At 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic—the biggest, grandest ship of its time—collided with an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City. Less than three hours later the seemingly unsinkable ship did the unthinkable—it sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean. Of the more than 2200 passengers and crew aboard, over 1500 people lost their lives. The shipwreck was one of the first global news events, and the worldwide shock was equivalent to that of the 9/11 World Trade Center disaster nearly a century later. Over the ensuing years, hundreds of books have been written about this infamous “Ship of Dreams,” its lessons, and how “perfect storm” circumstances seemed to conspire to make sure that anything that could possibly go wrong, did go wrong.
One of those testifying at the United States Senate Inquiry regarding the disaster, described the events surrounding Titanic’s end as “a very deceiving night.”1 Nineteen hundred years previous, Jesus Christ described the period before the world’s end as a very deceiving “night.” He said, “the night” is coming “when no man can work” (John 9:4). He stated that spiritual deception—not spiritual revival—would be the chief sign preceding His return (Matthew 24:3-4). He warned that “false Christs” and “false prophets” would “arise,” and their deceptive “signs and wonders” would be so “great” that, “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:5, 11, 24).
In reading about and reflecting upon the Titanic and the deadly iceberg that took it down, one is reminded of the Bible’s prophetic warnings about Antichrist and his Antichrist system—the coming “beast” that will “rise up out of the sea” to deceive and destroy:
And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. (Revelation 13:1)
It has been well-documented how design flaws, tragic oversights, false confidence, complacency, pride, greed, denial, disregarded warnings, missed messages, and unpreparedness all played a part in the Titanic shipwreck: How those in charge had underestimated the physical danger that was in their midst. Sadly, undiscerning church leaders today share many of these same characteristics as they similarly underestimate the spiritual danger in their midst.
While Titanic lookout Frederick Fleet shouted out his “Iceberg right ahead!” warning a moment too late, today’s church leaders are issuing almost no warnings at all regarding spiritual deception (1 Corinthians 14:8). Yet God, through His infinite grace and prophetic Word, has already issued His “iceberg warnings” for just “such a time as this”—“Spiritual deception right ahead!” (Matthew 24:3-5), “False prophets, false teachers, false teachings right ahead!” (2 Peter 2:1), “Strong delusion with all power and signs and lying wonders right ahead!” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11), “Deceptive peace and safety right ahead!” (1 Thessalonians 5:3), “A beast rising up out of the sea right ahead!” (Revelation 13:1).
The six wireless warnings sent to the Titanic on the day of its tragic collision were not warning about a possible ice field that might lie before them. They were warning about a specific ice field that did lie before them. In a similar manner, Scripture doesn’t warn about a possible Antichrist figure that might “rise up” in the world, but about a specific Antichrist and Antichrist system that will “rise up” in the world. This Antichrist will be a most deceptive false Christ figure. He will not only come in his own name pretending to be Christ (John 5:43), but he will actually oppose the true Christ—Jesus Christ—and all that He stands for (Daniel 8:25).
The Titanic—despite all those “last day” warnings—did not escape its deadly encounter with the iceberg. In similar fashion, the world and a deceived professing church—despite all the Bible’s “last days” warnings—will not escape its deadly encounter with Antichrist and his Antichrist system (Revelation 13).
This article is an extract from Warren B. Smith’s new book, The Titanic and Today’s Church—A Tale of Two Shipwrecks. You may learn more about Warren at www.newagetoamazinggrace.com. All his materials (books, booklets, and DVDS) are available through Lighthouse Trails. The painting above (“Sinking of the RMS Titanic”) by Willy Stöwer is in the public domain. Endnote #1: Captain Stanley Lord, United States Senate Inquiry, Day 8; US Senate Hearings: STL285 (Titanic Inquiry Project, http://www.titanicinquiry.org/USInq/AmInq08Lord03.php).