Joel’s prophecy of the last days]
Hebrews 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; [It was customary for the Jews to refer to the days of the Messiah as the last days].
1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
These days are the days of Christ’s reign over all things:
Mark 16:19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. See also: Acts 2:25; Acts 2:33-4; Ephesians 1:20 Colossians 3:1 Hebrews 1:3
The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, --Ephesians 1:18-22
Is Christ our king who will someday come to reign? NO, emphatically no! He is our king who is now reigning over all things to accomplish His will with respect to the church, and who will at the last day, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God come to judge the living and the dead.
The command of the Holy Spirit to all rulers and powers is this:
Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. –Psalm 2:10-12
1 John 2:18. Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
1 John 2:22. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
1 John 4:3. And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
2 John 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
The word “antichrist” is the word for “Christ” with a prefix, which means “in the place of” or “against.” Antichrist is anyone or anything that seeks to be a substitute or a usurper in the place of Jesus Christ, the only savior and redeemer, the only begotten Son of God. The spirit of antichrist is found in any state, institution, or person who denies that Jesus is the only Savior, or who corrupts the truth concerning Him. Antichrist was in the world in the days of the apostles and it is in the world now.
It is true that at times certain people or certain organizations have represented this spirit of antichrist. The early church thought it was emperor Nero; for centuries the church thought antichrist was Muhammad; Luther transferred the honor to the pope. In recent years there have been many candidates. Most of the choices were made in folly; others designated that which had a real spirit of opposition to Christ.