THE FUTURE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH
- by Jacob Prasch

 Everybody wants to know the future. People go to fortune-tellers, the occult, read Tarot cards, do all kinds of things to find out the future. What for? Jesus plainly told us the future.

Antiochus Epiphanes and the Abomination of Desolation

 In Matthew 24:15, Jesus talked about the Abomination of Desolation. “Therefore when you see the Abomination of Desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the Holy Place…” you know the end is near. The problem here is that the Abomination of Desolation referred to in the Olivet discourse had already taken place! Jesus celebrated Hanukkah (John 10), the Feast of Dedication. He knew all about Antiochus Epiphanes setting up the image in the temple. He knew all about pigs being slaughtered in the temple. He knew all about the temple being reconsecrated by the Maccabees. The prophecy about the Abomination had already been fulfilled during the inter-testamental period. Jesus took a past event and spoke about it as if it were in the future. 

 But there is another one to come. All of the others typify the one that is coming. How do we know this? When eschatological prophecy is studied using Hebraic methods of interpretation i.e.: Midrash, we get a clearer understanding….

 Midrash – Hebraic interpretation

  The Greek/Western idea of “prophecy” is a prediction and a fulfillment. The Hebrew idea of prophecy is a pattern that is recapitulated — multiple fulfillments, with one ultimate fulfillment. Each of the multiple fulfillments is a "type", and teaches something further about the ultimate fulfillment.

 

Out of Egypt

When Matthew wrote his nativity narrative of Jesus, he quoted Hosea 11:1; “Out of Egypt did I call my Son” (Matthew 2:15). If you read Hosea 11, you will see that Hosea was talking about the Exodus — the children of Israel coming out of Egypt with Moses — this being the case, Matthew obviously took that passage seemingly out of context, and applied it to Jesus. This is not the case. The problem is that the Western church is taking a Jewish book and constructing its own rules of context. The explanation is that Matthew thought midrashically. He thought of prophecy as pattern.

It began with Abraham, the archetype, the father of all who believe.

Egypt is a figure of the world, and Pharaoh is a figure of the devil, the god of this world.

The ultimate meaning of the Exodus is the resurrection and rapture of the church. The judgements that took place in Exodus are replayed completely in Revelation. In the same way that Pharaoh’s magicians were able to counterfeit the miracles of Moses and Aaron, so, too, the Antichrist and false prophet will counterfeit the miracles of Jesus and His witnesses. Why do the saints at the end sing the song of Moses (Revelation 15:3: I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted, the horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea..)?. Because the destruction of Pharaoh is a type of the destruction of the devil. Why did they take Joseph’s bones with them out of Egypt (Exodus 13:19)? Because the dead in Christ shall rise first (1 Thess. 4:16), and we will depart together.

Lamps to see in the night

The Hebrew concept of eschatological prophecy is a pattern being recapitulated. To really begin to understand what the Bible teaches about the last days, we have to stop thinking with Western, Gentile minds and begin thinking of the Scriptures the way the early church did. Understanding and faithfulness are very important. The wise virgins had oil in their lamps to see in the night — the illumination of the Holy Spirit in their understanding of the Scriptures. The church at Laodicea needed salve to anoint its eyes that it might see (Revelation 3:18). Understanding the Scriptures is going to be very closely associated with faithfulness in the last days:None of the wicked will understand” (Daniel 12:10). It is very easy for God to take somebody with a pure heart and an empty head and give that person wisdom, but it is much more difficult to take someone with a big intellect and give them a pure heart. Simple people are much more likely to get saved than sophisticated people, but, after they do get saved, they are not supposed to remain simple.

Matthew 10:1-23

And having summoned His twelve disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax gatherer; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him. These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them, saying, “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. [7] “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you have received, freely give. Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your journey, or even two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support. “And into whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it; and abide there until you go away. “As you enter the house, give it your greeting. And if the house is worthy, let your greeting and peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your greeting of peace return to you. “And whoever does not receive you, or heed the words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake off the dust of your feet. “Truly, I have said to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgement, than for that city. [16] “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be as shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves. “But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to the courts, and scourge you in their synagogues; and you shall even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not be-come anxious about how or what you will speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what you are to speak.

“For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. “And brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death. “And you will be hated by all on account of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. “But whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes (Matthew 10:1-23).

Did it happen? When Jesus sent the apostles out in pairs, were they brought before governors and kings for His name’s sake? No. Were they put on trial? Did the Holy Spirit give them utterance? No. Did brother deliver up brother and parents their children? No. Were they hated by all nations for His sake? No. None of it happened. Jesus was training them. They had been trained by John the Baptist, and now they were being discipled by Jesus. Here He sent them out for their first "dry run". Jesus told them to do certain things, then, in verse 16, He changed time frames. None of the things that Jesus predicted would happen, ever occurred to the Twelve on this trip.

