But now hath He [Jesus Christ] obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is he mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
For finding fault with them, He saith, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and the house of Judah:
In that He saith, “A new covenant,” He hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to depart. (Hebrews 8:6-8 & 13)
With a post title about the abomination of desolation, why did I start here? Charles Dickens’ classic ‘Christmas Carol’ starts with the line: ‘Marley was dead to begin with.’ This seems a strange place to start, but it’s an important preliminary fact to the context of the story. If we don’t understand feom the outset that Marley was dead, and that Scrooge knew full well he was dead, the events that followed would not be perceived correctly – as Dickens aptly points out.
Common modern interpretations of future prophecy, if they do not take the Gospel into account as the essential preliminary, are erroneous and will therefore be misleading: deceptions, and fables; they will lead to [further] false prophecy and be fatally destructive to the Church, the faith, and those individuals who believe them.
These things should not surprise us, they have been prophesied in scripture, that false prophets, erroneous doctrines, the abandoning of wholesome doctrine for fables will all increase as we near the final day. Furthermore that these will increase until there is a widespread deception and a great falling away in the church.
I have recently written a post about some of the fables which have crept into the Church in these days, and in this post am addressing the central reason for them: deviation from the simple truths of the the Gospel.
When the Old Testament prophesies of the SECOND coming of Christ, and events that will take place at the utter end, those prophecies speak of events that will take place under the New Covenant, not the old. However, as they were foretold by Old Testament writers, the events are often told using the typology of the covenant that they themselves lived under.
For instance, Daniel, looking foreward to the end of days speaks of the antichrist in a few places, and he references the antichrist defiling ‘the Holy Covenant’ (Dan. 11:28, 30).
As Daniel is speaking of events of the last days, after the first coming of Christ, which covenant is he speaking of? (Some who are educated in the standard contemporary interpretation of Daniel might assume he is speaking of the antichrist’s presumed covenant with the Jews (which I’ve adressed elsewhere), but) At least where he uses the phrase ‘the holy covenant,’ we must perceive that he speaking of the covenant between God and man which exists at the time of the end: the New and Better Covenant established by Jesus Christ.
That’s why I started where I did: Marley was dead to begin with.
Regarding the end times: Christ died, and was raised to begin with. The Old covenant is gone from the outset of the last days; has passed away, and will not return in the last days.
How do we know this? Chiefly because the covenant is made in the blood of the Son of God (Matt. 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20). Will, therefore, Christ shed His own blood for the new covenant if the blood of animals (under the old covenant) could have sufficed to purchase our salvation? Now that Christ has shed His blood to purchase our salvation, will He allow anyone else to approach Him using the blood of animals, rather than that which He shed? To revert to he old covenant is a denial of the saving work of Christ’s blood. To revert to the old covenant, and animal sacrifice is to declare the blood of animals superior to the blood of Christ. To revert to the Old covenant is to blaspheme the blood of Christ.
But will the Jews, who do not believe that Jesus was the Messiah be accepted under the Old Covenant in the last days?
In order for God to sanction a reversion to the old covenant, He must look past our rejection of the death of His Son. Is He going to do that in the last days? No; that’s the very point of the Gospel, that was the reason that Jesus came so that we could believe in Him and be saved through faith in His sacrifice. As Paul declared under this dispensation (that of the New Covenant) God has concluded all mankind (including the Jews) in unbelief in order that He may have mercy upon hem when they choose to believe in Christ (Romans 11:32). In fact, Paul’s teaching there about the Jews’ being ‘broken off’ of the olive tree is expressly because they believe not in Jesus Christ as their Messiah (Rom. 11:20).
Modern end times theology about the last days – that an earthly temple will be established, and the sacrifice of animals (which the scriptures say could never take away sins (Heb. 10:4)) will be resumed as a PRELIMINARY to antichrist, is a doctrine which abases the Truth of the Gospel. In fact, it is an literally an ‘antichrist doctrine’: a teaching which denies Christ and His completed work.
Were God to revert to the blood of animals after willingly shedding His own would be an utter ABOMINATION, would it not? Don’t worry, God will never reverse the plan of salvation; will never reject the blood of His only begotten Son. The antichrist will, though (and he’ll try to get you to, also: first by deception and flattery, then by force).
What is the abomination of desolation? It is an abomination which causes ‘desolation’: to make the whole world spiritually dead. If all the people of the world adopted animal sacrifice, and even the church accepted the idea that God returned to this abomination – not perceiving the blood of Christ in their understanding – would that constitute ‘desolation’?
Christ came and established a new and better covenant (Heb. 8), why? Because God found fault with the old (v. 7). And that which is old is ready to depart (v. 13). The old covenant is gone: superceded by the New.
This teaching is not only from the New Testament, but the Old Testament predicted it, as it also predicts certain events in the end of days. Let’s consider a prophecy of Zecheriah, who predicted the abolishment of the Old Covenant, AND the future coming of antichrist in the same chapter.
Just as Paul, in Romans refers to the Jews who receive not Jesus Christ as Messiah as Messiah, as being ‘broken off’ from the election (Rom. 11:20), Zechariah the prophet also had predicted this ‘break’ with Messiah.
In context Zechariah is playing out a prophetic drama, becoming a type and a foreshadow of Messiah as the Good Shepherd (Jesus references this prophecy in John 10, and the bit at the end predicting the betrayal of Christ for 30 pieces of silver confirms to us that this prophecy speaks of Christ, and His work as the mediator of a new covenant at His first coming (I actually cover the first part of this prophecy more thoroughly here🙂
And I took my staff, even ‘Beauty,’ and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people.
