Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first… 2 Thessalonians 2:3
One of the things that the Bible is emphatic about before the end comes is what is called the Falling Away. This is, surprisingly, something that we hear little about, especially considering the amount of teaching and preaching there has been on the end times in years gone by. In many sermons, I have often heard about a great revival that will come in the last days, when the gospel covers the earth. And while I certainly pray that revival does happen (and I believe it can), as far as I can tell from the scriptures, there is no express promise that such a revival will happen. It’s actually quite the opposite, as we can see here in 1 Timothy chapter four:
Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith…- 1 Timothy 4:1
This is a sad reality that’s mentioned several times in the New Testament. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, the apostle Paul reports that this ‘falling away’ is one of the things that must take place before the end comes. The Thessalonians had a misunderstanding regarding the timing of the end, with scares that the Day of the Lord had already come. But Paul lists this ‘falling away’ as one of two events that we can look for as the a sign that the end is imminent. (The other is the revealing of the ‘man of sin,’ who is commonly referred to as the Anti-Christ).
The phrase ‘falling away’ comes from the Greek word Apostasia. You can probably guess what English word this transliterates into: Apostasy. Our English translations translate this word to falling away, but it could be better translated as a departure. The word in the Greek is also used to describe a divorce, when one spouse departs from the other. It’s the picture of a woman leaving her husband for another man, which is often how God describes it when His people leave Him to go after other things.
This happened often in the Old Testament, when God’s people forsook Him for other gods. In Jeremiah chapter two, God uses the imagery of a man and his wife to describe His relationship with His people. He says, “I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness…,” but like a woman who forsakes her husband for another man, so the people of Israel forsook the Lord for other gods.
Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing that you have forsaken the Lord your God… – Jeremiah 2:19
This is precisely what the Bible says is going to happen with the Lord and His church during the latter times. Many in the church (which is described as the bride of Christ), will depart from Him…wow, this is sad…and will go after other ‘gods.’
Jesus warned his disciples about these times in Matthew chapter 24:
And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. – Matthew 24:10-12
Jesus said that because of offense, false prophets, and lawlessness, many would be made to turn away. It will be in this environment of apostasy that the Anti-Christ will rise, and then the end will come.
We can see these things starting to play out even now. As far as offense, we can see that the world has taken its stance against the Word of God on several issues. Some of the obvious big issues include homosexuality, transgender rights, and abortion. The world at large has taken up these issues as matters of good vs evil. They are calling good evil, and evil good. And these issues are becoming a great stumbling block for many, causing them to reject the Word of God for popular opinion. We will see this to an even greater measure as we get closer to the end.
As for false prophets, we hardly need to say anything. There is so much false teaching in churches today, so much compromise, so much worldliness. It would be wise for our preachers and teachers to heed the words of Jesus when He said, “woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). Stick with the Word! Judge everything you hear. If you can’t find it clearly written in the Bible in two or three places, FORGET IT!
And as for lawlessness, it seems to be increasing by the hour. The more deaths, the more killings, the more robberies, the more rioting there is, the more the love of many will grow cold. This will be especially true when this lawlessness comes into our own neighborhoods and churches. When we see our own friends, family members, police officers, and children hurt and murdered, it will be very difficult to maintain a heart of love. Many will cast off the love of Christ for a vengeful spirit. This is sin, for “vengeance is mine, says the Lord, I will repay” (Romans 12:19).
Take these words deep into your heart. Remember that they were written long ago, warning us of these things. We must be exceedingly diligent to constantly remember these things, lest we fall as so many will. It’s sad to think of the many that will depart from the truth faith–make sure that it won’t be you.
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