The Bible describes an end-time deception that will involve the whole world. We are warned in I John 2:18: "It is the last hour and you have heard that the antichrist is coming. Even now, many antichrists have come."
The Apostle Paul restates this warning in 2 Thessalonians 2:3: "Let no one deceive you, by any means for that day, this coming of Christ, will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition (destruction);”
Paul taught the Christian church in Thessalonica about the return of Jesus Christ. At that time there were some false teachers maintaining that Christ had already returned. Paul explained this was not true and mentioned one thing. In 2 Thessalonian chapter 2 he explains a man will appear on the world scene who will claim to be divine: "Who opposes and exalts 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 (verse 4)."
In verse 8 Paul calls him the ‘lawless one’ indicating he will be against the teachings and laws of God, even though he will appear to be a representative of God. This will result in great confusion about what is right and wrong, especially as this man will be performing miracles (verse 9). Many people will believe him “because they did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved (verse 10).”
Although God will provide people access to His truth and way of life through the preaching of the two witnesses (Revelation 11), the vast majority of the world’s population will succumb to the lies and deceptions of the antichrist and the political leader referred to as ‘the beast,” described in Revelation 13.
Bible prophecy outlines four conditions just before the return of Jesus Christ:
- a political leader will arise who will appear to be the saviour to a troubled world (Revelation 13:4).
- there will be persecution of Christians who don't accept the Antichrist (Revelation 13:7).
- the false religious leader or Antichrist, who supports the political leader, will perform amazing wonders, and miracles (2 Thessalonians 2:9).
- although the world will be headed on a path to annihilation (Mark 13:20) there will be economic prosperity for a time for those who adhere to the worldwide political and religious system (Revelation 13:16-17).
Prophecy tells us there will have been wars and disease epidemics with accompanying starvation and want before Christ’s return. Then this person will appear, along with a political leader, who institutes a system that works. There will be food in the supermarket again and electricity will get turned back on etc. All everyone has to do is participate in the system and adhere to the teachings of the Antichrist., and those who do not love the ‘truth of God’ will do so.
With time, he also came to understand the days observed by most of Christianity are not commanded in the Bible, and Scripture backed up his realisation that associating the name of Jesus with these days did not make them more acceptable: "... in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9).
While in high school, he also discovered that in the King James Version of the Bible the word translated as "Easter" in Acts 12:4 was an erroneous translation of the Greek word ‘pascha’, a word clearly meaning the Passover (described in Leviticus 23:5). It was not until the second century, long after the New Testament was written, that people began to replace the Passover observance with Easter.
Jesus and His family observed the Holy Days of the Bible, travelling to Jerusalem, when He was twelve years old, to observe the Passover (Luke 2:41, 42). John 7 also shows Christ keeping the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day (described in Leviticus 23:33-36) in spite of the threat of bodily harm. Jesus kept all of the annual festivals, not only because He was a devout Jew, but because God commanded them and He was setting an example for Christians today (Matthew 28:20).
These Holy Days were also observed following Christ's ascension. The disciples were gathered together to observe the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was sent (Acts 2:1), because Pentecost was still a "holy convocation," a commanded assembly (Leviticus 23: 15- 16, 21).
Gentile Christians also observed the biblical Holy Days. More than 20 years after Christ’s crucifixion, about the year A.D. 55, the Apostle Paul gave important instruction to the Church in the gentile city of Corinth, where most church members were gentile. A man was involved in an immoral relationship, and Paul instructed them to expel him from the church:"...Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump...For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with ...the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Corinthians 5:6-8).
The Corinthians had put out leaven to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but had not applied the spiritual lesson. Paul’s intent, by instructing them to "keep the feast," was not to spiritualize away the Days of Unleavened Bread, but to magnify them. The New Testament builds on the foundation of the Old by emphasizing the spiritual intent of the Holy Days.
Colossians 2:16, 17 is perhaps the most oft-quoted New Testament Scripture used to discredit the Holy Days: "So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ."
Paul was not saying not to keep the Holy Days, he was addressing their proper observance. The Colossians had been introducing ascetic practices on the Holy Days, as they were being influenced to follow the commandments and doctrines of men (verses 18-23). If anything, these verses corroborate the practice of God's true Church in the first century was to observe these days,
Another misunderstood text is Galatians 4:8-10. Verses 8 and 9 refer to the practices of the Galatians before they knew the true God, and after learning the truth, they were beginning to return to these ‘weak and beggarly elements’. To say God's laws are weak and beggarly is blasphemous. These "days and months and seasons [times] and years" were pagan practices, possibly similar to astrology today.
When a person looks into the commands and examples in the Bible to determine which religious festivals to observe, there is only one choice to be found: the annual festivals and Holy Days of God. If we are to build on the foundation of the apostles and prophets and follow the example of Jesus Christ, we will faithfully observe these days, and come to learn more about God's plan of salvation for humanity.