Not one stone left upon another
The Lord Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives with His disciples overlooking the great temple when He made some startling predictions that shocked them. He began to tell them what would happen in the future to the Temple and to Jerusalem itself. He also spoke about the things that would happen at the end of the age. As they were walking away from the Temple the disciples drew his attention to the buildings of the Temple. He told them plainly that not one stone would be left upon another and that every stone in the Temple building would be torn down. He was saying to them that the religious system would not save Israel in the end. Prophetically, He was also warning about what would happen to institutional Christendom at the end of this age. What happened to Israel would happen again and religious structures would be dismantled and that it would be a shaking of the nations that would affect every walk of life, the business world, the socio-economic world and the domestic world. In fact He was telling them that everything God had not established would be shaken. Of course this was like a punch in the stomach to them especially when He said what He did about what would happen to the Temple in the future.
The disciples asked Him three questions. When will the temple be destroyed? What will be the sign of your coming? And what will be the signs of the end of the age? The Lord Jesus answered them in reverse order because He wanted them to see the reality of what the destruction of the temple meant for Israel, for the Church and for the world at large. The first thing the Lord Jesus addressed was their third question. He addressed the signs. In our last study we looked at the first two signs, namely spiritual deception and Wars, Famines, Earthquakes and Diseases, all conspicuous marks of this generation in which we are living now. Added to this today they are growing in frequency and intensity. These ‘birth pains’ or ‘contractions’ indicate that the birth of God’s visible Kingdom on earth is rapidly approaching. We will now look at sign number three.
Sign 3: The Global Persecution of Faithful Christians.
(Vs. 9) “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me.”
Persecution never begins with the secular authorities but always starts from false brethren within the professing Christian Church. Luke tells us in his account that those who remain faithful to the Lord Jesus will be handed over by false believers, friends, relatives and even by parents, brothers and sisters to the secular authorities for persecution and death as Luke wrote, “But before all this,” (earthquakes, plagues, wars and famines) they (false brethren) will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.” (Luke 21:12)
“They will persecute you also”
Persecution has always happened to faithful Christians since the first century and is still happening today in countries like Pakistan, North Korea, China, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran and in virtually every Muslim country in the Middle-East, However, just before the Lord Jesus returns persecution will intensify globally. In every nation of the world to a greater or lesser degree faithful Christians will be treated like criminals because they will not compromise their loyalty to Jesus or go along with the religious and political system. It was just the same in the global empire of Ancient Rome. It is the same in almost every Muslim country. What happened to Jesus in His last days will happen to his body the Faithful Church in its last days. Listen to what He said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed My teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of My name, for they do not know the one who sent Me.” (John 15:18-21)
“By standing firm you will save yourselves”
The Lord Jesus also said that when persecution comes true believers will be empowered to stand firm and strong for Him as He himself said; “This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words of wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed by parents, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men (universally) will hate you because of Me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will save yourselves.” (Luke 21:13-19) Notice again the phrase “all nations.” This persecution will ultimately become a global phenomenon. It will not only come from the secular authorities but also through the Prostitute Church empowered by the spirit of the Antichrist. Also notice what Jesus says, “because of Me.” In fact He said that you will be killed by people who think they are doing God’s will. Historically the Church of Rome proved this to be true during the Inquisition, Today Islam does the same thing in the name of their god Allah. They actually think that they are doing God’s will. Of course Allah is not the God of the Bible at all but the ancient Mesopotamian Moon god of war. This persecution will ultimately come upon all that want to remain faithful to the Lord Jesus and to the word of God. Eventually the western Church will also suffer persecution as the Eastern Church has suffered for centuries since the rise of Islam.
War against the saints
John the apostle said that persecution would be a prominent feature of the “Beast Empire. He writes, “He (the Beast Empire) was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.” (Rev 13:7) The word used for “saints” is the standard New Testament word used for Christians. In the New Testament the Body of Christ is also called His temple. Historically the faithful Church has always suffered persecution and it has been said that there were more martyrs last century than in all the centuries that preceded it. Today two thirds of the world is under the domination of Islam and millions are dying every day under this beast system! Now they are invading the western democracies. Israel like the Church has suffered down through history and at the end of this age they, along with the faithful Church, will also suffer at the hands of the Antichrist’s Empire. Daniel foretold this when he said, “As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them,” (Dan 12:7) ““It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.” (Dan 7:21) Today the Church and Israel have a common enemy. Satan is stirring up the whole world against Israel and Bible believing Christians.
Ten major historical persecutions
From the first century through to the time of Constantine there were ten major imperial persecutions under the Roman Emperors or “Pontiffs” as they were called. They were Nero, Domitian, Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, Severus, Maximinus, Decius, Valerian, Aurelian, Diocletian and Maximian. As the pagan side of the Roman Empire declined the religious side of Rome grew stronger in power. Eventually the time came when the Popes themselves began to order the persecution of those who would not go along with the doctrines of the Church of Rome. From the time of the emperor Constantine onwards over a period of time the Popes began to exult themselves to the point where they reserved the right to interpret Scripture and to introduce unbiblical doctrines and practices.
All roads lead to Rome?
After the Roman Catholic Church grew in power and expanded its hold over many countries, especially in Europe, it began to persecute Bible believing Christians just like the Caesars of Rome had done before them. The “Pontiffs” of the Roman Catholic Church perpetuated the persecutions begun by the “Pontiffs” of the Roman Empire. This is a historical fact. The Inquisition lasted around 600 years. During these centuries the two kinds of people that were systematically persecuted by Rome were Jews and Bible believing Christians. Of course whether it was a Roman Emperor or a Pope they have all been sitting in the seat of antichrist and persecuting and subjugating everyone who has not submitted to their supreme authority. What the Roman Emperors and the Popes did to Bible believing evangelical Christians down through history teach us about the character of the final Antichrist to come and what he will do to those who remain faithful bond slaves to the Lord Jesus and are loyal to the Word of God.
