Deception on Earth.

21At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time (Mark 13:21-23).

Scripture is very clear that a person will come onto the world scene in the days, months or years ahead that will set himself up as a messiah or christ-like figure. This man will be a master of deception; our passage in Mark tells us. He will be a charismatic leader who will solve complex problems on the world scene. I personally think he will solve the Arab Israeli conflict, because we are told that he will set himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God and demand to be worshiped (2 Thessalonians 2:4). Of course, this means that a temple will yet be built in Jerusalem. At the moment, it seems inconceivable that a Temple could be built at the center of Jerusalem, but there is growing evidence that Solomon and Herod’s temple was further south nearer the Gihon Spring. Maybe as part of a peace deal the Jews will be allowed to rebuild the Temple that they have been longing for 2000 years.  Revelation 13:3 tells us, “the whole world was astonished and followed the beast” (another name for the Antichrist, the false Messiah, which our passage talks about). Verse 8 of the same chapter tells us, “all inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names are not written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb.” Doesn’t it make you wonder how so many people will be deceived into following this person? When one thinks of how Adolf Hitler deceived the German people in the Second World War, what will keep people from being deceived?

The best way to be kept from deception is to know the real Messiah, Jesus. Saturate yourself with the words of Jesus in the Gospels; the truth will keep you from error.  When we allow the Word of God and the Spirit of God to direct our lives, we will recognize the counterfeit easily. Those that belong to the Shepherd know His voice (John 10:4). True believers will have discernment when the counterfeit comes along. When you commit your life wholeheartedly to Him, you are one of His chosen, as our passage above tells us.  Chosen to be in Him before the foundation of the world (Colossians 3:12). No one can snatch you out of the Father’s hand, (John 10:29). Let that be your strength and an encouragement to your heart.

 Prayer: Lord, I want to know you and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. Come into my life and fill me with your Spirit, grant me discernment and a love for the Truth.

Keith Thomas

Unseen Things Can Be Dangerous

imagesFor we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).

When I glanced down at the water rushing past our fishing trawler in the wrong direction, I knew something was wrong. The net my father and I were towing along the bottom of the seabed was caught on something heavy. We put our winches in gear and slowly pulled the boat back against the tide, toward the object that was stuck in our net. Inch by inch, we heaved the net up, while our two-ton winch strained at the weight. Our fishing boat, the Why Worry, heavily leaned as she creaked and groaned, the derrick and mast taking the strain. When the net had been pulled to the surface, we found in the Cod End, the largest of the Second World War German magnetic mines. A whopping 12-foot-long mine still in pristine condition, with 1,500 pounds of high explosives. Designed to blow ships completely in half, it was now swinging inches above our deck as the waves made us roll. With a heavy clunk, we rested the mine on deck. Made of stainless steel, it looked as though it had just been placed on the bottom of the seabed. It had been buried beneath the mud in a very familiar piece of fishing ground, a place we had fished over and over again. The chains at the front of the net must have just caught it perfectly. Once we cut the mine from our net, we had to get it over the side again without incident. A delicate task, considering that it was still in such good condition, and was possible that it could still explode. Fishermen had heard of such things happening, boats just disappearing and not accounted for. With the whole boat leaning, we gently lowered it back into the sea and carefully cut through the rope strop, releasing it from our boat. Then, to our amazement, the mine stood up in the water, the top part of it still showing! We had not realized how shallow the water was and how little water was under our boat. We called the Coastguard to come and detonate the mine, so that it would not be a danger to any other boats. On the next high tide, they tied it to a long rope, towed it out to deeper water, and blew it up.

Seeing Beyond the Physical Realm

Like trawling a net in waters where two world wars have been fought, there are some things in life that can be unseen, but deadly. Just because you may be unaware of something dangerous, it doesn’t mean it cannot affect you. Electricity in a light plug is unseen, but stick your finger in a live socket, and you will soon realize there are powerful things that are unseen, but dangerous. Natural gas is odorless, but if there is a lot in your house, it can totally destroy your home. So, gas companies added a horrible smell, so that if we have a leak, we’ll smell it. The unexploded mine shed light on the truth: even though we had gone over that familiar fishing ground again and again without problem; there are some things in life that cannot be seen, but still affect our lives in ways we don’t realize.

