II Thessalonians 2:3
“Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first…”
Modern day prophecy teachers frequently steer their followers to look at the condition of the culture in America as proof that the return of Jesus is near. Now I am in agreement that the return of Jesus is near, but their attention on American culture needs to be refocused.
Merriam-Webster defines “apostasy” as a renunciation of religious faith. Has the United States made a renunciation of Christian faith? Certainly many in America have. One could even make the argument that our government is hostile to Christianity. But According to a 2008 Gallup poll, 78% of Americans identify themselves as Christians. Although many may not be living their lives as Christ would, their backslidden ways, although problematic, are not renunciations of their Christian faith.
So what is this apostasy Paul is warning us about in the letter to the Thessalonians?
In order to understand what Paul was referring to we need to look to the Middle East. When prophetic verses in the Bible are evaluated in light of history and the Middle East everything begins to come in crystal clear.
Christianity continued to spread throughout the Middle East and Europe on the heels of Paul’s three missionary journeys. Churches sprang up throughout the world. It was not until the introduction of Islam that the apostasy began. Today in the Middle East Islam dominates the region. Christianity has been decimated. The apostasy, or falling away, Paul talked about has been in full force for over 1,400 years. If only those apostates had heeded Jesus warning:
“But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”
To understand how this happened to the Christian world we need to understand what motivated the Islamists and what the Christians had to endure after the introduction of Islam to their living environments. Islam is supremacist by nature. The Qur’an states that Islam must reign supreme. Through Jihad and the introduction of a group of rules governing the living conditions for Non-Muslims Islam easily pounded submission into the consciousness of the infidel.
The Islamists that moved into new territories typically gave occupants of a given culture three options. Option number one was to convert to Islam. The second option for the occupant was execution if they would not convert to Islam or submit to Islamic authority. The final option was for those who did not want to convert to Islam but were willing to submit to the authority of Islamic law. These people were willing to live as second-class citizens and abide by Islamic rules governing their way of life and behavior. They also had to pay a poll tax called the Jizya. This was in accordance with Islamic Law.
“Make War on those who have received the Scriptures [Jews and Christians] but do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day. They do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden. The Christians and Jews do not follow the religion of truth until they SUBMIT and pay the poll tax [Jizya], and they are HUMILIATED.”
These second-class citizens, Dhimmis, were a great source of revenue for the Islamists. Dhimmis also had a variety of restrictions imposed on them by the Islamists. These rules (sometimes called the Treaty of Omar, Pact of Umar, or Conditions of Omar) restricted the Dhimmis from:
- Building or repairing churches
- Worshipping the God of the Bible publicly
- Displaying crosses or Bibles
- Clanging cymbals, ringing church bells, or singing hymns that Muslims may hear.
- Riding on horses
- Blasphemy (Any statements critical of Mohammed or Islam)
These rules of Dhimmitude also had some requirements for the infidel:
- Dhimmis must maintain a humble attitude
- Dhimmis must cut the hair from the forehead
- Dhimmis must wear certain clothes and a belt to identify themselves
- Dhimmis must offer lodging for Muslims
- Dhimmis must keep homes lower than Muslim homes.
Bill Warner makes this observation in his book, A Self-Study Course on Political Islam:
“The actual attitude of Islam toward the dhimmis was more contempt than hatred, and over time the dhimmis disappeared. They either left or converted. It was too hard to be a second-class citizen, and the extra taxes were a burden. As time went on, both Christians and Jews became more Arabic in their outlook; they started to treat women as the Arabs did and their customs became more and more Islamic. Finally it was easier to accept Islam as their religion and stop all the pressure and contempt.”
These people were true apostates. They had renounced their faith completely. Jesus warned us to endure to the end. He warned us that we would be hated and experience persecution. Many failed to heed Jesus’ warnings. That is how the apostasy has come and how Islam has come to dominate the once Christian world of the Middle East.
Here is the point. It appears that Christians have two options available when confronted with Islamic governance. Christians may choose to maintain their faith and NOT submit to Islamic authority. Many have chosen this path
“I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.”
The other option is to follow the words of Jesus:
“But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”
Apostasy should NEVER be an option!