The Antichrist and Constrictor Snakes

The book of Daniel is categorized as a book of prophecy, but it’s partly history as well. Second Thessalonians is categorized as an epistle, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed it’s almost half prophecy. Today I read chapter 2, and the prophetic part captured me, which is perhaps unusual because I tend to look for practical, everyday things in the Bible.

Paul writes about the coming of the “lawless one,” whom Christians often refer to as the Antichrist. Paul calls him “the man of sin, the son of perdition.”

who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

-2 Thessalonians 2:4 (NKJV)

Obviously, the lawless one has not come yet because no one has yet been able to exalt himself above all that is worshiped. People around this globe are still busy worshiping all manner of things. But lawlessness is already at work in this world. If you haven’t noticed, just check the news.

But one day, God will take away all restraints (see 2 Thess. 2:7). And when the Lord GOD stops restraining wickedness, then…

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,

and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,

that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

-2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 (NKJV)

The Lord will remove restraints and Satan will raise up the lawless one. The Antichrist, as we call him, will promise peace and prosperity. Satan will empower him to work amazing signs, perform miracles (maybe even miracles that look “good”), destroy his enemies, and appear to be a mighty man with an incredible unseen force at his disposal.

Think of it: destructive power, maybe healing power, and magical mind-blowing powers, all in one smooth-talking, charismatic man.

Talk about a wow-factor.

This guy will look impressive. But he will also be wicked. No code of ethics. No rudimentary morality. No magnanimity. He’ll promote sin and call it good.

A “man of sin” working “all unrighteous deception.”

People will flock to him. They won’t see the wickedness. Or the danger.

Check out verse 8: “whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and with the brightness of His coming.”

There’s a wow-factor for you. This invincible lawless one will be unable to withstand the Lord’s very breath and the awesome brightness that surrounds the Lord.

The lawless one will be utterly destroyed.

And what of those who followed him? They perish with their leader.

The lawless one’s followers will take pleasure in unrighteousness. They’ll reject the truth because it would hamper their lifestyles.

They will not love the truth that could have saved them. They will prefer the lie.

And God will say, “If the lie is what you want, that’s what I’ll give you.”

This lawless one will bring with him strong delusion, the Scripture says.

Delusion. When someone holds to a belief in spite of evidence that invalidates that belief. It can be associated with mental disorders. It implies a harmful deception.

But this lawless one’s delusion is so strong human reasoning will not be able to see it. Without God Himself helping them, people will be incapable of seeing past this strong delusion.

Those who had the opportunity to receive the truth and instead chose to pretend a lie was true–those people will be helpless.

They won’t even realize it. That’s part of delusion.

You know, I’d hate to drown or burn to death. But you know what creeps me out worse?

The coils of a giant constrictor snake. It strikes without warning. It coils around its victim in a matter of seconds. First the feeling of terror and helplessness. You can’t breath as these dry, cool, unfeeling scales wrap around you. Circulation is cut off. Your organs are dying for oxygen and nourishment. Blood pressure explodes. Your heart arrests, and you die. It takes only a short time, but what a horrifying short time.

That is how I picture the lawless one’s strong delusion.

The victim doesn’t see it coming. Long ago they rejected the truth, so they can’t hope to recognize the lie. It wraps them, squeezes them, keeps squeezing until they die.

There’s one difference between them and the constrictor’s victim. The victims of the delusion don’t even know they need help.

Brothers and sisters, can you fathom the horror? Billions of people deceived by this lawless one, and nothing can save them from impending destruction. Only God could help, but eventually He will leave them to their own devices. And they will be destroyed.

Today, the devil already has thousands of delusions wreaking havoc. But today, God is still working and has not yet withdrawn all restraints.

Oh, should we not pray with tears that God will break down lies? That there may be fewer who reject the truth, fewer who die not knowing they need help?

Friend, if you read this and do not believe in Jesus, will you take an honest look at who He is? Will you dare to read the Bible? Will you dare to ask God to reveal Himself to you? (Perhaps you don’t even believe He exists, but I know from personal experience He will not hide from you if you seek Him honestly.)

