The First Day of Fall — And There’s a Chill In the Air!
Vol: 132 Issue: 22 Saturday, September 22, 2012
One of the few places where science and religion have no disagreement is in the understanding that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Everything has its own negative doppelganger; matter has antimatter, light has its darkness, heat has cold, normal space has its black holes, etc.
The universe consists of opposites and like opposite poles on a magnet, the reaction between opposites generates power. Plants require sunlight plus darkness for photosynthesis to occur.
Friction is the basic source of power in the universe. Heat is the result of friction between molecules.
Spiritually speaking, one finds the same principles at work. For good to exist in this universe, there must be a countervailing evil. If there were no evil, then there would be no way to define “good”.
To my mind, this is one of the stronger evidences supporting the supernatural origin of the Bible. The godless founder of Soviet Communism, Vladimir Lenin, was something of an armchair philosopher who made the following observation.
“It is impossible for the human mind to imagine something that does not exist. For example, one can imagine pink elephants because pink exists and elephants exist. But one cannot imagine a new prime color for the rainbow.”
Applied to the existence of God, one must consider the following, all of which is as far outside of any human frame of reference as imagining a new prime color for the rainbow.
- God is eternal, without beginning or end.
- God exists outside of space and time.
- God is a Trinity, one God in Three distinct Persons.
- God is omnipotent, which means He is all-powerful and the Source of all power every single second of every single day.
- God is omniscient, meaning He knows everything at once.
- God is omnipresent, which means He is everywhere at once.
- Heaven is a place of good without evil.
- Heaven is a place of light without darkness.
The human mind is incapable of conceiving that which does not exist or that for which there is no frame of reference.
Even in Star Trek, which imposed no limits on the imagination, the strangest alien lifeforms encountered all fit within a conceptual frame of reference. If they weren’t humanoid, they were reptilian, or were clouds or gases or even an intelligence, but none were beyond imagination.
An eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent triune GOD is not only beyond imagination, He is beyond comprehension. Even what is revealed is too much to get one’s mind completely around. I’ve never met anyone who claimed to completely understand the Trinity. Or what God might look like.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
This is another evidence of the positive and negative in action. We humans are limited to worshipping, rather than actually knowing Him, because of His unimaginable goodness and power.
That is the musterion, or the mystery of God.
The musterion also refers to the progressive revelation of God to mankind, as in 1 Corinthians 15:51 when Paul introduces the Rapture for the first time, saying, “Behold, I shew you a mystery (musterion).”
In context, it means a Divine truth not previously revealed.
The Old Testament contains a number of references to the antichrist, but because they were revealed before the actual revelation of the real Christ, there was no framework in which to understand him.
After the Messiah was revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ, the musterion of the antichrist was also revealed.
The early Church Fathers, like Polycarp, Irenaeus, Tertullian, etc., developed the doctrine concerning antichrist long before the advent of Constantine and the papacy introduced the doctrines of replacement theology, post millennialism, purgatory and dropped or watered-down doctrines like the Rapture and Tribulation Period.
Irenaeus (2nd century AD – c. 202) wrote Against Heresies to refute the teachings of the Gnostics. In Book V of Against Heresies he addresses the figure of the Antichrist referring to him as the “recapitulation of apostasy and rebellion.”
In his exegesis of Daniel 7:21, he concluded that the ten horns of the beast will be the Roman empire divided into ten kingdoms before the Antichrist’s arrival.
Tertullian (ca.160 – ca.220 AD) held that the Roman Empire was the restraining force written about by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8. The fall of Rome and the disintegration of the ten provinces of the Roman Empire into ten kingdoms were to make way for the Antichrist.
‘For that day shall not come, unless indeed there first come a falling away,’ he [Paul] means indeed of this present empire, ‘and that man of sin be revealed,’ that is to say, Antichrist, ‘the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God or religion; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, affirming that he is God. Remember ye not, that when I was with you, I used to tell you these things? And now ye know what detaineth, that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only he who now hinders must hinder, until he be taken out of the way.’ What obstacles is there but the Roman state, the falling away of which, by being scattered into the ten kingdoms, shall introduce Antichrist upon (its own ruins)? And then shall be revealed the wicked one, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: even him whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish.”
Hippolytus of Rome (c. 170-c. 236) believed that the Antichrist would be of the tribe of Dan and would rebuild the Jewish temple in order to reign from it. Hippolytus linked the antichrist to the second Beast that rises up out of the Earth from the book of Revelation 13:11.
“By the beast, then, coming up out of the earth, he means the kingdom of Antichrist; and by the two horns he means him and the false prophet after him. And in speaking of “the horns being like a lamb,” he means that he will make himself like the Son of God, and set himself forward as king. And the terms, “he spake like a dragon,” mean that he is a deceiver, and not truthful.”
Origen (185–254 said of the antichrist, relying on Daniel, Paul, and the Gospels:
“Where is the absurdity, then, in holding that there exist among men, so to speak, two extremes– the one of virtue, and the other of its opposite; so that the perfection of virtue dwells in the man who realizes the ideal given in Jesus, from whom there flowed to the human race so great a conversion, and healing, and amelioration, while the opposite extreme is in the man who embodies the notion of him that is named Antichrist.”
So we are not following some relatively new doctrine anymore than our understanding of the unfolding of Bible prophecy is the invention of some Scottish girl named Margaret MacDonald or a 19th century preacher named Schofield or Darby.
The Rapture is a secret, signless event which could have happened at any time from the day Paul was writing to the Thessalonians to tell them they had NOT been left behind (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2) until this very moment.
It wouldn’t have been early in AD 65 and it wouldn’t be late if it happened tomorrow. That’s what the doctrine of immanency means, that the Rapture is always imminent, for there are no signs to precede it.
But the Bible does give us signs that would reveal the onset of the Tribulation and the identity of the antichrist.
According to the Prophet Daniel, the antichrist is the prince of the revived Roman Empire that confirms a peace deal between Israel and ‘the many’ that permits them to rebuild the Temple on Temple Mount and resume the animal sacrifice system.
The Apostle Paul says that the Jews will recognize him for who he is when he sits down on the Mercy Seat in the Temple.
As Christians, we are supposed to be looking for the Lord Jesus to come for His Church. Our job isn’t to look for the antichrist, but rather to occupy and give the warning until He comes.
We will never know who the antichrist is, and playing guessing games about who he might be is a futile and not particularly edifying waste of time.
But still, he is one of the focal points of the signs of the times. We don’t know when the Lord will come, but we can know when the antichrist is about to make his appearance. So we watch for signs that suggest he is waiting in the wings, but that isn’t the same as waiting for him.
Even if one is a meteorologist or a weather junkie, there is no sign on the first day of fall that will pinpoint the first snowfall of the season.
But the signs all point towards the first snowfall being just around the corner; leaves start to change color or fall to the ground, the days start to get shorter and the nights longer and colder . . .
While none of that tells you what day it will snow, now is the time that folks up north start getting out their winter clothes, gloves, hats and snow boots. They don’t need them yet, and we know that Indian Summer comes first, but all the signs suggest snow is on the way.
So it is time to get ready.
The antichrist is certainly waiting in the wings. All the signs say that he is. Indeed, global conditions are such that if the Bible didn’t promise an antichrist, we would be forced to invent one we could trust to fix all our problems.
The signs of the times are pointing toward an early snow. . .
“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)