In the last days, in those days just prior to Christ’s return, there will arise a powerful worldwide kingdom. It shall encompass all the nations of the earth. The seat of its power and rule will be found in the West. But the nations of the East will also enter into federation with this kingdom. The result will be a kingdom established over all the world.
As we have noticed from Revelation 17, this is the great antichristian world-power that is prophesied in Scripture. It will be a kingdom of man, an earthly kingdom, a kingdom that will strive for the unity of all nations, a brotherhood of all men. According to God’s sovereign will, the world will be given this, too, for a short time. Before Christ’s coming, we can expect the events of this world to lead toward the emergence of the antichristian kingdom. The economy, politics, social issues, cultural and racial tensions all prepare the way for the coming of the antichristian kingdom.
But to view the antichristian kingdom from this perspective alone does not do justice to everything the Bible has to say about this kingdom. The Bible clearly teaches, in many different passages, the religious side of this antichristian kingdom. Religion, you know, is a powerful, powerful influence in this world. God created man such that a part of the light of nature in him is that he is a spiritual or religious creature. Religion has swayed nations to do what they do. Christianity has done that. Islam has done that. If we were to visit the east side of the globe, we would also find that such religions as Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, and Ancestor Worship all have had a huge impact on these nations. In order for there to be a unified, earthly, worldwide kingdom, somehow, someway, the religious barriers will have to be broken down.
And that is why we learn in Scripture of the religious power of the Antichrist. We consider it today, from the viewpoint of II Thessalonians 2:3, 4. “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.”
The vision of Revelation 17, which we considered in our last broadcast, has an additional feature that we did not yet consider. We were interested last time in the interpretation of the seven heads or kings that made up the beast, that is, the antichristian world-power. We were interested in the ten kings that lend their power for a time to this kingdom. So we focused our attention on the political side of the great antichristian kingdom. The part of the vision of Revelation 17 we did not consider was that of the whore, or harlot, spoken of in the first several verses of that chapter. John saw, in this vision, a woman sitting on the back of the antichristian kingdom. She was arrayed in purple and scarlet and adorned with gold and precious stones.
This symbolism, if interpreted by Scripture, without a doubt points us to Christ’s church in this world. In Revelation 12 we read of the church as a woman. The same is true in many other passages of Scripture. Furthermore, the church is not a peasant woman, but a woman of royalty. She is Christ’s bride, after all. And since Christ is the prince of peace, so also His bride is a princess, or queen.
Yet, according to the vision of Revelation 17, this royal bride of Christ has become a whore. She has committed fornication with this world. And her hand carries a cup filled with her abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. In other words, the whore represents the church of Christ that has become unfaithful to Him. She has cheated on Him by embracing and filling herself with apostasy and lies. The whore is the false Christian church, the church that claims to believe in the God and the Christ of the Scriptures, but has, in fact, denied Him. It is the church that seeks to look like the church of Jesus Christ in this world but, in fact, has denied the God and the Christ of Scripture.
This woman, this harlot, rides on the back of the antichristian kingdom. Let us not fail to see with spiritual eyes the official religion of the antichristian world-power. It will be false Christianity, the false church. This truth is not ascertained only from Revelation 17 in its symbolism of the great harlot, however. It is evident in the verse we consider in II Thessalonians 2 as well. We read of this in verse 3: “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.”
It has been a few weeks now since we considered the rise of counterfeit Christianity. In that broadcast, if you recall, we spoke of the fact that the Antichrist would emerge out of the apostate church, that is, out of false Christianity. Paul informs us in verse 3 here that there will come a great falling away before the man of sin is revealed. The question is: a falling away from what? People will leave the church, fall away from the church. Oh, yes, that will happen. We see it happening today already.
But this falling away is more specific than that. It is a falling away from the truth that is revealed to us on the pages of Scripture. The standard of God’s Holy Word will be forgotten in the church. The Bible will no longer be viewed in the church as the standard of what is right and wrong. People will fall away from the truth expressed in Scripture regarding doctrine, that is, what we are called to believe about God, about man, about Christ, about salvation, and about what will come in the last days. People will fall away from the objective rule for life given in Scripture—the way we are called to live as Christians in the midst of an evil world.