Will you dare to look at everything you believe and evaluate it ruthlessly to see if there are gaps in the logic, questions left unanswered, feelings left unresolved? This may be a surprise, but Jesus can satisfy all of that. No logical person wants to be deceived. So take a good, long, hard look. It can’t hurt.

And it might just turn your world upside down. In the best possible way.

-Miss Darcy

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Strength for What?

There is nothing weak about God. His love is strong. His wrath is strong. His justice, His light, His grace, everything about Him is so mighty we can’t fathom it.

And God is more than willing to empower us with His strength.

But not so we can spend that strength getting whatever we want. In fact, He may want us to use that strength in a rather surprising way.

[We pray that you will be] strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;

-Colossian 1:11 NKJV

In this passage, Paul describes how he is praying for the Colossian church. (And there are so many wonderful things he prays for them, but I’m trying to keep this concise today.)

He prays that God would strengthen them with all might, according to God’s own glorious power. Does that not sound wonderful?

Then he goes on to say how that power will be used:

To have joy when we’ve been suffering for a long time.

Not just to patiently and miserably endure suffering. But to endure with joy.

The more I think about it, the more I realize I will definitely need God’s own power to succeed in that.

It might not look grand and glorious to the world. It’s not showy strength. Not the kind of strength that features in an action movie.

But it’s a steady, indomitable strength that allows us to rejoice even when we’ve been stuck in a painful situation for so long we hardly remember life before.

That’s God’s strength.

-Miss Darcy

Though He Does Not Know It

I used to love to read Leviticus when I was younger. I remember a pastor saying, “If you can’t get to sleep, just read Leviticus.” And we all laughed, but I privately disagreed. I thought all the details of the laws and sacrifices were vastly interesting. (If you want to read yourself to sleep, try the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles. They take a huge amount of concentration to be interesting.) 🙂

But it’s been a while since I visited Leviticus, so in March I went back to see if I still find it fascinating. I do. Almost every chapter, some tiny thing jumps out at me that I hadn’t really thought of before.

Here’s one:

“If a person sins, and commits any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD, though he does not know it, yet he is guilty and shall bear his iniquity.

“And he shall bring to the priest a ram without blemish … as a trespass offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him regarding his ignorance in which he erred and did not know it, and it shall be forgiven him.

“It is a trespass offering; he has certainly trespassed against the LORD.”

-Leviticus 5:17-19 NKJV (emphasis mine)

Even if a person didn’t mean to sin–if they sinned without even realizing it–they were still guilty. God still required a sacrifice to atone for their sinning in ignorance.

Jesus was our ultimate Sacrifice. The final Lamb who died for the sins of mankind.

Including the sins I don’t even realize I’ve committed.

My sinful nature is so much a part of me that sometimes I won’t even realize I’ve sinned. (Maybe I’ll see it later; maybe I won’t.) And think of all the times I know I should do something good and don’t do it–that’s sin, too. (see James 4:17)

Jesus died for those sins.

For all the times my folly and pride and callous sinful nature keep from seeing my sin, Jesus shed His blood.

All these sins I may never specifically seek forgiveness for because I don’t even know I’ve done it–Jesus forgives those.

Somehow that truth hadn’t hit me hard until I read Leviticus. I’d never thought to thank Jesus for bleeding on behalf of all my sins of ignorance.

Don’t we have a wonderful, merciful Savior?

-Miss Darcy

A Wise Man’s Face

I make no secret that Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books of the Bible. Last time I read it, I ran across a verse I hadn’t given much thought to:

Who is like a wise man?
And who knows the interpretation of a thing?
A man’s wisdom makes his face shine,
And the sternness of his face is changed.

-Ecclesiastes 8:1 (NKJV)

The second half of the verse stuck out to me.

“A man’s wisdom makes his face shine…”

When we say a person’s face shines, we might say it shines with joy. Or gladness. Or peace.

We never say a person’s face shines with sorrow or pain or misery.

“And the sternness of his face is changed.”

I picked up a thesaurus to look at stern. It can mean “grim; implacable; unrelenting.”

Possible antonyms are “lenient; soft.”

I think we tend to think of wisdom as something that makes you stuffy. Judgmental. Rigid.

