A look at 2 Thessalonians 2:1-11
Now as to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and our meeting with him, it is our desire, my brothers, That you may not be moved in mind or troubled by a spirit, or by a word, or by a letter as from us, with the suggestion that the day of the Lord is even now come; Give no belief to false words: because there will first be a falling away from the faith, and the revelation of the man of sin, the son of destruction, Who puts himself against all authority, lifting himself up over all which is named God or is given worship; so that he takes his seat in the Temple of God, putting himself forward as God. Have you no memory of what I said when I was with you, giving you word of these things? And now it is clear to you what is keeping back his revelation till the time comes for him to be seen. For the secret of evil is even now at work: but there is one who is keeping back the evil till he is taken out of the way. And then will come the revelation of that evil one, whom the Lord Jesus will put to death with the breath of his mouth, and give to destruction by the revelation of his coming; Even the one whose coming is marked by the working of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, And with every deceit of wrongdoing among those whose fate is destruction; because they were quite without that love of the true faith by which they might have salvation. And for this cause, God will give them up to the power of deceit and they will put their faith in what is false:
(2 Thessalonians 2:1-11 BBE)
Verse 1) "our being gathered to Him," We tend to call this the rapture, though the
terminology is not found in scripture. It is the Latin term rapio, found in the Vulgate translation.
What we have to go on is this: 1Th 4:17 AMP Then we, the living ones who remain [on the earth], shall simultaneously be caught up along with [the resurrected dead] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so always (through the eternity of the eternities) we shall be with the Lord!
The Greek word that was translated caught up is harpazo, and it means to seize or carry off by force. Force implies a violent, strong action but could also mean rapidly with strength. There is nothing that will stop this action.
Verse 3) "that day" - This terminology, scripturally, is often used in reference to Jesus physical reappearance on earth. It is also synonymous with judgment. We are not talking about judgment here, what we are talking about is our rescue from unprecedented wrath, the great tribulation (Not wrath in general; this is where I think people get hung up. No doubt people are suffering wrath even now.) This will come at the three and half year mark of the peace treaty with Israel.
(Consider: Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Bahrain, Yemen, you name the Muslim majority nation and you will find violence against believers has increased dramatically in many of them.)
Great tribulation - how could it get any worse. Picture attempts at ethnic cleansing that begin to take on global proportions. The word great means large in bulk or dimensions. Jesus said of this time: if the time were not shortened no man would survive.
Verse 6) For Paul to say "now you know" would imply my being told previously or having some kind of understanding. I have no inside track, therefore I have to deduce this for myself. I believe that the answer is in here, in the scriptures. "And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time."
Something or someone is holding him back. Who is the "him" that Paul is referring to? The man of lawlessness.
2 Thessalonians 2:7 GNB (7) The Mysterious Wickedness is already at work, but what is going to happen will not happen until the one who holds it back is taken out of the way.
The one holding it back; is this Christ? No!, for He has already gone away. Heb_12:2 ".. and he is now seated at the right side of God's throne."
Jesus said it was necessary that He go, but in His place He sent the comforter - the Holy Spirit. Joh_16:7 It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
We might assume that is it the Holy Spirit that is removed from the earth? I do not believe so for several reasons. One of the primary reasons I do not believe that to be the case is: After our gathering to him we see an angel flying over the face of the earth declaring the gospel of Jesus. (Look at Rev_14:6 ) There will be many that respond to this; obviously not all.
John 12:32 says; "if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." That active force, still relevant on the earth after the snatching away, is the Holy Spirit of God for the drawing of the heart still continues. Take a look at Revelation 7:9. John sees martyred saints before the throne on two occasions. The second time the number could not be counted. Does this not say something about a drawing of people and the Holy Spirits work.
God has not stepped away momentarily, turning the mad man loose, for the earth was his creation for us, and He has further plans for it.
So what changed?
If you have been paying attention you might have caught something. Many will refer to it as organic, indicating a living thing that grows, moves, and adapts to environmental changes. God never changes, but we like a trained military do. With our purpose directed toward God we can adapt to the environment around us. Reasons: as Pastor Greg Laurie says; Take as many people to heaven with us as we can.
