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    Sign of the End Times

      "Then they will hand you over to suffer afflictions and tribulation, and put you to death; and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended and repelled and begin to distrust and desert [Him who they ought to trust and obey] and will stumble and fall away, and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred. And many false prophets will rise up and deceive and lead many into error. And the love of the great body of people will grow cold, because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity. But he who endures to the end will be saved" (Mt.24:9-13, Amp.Ver.).

    Every day we meet people who are rejecting Yah'shua (Jesus) and His Gospel and are turning to new non-biblical teachings. It has become an epidemic. And yet the more you listen to such people, the clearer it is that the origin of their problem is to be found in the passage I have quoted from the Gospel of Matthew. All departure from the truth starts with a rejection of one or more principles taught in the Bible. People presume to "know better" than the Most High. In the arrogance, pride and foolishness of their own fallen hearts, they come to believe that they have found a 'higher' or 'superior' way that answers their own objections … objections based on their unwillingness to accept what Yahweh says at face value.

    I chose to start my quotation from a longer discourse by Yah'shua (Jesus) at a verse which must surely be the most unpopular of all of the Master's sayings. For He tells His disciples both then and today that a sign of one who is following the true Christ is that he will suffer affliction and tribulation; he may also be put to death; and he will be hated by all nations. Let me repeat this so that there is no misundserstanding: those who are following in the footsteps of the Saviour will – not 'might' – get trouble. Wherever they go they will be hated and despised. Not a single nation will recognise or accept them. So if you're looking for a 'safe' or 'acceptable' country which will receive you with open arms, with tolerance, understanding, and love, forget it – it's pure fiction in this world.

    At one stroke this proves a number of modern and popular theologies to be false. Any one who tells you that being a follower of Yah'shua (Jesus) is going to make you popular is automatically shown to be liar. Anyone who tells you that whole nations will convert to the Gospel before He returns is shown to be a liar. Anyone who tells you that your afflication is a sign that you are out of favour and beyond the protection of Yahweh because of sin is almost certainly a liar too. In short, those who claim to be Christians who are not hated and persecuted have almost certainly compromised with the world in thought, behaviour and spirit in some way. This, then, is the first signpost of fidelity to the truth. It dismisses 'Kingdom Now' and 'Prosperity' theology at a stroke. For He also says that when He comes back, the world will be as it was in "the days of Noah" (v.37, Amp.Ver.).

    These things, Yah'shua (Jesus) says, are "offensive" and "repelling" to people. Such who are offended and repelled possess another spirit that is not the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) but a counterfeit. Please note that what turns people off is at root personal rather than theological – it is the soul which is offended and repelled because what is in it is not aligned to the truth. The mental images, the emotional expectations, likes and dislikes, jar against the truth. The reaction is as much emotional as it is mental. What is inside has to be reprogrammed with the truth before it can 'react' correctly.

    Notice the sequence of events. Offense and repulsion, which stem from the carnal nature – and in particular, pride – lead first to "distrust" and then "desertion". They 'stumble' over these unspiritual, soulish reactions, and thus "fall away". A chain-reaction results finally in betrayal and – what always lies at the end of the line of falsehood – hatred.

    Those who are in this process are, moreover, often being catalysed by false prophets, whether they be religious or secular. Soulish men and women, who do not love the truth (even if they may claim to) and who are not in possession of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) but of a counterfeit, are piping stumbling souls over the abyss into the Kingdom of Hatred, which is also the Kingdom of Murder, which is hell, whilst at the same time they preach against hate – hatred of what they believe and teach. You are all aware of the anti-hate laws that exist to protect everyone but Christians. Disbelief in the Word of Yahweh leads to all these things. It's frightening, isn't it?

    The result of this dominoes effect is that love grows cold – as it must do when hate is given place in the heart. And then we come to the reason why all of this has happened in the first place – the reason why all these offenses, repulsions, mistrustings, dessertions, coldness and hatred arise and bloom – it is because of lawlessness which inevitably leads to iniquity.

    Let us take a close look at this key verse in the Hebrew and in the Greek translation: "And because of the multiplication of lawlessness, the love of many shall be cooling" (v.12, Concordant Literal NT) – "And because apostasy will abound, the love of many will wax cold" (v.12, HRV) – "And many people's love will grow cold because of increased distance from Torah" (v.12, JNT).

    The cause of all this evil is shown clearly to be the abandonment of Torah - the Law and the Commandments of Yahweh. The moment you reject Law and appeal instead to "the Spirit", you are setting yourself up for a fall because the Law and the Ruach (Spirit) are inseparable. When you reject Torah you reject the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) as well, which inevitably leads to apostasy and iniquity. When the Ruach (Spirit) was given on the Day of Pentecost (Shavu'ot) She was given on a foundation of Torah, not lawlessness! And note this well too: Torah is male whereas Ruach (Spirit) is female – female is always built on a foundation of male! The Ruach (Spirit) without Torah is the same as female without male, for it lacks direction.

