The Removing of the Lampstand
When and How, The Apostasy
writes in Revelation 1:12-13: “Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with
me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the
seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the
feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.” Here John sees Christ
glorified in his holy priestly garb. He is seen walking among the seven branch
Menorah, like the Menorah in the
The lampstand in the Old Testament symbolized Jesus as the “Light of the World” that was to burn continually, giving its light in the Holy Place where the priest would be (John 1:7-9, 8:12, 9:5, 12:46; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Luke 1:78-79, 2:32; Revelation 21:23-24). The responsibility of the priests was to keep the lamp burning. They had to feed it oil and trim its wicks so it would not smoke, but continue to burn without failing to give pure light.
It also symbolized the believer, in that the believer is also called the “light of the World” (Mt.5:14-17). After Jesus ascended into heaven (John 9:5; Phil , Luke , Ephesians 5:8-9) the believer is also called the “light of the world” (Matt -17). For that reason the believer is also to walk in the light, i.e., His Word (I John 1:7). Therefore the lampstand can also be seen as a symbol of the Church, bringing the light to a world of darkness as representatives of Christ.
this motif continuing in Revelation 1:20: “The mystery of the seven stars which
you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven
stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you
saw are the seven churches.” Revelation tells us the
seven stars are the angels of the seven churches. Whenever the word “stars” is
used symbolically, it refers to angels. The seven lampstands are seven
churches of which Christ is the head. Just as the oil lit up the whole Menorah
(lampstand), so does the Holy Spirit illumine all the Churches. The seven
individual lampstands symbolize the seven local churches which represent the
whole of the Church, not just different ages of the Church. Revelation 1:4 said
they already existed in
2:1: “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, “These things says He who
holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven
golden lampstands… “The Lord walks among the churches in all ages to know
them. Jesus commends and rebukes them and gives a specific warning to
this church in Revelation 2:5: “Remember therefore from where you have fallen;
repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove
your lampstand from its place-- unless you repent.” The removing of the
church’s lampstand meant Christ’s Spirit would depart and leave them on their
own, which in turn would result in them being as
find that all the churches mentioned in Revelation exist at the same time, and
we can find the faithful Church existing alongside the unfaithful Church today.
But there is only one Church that will take over that will become the center of
Laodicean church thought they were doing well and were spiritual. After all
they were rich, so of course God must be blessing them. The wealthy mostly
dress well and talk about their possessions to impress people. They focus on
outward appearances and worldliness. But these people did not know their inward
condition; they were blind and could not see. So the Lord asked if they would
buy from Him gold refined in the fire (by their suffering) white garments
(robes of salvation) and eye salve so they could see their condition. Today
many see their success and prosperity as God’s blessing. The
Many have identified the Apostasy as individuals departing from the Church. Certainly over the centuries many individuals that had begun in the Church left and started their own cult. However, this is only part of the picture as Jesus is addressing the Church He personally walks among. In modern times this falling away had started in liberal seminaries who sent teachers out to unsuspecting pulpits teaching their liberal ideas-- those who promote homosexuality, who ordain people that deny the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the virgin birth and the essentials of the faith. Then the new age movement began to emerge and infiltrate the Church with kingdom dominion theology and placing subjective experience over the authority of the objective Word of God. Then the homosexual movement came through the Episcopal church along with feminists who disdain God as father. Now this apostasy has become something so widespread it encompasses most things that are considered sacred. Affecting almost all denominations to some degree. Doctrines are distorted and abandoned; controlling shepherds are in charge, teaching coveting, wealth and perfect health as God’s will to all. They approve of divorce and accept homosexuality.
