I want you to consider that God can and will draw back from this world, perhaps in a time not far distant, and then evil [which has always been present but lacked opportunity] will take advantage of its liberty from restraint and increase exponentially – making judgement inevitable.
My blog post today is about a transition from one phase to another; both good and bad.
It entails both a turnaround for believers, with greater liberty to speak out, but alongside that a hardening of hearts and an increase in wilful blindness for those who shun the truth.
The great “falling away” is coming, and to some extent is already here. I hope that others besides me will confirm that they are seeing the same thing.
Although we cannot know exactly what God is doing or what will take place in the near future, we do, as believers, have the privilege of being forewarned of things to come.
The New Year
We have entered into a new year, according to the Hebrew Calendar.
Last week that fact had slipped my mind, although I’d written it on my wall calendar. However, as I was praying one night, I suddenly was filled with a sense of joy and renewed hope and at the very same moment was reminded that Saturday/Sunday 28th/29th September was Rosh Hashanah.
I don’t know why, but I felt that we were all going to see a change (and about time!) not only in the Church but the World itself; that we had somehow “turned the corner”.
Psalm 94:15-17 For justice will prevail, and all the morally upright will be vindicated. (NEB)
The Meaning of 5780
The new year in Israel is 5780. As you probably know, Hebrew numbers are also letters of the alphabet. Israel has had a decade of 5770+ and the number 70 is about the eye, (Hebrew letter Ayin) seeing and perceiving.
For Israel perhaps, but certainly for Christian researchers, the decade that began in 2010 brought years of ‘seeing’ – largely impotently – the increasing heresy of the churches and the signs of the End.
However, as many of us feel, it has not been a time of speaking out (at least not openly, effectively or so as to be heard and understood). It has been a decade of frustration, sometimes despair, that what appears as plain truth to some is still unseen by those blinded by deception.
Although 2010-2020 was a time of SEEING the truth for some, it meant increasing BLINDNESS for others. (The number 70 in Hebrew = the eye)
But just this week Israel entered on a decade of 80, which is the MOUTH – speaking, declaring – the truth and the WORD.
As one site says, “In the Hebrew alphabet “Pey”  follows “Ayin,”  which emphasizes that sight must go before expression. Those who have spent a great deal of time seeing what God is saying should have no difficulty in the next decade also expressing His thoughts in word and deed. Conversely, those who are blind will speak blindly”… (and spread their blindness to others by being enabled to speak out, instead of blindly following?). We shall see!
Remember: Web page links on my blog are not necessarily an endorsement.
But what could this mean? Have we entered on another phase leading to the return of the Lord? Possibly so, but it will not be a renewal of truth and righteousness (except for genuine believers) but yet another phase in the ongoing ‘birthpangs‘.
This World Cannot Improve
What CANNOT happen at this point in history, as we know from the prophetic scriptures, is that the world’s population will change its mind about the current descent into rebellion and wickedness, depravity and ungodliness of every kind.
That is not going to happen, apart for the few who turn to God, repent, and are saved.
People are resisting and abandoning God in ever greater numbers. So, how CAN things change? How can there be a turning point?
Remember, when Jesus sent out the disciples to preach his word, he recognised that there would be some (perhaps many) who would reject them. He said this:
As you enter the house, greet its occupants. If the home is worthy, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not welcome you or heed your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. Matthew 10:12-14
On a wider scale then, many of us have been reaching out to church-goers and others in the world with the message of “salvation from the wrath to come”, but they didn’t want to listen. Nonetheless, ever since the Lord died “Behold, now is the time of favour; now is the day of salvation!” [2 Corinthians 6:2]
The Day of Salvation has been “now” since the first century. However, that day will not last for ever. God’s day of love and patience will eventually come to its end. Those who turned from God and despised his mercy will no longer be able to hear God’s words; they will be deaf and blind.
‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Isaiah 6:9
God will shake off the dust of his feet as a witness against them, and the time of warning will become the time of falling away.
