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Author Topic: 2nd Thessalonians Title Study  (Read 525 times)

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Hidden In Him

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2nd Thessalonians Title Study
« on: September 17, 2018, 02:00:10 PM »
Know God's Prophetic Timeline, To Avoid Being Deceived

     Ever noticed how easily some Christians can get deceived into thinking the return of Christ is only months or years away? They watch some Youtube video suggesting the end of all things has come, buy into it, and begin looking to the skies for the second coming. As this study will show, the word teaches we should know better than to allow ourselves to get deluded into falling for such things, yet every year there seems to be some new delusion coming along that sweeps many up into hysteria over nothing.
     What are Satan's objectives in this? He doesn't merely want to deceive believers. If possible, he wants to make them become so disillusioned that they cast aside all hope and trust in God's word, forsake Christ, and abandon their faith altogether. In extreme cases he robs them of their money and destroys their lives as well, by conning them into investing everything they have in a false hope, thereby also making "faith in Christ" out to be something only fools put their trust in. 
     In 30 years as a Christian, I have seen believers buy into a number of end-time delusions. At the turn of the century, there was a big scare about the coming of "Y2K" (the year 2,000), and how all the computers were going to shut down, the world's economies were going to crash, and it would usher in the end-times. As it turned out, nothing happened. Life continued on as normal, leaving those who bought into it to deal with the embarrassment of having gotten paranoid for nothing. Fast forward ten years later, and a radio personality named Harold Camping insisted that the rapture of the church was going to take place on May 21, 2011. Again it didn't, and many who sold their possessions to travel the country in buses and warn that the rapture was coming ended up destitute and disillusioned in their faith. In 2017, William Tapley and Scott Clarke presented another theory that the rapture of the church would have to take place before September 23rd, 2017, because the great tribulation would begin at this time in accordance with astronomical events that were believed would fulfill a verse in Revelations, Chapter 12. But this too turned out to be a fabrication, and an embarrassment to everyone who put stock in it.

                                                 

     Are more such embarrassments coming? I am a member of several Christian forums, and one of them currently has two members who are each publicly proclaiming the date of Christ's return. One is a Messianic Jew who believes he has found evidence in the Torah that His return will take place in 8 years. The other is a Gentile believer who has also done supposed calculations that prove the Lord will be returning in 12 years. Both have their own websites and ministries, and despite receiving warnings that they should not be setting dates, both are still standing by their predictions more defiantly than ever.
    What does scripture say Christians should do to be prepared not to be duped by such deceptions? In Second Thessalonians, Paul appears to have been preparing them for the possibility that some would say the Day of the Lord was already at hand. As we shall see, he taught them that there would be a chronological order to the way prophetic events unfolded, and if certain events had not yet taken place then they had no need to worry about the Day of the Lord having come yet.
     Unfortunately, the fact that many are poorly educated in the word makes it once again necessary to teach these scriptures. For those who remain in the dark, the enemy may deceive them into thinking His return is at hand when it is not, and they may ultimately become disillusioned and cast aside their faith in God's word entirely.


The Apostasy Must Take Place First

     Beginning in Chapter 2, Paul began listing some things that needed to happen prophetically before the Day of the Lord could come, and as he added in verse 5, these were apparently things that he had taught them before:

     Now we implore you, brothers, by the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto Him, that you not become quickly disturbed in mind nor troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as if written by us [intimating] that the Day of the Lord is here. No one should deceive you in any way if the apostasy has not [yet] come first and that man of lawlessness has been revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above everything that is called God or is worshipped, so as for him to sit down in the temple of God, exhibiting himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was with you I was telling you these things? (2 Thessalonians 2:1-5)

     What exactly did he tell them when he was with them? It is likely he gave them the same teaching Christ gave His disciples in Matthew 24. First would come an increasing time of great war and natural disasters on earth. This would be followed by the nations rising up to persecute believers, and this persecution would be so intense that many would apostatize from the faith. Then the Antichrist would finally arise, and seek to annihilate the Jews and Christians completely. But before this could take place, the Lord will return in power from Heaven to execute vengeance upon the wicked, and rapture His people out from under the power of the Antichrist to meet Him in the air:

     Nation shall raise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be famines and earthquakes in places. But all these are the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you up to affliction, and will kill you. And you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be scandalized, and deliver one another up and hate one another... When therefore you shall see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation, that having been spoken of through the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand) - then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him that is on the rooftop not come down to take anything out of his house, and let him that is in the field not return back to take his garment. But woe unto those having a child in the womb, and to those giving suck in those days. Pray that your flight not be in the winter, nor on the sabbath day, for then shall be great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall be. And if those days were not shortened, no flesh would be saved, but on account of the chosen those days shall be shortened... but immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in the heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth wail, and they shall see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory... Then two will be in the field, with one being taken and one left behind; two grinding at the mill, with one being taken and one left behind. (Matthew 24:7-9, 15-22, 29-31, 40-41)

     Paul now taught some of this same sequence to the Thessalonians. First the apostasy would have to take place, when the nations turned on the saints and delivered up to affliction, and many apostatized and betrayed the Lord in order to save their lives. Then the Antichrist would manifest, sit in the temple himself, and thereafter set up the abomination that causes desolation, and only after these things took place should anyone expect the Day of the Lord (and the rapture of the church) to come. 
     Those who teach the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory translate the word apostasy as "departure" in order to interpret it as a reference to the rapture of the church. In other words, they have Paul saying to them, "no one should deceive you into thinking the Antichrist has come if the 'departure' (i.e. the rapture of the church) has not yet come first." But the Greek word used here is literally "apostasia," from which we get our English word apostasy, and it meant the same thing then that it does now: The abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief. The one other place where this word is used in the New testament is found in Acts, where it is said of Paul that he was supposedly teaching "apostasy from Moses," or in other words renouncing the need to keep the law of Moses (Acts 21:21).
     Thus, inserting the word "departure" here is an overt mistranslation. If Paul had meant to say "departure" there were several other Greek words he could have used to communicate this better. Moreover, since he described the rapture in other places as the "catching away" of the church (1 Thessalonians 4:17), he would more likely have used these words instead, seeing as this was the wording he normally used when referring specifically to the rapture. But a closer look reveals Paul was talking here about a time when believers would begin apostatizing from the faith en masse, an event Jesus Himself said must precede the coming of the Day of the Lord.


The Nations Must First Turn Against Believers

     In Christ's teachings in Matthew 24, one of the first events He told the disciples to look for would be when the nations began to persecute believers to their deaths. When this occurred, many would begin apostatizing, and start betraying one another in order to save their own lives:

     Then they will deliver you up to affliction, and will kill you. And you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be scandalized, and deliver one another up and hate one another. And many false prophets shall arise and mislead many. And through the lawlessness that is to be multiplied, the love of the many will be turned cold. But the one who has endured until the end, this one shall be saved. And this good news of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in all the habitable earth for a testimony unto all nations, and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:9-14)

     This means that the Day of the Lord's wrath will happen for a reason. It will come as a result of the nations having turned against His people, and bringing violence and persecution against them which is so intense that it causes many of them to forsake the Lord. Their love for Him will turn cold, because they will be threatened with affliction, imprisonment and death unless they abandoned faith in Christ.
     This is why the Lord's return in judgment will be called the Day of His vengeance:

     Come near, you nations, to hear. And heed, you people! Let the earth hear, and all that is in it; the world and all things that come forth from it. For the vengeance of the Lord is against all nations, and His fury against all their armies. He has utterly destroyed them. He has given them over to the slaughter. Also their slain shall be cast out. Their stench shall rise from their corpses, and the mountains shall be wet with their blood. All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll. All their host shall fall down as the leaf falls from the vine, and as fruit falling from a fig tree. (Isaiah 34:1-4)

     Again the Lord declared in Isaiah:

     I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with Me. I trampled them in My anger and trod them down in My wrath; their blood spattered My garments, and I stained all My clothing. It was for Me a Day of vengeance; the year for Me to redeem had come. (Isaiah 63:3-4)

     The Lord will return specifically to destroy the Antichrist, through whom Satan will finally attempt to exterminate the faithful completely (Matthew 24:15-22; Revelations 12:13-17). But as Paul will add in this letter, those who subject the saints of God to affliction will themselves suffer affliction on the Day of the Lord, because He will return to execute vengeance upon the enemies of His people:

     It is a just thing with God to repay affliction to those afflicting you, and to you who are being afflicted rest together with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from Heaven together with the angels of His power, who in flaming fire will inflict vengeance upon those who do not know God, and those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:5-8) 

     Has the persecution and affliction of believers risen to the point in the earth where the apostasy has come yet, and multitudes are betraying Christ to save their lives? No. It has not. This will happen eventually, and already is to a very small extent in parts of the world where jihad is being carried out against Christians in the name of Allah. But strictly speaking, this prophecy has not been fulfilled yet, and we need not become concerned that the Day of the Lord has come yet until it does.


