Pastor A. W. Weckeman Aug. 2016
The “end times” will be characterized by widespread deception, false doctrine and a mass falling away.
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” (1 Tim. 4:1)
“…evil men and seducers shall wax and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Tim.3:13)
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine…” And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables.” (2 Tim.4:3-4)
As the church age draws to a close the scriptures tell of a “lukewarm” Christianity that has been chilled by tremendous deception; a time of indifference and confusion…that time has arrived.
“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…” (2 Thess.2:3).
Mass apostasy: The “latter days” of the Church Age will be characterized by a “falling away” from biblical Christianity to religion, ritual, and man-made tradition; from sound doctrine to false doctrine, from the pure word to the impure, from steadfastness to compromise and mixture, “lukewarm.” There will also be a dominating “spirit of fear” caused by persecution from hostile forces of a godless culture.
At this point in church history the leaven of “the mystery of iniquity” has come close to permeating the whole of Christianity; a disheartening time in which the devil has succeeded in infiltrating (subverting) and corrupting the majority of so-called Christianity. For those who know and love the truth, these times can be very discouraging, very frustrating…even depressing. It’s never easy to be in the persecuted minority.
The Remnant of Israel
In reality, we shouldn’t find it surprising that only a few (relatively speaking) will be saved and remain faithful to the truth in the end times. A study of the of Hebrew people, chronicled in the Old Testament, reveals the reality that it has always been a REMNANT that truly believed and remained faithful during times of spiritual darkness and inevitable moral decay. No matter how severe the persecution or tribulation they, by the grace of God, remained steadfast.
Remnant: residue; that which remains after separation (falling away) removal or destruction.
At first use of the word remnant denoted a family or clan that survived a calamity or slaughter; then later came to be applied to the spiritual seed of a nation which survived God’s judgment and remained to start anew (Noah for example).
In the history of Israel, a remnant can be defined a “spiritual Israel” within the Nation Israel. So then, so now. The contemporary remnant is made up of “spiritual believers” (faithfully holding on to the Truth; obediently abiding in Christ) within a lukewarm Christianity; “…blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world…” (Phil.2:15).
In Elijah’s day, there were 7000 who had not bowed to Baal (1 Kings 19:18 & Rom.11:4-5).
In Isaiah’s time, it was a “very small remnant” for whose sake God withheld the destruction of the nation. (Isa. 1:19)
During Israel’s and Judah’s time of captivity in Assyria and Babylon, the remnant appears in Jews like Ezekiel, Daniel, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego, Esther, and Mordecai.
At the end of the seventy years of Babylonian captivity, it was a remnant which returned under Ezra and Nehemiah. (Ezra 9:8-15, Neh.1:3)
At the First Advent, during a time of great spiritual darkness in Israel, John the Baptist, Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38) were among the few who “…looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). In these “last days” of the church age, we are “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ…” (Titus 2:13)
What Can We Learn from the Remnant?
In many ways the end times in which we live are similar to the troublesome times through which the children of Israel passed; apostasy, false prophets, and teachers, tremendous deception, confusion, and persecution.
The Old Testament paints a vivid picture of the remnant, informing us of their attitude, character, and courage in the face of overwhelming persecution; providing an instructive example for the contemporary remnant. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4).
In the history of the nation, Israel the remnant were those who hung on to their faith in the Lord during the darkest of times…those who steadfastly refused to compromise with the pagan culture in which they lived; even while living in bondage in foreign lands. The remnant were those who passed through the calamity of their generation; the survivors of a spiritual disaster.
Analyzing the Old Testament Remnant
What characterized the remnant?
How did they differ from their brethren?
What was it that enabled them to remain faithful and endure?
Before we study these remarkable characters which stood out in dark times lets first begin by considering an early prototype of the Jewish remnant.
The life of Noah not only provides an excellent example of what it means to be in a very small persecuted minority but also reveals a prophetic picture; a CONNECTION between the remnant of the past and the remnant of the future; consider: (Luke 17:26-30) “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.” (Second Advent)
In order to understand what it will be like in the “end times” we need to consider what was it like in the “days of Noe” Consider, (Gen.6:5-8):
Noah: The portrait of a man who found grace and favor with God:
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (Gen.6:8-9).