Now, but not yet… First of all Jesus instructed them to preach, The kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 10:7). Today we have Restorationists who say they are going to conquer the world for Jesus and set up His kingdom before He returns. They claim that these prophecies were fulfilled in the Early Church and we are going to be the Church Triumphant. Nonsense. The Kingdom is now, but not yet.

There are two terms, inaugural eschatology and over-realized eschatology, that describe the theology involved here.

 I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them until the Ancient of Days came, and Judgement was passed in favour of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom (Daniel 7:21-22).

 Changing time frames

 And Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He answered and said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:1-3). In Matthew 10, Jesus was talking about what would happen when He sent the apostles out in pairs, but then, in the middle of a series of statements, He just changed the time frame. Matthew 24 is the same. He began talking about the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, but then He changed the time frame and talked about the end of the world.

 Day of Pentecost

The same thing happened in Acts 2. When Peter wanted to explain the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, he did so by quoting Joel.

“For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: “And it shall be in the last days, ”God says, “That I will pour forth of my Spirit upon all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even upon my bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of my Spirit and they shall prophesy” (Joel 2:15-18). Were any prophecies given on the day of Pentecost? No. “And I will grant wonders in the sky above, and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke” (Joel 2:19). Was there any blood, or fire, and vapour of smoke in the heavens? No. “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood” (Joel 2:20). Did that happen on the day of Pentecost? No. The sun is a type of Jesus. Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you (Isaiah 60:1). All four gospels say that the resurrection of Jesus happened at sunrise. The rising of the sun is a metaphor for the rising of the Son. You have to understand what these things mean metaphorically. The sun is Jesus. The moon reflects his light. I do not say these astral phenomena will not happen. I am simply saying that if they do happen, or when they happen, they will be a reflection of something deeper. The light of Jesus will no longer be reflected by the church onto the earth, and the church will have blood on it. It will be violently persecuted.

 They happen to Jesus

Jesus sent the apostles out in pairs (Matthew 10). He told them certain things were going to happen that did not happen to them. In Matthew 24, He told the church about something that is going to happen, but it did not happen then. Then in Acts 2, Peter described what was happening, but none of it happened. Those things did not happen to the apostles in Matthew 10. But who was brought before governors and kings? Who was given utterance, which nobody could refute? Who was betrayed? Jesus! The things that happened to Jesus in His last days will happen to the church in its last days.

 What happened to Jesus physically in His body in His last days, will happen to the church, His body, in its last days — betrayed, brought before governors and kings, given utterance that none can refute.

They happen to the apostles in their last days

 And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard.” And when they had threatened them further, they let them go… (Acts 4:18-21). The Holy Spirit gave them utterance, which nobody could refute. Despite having done nothing wrong, Jesus was scourged (Matthew 27:26). And they took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them to speak no more in the name of Jesus, and then released them (Acts 5:40). Despite having done nothing wrong, the apostles were scourged.

But an angel of the Lord during the night opened the gates of the prison… And upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest and his associates had come, they called the Council together, even all the senate of the sons of Israel, and sent orders to the prison house for them to be brought out. But the officers who came did not find them in the prison; and they returned and they reported back, saying, “We found the prison house locked quite securely and the guard standing at the doors; but when we opened up, we found nobody inside.” Now when the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them as to what would come of this. But someone came and reported to them, “Behold, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” (Acts 5:19,21-25). Locks and guards failed to hold the apostles, as they had previously failed to hold Jesus. Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.” And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone (Matthew 27:65).

Now while they were on their way, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. And when they had assembled with the elders and counseled together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep’” (Matthew 28:11). As the Holy Spirit gave Jesus utterance, so the apostles were given utterance; just as Jesus was scourged despite having done nothing wrong, the apostles were scourged; just as an angel let Jesus out of the tomb, so an angel let the apostles out of prison.

What happened to Jesus, happened to Paul. The rabbis made false charges against Jesus to the Roman authorities, but Pontius Pilate wanted no role in judging Jesus. And Pilate came out again, and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.” When therefore the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, “Crucify, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them , “Take Him yourselves, and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him” (John 19:4,6). The ministry of Paul replays what happened to Jesus in His last days. False charges were made by the rabbis against Paul, but the Roman governor wanted no role in judging him either. But while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews with one accord rose up against Paul and brought him before the judgement seat, saying, “This man persuades men to worship God contrary to the law.” But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrong or a vicious crime, O Jews, it would be reasonable to put up with you; but if there are questions about words and names and your own law, look after it yourselves; I am unwilling to be a judge of these matters” (Acts 18:12-18).

