“And in the latter time of their Kingdom when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his powers shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the Holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many…” (Daniel 8:23-25).
In 1971 when I was 17 (and yes, I realize I am dating myself here), John Lennon released his song, “Imagine.” It became the biggest hit of his solo career. The melody was lyrical, poignant, and hauntingly beautiful. It touched something deep inside the listener when it was played. It still remains one of the most recognized and most often played compositions of modern music.
However, as lovely as the music was, it was the lyrics of the song that resonated with an entire generation of youth. It still does so today. The song speaks longingly of a time when there will be “a brotherhood of man” – of a time “when the world will be as one.” The plaintive cry of the author/poet is, “I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.”
No one can listen to the song without actually feeling the longing and pathos of the author who penned it. It is wistful, beautiful, heartfelt, and deceptive!
There is just one problem with this song, but it’s a big one – at the heart of this achingly beautiful melody lies a deadly deception. For you see, the philosophy and worldview set forth in it are humanistic and atheistic to the core. This “brotherhood of man” that John Lennon so longed for was not the brotherhood that we believers in Christ enjoy. No, the brotherhood Lennon hoped for and longed to be a part of was a brotherhood of man without the Creator God being a part of it, as evidenced in the very first line of his lyrics:
“Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
above us only sky” (John Lennon – Apple Records 1971)
John Lennon was a brilliant musician. He was also vehemently anti-God. Although for a time, he and the other members of the mega-famous rock group The Beatles became enamored with the Eastern mystical cults of Transcendental Meditation and Hinduism, at the core of his being, Lennon was a humanist and an atheist. Yet even he, as evidenced by the longing expressed in these lyrics, yearned for a world filled with genuine peace, love, and the brotherhood of all mankind. His problem was that he wanted it without the Prince of Peace.
This longing for an end to violence, strife, and bloodshed is even more desirous today as we watch our world hurtle toward destruction at warp speed. Yet the same heart-flaw that was in John Lennon is the same bitter vetch that resides within the heart of all mankind. The fatal flaw at the center of man’s heart is sin.
Sin is the black root that lies embedded within the very core of all humanity. It is the poisoned taproot from which all of our problems grow. It grows and flowers and produces the bitter and deadly fruit of rebellion and pride.
Sin is the very reason that, apart from God’s grace and redemption, mankind can never hope to have lasting peace. It is the sinful heart of man that John Lennon – and all those who long for peace but who reject Jesus Christ – who is the only source of peace – refuse to acknowledge. Sinful man is so arrogant and prideful in his heart that he cannot see the truth. And this truth is what man, in his utter rebelliousness and pride, does not want to face or deal with.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it” (Jeremiah 17:9).
Man is sinful. Man is a fallen creature. And at the very core of his being, man is a rebel. “For ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
This rebellion began in the heart of God’s most beautiful and powerful angel – Lucifer. Somewhere deep inside the heart of God’s crowning angelic creation – Lucifer, whose title in the Bible is called “son of the morning” – deep within the heart of this exquisitely created archangel, the deadly seed of “the mystery of iniquity” began to germinate.
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations” (Isaiah 14:12).
Lucifer had been created in splendid perfection. He was called by God “the anointed cherub that covereth.” In fact, most Biblical scholars believe that Lucifer was, in some way, the archangel that was associated with music in Heaven, particularly music related to the purpose of worship of the Most High God.
“Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth: and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the Holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee” (Ezekiel 28:14-15).
Yet, at some point, deep within the heart of this most magnificent of creatures, sin was birthed, and as a result of Lucifer’s pride and rebellion, sin – that “mystery of iniquity” – was loosed upon all of creation.
“By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire” (Ezekiel 28:16).
At some point in time (we are not given to know precisely when), but apparently sometime after the creative work of God was wrought, and after the “morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” ( Job 38:7) in jubilation at God’s handiwork (angels were often referred to as stars and as “sons of God” in the Old Testament), somewhere after God had created and pronounced that ALL He had made “was very good” – somewhere within the heart of Lucifer, a worm of pride and jealousy began to grow. It grew and grew until he was consumed by pride and envy to the point that he actually plotted to overthrow his Creator and to become “like the Most High.”
Thus, pride led to a rebellion in Heaven whereby Lucifer – now renamed Satan (which means adversary) by God – led one-third of the angelic host in rebellion against their Creator (see Isaiah 14:12-15; Revelation 12:4).
Satan then planned to corrupt and destroy God’s most precious creation – man, who God created “in His image.” Satan (the Deceiver) succeeded in tempting and deceiving Eve with the promise that if she but listened to him, she and Adam would “be as gods” (Genesis 3:4-5). And Adam – fully aware of what he was doing – willfully followed suit in rebellion, thereby forfeiting everything that God had given him. So with the fall of man accomplished, Satan usurped the rulership of all of the worldly kingdoms and became the “god” (ruler) of this world system.
