Signs of the End of the Age
The Antichrist in the Temple
Studio Session 97
In the previous program we spoke about the rise of the man of lawlessness and we saw that the lawlessness associated with him is the blasphemous doctrines that he teaches. We warned that these blasphemies were already well entrenched in the current church and that the lawless one, with the help of the false prophet, will begin the very systematic process of subverting the church. It has been said by some, “Well we don’t have to worry about that because we won’t be here.” Well I regret to inform you that we will be here. I want to present at the very fading out of this series of messages on the signs of the times, these twin subjects that are of great importance. The first is: How will the end of the age be summarized, and then: What about the coming of the Lord? In the first we will look at some remarkable things that the lawless one will do and in the second we will address the doctrine that is gaining popularity in the church today—the doctrine of the rapture, that we will be out of here.
I have no personal opposition to the idea of avoiding some of the most horrific events that will unfold in human history but I know from the Scriptures that we will not avoid these events. And my reason for taking this clear, public stance is because failure on our part—especially on the part of those who lead—to prepare the people for these times will have unimaginable catastrophic results and I will not be part of that disaster. I do not wish to give an account to the Most High, when I shall be called to give an account for my stewardship, of such an absolute, abysmal, colossal failure to prepare the body of Christ for that time. The body of Christ will be prepared; the bride will make herself ready, but in the process an entire cadre of leaders may have to be swept out of the way for God to do it, and I will not be swept out of the way if God had chosen me to be part of those who would prepare the body of Christ.
But let’s begin with the first of the two: the activities of the false Christ as he works his devious wickedness to deceive those who are perishing, and to subvert and overthrow any and all that he might, in the pursuit of his ruthless game of causing the glorification of Satan himself. Let us understand with absolute clarity that these bizarre doctrines that have already made their ways into the church do nothing but glorify Satan himself because they come from him and they are being foisted upon the church through his present agents and these present agents in fact change the environment of scrutiny in the church so that things that are by definition blasphemous are getting through and becoming part of the foundations of how the modern generation is being encouraged to think about the things of God. Such a thing will be given its full context when the little horn who speaks blasphemously against the Most High arises to do the thing for which he comes.
Paul puts it this way in his letter to the Thessalonians, in II Thessalonians, chapter 2, verse 1. He says, “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him…” (So the Lord will come; we’ll be gathered to him). Paul says, “…we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed…” (that is the little horn that speaks its blasphemies) “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped…” (That’s his blasphemies) “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” (Inserted – II Thessalonians 2:1-4)
Now let’s stop there. Paul is saying, “I don’t want you, brothers and sisters in Thessalonica, I do not want you to become discouraged; I don’t want you to be deceived; and I do not want you to be alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us saying that the day of the Lord has already come.” He introduces this chapter by saying, “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us…” That is his context. So his subject is the return of the Lord and our being gathered to him.
Now it was going around, in Paul’s day, among the Thessalonians that the day of the Lord had already come. Somebody supposedly was prophesying that or some letter said to have originated from Paul, or some report that was associated with Paul had made its way among the Thessalonians and it had unsettled, upset and alarmed the brothers. Well you could easily see that, because they were still in Thessalonica and if the Lord had already come and the saints were already gathered, then Thessalonica, 2000 years ago wasn’t the New Jerusalem, wasn’t the millennium, so the brethren were “freaked out” because they thought they had missed it. That is why they had become unsettled and alarmed by this prophecy, report or letter.
