"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth let him understand) then..." Matthew 24:15
THE above verse from St. Matthew's gospel is most important. By it our Lord gives His unqualified seal to Daniel as a prophet, and pronounces him to be an authority whose utterance covered a period subsequent to the time of Himself. In many quarters that profess obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ the prophecy of Daniel has been discounted, but our Lord confirmed his testimony and many will prefer to he "wrong" with Christ than "right " with the critics. The explanations of the difficulty make confusion worse confounded. We are told that the general public believed that Daniel was a prophet and, to please them, our Lord fell in with their ideas. That would be a contention of some weight if applied to certain types of politicians, but one sees no evidence in the gospels that our Lord ever, for convenience, accepted popular notions. It is most remarkable if on this one special occasion he echoed glibly the untutored ideas of the crowd. To swerve like that, even by a hair's breadth in Him, would have been sin! Where peccability seems too hazardous a speculation, fallibility provides a more reasonable resort. The more moderate counsel is urged: our Lord was authoritative in certain fields but we must not expect Him to be an expert in Old Testament criticism! He thought Daniel was right, the modern critic knows Him to be wrong, if indeed there ever was a Daniel! Let us listen to Him as above such Babel He solemnly declares, "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." Strange if one is not an authority on one's own biography.
The Scriptures make it quite clear that before the appearing of our Lord in glory there will be a manifestation of Antichrist. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul names him " the Man of Sin." There he declares that the day of Christ will not come except there come first the apostasy and "the man of sin " be revealed. Apostasy was to be gathered up in personality. The spirit of Antichrist, as John declared, has been long in the world but just as goodness has been consummated in God manifested in the flesh, so iniquity will have its incarnation in the man of sin, the son of perdition.
Antichrist will be essentially religious. He will not condemn religion, rather will he encourage it with all his powers. He is doubtless symbolised in Revelation 13: in the Beast rising up out of the sea with the name of blasphemy. John saw him with " a mouth speaking great blasphemies " but the world will regard him as being the embodiment of true religion. He will receive, and men will accord him, worship. He will seize upon the imagination of his fellows by a wonderful recovery from some deadly wound. When that fact was first pointed out to the writer it was received with a gasp of incredulity. But it so happened that the very next day a visit was paid to a lady who had resigned from the Church and was devoting herself to Christian Science. She declared she was looking forward with confidence to the day when Christian Science would he vindicated before the world when, through its agency, the dead should be raised up to life again.
" If," said she, " Christian Science can produce life no doubt will remain of its truth." Fortified with the prayer, fellowship and meditation of the previous day, it seemed well to point out to her Revelation 13 verses 3 and 12, and to show that Satanic powers in this direction were already indicated in Scripture. The only answer was that in these days no really educated minister believed in Satan! In those days I was deeply exercised upon the authority of Scriptures and the content of my message from the pulpit. But while wending my way home after this interview the Holy Spirit burned into my soul the conviction that the only safeguard against the pernicious religious falsehoods in the guise of truth was the sure word of Scripture.
My talk with the neophyte to Christian Science proved to he a landmark in my own spiritual life. Without doubt, Antichrist will be religious! Spiritism will probably flourish under his benevolent approbation. His method will be eclectic and synthetic. He will aim at a universal religion but the basis of union will not be the revealed Word of God. It will be popular and it will appear to be reasonable and desirable. " All that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written from the foundation of the world in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain." The Christian should note very carefully that in spiritual matters it is dangerous to follow the crowd. Majorities do not control truth.
Antichrist will be a commercial genius. Buying and selling will be an important field of his operations. He will so control the markets that those outside his rings will have no chance (Revelation 13: 17). The Scriptures indicate that in the last days trade will move from the west to the east as indeed it has done. China is an object of solicitude to the great powers because she has untold natural resources from which great wealth can be secured. The huge oil fields of the Middle East have provided handsome profits to investors beyond all their expectations. When Antichrist comes he will know how to control world markets with resultant prosperity to those within his schemes and ruin to those who stand aside.
