|- J. Preston Eby -
There passes across the pages of Scripture a character who is awesome and appalling. This menacing figure is mysterious; he is hazy and he is enigmatical. Sometimes he is the shady character of a man. Again, he is an evil influence. Then again, he is an angel of light. There is actually no crystal-clear, cameo-cut presentation of him. He moves on the borderline of the natural and the supernatural. John calls him by the name "antichrist". This does not mean, of course, that only John refers to him. He has many names in Scripture, and, as most crooks have aliases, antichrist has more aliases than any person I know of. Also many figures of speech are used in Scripture to speak of him, to set him before us, and they occur again and again. One of these is found in II Thes. 2:1-10 where he is called "the man of sin" .
THE MAN OF SIN
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that lie is God. For the mystery of iniquity does already work: only he who now lets will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming" (II Thes. 2:3-4,7-8).
In these verses it is interesting to note that the "falling away" and the "man of sin" should be so LINKED TOGETHER! Indeed, these two realities have been with us a long, long time. The first person in recorded history to "fall away" from a place in God was Adam, we have all heard of the "fall" of Adam. Of him it is written, by one MAN SIN entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned ... for by ONE MAN'S disobedience M-A-N-Y WERE MADE S-I-N-N-E-R-S" (Rom. 5:12,19). Can we not see by this that Adam was himself a MAN OF SIN. The natural mind is very dark and without understanding. Only the Holy Spirit can give men light. My earnest prayer is that the spirit of wisdom and revelation from God shall shine as a beacon light to guide our footsteps and illumine our pathway as we now go back to the shadowy mists of man's beginning on earth and trace the dilemma, mysterious and sinister, that has bedeviled his path from the dazzling glory of Eden on down to this present time.
"How you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how you are cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds: I will be like the most High. Yet you shall be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see you shall narrowly look upon you, and consider you, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; that made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?" (Isa. 14:12-17).
It should be obvious to every sincere student of God's Word that all truth has applications on different levels. It is my conviction that the inspired statements in the above quoted verses have applications in the spiritual realm and on the historic and prophetic planes as well. The spiritual applications are found in the fall of man from his original position of glory and eminence and, personally, in our own lives as we repeat the very same sin that Adam committed. The historical application refers to the literal king of Babylon in the days of Isaiah who though mighty in political power and an exalted ruler among nations - would fall even as other kings of the past. The prophetical application points to the king of MYSTICAL BABYLON, the chief antichrist of the world's apostate church systems who is not recognized for what he is, but is lauded as the greatest religious leader of our day, by whom even now untold millions of Christians are being deceived. We shall not at this time pursue the historical and prophetical aspects of Isaiah's prophecy, but do want to share briefly concerning the spiritual applications.
I am well aware that the vast majority of Christians, parroting the doctrines of the religious systems, believe and teach that these verses refer to the fall of Satan from heaven away back before human history began. It should not seem strange to the man walking in the Spirit to discover that truth is always as far removed from tradition as the heavens are higher than the earth! The subject of Isaiah's prophecy is "a MAN" - NOT an angelic spirit-being! "Are you the MAN that made the earth to tremble ..."
In the beginning the Father said, "Let us make MAN in our image, after our likeness" (Gen. 1:26). As we compare Scripture to Scripture we learn that there are two Adams, the first was made "in the image and likeness of God" and of the second it is written, "Who is the image of the invisible God ... the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person" (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3). Kenneth Wuest gives us the meaning of the Greek for this word "brightness" as being "out-raying". The sense of the Greek here, he writes, is that there are "rays of light coming out from the original body and forming a similar light-body themselves." What it means, literally, is that "the Son is the out-raying of the divine glory, exhibiting IN HIMSELF the glory and the majesty of the divine Being." The Amplified Bible eloquently renders it thus: "He is the sole expression of the glory of God - the Lightbeing, the outraying of the divine - and He is the perfect imprint and the very image of God's nature..."
When the writer of Hebrews, therefore, stated that the Son is the "brightness of the Father's glory" he meant that the Son is so indwells by the Father that the glory of the Father's nature SHINES FORTH from within Him to the extent that the Son is the express image of His person. The evidence of this "forthshining" was manifested on the mount of transfiguration, where Jesus was transformed before His disciples, which was literally the Father shining forth from within Him. Saul of Tarsus met this same glorious One on the road to Damascus and witnessed, "At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me ... and when we were fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying, Saul, Saul, why persecutes Me? And I said, Who are You, Lord? And He said, I AM JESUS, Whom you persecute" (Acts 26:13-15). The beloved John beheld Him in spirit on Patmos and stated that His countenance was "as the sun shines in its strength." Daniel in corroboration of this statement, said, "His face was as the appearance of lightning." The prophet Ezekiel said, "The earth shined with His glory" (Eze. 43:2).