Among the parables of the kingdom in Matthew 13 is the parable of the leaven (Matthew ), which depicts the course of this present Church age. It describes a progression of apostasy that radically escalates in the end. [“Apostasy “refers to falling away from the true Faith which finds its instruction by God's word]. Jesus describes a woman putting leaven into three measures of meal, “until the whole was leavened.” Leaven puffs up; it represents pride, it does the opposite of what the gospel does which humbles man and makes us God-reliant. Paul said, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” Leaven in Scripture stands for sin and false teaching (1 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9), and the woman represents the Church. She did something God prohibits; she hid the leaven in the meal, mingling a foreign element into the body. This is speaking of a corrupting influence that would infiltrate all parts of the Church. As a little yeast, is hidden in the flour. It works silently until all the mass is brought under its influence. It shows evil existing till the end of the age, as things do not get better but worse. The parable tells us that the error which was first introduced by false teachers during the days of the Apostles (and was then small), will gradually increase through the centuries until, at the end, it is completed. And almost the entire Church will have been impacted in some way. By this characterization of leaven in the meal, believers are warned that false teaching will gradually increase through time until the entire church has been affected in some way. The ultimate fulfillment of this falling away is found in Revelation 17.
The Timing of the Apostasy
Paul writes to the Thessalonians about those who have tried to deceive them with a false teaching on the Tribulation that was upsetting the church. Apparently after Paul left Thessalonica some false teachers came in and upset the church by teaching that believers were now in the Tribulation (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2). They were being told that the Day of the Lord had come and that the rapture and resurrection had occurred, putting them in the Tribulation (The Day of the Lord is the most common title for the Great Tribulation--1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Timothy 2:18).
The main point of Paul’s letter was to comfort the believers of Thessalonica who were already experiencing persecution (first letter) and also correct those, letting them know that they were not in the Tribulation. Paul then wanted to clarify what would precede the Tribulation. He pointed out that the mystery of lawlessness was still being restrained, and because of this the Antichrist’s unveiling was still in the future, prior to Christ’s return. The Antichrist would be revealed at that time.
Paul’s correction to the Church at Thessalonica came with the warning “Let no one deceive you.” It should seem obvious that Paul was not writing about our gathering together to Him - Christ (v.3) before that that day. This gathering will not come first without two things happening prior to that: 1) The falling away would come first (then the day comes), 2) and the man of sin would be revealed. Here Paul is obviously talking about two different matters: our gathering together to Him (v.1) and a falling away (v.3). Paul states that the Day of the Lord will not come without the Apostasy coming first; that prior to Christ’s coming a falling away from the Faith will occur. Therefore he warns us who are living at the time, “Let no one deceive you”, giving the same warning Jesus did in the beginning of his discourse in Matthew 24.
As Paul mentions the coming of our Lord Jesus and also our gathering together to Him, (v.1) he appears to be indicating two events, distinguishing between two comings of Jesus (1 Thessalonians 3:13, tells us that when Jesus comes it is with the saints who have died). One coming is for His Church and the other with His Church, when He will judge a rebellious world and set up His kingdom reign on earth for 1,000 years with the saints under Him co-reigning.
2 Thessalonians 2:1, “And our gathering together to Him.” The Greek word for ‘gathering together’ is epi sunagogues. Epi means “above,” and sunagoges means“to collect together.” This is not a reference to our being gathered to Jesus after He descends to earth to set up His kingdom, but to our being gathered up to Him. We are called FROM ABOVE by the Lord to meet Him and be united together in the air and brought to the place He has already prepared (John14). Our gathering together up to Him is more accurately translated “our being gathered up to Him’” (1 Thessalonians ). He is the object we go to; He does not come down to meet us on earth, we go up to Him first.
It hasn't been until modern times that the Rapture has been abandoned for earthly “triumphalism” and Christianizing the World first, before Christ could come. (Kingdom Now, Dominion Theology) This is all part of the falling away and not preparing or watching for His coming.
2 Thessalonians 2:3 says, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.” (In Matthew 24:4 Christ first warned of the deception of those who come in His name three times, but He also speaks of what will occur before the Abomination of Desolation.)