 

 Broke bread in upper room

Prior to His arrest, Jesus met at Passover with His disciples in an upper room to break bread (Mark 14:12-15). And we sailed from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread [it was Passover time], and came to them at Troas within five days; and there we stayed seven days. And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to depart the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight (Acts 20:6-7). Before Jesus’ arrest, He met with His disciples in an upper room to break bread, and before Paul’s arrest, he met with his disciples in an upper room to break bread.

 

Predicted future

Jesus predicted what would happen to Him, and to His followers, and He accepted it as God’s will (John 10:15). “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of grace of God. And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will see my face no more” (Acts 20:24-25). Jesus understood what would happen to Him and He accepted it as God’s will. Paul understood what would happen to him, and he accepted it as God’s will.

 

Sought to save Him

Jesus’ disciples tried to convince Him not to go to Jerusalem, in order to spare His life (John 18:11). Now when we had heard this, we as well as the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:12-13). Jesus’ disciples tried to persuade Him not to go to Jerusalem to save His neck. Paul’s disciples tried to persuade him not to go to Jerusalem to save his neck.

 

Warned of wolves

I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves [the false prophets are in the church] men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples away after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears (Acts 20:29-31). Jesus warned of false shepherds, prophets and teachers who would come to devour the sheep. Paul warned his disciples of the false leaders who would come.

 

Falsely accused

The chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, in order that they might put him to death; and they did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward (Matthew 26:59-61). Jesus was falsely accused of teaching against the Torah and the temple. “Men of Israel, come to our aid! This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people, and the Law, and this place” [that is, the temple] (Acts 21:28). The rabbis falsely accused Paul of teaching against the Torah and the temple.

 

Rabbis sought his death

The rabbis stirred up the multitudes to demand the death of Jesus (John 19:15). And they listened to him up to this statement, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he should not be allowed to live!” (Acts 22:22; also Acts 21:36). The rabbis stirred up the multitudes to demand the death of Paul.

 

Curiosity and intrigue

Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him (Luke 23:8). Jesus aroused curiosity and then intrigue with the civil Roman government. But on the next day, wishing to know for certain why he had been accused by the Jews, he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the Council to assemble, and brought Paul down and set him before them (Acts 22:30). Paul aroused curiosity and then intrigue with the civil Roman government. We are going to see that happen again in the last days. Governments are going to become infatuated with Christians in the same way as they were in the early church, and want to know “What makes these people different?”

 

Intervened to prevent riot

 And when Pilate saw he was accomplishing nothing, but rather a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands… (Matthew 27:24). The Roman authorities were forced to intervene in the case of Jesus to prevent rioting. And as a great dissension was developing, the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them and ordered troops to go down and take him away from them by force, and bring him into the barracks (Acts 23:10). The Roman government intervened in the case of Paul to prevent rioting.

 

Before the high priest

 When He had said this, one of the officers standing by gave Jesus Him a blow, saying, “Is that the way You answer the high priest?” (John 18:22). And the high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth (Acts 23:2). Jesus called these religious hypocrites “whitewashed” tombs (Matthew 23:27). Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall!” (Acts 23:3). Paul called the same religious hypocrites “whitewashed.”

 

Pharisees and Sadducees

Jesus used the resurrection to start the Saducees and the Pharisees fighting against each other when they came together against Him (Luke 20:27-40). But perceiving that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, Paul began crying out in the Council, “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!” And as he said this, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. And there arose a great uproar; and some of the scribes of the Pharisaic party stood up and began to argue heatedly, saying, “We find nothing wrong with this man; suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” (Acts 23:6-9). Paul used the resurrection to start the Pharisees and Saducees fighting each other.

 

Pilpul

Have you ever heard the joke, “You have two Jews, you have three opinions”? It comes from something known as pil pul. Pilpul is a manner of argumentation where you can keep quoting some other Rabbinic authority to justify anything you choose. You just argue and argue.  Jesus would not engage in pilpul. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount it says: The multitudes were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes (Matthew 7:28-29). That means Jesus would not engage in pilpul. He just said, “This is it!” He would not get into haggling and theological nit-picking the way Liberal theologians and the rabbis do today.

