Prepare for the End: Focus On ChristPrepare for the End: Focus On Christ
January 30, 2014
My undergraduate degree is in political science. I intended to become a lawyer, but repented and went into the ministry instead. I took two classes in communism, where we studied the Soviet Union, China, and Eastern Europe. In a political gaming routine, I role-played the leader of Albania, Enver Hoxha, a ruthless man. In an unsettling way, I actually enjoyed it.
Totalitarianism takes many forms, some obvious and some not so obvious. For example, the totalitarian dictatorships of Mao, Stalin, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are well-known for labor camps, re-education camps, purges, and the mysterious (and not-so-mysterious) disappearance of enemies. Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s writings reveal what life was like under this type of political system.
Today in America we do not have the totalitarian dictatorships of the Marxists, but we are developing something which should disturb Christians who value freedom, particularly our freedom to proclaim the gospel.
In order to attain the type of political and economic system which will be dominant under the antichrist, how will our world get there? That system will not arise overnight but will slowly develop over the years before the antichrist. Then the antichrist will simply use for his own purposes what already exists, including a population trained to depend on and accept what government pronounces good for them.
Notice what is happening today regarding our health. Federal and local governments are placing more restrictions on what we can eat, drink, and do. Restrictions on the size of soft drinks, the type of fat we can consume, and where people can use tobacco (I almost feel sorry for smokers) may seem innocent and even medically sound.
Health insurance, i.e., now the government, requires and/or encourages physical exercise. Teachers in some public schools exercise together in order to stay healthy and set a good example. Businesses require and/or encourage workers to exercise and have healthy diets. And people generally accept this as “good for them”.
All of this may actually be physically and medically beneficial, but it reminds me of pictures and video I’ve seen of China and the Soviet Union where citizens were exercising together to maintain healthy bodies in order to serve the state and where government controlled almost every area of personal life for “the good of the people”.
Subtle and inconsistent forms of speech restriction abound today in America. Society frowns upon the use of certain words which contain racial or sexual slurs but applauds the use of profanity and coarse language. Accusations of “hate speech”, a vague and dangerous phrase, quickly silence meaningful debate on controversial topics. The slightest offense quickly demands an apology, and those with weak character quickly offer that apology.
Many have noted that the generation called “Millennial” is quite different from earlier generations. Millennials are often characterized by overvaluing their own importance, expecting high pay for menial work, dependence on others, and expecting society to fulfill their needs.
Revelation 13:15-17 describe some of the power and influence of the political system which exists in the years before Christ’s return. That system controls people with the threat of execution, personal identity markers, and the threat of economic ruin. Today, as we see more people depending on government for at least a partial source of income and food, these controls do not appear unrealistic. In fact, they appear very obtainable.
Imagine someone being told that he will not receive his social security check, food stamp benefit, prescription medicine, or medical benefit unless he accepts the personal identity markers of the political system. For many, the choice will not be hard to make. Today, people are being conditioned to accept such government restrictions and control in preparation for a future time.
Revelation 13:18 describes the “mark of the beast” as the well-known “666”. I find it very interesting that the only other Biblical use of this number describes how much gold Solomon received into his kingdom (2 Chronicles 9:13). Is there a connection between “666” and gold or the economy? I don’t know. But it’s interesting that the number has some monetary/economic connection in its only other Biblical use.
The “soft despotism” of today will lead to the “hard totalitarianism” of the antichrist. Just as the Romans accepted the rule of the worst emperors as long as they received their “bread and circus”, so people today are accepting restrictions on their freedom as long as they have their food, cell phone, and satellite TV.
When I consider the political leadership in the Western democracies, I am left with the disturbing question of “What political leadership?” Disapproval and distrust of politicians on every level of government is very high. Every four years, Presidential candidates make many promises and fulfill very few of them, leading to more cynicism among American citizens.
All of this is setting the stage for a charismatic person to step into world politics and use the chaos created by failed leaders for his own rise to power. However, all of this is also an opportunity for the creative and aggressive giving of the gospel to people disillusioned with the world they see. Since the antichrist is not in power yet, we have the freedom to reach people with the gospel. Focusing of the negatives in our world will not bring people to Christ. But focusing on Christ will give people the answer.