Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Beast or Antichrist in the Old Testament Pt.5

In Jeremiah 4 we find another reference to what appears to be the beast. In this chapter God is warning Judah (Israel) to return to Him and the consequences if they don't. Beginning in verse 3 through 13 we read the following.

For thus saith the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings. Declare ye in Judah, and publish in Jerusalem; and say, Blow ye the trumpet in the land: cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the defenced cities. Set up the standard toward Zion: retire, stay not: for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction. The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant. For this gird you with sackcloth, lament and howl: for the fierce anger of the Lord is not turned back from us. And it shall come to pass at that day, saith the Lord, that the heart of the king shall perish, and the heart of the princes; and the priests shall be astonished, and the prophets shall wonder. Then said I, Ah, Lord God! Surely thou hast greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace; whereas the sword reacheth unto the soul. At that time shall it be said to this people and to Jerusalem, A dry wind of the high places in the wilderness toward the daughter of my people, not to fan, nor to cleanse, even a full wind from those places shall come unto me: now also will I give sentence against them. Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! For we are spoiled.”

First what makes us think that this passage is about the end times? The clue is found in the phrase “that day” and the mention of the false promise of peace. We know that almost all the prophecies in the major and minor prophets seem to relate to not only the day in which they were given, but to our day also. And we see that there is mention of a lion and destroyer. We have already seen both of those terms used to describe the beast, so we now have several reasons for deducing that this passage is also speaking of him.

God first addresses their need to turn their hearts back to the Lord. While circumcision was the physical sign of the covenant between God and Israel, God does not demand physical circumcision of Gentile Christians, but asks us today to circumcise our hearts. To remove the protective covering and let Him in. He also wants Israel to circumcise their hearts, as well as their bodies. He warns that if they do not turn back to the Lord, His fury will come against them, as He cannot tolerate their evil behavior. He tells Jeremiah to make it known in Judah and Jerusalem that they should blow the trumpet to gather the people and go into a protected place. They are to set up a signal to flee the land for God is bringing great destruction upon them from the north. How far north is the question. Many think this is Russia, but it may merely be the Arab lands that surround Israel on the north. There are many more Scriptures to go over before that can be determined.

Now comes the mention of the aggressor. The lion is coming out of his land. The destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way. He is coming from his land for the express purpose of destroying Israel, to make them a wasteland and uninhabitable. Here is a question that needs asking. Is he the destroyer of the Gentiles merely because he is a Gentile, or is he also guilty of destroying Gentiles? The word for Gentile means nation or people, so this is also saying the destroyer of nations or peoples. This would seem to indicate that he is actually both. A Gentile or non-Israelite, and a destroyer of other nations. Both of these would seem to apply to the beast, as we know he is called by various name, the Assyrian, the Mede, etc. We also know the beast will destroy many nations. So this is an affirmation of what we already know about the beast.

Israel is told to go into mourning as God is not going to turn back from his anger and spare them. This is going to happen. On that day the hearts of leaders will fail them, and the priests and prophets will be astonished and wonder. In this day and age, we know that there is an abundance of false teachers, preachers, and prophets who tell people what they want to hear – all is well, peace and safety, you won't have to suffer, etc. When it all hits the fan, these people are going to be astonished, as they never believed any of this would really happen. They believe their own false prophecies and teachings. After all, God does not really mean what He says in His Word. It is an allegory, or metaphorical. He is not really going to punish His own children. We are not supposed to take God at His Word. Right? Wrong. Jeremiah now questions God, saying that He has deceived the people. The prophets were being allowed to prophesy falsely that there would be peace, and the people believed, as God originally had given blessings to Israel. What they chose to forget, as Christians do today who do not think they need to suffer tribulation, is that there is a curse for not living according to God's holy commandments. They hear what they want to hear. It is not God deceiving them, as those who truly study God's Word know that we are not going to escape tribulation, but in fact need it to refine us from our straying far from God. The sword is about to come upon everyone, and the church falsely believes they will be spared by being raptured out. Israel thinks that if they make peace it will protect them. Both are false beliefs that God is allowing people to believe, because they choose to believe it.

A dry wind is coming. In Israel a dry wind comes from the Arabian desert or more generally the north, which is from where this destroyer is said to come. A south wind is a moist one. The dry wind was used to separate or fan the wheat from the chaff. However this wind is not to fan. The north wind can sometimes be very fierce and is too powerful to use for fanning the wheat. It is clear that this wind is not a gentle wind. It is a full wind. When he comes, the dust in his wake will create whirlwinds of clouds. His horses are swifter than eagles. Here I believe we need to take a more metaphorical view. While originally Nebuchadnezzar did use horses, in this day and age jets and tanks are more the vehicles of choice, not to mention missiles and bombs being weapons of destruction. Israel will be devastated.

We know from other Scriptures that the beast will come up against Jerusalem at the time he declares himself God in the temple. Is that is what is being referred to in this instance, or are there other instances during the course of the seven years to which this might refer? Let us see what the rest of the passage says to see if it can be determined. We can know that this is definitely not Armageddon though, as we know God will defend Jerusalem in that day. In this case we find out later in the chapter in verses 27-28 that the land will be devastated. “For thus hath the Lord said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end. For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it.” The land in this case will not be defended, it will be devastated, although God will not let there be a complete end to it. The last verse in the chapter would seem to indicate this is most likely speaking of the midpoint of Daniel's 70th week. It bears an uncanny resemblance to Revelation 12. “For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion, that bewaileth herself, that spreadeth her hands, saying, Woe is me now! For my soul is wearied because of murderers.”

So we have now have a few more pieces of information to add to the list of characteristics that define the beast of Revelation.

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