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A View from the Altar / Snuggling a porcupine
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Snuggling a porcupine

The biblical teaching about the return of Christ tends to focus our minds upon an event that takes place at a certain place and time.  So it’s natural for people to ask when it will occur.  In Paul’s second letter to his church at Thessalonica, he addressed this question when it surfaced in response to a bogus claim that the day of Christ had already come. (2 Th 2:2)  He then continues, “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; 4 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 Th 2:3-4)

Before that day comes, Paul said, a falling away (Gr. apostasia) must occur which will lead to the appearing of a “man of sin” or “son of perdition.”  This man will oppose and exalt himself against everything that is called God (2 Th 2:4) while presenting himself in the temple as if he were God.  These things are still in the future, meaning first that we aren’t there yet.

More relevant to my subject, compare this to similar texts and then contrast it with the general thrust of postmillennial teaching.  Our post-mil friends believe the advance of the Gospel will gradually improve the world until a Golden Age dawns and the glory of the Lord covers the earth like the waters cover the sea.  The Scripture points us the other way.  Not only does Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians foretell an apostasy, but numerous other passages echo the warning:

2 Ti 3:1-2 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come, 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy…  13 Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.

1 Ti 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils…

Matt 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise , and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound , the love of many shall wax cold.

2 Pe 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts…

Jude 17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.

Luke 17:28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat , they drank , they bought , they sold , they planted , they builded; 29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed .

We look in vain for a text explaining how the last days will be characterized by an ever-rising tide of righteousness.  So, contrary to the post-mil view that the whole world must grow better toward the last days, the New Testament foretells a moral apostasy which involves a figure of great fame (the man of sin) as well as the mass of men whom Paul refers to as “lovers of their own selves,” which, oddly, is perhaps the signature philosophy of Our Time.

And just as it was in the days of Lot, moral apostasy will terminate when judgment falls from heaven.  This scenario fits resistlessly into the premillennial pattern.  The postmillennial believer must embrace these texts because they are God’s Word, but they’re still like snuggling with a porcupine.

The moral lesson here isn’t hard to reach.  With humanity herding itself down the broad road that leads to destruction, Christians must wait for the Son from heaven (1 Th 1:10), occupy till he comes (Lk 19:13), keep themselves unspotted from the world (Jas 1:27), and pull from the fire those who can be persuaded that Jesus is the Christ (Jude 1:23).  After he returns and every eye has seen him (Rev 1:7), then his glory will be revealed and the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth like the waters cover the sea.

otherbrothersteve@gmail.com

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