Maybe you’ve heard the joke about two boys walking down a country road one day, fishing poles in hand. They passed by a field where a mule looked over the fence at them. And one boy said, “That mule must have my grandfather’s religion.”

Can you picture that grandfather? Long-faced. Disapproving. Never smiling. Never merciful. Oh, he was probably a Bible-reading, God-fearing, prayer-praying, maybe even Jesus-preaching man. Yet was he truly wise?

Maybe as we get wiser, we smile more. We show more grace. We have more joy.

I’m not saying wisdom means you have no strong principles to guide you. No, wisdom has very strong principles. But true wisdom will change you inside so that your face shines.

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

-James 3:17 (NKJV)

So the next time someone gives you advice, study their face. And study their attitudes. If they’re negative and hopeless, scowling and severe, you might need more than a few grains of salt to go with that advice.

Because true wisdom makes its owner’s face shine.

-Miss Darcy

This Present Age

The sermon I heard on Sunday was for me. So many things the pastor said blessed me, encouraged me, and challenged me. But today I’ll just share one thing he said.

The Christian’s ultimate purpose is not to live in heaven.

The Christian’s ultimate purpose is to bring a little piece of heaven to this earth.

When I die, I’m going to see my Savior Jesus face to face. I won’t have to fight sin any longer. I will know my God as I’ve not been able to know Him on this earth.

But.

Just because I’m still on this earth doesn’t mean I don’t know God now. I know His grace, His power, His light, His holiness. I know the joy of being in His presence even though I cannot see Him. I know the King of Heaven.

So my purpose is to live under the laws of my King, for I am a citizen of His Kingdom, even though I do not currently dwell there. That way, the citizens of this other land where I dwell–a.k.a. the world–can see a bit of what heaven looks like.

This morning I read in Galatians:

who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,

-Galatians 1:4 (NKJV)

Jesus’ sacrifice did much more than save us from sin’s punishment.

He delivered us from “this present evil age.”

And it is evil, wouldn’t you agree? But, though we live here among it for now, it need not have power over us. Jesus can deliver us, and will deliver us when we ask.

I love that word, deliver. It means: “To release or rescue from bondage, danger, or evil of any kind; set free.” Is that not glorious?

Also, did you catch the last phrase in that verse? “According to the will of our God and Father.” It is never God’s will that we be not delivered from this present evil age. Not later. Now.

Mind you, in 1 Corinthians we find that:

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

-1 Corinthians 15:19 (NKJV)

Christians do suffer in this life, and when nothing else can lift our spirits, we look to our hope after death. One day, I will struggle with sin no longer. One day, my body will not fail me. One day, I will have rest and peace and joy unhindered. One day, I will commune with God face to face.

That hope is the culmination, not the beginning, of our deliverance from this present evil age.

In that reality, we press on. We don’t hide from the evil of this present age. We know we’ve been delivered.

And we want to share that deliverance with anyone who seeks it.

-Miss Darcy

The Blood Is Still There

As an oldest child, certain stories in the Bible stick out to me. (Cain and Abel, for instance. If ever an oldest child flunked his role, Cain did!) Today I want to talk about Passover.

The Hebrews were slaves in Egypt. Moses had come and requested that Pharaoh let the Hebrews go. Pharaoh wouldn’t.

So God sent plagues upon the land of Egypt, warning Pharaoh and his people that they must let the Hebrews go. And Pharaoh would say, “All right, you can go. Just remove this plague.” Of course, as soon as God had eased the suffering, Pharaoh changed his mind.

Finally, God told Moses, “This is the final plague. After this, Pharaoh will let you go. In fact, he will drive you out.”

Before, God had sent frogs, lice, hailstorms, livestock diseases, and boils on man and beast, among other things. This time, God would strike hard. No one would be able to ignore His power.

At midnight, God would kill every firstborn child in the land of Egypt.

From the firstborn of Pharaoh to the firstborn of the captive in the dungeon, even to the firstborn of the livestock, God would strike with death.

I can’t help thinking: If I had been an Egyptian child that night, I would have died. Just stopped breathing.

If I had been a Hebrew child, I would have died that night unless my father followed the strict instructions to protect me.