As Matthew 10 says, the peace and blessing and salvation that was offered and turned down, will return to the believers who trust in it, and “the upright will be vindicated”.
When God’s Patience Runs Dry
God’s patience is not unending. “But as for Israel he says: “All day long I have held out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” Romans 10:21
But, as Israel discovered, God does not continue to hold out his hands for ever. Eventually he withdraws. This I believe is what we must learn from the verses about the Restrainer being removed.
We are familiar with the verses in Thessalonians that speak of the removal of “The Restrainer” but still they are not fully understood. A large section of the pre-trib churches teach that this is the Holy Spirit leaving the earth at the same time of the Rapture. I don’t believe so.
However, it’s hard to argue against the teaching that the Restrainer is the Holy Spirit. How then could He who restrains evil be ‘taken out of the way’?
“In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 Paul says that according to God’s timetable, the Day of the Lord and the accompanying judgment will not start until two things happen: a global rebellion occurs and the Man of Sin is revealed. Paul then mentions what is currently keeping the evil in check: “And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed” (verses 6–8).”
This is speaking of the Holy Spirit being recalled from his work on earth amongst mankind (but not removed from the Church, that is, those amongst the Body of Christ who have truly received the Holy Spirit and are not offending him nor perverting his ways.)
The Holy Spirit will not abandon believers, for Jesus Christ promised them, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
But the important thing to understand about that verse is that it was spoken to committed and obedient believers, and NOT to the world nor to apostates and deceivers!
A Time of Withdrawing
Therefore, I foresee a time (perhaps sooner than we think) when God the Holy Spirit will no longer be ABLE to intervene in the affairs of the world, help mankind, answer prayers, and encourage goodness to prevail – not because he hates people, but because THEY hate HIM.
Some believe that God will always be present and never withdraw himself. That has not been shown to be accurate. [Below sourced partly from Crosswalk]
1. God Stops Listening to Prayers.
“Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.” Jeremiah 11:14
2. God Leaves the Temple
“Therefore, as I live, declares the Lord God, surely, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will withdraw.” Ezekiel 5:11
3. God Turns His Back On False Worship
“I will no longer be with you, unless you destroy what has contaminated you.” Joshua 7:12
4. God departs from the Wicked
“Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?'” Deuteronomy 31:17-18
5. The Spirit is Removed from apostates
Samson said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him (Judges 16:20). Saul: “But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him.” (1 Samuel 16:14).
Restraint IS Being Removed
For many centuries there has been salt to preserve mankind. Sin has been held back, so that it did not emerge in fullness. This restraint was not just the work of the Church through the ages, but concepts such as:
- Good upbringing
- Moral Codes
- Family Ties
- Fear of Punishment
- The Legal System
However, as these things break down we see the basic fallen human nature of man taking advantage of the changes in society.
It is now permissible (even approved) to act in an immoral, angry, permissive, rebellious, ill-educated way while at the same time the norms of society are overturned; elders, pastors and governors fail to govern; laws fail us, crime goes unpunished, discipline is frowned upon, and corruption of every kind is seen as acceptable and even ‘cool’.
These things are not unnatural, but entirely natural for mankind.
Jesus said: “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of man, proceed evil thoughts, acts of sexual immorality, thefts, wickedness, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting, and wickedness, as well as deceit, debauchery, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these evils proceed from within and defile the man.” (Matt 15:11)
“The problem isn’t outside of us, the problem is inside of us. No one is righteous. Our mouths are full of cursing and bitterness, feet swift to shed blood. That’s a biblical description. That’s the divine description of man. Humanity is evil in nature, and dangerous.
God had to build into human life barriers, restraints – restraints to mitigate this evil, to mitigate this corruption, to subdue sinful passion and expression so that man could make a society and be civilized and enjoy His creation, and find happiness, and peace, and a measure of joy and gratitude. These restraints are absolutely critical. Where these restraints function as God intended them to function life is good, people enjoy common graces, life is rich, and God is thanked. Where these restraints are assaulted, corrupted, diminished, rebelled against, society is on the brink of self-destruction. [Source]
So, restraint is already being removed from the world, as the devil incites more and more sin, and makes it easier to sin, while making sure that nobody disapproves.
