The Coming Deception
When the disciples asked Jesus on the Mount of Olives about the signs of His coming, His first reply was, “Take heed that no one deceives you!” This answer is reported in all three synoptic Gospels. Jesus made clear to His disciples that a major battlefield of the last days will be the battle for truth. This battle will take place in society as well as within the church. The effect will be great, and Jesus says, “many will be led astray” (Matt. 24:5).
Also, the apostle Paul warns Timothy that deception of demonic origin will emerge within the church (1 Tim. 4:1). Paul alerts the church in Thessalonica that the antichrist will appear through lying signs and wonders and through wicked deception (1 Thess. 2:9–12). The people are going to willingly accept these lies because “they refused to love the truth” and because “they did not believe the truth” (vs. 10, 12).
Man’s Nature Gravitates Toward the Lie
These Scriptures indicate that man’s fallen nature gravitates toward deception and lies rather than truth. This also reveals that many deceptions do not just originate from misunderstanding, lack of education, or a false approach to the Scriptures, but come straight from hell and are of demonic origin. This makes these deceptions particularly dangerous as they carry with them a “demonic anointing” impacting men beyond their reasoning or education.
Their Power Is in Their Mouth
The book of Revelation portrays the eschatological battle between Satan’s system and the kingdom of God as a battle about who controls the airwaves. He who speaks the loudest and can influence and manipulate the best seems to have the upper hand. Here are a few examples:
- When the sixth trumpet sounds, John the apostle sees a gigantic army of horsemen; the horses have heads of lions. Their purpose is to kill. The most dangerous weapon is what comes out of the horses’ mouths—fire, smoke, and sulfur. John summarizes it this way: “The power of the horses is in their mouth” (Rev. 9:19). Interestingly, Jesus places the idea of Satan purposing to kill in direct relation to Satan also being the father of lies (John 8:44).
- In Revelation 12, the dragon (Satan) attacks the woman (Israel) who brought forth a male child (Jesus). The dragon hates the woman, and John sees the “serpent pouring out water like a river out of his mouth after the woman” (vs. 15). History gives ample evidence that since the coming of Messiah, there have been almost 2,000 years of demonic onslaught against the Jewish people. This flood of lies has had many shades from “Jews are Christ killers” to “they plot to control the world” to “they are a degenerate race that needs to be exterminated.” The list of wicked and demonic accusations is as long as the history of the Jewish people’s suffering.
- The beast that rises out of the sea is "given a mouth to speak great things and blasphemies” (Rev. 13:5), and the prophet of the beast looks like a lamb, but it speaks "like a dragon.” He gives breath to the image “to speak” (Rev. 13:11, 15). Again, a main capability of the anti-Christian system is described as powerful demonic deception that will not only target “those who dwell on earth,” but also it was given to the beast “to make war with the saints.”
- When the sixth bowl is poured out on the earth (Rev. 16:12), the consequence is that out of the mouth of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, three unclean spirits emerge that look like frogs that deceive “the kings of the whole earth.” This means the deceptive spirits will not only impact the man on the street but explicitly target government leaders and rulers.
- Even at the very last battle in Revelation (Rev. 20:8), Satan mobilizes the world by “deceiving the nations that are at the four corners of the world.” Their target again is the city of Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people.
The Arsenal of Satan
The art of communication (or miscommunication) seems to be the cornerstone of Satan's power. His mouth is his main weapon.
The arsenal that he wields is prideful talk, temptations, lies and half-truths, deception, blasphemy, doubt, and so much more. Jesus therefore calls him the father of lies.
The history of anti-Semitism is a history of lies and false accusations against the Jews. It is no wonder that one of the most essential government ministries in Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime was the “Propaganda Ministry,” lead by the notorious Joseph Goebbels, a master of modern communication in his own time. Why Germany—one of the most educated countries of the world at the time—gave in to Hitler’s propaganda is still a mystery to many. However, it helps to understand it as an onslaught of demonic nature. I remember a great aunt telling me that whenever the “Führer” Hitler spoke on the radio, everybody was pulled in as if by a magnet. “There was something like magic when he spoke,” she said.
Satan’s lies and half-truths have been in operation since the Garden of Eden. Already “the serpent, more cunning than all the other animals of Eden,” poured out a flow of doubt and temptation against mankind: “Has God really said?” to “No way you will die” to “You will be like him” (Gen. 3:1). Giving in to these lies set the course of history on a path of rebellion and destruction.
Today, the values of truth and justice are turned upside down. The Orwellian “doublethink” and “newspeak” seem to be all around us in today’s politically correct discourse. It has reached such a level that in many countries people seem to be waking up to the fact that “fake news” and “political correctness” increasingly form a smokescreen to hide the real facts and actual reality of our world.
While George Orwell’s imaginary government in 1984 proclaimed, “War is peace! Freedom is slavery! Ignorance is strength!” the lies of today similarly proclaim, “Terrorists are freedom fighters,” “Molotov-cocktail-throwing rioters are peaceful demonstrators,” “An army defending its citizens and its borders is an army of war criminals,” and of course, “The Jews today are worse than the Nazis of the past.”
It is difficult to understand how systematically and unreasonably the world sides against Israel and rather favors terror-supporting regimes in the Middle East. Even the kings of this world are caught in an unreasonable and wicked stand against Israel and the Jewish people. It is inexplicable why United Nation bodies are more obsessed with Israel as the only free democracy in the Middle East than with rogue regimes like Iran, North Korea, or Venezuela. It is inexplicable why Israel is the only nation of the world that cannot choose the seat of its capital, or why the UN Security Council wanted to investigate only Israel in the recent Gaza clashes and not the terrorist organization Hamas, which called upon its youth, women, and children to storm the border fence to Israel. The list goes on and on.
Solidarity in Persecution
The same assault goes on against the church of God. In Revelation 12 when the dragon persecutes the woman (Israel), he does not succeed because “the earth came to help her.” As a result, the dragon is enraged and “went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 12:17). This means that we are called upon to be more alert than ever to uphold the truth of the Word and to know it.
Four Pieces of Advice
Let us remember the warning Jesus gave His disciples on the Mount of Olives: “Take heed that no one deceives you!” Here are a few suggestions to help us navigate through these complex times in which we are living:
1. We need to be a people of truth! One reason deception is entering the world is because Scripture says, “they refused to love the truth” (2 Thess. 2:10). For us as believers, knowing the truth is essential to escape the assaults of the enemy. Remember that Jesus replied to every temptation of Satan with, “It is written.” Make Bible study a daily routine in your life.
2. We need to be a people of prayer. In Ephesians 6, we are reminded that, “Our battle is not against flesh and blood.” One of the weapons the Word of God gives us is “praying always (. . .) in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18).
3. We need to be a people of testimony. Knowing the truth is sometimes not enough. Situations will arise when we are called upon to speak up. Truth defuses lies like light chases darkness away. The book of Revelation sees a victorious army that has overcome the accuser “by the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:11). Ask God for courage to stand up for the truth of our faith and for God’s chosen people, the Jews.
4. We need to be a prophetic people. Prophecy is more than just seeing the future. It is also feeling God’s heart for the current generation. It was the heart of God for their generation with which the prophets of old challenged their people. This also lies at the very heart of Jesus: “Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10).
Finally, be encouraged with the Word of John: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4).
© 2018 Dr. Jürgen Bühler, President ICEJ / int.icej.org