Antichrist will be political. In Revelation 17: Antichrist is again symbolised, this time with the harlot. With deference it is submitted that the Roman Church is not the man of sin " but the " woman of sin." The harlot on the beast is the Roman apostasy. The Beast is described as having ten horns, which are ten kings, and they receive power one hour with the Beast. The ten kings have one mind and they agree to give their kingdoms unto the Beast. In this symbolism some confederation of world powers is suggested with the object of world peace. It will be not merely a league of states in equality, but a league with a recognised leader. The kings will come to recognise that not in arming themselves against one another but in allying themselves under one leader lies the only hope of peace. Without therefore any twisting or straining of Scripture the portrait of Antichrist is quite distinct.
The more one seeks humbly the guidance of the Holy Spirit the clearer the lines will appear. He will stand for a universal religion, trade prosperity and international peace. The world knows these three things are inseparable. They are the three things most prominently in the minds of men to day. If any man should stand forth who could guarantee these three things the world would go after him.
In religion the note is unity. Every disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ must deplore the marks of division in the Church visible. Even so we must always remember that the true church of the redeemed, the church invisible, is not divided, it is the Body of Christ in unbroken unity, an organism not an organisation. Members of that Body have fellowship one with another irrespective of the organised communion to which they may belong.
True unity of the Spirit is realised through obedience to the Spirit-given Word of Holy Scripture. The links of fellowship are entirely and only within the Bible and all members of the Real Body of Christ find them, know them and enjoy them there. Union on that basis will not be the union desired or offered by Antichrist. His basis will be more plausible, more reasonable to an average man, to a natural mind, and the world will hail his religion with approval. How few know the difference between a religious and a spiritual mind. The first is the possession of the natural man, the second is the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Business men are looking for trade prosperity. It is now apparent to the uninitiated that bankers and financiers by their policy can materially affect economic conditions.
In a highly organised community like Great Britain the decisions of the old lady of Threadneedle Street make all the difference. That was a circumstance unknown in the days of our Lord. It would have been incredible that a company of men in one room could so decide and vary trade conditions over the whole Roman Empire, but today the influences of Lombard Street and Wall Street are world wide. It requires no great effort to imagine Antichrist ruling the world for trade expansion and commercial prosperity.
In politics the note is peace. International control and trade expansion goes together. Alliances and treaties are all proving ineffective in securing peace. English history as the schoolboy knows is a record of war, of treaties made with a flourish of trumpets and speedily trampled upon in the blood of butchering armies. Strange indeed that the world does not seize upon the essential weakness of all these covenants, but it does not. Even to day Christians hail them with satisfaction, and glibly from the pulpit the Locarno spirit is extolled.
Antichrist will make his covenant of peace and like all other covenants of human invention it will end in blood instead of being founded, as the one great covenant of peace is founded, on the blood of Christ. Why does not the Christian Church wake up to the glorious truth that "He has made peace?" Peace is not to be made, it is to be applied. It has been made through the Blood of His Cross and only as men enter into its saving efficacy, by faith, can there be peace. To proclaim peace when there is no peace deludes the people for which God will by no means hold us guiltless.
Wielding a universalism in religion, commerce and politics the ambition of Antichrist will increase. He will make a covenant with the people of Israel returning to their own land and under his protection the temple will be rebuilt and the old sacrifices re-established. Prosperous Jewry is not interested in the Messianic prophecies, but the persecuted remnants of the chosen race still long for Messiah. Our Lord when He was rejected predicted another should come in His name and be received. The Jew, having rejected the true Messiah, will receive the false. It is the assertion of Antichrist that Christ has not come in the flesh and the way will therefore be clear for him to proclaim himself the Messiah. He will be received as such and will be in very truth " the abomination of desolation." Antichrist standing in the holy place will be the sign that the glorious advent of the Lord Jesus is near, very near.
All this seems incredible and impossible. But the reader will do well to remember that these things are spiritually discerned. We are living in a deceptive world; falsehood walks admirably gowned in the guise of truth. The kingdoms of the world, refused by our Lord at the hands of Satan, Antichrist will greedily accept. The mystery of godliness is God humbling Himself to become man: the mystery of iniquity is man exalting himself to become God.
When darkness was over the land of Egypt the children of Israel had light in their dwellings, when death raged about them they were safe under the blood. Cleansed in the blood of Christ, separated from Egypt, lighted by the Holy Spirit, we shall be safe.
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