So Paul writes to them with the precise purpose of settling them down and correcting the misinformation. So what does he offer as the proof that the day of the Lord had not yet come and that the saints had not been gathered to be with the Lord? You see, even in the 1 st century there were those who purported to have a spiritualized version of the Lord’s return. Paul said that this was nonsense. He said, “That report could not have come from us; we wouldn’t have prophesied that and we wouldn’t have written a letter to that extent because we don’t believe that.” Why? He said, “Because that day will not come until…” Until what? This is the proof he offers: “That day will not come, don’t let anyone deceive you,” he says “in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.” (Inserted – II Thessalonians 2:1-3)
He is saying “There will come a great falling away at the end of the age, a rebellion…” Just like Jesus said it, Jesus said, “Because lawlessness will abound the love of most will become cold. Brother will turn against brothers and there will be a great falling away.” (Inserted – actual verse—“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” – Matthew 24:10-12)
You’ve heard many teachers tell us what a great harvest there will be at the end of the age, and they have implied by that: an outpouring of evangelism. Brothers, there will be a great harvest at the end of the age but it will not be the result of evangelism. There is nothing to harvest among newly sprouted blades of grass or corn… nothing to be harvested. A harvest, by definition, is the full fruit in the ear of corn that has been carried full term. In short, we—the mature saints—are what Jesus is coming for. The bride will make herself ready. (Inserted – actual verse—“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” – Revelation 19:7) This is not about evangelism, it is about the maturation of that which has weathered the storms for the full term. The mature saints are the harvest; the harvest is not evangelism.
There will come a point where the lawless will be lawless still, the wicked will be wicked still and the righteous will be righteous still. (Inserted – actual verse—“Then he told me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.’” – Revelation 22:10,11) There will come a point where men’s hearts will harden against the truth and there will be practically no evangelism after that. Certainly by the end of the time of the Gentiles, no more Gentiles will be coming in.
The maturing of the saints is always the anticipated harvest, and so Paul said, “Don’t be deceived in any way, there will first come a great rebellion and then this rebellion will reveal the man of lawlessness.” Why? Because he is the leader of it… he is the leader of it. The rebellion is the embrace of what he is saying. Don’t you remember that he exalts himself above everything that is called God; he blasphemes the name of God; he blasphemes the names and the reputations of heavenly majesties—these angelic beings among whose ranks they once were and opposed the saints with murderous fury?
He is the leader of the rebellion, just like the one in whose place he is acting led the rebellion against God so many eons ago that split the ranks of the angels. That is who he is, and whoever acts for him will separate between God and those who are the people of God, and that is what he does: He leads the rebellion. It will reveal him because he will be revealed as the leader and it will be his teachings that they will be following. And he [Paul] said that that hadn’t happened yet, but know that when he comes the rebellion will occur and it will reveal the man of lawlessness and he “will exalt himself above everything that is called God, or is worshiped, so that…” (this is critical) “…so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” (Inserted – actual verse—“He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God, or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” – II Thessalonians 2:4)
Now there are those again who want to spiritualize this result, that is that he will set himself up among the children of God because we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Well clearly we are the temple of the Holy Spirit but when Paul was speaking…Paul died in the spring of 63 A.D. The temple was not destroyed until A.D. 70—fully seven years later. So when Paul was writing this to the Thessalonians there was a physical temple in Jerusalem at the time and it was known as God’s temple. Jesus himself had said about it, “My Father’s house was to be called a house of prayer but you have made it into a den of thieves.” (Inserted – actual verse—“ ‘It is written,’ he said to them, “ ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’” – Matthew 21:13) Jesus had called it his Father’s house.
The problem was not with the temple itself; the problem was with what usage the temple had been turned to by the time of the Lord. The Law was still in effect in those days and so Jesus looked upon and called the temple: his Father’s house. Did Jesus at that time know that he was going to dwell in us and we would be the Father’s house? Sure he did, but he still paid the deference to the temple as long as it stood. Paul did the same thing. It is the reason for example that Paul would go to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. It wasn’t that he was going back to, or failing to leave Judaism behind, it’s that that’s where the Jews were congregated and his call was to go to them first. So when he refers here to God’s temple he was referring to the existing house on the rock, on Mount Moriah.
The temple had been rebuilt since the days of the return of Israel from captivity in Babylon and the renovation of which had been going on for decades by Herod and the ones who succeeded him. And until the temple was destroyed it was considered as God’s temple… Paul considered it that. Paul said, “The man of lawlessness will establish himself in God’s temple and he will call himself God.” Now the interesting thing is that the temple was destroyed in A.D.70. The Romans destroyed it; the Romans destroyed the temple. Nobody set himself up in the temple as God. No Roman ruler set himself up in the temple as God before the temple was destroyed. Before this event—168 years before Christ—Antiochus Epiphanes, the then reigning general of the Seleucid family, part of that which was left from the empire of Alexander the Great, established a sacrifice—a pig—on the high altar in the temple in Jerusalem. That sparked the Maccabean revolt—168 years before Christ.
