Two Kingdoms, Two Messiahs, Two Marriages

Johan Malan, Mossel Bay, South Africa (July 2016)

Scripture reading: Revelation 17:1-7; 19:7-9.

The two major spiritual realities which face all people on earth are described in the Bible as two kingdoms – the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Two descriptive names which are often used for them are the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. Although these two kingdoms operate from a spiritual sphere, both of them are preparing to be revealed physically on earth. God’s kingdom will be revealed under authority of His Son Jesus Christ who will, after His second coming, rule the world from the restored throne of David in Jerusalem. During the seven years between the end of the church dispensation and the second coming of Christ on the Mount of Olives, Satan’s kingdom will be revealed under the authority of the Antichrist.

The Antichrist will claim to be Israel’s Messiah, impose his supremacy over Jerusalem and declare himself to be God in the rebuilt temple during the middle of the tribulation period. However, he will also lay claim to the messianic titles of other religions and rule from the area which borders Israel to the north and the east. In ancient times this area was known as Babylonia or Assyria, and in modern times it gained political and economic prominence as the Arab Gulf States, i.e. Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrein, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman (Iran does not belong to this group as they are not Arabic but Persian). These seven countries are all wealthy oil-producing states along the Persian Gulf, and function under the common umbrella of Islam. The ancient Babylonia included the present Syria and therefore also had ports in the Mediterranean Sea. It is possible that Syria will again become part of modern Babylonia, even if that only happens during the reign of the Antichrist. Apart from his association with other faiths, the Antichrist will also be Islam’s end-time Caliph or Imam Mahdi who will establish a mighty Islamic caliphate.

During the next two dispensations – the Antichrist’s reign and Christ’s reign of peace – the world will respectively be ruled from the restored Babylonia and Jerusalem. These two empires represent two dispensations which will follow one another after the end of the church dispensation:

The dispensation of the church will be concluded by the rapture. Spiritually deceived people will all remain behind.

The 7 years of the Antichrist’s global reign. His bride – an alliance of deceived faiths – will enjoy great honour and power during his reign and be intent on eradicating true Christianity.

Christ’s millennial reign will only be established after He has returned to destroy the Antichrist and his world government. Members of His bride will be co-rulers.

The two kings who will be revealed in the end-time, will not only be political and economic leaders but specifically also religious leaders who will be honoured and worshipped. Spiritually speaking, both of them will have a wife – the wife of the Antichrist (an alliance of false world religions) and the wife of the Lamb (the true church of Christ). These two women will share in the glory of their respective leaders, actively worship them, and also rule with them. The one marriage will end disastrously after only 3½ years when the Antichrist will exalt himself to the position of God in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and then separate from his wife as her role will have become obsolete, but the other one will continue forever.

It is important that we know about these two marriages as every person on earth is a member of one of the two groups. Those who form part of Christ’s bridal congregation (born-again Christians) are commanded to prepare for the marriage of the Lamb, so they can appear before Him in a spotless robe. They should pursue sanctification under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. However, those who are part of the opposing kingdom (everybody outside of true Christianity, including unsaved, nominal Christians) are influenced to be as ecumenical, multireligious, and globalist as possible in their worldview in order to be acceptable to the universal messiah (Rev. 13:3-4, 8) and the universal god of all faiths (2 Cor. 4:4). They are engaged in a fierce battle against evangelical Christianity who refuse to compromise with other faiths by joining the ecumenical movement. According to the ecumenists, there can only be peace on earth if all religions join hands in a concerted effort to bring an end to religious conflicts.

True and false presentations of the bride of Christ

Jesus Christ is the Saviour of lost humanity. However, He did not only come to the world to pay the ransom for our sins on the cross, but also to enter into a life-long relationship of love with His disciples: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). We must be changed by His love and the working of His Holy Spirit to such an extent that we become conformable to His image. The final objective with this commitment is that the members of Christ’s bridal congregation will one day appear before Him blameless and irreproachable.

The Lord Jesus loves us like a man loves his wife and cares for her, and He enables us through sanctification as a further work of grace to appear before Him in a spotless robe: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27). Christ therefore did not only give Himself over for us to cleanse us through the first blessing of regeneration but also to prepare us through the further blessing of sanctification to appear before Him without blemish.

The bride herself also has a big responsibility to live a life of dedication through the Holy Spirit, thereby preparing her bridal robe: “… the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev. 19:7-8). The righteous acts of the saints are the fruit of the Holy Spirit in a completely surrendered life. In the same way in which marriage couples have to strengthen their marriage relationship and grow together, we also have to work on our relationship with the heavenly Bridegroom so Christ can become more while we, as His sanctified bride, can honour our obligation to be His witnesses.