If this be the glory of the second Adam who fell not, what, O man, was the glory of that first Adam, created in the image and likeness of God, BEFORE HE FELL? Of him it is written, "How you have fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! (How you have fallen from the heavenly realm, Adam!) How you have cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! (How you have lowered into the realm of the flesh, which did sell all men into the bondage of sin and corruption and death!)"
The Bible nowhere states that Lucifer was a name of Satan. This is certain, for Isa. 14:12 is the ONLY place where the word appears in the whole Bible! That whole argument is based entirely upon unfounded assumptions and speculations. The Hebrew word for Lucifer in Isa. 14:12 is "heylel", a word which carries the idea of BRIGHTNESS, LIGHT-BRINGER, LIGHT-BEARER, SHINING ONE, or THE MORNING STAR. It is doubtful if any scholar would insist that the word "Lucifer" is an exact translation of the Hebrew "heylel". Indeed, notice the way it has been translated in the following: "shining star" (Moffat), "shining one" (New World), "day star" (Amplified), "star of the morning" (American Standard), "day star" (Jerusalem Bible), "day star" (RV), etc. How, then, did the name "Lucifer" come to be associated with a term meaning a star, specifically the star of the day, that is, morning?
(For more on the origin of Satan, please see:
THE SERPENT - Where Did the Devil Come From?
"Lucifer", instead of being the name of an angel who became the Devil, WAS THE NAME THE ANCIENTS GAVE TO THE MORNING STAR. Pliny, a noted historian of antiquity, says, "Before the sun revolves, a very large star ... when in advance and rising before dawn receives the name Lucifer, being another sun and bringing the dawn..." Lucifer, the light-bringer, is the Latin equivalent of the Greek word "phosphoros", which is used as a title of CHRIST in II Pet. 1:19. Peter had been discussing the glorious experience that he, along with James and John, had had with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration. Speaking of the voice that spoke to them there, he said, "we have also a more sure word of prophecy (the written Word) whereunto you do well to take heed ... until the day dawn and the DAY STAR (Gr: phosphoros; L: lucifer) arise in your hearts."
I do not have the ability to make this truth any plainer than Jesus Himself made it when He called Himself the "Phosphoros" or the "Lucifer" in Rev. 22:16, saying, "I AM the BRIGHT AND MORNING STAR." Malachi speaks of the rising of this DAY STAR when he says, "The SUN of righteousness shall ARISE with healing in His wings" (Mal. 4:2). In the messages of Christ to the Churches in the book of Revelation a special promise was always given TO HIM THAT OVERCOMES, but to the Church at Thyatira He gave a promise that is worthy to fill every page of this article. May our Lord give us the spirit of revelation to understand what He said, "And he that overcomes...I will give him THE MORNING STAR" (Rev. 2:26,28). Just think of that! Beloved reader, ponder if you will - whether we call it "Day Star", "Morning Star", "Sun", or "Lucifer" - it is all the same. This "rising of the Day Star" in our hearts is the OUT-RAYING of the Christ within, for you see, HE is the Day Star!
If the One called "Day Star" is Satan, we may well ask ourselves why Peter showed such enthusiasm for its rising in our hearts! No, dear ones, the Day Star cannot be Satan at all, but is, rather, "Christ IN YOU, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27), as Paul affirmed in another place, "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined IN OUR HEARTS, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But this treasure we have in earthen vessels..." (II Cor. 4:6-7). It should be obvious to every spiritual mind that what is RECOVERED through the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ is WHAT ADAM HAD IN THE BEGINNING WITH GOD. Adam in the image and likeness of God was so indwells by the life and light and presence of God, so a partaker of the Christ-life, that he was himself a "Day Star" for he was a member of the Perfect Man, which IS CHRIST.
"Lucifer" means "shining one" and Daniel penned these bright words of promise: "And they that be wise SHALL SHINE AS THE BRIGHTNESS OF THE FIRMAMENT; and they that turn many to righteousness AS THE STARS FOR EVER AND EVER" (Dan. 12:3). It is not possible to explain these truths to human satisfaction. The things that eye has not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man MUST BE REVEALED to us by the Spirit. You see I God is light and when that God-light works its way out into our outer-man we begin to shine as the firmament. The Day Star is the OUTRAYING of the Father, the FORTHSHINING of the Son; it is being "filled with all the fullness of God", it is "Christ formed in you" and it is "the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness".
