Category Archives: End Times Questions

Questions about the End Times: Who Is the Man of Lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12?

 

The man of lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12 is the Antichrist who will come on the world scene at the beginning of the Day of the Lord. This Day, sometimes called the “end times,” starts after the rapture of the church in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:1–11). It is good to note that the Day of the Lord is not a twenty-four-hour period of time; rather, it is an extended period of time that includes the seven-year tribulation, the return of Christ to put down all rebellion against Him, the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth, the final defeat of Satan, and the Great White Throne Judgment.

The Antichrist is given the title “man of lawlessness” because he will oppose in every way the biblical God and His law. He will be completely lawless. Daniel 7 speaks of this man as a “boastful” king who will “try to change the set times and the laws” (verses 11 and 25). He will come offering a false peace to the world and will with his charismatic personality, incredible promises, and breathtaking miracles unite all nations politically, economically, and religiously under his leadership. At the same time, he will make a covenant with Israel for three and one-half years (cf. Daniel 9:27, where “seven” indicates seven years). In the middle of the seven years, the man of lawlessness will break his covenant with Israel, stop their sacrifices (Daniel 9:27), and enter the temple to set himself up as “god” and demand worship (2 Thessalonians 2:4). This is the “abomination that causes desolation” that Jesus spoke of in Mark 13:14.

Satan works through the Antichrist, for Satan himself is not able to become incarnate. By possessing and controlling the Antichrist, Satan is worshipped in the temple where the biblical God is to be worshipped. No wonder the Antichrist is called the man of lawlessness. To act as “god” is the ultimate rejection of the biblical God’s character and laws.

This action of the Antichrist will cause an upheaval in his worldwide kingdom, and forces from the East will gather to fight against him. But instead of fighting each other, the forces of the world unite to fight the King of kings and Lord of lords, who comes to put down the man of lawlessness and his allies in the great battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16; 19:19). Of course, the man of lawlessness loses that battle. He and his false prophet are then cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20). The Word of God (Revelation 19:13), Jesus Christ, will be the Victor.

A quick observation of the happenings in our world today reveals that lawlessness is on the rise. Such lawlessness will continue and increase (2 Timothy 3:13), and when the man of lawlessness appears on the scene, he will be welcomed with open arms. Those who have rejected the true Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, will fall for the Antichrist’s empty promise of peace. It is vitally important that each of us is sure that we have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and are living for Him. “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come” (Mark 13:33).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the End Times: Will All Israel Be Saved in the End Times?

 

Romans 11:26 plainly says, “All Israel will be saved.” The question that arises is “What is meant by Israel?” Is the future “Israel” literal or figurative (i.e., referring to the ethnic Jews or referring to the Church)? Those who take a literal approach to the promises of the Old Testament believe that the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be restored to a right relationship with God and receive the fulfillment of the covenants. Those who advocate replacement theology basically affirm that the Church has completely replaced Israel and will inherit God’s promises to Israel; the covenants, then, will be fulfilled only in a spiritual sense. In other words, replacement theology teaches that Israel will not inherit the actual land of Palestine; the Church is the “new Israel,” and ethnic Israel is forever excluded from the promises—the Jews will not inherit the Promised Land as Jews per se.

The literal approach seems better. The passages that speak of future Israel are difficult to view as figurative for the Church. The classic text (Romans 11:16–24) depicts Israel as distinct from the Church: the “natural branches” are the Jews, and the “wild branches” are the Gentiles. The “olive tree” is the collective people of God. The “natural branches” (Jews) are “cut off” the tree in unbelief, and the “wild branches” (believing Gentiles) are grafted in. This has the effect of making the Jews “jealous” and then drawing them to faith in Christ, so they might be “grafted in” again and receive their promised inheritance. The “natural branches” are still distinct from the “wild branches,” so that God’s covenant with His people is literally fulfilled. Romans 11:25–29, citing Isaiah 59:20–21; 27:9; Jeremiah 31:33–34, says:

In this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.

Here, Paul emphasizes the “irrevocable” nature of Israel’s calling as a nation. Isaiah predicted that a “remnant” of Israel would one day “be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD” (Isaiah 62:12). Paul speaks of the “full inclusion” of Israel in the future (Romans 11:12). Regardless of Israel’s current state of unbelief, a future remnant will in fact repent and fulfill their calling to establish righteousness by faith (Romans 10:1–8; 11:5). This conversion will fulfill Moses’ prediction of Israel’s permanent restoration to the land (Deuteronomy 30:1–10). God’s larger redemptive plan involves both Jews and Gentiles. When Paul says Israel will be “saved,” he means their deliverance to this physical inheritance as integral to God’s ultimate plan (Romans 11:30–36).