The Salt and Light is Removed
If the One who restrains is God working in the world at large by means of conscience, laws, and good government, and these are being removed; also the role of the Church as “salt and light” in the world is shrinking.
This is not only because less of the Church is preaching the gospel, but more of the Church is preaching the opposite: restraint is old fashioned!
Who could claim that today’s Church is fulfilling its God-given task?
The Church is Failing
As Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot”. Matthew 5:13
Salt is meant to purify and preserve.
Large parts of today’s Church are not doing that, because they are too preoccupied with attracting large numbers of (fee-paying) followers, and promoting their online ministries and products.
Even worse, many of today’s church “leaders” are bringing the name of God into disrepute not only by their scandalous behaviour but also by their words. Instead of preaching the true message of salvation, they are preaching self-worth, prosperity, success, positivity and worldly gain!
Even if they do not, they are caught up in mere charity, or supporting this and that social issue, or trying to be all things to all men so that they offend no one.
Their gospel has become an internet meme, and a rainbow banner embroidered with a comforting piece of pop psychology.
So once again, the restraint and purifying effect of the salt of the Church has receded to almost nothing, and the work of the Holy Spirit through the Body of Christ is hindered.
Slipping Down to the Precipice
By all these means, restraint is being removed, and sin is allowed to advance, until finally the very epitome of sin itself, the MAN of Sin will arrive to head up the ultimate rebellion against God. Mankind will get the ‘god’ they craved. And they will bow down and worship him.
These things do not come about by God’s choice. “For He does not afflict willingly or grieve the sons of men”. Lam 3:33
The Holy Spirit is, in effect, driven away by mankind who no longer want his ways, and who are keen to cast off all restraint and worship self and sin, and ultimately the devil himself as their leader and god.
The falling-away from the faith that Jesus warned of, and Paul in Thessalonians predicted to come just before the end, is already happening. That is the first sign of God’s withdrawal, and the loosing of unrestrained evil.
The second sign is the arrival of the “Man of Lawlessness” who “opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.”
And of course, John in Revelation speaks of a devilish man who rises to fame in some kind of unnoticed way, but whose true nature is revealed by his proclamation that he is in fact “a god” to be worshipped, and demonstrates his claim by performing “signs and wonders” so stunning that they are able to deceive “even the very elect of God”.
“Only one other individual in Scripture shares the dubious distinction of being named son of destruction: Judas (John 17:12; the NASB translates the same Greek phrase “son of perdition”). The title is thus reserved for the two vilest people in human history, controlled by Satan (John 13:2; Rev. 13:2) and guilty of the two most heinous acts of apostasy. Judas lived and ministered intimately with the incarnate Son of God for more than three years—a privilege granted to only eleven others. Yet after observing Jesus’ sinless life, hearing His wisdom, and experiencing His divine power and gracious love, Judas betrayed Him. Amazingly, he was so much a son of destruction that the glories of Christ that softened the eleven hardened him.
After initially posing as the friend of religion (cf. Rev. 17:13), the man of Sin will suddenly reveal his true nature when he commits blasphemy against God and opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship (cf. Rev. 13:15–16). Energized by Satan and aided by the false prophet, he will have immense power to successfully demand that the world worship him (cf. Rev. 13:1–17). [Source]
The fact that Judas is also called the “son of perdition” suggests that this coming Man of Sin has been or still is part of the professing Church, posing as a Christian.
Perhaps this is how he manages to deceive both the (fallen) churches = the Harlot of Revelation, and also Israel itself, who has been seeking for and waiting on the arrival of a human “messiah” to lead them.