The Fourth Beast Of Daniel Must Arise First

     The book of Daniel describes fours "beast" or empires that will rule the earth before the Messiah comes to set up His own government, one that will last for eternity. The last of these will be the most destructive of all:

     As for me Daniel... I drew near to one of them that stood by, and I sought to learn of him the truth of all these things. And he told me the truth, and made known to me the interpretation of these things. The four beasts are four kingdoms that shall rise up on the earth, which shall be taken away, and the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom and possess it for ever and ever. Then I enquired carefully concerning the fourth beast, for it differed from every other beast, being exceedingly dreadful. Its teeth were of iron and its claws of brass, devouring [its victims], and utterly breaking them to pieces, and it trampled the remainder with its feet, and concerning the ten horns that were in its head and the other that came up, and rooted up some of the former. That horn had eyes, and a mouth speaking great things, and his look was bolder than the rest. I beheld, and that horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them until the Ancient of days came, and He gave judgment to the saints of the Most High, and the time came on that the saints possessed the kingdom. And he said, "The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom on the earth, which shall excel all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth and trample and destroy it. And the ten horns are ten kings that shall arise, and after them shall arise another who shall exceed all the former ones in wickedness, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak words against the Most High and wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and law. And power shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time. But judgment has sat, and they shall remove his dominion to abolish it and utterly destroy it. And the kingdom and power and greatness of the kings under the whole heaven were given unto the saints of the Most High, and His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all powers shall serve and obey Him. (Daniel 7:15-27, LXX)

     The words, "Its teeth were of iron and its claws of brass, devouring [its victims], and utterly breaking them to pieces, and it trampled the remainder with its feet" mean that this last empire will conquer by military conquest, and its conquests will be utter and complete. Instead of allowing these conquered nations to continue to exist in a new form, many will simply be virtually wiped off the map rather than subsumed. In other words, it will carry out a war of extermination against many nations.
     But the Antichrist is also described here as the "little horn" who will make war against the saints. The empire he rises to assume power over will be an alliance between ten nations, and when he rises to power he will usurp three of them. That means that this empire will already have to exist in the earth before the Antichrist can emerge. It will already need to be established and in place for the Antichrist to assume power over it.   
     When the apostle Paul referred to "the lawless one," he was talking about this same personality. Daniel said of the Antichrist that "he will seek to change times and law," and by this he meant that the Antichrist would outlaw the observance of Jewish laws, and the worship of the Jewish God. Those who continue to worship the True and Living God will be put to death:
 
     Do you not remember that when I was with you I was telling you these things? And you know it yet remains for him to be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already on its way to realization, only he is holding back at present until he manifests out of the midst, and then shall that lawless one be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus Christ will destroy with the breath of His mouth, and depose with the brightness of His coming. (2 Thessalonians 2:5-8)

     As we shall see in Studies #3 through #5, Paul believed this empire was Rome, and that an emperor was soon going to emerge to fulfill these prophesies and usher in the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is why he said that "the mystery of lawlessness is already on its way to realization, only he [the Antichrist] is holding back at present until he manifests out of the midst, and then shall that lawless one be revealed." He was saying that he believed the Antichrist was already alive and biding his time until he rose to power over the empire, and began to fulfill everything prophesied in the scriptures.
     Did they have reason to believe the Antichrist might be alive in their time, and by extension that the Lord's return might be soon at hand? Yes, because the fourth beast of Daniel was already in place, or at least it appeared to be. All that needed to take place was for "the lawless one" to emerge, assume rulership, march on Jerusalem, and take his seat in the temple pf God displaying himself that he is god.
     Do we have similar reasons to believe the Antichrist is alive and will soon be revealed to the world? No, we do not. There is not even a Jewish temple standing in Jerusalem at present, and  the fourth beast does not yet exist in the earth. As we shall see, there are signs that this empire is now slowly starting to take shape among the Muslim nations, but it still has a long way to go, which means we have no need to worry that the Day of the Lord has come yet.