This was not the thing that was spoken of either by Daniel or by Jesus. In the works of Daniel and in the words of Jesus, this would be a great sign at the end of the age. For example, in Matthew 24, Jesus refers to one of the great prophetic Scriptures in the Old Testament. Here Jesus says, in verse 15 of Matthew 24, “ ‘So when you see standing in the holy place…’” Now the holy place is in the temple in Jerusalem. “ ‘…the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.’” Now in Daniel 9, Daniel had spoken of these very things. In Daniel 9, a prophecy was given to Daniel concerning all of the rest of the days of the Jews. It is called the “seventy ‘sevens’ of Daniel.”
Daniel, in verse 20 says, “While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill—while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, ‘Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision: ‘Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.’” (Inserted – Daniel 9:20-24)
So Daniel was given a vision that would span the entire time of the history the Jews. The specific part of this is this: He tells him that basically 69 of the 70 ‘sevens’ would pass—seventy periods of seven years each. Sixty-nine of them ran contemporaneously and then it was interrupted; it was interrupted at the cross. It says, “After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.” (Inserted – Daniel 9:26a) So there were seven, and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ Seven plus sixty-two are 69 of 70 ‘sevens,’ leaving one of the last periods of seven years. So the clock stops and then it resumes. The resumption of that event will be: “…War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.” (Inserted – Daniel 9:26b) We’ve been told that in the things Jesus has been saying to us through our references in the gospels. Then he says, verse 27, Daniel 9, “He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’…” (Three-and-a-half is half of seven; three-and-a-half years into it) “…he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple, he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
So in the last of the ‘sevens’ he will set up, in a wing of the temple, the abomination that causes the Jews to become desolate and he will continue until the end that has been poured out. Daniel speaks of the end that has been poured out. (Inserted – Daniel 9:27b) Jesus now picks this up and He says in verse 15 of Matthew 24, “ ‘So when you see standing in the holy place…’” (in a wing of the temple) “ ‘…the abomination that causes desolation’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel…” So Jesus quotes Daniel; Jesus quotes Daniel 9. “…let the reader understand…” Now if what Daniel spoke was what Antiochus Epiphanes did, then Jesus would not have referred to it because that event occurred 168 years before Jesus was born or at 200 years at the point where Jesus is speaking it. It had already been passed. So what Jesus refers to when He refers to what Daniel spoke is different from the Maccabean revolt, from the actions of Antiochus Epiphanes and the Maccabean revolt.
Now when the temple was destroyed in A.D.70, it was not desecrated in the fashion described by both Daniel and Jesus. They burned it to the ground but they didn’t set up any kind of abomination that causes desolation. So what does that mean? It means that the temple has to be rebuilt and the antichrist will rebuild it and set up this abomination which the Bible tells us is an image of the beast that could speak and cause men—small and great—to bow down and to worship the beast. This is said in Revelation, the 13 th chapter. (Inserted – actual verse—“Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.” – Revelation 13:14,15) The book of Revelation is written after the destruction of the temple. It is written somewhere between 85 and 91 A.D. The temple was destroyed in A.D.70.
So all three anticipated that the one—the little horn that would come—would speak blasphemous things and he would lead all astray that could be led astray. That’s the conclusion of the matter. So with respect to all of this, what we are clearly seeing—even if you subscribe to an earlier date of the book of Revelation—it would still be true because the Lord has not returned and we have not been gathered to him. And Paul is saying, “He will not return; we will not be gathered to him until this abomination that causes desolation comes forth and stands in the temple.” It hasn’t happened yet, the temple has been destroyed for 2000 years and it didn’t happen before it was destroyed, so what lies ahead is: The Jews are going to be deceived; the temple is going to be rebuilt and it will be rebuilt by the one who claims that he is the Messiah because he wants to be worshipped by the Jews in the place where God was worshipped by them. They were the people of God, historically; He wants them to worship him in the place where God was worshipped and he wants to be worshipped as God. The deception of the last days will be stunning, so you need to know all that God would say to you about it. So continue to discuss this matter with me. I’ll see you next time. This is Sam Soleyn; God bless you.
Scripture References :
II Thessalonians 2:1-4