By deception Paul is giving a warning, just like Christ did. Paul refers to “tricks” of any kind, saying to be on guard. Christ’s return will not occur before certain important things take place, so the timing is important. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 in the phrase “the falling away” the word Apostasia is used, which comes from the Greek verb aphistemi, which literally means, “to depart” or “revolt.” Paul spoke of another departure (1 Timothy 4:1) and used the same Greek word. However, in 1 Timothy Paul added the words “depart from the faith” instead of “depart” by itself, qualifying the phrase. Paul states the reason for their falling away:, because they are listening to demons, who are deceiving spirits. So they are being deceived by teachings that are contrary to the word of God and this is occurring inside the Church.
Greek scholar A.T Robertson writes of this word “Plutarch uses it of political revolt and it occurs in 1 Maccabees about Antiochus Epiphanes who was enforcing the apostasy from Judaism to Hellenism. In Joshua it occurs for rebellion against the Lord. It seems clear that the word here means a religious revolt and the use of the definite article (heô) seems to mean that Paul had spoken to the Thessalonians about it.
V.1 “Concerning the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto Him,” will not happen until AFTER the Apostasy occurs. There is no other way to understand these words without changing the context for the words and the grammatical construction of this verse. Those who teach prophecy will rarely touch on this all-encompassing event, the falling away from the faith. Why not, when this falling away or apostasy is the main indication of the Church’s condition in the last hour? It will affect the Church more than anything else in history, but it is ignored and even questioned as a possible event. How can you teach on end time prophecy without it?
The apostasy of professing Christianity has increased with a momentum that is stunning to those watching its growth. It has gone off the Richter scale. In the absence of the lampstand (the presence of Christ), devils have stepped in and taken over in many churches. This falling away has certainly begun and is picking up momentum each year, month, and week. Whole movements have arisen that draw huge crowds by catering to the natural mans desires and prey on his propensity of being deceived by the supernatural. They are being offered the very things Christ refused and warned against in his teachings.
The conflict that the Church once had with the World has been embraced and brought into the church. It has created a sharp division between traditional biblical purists and new revelation revivalists and liberal Christianity.
How did this all Happen?
I have already touched in general on the Church in the 20th Century and the development of divergent tributaries all flowing away from the word of God. But for us as individuals, apostasy specifically begins with indifference, holding no convictions, and having no boldness for the truth; and so we become men pleasers and lovers of the World, instead of lovers of God and His truth. In time it becomes nothing short than a total abandonment of Christ and His teachings.
The Scripture tells us in the end times the love of many will grow cold. (In Mt.24 Jesus' explains this is because of lawlessness not heeding His word.)
people enough to confront them with the truth is abandoned and the doctrines
are changed to fit the culture. The Laodicean church had slowly been losing its
first love and the result was not obeying the Lord's commands: “occupy until I
come” and teach them the truth (discipleship). Open mindedness and the
acceptance of any doctrine for the sake of unity is worldly tolerance, and not
a display of real love. But
While history has shown the growth of various apostasies by cults springing up by those who left the Church. (there is evidence of both in the End Times: 1 Timothy 4:1-3 and 2 Timothy 3:1-5; 4:3-4), the Scriptures point to an apostasy among those who once followed God who are still in the church. It is a world-wide rebellion, not just a few but many. The article in the verse makes it even more significant; this is not a falling away, but the falling away, the great and final rebellion against God, his word and rulership in individual lives, and churches. A departure from His word and replacement by another's. This is different from error, which results from ignorance. Although it includes false beliefs and error. The motivation is willful and it defies what the Word states because of an adherence to its own deception.
How does a group of Christians or a whole church that loves the Lord fall away? By not adhering to the commands found in the Word. The Scriptures are put aside for agendas and other activities. Paul warns of false teachers rising up from among the church, and being on our guard against worldliness. All to often today's Church measures success by size and popularity, just as the Bible said it would in the end. It begins with just a small compromise and from there it is just a matter of time before one doesn't even realize they can't even find the place they have drifted from. Without an anchor the tide takes us where it wants.
