It can be easy for us to become carried away with things pertaining to the “end times.” Sometimes it’s just a matter of interest. Other times we might become fearful because of some teaching we have heard or because of current events.
This article is part of a series entitled, Preparing for End-Times. I decided to write these because I sympathize with people who become fearful or overly focused on things pertaining to that time period. As someone who’s walked this, I’m learning that it’s more productive to focus on Jesus. This is detailed in the first article within this series, Seeking First the Kingdom of God.
When we become overly focused on the latest prophetical hype, events within the news, or trying to understand cryptic scriptures, we might find ourselves having trouble knowing which ideas are true and which are not.
In this article, I want to discuss avoiding things like fear and deception by focusing on what is true.
Why Truth is Important
As Christians, it’s obvious that we do not want to be among those who are deceived into worship of the Antichrist. It is my belief that many will do this because of fear. As Christians, should we be around during the time of great trouble and deception, having a foundation of truth will be very comforting because we are then placed in a position of trust in the Lord instead of fear.
Consider today. How many of us are afraid of what’s happening in the world? How many “rapture” dates have been set during our lifetimes? Sure, many of us no longer listen to those who cry wolf, but I think most can relate to holding some kind of worry over when Jesus will return and how much suffering we might endure until that time.
There will always be troubles in this world. There will always be those who try to link current events to prophesy. There will always be false teachers and false prophets, and even more so as That Day approaches. Should we be focusing on these things, or should we be focusing on what is true by growing closer to he who is Truth?
Lessons from Jesus About Avoiding Deception
What did Jesus teach about standing firm in the truth in the “end-times”?
Let’s take a look at Mark Chapter 13
1 And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!
2 And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,
4 Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?
5 And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:
6 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
When many read verses 5 and 6, I think we assume that Jesus is saying that many will come claiming to be Christ. This might be true, and many have. However, what about those who say that Jesus is the Christ, but then go around distracting Christians from his truth, even leading them astray with false prophetic teachings or shows of power supposedly of the Holy Spirit?
We see such things today. The most deceptive among us are not those who make claims we can easily detect as false, like claiming to be Christ for example. It is those who appear to be Christians that are the most damaging very often. Though we cannot judge who is a Christian and who is not, it’s a good idea to be very careful in believing those who claim prophetic abilities or powers of the Spirit.
Based on what I have learned about this so far, here are some questions to consider if you are not sure about a Christian prophet, teacher, or the like. Any of these should be a red caution flag:
- Is the focus on Jesus or themselves?
- Are they preaching the gospel first and foremost, or is their ministry mostly “signs and wonders?”
- Do they claim to have power to command the Holy Spirit to enter people or claim to be able to give gifts to people? See John 3:8. Many claim to be able to baptize in the Spirit. We can pray over people and they might receive it. However, they might not. The Spirit is God. We cannot command God to do anything.
- Do they profess many visions and dreams or draw attention to themselves as something great?
- Do they claim that if you do not follow them or their teachings you will be cut off or fail to inherit salvation?
- Do they claim to know who are real Christians and who are not?
7 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.
8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.
People often cite these passages as a way to cause people to fear that the end is upon us. In reality, Jesus is telling us that these are common and will happen throughout the ages. We are not to be troubled by these things. We can expect this to escalate, however, this will be like nothing we have ever seen. It will not be a slow progression, but instead, this will be a sudden and drastic change that affects the world in a profound way.
This sounds scary, no doubt. However, this time of trouble is to separate the wicked from the just. Though many Christians will suffer and die in the end, we are not to fear this time. It is the coming of the kingdom of God. Though difficult, when we realize that the end to our suffering and persecution is near an end, we have something to rejoice in despite the troubles we face.
9 But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.
10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations.
11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.
12 Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.
13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
It’s interesting that it is within the synagogues (or churches) that we will be beaten. Why is that? Is it because at this time they have become the Great Whore and worship the beast? Maybe. That does seem rather likely. However, from my limited perspective, many Christians are already ostracized by churches if they seek the truth instead of conforming to false doctrines, traditions, and worldly assemblies. Is it really so hard to imagine?
Two times now I’ve been stared down and preached harshly toward because of my beliefs that go against tradition (because people assume and take things out of context). I don’t see this as far fetched at all.
The good thing is, when this happens on That Day, if we are here, the Holy Spirit will keep us and teach us what to say. So again, we do not need to be afraid. That is the key thing to take away here. We must endure, but Jesus by his Spirit will give us what we need if we put our trust in him.
As for the gospel being proclaimed to all nations, I have some thoughts there. If you’d like, read Thoughts on The Great Commission.