And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the Lord.
And I said unto them, “If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear.” So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said unto me, “Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was priced at of them. And I took the hirty pieces of silver, and cast hem unto the potter in he house of the Lord.
Then I cut asunder my other staff, even ‘Bands’ that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel. (Zech. 11:10-14)
Here Zechariah prophesies that the old covenant will be ‘broken’ by the Messiah – now, I should distinguish two things here, 1) that the covenant is not the same thing as the law. Christ fulfilled the law, and did not break or abolish it, or the prophets (scripture); 2) Jesus broke the covenant through SUPERCESSION meaning: He completely fulfilled the old covenant and then – in fulfilling it – established a new and better one. I.e. God has not broken any one of His promises, He’s fulfilled them, and then established superior ones.
So when Zechariah predicts that the covenant will be ‘broken’ by Messiah, it means that Messiah will completely do away with the faulty old covenant: it will never return. Again, I cover the central part of this prophecy in greater depth with more specifics in the post linked above. Let’s turn now to the latter part of this prophecy, predicting the antichrist:
15 And the Lord said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd.
16 For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces.
17 Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.
Now, Zechariah has literally just broken his two staffs which he had for shepherding: the instruments of a shepherd. He had named the first ‘Beauty’ signifying the old covenant, and the second, ‘Bands’ signifying the connection between Judah and Israel (the spiritual election of the nation – again, see the earlier post for content i will not wholly re-discuss here).
Yet God now tells him to enact a second prophetic drama which reveals the coming of antichrist, as is told to take those same instuments, which he has just broken (aboloshed): the covenant, and the spiritual election of the nation of Israel. Those are the two things which the antichrist will bring: the instruments of a FOOLISH shepherd, a shepherd who denies the reality that his staves are broken to begin with.
What do I understand that to mean, in light of the new covenant, and the finished work of the cross? That the antichrist will come under the pretence of the old covenant, and the assumption that the nation of Israel is automatically elect of God.
When Jesus came, he had a confrontation with the Sanhedrin (that is: the ruling council of the Scribes and Pharisees) in which He references this prophecy of Zecheriah, He also uses a parable to warn us against antichrists, and advise us how to know them:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the shephfold, but climbeth up some other way the same is a thief and a robber
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in, and out and find pasture.
Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant – the covenant in His blood – is the only True door. If anyone tries to enter by a different way than He, Himself paved in His own blood, that person is a thief and a robber. Those who are teaching that there is some meritin following the old covenant are trying to enter in through another way than the Door.
In verse 16 of Zechariah 11, God describes the antichrist as having the same attributes which Jesus would rebuke the Sanhedrin for in John 10.
The antichrist ‘shall not visit them that be cut off;‘ in context, Jesus’ response to the Sanhedrin in John 10 is actually a continuation of the story of John 9 wherein the Sanhedrin council actually excommunicated (officially cut off from the nation of Israel) a man whom Jesus had healed of blindness for simply insinuating that Jesus might be the Messiah. The whole discourse of John 10 is Jesus standing up for a man who was ‘cut off’ from Israel for His name’s sake. (See also my post: One Fold, One Shepherd)
Jesus helped, healed and ministered to the flock; as it is said: He had compassion on the multitudes because they were as sheep without a shepherd. But Christ rebuked the Sanhedrin because they used the poor for gain, and so shall the antichrist be: not compassionate of the lost, lonely and forsaken, but abusing them to advance his own fame and religious agenda.
Woe to the idol shepherd... the antichrist is called the idol shepherd, they will begin to believe he is Messiah. Yet the sword shall be upon his right arm, and his right eye; God’s wrath will be upon his deeds (his right arm) and his judgment (his right eye). His right arm will be withered: i.e. although he claims to be the anointed, and will indeed perform miracles through satanic power, he has no strength to SAVE whereas Jesus Christ purchased our salvation through the strengh of His own right arm (Ps. 44:3; 98:1; Is. 59:16).
What is the abomination of desolation? According to my interpretation it is not the antichrist himself – though he will eventually claim to be God – but the image he will erect which will cause all the people of the world to reject the redeeming blood of Christ for the blood of animals. What image could possibly do that? A temple in Jerusalem. According to Revelation 13, the antichrist will cause the image to be built, (and all who believe that God will return to the old covenant will agree with, and endorse the blood of animals in place of that of Christ) and will have power to make the image speak – as though the voice of God came from it – and to kill those who will not honor it – as though the wrath of God were displayed from the tabernacle like the days of Moses.
And if this be my interpretation, why write publically on it in the danger of stirring controversy?
Because I know people who have moved to Israel because their theology has convinced them that God will return on the Old Covenant for the Jews in the last days; because even now, as people begin to realize we are nearing the time of the end are studying the false interpretations which have been taught for decades that deny the finished work of the cross and are being led into a great deception (even the great deception that was prophesied) which has the power to nullify their salvation (so says the Apostle about this doctrine (Gal. 5:1-4) which he expressly taught on because it is intrinsic to Gospel.); because even now animal sacrifice has been revived in preperation for the temple, and Christians have been deceived into condoning (forehead), and participating (right hand) in the abomination against the blood of Christ.
The abasement of the blood of Christ is the one thing which scripture clearly teaches (in plain statements) will cause the loss of salvation:
Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite to the Spirit of Grace? (Heb. 10:29)
My beloved brothers, and sisters,
Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.
For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
For yet a little while and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe unto the saving of the soul. (Heb. 10:35-39)