Wake the Church | Jan. 9, 2018
Modern Israel is a painful subject to write about due to the prophecy obsessed culture in many U.S. churches. Any negative criticism of the state of Israel, or its roll relative to prophetic interpretation opens one up to the wrath of potentially millions. For many Christians, the modern, political state of Israel has become a symbol of prophetic fulfillment, and thus worthy of their undying devotion and praise.
Modern Israel and the Strong Delusion of the Christian Elect
Herein lies the problem. At what point does the fanatical support of Israel become idolatry in a Christians life? Meaning at what point, in the mind of a believer, does Israel start to play a more important role in prophecy than Jesus Christ Himself?
The Great Deception
In the famous chapter of Matthew 24 we see two settings, and two different questions asked by the disciples.
In Matthew 24:1-2, Jesus first speaks to His disciples about the immediate coming destruction of Jerusalem, saying “There shall not be left here one stone upon another.” Then later in verse 3, in a different setting the disciples asked him, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Answering them, Jesus describes the circumstances that will lead up to His future appearance and coming Kingdom. He said there will be much war among the nations, that false Christs and prophets will arise on the scene, famines and earthquakes will be common, there will be mass persecution of the saints, and tribulation like the world has never seen. But before he lists any of these things he prefaces this whole prophetic passage with a stern warning to the disciples saying,
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Matthew 24:4-5
If you notice while reading through the text of Matthew 24 that this warning is layered into almost every passage. In Matthew 24:24, He warns that in these times the deception will be so great that even the elect will be deceived by the false prophets and signs.
“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” Matthew 24:24
This Greek word “ἐκλεκτός, or elect is used over 24 times in the Greek New Testament, and every time it is used, it is in reference to those “saved” and “chosen” in Christ. This means that the Great Deception period leading into the End Times will involve the deception of the whole world, but most importantly it will be specifically targeting Christians. This deception will be so powerful that it can cause Christians to denounce Christ, if “it were possible.”
This is a point that many theologians either ignorantly miss or blatantly ignore. Jesus is warning us all that the antichrist is coming in such a way that for some “Christians," this could very well become a salvation issue leading towards their eventual destruction if God (Matt. 24:22) does not shorten the days.
This has to be hugely concerning, ask yourself are you so patently right in your interpretation of prophecy that you couldn't possibly fall prey to such deception? Or is there room for error, and God revealing the Truth on this issue in your heart? I would hope in all humility each one of us is consistently checking our beliefs about scripture with scripture itself. It is amazing how thoughts and ideas about prophecy sneak their way into our thinking unaware. These thoughts shape our imagination and even expectations as to what to look for when waiting for Christ’s return. The question I want people to ask is, what if our current model of prophetic interpretation is the very model that will play into this grand delusion? What if it is planted as a means to sucker Christians into becoming so prideful about how they understand prophecy that it then becomes a tool of the enemy to cloud their understanding to the point of believing the deception?
False Prophets and False Signs
For me I question every doctrine and every teaching. False doctrine on the scale of what we are talking about will not come from without, it will come from within the church itself. The world doesn't teach scripture. No, the pastors and seminaries teach scripture, and during this time they will be complicit in purveying a doctrine that plays into the end time ambitions of Satan himself. This is the only conclusion one can make; false doctrine comes by false churches, and thus false churches will worship a false messiah if they are not careful. This is how the elect will be deceived, by their own teachers and pastors.
Now, I love being counted among the Elect of Christ, and I would never want to fall prey to any false doctrine, or teaching, nor do I want anybody else too either. So, with the above recognized we must ask of our generation and every generation from here-on-out, what is this Great Deception? How will we recognize it? How will we avoid being led astray by our own teachers on these subjects? Scripture is clear, this deception is uniquely a Christian deception and thus we need to analyze anything doctrinally that may obstruct our view of Christ.
So how do we know that this false doctrine that will lead us astray will come from within the church itself?
We know this because the Apostle Paul almost in total parallel to what Christ said in Matthew 24 gave us a prophetic look at what we can expect in the End Times also. He states in 2 Thessalonians,
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:4
Take special not of that phrase “falling away,” this is the Greek word ἀποστασία or apostasia where we get the word “apostate” from. The word apostate is used two times in scripture and means a defection from truth or forsaking the truth in a religious sense. So, Paul right here in 2 Thessalonians tells us that before the antichrist and his system is in place there will be a great falling away from truth within the church.
The ironic thing is the 2nd time this word apostate is used in scripture it tells us exactly what the apostasy will manifest as inside the church.
In Acts 21 the converted Jews in Jerusalem used the word apostate to try to defame Paul by saying he teaches Jews to “forsake” Moses, which he had not. These Jews demanded he prove that he was not teaching such “apostasy” their words, by proving it and taking some Jews to the temple to have their heads shaved ending their vows as Nazarites as prescribed in the law of Moses.
“And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.” Acts 21:21
They devised a scheme to appease the multitude of Jews there in Jerusalem that aimed to demonstrate that Paul had not forsaken Moses. They suggested he did so by taking those under their vow to the Temple to perform their religious rites under the Law of Moses. I have always wondered why Paul agreed to this, it is hugely problematic seeing he was always vehemently opposed to anyone who would cause Jew or Gentile to continue under Jewish law seeing it was fulfilled in Jesus (Matt. 5:17).
This whole question as to whether Jews or Gentiles were required to follow the law had been put to rest in a prior trip to Jerusalem. Paul in Acts 15 called what is termed the Jerusalem Council to address the Judaziers that where teaching gentiles to circumcise themselves and follow Jewish customs. It was ruled by the attending elders in Jerusalem that Gentiles and Jews alike were absolved from the Jewish customs, they had their liberty in Christ and where no longer subject to Jewish law. Peter gave an eloquent address on the issue closing the matter in this chapter.