“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matt 24:10-13).
The word translated as “false prophets” is the Greek word PSEUDOPROPHETES: PSEUDO=false, PROPHETES=prophet. For a long time, my understanding of a false prophet was someone who falsely claimed to receive visions and messages from the Lord. And indeed, this is not an inaccurate understanding of a false prophet. But a more comprehensive understanding of what is meant by “false prophet” in this context, is someone who, in God’s name, teaches what is false. Jesus is telling us that during the time immediately preceding His return, many people would teach God’s word in error and deceive many people. And because people would be taught God’s word in error, they would turn away from the true Gospel of repentance and denial of self, and would betray and hate each other.
The word translated as “lawlessness” is the Greek word ANOMIAN, which means “transgressing the (God’s) law; disobedience.” Because people are being taught God’s word in error, disobedience to God’s laws would increase. The backsliding of God’s people would be perpetual: “Why then has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding? They cling to deceit; they refuse to return.” (Jer 8:5); “‘You who have forsaken Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘You keep going backward. So I will stretch out My hand against you and destroy you; I am tired of relenting!'” (Jer 15:6).
The word translated as “love” is the Greek word AGAPE. I had always assumed that this verse was saying that in the end times, brotherly love towards your fellow man would decrease. But I continued to see regular examples of this type of love every day, so I was still waiting and watching for it to grow cold. But then a few weeks ago, as I was meditating on this verse, God impressed upon my spirit to examine this verse to see what type of love Jesus was talking about. There are four words in the Greek language for love: EROS, PHILEO, STORGE and AGAPE (for a fuller explanation see “The Offensive Builder“). PHILEO is used to mean a sentimental brotherly type love towards your fellow man, so that’s not the kind of love Jesus is saying would grow cold. AGAPE is used to mean a love that transcends human emotion and circumstance and is centered on actively doing what God prefers. AGAPE is a love that is centered upon God’s will for mankind, that is why it is almost exclusively used when talking about the love of those within the church. That is the kind of love that Jesus said would grow cold: a love based on what God prefers, what God wills and what God chooses.
We claim to be a nation of Christians, but for the most part, we are just a nation of heathens in perpetual backsliding, with a love based on what we prefer, what we will, and what we choose. Just as God chastised ancient Israel for being consumed with idolatry, consumed with distraction and consumed with themselves, so God chastises us. God says of us, “No man repented of his wickedness, Saying, ‘What have I done?’ Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle.” (Jer 8:6). We should be sitting in the dust dressed in sackcloth, heaping the ashes of our iniquity upon our heads, crying out to God for mercy, crying out to God in repentance, but instead, we have mounted upon our steeds of arrogance and rebellion, charging forward into battle to “make America great again.” Sadly, I don’t think America will ever be great again because America is “Daughter Babylon” who sits in the dust.
“Come down and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon;
sit on the ground without a throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans!
For you shall no more be called tender and delicate…
Your nakedness shall be uncovered, and your disgrace shall be seen.
I will take vengeance, and I will spare no one.
Our Redeemer—the LORD of hosts is his name— is the Holy One of Israel.
Sit silently, and go into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans,
For you will no longer be called The queen of kingdoms…
Yet you said, ‘I will be a queen forever.’
These things you did not consider Nor remember the outcome of them.
Now therefore hear this, you lover of pleasures, who sit securely,
who say in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me;
I shall not sit as a widow or know the loss of children’:
These two things shall come to you in a moment, in one day;
the loss of children and widowhood shall come upon you in full measure,
in spite of your many sorceries and the great power of your enchantments.
You felt secure in your wickedness, you said, ‘No one sees me’;
your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray,
and you said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me.’
Disaster will come upon you, and you will not know how to conjure it away.
A calamity will fall upon you that you cannot ward off with a ransom;
a catastrophe you cannot foresee will suddenly come upon you.” (Isaiah 47:1-11)
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly… and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority... They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done.
Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children;
Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray… For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.
For if they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: ‘The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.'” (2 Peter 2)