One of the most troubling passages for me concerning the last days is 2 Thessalonians 2:3: “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…” This word “rebellion” is the Greek word apostasia, and it has meanings of falling away, departure, and abandonment. Our English word “apostasy” comes from this word.

Is it true that before the Lord Jesus returns, the Church will fall away? Jesus said this: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:9–13).

This is a bit chilling, because Jesus tells us in these verses that Christians will be hated by all nations for the sake of His name. All nations would include…all nations. I have been wondering lately what believers in the West will do when they are perceived as the enemies of culture. What will become of all the methods of attraction that seeker sensitive churches have done to get people through their doors? That will be difficult when Christians are considered bigots and haters. The members of our cultures won’t care how contemporary our music, dramas, and videos are. We will be despised. Jesus made it clear again in John 15:18–19: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

So, that many will fall away is not surprising, is it? Who wants to be detested by his own culture? I don’t. I like making friends. And that we will betray one another shouldn’t be surprising, either. We all want to be accepted and desire to be friendly with acquaintances and shopkeepers. The heat will be on to avoid being perceived as a backward adherent to an ancient religion, one who refuses to accommodate to modern-day cultural norms, who, worst of all, don’t want people to love each other and find happiness.

False prophets will arise. I am not sure what that means. I suppose we could all compose our lists of false prophets today. Regardless, the wisest course is to heed Jesus’ warning with which He began this discourse: “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.”

We must not be led astray to follow someone claiming to be a Deliverer who is not Jesus. My opinion is that, because the times will be so difficult and hateful, believers will be tempted to go after someone who will offer them some kind of relief from the contention, the heat, the loathing. “I’m a spiritual person, but I’m not religious. Sure, I believe in Jesus, but He didn’t hate anybody.”

We must believe and trust the Lord Jesus through all that is to come. We must ask for help to persevere when we are reviled and abhorred. We will become pariahs and tempted to cower like dogs.

I do not look forward to this.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.