 

Turned upside down

And when they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world have come here also” (Acts 17:6). The known world to the early Christians was the Roman Empire, the Mediterranean basin, and not much beyond, but we are told in Acts 17:6 that the gospel turned the world upside down. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come (Matthew 24:14). The gospel will go to the ends of the earth in the last days and shake the earth one more time (Hebrews 12:26-29). We are seeing whole Buddhist countries, like Korea, turn to Christ in one generation. In Indonesia, two to three million Moslems turn to Jesus every year. As the gospel and Christianity declines in the Western world, it is exploding in the developing world. As the gospel declines in the Protestant countries, it is exploding in the Roman Catholic countries. And as the Gentiles turn away from the truth, the Jews are going back to it. In the same way that God used the Jews to bring the gospel to the Gentiles in the first century, God is now using Gentiles to bring the gospel back to the Jews.

 Future history

 The prophecies of Matthew 10 were not fulfilled in their immediate time frame. But the things prophesied happened to Jesus, to the twelve apostles, and then to Paul, in very conspicuous detail. But then Matthew 24 and Luke 21 say these things are going to happen to us. What happened to Jesus, happened to the early church; and both of those series of events together teach about what is going to happen to us.

 Midrash - Jewish prophecy is a pattern recapitulated — multiple fulfillments, but each fulfillment teaches something about the ultimate fulfillment. If you want to know something about how we are going to end up, look at how Jesus ended up. If you want to know what is going to happen to the church in the last century, look at what happened to the church in the first century. When you read the book of Acts, you are not reading past history only, you are reading future history.

 There is no new truth, no new doctrine, no new revelation. There is nothing new under the sun.

 Anti-Semitism

 And some of the crowd concluded that it was Alexander, since the Jews had put him forward; and, having motioned with his hand, Alexander was intending to make a defense to the assembly. But when they recognized he was a Jew, a single outcry arose from them all… (Acts 19:33-34). “He’s a Jew. Get him!” In the early church there was a time of growing anti-Semitism. In the last days there will be anti-Semitism. The two kinds of people the Bible calls ‘God’s chosen’ are the Jews and born-again Christians. It all goes back to Genesis 3. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed.” Anti-Semitism and persecution of the church is like a coin, heads and tails. You can distinguish between them, but you cannot separate them. After the Roman government turned against the church, it went after the Jews. That is what is going to happen in the last days. The Antichrist is going to go after us first, then he will go after the Jews. Anti-Semitism will increase. Through certain Restorationists, it has already come into the church. Rick Godwin says, “The Jews get nothing. That garlic in the Middle East has nothing to do with God. Israel is nothing but wasted money. If you say that God loves Israel and it fulfils prophecy, you are only going to make the Moslems hate us.” Bryn Jones says: “The church has to raise up a prophetic voice against Israel.” Martin Luther began as a man of God, but it is a tragedy that he ended the way he did, teaching that peasants should be stabbed in the back, that Jews should be herded into corrals and be forced to confess Christ at the point of a knife. Corrupt political leaders who seek to exterminate the Jews have always tried to justify it theologically, and they quote people like Luther to do so. Today it is the same thing. Just read some of those books like, “Whose Promised Land?” and “Blood Brother.” People are trying to find Christian preachers to justify their hatred of Israel and their denial of God’s End Time purpose for the Jews.

 

God’s plan for world redemption ultimately depends on the redemption of Israel.

The salvation of the world is prophetically bound up with His plan for the salvation of Israel. That does not mean the Jews are any higher or better than other peoples, but it does mean that they are His timepiece.

 Reviving the Roman Empire 

There were people who used to say things like, “There are nine countries in the Common Market, and when you see the tenth one, that is going to be it. Jesus will be back the following Tuesday.” Those people were always off the rails, God bless them. I have no doubt in my mind that the fourth beast of Daniel has to be some kind of re-confederation of the Roman Empire. Those things may be ten economic blocs, but the fourth beast is pretty clear. It has to be Rome. We have not heard the last of Rome. In ancient Rome, the emperor was called Pontifex Maximus [the “Great High Priest”]. After Constantine moved his capital to Constantinople, the Pope took the title Pontifex Maximus and to this day is still referred to as “the Pontiff.” Pagan Romans had a god of gift giving. They changed his name to “St. Nicholas.” They had a pagan god of love, and changed his name to “St. Valentine.” They had worshipped Artemis and Minerva. Now they changed her name to “Mary.” It sounded something like Christianity, but it was the same old false religion. The emperor said, “You can have any religion you like, as long as you worship me or acknowledge me as guide.” The Romans had legal and illegal religions — religulo licita and religulo illicita. Religulo illicita was anyone who would not bow the knee to the emperor. There was only one religion, which ultimately became religulo illicita. That was ours. The Pontiff condemned it. Pope John Paul II has met with the Dalai Lama (a man worshipped as god by Tibetan Buddhists), Zoroastrian priests, Orthodox rabbis, and with witch doctors. He has met with the Archbishop of Canterbury and with Moslem Imams. He says he respects all these religions. He only asks that these people acknowledge him as the Pontiff. That is Antichrist! There was one religion, however, that the John Paul II does not approve of. He has said that born again Christians are “rapacious wolves.” Religulo licita and religulo illicita. Every religion is OK except ours. That is what the Pontiff did two thousand years ago and that is what the Pontiff does today.