Mercy is not getting what you deserve and grace is getting what you don’t deserve.
Just, upright, honest and righteous, conformed to the truth; he who judges with righteous judgment…equal, honest and fair. (Prov. 21:3, 7, 15, Prov. 29:27 cf. Ezek. 18:8-9). Right is right and wrong is wrong…no gray areas with Noah.
“…and perfect in his generations”
Not “perfect” in the sense of flawlessness or without defect but “perfect” meaning spiritual maturity; which includes blamelessness: “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” (Acts 24:16). Perfect, as used in this verse, isn’t one who never fails; but rather the person who does fail yet repents upon conviction accepts the consequences and continues to follow the Lord.
Perfect before God involves a particular attitude of heart; a person who is driven by the desire to please and obey God…one who is, by the grace of God, consistently exercises obedience to the revealed will of God.
“…and Noah walked with God” cf. Gen.5:24, “Enoch” cf. Heb. 11:5.
Psalm 1:1-2 provides an excellent example concerning our walk: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” (Ps.1:1-2)
How should you and I conduct ourselves in the midst of decadent, godless society? Consider: “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ DEPART FROM INIQUITY. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonor. If a man therefore PURGE HIMSELF from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified [set apart], and meet [fit] for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Tim.2:19-22). “…we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom.6:4). “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him…” (Col.2:6)
Noah also feared God
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear…” (Heb. 11:7). Noah feared God and took Him at His word.
This verse provides an excellent example of the beneficial aspects of “the fear of the LORD” demonstrating it to be a positive force…a great motivator. Cf. (Prov.1:7 w/notes).
The opposite side of the coin: “fear of man bringeth a snare…” (Prov.29:25).
Think about how Noah must have been mocked and scorned for simply obeying God’s word. Imagine what people must have thought of him…religious fanatic, delusional nut case. Evidently, Noah wasn’t overly concerned about how people thought of him…he was more concerned about what God thought of him.
How often does our concern about what people (our peers, co-workers, family, friends etc.) may think of us from sharing the TRUTH? We hold back or “forebear” cf. (Proverbs 24:11.)
You might think that Noah would keep his boat building project low key…especially the purpose. Not so, he openly preached about the purpose and coming judgment Noah preached and prepared, (2 Peter 2:5).
There was something else about Noah that marked him exceptional. We already mentioned Noah to be a just and perfect man, yet there is additional important aspect regarding those who the Bible describes as “the just.”
“The just shall live by faith.” (Rom.10:17). Heb. 11:7 describes Noah as a man of faith.
“By faith Noah, being warned of God of THINGS NOT SEEN as yet, moved with fear…” [Emphasis added]
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb.11:6)
Everything hinges on our desire to obey and please God and when it comes to pleasing Him FAITH is the key factor.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor.5:7)
Hebrews 11:7; “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear…” The term “not seen” sounds familiar. “Not seen” things apprehended by faith.
“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18).
John 20:29 – we too have been warned of God about the importance of faith regarding things “not seen as yet”.
OUR REWARD: “But it is written, Eye hath not seen nor ear hear…” (1 Cor.4:18).
OUR PERSPECTIVE, OUTLOOK: “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for…” (2 Cor.4:18)
OUR MEANS: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
OUR AFFECTIONS: “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” (1 Peter 1:8)
Noah believed against all odds regardless of circumstances, hardships, ridicule, scorn he “moved with fear” and did what God told him to do; he preached judgment and prepared for the coming calamity.
As it was with Noah so should it be with us. Faith is the evidence of our trust, the reason for our faithfulness.
As the coming of the Lord draws nearer each day the minority (remnant) is shrinking; fewer and fewer believers are found to be faithful. Remember Jesus’ question in Luke 18:8 “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”
The Jewish remnant consisted of two groups of people:
1st Those who remained faithful from beginning to end, (Noah, the prophets).
2nd Those who compromised fell away and went into captivity (bondage). As a result of their punishment, they came to their senses, acknowledged their sin and repented of it. They were humbled and eventually brought back to their homeland…given another chance to get it right.
There is much to learn by studying these two groups of people so then, so now. When studying the O.T. characters always remember, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Rom.15:4)