Last month we commented upon the anti-Semitism that seems to be increasing among charismatics, although so far it is directed only against the nation Israel (denying modern Israel any part in Bible prophecy) and not against Jewish individuals. Of course scripture indicates quite clearly that the coming millennial manifestation of the kingdom of God is tied very closely to Israel. Thus to deny Israel that special part in prophecy, and to claim that the church is now Israel, removes foundational points of reference and opens the door to distortion and confusion both as to Israel and the church. The angel Gabriel confirmed the great importance of Israel's connection to the Millennium when he told Mary that the child to whom she would give birth, who was clearly the promised virgin-born Messiah, "the Son of the Highest," would reign upon "the throne of His father David...[and] over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there [should] be no end" (Lk 1:30-33).
The Antichrist, of course, is the counterfeit of the true Christ, and he will establish a kingdom which will be the counterfeit of the true millennial reign of Christ. I have been saying for years that the depiction of the Antichrist in most Christian books and movies as an obviously evil ogre will only help the Antichrist when he comes. He will actually seem to be a man of peace, love and brotherhood who has only the good of the human race in mind. He will be Satan's man posing as God's man, the Antichrist masquerading as the true Christ; and his kingdom will claim for itself the prophecies that God has promised to Israel.
While there are those, such as deliberate Satanists, who will know and rejoice that they are following the Antichrist, I am convinced that the vast majority of people upon earth will be deceived into thinking that they are following the Savior of the world. That is exactly who the Antichrist, in their deluded minds, will seem to be. This, in fact, is what they desire to believe, and God will help them believe it by giving them a "strong delusion, that they should believe a lie" (2 Thes:2:10-11). Such will be the awful fate of those who "received not the love of the truth."
I was reminded of the Antichrist being mistaken for Christ by a letter just received from Lt. Col. Michael Aquino. Those of you who have read America: The Sorcerer's New Apprentice will recognize him as the Satanist who heads the Temple of Set (a break-off from Anton Lavey's First Church of Satan), to whom we refer extensively in Chapter 14 in connection with the Oprah Winfrey show on which he appeared. Having apparently read it, Aquino was complimentary of the quality of America's arguments, though of course he took strong exception to much that we wrote.
Aquino had a great deal to say that I am unable to share now. Much of his letter was a strong challenge to Christianity that cannot be simply waved aside but must be taken seriously. Apropos to the present topic, he made the statement (which to many Christians would be new and shocking) that most people would find it exceedingly difficult to discern any difference at all between the Antichrist and the Christ. Considering that this comes from a man who (if he were only from Western Europe) could be a good candidate for Antichrist himself, makes his statement fascinating, indeed.
The deception surrounding the New Age, its infiltration into the church, and the climax it will yet reach will be beyond present comprehension. Although most of those involved in the kingdom/dominion/reconstruction COR (Coalition on Revival) movements are not New Agers and even oppose the New Age movement, they are, in my opinion, playing into Satan's hands by the confusion they are creating in relation to the Second Coming and the millennial kingdom. We dare not consider the study of prophecy to be of merely academic interest, but vital to spiritual survival in the days ahead. In this regard, as in all others, it is essential that we follow the Word of God as closely as possible.
Central to our concern over the loss of a heavenly perspective and the growing preoccupation with building a kingdom on this earth is a basic understanding of the Kingdom itself. Some Bible teachers have attempted to distinguish between the "kingdom of heaven," the phrase which is used only in Matthew, and the "kingdom of God," which is used in the other Gospels. It is quite clear, however, that these two terms are used interchangeably. It would be absurd to suggest that in their frequent references to the Kingdom the other three Gospels never once refer to the kingdom Matthew wrote about. That this is not the case is quite clear from the fact that the other Gospels sometimes repeat the same story as Matthew, using almost identical words, except that they refer to Matthew's "kingdom of heaven" as the "kingdom of God."
Both words, "God" and "heaven," make it clear that, as Jesus said, His kingdom "is not of this world." While it does have an earthly manifestation during the Millennium, the Kingdom will not be realized in its eternal fullness—which "flesh and blood cannot inherit" (1 Cor:15:50)—except in the new universe that will be created after the present one is destroyed. To deal with the Kingdom fully is far beyond the scope of a brief newsletter. However, there are certain simple but important concepts which we can and must understand.
In Acts 1 the disciples asked Jesus, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts:1:6). That would have been the perfect time for Him to state (if it were the case, as we are now being told) that Israel was finished or was shortly to be finished and that the Kingdom never would be restored to her, but that the church had become Israel. In contrast to such teaching, Christ's reply"—It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power"—implied three major points which must form the basis for any understanding of Israel and the coming Kingdom:
The very wording of the disciples' question demonstrates that they had never been told by Christ that His earthly ministry or His resurrection, as some are teaching today, had marked the inauguration of His kingdom. This great "restoration of the kingdom to Israel" that had been prophesied by the Hebrew prophets, that Israel had looked forward to for hundreds of years, that all Christ's followers associated with the coming of the Messiah, and that was obviously very much on the hearts of the disciples, was clearly yet future in their minds. The fact that Christ did not correct them on this, but said that time for the restoration was "in the Father's hands," is evidence enough that those who claim we are now in the Millennium are deceiving themselves and are deceiving others.
The disciples' threefold expectation that (1) the Kingdom was yet future; (2) that Christ himself would restore it; and (3) "not to the church but to Israel" was consistent with what Jesus had so often taught them. Peter, James and John were present on the mount when Christ was "transfigured" (glorified) and Moses and Elijah came to speak with Him. Telling them beforehand of this special event, Christ had stated that they would "see the Son of man coming in his kingdom" (Mat:16:28). Clearly it wasn't the actual Kingdom itself, but a preview which they witnessed. The message, once again, however, was that the Kingdom was yet future and that it involved the personal presence of Christ. What was previewed on the Mount of Transfiguration has certainly not come to pass as yet.
At the Last Supper, Christ said that He would not eat of the passover again "until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God"; and that he would not drink "of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come" (Lk 22:14-20). This double message tells us again that the Kingdom has not yet come and that when it does, Christ himself will be present, eating and drinking and even partaking of the Jewish passover. Clearly, that hasn't happened. But one day soon it will come to pass!
Hold the things of this world loosely, using but not abusing them. Our Bridegroom is looking down upon His bride and grieving that the church is more concerned about making this world a fit place for the next generation of earthbound Christians to live in than she is about being with Him. Let the Lord reveal His love to you and the longing of His heart to have you in his presence. And in response, may our hearts and lives and desire become a symphony of worship and love that cries, "Come, Lord Jesus, come!" TBC