We should be mindful of the fact that we have to fulfil our spiritual calling in a hostile environment which is part of a world which largely lies in the sway of the Evil One (I John 5:19). The alternative kingdom of Satan uses the most deceptive and subtle techniques to portray its false messiah/king in the guise of an angel of light in an effort to render him acceptable to all faiths. He will appear on the world scene as a multireligious prince of peace to build a bridge between all faiths, thereby trying to equally identify with all of them – also with the ecumenical Christians who wrongly think that all faiths worship the same God. The Jesus of Christianity is misrepresented and His image distorted by denying His divine attributes, thereby endeavouring to prepare the way for someone else to be presented in the place of the true Christ as the universal christ of all faiths.

It is surprising that many Christians are already receptive to false propaganda of this nature. They offer no resistance to wrong presentations of the Lord Jesus, distorted versions of the gospel, and spiritual manifestations which are glaringly foreign to the work of the Holy Spirit. In fact, they happily join the stream of ecumenical thinking under the guidance of false teachers who misrepresent and twist the truth to their own destruction (2 Pet. 2:1; 3:16). Paul seriously warned against false doctrines as they offer points of entry to the kingdom of darkness:

“For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted – you may well put up with it!” (2 Cor. 11:2-4). False teachers are perverting the gospel of the true Christ under the instigation of deceiving spirits (Gal. 1:7-8).

There are many distortions of the biblical Jesus, e.g. the very popular historical Jesus who did not have a divine origin, did not atone for sins through His crucifixion, did not rise from the grave, did not ascend to heaven and will therefore not return to earth from there. The gospel is also changed to such an extent that it loses its uniqueness and opens an interfaith way of salvation which may be obtained through any faith – all paths lead to Rome! The embracing of these lies which are proclaimed under the influence of deceiving spirits, causes large numbers of people to depart from the true faith (1 Tim. 4:1). Unfaithfulness towards the true Christ leads to loyalty to the false christ (2 John 2:18-29).

Humans are, apart from their biological and psychological characteristics, also spiritual beings who are either guided by the Spirit of truth or by the spirit of error. According to 1 John 4:1-6, the spirit of error emanates from the Antichrist to promote his messiahship, while the Spirit of truth convicts people of the fact that Jesus Christ is the true Messiah, the only Saviour of the world and also the heavenly Bridegroom. Nobody is predestined to join any of these two groups as every person has a free will to decide about his/her spiritual association (cf. Jos. 24:15; Matt. 23:37; Rev. 22:17).

The bride of the Antichrist

John describes the evil woman who rides the beast as: “Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth” (Rev. 17:5). She is a parent organisation, and therefore an ecumenical body (or movement) which operates in close association with the Antichrist. Babylon was the place of origin of all the false religions. In ancient times they built the tower of Babel as a symbol of their self-exaltation and self-deification. After the fall of the tower of Babel the false religions established themselves among the nations and succeeded in subjecting millions of people to their power of delusion. They are now re-emerging as a united body to join hands and give new expression to their common origin from the “mother of prostitutes”. This is an end-time effort to muster religious power and use it to promote the ideal of false world unity. They endeavour to collaborate with political leaders to achieve their purpose, and that paves the way towards their future association and “marriage” with the Antichrist. He will empower them, and from their ranks the Antichrist will appoint his co-ruler, the false prophet.

Multireligious ecumenical bodies have already become part of the end-time world. After a relatively small beginning in 1893, the Parliament of the World’s Religions organised a very big conference in Chicago in 1993, which was attended by 7 000 delegates representing 250 religions and occult groups. In 1999, an equally big conference was held in Cape Town, and they still proceed with their programme to organise international conferences. The last one was held in Salt Lake City, USA, in 2015. Apart from this organisation there is also the United Religions Initiative that was founded during the millennium celebrations of the United Nations. They also have regular meetings. The World Council of Churches has, since its inception in 1948, become more and more multireligious as they do not hold meetings without inviting representatives of the major world religions. The same interfaith approach is followed by the Vatican, giving rise to frequent interfaith meetings in Italy.

The structures have already been established for the eschatological prostitute who will represent all the false world religions, worship the Antichrist as the universal christ of all faiths, and fully collaborate with him. This woman will be his bride, in imitation of the true church who is the bride of the true Christ. This close association emphasises the fact that there will be a marriage between religion and politics in the world government of the Antichrist, and that explains why the whole world will worship him. John says:

“And all the world marvelled and followed the beast. So they worshiped the dragon [the false god of this world] who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him? … It was granted to him to make war with the saints [the martyrs of the tribulation] and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:3-4, 7-8).

