One of the saddest portions in all of Scripture, in my opinion, is 2 Kings 25:8–17, where we read that the beautiful house of the Lord was burned down, the wealth of the temple was looted, and God’s city, Jerusalem, was laid waste by Babylon.
“In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month—that was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. And he burned the house of the LORD and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem. And the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had deserted to the king of Babylon, together with the rest of the multitude, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile. But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and plowmen. And the pillars of bronze that were in the house of the LORD, and the stands and the bronze sea that were in the house of the LORD, the Chaldeans broke in pieces and carried the bronze to Babylon. And they took away the pots and the shovels and the snuffers and the dishes for incense and all the vessels of bronze used in the temple service, the fire pans also and the bowls. What was of gold the captain of the guard took away as gold, and what was of silver, as silver. As for the two pillars, the one sea, and the stands that Solomon had made for the house of the LORD, the bronze of all these vessels was beyond weight. The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and on it was a capital of bronze. The height of the capital was three cubits. A latticework and pomegranates, all of bronze, were all around the capital. And the second pillar had the same, with the latticework.”1
This is what the Lord warned Judah would happen. He had warned Israel, as well. He repeatedly told His people to turn away from idols and return to Him. Nevertheless, all that the Lord had planned for His chosen people, to whom belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, the promises, the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, the Christ (Romans 9:4–5) was lost to them. Thankfully, they can be grafted back into the olive tree (Romans 11:23).
However, something else saddens me even more. It is this warning concerning the Church and what must happen before the Day of the Lord comes:
“Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4).
Let’s try to wrap our brains around the certainty of that event. That falling away, that apostasy will happen, just as surely as the sun rises.
When Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3), the very first thing He said—and therefore I conclude the issue about which He was most concerned—was not earthquakes, wars, and signs in the heavens. The first thing He said was, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray” (Matthew 24:4–5).
I don’t know what it will take for those who are called Christians to be led astray by people coming in Jesus’ name, claiming to be the Christ. I know this has happened in limited ways at various times in the last two thousand years, but it hasn’t been “many” as Jesus said it would be. In my opinion, a series of catastrophic events must take place, things so life-threatening that people will yearn for a savior to come and rescue them. Going to church had been great for them. They knew their church’s doctrine and considered it good. Fellowship was encouraging. But something or a series of somethings will occur that will cause them to turn away.
Perhaps that falling way is happening now. Perhaps it has been in motion for longer than I know. I am greatly disheartened by what I see happening in the Church.
The following passage troubles me, and I think it should trouble you, too, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ.
“And the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:6–8).
I want to be one who has faith when the Son of Man comes.
This one engenders a large measure of concern, as well:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21–23).
Because of these truths and warnings, I am compelled to pray for the Church. It is my duty. I encourage you to do the same.
The days are short. Jesus said two thousand years ago that night is coming when no one can work (John 9:4).
1All scripture quotations from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Thanks to Ben Williams for the photo.