The Bible is very clear that there is more to this world than can be seen with the naked eye. There is a spiritual realm that is just as real as the world we live in; I believe it to be more real than what is seen. This world is temporary and passing, a shadow of things to come. There are things unseen that are happening around us all the time which are of a spiritual nature, and have eternal value. The majority of Christians have no room for the supernatural; for the most part, they are oblivious to angelic beings and demonic spirits. How many times do we miss seeing God’s power displayed and Satan’s kingdom displaced because we don’t reach out to God in prayer for supernatural resources and His intervention?

If you would like to study the topic of spiritual warfare, demons and angels, scroll down the middle column until you get to the series called, “If God is For Us…” click the first study called The Unseen Realm, the PDF or the doc.

Keith Thomas

What Happened the Day Noah Entered the Ark?

9782917_orig26“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. 28“It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 30“It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed (Luke 17:26-30).

Jesus shares two examples from history. Two times when there was unrestrained evil, one in a local area, and one that was worldwide. At both times in the examples given, life was going on seemingly as normal, people were eating and drinking, there was long term planning, as in planting for a harvest, building homes, marriages being planned, etc. But all of a sudden there was a day when Lot and his family disappeared with a couple of angels, and Noah and his family got into his boat and the door was locked. Guess what happened next? Just as soon as the righteous was safe, at the same instance, the same day for each of them in our two examples, the judgment of God fell on those that did not get their lives right before the Lord—those that had not turned around from their deeds that were displeasing to the Lord.

Notice that there was no seven years in between, no seven days, and no second chance where the Lord tells those left behind to come back later and they would get in. No, sorry, my dear friends, there is no biblical truth in the Left Behind series of books, it is completely fiction and a deception, I believe. Jesus is saying in this passage above that it is a back-to-back event. We are never told in scripture that the tribulation is the wrath of God. How can Antichrist be setting up an image of himself at the midpoint of the seven-year period if we believe that the seven-year period is the wrath of God? Do you really think that Antichrist is going to be able to make war against the saints (Rev 13:7) if that period of time is when the wrath of God is being poured out? When the wrath of God comes on this earth, Antichrist will be under some rock hiding from the face of the Lamb! (Revelation 6:16). The wrath of God is only poured out after the church has gone through the time Jesus warned the church about, the time he called the Great Tribulation, where the church is raptured at some point during that time, no man knows the day nor the hour (Matthew 24:30-31), but at some point during the second half of the seven-year period. The tribulation is a time of persecution on those who will not go along with Antichrist’s one world economic system of taking a mark on our wrist or forehead (Revelation 13:16). We must prepare ourselves to stay pure in a time of unrestrained evil that is being poured out on our planet. We are not to compromise with evil, even when everybody seems to be doing it:

27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27).

There will come a day when our God will intervene and what an awesome day that will be for every one of us who has chosen to walk with Christ and to not compromise our faith in Him. How are we to keep ourselves pure? That’s exactly what the psalmist, David, said:

9How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. 10I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:9-11).

Keith Thomas

Who Are the Believers Who Go Through the Great Tribulation?

tumblr_inline_ned665FUkB1qkqzlv9After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, 
who sits on the throne, 
and to the Lamb.” 11All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying: “Amen! 
Praise and glory 
and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength 
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!” 13Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” 14I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:9-14 Emphasis mine).

There are those who tell us that the rapture (the snatching up of the saints from this earth) will happen before the tribulation starts. Well, how can that be? The passage above tells us that a great multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language will stand in white robes before the elders (v.11), before the living creatures (v.11), before the angels and before God, after going through a great tribulation. This is obviously the rapture. How do I know? We are specifically told that this great multitude that are seen are those who came out of the great tribulation (v.14).

Some say that these are believers who were left behind after a pre-tribulation rapture. They got saved during the tribulation, they inform us. But over the last two devotionals we have alluded to the fact that in two passages we are told that the door is shut at the rapture—there is no second chance after a pre-tribulation rapture (if there was such a thing). The door was shut when the bridegroom came for His bride (Matthew 25:10, Luke 13:25). If there was a rapture before all the trouble (tribulation) starts, then why do we not see the pre-tribulation saints welcoming this great multitude and giving high fives upon their coming to heaven? We see the angels, the living creatures, the elders and God Himself welcoming this great multitude, but no pre-tribulation saints! Why not? Because there is no pre-tribulation rapture! The Church must wake up and prepare to endure hardship and persecution at the hands of Antichrist. We are told that we will be delivered by a catching up (rapture) at some point (no man knows the day nor the hour) during the tribulation. It’s time to wake up from sleep and prepare to endure hardship for Jesus Christ—it’s time to get close to Christ.