Ever since the Garden of Eden, Satan has been the ultimate power behind the rulers of this planet. Ever since Eden, there has been a cosmic war that has been raging between the Lord of Hosts and the Prince of the Powers of the Air. At stake are the immortal souls of God’s most beloved creation – man.
What John Lennon and all of lost mankind refuse to acknowledge is that God had already given man that longed-for “Peaceable Kingdom.” But Adam sinned, and through that sin, forfeited his authority on earth, and (far) worse, severed his intimate relationship with his Creator – thus tainting all of his descendants with the curse of sin that now separates all of fallen man from a holy God.
Until man’s rebellion in the Garden of Eden, there already was perfect peace and harmony between the Great Creator and His most precious creation, and between man and all created beings. But sin, in the form of pride and rebellion, ruined God’s perfect world, and henceforth, the story has been, as Milton wrote, the story of Paradise Lost, and of God’s plan for the redemption of mankind and the restoration of Paradise.
None of this took God by surprise, however. He knew before He created anything that Satan would rebel and that man would also fall. The Bible tells us that He had already made provision for our redemption. Even before creation, Jesus had already offered Himself to be the “Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).
In order to redeem His fallen creation, God already knew that He would have to send His Son to earth. His Son, who would literally be God wrapped in human flesh, the Lord Jesus Christ. It was He who came as our “Kinsman Redeemer.” It was Jesus who was both fully God and fully man who was, is, and ever shall be the only One able to pay the debt that sinful man had incurred.
Christ Jesus lived the perfect, sinless life that we, in our sinful state, could never live. He died, was buried, and rose again to utterly crush Satan’s plan for the ultimate ruin of mankind. Jesus, the Son of God Himself, came as our Savior! (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
It may seem as if Satan, the enemy of our souls, is winning the war. From a human perspective, it certainly looks like he is. But Satan – that old Deceiver of Mankind, that wrecker of Paradise – is on a leash! He can only go as far as the Lord allows him to go, and he is about to reach the end of his tether! The Prince of Peace is coming soon to judge sin and rebellion once and for all and to set this world to rights.
Man longs for peace. The hidden cry within every human heart, whether saved or lost, is peace. Even among the most bloodthirsty murderers, there are those whose souls cry out for peace and release. And although there are many whose consciences are “seared” who revel in wickedness, there are also many others who long for peace from the dark, howling chasm of misery and emptiness that is consuming their souls, an emptiness within them that yearns for genuine peace to fill it. The hope of this peace is what draws even the most vile of humanity to the Light of the World.
The problem comes when man rejects the only source of genuine peace. In our rebellious heart, the worm of pride still lives. Even though God Himself, in Jesus Christ, offered Himself up as a sacrifice for sin so that “whosoever will” could come to Him and have his debt of sin pardoned, – even so, there are still millions who, of their own free will, choose to reject this “so great salvation” and who, like John Lennon, seek “peace” within themselves, or within nature (created things), or within false gods who are nothing more than Satan and his rebel angels in disguise.
This War of Kingdoms is about to reach its climax. Satan is putting the finishing touches on the plans he has to wrest the rulership of creation from Almighty God once and for all. The stage is set for his final assault against his hated enemy, the Most High God. The Ancient of Days is allowing him this one final campaign before HE returns to put an end to the millennia of carnage this usurper has wrought upon His creation.
Satan’s tactics have never changed. He has always used lies and deception to get what he wants, and what he most wants is the worship and adulation that belongs only to the Almighty God – and he will lie, deceive, and utterly destroy this world and everyone in it to get it.
It is all coming together. Right now, Satan is using the lure of peace – a world free from war and strife (even though it is he who is behind all of the world’s misery). He is using the very idea of a “brotherhood of man” to draw in those who so want peace but who want it on their terms and not God’s.
Right now, that Deceiving Angel is grooming and placing into position a man who will be his “man of the hour” – a man who will quickly rise to power just as soon as his one great impediment (the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit, who is embodied within the true Church) is removed.
At his appointed time, Satan’s man (who is none other than the prophesied Antichrist) will glide onto the stage of the world, bringing with him the promise of peace, love, unity, and the brotherhood of man – but all without God.
Even now, his minions, both human and demonic, are putting the finishing touches on the last parts of Satan’s global plan. The people of the earth who have rejected the true Prince of Peace have been primed to accept the false one. The war-weary, hedonistic world is ripe for deception. All is ready.
Satan’s man (the Antichrist) is already positioned and is waiting in the wings. The stage is set, and the lights are dimming. The instant God’s true Church is removed, the curtain on the final act of The Conflict of the Ages will rise.
The plot of the last Act is the overthrow of the Kingdom of Heaven and the eternal destruction of men’s souls. The implementation of the conflict will be through deceit, and the promise (that is a lie) will be “peace.”
The orchestra is warming up. The opening strains of music can be heard, and the theme song they are playing is – Imagine…