No, Lucifer is not Satan. Lucifer is the Perfect Man, in truth the very image of God, the out-raying of His life and nature. Lucifer is Christ in His fullness, the Alpha and the Omega together, the First and the Last in one, Jesus of Nazareth the Head, one body with a vast family of Sons in one glorious manifestation of Sonship. My spirit sings, Amen! Jesus declared, "You are the LIGHT of the world!" In the light of this glorious revelation of what the Day Star really is, I do not wonder that, when John saw the glory of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, he especially noted that the city had "the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious...and the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them that are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it. And... there shall be no night there" (Rev. 21:11, 23-25).
The day is coming when the Day Star shall have so arisen in our hearts, when the Son shall so shine forth from all those many Sons who shall have been fully brought to HIS GLORY, that all we look upon shall be flooded with heavenly light! It is from such a realm of glory and eminence and blessing that Adam fell! Since the transgression in Eden long ago, men's spirits have been fallen. They have no power but to receive light and reflections from without, but in the beginning the spirit of man was intended, not only to RECEIVE light, but to BE light and to GIVE light. This is even now a wonderful reality in Christ, for "you were sometimes darkness, but now YOU ARE LIGHT in the Lord: walk as children of light" (Eph.5:8). Ah, we are now light in the Lord, but the measure of light we now are is small indeed, in comparison with the light that shall be revealed at the manifestation of the Sons of God. For the sight of this glorious unveiling the whole creation stands on tip-toe, and it shall come to pass that all that is looked upon by the Sons of God will be FLOODED WITH THE LIGHT OF LIFE, for the creation shall then be delivered from the bondage of corruption (Rom. 8:19-21).
Yes, the world is filled with darkness - the darkness of sin and death - but hear, O child of God, what the Lord has spoken of this great and terrible darkness in which men now grope about: "Arise, shine; for your light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon you, and HIS GLORY SHALL BE SEEN UPON YOU. And the NATIONS SHALL COME TO YOUR LIGHT, and KINGS TO THE BRIGHTNESS OF YOUR RISING" (Isa. 60:1-3).
How great the tragedy, then, that we see in these words: "How you have fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!" Adam, walking in perfection, reflecting the glory of God, the express image of the Father, filling the earth with light and glory and righteous dominion, fell from that place in the heavenlies because of the sin of SELF, and the Day Star no longer shone from within. Adam could no longer be called the "shining one" for the light of God had departed from him, and he knew "that he was naked" (Gen. 3:7). I have stated that it was the sin of SELF that brought about the fall of Adam (who, because of the fall could no longer be called Lucifer) and we see this evidenced in the "I WILL" of Isa. 13-14: "I WILL ascend into heaven, I WILL exalt my throne above the STARS of God ... I WILL ascend ABOVE the height of the clouds; I WILL BE LIKE THE MOST HIGH." When, you ask, did Adam say these things? This was his response, in the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, to the serpent's temptation: "YOU shall be as gods!" You see, Adam was not content to have God manifested THROUGH him. He desired to be a god in his own right. He was not content to be the outshining of the Father he wanted to BE the Father! He was not content to allow the authority of God to rule and operate THROUGH him. He wanted to take the dominion himself. The temptation that the serpent offered was merely the articulation of the secret desires Of Adam's SELF NATURE: "I will be like the Most High." And the punishment portrayed in Isa. 14:15 is just another way of saying, "In the day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die." Hear it! "You shall be brought down to hell (the whole dread realm of sorrow and death), to the sides of the pit (darkness, limitation)."
As we meditate upon these sobering words of judgment, we cannot imagine words that more exactly describe the tragic picture of the fall of man from his exalted position in God. Driven from the Garden, no more could Adam hear the voice of God walking in the cool of the day - he no longer possessed spiritual ears. No more could Adam eat of the blessed fruit of the tree of life - he no longer possessed a spiritual mind. No more could Adam behold the glories of that heavenly realm - he no longer possessed spiritual eyes. He who had never known anything but the rest of God was to labor and toil in the earth. The heavens were closed, the communion with the Spirit was broken, and Adam found himself stripped of the life and light and dominion that had been his - he no longer possessed a spiritual nature. What a loss! What an unspeakable loss!