Prayer: Father, help us to be a powerful expression of the church in these dark days. The world is crying out for truth and to see the light in believers.

Keith Thomas

3 Things Must Happen Before the Rapture

hqdefault1Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3Don’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, the man doomed to destruction. 4He 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 (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).

Paul has received a letter back from the Thessalonian church after his first letter that was in part about the rapture, for he starts out this chapter with the word “concerning.” The Thessalonians had received some communication from some people trying to deceive them into believing that the day of the Lord, and with it, the Rapture, has already happened (Verse 2). They were being told that the persecution they had been enduring (2 Thessalonians 1:4) is the persecution associated with the end time coming of the Lord. It’s interesting that Paul uses the same Greek word, thlipsis, translated in Matthew 24:21 with the word tribulation (King James Version) or distress (New International Version) to describe the persecution that the Thessalonians were enduring at the time Paul was writing. He replies to this false thinking in order to ease their fears that they had missed being caught up (raptured) to the great gathering together with the Lord in the air. It is clear that Paul believes that the Day of the Lord will happen just after the church is caught up to the Lord, as shown in the context of verse 1 and 2. He calls the coming of the Lord and our being gathered to Him as “the day of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 2:2).

He reassures them that they have not missed the rapture by telling them that there are three things that will happen before that day (The Day of the Lord) comes (Verse 3).

1) The Rebellion occurs. The definite article is in the Greek text, but is not explicit in the English translation. It is the rebellion, not just any countrywide rebellion but a worldwide falling away from the faith. The Greek word used is Apostasia, which means to depart, defect, and revolt. The meaning of this word is always speaking of a religious defection, a departure from what is considered to be orthodox.[1] What would cause a worldwide defection from the faith? It is possible that when Antichrist and the False Prophet demand that everyone should receive a mark on their forehead or hand, and worship the beast, many that have a half hearted faith will compromise and fall away from the Lord. Many that are religious but do not have a real relationship with Jesus Christ will fall away, but others, those with true faith in Christ, will hold to their faith and continue to believe, anticipating the return of their Lord.

2) The second thing Paul says must happen before the Day of the Lord is for the man of lawlessness (another name for the Antichrist) to be revealed. I believe that when he comes to power he will resolve the Palestinian problem and a peace treaty or covenant will be signed on the whole issue of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:27). His bargaining position chip will be to allow the Jewish people to rebuild their Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in exchange for the Palestinians to have a state and possibly even their capital city to be East Jerusalem. This peace covenant or treaty is a sign that we can look for as it will start a period of seven years, with a desecration of the Temple at the mid-point. Those who believe in a Pre-Tribulation view do not think that the Church will witness any of these things. However, even in Paul’s day, the Holy Spirit warned the Thessalonians, and us, to be aware of these events as signs of His coming and the rapture.

3) Paul says the man of lawlessness, the Antichrist, will oppose everything that is called God; in fact he will exalt himself as God, sitting in the Temple of God, proclaiming himself as God (verse 4). He will set himself up in the newly rebuilt Jewish Temple. As at this present time (July 2016) there is no Jewish Temple that lies at the heart of Jerusalem. We must prepare to endure persecution and when the temptation comes to take the Mark of the Beast and worship Antichrist—we must refuse and cling to the Lord Jesus—trusting that He will deliver us from Satan’s wrath (Revelation 12:12, and 17). Grace will be poured out on God’s people and the Lord will intervene in deliverance for His people and wrath on His enemies. Pray that you may endure and be found on the right side.

If you would like to study more on the topic of the Rapture of the Church and what precedes it, go to the middle column and scroll down until you get to the Second Coming of Christ series. Click on the two studies on the Rapture (studies 3 and 4).

Keith Thomas

[1] Key Word Study Bible, AMG Publishers, 686 Apostasia, Page 693.