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Insight #7 May 19, 2018
MAY 19, 2018
“MATTHEW 24, 25”
A trio of news headlines this week illustrates our current lesson study. 
1 - False Messiah
Our memory verse points to events that are both past and yet future:
" 'For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect' " (Matthew 24:24, NIV)
Our world has yet to experience the full manifestation of this prophecy.
"As spiritualism more closely imitates the nominal Christianity of the day, it has greater power to deceive and ensnare. Satan himself is converted, after the modern order of things. He will appear in the character of an angel of light. Through the agency of spiritualism, miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and many undeniable wonders will be performed. And as the spirits will profess faith in the Bible, and manifest respect for the institutions of the church, their work will be accepted as a manifestation of divine power" (GC, p. 588).
Eventually, "Satan will not only appear as a human being, but he will impersonate Jesus Christ, and the world who has rejected the truth will receive him as the lord of lords, and king of kings. He will exercise his power and work upon the human imagination" (MS89, 1894).
Now, let us consider the events of this week. The United States has taken the unprecedented step of moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Evangelicals are elated. Why? Because many true-hearted Christians believe that the biblical promises made to Israel will be fulfilled in the literal state of Israel today, culminating with Jesus' return to bring peace on earth for a thousand years.
Satan is not unmindful of these deceptions; far from it, he is the progenitor of them. While many are looking for Messiah to show up in Jerusalem and reign, Satan is preparing his last, almost overmastering deception.
Can you imagine "Jesus" showing up in Jerusalem and bringing complete peace to the Middle East? Imagine seeing him on TV or the internet working miracles and healing people. We cannot underestimate the impact such events would have. Satan's disguise will be near perfect. He will look like Jesus and sound like Jesus. He will speak the words of Jesus. And he will claim that he has changed God's law. In the face of all the miraculous signs and wonders, who wouldn't be tempted to believe the lie? Even the elect, if possible, will stumble.
A little understood text in Daniel may predict just such a scenario as the power behind the king of the North is more explicitly revealed:
"But news from the east and the north
          [the proclamation of the true gospel and of Jesus' soon return]
shall trouble him
          [Satan -- he has worked through many powers, now he steps in personally to carry out his deception];
therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many
          [the object of Satan's wrath are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus].
"And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain
          [he will capitalize on the expectation of his expected temporal reign by making Jerusalem the center of his earthly kingdom];
yet he shall come to his end
          [Satan ultimately fails],
and no one will help him"
          [his final end is certain]
(Daniel 11:44, 45).
2 - Birth pains
Of all the signs Jesus foretold of His return, a recurring theme is the increasing frequency of famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. He described these events as the beginning of sorrows (Greek: birth pains; Matt. 24:7,8). Any mother plainly understands birth pains. Sporadic and unpredictable at first, contractions can occur long before the arrival of the baby. Eventually, however, a change occurs. Contractions become regular and pain intensifies indicating the birth of the child is imminent.
Even so, Jesus pointed to the frequency and intensity of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions on earth as an unmistakable sign of His return: "Heavings of earth tell the vast wondering throng, Jesus is coming again!"
The volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occurring on the Big Island of Hawaii this week portend greater events to come:
"Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.' For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men" (2 Peter 3:3-7).
As we watch the awesome pictures of lava spewing forth from Kilauea, our thoughts turn to scenes long foretold:
"More terrible manifestations than the world has ever yet beheld, will be witnessed at the second advent of Christ. 'The mountains quake at Him and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at His presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before His indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of His anger?' Nahum 1:5, 6….
"As lightnings from heaven unite with the fire in the earth, the mountains will burn like a furnace, and will pour forth terrific streams of lava, overwhelming gardens and fields, villages and cities. Seething molten masses thrown into the rivers will cause the waters to boil, sending forth massive rocks with indescribable violence and scattering their broken fragments upon the land. Rivers will be dried up. The earth will be convulsed; everywhere there will be dreadful earthquakes and eruptions" (PP, pp. 109, 110).
3 - The Royal Wedding
With the turmoil of earthquakes, wars, and rumors of wars constantly barraging our senses, news of the royal wedding taking place this week is a welcome diversion to many. To put it in perspective, however, we must acknowledge that all earthly kingdoms come to an end when Jesus returns to this earth (Daniel 2:44). Accordingly, royalty is fleeting and limited to this life. When kings and queens of the earth are resurrected, they will no longer retain their earthly titles or crowns. The kingdoms of this world will be replaced by the kingdom of God, which shall never end.
That said, a royal wedding still captures the romantic notion of a lovely princess marrying a handsome prince and experiencing lifelong love and happiness. This scenario should turn our hearts heavenward.
How many of us are considering the royal wedding yet to take place? Christ, the heavenly bridegroom, has chosen an unexpected bride. No untainted princess she, no, His bride has defiled herself with other lovers and played the harlot. Her background is rather pathetic: she is wretched, poor, miserable, blind, and naked. Yet He sought her when she sought Him not. He cared not what others might think of His choice in pursuing one so undesirable.
"From heaven He came and sought her to be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died."
To win His bride, Jesus revealed His matchless charms. Though a Prince and a King, He disguised Himself in the garb of humanity so she would fall in love with Him for who He is, not for what she could get from Him (wealth, status, eternal security).
It is this the consummation of this marriage for which Jesus and the onlooking universe wait with eager anticipation. 
When the ten virgins (all professing to be His bride) awaken from sleep after a long delay, five are lacking oil for their lamps. The work of the Holy Spirit is to lift up Jesus. In the message proclaimed in 1888 and thereafter a message was sent to prepare Christ's bride for the wedding. Sadly, she was offended, even embarrassed by the humility of her suitor. The story of the cross and the infinite sacrifice made to redeem her did not stir her heart with gratitude. The offense of the cross caused her to stumble.
"Yet saints their faith are keeping; their cry goes up, 'How long?'
And soon the night of weeping shall be the morn of song."
Someday soon the onlooking universe will proclaim:
" 'Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready' " (Revelation 19:7).
~Patti Guthrie