When Adam fell we all fell with him. Because one man sinned, we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Can we not see by this that in the Adam-nature lies the very root of the MAN OF SIN? Truly, ADAM IS THE MAN who made the earth to tremble that shook kingdoms, and made the earth a wilderness, for it was to him and to him alone that these terrible words were spoken: "Cursed is the ground (earth realm) for your sake" (Gen. 3:17). When God formed man He placed him in Eden, a kingdom of peace and righteousness and power; but when Adam sinned, he and all his descendants were cast out into a wilderness of sin, suffering, and death. Now poor, sin-laden mankind, darkened in mind and impoverished in spirit, is forever spending money for that which is not bread and laboring for that which satisfies not. Vainly they imagine that their thirst can be satisfied by partaking of the stagnant waters of earth s fleshly cisterns. Like lost sheep they wander through the wilderness of life seeking satisfaction and finding none. Place after place they roam in their pitiful search for the fountain that satisfies, but find it they never can until at last they come to Christ. They fill the bars and nightclubs to buy wine and strong drink that can do no more than dull their senses, unleashing their passions and rage. They throng the places of pleasure in their unending longing to satisfy the thirst that is within them. They fill their lives with the vanity of things and more things, only to find that all they have attained rises to mock them in the end. In the past few years (from 1982) we have beheld the specter of the Shah of Iran - a man in possession of billions of this world's wealth, but sick unto death, homeless, without a country and hated by all except those few who thought his presence might add somewhat to their own storehouse - now dead and buried in a strange land. This is the way of the world. No satisfaction can be gained from its fountains, for all its potions are libations of death.
Yes, beloved, within the Adam-nature lies the root of the "man of sin" who brought this dread condition and we are all too aware of the inbred power of sin. "I am SOLD under sin," Paul lamented, "for by MAN came SIN," he said again. We know the meaning of this bondage and slavery, and our hearts cry out with Paul, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Rom. 7:24). As it has been stated, "We literally weep these words from hearts that are weary of sin!" The spirit of Adam, the man of sin, is within every man. The unvarnished truth is that he dwells within the saved man as well as in the unconverted. Is not this what Paul meant when he wrote, "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling way first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition: who opposes and exalts HIMSELF above all that is called God; so that he AS GOD sits in the temple of God, showing HIMSELF that he IS God" (II Thes. 2:3-4). This is precisely why, after the first few holy years of the early Church, there arose an apostasy, a FALLING AWAY of such a dark and dreadful nature that that Church, once glorious, actually BECAME the swaggering, filthy harlot, rich and increased with goods and having need of nothing, drunken with the blood of saints, riding in pomp and arrogance upon the back of the bestial system of this evil world.
The principle never changes! Adam "fell away" from his pure walk in the Spirit to become the "man of sin" in that dawning day. The hearts of God's people in the early Church "fell away" from the love of the truth and the simplicity that is in Christ, so that the "man of sin" became revealed in the temple of God. This has been the course in dealing after dealing, revival after revival, move of God after move of God. It sounds strange, but it is true ... and it is true in our day. God brings a people out of religious Babylon, they desire the liberty of the Spirit in their midst, they profess that they want Christ to have His Lordship in their lives, and for a while they so walk, but, err long, the unsanctified MAN OF SIN arises in their hearts, and pursuing the vision of God, following the Lamb wheresoever He goes becomes burdensome to their flesh, and someone cries out, "Give us a leader, someone who will tell us what we are supposed to do, someone who can organize this thing, and get every one involved in some kind of activity, and make the Church 'grow', someone who can make us like the other Churches around us!" And after every new moving of the Spirit of God in the earth, as the sovereign presence of the Spirit begins to ebb away, sooner or later SELF exalts HIMSELF in the temple of God men set up a pattern of Church life and ritual very much like the old ways they were accustomed to in their former bondage, and there is a reoccurrence of THE FALL once again!
That MAN OF SIN of whom Paul spoke is none other than the old Adamic-nature, the self-life ego of this old creation sitting on the throne of a man's life, usurping the throne of HIS LORDSHIP in our own temple, setting himself up in self-will against the Father's will, making himself to be, instead of the Spirit, the owner and master and captain of our lives. We are, one and all, partakers of the same ADAMIC MIND which caused the first man to fall into the power of sin and death, and that is why, too, that even for the saint of God "there has no temptation taken you but such as is COMMON TO MAN" (I Cor. 10:13).
IN THE TEMPLE OF GOD
Tales of fiction and the most absurd imaginations of childhood furnish no parallel to the extreme notions of some of God's dear children who have naively swallowed the carnal interpretations of natural minded theologians of the religious systems. Untold millions of Christians have lived in great fear of the arising of the dreadful MAN OF SIN. He is supposed to be a world political leader, sinister and tyrannical, the incarnation of Evil, the very offspring of the Devil, and the ruthless enemy of the Jews. He is to be revealed after what they call the "rapture", and will make his headquarters in Jerusalem. His manifestation marks the beginning of Daniel's 70th week, according to their teaching. The Scofield Reference Bible, Blackstone and other authorities(?) in general, subscribe to this view although there is almost unlimited speculation on the details.