I see far to many people walking around in a darkness that they are choosing to bring upon themselves. That darkness may not get them into the heaven on the first pass and will subject them to the horrors that are to come. What if I can get anyone to wake up, find the truth, and avoid the harder road that comes along with the antichrist. Even if the horror does not knock directly on your door, just the thought of knowing it is out there, and or seeing it happen would be bad enough. You know that gut wrenching feeling of watching the bad thing happening to someone and there is nothing you can do about it.
2Thessalonians 2:7 says: "..but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way."
When we accepted that Christ died for us, relinquishing us from the debt of sin, we became one with Him.
Take the time to look up these passage: 1 Cor 8:6; Col 2:10; Eph 2:4,5 "his love..has..made us alive together with Christ,"
When John sees into heaven he never speaks of the church, the body of Christ, at all after chapter 4 begins. What he does see is Christ and the elders.
There is strong speculation that because we are in Him that he is seeing us when he sees Christ. We might be pictured when he sees the elders.
One other thing. In Revelation 21 John is told to come and see the bride. We, the church, are designated as the bride on several occasions. This different for this reason - John sees the new Jerusalem, a physical structure, where we are building blocks, and we are made of pure gold.
I think this is a strong argument for the church, the body of Christ, being the thing that restrains the lawless one until he, the church, is taken out of the way. Again a singular, organic entity. This would not be uncommon language in God's world for God's name carries a plural implication.
If we have established that it is the church that restrains him, then what is it that we are doing to restrain him?
May I be perfectly honest here. I am undisciplined and I guarantee you that I have not carried my weight in this regard. Sadly, I strongly suspect that most of us are like this. Prayer warriors are few and most are old single ladies, with fewer distractions. If the majority of us are doing little to stop this man, then what is it that is stopping him?
What if it is merely the presence of God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, living inside of us and we in Him. Even if it is the Holy Spirit, are we not talking about God here? If it is the Holy Spirits' indwelling then there is a level of activity happening constantly, that we are not aware of. We know, because scripture tells us, that when we do not know how to pray the spirit does and prays within with groanings that cannot be uttered.
I cannot control my own life, and yet this, if it is true, tells me that God in me is controlling such a destructive man from emerging on the scene.
(I in no way compare with God, but shouldn't his presence in me – contrary to my broken failings – give me at least an understanding that the power of the universe dwells within. Hence Paul can say: I am not of this world, and that we reign with Christ. How meaningless that sounds without some reference point. For me at least things are starting to become clearer. Now how do I translate that clarity into “walking in the spirit and not the flesh”.)
This adds fuel to the argument that it is the church that must be removed in order for this man, who is waiting in the wings, to emerge on the scene.
Verse 8:) And then the lawless one will be revealed,
Paul tells us, as you read on, that the spirit that empowers him is already at work in the world, but short of comic book heroes no one lives forever, therefore when the timing is not only right, but ripe, a man will come on the scene.
Islam believe this man to be the 12th or hidden Imam, otherwise known as the Mahdi. A descendent of Mohammed, a man 40 years old, a military leader, and obviously a spiritual leader. He will initiate a 7 year peace treaty with Israel
(Islamic tradition indicates that he will make this treaty with the aid of a Jewish high priest. Why is that so odd? Muslims are taught to hate the Jews for much the same reasons that Hitler did. Add to this toxic confusion the false prophet of scripture. Islam tells us that “Jesus” comes back for them, not us. And that of course he is a Jew, but not the son of God. Mohammed saved him from death. Their Jesus is a great prophet, and a follower of Islam. When he shows he will defer to the Mahdi and tell everyone how wrong they were and that there is no god but Allah. Can you begin to see why when the Son of God comes back, that he dispatches these two characters immediately; the deception is so ugly and pervasive.)
The potential for the need for a treaty becomes stronger daily.
On Tuesday May 2, 2011, there has been put forth a call for Muslims from every nation surrounding Israel to invade Palestine. Although they claim it will be peaceful demonstration what can that possibly mean when they are also calling it the third intifada - these were the rock throwing wars that they initiated in Israel previously, and that those who come, (there is a fervor in their tone as they address a lack of action on the part of complacent Muslims) must be prepared to die.