So how will “all Israel be saved” and restored in the land? The details of this deliverance are filled out in passages such as Zechariah 8–14 and Revelation 7–19, which speak of end-times Israel at Christ’s return. The key verse describing the coming to faith of the future remnant of Israel is Zechariah 12:10, “I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” This occurs during the tribulation prophesied in Daniel 9:24–27. The apostle John references this event in Revelation 1:7. The faithful remnant of Israel is epitomized in Revelation 7:1–8 and 11:1–12. These faithful ones the Lord will save and bring back to Jerusalem “in truth and righteousness” (Zechariah 8:7–8, NASB).

The tribulation period will feature unprecedented apostasy in Israel for 3½ years, with a “second exodus” arranged by God to protect the faithful remnant from Satan (Revelation 11–12) just as in the first Exodus. Isaiah predicted this as well: “In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people” (Isaiah 11:11). The gospel will be preached to all the world, and Christ will return to meet the faithful remnant (Revelation 14) and destroy the armies gathered against Him in rebellion (Revelation 19). The apostates left in Jerusalem will be purged, and the remnant set apart forever as God’s holy people (Zechariah 13:8–14:21). Isaiah 12 is their song of deliverance: Zion will rule over all the nations defeated under the banner of Messiah the King, and Israel’s “salvation” is the wholeness and peace she will enjoy during the millennial reign of Christ.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the End Times: What Are the Three Woes of Revelation?

 

Woe means “grief, anguish, affliction”; the three woes of Revelation are the final judgment God pronounces on the evil inhabitants of the earth in order to spur them to repentance (Revelation 9:20). The three woes are, indeed, a time of great anguish and affliction for those who have pledged their allegiance to the Antichrist during the end times.

The number 7 is significant in Revelation, and the three woes will come toward the end of the seven-year tribulation period right before the second coming of Christ. God’s judgments during the tribulation are pictured as seven seals, opened one at a time. The seventh seal reveals the seven trumpet judgments. The fifth, sixth, and seventh trumpets are called the three woes (Revelation 8:13).

The first woe is revealed after the fifth trumpet judgment. This woe is involves something like locusts that have the ability to sting like a scorpion (Revelation 9:3). Generally, these are not accepted as literal locusts because of their description and because they come from the Abyss and have a demonic overlord (Revelation 9:3, 7–8, 11). These creatures are permitted to harm only those people who do not have the “seal of God on their forehead” (Revelation 9:4). Those bearing God’s seal are the 144,000 (Revelation 7:3–4) or, possibly, all believers during that time (Ephesians 4:30). These demonic locusts are allowed to torment unbelievers for five months (Revelation 9:5) with painful stings. Although victims will long for death (Revelation 9:6), they will not be granted that release.

The second woe is revealed after the sixth trumpet judgment. This woe begins when a voice commands, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates” (Revelation 9:14). These four angels are demons who were cast from heaven along with Satan. God is right now keeping them imprisoned until the appointed time (Revelation 9:15; cf. Jude 1:6; 2 Peter 2:4). These angels and their armies, numbering two hundred million, are released to kill a third of mankind (Revelation 9:15–16).

After the second woe passes (Revelation 11:14), there comes a clear division in the book with the announcement from heaven, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” (Revelation 11:15). In other words, this final stage of judgment will be the end, and righteousness will be restored to the earth.

The third woe is revealed after the seventh trumpet judgment. This woe is parallel to the trumpet that sounds in Joel 2 and signals the consummation of God’s plan for the entire world. This third woe marks the finishing of God’s judgment on sin; it occupies the book of Revelation through the 19th chapter, when Christ’s Kingdom is established on earth. Incorporated within this third and final woe are the seven “bowls” of God’s wrath, described in Revelation 16:1–21. This series of judgments is the greatest horror the citizens of earth have ever seen. Jesus said, “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive” (Matthew 24:22).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the End Times: Is Jesus Going to Return during the Blood-Red Moon of 2015?

