Know Your Enemy
When Jesus Christ returns will he find faith? Will he find many who believe? Incredible as it may seem the Bible indicates that true believers will be relatively few in number. Religious leaders will not recognise the Son of God when he returns because they do not know the true God. Instead of faith, which is a belief in the true God, Christ will receive a hostile reception from a world that worships a false god.
The vast majority of people at that time will be deceived by a false prophet who in association with a powerful political leader will make war against the few true believers and have the audacity to confront Jesus Christ himself with an international military force.
Two thousand years ago the Apostle Paul described the time when Christ returns and the confrontation with his enemies. Having refused to believe the truth the world will fall under the influence of a powerful but false religious leader with miraculous powers claiming that he represents God, “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. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, 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; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (II Thessalonians 2:3-12).
So deceived will the world be that they will think that they do God a favour by killing true believers, “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them.” (John 16:1-4).
In the book of Revelation the Apostle John described a religious leader who will deceive all those who do not know the true God. This religious leader closely associated with a powerful political leader, will be backed by military might, “……and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon (Satan) which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:3-8).
Also, “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Revelation 13:11-17).
These two powerful leaders will have the religious and military backing to enable them to take control of world resources giving them command of the world’s population, economy and trade. Anyone who does not conform to their way will face death, including those who do not submit to their religious lies (see article Riders in the Sky).
John in Revelation 6 outlined the sequence of events leading to this situation. He describes the rise of a false religious leader,“And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.” (Revelation 6:2).
He also describes a powerful political leader with strong military backing that will force nations into submission, “And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.” (Revelation 6:3-4).
Together they will control the people and have command of the world resources giving them unprecedented economic power, “And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” (Revelation 6:5-6).
Those that do not conform to this new world order under its false religious umbrella will be killed or starved into submission. This will include God’s people, against whom these leaders will make war, “And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:” (Revelation 6:7-9).
The word ‘adversary’ means ‘enemy’. Our enemies will be those who persecute and make war against God’s people. But who is really behind the atrocities that are predicted for the end-time?
The real adversary is Satan. His name means ‘The Adversary’ and he is the true adversary of God’s people. He is described as the god of this world who deceives the minds of those who do not believe, “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (II Corinthians 4:4).
It is important to understand that there is a spiritual realm. There are angelic spirits whose purpose is to serve God and there are demonic spirits who serve Satan in his role as god of this world. A reference in Ephesians implies that these unseen spirit beings have some form of power and authority on this earth, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12).
The prophet Daniel relates an experience that lends weight to this concept, “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.” (Daniel 10:13). And again in verses 20-21 of the same chapter, “Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come. But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.” Many including the JPS Jewish Bible Study recognize this as a battle of spiritual forces.
In Revelation John refers to spirits that will have power to shape events in the end-time, “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.” (Revelation16:13-16).
Satan’s deception has encompassed the whole world, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Revelation 12:9).
He deceives the unwary, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (I Peter 5:8).
Matthew talks about a time of great tribulation when even God’s own people are in danger of being deceived, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matthew 24:21-24).
Be warned! John implies that the false prophet will deceive people into thinking that he is the Lamb of God, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” (II Corinthians 11:13-15).
He will have power to perform miracles and to have those who are not deceived put to death, “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” (Revelation 13:11-15).
God’s People Avenged
This situation will not be allowed to endure. When Christ returns God’s people will be avenged,“And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.” (Luke 18:7-8).
Christ will defeat the military force that is sent to oppose him, “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11-16).
The human adversaries will be defeated and put to death, “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.” (Revelation 19:19-21 see Zechariah 14:1-15).
This is the Day of the Lord when the adversaries will be dealt with. It is the time when the wrath of God will be poured out on the adversaries.
Once Christ has returned, defeated the armies that oppose him and is established as ruler of this earth, then the spiritual perpetrators behind the human adversaries will be imprisoned, “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.” (Revelation 20:1-3).
After a thousand years these spirits are released, “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” (Revelation 20:7-9).
Many think that Satan will gather another human army but this would be contrary to God’s promise that once He establishes His government under Christ in Jerusalem, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” (Isaiah 2:2). He said that the nations shall not learn war any more, “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (verse 4).
What did John mean when he said that Satan shall go out and deceive the nationsto gather them together to battle? The Hebrew word translated ‘nations’ can simply mean a multitude of individuals of the same nature or genus. The demons are all of the same nature or genus. Satan will gather them together in a last-ditch hate-filled effort to destroy God’s people. But God will defeat him! This is the final defeat of Satan who will then be destroyed forever, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10).
When Christ returns he will not find faith! There will not be many who believe. The majority of people will be deceived into believing the lies of a false prophet. He will cause them to make war against true believers and to oppose Christ when he returns.
Be warned that behind our human adversaries are the rulers of darkness. They are led by Satan, a powerful, cunning and extremely subtle being who appears as an angel of light to deceive the whole world and turn them against Christ. Do not be deceived.
Be comforted by the knowledge that they will not prevail. God will deal with both our human adversaries and those of the spirit realm.