A lamb had to die for the firstborn to live.

The father had to kill a perfect lamb and let its blood fill a basin. Then he dipped a bunch of hyssop in the blood and struck the doorposts and the lintel with the blood.

Can you imagine that wooden doorpost, dry from years of desert air and wind in Egypt? The man took a bunch of hyssop, dipped it in the lamb’s blood, and slapped it against the lintel (the beam across the top of the door). Again, he dipped the hyssop and hit one doorpost. Finally, he struck the last one.

Can you picture the dry wood soaking up the deep red liquid? This is a stain to last for decades, no matter what winds and rains scour the doorposts.

When God saw the blood guarding the door, He passed over that house. Death had already occurred there, as evidenced by the blood. The firstborn child could live.

Fourteen hundred years later, Jesus came to this earth. His purpose? To save mankind from sin.

They have all turned aside,
They have together become corrupt;
There is none who does good,
No, not one.

-Psalm 14:3 (NKJV) emphasis mine

For the wages of sin is death, …

-Romans 6:23a (NKJV)

Someone had to die to pay for sin. Logically, that person should be the sinner. But God did not want us to die.

A Lamb had to die for us to live.

Jesus is our Lamb. The final sacrifice. His blood is enough to erase all sin, forever. (John 1:29)

And just like the blood on the doorposts in Egypt, Jesus’ blood is never going to wash away.

Once I accepted Jesus’ sacrifice and turned my life over to Him, He applied His blood to cover my sin-stains. His blood isn’t going to evaporate. It won’t fade. It won’t grow too weak to cleanse me. Ever.

No matter what Satan throws at me.

I love the way this song captures that: The Blood Is Still There by Gary Duty.

Hope you enjoy!

-Miss Darcy

Now Will Be

Being a grammar-nut of sorts, when I really noticed the grammar in John 12:31, I had to reread it. I’ll share why in just a minute. First, let me give a touch of set-up for the verse.

It’s the week of Passover. Jesus will be crucified this weekend. And His soul is troubled because of the pain. But He is determined to fulfill His purpose. So He prays aloud, “Father, glorify Your name.”

Then a voice comes from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”

While the onlookers wonder exactly what’s going on, Jesus explains for them.

Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.

Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples unto Myself.”

-John 12:30-32 (emphasis mine)

“Now” implies right at this time. “Will be” indicates at a future time. Yet Jesus says the ruler of this world will be cast out now. When?

When He is lifted up from the earth.

Typically, you hear that phrase “lifted up” referring to praising Jesus. And I suppose that applies. But it is not what Jesus was talking about.

Jesus referred to His crucifixion. Even the people who heard Him knew that. They asked (I paraphrase), “What do you mean, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? The law says the Christ will live forever. Who are you talking about?”

So Jesus’ crucifixion is the “now.” At Jesus’ crucifixion was the judgment of the world, and at Jesus’ crucifixion the ruler of this world will be cast out.

See the contradiction of time? I find it fascinating. Here’s what I think it means.

The ruler of this world is already defeated.

Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in [the cross].

-Colossians 2:15 (NKJV)

At the cross, Jesus overcame the power Satan had held since Adam and Eve sinned. On the records, Satan is listed “defeated.”

But the official casting-out ceremony is yet to be.

In Revelation 20:10, we read how, at the very end of the battle, the devil is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. (Isn’t it fun to read the end of the Book?) For now, he roams the earth “like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (see 1 Peter 5:8)

Satan still exerts power, yes. It is foolish to discount his schemes and his strength. But it is also wise to remember that much of his power lies in his skill to deceive.

Jesus is the Truth. (see John 14:6) And He promises that the Truth will set us free. (see John 8:32) Free from sin. Free from shame. Free from Satan.

Doesn’t mean there won’t be a long battle–maybe a grueling, crushing, desperate battle. But victory is eventually guaranteed if you press closer to Jesus without backing down, without wavering toward the world, without losing heart. Because the foe is already defeated.

Live now for what will be.

-Miss Darcy

P.S. Maybe I’m reading more into the wording than is there. Bear with me. I love to explore the richness of words.