There are many basic fallacies in the popular interpretation of this Scripture. First of all, Paul is addressing the "brethren" rather than the Jews. The "brethren" would not be affected since they are to be "raptured", and no warning is intimated to the Jews who are supposed to be the victims of the man of sin. In II Thes. 2:7, Paul said that the mystery of iniquity "does ALREADY WORK." This statement cannot fit in with something that is to start some two thousand years later, after the "rapture". After Paul warned the brethren about the man of sin he exhorted them to STAND FAST and hold the teachings they had received (vs. 15). This would be nonsensical advice if it was not meant to be headed for two thousand years!
Oh! may God give us spiritual minds to discern Paul's SPIRITUAL MEANING as he identifies the roots of this man of sin and declares, "For the mystery of iniquity does already work" (II Thes. 2:7). Iniquity - the Greek word here means LAWLESSNESS - without law. And while it is true that we are no longer bound by the old ceremonial laws, the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which has been taken out of the way, nailed to His cross (Col. 2:14), we are not now lawless, for in the heavenly realm we have been brought into relationship with THE L-A-W OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS (Rom. 8:2). The laws of Moses were natural laws designed for natural men, but God would now bring His elect into complete harmony with HIS SPIRITUAL LAWS, so that as heavenly men we are ordered aright in His ways. Jesus touched on these higher laws of the Kingdom when He said, "Not every one that says unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but HE THAT DOES THE WILL of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? and in Your name have cast out devils? and in Your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you that work INIQUITY" (Mat. 7:21-23).
There are two classes of people which immediately stand out in this passage of Scripture, THOSE WHO DO THE WILL OF THE FATHER, and THOSE WHO WORK INIQUITY. I think we know, at least in a measure, what Jesus means when He speaks of those who do the will of the Father, for these are they who have been so dealt with by God's hand that they have surrendered their own will into HIS WILL. They have been taught His laws, commandments, precepts, ways, etc. by the Spirit and they delight to do them. These would say with Christ, "I am able to do nothing from Myself independently, of My own accord; but as I am taught by God and as I get His orders - because I do not seek or consult My own will I have no desire to do what is pleasing to Myself, My own aim, My own purpose but ONLY THE WILL AND THE PLEASURE OF THE FATHER" (Jn. 5:30, Amplified).
It is this other group, the "WORKERS OF INIQUITY", that we would briefly consider. These are not the ungodly who aren't even aware that there is a Kingdom to be received, for such, being dead in trespasses and sins, must first be awakened into spiritual life, and then they can hear the gospel of the Kingdom, and be led therein. But these are religious folk who do cry, "Lord, Lord,..." They know that HE is supposed to be LORD in their life, the message of HIS LORDSHIP has reached them, but they still continue to take their own way, rather than God's, and try to operate in the Kingdom on their own terms. "Workers of iniquity" without law. These would work according to their own designs and programs, their own plans and objectives, and forget, forsake, cast aside, disannul the laws of God, the ways of His Spirit, the principles of His Kingdom. They boast in their works, for they have prophesied, cast out devils, held large meetings, touched many lives, and done mighty things - BUT NOT ACCORDING TO THE LAWS OF GOD.
Rather than ministering by the law of the Spirit of life, much of their ministry, teaching, prophesying, praying, healings, etc. are but a cloak to conceal a servitude to the same old flesh and ego of the carnal nature as they seek a following, to build a name for themselves, and a kingdom, to usurp control over other men's lives, and to fleece the people of their hard earned money to support their many schemes to save the nation or convert the world. They would prophesy or lay hands on anyone they think will follow after them, or fill their coffers with money, and forget the admonition to "lay hands suddenly on no man" (I Tim. 5:22). The point is clear, all our so-called spiritual works, if done outside the law of God, if done out of our own zeal and initiative, and not under the leadership and control of HIS SPIRIT, become a manifestation of lawlessness. Such can never be partakers of the Kingdom which God has held in reserve for those who become ONE IN HIS WILL.
Have you noticed, precious saint of God, that Paul does not say of the man of sin, or the man of lawlessness, that he is BORN - but that he is REVEALED. It does not say that he suddenly emerges upon the world scene, nor that he seizes political power, nor that he marshals vast armies - but simply that he is REVEALED! The whole world has been waiting for the man of sin to be revealed, and now by the grace of the Holy Spirit HE IS BEING REVEALED as the Lord makes known to His apprehended ones the awful depth of our own carnal minds, self-will, and inherent sin faithfully and relentlessly purging, refining, crushing, and stripping us of all that pertains to the self-ego of Adam's nature.
