And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. - Matthew 24:10
This week we turn our attention to the next major attack on the Church in the Last Days: offense. We aren't talking about the exciting half of football. We're talking about what happens when the pressure amps up. We're looking at what happens when all the persecution and circumstances come to a head? Will people stand tough, or will they walk away? This week's devotion answers all of these questions and more.
What is Offense?
The term for offense in this scripture can be interpreted to mean "to cause one to begin to distrust and desert what he ought to trust and obey. Basically, it's the the urge to run from what we know is right. Reading the last sentence, it might be difficult to wrap our minds around. What can cause an individual to abandon something they have known is true. They've experienced it, witnessed it, felt it themselves. They know it's real and yet they leave it. However, Christians do it every day and they've done it since the beginning of the Church. Why do they do it, though?
The Reasons For Offense
Paul experienced people leaving their faith near the end of his ministry. In 2 Timothy, he laments to his closest follower that some of his other followers had abandoned him:
This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. - 2 Timothy 1:15
For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. - 2 Timothy 4:10
At both ends of this final letter to Timothy, Paul discusses how specific people who once followed him had chosen to leave. What might have caused them to do it?
Phygellus and Hermogenes most likely left Paul when the times got tough. Seeing Paul suffer and struggle for his faith did not appeal to them and so they turned and walked no more (John 6:66). Meanwhile, Demas decided that the cares of this life mattered more to him than the ministry he had been blessed to occupy. Others departed for various reasons and Paul even states that he felt abandoned by everyone(2 Timothy 4:16).
There are a lot of reasons for people to abandon their cause, even though they know it's the right and just one. There is no cause greater than to serve Christ. However, struggle, strife and the lure of the secular world can pull many people away from this divine Truth. Couple that with what we are expected to experience in the Last Days, and it's no wonder Christ said that many would be offended.
Where Offense Leads
Offense doesn't stop at turning away, though. The Devil doesn't just want us to turn away from God. He wants us to come to hate and fight against Christ and those who serve him. Jesus was betrayed by an offended disciple. The hate that must have filled Judas' heart to give up the Messiah must have been great. He had seen the miracles. He had heard the mighty sayings. He could piece the scriptures together. Jesus was the One. Yet, he turned on Christ. He got offended at the things Christ said and the actions Christ took and it caused him to betray his Master and those who followed Him.
The Devil desires to separate us from both God and those who follow him, to get us offended. Once he achieves that, he pushes for us to fight against that which we once followed. He'll put lies in our minds to go with the hate that resides in our hearts. He'll lead us to positions where we can spew our disdain for Jesus and the Church to others. We'll become witnesses for the world centering around how we got hurt.
The Proper Reaction To Offensive Action
All the while, though. Christ is standing and calling to us, "Friend." God cares about us. He doesn't refuse anyone the right to return to his kingdom. He stands at the door and knocks on all who have walked away from their walk (Rev. 3:20). He makes ways of escape for those who have fallen into wickedness (Rev. 2:16, 24). We might get offended and it might lead to acts of betrayal and hate, but Jesus will never let go of His love for us.
That's why when someone rails against the church, we don't rail against them. Paul may have name dropped some dissenters, but he doesn't levy curses or ill wishes against any of them. In fact, he mirrors the martyr Stephen with his response:
I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. (2 Timothy 4:16)
That's our response to when people abandon us and then turn and attack. Love them regardless. Don't justify their actions or excuse them as having not made a mistake. But pray for them that they might escape judgment. What a merciful concept. That's how we must live. If we do, we might see someone redeemed. Even if they aren't, we'll have come that much closer to truly living as Christ. And that's the life we're called to live.
We'll be taking a break from the Podcast this week, but will return next week. Until then, God bless and keep searching.
Our Revelation Podcast is back and this week we are looking at persecution in the modern world. How is persecution being enacted against Christians today and what can we do about it? What can we do when we face persecution, even when it feels "small" in comparison to what others face? Find out these answers and more in this week's Podcast and follow along with our lesson from early this week as you listen. Also, go to our YouTube Channel to subscribe for more timely videos and Podcasts. We already have over 70 uploaded! God Bless and Keep Searching
Over the past 4 weeks, we've looked at events that will occur in the world at-large. Today, we start a turn to how the Last Days will affect the church directly. The church will be a part of the Last Days. How much of the Book of Revelation we will witness is open to debate. However, the idea that everything will be rosy for us in the lead up to the rapture is a false narrative that is exposed when we read the words of Christ. Starting in Matthew 24: 9, we find the path for Christians in the Last Days and the hardships we face. We will be afflicted, killed and hated by all nations. Basically, we'll be persecuted worldwide. We examine what all that means today as we continue our journey to understanding the Last Days and the Church's role in it.
In this week's supersized podcast, we cover real world statistics about war, earthquakes, famine and pestilences We also show how these statistics point to what will happen in the Book of Revelation and what we can expect going forward towards that apocalyptic time period. There's lots of allusions to future lessons in this one as well so hang tight with us through it to get some insights into what's on the horizon for TWTL and our Revelation coverage.
Editor's Note: Due to an illness, Chris wasn't able to record the Revelation Podcast this past week. However, he will be back to do a mega two part episode this coming weekend. Thanks for your patience and prayers. Now, onto this week's study.
there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. (Matthew 24:7)
Christ has painted a rosy picture of the Last Days, hasn't He? We've seen false Christs and deceivers mentioned and an outbreak of war foretold (which you'll learn more about in the megapodcast). Now, we see that it's not just men and nations we have to look out for. Nature, from the large to to the subatomic are going to run rampant throughout our society. Before we get into how these three calamitous outbreaks are occurring today, let's lay a groundwork for why they are even included.
And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars...For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom (Matthew 24: 6-7)
We move to a topic that is both relevant and easy to see in today's society: war. War is everywhere across the globe. Even in countries that don't experience violence within their borders, there is so much conflict across the globe that it is impossible to ignore. However, we also live in a society that is supposed to be more connected than ever with more peace treaties than at any other time in history. One wonders how we can live in such an interconnected era with such high minded ideas and still find ourselves falling into similar conflicts as those of bygone eras.
This is a topic we will be discussing. However, we want to start with the very concept of war and answer some questions first. What did war do to the early church? Why does God require war to be a part of prophecy? What can we get from conflict? Answering these questions will allow us to understand and approach our current state of conflict with the appropriate perspective. Let's examine.
In our previous post, we dealt with what an antichrist figure is and how they've developed over the history of man. In our Podcast, we review the post and also give some guidance with how to face down this prevailing threat. We throw a lot of scriptures out in this one, so we have a couple of links here and on our YouTube Channel to help you follow along and further study on your own. Get your game plan together and let's grow with God together!
The following links go with our Podcast when we dive deep into the scripture and see how to fight the spirit of Antichrist. Use them to follow along and for your own further study.
References to Matthew 24:4
References to Matthew 24:5
We now turn our attention to the explanations of the prophecy that Christ has given. I find it interesting that Christ's first sign is about deception. He wanted to get that out their right away and it's something he will come back to in this chapter (and we will come back to in this series). Deception is a key weapon of the enemy and he'll use it any way he can. In this instance, Christ warns that the devil is even willing to imitate Christ in order to deceive us.
In this week's Podcast, we look further into the idea of Close and Far Prophecy. How did the Disciples handle their knowledge of the destruction of the Temple and the End of the World? What does that speak to us today? Is there a plan we can put into place once we get the urgency that comes from studying prophecy? Find out these answers and more in the video below and share with others. As always, please leave us suggestions and comments as we are hoping to create a great dialogue with our audience.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.