Judas Acted in The Flesh
But there is more. Far from sympathising with Judas for his betrayal, I can understand his motivation. His betrayal was the flesh acting out of synch with the Spirit – a fault we all have from time to time.
Judas was led by the devil, but the devil used his apparently sensible and acceptable desires for the kingdom of God on earth.
It has been suggested that Judas once belonged to one of the fierce group of political activists against the Roman/Herodian rule and believed more than anyone that Jesus the Messiah had come to liberate Israel from this ungodly and oppressive regime, and to establish the glorious kingdom ON EARTH promised to them in their scriptures.
Judus got impatient.
Perhaps believing that Jesus was reluctant to initiate this liberation, Judas decided to force the issue himself. Perhaps he thought that Jesus would either summon up divine assistance, or declare himself as king before the priests and rulers, if he was threatened with arrest. We know Judas was horribly wrong. At the time, did Judas believe his motives were right?
My point is, knowing and loving Jesus, believing in him, is sadly not an insurance against falling away, IF the flesh rules. How many of those in the last days who end up worshipping the wrong christ will be religious, even christian?
How many good (but deluded) people will be seduced by this apparently charitable, clever and godly man?
How many will see as nothing but beneficial his promises of victory, peace, prosperity, justice, and the solution to many world problems that concern people today (such as climate change)?
It is all too easy to be WRONG for all the RIGHT reasons!
Humanity will be relieved, in all the chaos and fear of the world, to see the rise of this amazingly charismatic and brilliant leader, this god-like orator, who has come offering peace to all nations, and the establishment of the State of Israel.
They are eager to believe in one who will bring stability. They believe that bringing the kingdom rule of God on earth cannot possibly be the work of the devil!
Like Judas, whose intentions may have been shared by many of his fellows – wanting to see the end of cruel and oppressive dictatorships, end poverty, release the captives, provide for the needy, put an end to wars and inter-racial strife, change the world and solve its problems – human beings will tend to see all this as appealing and acceptable.
In fact it is the work of a deceiving overlord!
No, this man will not come as the devil, in a red cloak, horns and a pointy tail! He is the master of deception and lies, and will come as the very “angel of God”, to supply the desires of every human heart. He, above all, will preach that the removal of restraint is a truly liberating force for advancement.
How many today will fall for his message?
We have come to a turning point, a crossroads. The decisions we take now will either contribute to the fulfillment of our mission in Christ, or else lead us to blind obedience of another.
Either God the Holy Spirit will inspire and lead and guard us, as his people, or we will fall back into a world that is following another spirit and becoming blind to truth.
Many years ago I had a striking dream that has never dimmed.
A huge nuclear explosion meant that we all had to take cover from the fallout. I ran and covered myself as best I could, crouching down by a wall. Almost all of me was covered, but my elbow was left sticking out – and the truth of the dream was this: any part of the FLESH that was not “under the covering” would be affected by the deadly fallout from this event.
Actually, to set this in its proper context, the nuclear explosion and fallout in the dream was in fact the devastating false teaching that entered the Church in the early 90’s. But the message of the dream is still the same. It is the flesh that is in peril.
The lesson is: if we allow any part of our lives to exist outside the covering that God provides, and walk in the flesh, anything that is not of God will be food for deception!
Anything that is not submitted to God, anything of our own lives and desires that we are keeping back for ourselves, anything we value more than God, will be open to misuse in those horrific days.
Restraint is vital, and the One who restrains our nature is the Holy Spirit (because we are incapable of resisting sin by ourselves.)
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit will never leave those who love God, and stay true to Him – yet we need to make sure right NOW that we are really, genuinely, committed and submitted to God, and have done what Paul the Apostle said, “put to death the deeds of the flesh”.
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation, but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. Romans 8:12-14
However, in an atmosphere of advancing evil, when all restraint is gone, the days are perilous. (Perilous times shall come). The increasing attraction of temptation, along with the fear of persecution, means that “great tribulation (pressure)” is experienced by everyone.