The moment you understand this truth, you will also be able to grasp the fact that the destruction of the man of sin comes AT THE TIME HE IS REVEALED. "And THEN shall that Wicked be REVEALED, whom the Lord shall CONSUME with the spirit of His mouth, and shall DESTROY with the brightness of His coming" (II Thes. 2:8). This man of sin within will do everything in his power to conceal his identity, for his discovery is his undoing! He is hidden, not to God and Christ, but to the man who is not walking in the Spirit. As our lives become exposed to the life and light of Christ the man of sin IS REVEALED, uncovered, exposed - then to be dealt with, destroyed, consumed by the bright-burning of the arising of the Day Star within our hearts. If the cunning, craftiness, subtleness, deceitfulness, treachery, and wickedness of your own carnal mind is being uncovered, revealed, exposed by the Spirit's dealings, then know, beloved, that THE HOUR OF HIS DESTRUCTION IS AT HAND! The order is: REVEALED ... DESTROYED! Glory!
The Psalmist alluded to this process when he penned these inspired words, "HE WEAKENED M-Y STRENGTH IN THE WAY; He shortened my days" (Ps. 102:23). It is in bringing us to the end of ourselves, that we are prepared to rise up solely in HIS STRENGTH. It is the subduing of our will that brings us to the place where we fervently pray, "not my will, but Yours, be done." In ways which HE knows best, He strips His Sons of every prop of the flesh, removes their self-made reputations, demolishes their personal kingdoms, dries up the fountains of their own soulish activities, and tenderly and carefully draws them aside into a separated walk where He unfolds truth and works it deep into their very being. God has endured with much longsuffering all the self-seeking of carnal men, who have presumed to speak and work in His name, and while they have usurped their positions and made their claims, He has secretly and silently prepared HIS OWN LITTLE FLOCK of disciplined ones to whom He shall GIVE the Kingdom!
Call to remembrance here that the man of sin "exalts himself above all...so that he AS GOD sits IN THE TEMPLE OF GOD" (II Thes. 2:4). It is quite important that we understand just what Paul meant by his use of the term "temple of God". The popular teaching is that Paul was speaking of a future rebuilt JEWISH TEMPLE in Jerusalem. But a careful study of every reference that Paul made to the "temple of God" reveals that he NEVER applied this term to the Jewish temple! When the Bible speaks of the complete, literal temple, the word "hieron" is used. This word is used 71 times in the New Testament in reference to the temple at Jerusalem. On the other hand, the word that Paul used for temple is "naos" which refers not to the complete, literal temple, but to the Holy Place, the dwelling of God. And the dwelling place of God is now THE CHURCH WHICH IS HIS BODY.
Would God that all the saints might see that God's purpose from the foundation of the world has been the building a spiritual house, a holy temple, an eternal abiding place in which He can be at home, and in which place He and His creation can meet. It is a temple made up of living stones. Every stone is a redeemed person and every stone is a person upon whom the mighty hand of God has been laid in dealing. More than three thousand years ago Solomon built a magnificent temple of stone and precious materials. He overlaid it with gold and adorned it with silver. So wonderful was it that the Queen of Sheba stood transfixed at the sight. But the temple built by Solomon was only an ephemeral foreshadow of the living temple which Christ would build by the Spirit - a temple not made with hands.
The beautiful temple in Jerusalem was a type and shadow of good things to come (Heb. 10:1; Col. 2:16-17). Praise God, we are living in the days of those good things to come, a full realization of which causes us to bow our heads in awe and wonderment. These fulfillments are so astounding that to many they will seem fantastic. As with the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, so the temple of old was made according to the pattern of the true tabernacle which Moses saw in the mount, and in spite of all teachings to the contrary, there will never be another temple built to take the place of or to serve the same ends as that which passed away with the destruction of Jerusalem. That temple was only the shadow of better things to come: merely the natural type of the spiritual reality which Moses saw in the mount and after which he patterned that shadow. So wherever we see reference to a temple of the present or future, it MUST refer to "the true sanctuary, and the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man" (Heb. 8:2).
Furthermore, there is only one such tabernacle, or temple. The Word nowhere tells of two, or three, or one hundred, one away off somewhere in space where Jesus is ministering, another in Jerusalem built by the Jews, and another spiritual one composed of living stones. There is but ONE temple, ONE great High Priest, and ONE royal priesthood. So when the priests of old served "unto the example and shadow of heavenly things" (Heb. 8:5), those heavenly things were the same that Moses saw in the mount, and the same heavenly things to which we have now come. We "are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem" (Heb. 12:22). Let us never forget that fact!