 

Gaining in popularity today is the teaching that a series of blood-red moons in the next two years will be a portent of Jesus’ second coming and a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Astrological charts show four lunar eclipses will occur from 2014 to 2015. Because a full lunar eclipse often makes the moon look red or orange, it is sometimes referred to as a “blood moon” or “blood-red moon.” Some teachers of prophecy say that this tetrad of blood moons will fulfill end-times prophecies in Joel and Revelation.

What has interested prophecy teachers is not just the number of lunar eclipses in the next two years but the timing of the eclipses. In both 2014 and 2015, a full lunar eclipse will occur on the first day of Passover and the first day of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles). In addition to the two lunar eclipses of 2015, two solar eclipses will also occur. Similar lunar eclipses in back-to-back years have happened seven times since the time of Christ. Some of those have occurred in years of significance for the Jewish people, such as 1948 (when Israel was granted statehood) and 1967 (when the Six-Day War was fought).

References to a moon like “blood” are found in two passages of the Bible. Joel 2:30–31 says, “I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” In Revelation 6:12, John describes one of the seal judgments of the Tribulation: “I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.” Other passages refer to the moon being “darkened” (Matthew 24:29; Joel 2:10).

A tetrad of lunar eclipses—and the timing of those eclipses in the Jewish calendar—is fairly unusual, but not unprecedented. So the fact of the eclipses, while interesting, is no proof that Jesus will return by 2015. Furthermore, John’s and Joel’s descriptions of the signs of the Day of the Lord could refer to solar and lunar eclipses, but there are other possible explanations for those phenomena, such as changes in the atmosphere (mentioned in Revelation 6:12).

The blood-red moon theory is just that—a theory. Even as a theory, it comes close to doing what the Bible warns against: setting dates for the coming of the Lord. “About that day or hour no one knows” (Mark 13:32).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the End Times: Does the Bible Say the United Nations Will Have a Role in the End Times?

 

Many believe the formation of the United Nations was a key development relating to biblical prophecy of the end times. The United Nations is not mentioned by name in the Bible, and neither is its predecessor, the League of Nations; of course, that does not mean it is not symbolically suggested in prophecy. The possibility of a one-world government has come and gone constantly over the past 2,000 years since John wrote the book of Revelation. As the United Nations has gained more power, it has provided fodder for various conspiracy theories. At the same time, the rise of the UN is a valid field of study for students of prophecy and for anyone anticipating the New World Order.

A one-world or global government is predicted in Daniel and Revelation. It will come after the rise of a confederation of ten nations or regions (Revelation 13:1; Daniel 7:16–24; Daniel 2:41–42). One member of the confederation will displace three of the other members, subdue the others, and rule over all, led by the satanically empowered Antichrist. It is this confederation of ten nations that is most often connected with the United Nations. If this connection is correct, it may be that the UN or a similar group is mentioned, indirectly, in the Bible, but there is no way to be completely sure before the Antichrist makes his appearance.

Another prophecy that some people connect with the United Nations is found in Revelation 17–18. There, “Babylon the great” or the “Whore of Babylon” is condemned. The first mention of Babel is in Genesis 11, the story of the Tower of Babel. The building of the tower was mankind’s first attempt at “world government” in defiance of God. Babylon the Great in the end times is a similar conglomeration of nations attempting to unite against God. This could be the United Nations or the European Union or some other, yet-to-be-identified bloc of countries associated with the Antichrist. The fact that this evil world system is called a “mystery” (Revelation 17:5) indicates that we do not know all the details yet.

It should be noted that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were quick to denounce the formation of the League of Nations. In 1919 the second president of the Watchtower Society condemned both the League and any person who supported it. They did the same when the United Nations was created, passing a resolution condemning it in 1963. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the UN is the “image of the beast” of Revelation 13:1–18 and the “abomination of desolation” mentioned in Matthew 24:15, although there is no clear hermeneutical evidence for either interpretation.

There are many international events which could be interpreted as the fulfillment of various apocalyptic prophecies in the Bible. However, we should be careful not to jump to conclusions. Throughout history there have been major international threats, possibilities of global totalitarian governments, and proud, out-of-control leaders. It may appear that our current situation is more likely to fulfill prophecy than past situations, and we can more clearly “see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). But until we see Christ, we must trust God and continue our efforts to spread the good news of His Kingdom with the resources we have been given.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.