Understand that there is no assurance of “salvation” for the Muslim short of your blood being spilled as a martyr. Add to the mix the fact that Sunday evening television (May 1, 2011) was interrupted by special reports indicating that "Sheik" Usama Bin Laden had been killed in a military action by Navy Seals.
Do you not think that tensions will rise. What a fertile ground for the cry of peace.
In light of 2 Thessalonians 2:7,8 it would seem that the timing between our being caught up with Christ and the entrance of the man of lawlessness would be seamless.
It is quite possible that on that day believers in Christ will be gone. Just the fact that so many of us disappear, as we, and God's word have said, should be a strong conviction of error and a motivation to stand against Islam, regardless of your outcome. That is of course dependent upon you understanding what is coming.
Keep in mind that the number of slain, that John saw the second time, was innumerable.
"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."
We tend to think of a "new" actor as a sudden star, when in fact they have been working at their craft for years.
Logically thinking, how would throw a personality onto the world scene and expect every one to comply with him, unless you take that same person, and arm him with the ability to perform all kinds of signs and wonders. Following him might now be more out of fear, unless somehow he is construed as representing god, perhaps Allah.
A motivation to follow this personage could well be some form of deep respect and admiration, based upon my religious beliefs. In other words, if he fits into the pattern of what I understand and have been taught then he must be the one I have been waiting for.
The deception here will run deep. Based upon the premise that I just stated the signs must fill some religious parameters, and according to Islam's creeds they will. But how would this guy have that kind of impact upon the world if they have no clue about the tenets of Islam. Does that not demonstrate how easily people are duped when they desire something extraordinary to satisfy their selfish desires.
Here in is the sad reality of this: Many will follow him because of what they think they can receive from him.
(Insight: Islamic tradition says the Mahdi will be able to bring rains and make crops grow. Not very high tech, but important in the arid middle east. Do not exclude personal safety when you consider these two characters that are coming. For the false prophet tends to play the role of the strong man, forcing people accept Islam or be beheaded.)
This is not a new phenomenon. I saw it in church on many occasions, and it was the cause of a regretful falling out that I had several christian brothers in the Lord. People came where great demonstrations of God's power were present, merely (it would seem) to suck in as much as they could, walk away with their momentary good feelings, and never reproduce any of those things in or toward others as God had commanded.
Jesus told His own disciples, “freely you have received, now freely give”. Give what? The whole package; the emotion, the giftings, the health, and the promise of a new life with the Father.
Verse 9) "The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan.."
I thought God had the only plan. Satan was clever enough to attempt to either destroy God's plan or destroy God himself.
What if Satan could have tricked God into lying, something that God is incapable of. The effect would have been cataclysmic; Satan would have trapped God, and won.
Suppose (it is actually a given) that Satan is the one who is deceived and actually thinks there is a chance for him to succeed. If there is a point here it would be that Satan has had an alternate plan since creation began. His rebellion apparently came before man had been clothed with a body of flesh.
(Side trip - God made man in His image. What is God? A spirit. How do I know this? Jesus said He was and that those that worship Him must do so in spirit and in truth.)
Verse 9, 10) continues to define the work of Satan.
"The coming ... will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, 10) And in every sort of evil that deceives ...
“all kinds of counterfeit miracles...”
Paul also indicates that there will be signs, wonders, and every sort of evil that deceives.
The word counterfeit means: to copy or imitate, without authority or right. Jesus gave his disciples the right to go out do what He had shown them. They had the authority, and so do we, but that authority, that comes from God, extends only to those that are His. As I write this I can hear many say "yeah but!" Perhaps the answer to that lies in the fact that Satan has been counterfeiting since time began.
What can we say about signs, wonders, and miracles. Consider Elijah, he stopped and started the rain. That's impressive. Isaiah spoke and the sun went backward ten degrees on the sun dial; Elisha called fire from heaven and consumed troops; Moses threw down Aaron's rod and it turned into a serpent, not to mention the water into blood, bugs, and frogs. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, as well as at least one other; he healed the sick, and gave hope to many.
