Paul wrote to Timothy that in the last days people will have an appearance of Godliness but denying its power. (2 Timothy 3:5). It is going to be an apostate time but not one devoid of religions, the appearance of the final false religion in Revelation 18 shows us that.
As a matter of fact, in the verses preceding 2 Timothy 3:5 we read, "For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God," and those people could be described as adherents to any religion today that doesn't have Jesus as its head.
Matthew 24:23-24 also shows that there will be a thriving religion business during the first part of the Tribulation. Jesus told the disciples, "Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect."
Even though all of the above verses apply to the entire time of the last days- which are the ascension of Christ after Pentecost (Acts 1:9) and the descent of Christ at the battle of Armageddon (Zechariah 14:3-4, Revelation 19:15), they can be applied in force during the Tribulation because that is the culmination of all the foregoing years.
Think of the apostasy & false religions during the Tribulation as a tsunami wave. Out on the sea it is
After the rapture, the antichrist fools everyone at first by coming across as a man of peace-politically and spiritually. The prophecy in Daniel 9:27 says he confirms a covenant with many people, and the political and religious are bound in one sentence.
If true Christians are raptured, leaving Mormons, Catholics, Muslims, Hindi, etc, that still leaves a lot of people practicing some sort of faith (false faith.)
Though the table above lumps all Christians together, remember that "Christian" for statistical purposes is comprised of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics (false religion) the 300 million Eastern Orthodox Church, (false) and Protestant, (and many of Protestants will be left behind, having been shown to be false. Matthew 7:21-23 Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.) The actual size of the true church is really very small.
So all those billions will be left behind. A great many people practicing some sort of faith will be seeking answers to questions as to where the Born Again people went and why the world seems to be crumbling. Billions of people aren't going to suddenly abandon their faith, but they will be seeking answers. After all, their gods will have been unable to cope with the devastating events happening. Initially, the antichrist will play on those fears and nerves by seeming to have the answers, and likely will use his verbal skills and intelligence to promote a faith that has elements of all religions in them, in order to salve the people's fears and calm their seeking hearts. They'll buy it.
This happened before. When Nero watched while Rome burned, people at first thought Nero had set the fire that destroyed their city, homes, and temples. They began to rise up. What Nero did was cleverly play on their fears by deliberately misdirecting them: he said the Christians did it.
|Robert Hubert, Great Fire of Rome, 1795|
The old adage goes, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. When events occur in the Tribulation similar to the ones that happened in Rome in 64AD (but on a global scale instead of a city-wide scale) religious divisions will be smoothed over. The antichrist will be blaming the Christians and/or Jews for the world's faults, likely saying that is why they were taken away.
The antichrist will be a flatterer, will destroy by craft, will be a smooth talker, (Daniel 8:25, Daniel 11:32). It not too hard to see how he will be able to bamboozle the people into accepting that all their religions are really pretty close in doctrine, and they all need to pull together during this difficult time... he will be all things to all people and when the time comes at the mid-point of the Tribulation and the antichrist says, 'worship me', they will. On a smaller scale, think of how Obama appeared to be a messiah or a savior to large swathes of extremely different people who seemed to have nothing in common. In his second campaign, he turned from building large coalitions among disparate groups, to having a pointillist approach, micro-targeting individual demographics and playing them against each other. Either way, he won both times.
And that is because all the false religions ARE close in doctrine. Ice cream is ice cream, no matter if
Cut to today. I think the final religion already has begun. The seeming wide gaps between Islam and Judaism and Catholicism are shrinking. I see this shrinking enacted in the push for the "three main monotheistic religions" to get together, tolerate each other, find commonalities, and do works together. I think the second-to-final religion will be a combination of all of them. Other religions will suddenly find commonalities, and usefulness in doing works together. (Mormonism, Buddhism, etc).
At first this seems counterintuitive, as in, how can such two different religions such as RCC and Islam, combine to form one? But we keep hearing 'we share one God', Islam mentions Abraham and Jesus, Islam venerates Mary, the Pope has recently said that all people go to heaven and so the anathema thing for the last 1500 years of anyone but a Catholic going there (CCC 816) seems to be suddenly over ... It's happening now and it's happening fast. Look at the following news-
Muslim envoy asks Pope Francis to take 'step forward'
An envoy from Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning, Al-Azhar in Cairo, raised the prospect of restoring
|Mohamed Ahmed el-Tayeb|
"As the world focused on a pope’s election and the enthusiasm that immediately followed, another significant religious event escaped detection. Since Pope John Paul II’s tenure, the Catholic Church has refused to hold Muslim theologians and clergy accountable for the hatred and violence many of them preach. Instead, the Vatican promotes dialogue and mutual understanding at all costs – even at the cost of moral credibility."
Pope Francis Plans On Visiting Israel
"Three months after succeeding Benedict XVI , Pope Francis has intimated he is planning a visit to Israel. ... At the end of the meeting, the deputy foreign minister presented the Pope with a silver embossment of Jerusalem and invited him to visit Israel, to which he replied that he has every intention of doing so.
Evangelicals and Catholics Together, the 2009 Manhattan Declaration, 2012's Rick Warren's interfaith "King's Way-Building Bridges to Muslims" project, and this month's MEPI Interfaith Efforts Lauded by Religious, Civic Leaders in Jerusalem, are all examples of how hard satan is pushing to unite the religions.
Eventually he will be successful. And once that happens, it is but a small step for the satan-ruled antichrist to walk into the temple and declare himself God, (2 Thessalonians 2:4) something he has wanted since almost the beginning. (Isaiah 14:13-14).
Our lord Jesus Christ will not allow that to continue for one second longer than He has ordained. (Daniel 7:25, Revelation 12:6, Revelation 13:5). The following event is going to happen:
"Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords." (Revelation 19:11-16).
My favorite part, "he is called is The Word of God".
The first time Jesus came He shed His blood for us (Revelation 1:5). The second time He comes, He'll shed your blood for Him. (Revelation 14:20). Make sure your name is in His Lamb's Book of Life and you will be raptured with the rest of the saints to glory when these things happen. You will come down with Him from above instead of being below and watching Him come for you.