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons”(1 Tim. 4:1). Notice that “some will depart from the faith,” not all. Tolerance has been the main cause of leaving any absolutes in the Word of God. We simply do not love the truth more than other things and it eventually comes to be replaced with what can only be identified as lies. Lies can be disguised and embraced because they are easier to comprehend than the truth which takes good soil to be sowed in.
God has commanded that His people separate from error not to join in with it. People who reject this command eventually find themselves on the side of apostasy. How can it be possible then, that God is now calling for the walls of separation to be broken down? This is not the great commission but the great confusion which will continually grow into the great apostasy.
James says where there is confusion every evil thing is there. Today's ecumenical tolerance in the name of love and unity has made much of the Church depart from the truth which subsequently has left it with little power. It has not brought what so many have promised. For example those who wanted to unite in mission with the Roman Catholic Church for social change now find themselves in a predicament, as the Pope has recently been photographed kissing the Koran (inside the Vatican). If we continue to wink at falsehood we will eventually shut our eyes to the truth. (Rom. ,18; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; 1 Tim. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:16-21, 3:5,13; Titus 1:10-13; 3:9-11; 2 John 7-11; Rev. 18:4).
Eventually a last days apostate Church, along with the rest of the world will accept the Mark of the Beast as an allegiance to global unity, it may even become a deterrent to terrorism. This mark comes to be a required in the middle of the Tribulation, so there is no way to identify it with certainty now. However it is obvious that a system will need to be implemented to further economic unity and global monetary success. Revelation 13 tells us that no one will be able to buy or sell without the mark. Today it is very hard to do any business without computers throughout most of the world.
Numerous mass population identification and tracking
systems have been developed, such as an implantable chip or a transponder
placed in a plastic wristband. This Identification and Tracking technology will
be used in the
Then there is the Signs and Wonders Movement, from the promise of miracle debt cancellation to confessing to posses it by the words you speak. This movement is motivated by coveting, promising power so that you can change reality by manipulation in the spiritual realm. Supernatural experience e are plainly one of the glues which holds together the end-time apostasy. Paul addressed the Ephesian elders: “ For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29-30). Many flock to see their favorite teacher and see his miracle working power televised. Jesus said that deceiving signs and wonders will be an integral part of the last-days deception to the Church.
This is not the time to hide one’s head in the sand, hoping that it will all go away; it won’t. If we really believe the apostasy comes first and that the time we are living in is the Laodicean church age, then we are that much closer to the Lord’s coming. It can literally be the last moments of time before a tribulation period, the most disastrous time the earth has ever seen. We should be hard at work, before the night falls. As the saying goes, you don’t play in the last quarter of a football game like you do in the first quarter. And this is no game! It is for the eternal destiny of souls, your friends and loved ones. Time to awake to your calling in Christ.
2 Thess. 2:7 For the mystery of iniquity (lawlessness) is already work: only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. V.7 Once the restraining power is removed the Scripture says another HE will be revealed. The “he” is the Antichrist the Son of Perdition who will flood the World with his false teaching and signs and wonders to conquer them. Paul used James and Jambres as an example of miracle opposition for what will occur in the last days.
How is this possible? One of the ways is through TV. The Lord never said the gospel would be preached in all the World through the medium of TV, but through people. Those who were willing to give up their lives and go on the mission field of the World. It should be obvious to anyone who watches Christian TV that most do not give up anything as in the first century but actually gain the World's pleasures by going. The lines are being drawn today with those who follow the crowd as sheep and those who follow the Master as His sheep. However there is hope as there has always been a remnant.
This apostasy cannot be just the continuance of the same things that were always wrong. Paul uses it as a signpost for the coming of the Lord for his Church and the nearness of the tribulation! In order to be a “sign”, it has to be DIFFERENT from anything else that has occurred. But it will not noticed by all because the majority will be part of it.