People seem to be most impressed with the large, notable things. Islam tells us that the Mahdi will control the weather, and do things similar to any of these; that should draw some attention.
“and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”
If you think about the process of deception you might find it easier to insert a magicians image here. Deception is what makes a magic act effective. How is the audience deceived? You are drawn away from the truth by a distraction. In the case of Chris Angel or David Blaine people might actually believe that these guys can levitate.
The lawless one may well be able to actually do wonders due to his being empowered by Satan. Reasonable people might watch, smile and walk away feeling entertained, while others take what they see as reality. Is it reality if he calls fire down and you get burnt to a crisp?
What of the deceived?
The evil deceives those who are perishing. We are surrounded by evil. Evil seems to own the world, and if we did not have police I think the evil would consume us all. How is it then that evil has the ability to deceive? Because not all evil looks so bad. Everybody is aware of the statement that the love of money is the root of all evil; Why? Because it is based in selfishness, and therein lies the problem with evil. All evil is based in selfishness and no one wants to see it that way. Selfishness says, I want what I want and I want it now.
Do they know that they are going to their destruction? It may be safe to say that if they do it is no longer an aspect of their thinking. Doesn't deception require a mind that wants to believe? Television pitchmen are effective because: they seem believable, and people are looking for something that seems better or satisfies their wants and desires.
Paul said to the Romans, and by extension to us, Romans 6:16 GW Don't you know that if you offer to be someone's slave, you must obey that master? Either your master is sin, or your master is obedience. Letting sin be your master leads to death. Letting obedience be your master leads to God's approval.
James wrote: James 1:14-15 AMP But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). (15) Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death.
This self-entrapment does not happen overnight, it is a pursuit, something that you desire, and demonstrates a deliberate rejection of God's grace toward them.
“They perish because they refused to love the truth.”
We have all allowed ourselves to be deceived, and yet here we are, if we are followers of Christ, caught up in the arms of the Father.
What is the difference?
You did not refuse to love the truth.
Pilot's response was, “ what is truth?” Truth was standing before him. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth”. “If you have seen me you have seen the Father”, therefore we can say that Jesus, his words, and the Father are truth.
To love the truth is to love the Father and His word.
Judging is not our business, therefore those who show little love or interest in his word or life are His problem, and God will sort us out in the end.
“For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie..”
- because they refused to love the truth.
What does it mean to refuse?
Someone can offer you more to eat after you have already eaten, and you politely turn them down; you have refused. But here is the difference. You have not chosen to never eat again, placing a judgment upon the one who offered you the food. Your decision to step away from the table has not changed your desire to eat, nor has it condemned you to punishment.
Apparently we are talking about the conscious decision to refuse all aspects of God and His efforts to show you love.
Unless you are mentally unstable you would not casually sacrifice your own son. My Jesus made himself obedient to the cross, knowing full well the pain and the joy, as many would eventually accept this act as an act of love redemption for and toward them.
I often try to use an analogy that likens Christ death as God coming to this earth, a large adoption agency, and paying the price for everyone of us. The action needed from us is to choose to come with Him and live in His home. Some come with a great appreciation, others come with their attitudes, refusing to act like a family member. Some out right refuse the offer. Does that change the fact that the price was paid? No. Does it change the love and effort made? No. My human nature just reels at someone paying such a huge price, with no guarantees, for those who will refuse to come along. Think about the interactions that God has made with man from the beginning of time. It has always been along the lines of – this is what I will do for you, regardless. It would be wisdom for you to respond.
Everything about this scenario shows the benevolence of the Father toward a people who he knew would refuse and were in man's eyes unworthy of redemption. By the way, there was nothing we could do to buy our way out, the price was to high, and required an impossible perfection. Fortunately, Jesus was willing and fit the perfection aspect. He was completely obedient to the Father's will. Imagine that, with the Father, speaking the worlds into existence. A degree of power that does not lend itself to humility in the human mind, and yet out of love for us he came, and now we are redeemed.