 

One Europe, one church.

Antichristos — the Greek word for “Antichrist,” does not simply mean “against Christ,” it means “in place of Christ.” Antichrist is one who, assuming the guise of Christ, opposes Christ (Westcott). One of the Pope’s titles from early times is “Vicar of Christ”. (“Vicar” is taken from the Latin ‘Vicarius’, which, interestingly enough, means ‘anti’!)  A “vicar” is one who stands in the place of another. An Anglican vicar serves in the place of the designated parish priest. The Pope claims to stand in the place of Christ. Vicar of Christ, translated into Greek, interestingly enough means antichristos — Antichrist. Pope John Paul II has said openly that he wants to see one Europe with one church. He knows very well that, with a confederated Europe, there is only one thing these peoples have in common, the Roman Catholic Church. Pagan Rome was the capital of the world’s false religious system in the days of the early church. I have no doubt that when you see these ‘inter-faith’ meetings, when the Arch-bishop gets together with the Hindus, Buddhists and the rest, Rome will, in some way, be representative of the centre of the world’s false religious system, in confederation with its political system. The Pontiff came after us in the days of the early church and he is going to come after us again.

 

The ‘Mary’ issue

And about that time there arose no small disturbance concerning the Way. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis [Mary], was bringing no little business to the craftsmen; these gathered together with the workmen of similar trades, and said, ‘Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all. And not only is there danger that this trade of ours falls into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship should even be dethroned from her magnificence.” And when they heard this and were filled with rage, they began crying out, saying, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:23-28). They began crying out, saying, “Hail Mary, full of grace!” There are reports of visions of Mary coming from around the world. The best known are: Knock (Ireland), Guadalupe (Mexico), Medjugorje (Yugoslavia), Lourdes (France), and Fatima (Portugal). Mary said, “My soul rejoices in God my Saviour.” She effectively said, “I need to be saved from my sin. I need a Saviour.” But Rome says that she was conceived without sin??

True Revival is coming to Roman Catholic countries. What happened in the Reformation is relatively mild compared to what is happening in South America. In Santiago, Chile, twenty thousand people leave the Roman Catholic church every week and become Pentecostals. In Guatemala, ten percent of the population left the Roman Catholic church over ten years and became Pentecostals. In the Philippines it is the same. In the United States there are so many converted Roman Catholics, it is unbelievable.

More Roman Catholics are getting saved in Ireland now than Protestants. In Italy, there are over one thousand AOG churches, none of them small, almost all of them new. We are going to see the same thing: “Great is Artemis.” The Mary question is going to become a big issue.

Emperor worship

Roman emperors were worshipped. God’s people were killed for refusing to worship them. The emperor worship of Rome prefigures the Antichrist. The kissing of the ring of the Pope came from emperor worship. The Antichrist, the new Emperor, is going to demand to be worshipped in some way. Those who are truly the Lord’s will not do it and will be persecuted. The worshipped emperors slaughtered the Christians, then they turned against the Jews. The persecution of the church began with Nero in 62 AD, but then in 68-70 Vespasian and Titus went after the Jews. In the second century it was Emperors like Marcus Aurelius and Septimus Severus who attacked the church, but then they turned against the Jews.

 You see then, that Prophecy is pattern. The early believers had an imminent eschatology — they believed that Jesus was coming in their lifetime. The general tide of world events at that time fulfilled certain eschatological prophecies; specifically the events surrounding the destruction of the temple, and the burning of Rome. Jewish prophecy is pattern. Those same prophecies are going to be fulfilled in the future. When you read the book of Acts, you are not only reading the history of the early church, you are also reading the history of the latter church. The things that happened to Jesus happened to the apostles, happened to Paul, happened to the early Christians, and all of these things together teach what is going to happen to us.

Forty eight percent of the gospel of John deals with the last week of Jesus life, the passion narrative. All the gospels devote at least one third of their time to what happened in the last days of Jesus’ life. If you read it the right way, the New Testament does the same thing with us. It talks a great deal about what will happen in the last days of our lives. Jesus was betrayed, Jesus was crucified, and Jesus was raised victorious. We are going to be betrayed, we are going to be crucified, and we are going to be raised victorious.

 

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