Today Islam is the greatest threat to democracy and to the faithful Church more than there ever was from Pagan Rome down through the centuries including Papal Rome. Islam is now the power to be reckoned with. At its core Islam is an Antichrist ideology, political, socio-economical, and militaristic empire with a religious component that clearly teaches that God has no Son and persecutes and murders those who believe and teach that truth. The spirit of Antichrist drives the Islamic Empire today. The West is trying to compromise with Islam but Islam will not compromise. The Koran itself teaches and promotes the global domination by Islam and this is their agenda. This is the main agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, some of whom were invited by Obama to the White House and with whom the Obama Administration dealt with at a very high political level. The Koran itself says that Muslims are not to take Jews or Christians as their friends and that Islam must be spread by the sword. In fact Islam is the religion of the sword and has its roots in the moon god of war. This is why you have the crescent moon on the Islamic flag and on the tops of their Mosques and see on their emblems the crossed swords. Allah is not the God of Abraham, Isaac or Jacob and he is certainly not the God of the Bible. Much more could be said about this. There are many western politicians, who for the sake of expediency and more so for financial gain, accuse those who speak out against Islam of Islamophobia.
“Drunk with the blood of the Saints”
Now in the book of Revelation chapter seventeen we see “a woman riding a scarlet beast,” John describes this vision for us, “Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. This title was written on her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus…“This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits”…“The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.” (Revelation 17:3-6, 9, 18)
The Church of Rome fitted this description for over 600 years during the inquisition. The two people groups most persecuted by the Papacy were Jews and born again Bible believing Christians who, on scriptural grounds, could not submit to the Pope or to some of the unbiblical doctrines of the Church of Rome. Because of this stand against Roman Catholicism multitudes of faithful Bible believers were burned alive, garrotted and tortured to death for their faith and if Rome had its way in the world today it would do again what it did in the years of the inquisition. Not only were faithful Christians killed for their faith in the western democracies but when Mohammad came out of the desert with the armies of Islam the Eastern Orthodox Church suffered under the scourge of Islam. Many countries in the Middle-East that are now Islamic at one time were Christian countries. What happened to the Churches in the Middle-east over the centuries will happen in the west as the tentacles of Islam spread like gangrene through the western democracies.
Originally Islam was a bastardised form of Christianity as Mohammad was influenced by Jews and Christians, however, Mohammad received his own “‘divine revelations” which were demonic, consequently, he saw himself as a the greatest of prophets, greater even than Moses or the Lord Jesus Himself. Of course Islam denies the Trinity and curses and kills anyone who believes in the Trinity. The two main people groups Islam persecutes are Jews and Christians just as they were persecuted by Papal and Pagan Rome. However, the worship of Allah goes way back past the time of Mohammad and in fact all the way back to the Babylon and Assyria founded by Nimrod who also built the Tower of Babel. Today in Mecca you have the clock towers overlooking the Kaaba and they call this huge structure Mt Babel. The highest clock tower has a crescent Moon at the top of its spire. It is not the city of Rome that is the “MOTHER OF HARLOTS” but Mecca. This is the city in a desert by the Sea whose destruction is heard at the Red Sea! A city that will burn with fire at the hands of the Beast Empire whose back she rides! (This subject is dealt with at length on this website in a series of studies titled; “Fallen, Fallen is Babylon the Great”)
When Antiochus Epiphanes the Seleucid Greek General invaded the Land of Israel around 160 BC most of the Jewish people compromised with him and there were even those who knew full well what was going on but said nothing to save their lives in this world. During his reign many apostatised and many were martyred for their faith. Of course Antiochus was a major type of the Antichrist to come. Just before the Lord Jesus comes again many in the Church will fall away. Because the pressure to deny Jesus will be so great many who claim to be Christians will fall away from their faithfulness to Him. They will also betray their fellow Christians to the secular authorities. This has already happened down through the history of the Church but in the last days it will become a universal trend in every place where Christians are being persecuted for their loyalty to Jesus Christ. This apostasy began with the coming of the Emperor Constantine who made Christianity the state religion consequently opening up the floodgates for the paganising of the Church. Imperial Rome became Papal Rome. This apostasy also spread throughout the Middle-eastern Church. However the Pontiff’s of Religious Rome would continue the persecution begun by the Pontiff’s of Imperial Rome. Today Rome to a great degree no longer persecutes the true Church although they still persecute Bible believing Christians in some third world countries. However, the persecution under Pagan and Papal Rome has been well eclipsed by Islam today.
The ‘Tentacles’ of Islam
When the Antichrist’s empire spreads its tentacles across the globe multitudes in the Church will go along with his agenda. In the light of world events today and in the light of scripture it is highly likely that the Antichrist will be a Muslim general and namely the long awaited “Mahdi” whom all Muslims wait for, one who will ultimately demand worship as the Supreme Caliph of Islam and behead all that will not submit to his authority. According to God’s Word multitudes of believers, who have not worshipped the Antichrist as God, will be beheaded in the last days just before Jesus returns. (Revelation 20:4) This is already happening today with ISIS. If you read the history of Islam including the acts of Mohammad himself you will see that they have a long bloody history of beheadings. Is it any different today when you look at what the Jihad Muslims are doing in Saudi Arabia, Sudan and in other Muslim countries? Martyrdom will be the common feature within the final Beast Empire. Beheadings will be common place within the domain of this empire. In our next study we will look at the fourth sign.