Beginning of birth pains …

Normally, I don’t like to talk about politics. Or politics and religion. Or politics, religion, and the “end times.”

Because I don’t consider myself to be a prophet. Nor a learned rabbi. Nor even a madman.

But, as John Pavlovitz would put it, there’s stuff that needs to be said.

The verse in the Bible about “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again” (Matthew 24:21) has been sticking to my ribs.

How can it not be, with all the devastation and deceit we’re seeing daily—which some call the “new normal.” All of a sudden, it seems, plagues … the ability to use computers and artificial intelligence to control our lives … the anger of Mother Nature, increasingly hurling floods, draughts, seemingly endless heat waves, landslides, and unquenchable fires … and the barometer of international currency exchanges are conspiring with geopolitics to bring us war, famine, homelessness, helplessness, poverty, disease, prejudice, and hatred.

For me, these are signs of the times. The end times. Which, along with these dreadful gasps of a world spinning and sinning ingloriously away from salvation, ushers in an anti-Christ—the polar opposite and ultimate enemy of the Messiah in every way.

Let me stop here for a moment.

We are a people who have become numb and blind witnesses to what is occurring right before our very eyes. “Oh, people have always thought they were living in the end times,” theologians and people in the pews will nay-say. “We’ve lived through conditions like these before … and we will again,” they say.

But, have we? Really?

Never before have so many apocalyptic arcs aligned simultaneously.

Take the anti-Christ, for example.

I know who he is—and so do you. Not just deductively by the logic of our minds … but in our heart of hearts that truly senses such things and separates spirits from souls.

Even before they were spoken of in the Hebrew Testament’s Daniel all the way through the Greek Testament’s Book of Revelation, scholars agree that the Bible – whether or not you believe it – indicates a tumultuous series of events that will happen upon the anti-Christ’s arrival:

According to Christian tradition, he will reign terribly in the period prior to the Last Judgment.

The Christian conception of Antichrist was derived from Jewish traditions, particularly The Book of Daniel in the Hebrew Bible. Written about 167 BCE, it foretold the coming of a final persecutor who would “speak great words against the most High and wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws” (7:25).

The Antichrist will grow up in obscurity and begin his open “ministry” at age 30, gaining followers by giving signs and performing wonders.

Antichrist’s triumphant reign will last for three and a half years. Like Christ, Antichrist will come to Jerusalem, but, as the Messiah’s antithesis, he will be enthusiastically hailed and revered by the Jews. During his reign he will “rebuild the Temple and sit on the throne of Solomon” in a sacrilegious and hideous perversion of priesthood and just kingship. He will convert the rulers of the earth to his cause and persecute Christians.

Here’s how the Antichrist will unveil his true self as he rises to power:

He will exalt himself.

He will heed his inner voice above others.

He will be hostile toward the true God.

He will exalt human logic above faith.

He will prosper for a season and be loved.

He will think of himself as greater than God.

He will become increasingly lawless.

He will honor military power above faith.

He will love wealth.

He will hoard precious things.

He will become a man of war.

He will wage war on all people of faith.

He will force Israel to ratify a treaty.

He will divide Israel and Jerusalem.

Who do we know that acts that way? Who has been that abusive, acrimonious, adulterous? Who has said he could “commit murder on Fifth Avenue” and get away with it? Who has manipulated nations and leaders? Who has done everything possible to enrich himself from the spoils of others? Who has presided over a “deal” uniting Israel with Arab nations, while separating Jerusalem from the rest of Israel by moving his embassy? Who has withdrawn his nation from peace accords and climate agreements? Who has instigated riots, revolts, and – ultimately – murder? Who has taken and hidden top secret documents for his own objectives? Who has swindled his subjects out of money and means? Who speaks mumbo-jumbo from both sides of his mouth? Who has desecrated God in a publicity stunt, holding a Bible upside down in front of the National Cathedral? Who has leisurely spent more time on the golf course than in the course of his duties? Who has sworn on the Bible and taken an oath to uphold his duties and the laws of his land … but, then, deliberately ridiculed, mocked, and ruled to desecrate them? Who has been powerful enough to develop a cult of worshipful fans and followers that follow him faithfully, the truth be damned? Who has usurped the balance of powers such that he can continue to get away with murder, casting evil over all that believe in him?

You know who I’m talking about.

Will we let this devil without disguise get away with dividing good, well-meaning people who’ve lost control to contain him? Will we wait for a whole bunch of debatable apologetics — a rapture, four horsemen from the east, a Savior appearing in the sky?

Watch for the mark of the beast, my friends.

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