Listen to the words of Peter as he presses this golden truth home to the understanding hearts of the saints. "If you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, Who came as unto a LIVING STONE, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, YOU ALSO, as LIVELY STONES, are built up a SPIRITUAL HOUSE, AN HOLY PRIESTHOOD, TO OFFER UP SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (I Pet. 2:3-5). This superb gem of revelation vividly reveals just what the temple of God really is. Not a temple of dead stones, but of living stones, each stone a spiritually living person. Not covered with glittering gold, but overshadowed by God, Not adorned with silver, but founded on redemption. Not fashioned with glittering, precious stones, but with the eternal jewels of His own nature, glory, and power!
It cannot be temporal or transient as were the temples of Israel which were all destroyed in turn. The temple which is Christ's body is eternal in the heavenlies. It is not earthly nor does it belong to the earthly realm, but to an heavenly. It is not of corruption, but of incorruption. Paul wrote of it thus: "The temple o God is holy, which temple YOU ARE" (I Cor. 3:17). "Know not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?" (I Cor. 6:19). "For you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them" (II Cor. 6:16).
Sometimes I have tried to get it clear in my soul that God is in me. I have meditated upon the indwelling influence and power of that pure, sweet, living Spirit of the eternal God. I have come to continually live in the conscious awareness of His presence in my spirit, in my soul, in my hands, in my body, in my person, in my being - the habitation of God, God preparing me to minister to the world, equipping my spirit, soul, and body to live forever in harmony with the mind of God. All the God-like qualities of your life are due to the fact that God by His Spirit dwells in you. You are the temple of God! That is the wonder of the indwelling Spirit. It is not a work of grace; it is God possessing you. Oh, your heart may have been as sinful as the heart of man was ever sinful. But Christ comes to your spirit. That spirit of darkness that possessed you goes and in its stead, a new spirit comes to your spirit, your spirit is quickened by HIS SPIRIT, and Christ LIVES IN YOU! The knowledge of this sublime truth will make you holy. No one can ever thus see his place in God and yet remain in carnality. Should one claim to see these truths and yet remain as he was before, then he has not seen by the Spirit, but by the natural mind only. Away with all sin and pride! Away with all selfseeking, self-indulgence, and self-promotion! Away with the MAN OF SIN who usurps the place of Christ in His temple!
If you are one of the many who believe that the temple of God is the harlot Church where the Pope reigns, or a future Jewish temple in Jerusalem, I must tell you that neither qualifies as THE TEMPLE OF GOD. That swaggering, drunken, Idolatrous harlot called MYSTERY BABYLON is not the temple of God, rather, it is the great antichrist system that supplants the true temple. In the book of Revelation it is clear that the temple of God is not Mystery Babylon, neither is it the Jew's temple, but an eternal, holy abiding place which our God is building for Himself. And let us not forget that God will never vacate this temple. God will never vacate this heavenly temple to return to a temple made with hands. To do so would be to set aside and deny the Christ of Calvary, and to render that sacrifice of Calvary impotent and of no avail. There will never be another sacrifice for sin offered (Heb. 10:10-14). There will never again be a temple for the offering of such sacrifices!
More than 1900 years ago Jesus spoke to the Jews, saying, "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate" (Mat. 23:38). This, if you can receive it, was a pronouncement of doom upon a city which had not received its King. He is saying that the PRESENCE, and the GLORY OF GOD had departed from Judah. God took His presence even from the Holy of Holies in the temple, leaving their house desolate to them. It seems to me that when Jesus the Christ was born that the PRESENCE of God left the dwelling place in the Holy of Holies and came upon and into the child Jesus, taking up His abiding place in flesh. All of those years the priests had been offering sacrifices to God who was not in His accustomed dwelling place, though they did not know. He had left His centuries old habitation and had moved into a body of flesh, the body of His Son. All of the world was ignorant of this for we read in Jn.1:10, "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not."
At the crucifying of Jesus, God drew a curtain of darkness over the earth and blotted out everything from sight. Beneath the cover of that dense darkness God tore the temple veil from top to bottom so that ANY mortal man or woman could enter the Holy of Holies, the former abode of God, and plainly see and know that HE WAS NOT THERE. This Holy of Holies was empty. God was establishing something entirely new and different. Beneath the cover of darkness God ripped open that veil and let the whole world see that He had departed, leaving that room empty. It was desolate, and now this was the beginning of the end for Jerusalem. And I want to say again, in spite of what many tell us, WE WILL NEVER SEE ANOTHER TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM. Are we so foolish to even entertain the blasphemous thought that God would allow the unbelieving Jews to go back to Jerusalem to build another temple? To again institute animal sacrifices AFTER CHRIST HAS BEEN OFFERED ONCE FOR ALL? That would be the height of mockery! To think that God would again ordain Israel to shed the blood of bulls and goats, after having slain the HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL can be nothing short of ludicrous.
