Summary: Jesus revealed much about the end of the age, including the social and spiritual climate during that time. The anti-Christ will be a prominent figure during the Tribulation.

The anti-Christ and Tribulation (Part 1)

Matthew 24: 15-22

As we continue our study in the Olivet Discourse, Jesus offers additional details concerning the end times and the coming Tribulation upon the earth. While these verses are shrouded in mystery, and difficult to discern, they do reveal actual events that will transpire upon this earth prior to the second coming of Christ.

Our text today deals with the middle of the Great Tribulation – a time of suffering and desolation unlike this world has ever experienced. Not only will there be intense persecution of those who believe in Christ, but God will also pour out His wrath upon this earth for the sin and wickedness that has permeated the world at that time. Clearly this will be a dreadful time for all who remain on the earth. "People have a natural longing for a better day, a time of peace and harmony among nations, of greater economic stability and of decreased crime, disease, and discord. But Scripture is clear that, despite temporary times of improvement, things are destined to become much worse before they permanently become better. Human society faces a time that is going to be more calamitous than any ever experienced before…The Tribulation will encompass the entire world but will focus on the nation and people of Israel. It will mark the end of man's day and the coming of God's." (i)

As we continue, I want to consider the perils revealed in the text as we think on: The anti-Christ and Tribulation.

I. A Time of Desolation (15) – When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand.) Jesus spoke of the appearance of the abomination of desolation prophesied by Daniel. This will be a key event in the end times. Consider:

A. The Character – We can accurately identify the “abomination of desolation” as the anti-Christ, who will appear on the world stage during the Tribulation. He will be the minister of Satan, wreaking havoc and destruction upon the earth. He is prophesied in Daniel and revealed in Revelation. Rev.13:5-8 – And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. [6] And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. [7] And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. [8] And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

B. The Conditions (15) – Jesus warned of the time when the anti-Christ would be found standing in the holy place. This will actually be the moment when the true identity and agenda of anti-Christ will be revealed, but we also have supporting Scriptures that reveal much about the conditions of that time. We know there will be:

1. Social Depravity – The end times will be marked by utter rejection of truth and righteousness for the lust of the flesh. The majority in that day will have no desire for the ways of God, seeking only to satisfy their lustful depravity. Paul warned of this as he spoke of the climate the world will encounter in the last days. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 – This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. [2] For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3] Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [4] Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; [5] Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. We are already seeing this environment in the majority of America and in many other places around the world. It is impossible to deny that conditions are right for the end times.

2. Spiritual Apostasy – We also know that the end times will be marked by a great falling away from truth within the church, and in regard to the Gospel in general. 2 Thes.2:3 – 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. The phrase “falling away” speaks of “a departure into apostasy.” No doubt we are already seeing this fulfilled in our day as well. Many denominations and large ministries are abandoning biblical truth and convictions for the sake of political correctness. Few are willing to stand and boldly proclaim the truths of the Gospel, the righteousness of God, and the preeminence of Christ! This departure from biblical truth will continue to worsen as we near the end. Like Paul proclaimed, there is a form of godliness, but most deny the power thereof!

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