The sovereign God of heaven and earth, who rules in the heavens, determining all things according to His will and good pleasure, will be denied. Christ, the divine Son of God who is sent into this world and sovereignly and powerfully saves everyone for whom He dies, will be denied. He will be replaced by a Christ who is powerless, who bends himself to man’s whim and wish, who is lauded as the great leader of the Christian church but not as the Savior from sin. There will come a falling away from the truth. And this will lead to the rise of the man of sin.
The false church will win the day. True Christianity, which seeks to remain faithful and true to God’s Word, will become more despised and rejected by the false church. Those who boast that the world is becoming a better place under the influence of the Christian church fail to distinguish between false and true Christianity because they refuse to see any difference. These fail to make proper scriptural judgment between true and false doctrine. The so-called Christian kingdom that they believe will reign at the end of time will, in fact, be the antichristian kingdom with false or counterfeit Christianity at the helm.
And at the head of that kingdom of Antichrist, at the head of all religion, will stand one man—the man of sin, the son of perdition, or that wicked one. This man is properly called the Antichrist in Scripture. He will be the religious head over all of false Christianity. II Thessalonians 2:4 refers to the man of sin as one “who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God.” He is the wicked one who, according to verse 10 of II Thessalonians 2, deceives those who have not received the love of the truth, that is, those who have fallen away from the truth. The man of sin will deceive them by means of the lie, by means of false doctrine.
This means that the Antichrist will not himself be the great political leader at the head of the antichristian world-power. This does not mean that there might not be a strong political figure that represents the antichristian kingdom. But the Antichrist himself will be the religious head of the antichristian kingdom. Here is what proves this idea conclusively. In Revelation 16:13; Revelation 19:20; and finally in Revelation 20:1, there is a marked difference between the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. The dragon, as we well know, is Satan. The beast, as we noticed in our last broadcast, is the antichristian kingdom from a political point of view. The false prophet (and notice the singular, once again) is the man of sin, the wicked one, the Antichrist. He will be one powerful and influential person with whom the false church will express agreement. He will represent the religion of the antichristian world-power.
How will this happen? Christianity is so divided today. But there is a spirit of amalgamation present in the church world of today. That the Christian church must unite is the cry heard from every corner in the ecumenical movement of today. That dream will come true, too, for a little while, when the Antichrist unifies the false church. No church will have to give up its name or its history. The various churches need simply to adhere to what the Antichrist insists must be believed. As for the rest, they are free to believe what they want.
Will this really happen? Listen. Over half of Christianity today belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. The members of the Roman Catholic Church bow before the supreme authority of one man, the pope. There is an evangelical organization today that represents many different Protestant churches and denominations. This organization has now entered into talks with the Roman Catholic Church to discover points of agreement in the hopes of uniting. What we are saying is that it is not difficult at all to see Christianity uniting together under one religious leader. If we only look with spiritual eyes, we will clearly see the development of the Antichrist in our present world. And all of this determines who it is that the man of sin will truly represent. He certainly will not represent the God and the Christ of the Scriptures.
It may be hard to comprehend that any form of Christianity would be anti-Christ, or anti-God. The implication of the name Antichrist seems to be that the man of sin will be some pagan ruler who denies Christ and God completely. He must be an atheist or a pagan. But that is not the case. II Thessalonians 2:4 points out that the Antichrist is he “who opposeth [himself] 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.” The Antichrist sits in the temple of God and shows himself to be God. The temple here, in this verse, refers to the house of Jehovah. It speaks of God’s dwelling place, or His abode. It is obvious, however, that the Word of God here does not refer to the literal temple in Jerusalem. The idea of temple here is that of the church itself. The church, after all, is the habitation of God. He dwells among His people. Well, the man of sin shall sit in the church of Christ and show himself to be God, or at least God’s vicar, God’s representative, God’s promised one. But the man of sin will truly be anti-the true Christ, anti-the true God, and anti-Christian.
This man of sin will make unto himself a counterfeit Christ or, perhaps, even pass himself off as Christ. The God and the Christ that the man of sin will hail as the God and Christ he serves will not be the God and the Christ of the Scriptures. In other words, the man of sin will not bow before the objective testimony of Scripture. And as a result, he will feel free to teach a God and a Christ that are subject to his own imagination. In this way he will oppose God and will exalt himself ultimately above God and rule the false church in such a way that he becomes the infallible head. What he declares must be considered truth; what he pronounces must be maintained by the Christian church. He will place himself above the Scriptures.