The intimate bond between the Antichrist and the multitudes who will worship him, will continue right through the first half of the tribulation period. Among them will be orthodox Jews who will be under the impression that he is their promised Messiah (cf. John 5:43). He will, among others, give Israel the right to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, but that will be with the sinister purpose of promoting the temple service as an alternative to faith in the Messiah, Yeshua. Furthermore, the false messiah will have the evil objective of declaring himself to be God in the rebuilt temple. That will be in the middle of the year-week of seven years.

Daniel says of the Antichrist: “Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate” (Dan. 9:27). After 3½ years he will summarily abolish the sacrificial service of the Jews and then profane the temple by setting up an image of himself in the Most Holy place. Paul says that this man of sin and adversary of God’s Son will “exalt himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thess. 2:4).

He will order the Jews, as well as the adherents of all the other false religions, to immediately discontinue their own religious practices and to start worshipping only him as God. All who refuse to do so will be executed on the spot: “He [the false prophet] was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (Rev. 13:15).

The result of this new development will be that the Antichrist’s marriage with his harlot wife will be suddenly terminated and all her places of worship destroyed. She and all her followers will then be confronted with the choice of either becoming slaves of the Antichrist and worship him as God, or to be executed should they refuse to worship him as God. John says that the ten kings who ruled together with the Antichrist during the first half of the seven-year tribulation, will transfer their power and authority to the Antichrist at the midpoint of the tribulation period when he will institute a military dictatorship under his sole rule (Rev. 17:12-13). They will give their full collaboration to disband and destroy the alliance of world religions: “And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire” (Rev. 17:16). Jews who refuse to worship the Antichrist as God will have to flee for survival from Jerusalem and surrounding areas in great haste to escape the ensuing fury of the great tribulation (Matt. 24:15-21).

That will be the tragic end of the Antichrist’s wife who, for the proverbial mess of pottage, denied the true Messiah and sold her right of rebirth, only to get recognition and power from the Antichrist for a limited period. Any agreement or covenant with the devil or his false king, is effectively an alliance with death.

Marriage of the true Christ

How different is the situation with the bride of the true Christ! The Bridegroom will descend from heaven with the sound of the trumpet of God, snatch away His bride from the earth, meet her in the air and then immediately take her back with Him to heaven (1 Thess. 4:16-18; John 14:2-3). The marriage of the Lamb will take place in an ivory palace which is so illustrious that it cannot be described in a human language. Paul says about this heavenly glory: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9). In the marriage song for the Messiah/King this wonderful occasion is described as follows:

“You are fairer than the sons of men; grace is poured upon Your lips; therefore, God has blessed You forever. … Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Your kingdom. … Kings’ daughters are among Your honourable women; at Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir. … The royal daughter is all glorious within the place; her clothing is woven with gold. She shall be brought to the King in robes of many colours; the virgins, her companions who follow her, shall be brought to You. With gladness and rejoicing they shall be brought; they shall enter the King’s palace” (Ps. 45:2, 6, 9, 13-15).

The wife of the Lamb will be with Him in heaven for the entire seven years while the tribulation period under the rule of the Antichrist takes its course on earth. After the seven years she will return to earth with Christ to be revealed with Him in glory (Zech. 14:4-5; Col. 3:4). The marriage feast of the Lamb – that is the festive celebration after the marriage – will then take place here on earth. It is for this reason that Revelation 19:7 refers to the wife of the Lamb (no longer only to His bride) who will be revealed on this festive occasion. The marriage will by then already have been concluded in heaven.

It is with a view to the marriage in heaven, but also with a view to the subsequent feast on earth, that the bride of the Lamb is now working on her bridal robe through the righteous acts of the saints. This life of service and dedication to the Lord can only be led under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and with His enabling power. To be fit for this life, every Christian should have an experience of the cleansing of his/her heart and the filling of the Holy Spirit.

Do not make the mistake of being content with regeneration alone, and then sit back and try to toil along as a carnal Christian without the empowering of the Holy Spirit. Accept the message of Pentecost which promises the enduing with power from on high, as that will ensure that you won’t appear before the Lord at the end of your life with empty hands – saved yet so as through fire (1 Cor. 3:15). The promise of the filling of the Holy Spirit was made to all Christians (Acts 1:8), and it is extremely worthwhile to humble yourself and be cleansed from all filthiness of the spirit and the flesh. Also confess your fleshly state and surrender it to be crucified – then alone will God’s Spirit take full control of your life and enable you to prepare for the glorious occasion of the marriage of the Lamb.