DECEPTION IN THE END: THE SEDUCTION OF THE SEED OF THE SERPENT
A. Starting with the narrative of Genesis 3 the biblical drama concerning deception keeps intensifying throughout Scripture until it reaches its climactic point at the end of the age. This drama plays itself out specifically in terms of the conflict between the righteous and the wicked, or the Seed of the Woman and the Seed of the Serpent.
And I will put enmity Between (the Serpent) you and the woman (Eve), And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” (NASB Gen 3:15)
B. This prophetic oracle set the stage for such an epic drama, and thus began the conflict of the ages. The main feature of this conflict during this age is the persecution of the righteous by the wicked. The latter adhere themselves to the deception of their father the Serpent, while the former remain true to God their Father. In the Psalms this conflict is laid out in very sharp terms. Here are a few examples:
How blessed is the man (the Righteous Messianic Seed) who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night (unto loyal allegiance to the Lord and victory over deception). (NASB Psa 1:1-2)
O sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach (the honor of the Righteous Messianic Seed opposed by the wicked sons of men)? How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception? Selah. (NASB Psa 4:2)
In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor (a title usually given to the righteous); let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised. 3 For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD (covenantal renouncing). 4 In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God (the core of deception: “no God” and therefore no accountability before Him).” 5 His ways prosper at all times; your judgments are on high, out of his sight; as for all his foes, he puffs at them. 6 He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved; throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.” 7 His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under his tongue are mischief and iniquity. (ESV Psa 10:2-7)
A Prayer of David. Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit! 2 From your presence let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right! 3 You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night, you have tested me, and you will find nothing (no deceit); I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress. 4 With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent. (ESV Psa 17:1-4)
To the choirmaster (Brenton’s LXX: “For the End”). A Maskil of David, when Doeg, the Edomite, came and told Saul, “David has come to the house of Ahimelech.” Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man? The steadfast love of God endures all the day. 2 Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit. 3 You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking what is right. Selah 4 You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue. (ESV Psa 52:1-4)
C. In the end, the righteous will be avenged from the persecution and oppression of the wicked by means of the coming of the Righteous One, Jesus the Messiah, who will finally crush the Serpent and his Seed.
And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth? (NKJV Lk 18:7-8)
Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering– 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. (ESV 2Thess 1:4-10)
D. According to the prophets, this apocalyptic end includes the coming of one man who will “make deceit prosper under his hand.” This is what was revealed to the prophet Daniel:
And at the latter end of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their limit, a king of bold face (the Wicked One), one who understands riddles, shall arise. 24 His power shall be great–but not by his own power (see Rev. 13:2, 5, 7, 14); and he shall cause fearful destruction and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people who are the saints (the righteous). 25 By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall become great. Without warning he shall destroy many. And he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes (the Righteous One), and he shall be broken–but by no human hand (but by God’s hand, His Messiah). (NASB Dan 8:23-25)
E. Later on, the Jewish apostles carried the same witness as they confirmed by the Holy Spirit the appearance of “the man of lawlessness” just before the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. As it was to be expected, deception is at the core of his appearance, and thus the apostles soberly warned believers about it.
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work (see 1 John 2:18). Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion (a turning over because of persistent rebellion, see Rom. 1:18-32), so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (ESV 2Thess. 2:1-12)
F. Without any argument, the ultimate issue of deception is that of the Antichrist himself! In fact, the apostle John fully agreed with Paul regarding this issue as both of them testified prophetically to three primary things:
1. The mystery of lawlessness (or antichrist spirit) is already at work.
7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. […] (ESV 2Thess. 2:7a)
18 Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared… (NASB 1Jn 2:18a)
[…] and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. (NASB 1Jn 4:3)
2. The mystery of lawlessness and the coming of the Antichrist himself are the clearest signs of the times.
Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. (NASB 1Jn 2:18)
Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction… (ESV 2Thess. 2:3)
3. His coming will be the apex of deception and the biggest challenge for the saints.
The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (ESV 2Thess. 2:9-12)
Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ (the promised Messianic Seed who crushes the Serpent’s head)? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father (“There is no God”, see Psa. 10:4) and the Son (no Davidic covenant, see 2 Sam. 7; Psa. 2; 89). (NASB 1Jn 2:22)
For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. (ESV 2Jn 1:7)