    The last of the verses which I have quoted today puts the last nail into the coffin of the "once saved, always saved" doctrine of many evangelical Christians: "But he who endures to the end will be saved" (v.13, Amp.Ver.), or to be even more emphatic and literal than that: "Yet he who endures to the consummation shall be saved" (Concordant Literal NT).

    Short-cut salvation doctrines are as destructive as those which reject the necessity of obeying the Torah. We must never forget that salvation in Christ has three dimensions: first, salvation past, which is the salvation Yah'shua (Jesus) wrought for us 2,000 years ago at Calvary. Second, there is salvation present – my covering in Christ through my continuing to trust in Him; and third, there is salvation future, which is the one that ultimately matters, because if I do not hold on to that covering that Yah'shua (Jesus) gives me through faith in His Name and Blood, and which leads spontaneously to my obedience of Torah, then I will not be ultimatelty saved. Once saved does not mean always saved – to be always saved means you must remain in your initial salvation and go on to perfection.

    Do you see, then, that some of the greatest errors in Christendom today are exposed in these few verses? Yah'shua (Jesus) goes on to warn of the coming "abomination of desolation" that Daniel spoke about (v.15) and tells the disciples what they must do when the full force of the tribulation is upon them. Those in Judea are to "flee to the mountains" (v.16) - not wait for a mythical rapture – and believers in general are warned not to look back for possessions when the commandment to flee is given because there won't be time to gather them. And then, so as to underline that Torah-observance will still be in effect at this time, Yah'shua (Jesus) prays that they will not have to flee in winter (because of the risk of loss of life from the elements) "or on a Sabbath" (v.20, Amp.Ver.). Now if obedience to the commandments has been abolished, as so many Protestants teach, why on earth would Yah'shua (Jesus) be concerned about the possibly of our breaking the Sabbath? For the commandment of Yahweh states very clearly that we are not to travel from our homes or neighbourhood on the Sabbath (Ex.16:29) except for attending worship meetings, visiting the sick, to save life, etc.. There are severe punishments for breaking the Sabbath in Torah and clearly this is the context of Yah'shua's (Jesus') words about the last days – it is better for us not to flee on the Sabbath, a saying which would have no meaning at all if, as many Protestants tell us, the Ten Commandments and Torah in general are no longer in force.

    You cannot, in reading the words of the Master, claim that commandment-observance is no longer required of believers. It is the very abandonment of the commandments which leads to lawlessness, iniquity, cold-heartness, hatred, and all the other woes spelled out by Yah'shua (Jesus) in His End-Time discourse. It's really common sense, and yet you'd be surprised how people are willing to abandon all reason in order to justify some nebulous impulse, feeling, or sense of restlessness from within! That is how apostasy starts – when we trust our soulish feelings more than we do Yahweh's Word.

    Satan, as everyone by now ought to know, turns the truth upside down. He challenges Yahweh's authority, overturns His Word, and persuades foolish humans into believing there are shortcuts to salvation. There aren't. All relationship-building – whether with God, with spouses, with children, with friends, or with the Messianic Community – takes considerable and consistent effort, and requires that we do things in the way Yahweh has ordained … by obeying Torah. It is the only safe way. Torah-obedience ensures that we do everything in love – not carnal love, but Yahweh's love. It is His hedge of protection around us. The carnal nature by definition is not in agreement with the Word – it is its enemy which is why we are told to crucify it, not listen to it or trust it in any way.

    "See, I have warned you beforehand," Yah'shua (Jesus) says (v.25, Amp.Ver.). He has warned us against all the false prophets who are in the business of making great displays of human wisdom masquerading as being of God, who are able to perform supernatural feats, who can mesmerise weak-minded people with their soulish charisma, or who are eloquent speakers (yet predictably with forked tongues). True prophets aren't to be found out in the desert in secluded monasteries, ashrams, or retreats (v.26a); they don't teach in secret chambers but proclaim the unchanging Word of Yahweh for all to hear, test, and respond to (v.26b). The Gospel hasn't changed – there are no special reserved, secret teachings to be 'had' just before Yah'shua (Jesus) returns – that which separates the sheep from the goats, and the wheat from the tares, is the same Word that was given thousands of years ago. When Yah'shua (Jesus) returns everyone will see Him, "just as the lightening flashes and shines and is seen as far as the west" (v.27, Amp.Ver.).

    If there is one quality I have noticed that prevails and predominates in the true end-time believers it is endurance, for these are surely hard times with no place to rest but the Messiah. I would encourage you all, therefore, to continue to endure even when the way appears obscure, and in spite of opposition and loneliness, for there is much of this to endure in the end times. We are called to follow in the footsteps of the Master who had no place to lay down his weary head, one who was hunted by both demons and men. His safety lay in His uncompromising love of,obedience to, Torah and the will of His Heavenly Father. Our own safety depends on no less. .

    May Yahweh bless you and keep you all as you walk the good Walk with Him, enduring to the end, with the knowledge that He is always near to guide, nourish and protect. Amen.

    29 July 2004

    This page was created on 15 August 2009
    Last updated on 15 August 2009

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