But there is something more in this verse. It speaks of the fact that the Antichrist will exalt himself above all that is called God and is worshiped. In other words, the Antichrist will declare himself the one who speaks for all religions, Christian and pagan alike. He will dictate what may be believed and what may not be believed. He will be the official religious voice of the antichristian world-power. He will dictate all religion—though perhaps every religion will be allowed to practice its own beliefs for the most part. But there will be certain beliefs that need to be outlawed—anything that will rob the Antichrist of his power, anything that will rub other religions the wrong way, anything that will condemn others. So, in essence, every god is going to be subject to the Antichrist.
That is also why, though the pagan nations join themselves to the antichristian world-power, they still hate the whore. They still hate Christianity. Revelation 17:16, “And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.” The pagan nations continue to hate the false church. For a time they will tolerate the man of sin. For a time they will feign obedience to the Antichrist. But only for a time.
The question yet ought to be asked, If the man of sin does not represent the true God and His Christ, whom does he represent? The false church, and its evil head the Antichrist, will represent the worldwide kingdom of man, the antichristian world-power. The whore rides on the back of the beast. The false church will be the religious influence that will cause people to join and pay allegiance to the power of the antichristian kingdom. How? The Antichrist’s theology will consist in these key elements: First, the kingdom of Christ is an earthly kingdom. He will convince many that this is indeed what the Christian church has been waiting for—Christ’s kingdom on earth. Second, the central doctrine of the Antichrist will be humanism. It will be a social gospel. What a person does for man in this earthly kingdom is what God’s kingdom is all about. And, third, tolerance will be the key word in his doctrine. Acceptance of everything except that which is opposed to the kingdom of Antichrist and to what Antichrist declares is truth.
All of this will fit in perfectly well with unbelieving man. This is already what our world wants. The Antichrist will give them what it wants. We will take a closer look at this in our next broadcast. Yet, it is this principle of toleration and acceptance that pagan religions are not so easily persuaded to accept. There will be rumblings of discontent against the Antichrist in this kingdom.
There is a strong warning issued at the outset of verse 3 in II Thessalonians 2. “Let no man deceive you by any means.” There is going to be a falling away from the truth prior to the end of time. God’s Word tells us that. Many are going to forsake the Scriptures and follow the lie. Do not be deceived by men who sing a siren song that all is well in the church when it is not. Do not let them deceive you by speaking about an earthly kingdom of peace under the rule of Christ or the church. Christ will establish no kingdom of this sort on earth. His is a spiritual kingdom established now already in the hearts of His people. His is a heavenly kingdom that will come only when Christ returns at the end of time to destroy this present earth.
God enjoins us in verse 15 of II Thessalonians 2 to hold fast the traditions that we have been taught in the Scriptures. That is the only way we will be able to withstand the lying wonders that the Antichrist will do. To belong to his kingdom is to perish with this world. Antichrist is the son of perdition. We are told in Revelation 19 that he is destined to be cast into the lake of fire. And so are those who belong to his kingdom. Hold fast to the warning that we are given in God’s Word: Christ is coming. He brings with Him the glory of His true heavenly kingdom. That must be the kingdom of our desires.
Let us pray together.
Almighty God and heavenly Father, Thou dost hold all things within Thy almighty hands. Even when we see the development in the nations and in the church round about us, and when we know that that development will culminate in the kingdom of the Antichrist we need not fear. Thou dost control all things according to Thy sovereign will. Father, may we hold fast to the traditions of Scripture that have been taught us, not giving in to the lie but constantly preparing ourselves, seeking the things of the kingdom of heaven, that we might be looking for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Forgive us of sin. Help us in our weakness. Guide us in the strength of Thy Word and in faith. For Jesus’ sake alone we pray, Amen.
Rev. Wilbur G. Bruinsma (Wife: Mary)
Ordained: October 1978
Pastorates: Faith, Jenison, MI - 1978; Missionary to Jamaica - 1984; First, Holland, MI - 1989; Kalamazoo, MI - 1996; Eastern Home Missionary - 2006; Pittsburgh PRC - 2016.Website: www.prcpittsburgh.org/
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