Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Second Coming: Delaying and Hastening

The Bible makes many predictions about certain events that would happen in the Last Days before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. One of these is the prediction of the coming of what the Bible calls the "antichrist." The Bible doesn't give a lot of details about what the "antichrist" is. Consequently there has been a great amount of speculation on the matter. Some believe that this prophecy has already been fulfilled, while others feel that it will yet be fulfilled in the future. Some believe that the "antichrist" will be a certain individual that rises to power in the Last Days, while others speculate that this term refers to an anti-Christian philosophy or doctrine, or is just another term for Satan. In actual fact, all these prophecies like all prophecies in the Bible have multiple fulfillment. That is why the Bible is so valuable. The themes repeat themselves in history and in our personal lives over and over again. And just as the prophecy of an "antichrist" and an apostasy was fulfilled in the time of Christ, it will be fulfilled again in the Last Days.

So, just what does the Bible say about the "antichrist?"

1 Jn. 2: 18, 22 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. . . . Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
1 Jn. 4: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
2 Jn. 1: 7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
2 Thes. 2: 2-3 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

2 Pet. 2: 1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying [that] the Lord bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
Matt 24:2,29,34 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. . . Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: . . . Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

According to the Bible the the antichrist and the apostasy had already come and been revealed according to John. Christ said that all the prophesies in Matt. 24 would be fulfilled in that generation. According to John, the "antichrist" was the gnostic doctrine that denied that God had actually come to Earth in the flesh. And it was upon this and other similar false doctrines that many Saints fell away from the church and the church itself fell into a complete apostasy.

Christ spoke of this great apostasy that would follow the appearance of the "antichrist." When Jesus Christ spoke of the stones of the temple not being left upon one another; He was speaking also about the principles and doctrine and church. When Christ speaks of the Sun, Moon, and stars not giving light; Jesus Christ is referring to the cessation of heavenly light and revelation from heaven.

However, just like the prophesies of Isaiah, Christ's words have multiple fulfillment. So, while all these prophecies have been fulfilled during the generation of Christ, they will all be fulfilled again in the Last Days. The prophecy of the "antichirst" applied to the tribulation of the Early Church, and will apply as well to the tribulation in the Last Days. So, there will be an anti-Christ in the last days. But, who or what has not been revealed.

According to the Book of Mormon, which is also a type of the Last Days, the people who believed in the second coming of Christ were rounded up and were to be killed by the the non-believers when the time came for Christ to be born. These people didn't believe that God would actually come in the flesh. Antichrists of the Book of Mormon like Sharem and Korihor contended that to them the idea of God coming to Earth in the flesh and talking upon Himself the form of a man was the "effect of a frenzied [and deranged] mind." A Book of Mormon prophet, Samuel the Lamanite" prophesied about the sign of Christ's birth. When the unbelievers thought the time had passed for the prophesy to be fulfilled, they threatened to kill all the believers.

3 Nephi 1:5-9 But there were some who began to say that the time was past for the words to be fulfilled, which were spoken by Samuel, the Lamanite. And they began to rejoice over their brethren, saying: Behold the time is past, and the words of Samuel are not fulfilled; therefore, your joy and your faith concerning this thing hath been vain. And it came to pass that they did make a great uproar throughout the land; and the people who believed began to be very sorrowful, lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass. But behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might know that their faith had not been vain. Now it came to pass that there was a day set apart by the unbelievers, that all those who believed in those traditions should be put to death except the sign should come to pass, which had been given by Samuel the prophet.

So, according to the Bible we can expect there will be many who deny that Christ will come again to the Earth. I am sure there are many now who think anyone who believes and expects such things suffers from a "deranged mind." Whether there will be an actual person who serves as a ringleader, I can't say. But, the Bible does give a bit more detail about the circumstances leading up to the Second Coming.

According to several passages in the Bible, there may arise an issue regarding Christ delaying His coming. It seems there have been several Christian groups who have tried to predict the time of the Second Coming despite the Bible saying "no man knoweth the hour." Maybe there will be some of this attitude after 2012 comes and goes? Isn't this when the Maya think the world is supposed to end? And I am sure there will be those who like in the days of the Apostles will deny that Jesus Christ will literally and physically come back to the Earth. Maybe some will say that this is all supposed to be taken figuratively.

Matt. 24: 48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
Luke 12: 45 But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;
Ex. 32: 1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

What is interesting is that the Bible seems to present Moses' descent from the mountain as a type and shadow of the Second Coming. So, while Moses is up in the mount speaking with God, the people waiting below loose patience, murmur, and then fall into sin. Isaiah alludes to this perception of the people, that God delays His coming, when he says that there are many vain men in Israel who ask that God "hasten his work" and show them a sign before they will believe.
However, on the other hand, it is interesting that while some will falsely claim that Christ delays His coming, Christ says if He doesn't hasten His coming in the Last Days, all flesh would be destroyed.

Isa. 5: 19 That say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it!
Isa. 60: 22 A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in his time.
Jer. 1: 12 Then said the Lord unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.
Jer. 17: 15 Behold, they say unto me, Where is the word of the Lord? let it come now.
Matt. 24: 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

It is interesting how these delaying and hastening scriptures refer to the Last Days and how Moses is a type of the Last Days and the Second Coming of Christ. In the same way, Aaron may represent the anti-Christ.

