Everyone has experienced change this year. The whole world and its systems have been disrupted by COVID-19 and the differing political responses to it. No one has been left unaffected. But as I wrote in an earlier post, I believe greater change is coming and the church and the majority of Christians aren’t ready for it.
In Matthew 24 Jesus gave a warning about something that potentially affects all of us. The danger is already here today, and many have fallen victim to it. But in a changing uncertain world it is certain to increase.
“Watch out that no one deceives you”.
The seriousness of this warning is highlighted by the number of times Jesus mentions it in various ways throughout Matthew 24. Yet in the current times those warnings are possibly overlooked (or even ignored) more than any other part of His prophetic teaching. He includes references to false Christs (anointed ones), false prophets, false claims that Jesus has already returned, and misleading “great” signs and wonders.
Despite the frequency of deception being mentioned as one of the primary signs, it seems to be the sign most ignored by end-time prophecy enthusiasts. Their eager hunger to recognise how close the Lord’s return must be seems to lead to a neglect of discernment and they keenly accept information from potentially questionable sources.
How often have claims been made about the likely identity of the Antichrist? I think most of the recent US Presidents have been named at one time or another. A few decades ago Henry Kissinger was a favoured contender. Recently Bill Gates’ name comes up.
Then there is the mark of the beast:
Barcodes tattooed on the skin.
Tiny computer chip implants.
These are just three of the many ideas which range from the possible to the bizarrely unlikely. Even the wearing of masks due to COVID has been linked to the mark “because there is only one letter difference between ‘mask’ and ‘mark’ (!?!).
And many of the recent COVID protocols have been claimed as conditioning us for the mark, from hand sanitising to non-contact temperature checks…
Do I need to mention vaccines being administered along with a surreptitiously implanted chip?
Or vaccines that alter our DNA?
Or vaccines that kill off the so-called ‘God gene’ that facilitates the ability to believe in God? …
(Anti-vaxxers must be having a field day).
It’s quite disturbing just listing these things, knowing that I’ve come across professing Christians who actually believe them. Let’s take a little time to cleanse the spiritual palate by looking at what scripture says. What does Jesus warn us about regarding one source of deception?
MANY FALSE PROPHETS will appear and deceive MANY people.
And why would He mention this in an exposition of end time signs intended to prepare His followers not to be deceived (vs 4), and to endure to the end (vs 13). Could false prophets compromise a believer’s ability to endure and to avoid deception?
Only if their false claims are accepted as truth.
And who might some of those false prophets be? How about those who have made, and are still making claims about the identity of Antichrist, or those identifying this or that as the mark of the beast? What about those who cause alarm by making these claims? Causing fear of mask wearing, of having temperatures taken, of administering certain medications…?
What were the actual commands Jesus gave within His revelation of the signs leading up to His return?
- Let no one deceive you. (vs 4)
- Don’t be alarmed. (vs 6)
A serious problem among believers is that we can be all too willing to put the Bible aside and look elsewhere, if we think someone else has more understanding than we’ve been able to glean for ourselves from scripture. With end time prophecy, there is an abundance of extra-biblical opinion, interpreting very simple scriptural statements into complex detailed timetables identifying this present day event with that statement in scripture.
Would it be possible to step aside for a moment and consider that some of the information that tickles our desire to be in-the-know, is at best wild speculation, or at worst, could actually be false prophecy – something Jesus specifically warned we should watch out for, and not be deceived by?
This is an area that ensures many believers will be unprepared for great change. We need to guard ourselves against the many deceptions that could potentially lead us away from the truth (reality) and into false doctrine, false prophetic expectations and even wild occultic conspiracy scenarios.
To avoid being misled we need to desire, seek and accept a love of the truth (2 Thess 2:10); and build our understanding on the firm foundation of God’s word. This is particularly necessary regarding end time prophetic events. Out there is an abundance of opinion and interpretation mixed with political ideology and even occultism all muddying the prophetic waters to lead the unwary (and often gullible) Christian astray.
Let no one deceive you.