2 Thess.2:.9. “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders “i.e., the energy and power of Satan with full and complete strength to have the ability to work signs and wonders. (Mt.24:24 )
power- energeia- working, efficiency; in the New Testament used only of superhuman power, whether of God or of the Devil.
He comes with ALL, (means and types of) power (it will look the same as, the apostles ability) with signs and wonders; but it is all the working of Satan, as described in Revelation -17. It’s not a coincidence that in these last years miracles have increased. While god still does miracles, it is this very thing that we are warned from Paul would deceive the people. Satan has often times disguised his false doctrines with supernatural signs. In todays open spiritual climate both inside and outside the Church. Our time is tailor-made for lying signs to deceive greater numbers of people than ever before. Experience becomes the teacher instead of the objective word of truth. What they think they see or hear of is always true to them.
2 Thess.2:10. “with all unrighteous deception among those who perish.” The reason being, “they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved.”
2 Thess.2:11. “For this reason God shall send them a STRONG delusion, and so they will believe the lie.” They will be completely DECEIVED. God does not tell lies, only the truth. But in this instance he is going to allow their own lies to come to fruition, they will literally have to reject Gods counsel and step over the truth. They are brought to the point where they no longer even are able to consider the truth! Just as Pharaoh was given the chance to repent until he was deceived and empowered to fulfill God's will, likewise they will also. God sends them the lie through their own deception.
In the OT we find that God warned of false prophets through the true ones. But the people rejected God's true prophets so the Lord would allow a lying spirit in a prophet’s mouth. I King 22:20-23 “And the LORD said, 'Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?' So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. V.21 “Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, 'I will persuade him.' V.22 “The LORD said to him, 'In what way?' So he said, 'I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' And the LORD said, 'You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.” V.23 “Therefore look! The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you.” (also found in 2 Chron.18:21-22).
has often used the enemy to give people knowledge to see if they are for Him or
against Him. (Deut.13). In the case of God sending a strong delusion it is not
a test but for judgment because they have not believed the truth He will
empower their lies. It is the
Jer. 23:20-22 “The anger of the LORD will not turn back against these false prophets until he has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart. In the latter days you will understand it perfectly. I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings.”
The ones who will be deceived by Satan and his counterfeit signs are those who have already rejected the truth. God will allow the deceiving spirits to speak through them without interfering. (2 Tim.4:1).
The example of the wickedness in Noah’s day and the fact that life went on as usual, blinded them to impending destruction and is used to show that these lawless wicked men had a type of “Tribulation” judgment fall on them. Just like in Revelation. If certain churches do not repent they will enter the Tribulation.
The Apostle Peter warns in 2 Pet. 2:1-3- “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.” Notice the many and their way is destructive and their own destruction is close. 2 Thess.2:12- “They will all be condemned who did not believe (receive-hold to) the truth, our instructions from the Scriptures
The call for this salvation comes through the Gospel, the gospel Paul preached (we preach Christ crucified, 1 Cor. ). It is this Gospel that we stand in and this Gospel that will enable us to the obtain glory of Jesus.
Instead they had pleasure in unrighteousness by doing it their way. They did not live in Christ's righteousness, or listen to His commands. They rejected them.
Most of the epistles were written to correct error; and Paul warned that error would accelerate after his death. “After my departing shall grievous wolves enter in ... not sparing the flock” (Acts ).
What had already begun in Paul's day finally comes to maturity in the end. The seeds that were planted by the enemy as tares.
Shortly after Paul's martyrdom Jude said that false teachers had “crept in unawares” and therefore it was essential (as it still is today) to “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 3-4). The only question left to ask is: “How much worse will the apostasy get before the Rapture and will you or I not become part of it?
If you now understand that all this is being fulfilled you might be wondering what then are we to do? Luke 21:36: “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
1 Jn.3:2-3: “When He is revealed we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.” (John had a glimpse in his vision he communicated in the revelation. “He who has this hope” looks forward to the Lord's return and “purifies himself as Christ was pure.” Come quickly Lord Jesus.