Barnabas the Apostle who was a companion of Paul also refers to the prophecy of the "antichrist." What is interesting is that Barnabas also says the "antichrist" is at hand and the prophecy is being fulfilled then. Barnabas makes a direct comparison of this doctrine and Moses coming down from the mount after receiving the Law. And he talks about how the principle of this teaching can be applied on an individual and personal level.

The Epistle of Barnabas the Apostle.
Chapter 4. Antichrist is at hand: let us therefore avoid Jewish errors
It therefore behoves us, who inquire much concerning events at hand, to search diligently into those things which are able to save us. Let us then utterly flee from all the works of iniquity, lest these should take hold of us; and let us hate the error of the present time, that we may set our love on the world to come: let us not give loose reins to our soul, that it should have power to run with sinners and the wicked, lest we become like them. The final stumbling-block (or source of danger) approaches, concerning which it is written, as Enoch says, For for this end the Lord has cut short the times and the days, that His Beloved may hasten; and He will come to the inheritance. And the prophet also speaks thus: Ten kingdoms shall reign upon the earth, and a little king shall rise up after them, who shall subdue under one three of the kings. In like manner Daniel says concerning the same, And I beheld the fourth beast, wicked and powerful, and more savage than all the beasts of the earth, and how from it sprang up ten horns, and out of them a little budding horn, and how it subdued under one three of the great horns. You ought therefore to understand. And this also I further beg of you, as being one of you, and loving you both individually and collectively more than my own soul, to take heed now to yourselves, and not to be like some, adding largely to your sins, and saying, The covenant is both theirs and ours. But they thus finally lost it, after Moses had already received it. For the Scripture says, And Moses was fasting in the mount forty days and forty nights, and received the covenant from the Lord, tables of stone written with the finger of the hand of the Lord; Exodus 31:18, Exodus 34:28 but turning away to idols, they lost it. For the Lord speaks thus to Moses: Moses go down quickly; for the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt have transgressed. Exodus 32:7; Deuteronomy 9:12 And Moses understood [the meaning of God], and cast the two tables out of his hands; and their covenant was broken, in order that the covenant of the beloved Jesus might be sealed upon our heart, in the hope which flows from believing in Him. Now, being desirous to write many things to you, not as your teacher, but as becomes one who loves you, I have taken care not to fail to write to you from what I myself possess, with a view to your purification. We take earnest heed in these last days; for the whole [past] time of your faith will profit you nothing, unless now in this wicked time we also withstand coming sources of danger, as becomes the sons of God. That the Black One may find no means of entrance, let us flee from every vanity, let us utterly hate the works of the way of wickedness. Do not, by retiring apart, live a solitary life, as if you were already [fully] justified; but coming together in one place, make common inquiry concerning what tends to your general welfare. For the Scripture says, Woe to them who are wise to themselves, and prudent in their own sight! Isaiah 5:21 Let us be spiritually-minded: let us be a perfect temple to God. As much as in us lies, let us meditate upon the fear of God, and let us keep His commandments, that we may rejoice in His ordinances. The Lord will judge the world without respect of persons. Each will receive as he has done: if he is righteous, his righteousness will precede him; if he is wicked, the reward of wickedness is before him. Take heed, lest resting at our ease, as those who are the called [of God], we should fall asleep in our sins, and the wicked prince, acquiring power over us, should thrust us away from the kingdom of the Lord. And all the more attend to this, my brethren, when you reflect and behold, that after so great signs and wonders were wrought in Israel, they were thus [at length] abandoned. Let us beware lest we be found [fulfilling that saying], as it is written, Many are called, but few are chosen.

Barnabas alludes to the story of Moses in the Mountain, and the people saying that Moses delays his coming so they lose the covenant by turning to worship idols and abandoning God after they had just witnessed His great glory and power. Then God tells Moses to hasten down to the people

Ex 32:7 And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them:

It is interesting how these delaying and hastening scriptures refer to the Last Days and how Moses is a type of the Last Days and the Second Coming of Christ. Aaron may represent the anti-Christ, or a Judas, or a Lucifer in a way. Aaron was high in authority and stature next to Moses but gave into the people and feared the people more than God and made them the golden calf they cried out for. Will there be the rejection of a Christian doctrine (gay marriage?) that will cause some to fall away from the truth, or will some of the elect of God be caught "resting at our ease" when the Savior comes?


Anthony E. Larson said...

Not just the story of Moses alone, but the entire Exodus account is a type of the Last Days. For example, read Exodus and Revelation side-by-side. The parallels or similarities are remarkable: fire and hail from heaven, earthquakes, water turned to blood, signs and wonders in the heaven, etc. In fact, this is one of the vital keys to prophecy which most of us overlook. The Last Days will see a repeat of the Exodus plagues. I applaud your insightfulness and encourage you to research these similarities further. It will lead you to a greater understanding of the Restoration, its doctrines and precepts.

Anonymous said...

What a great post. There are so many similarities between the events of the Old and New Testament and the Latter-days, I believe these records were preserved so we would know what's ahead and how to prepare. You might enjoy the post Second Coming which contains Elder Charles W. Penrose's description of these events.