14 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:
If we read 2 Thessalonians 2, we see that the Day of the Lord will not come at just any time. There must be a falling away first and the son of perdition revealed. That is when the “end times” officially start. I make note of this because many already say we are in the “end times.” We are not.
When we see the abomination of desolation standing in Jerusalem, we will know that it’s time to “come out of her my people that you receive not her plagues.”
This is interesting. Is this about the city Jerusalem, or is there a spiritual application? Many today are focused on what is happening in Jerusalem, but the Christians are Jerusalem. We are grafted into Israel. So, I wonder how this will pan out in the last days.
This is a good example of why it does little good to worry too much about cryptic passages. If we trust in Jesus and seek him first so that we are “wise virgins,” then he will give us the understanding we need when that day comes.
15 And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house:
16 And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.
17 But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
18 And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.
19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.
20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.
When we are made to know who the abomination of desolation is, we do not hesitate to get away from him—whether we are leaving a physical location, separating ourselves spiritually, or both. As Christians, our journey is often a step forward and a step back. When this day comes, we cannot look back or we will be as Lot’s wife who looked back at Sodom as it burned. Though we might be afraid, we have to focus on Jesus and do not give into any temptations to worship the beast that come our way.
We know the affliction will be great. There will be “men’s hearts failing them for fear.” Again though, I believe the Lord will extend peace to those who worship him sincerely, so this is not a time for us to fear. We might even be among those who are casting plagues and bringing the judgment of God. This time of judgment is not for us to fear, but again, for us to rejoice because the Kingdom is coming!
However, we should show due respect to this so that we are not among the foolish who were not spiritually prepared. We do this by seeking Jesus and living a Christian life now, regardless of what time we are in.
21 And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:
22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
23 But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.
Regardless of what powerful displays we might see, we must remember this warning. Even today there are those who claim to have power and such. There’s an epidemic of this online, such as on YouTube. We are not to believe these people. Any who are truly serving Jesus now or in those days will not be seeking their own glory. They might even put on false humility, but there are always indicators if we know what to look for. Reference the bullet list above for some basic things to consider.
24 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.
26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.
Notice that we see the Lord come after tribulation. Whether you believe in the rapture or not, using that as hope to escape tribulation is not wise. What are these stars? Are they real stars, asteroids, or is this a symbol for something else? Maybe someone out there understands this, but I don’t.
The main thing I take away from this is when the Son of man returns, it will be very obvious and this will happen after the son of perdition comes, is revealed, and after the time of tribulation.
This gathering is often considered the rapture, but I believe the scriptures teach this as the “first resurrection.” Those who were killed by the beast are raised before a great earthquake, and those who remain give glory to God (Revelation 11:11-13). Perhaps some are transfigured at this time also, I don’t know for sure.
28 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:
29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.
30 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.
When the son of perdition, who is the false prophet and the beast is revealed, then affliction is coming. When the remnant witness Christians who were slain raise from the dead, they will know that the vengeance of the Lord is coming as his “vials of wrath” are poured out. I know many read much into the parable of the fig tree, but as far as I can tell, that is a distraction and can be a waste of time. Why? Read on.
31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
34 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
It does not matter how much we try, we will not know when this time will be until it is upon us. Instead of trying to pin down prophetic scriptures, we should be learning the righteous ways of God by the power of Jesus transforming our lives so we are not separated as goats from the sheep (or the wicked from the just).
It bears repeating that the best way to prepare for the “end times” is to seek first the kingdom of God. We do not want to be foolish virgins who took no oil for their lamp. We do not want to be a wicked and slothful servant. We do not want to be without a wedding garment. We do not want our houses on built on sand. Jesus tells us all these things for a reason. We should listen.
There is so much out there that distracts us from the simplicity that is in Jesus Christ. Focusing on fear, the news, prophetic teachings, false prophets, and seeking security in this world by stocking up on food and gold is not what we are to be doing right now. We should be seeking fist the kingdom of God so that we can learn to trust instead of fear as we are conformed to the image of Christ.
As someone who has had a tendency to worry about the end times and has attempted to understand prophesy, I get the draw many have to this. I assure you, if you’re one who loves Jesus in sincerity, there is greater peace and fulfillment in learning his law and seeking him so that you can perform his law.
There is enough there to keep us focused for a lifetime, and this is far better than learning the foolish and vain things of this world or allowing others to fill you with fear (Of course, I do not mean the OT laws. These are the laws of righteousness according to the kingdom of God which Jesus writes in our hearts).
For further reading, take a look at Is Your House Built Upon a Rock or Sand?
When writing, it can be difficult to condense dense topics into something readable and understandable. Questions and comments welcome below. You can also email me for clarification or just to chat.
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Very sobering and edifying, thank you!
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