Ah, what must have been the thoughts of the priesthood as they returned to the temple! What must have been the feelings of the priests who had remained in the temple! When the darkness was lifted and the desolation seen and they discovered they could enter into the Holy of Holies and not suffer death! Then they must have known that something catastrophic had taken place. Surely a deep, inward fear seized them. They would not dare breathe a hint of this to the people! They must hide the facts and continue on with the form of the sacrifices as though nothing had happened.
We read in Mat. 24:1-2, "And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and His disciples came to Him for to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." In A.D. 70 Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the temple just as the Lord Jesus said, and not one stone was left upon another. History records (see Jewish Talmud & Maimonides) that Terentius Rufus, who was left to command the army at Jerusalem, did with a ploughshare tear up the foundations of the temple. Josephus, the Jewish historian, states that all the rest of the city was so demolished and leveled with the ground, that they who came to see it, could not believe that it was ever inhabited. If you doubt that, look at the wailing wall in Jerusalem today. A brother who has made numerous trips to Jerusalem states that the thing that amazes him about the wailing wall IS THE KINDS OF STONES THAT ARE IN IT. There are stones from Solomon's temple, from the temple of the days of Ezra and Haggai, and from every other period. The wall existing today is not the remains of any ONE temple, just a re-laying of rubble from them all. One stone was literally not left upon another, and the prophecy of Jesus was fulfilled!
Several years ago I read an account about plans that were under way to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, that stones had already been cut in Indiana and shipped to Israel! Here is the story as it appeared in one magazine in August, 1967: "Israeli government representatives have ordered 60,000 tons of the finest Bedford stone from Bedford, Indiana, to be used in the erection of the Jerusalem temple. Five hundred railcar loads of stone from Bedford, considered to be among the finest building stone in the world, is being freighted pre-cut to exact specifications, and one consignment has already been dispatched to Israel. Shipments are being handled by Pier 26 in New York. This report, received from authoritative sources in Sellersburg, Indiana, said that cornerstones for the Third Temple are already in Israel. Materials for this temple have been in secret preparation for seven years, and it is believed American Jews are mainly responsible for financially undergirding the whole project..."
Those who hold the rapture-seven-year-tribulation theory became quite excited! The story was carried in religious papers and magazines. A few weeks later, however, it was discovered that the story had no basis in fact. It was a hoax. A minister in New York inquired at the New York harbor about the matter. He found there was no such pier as that named, no such shipment of stone, that there was not a word of truth in the whole fabrication! The paper from which the above was taken was honest enough to admit the error and included the following letter from the Jewish Ambassador in London: "Allow me to refer to a story in a recent issue of your publication concerning the shipping of stones from the U.S.A. for the alleged purpose of rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem. I would like to point out that this story is an absolute and complete fabrication in all its aspects. There are no such plans for the rebuilding of the Temple, no shipments for such a purpose have been made from the U.S.A. or elsewhere, and the matter has not been considered either in secrecy (as the report alleges) or openly. In view of the fact that the Temple area is now occupied by shrines of other faiths, both Christian and Moslem, and we would never touch these, the entire story must be considered an invention."
God is not looking for a temple of stone in which to dwell. GOD HAS A TEMPLE! A temple that the hands of men did not build or plan. He not only WILL dwell in this temple, BUT HE IS NOW IN IT. Every stone of this temple is living. Every stone is speaking. Every stone is breathing the breath of eternal, incorruptible life. The living stones in this temple are the members of the body of Christ. They are Sons of God and members of HIS FAMILY. By adding them to Himself God is expanding Himself, as a man by fathering many sons expands his family and himself. By God's family of Sons the holy temple of the Lord will fill the universe with HIMSELF, for the saints are the fullness of Him who fills all in all. From this temple of Sons our God will reconcile all things unto Himself and rule the universe in righteousness for evermore.
For two thousand years it has been rising on the foundation of the apostles and prophets and the flaming words of the prophet Malachi are even now being fulfilled: "THE LORD, WHOM YOU SEEK, SHALL SUDDENLY COME TO HIS TEMPLE. Behold, He shall come, says the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appears? for He is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall PURIFY the sons of Levi (the royal priesthood), and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness" (Mal. 3:1-3). Praise God! He is, reigning within His own, to dethrone the man of sin (self-ego, Adamic mind) which sits in the very temple of God, proclaiming HIMSELF as god, and striving for his own will and way. That SELF is being dethroned is evident as more and more of God's elect come to that place of experience where we pray, in spirit and in truth, "not my will, but YOURS, be done.
Writings in This Series: