As I read a story out of China, I wondered if I was watching end times prophecy come to pass. Now I don’t think it is the actual fulfillment, but I don’t like how close it got.
In 2 Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul describes how the Antichrist will set himself up like a god, in the temple of God:
There were two temples in Israel’s history. King Solomon built the first temple that was destroyed by Babylon in 586 BC. The second, built by Ezra and later renovated by King Herod, was the one that Jesus visited. It was obliterated by the Romans in 70 AD and was never rebuilt.
But there are several Bible passages that hint of a third temple. Ezekiel talks about a temple whose size and configuration does not fit either of the two previous temples, leading people to believe this refers to a yet to be constructed third temple.
Consequently, when Paul talks about a man of lawlessness setting himself up as a god in the temple, some wonder if the Apostle was referring to this third temple?
Now that is certainly possible, but as we read the letters of Paul and others, they make it abundantly clear that they considered the church to be the temple of God, because the Holy Spirit now resides inside believers.
Peter compares the church to the temple (1 Peter 2:4-11) as does the Apostle Paul:
And of course, in the gospels, John referred to Jesus’s body as the temple of God, so it would make sense the church, which is the Lord’s body, would also be considered the temple (John 2:20-21).
So when Paul talks about a lawless man setting himself up as a god in the temple is he referring to something that will take place in the church?
If so, then a story coming out of China is a bit concerning.
President Xi Jinping is the megalomaniac despot running China. In recent years he has gained absolute control of the largest populated county in the world. After China went through a brief, freedom/free-market renaissance, Xi Jinping is now turning China back to communism.
Part of this Communist revival includes a crack down on the Christian church. During China’s brief freedom renaissance, China’s underground church actually surfaced. They built churches and publicly displayed their faith and were able to operate alongside the Three-Self Patriot church movement which is composed of state run and approved churches.
However, according to Bitter Winter, an organization that monitors human rights abuses in China, the Chinese government is requiring Three Self churches to replace the Ten Commandments, often displayed in Chinese churches, with quotes by Jinping.
If the government is forcing churches to replace the Word of God with words by Jinping, does this sound eerily familiar to what Paul was warning about?
Bitter Winter says that every Self Three church in the province of Henan province in Central China has been required to make the change. Some churches that resisted the removal were actually shut down by Chinese authorities.
Prior to this push to remove the Ten Commandments, the Chinese government installed video cameras in Three Self churches to monitor activity and as well the government is also providing sermon material, and even hymns that are little more than communist propaganda.
In an interview with Bitter Winter, an unnamed pastor of an affected Three Self church, said:
“The Communist Party’s ultimate goal is to ‘become God.’ This is what the devil has always done.”Unnamed Three Self church pastor