Powerful False Christs Must Also Appear First

     Another thing Jesus said would precede the coming of the Day of the Lord would be false Christs and false prophets, who would come performing great signs and wonders to deceive people away from the truth. As He warned His disciples ahead of time:

     Then if anyone says to you, "Behold, the Christ is here, or there," do not believe it. For there will arise false Christs and false prophets, and they will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead if possible even the elect. Behold, I have foretold you. If therefore they say to you, "Behold, He is in the wilderness," do not go forth, or "Behold, He is in the private rooms," do not believe it. For as the lightning comes forth from the east and appears as far as the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. Immediately after the distress of those days... will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will wail when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with Power and great Glory. And He will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." (Matthew 24:23-31)

     The apostle Paul once again mirrored these prophesies by adding that the coming of the Antichrist would be accompanied by increasing manifestations of demonic power through false Christs and false prophets. As he would tell the Thessalonians:

     The coming of [the lawless one] will correspond with the demonic activity of Satan, [manifesting] in all the power, signs and wonders of falsehood and in all the deceitfulness of unrighteousness unto those who are perishing, on which account they have received not the love of the truth for them to be saved. And it is for this reason that God is sending them this demonic activity which endorses error for them to believe the lie: So that all may be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:5, 9-12)

     If you'll notice, Paul described these things as happening in the present tense. That means he was referring to things that were already happening in the earth, and as will be seen in studies #8-10, there was already at least one false Christ operating in the earth by thus time, and he was performing demonic signs and wonders before the Roman senate that were so powerful they were declaring him to be a god.
     Many are quick to call people "false prophets" who teach doctrines they don't happen to agree with, but the false prophets mentioned in these passages will be endowed with a satanic blessing to perform great signs and wonders by the power of demonic spirits; signs and wonders powerful enough to deceive even the very elect if that were possible. Do we see such false prophets and false Christs operating in the earth yet? No, we do not, and until we do we should not be fooled into thinking the Day of the Lord is approaching yet.


Are You Susceptible To Being Deceived?

     Don't assume you are beyond deception. Circumstances can change, and with them your psychological state might as well. Suppose someone came along tomorrow and said, "I can prove that Christ will be returning to earth in eight years." If your life was good you would probably respond by thinking, "I'm fine if He does return, and fine if He doesn't, so whatever happens happens." But then suppose they told you the same thing six months later, after you developed a crippling illness that caused you continual pain and debility. Suppose they told you after you were injured and could no longer work, and your debts were now piling up with no foreseeable solution. Suppose they told you after your marriage had suddenly ended in divorce, and you were now looking at the prospect of enduring loneliness and heartache for years to come. Under these conditions suddenly you might welcome the idea of Christ's return as a ray of hope in an otherwise dark world.
     It is in circumstances like these that the enemy sets people up for disillusionment. They invest themselves in a false hope thinking their "salvation" is drawing near only to find they were deluded, and are now even worse off than they were before. But this happens because God's people neglect to educate themselves in what the scriptures actually teach about His prophetic timeline, and the events that must precede the coming of the Day of the Lord. I believe Jesus Himself specifically laid out Matthew 24 so that we would have clear signs to look for that would precede His coming, and only after we saw them coming to pass should we begin looking for His return. As He told the disciples:

     Learn the parable of the fig tree: When its branch becomes tender and puts forth leaves, you know that the summer is near. Thus, you also, when you see all these things, then know that it is near, even at the doors. (Matthew 24:32-33)


                                                 

     This series of studies covers a number of things related to the end-times. Study #1 covers the Lake of Fire, where it will be located, and how belief in the surety of God's coming judgments gave the saints patience in the midst of enduring trials. Study #2 covers the affliction of the saints during the end-times, and that He will return to avenge them in flaming fire on the Day of His wrath. Studies #3-5 cover the Antichrist's coming reign of genocide, and how all signs point to Islam as being the religion through which he will manifest himself. Studies #6-7 cover several of the things that yet remains before the Antichrist can be revealed to the world. Studies #8-10 deal with how false Christs will manifest themselves during the end-times, what sort of "miracles" they will preform, and what teachings we can expect them to espouse. Study #11 deals with Satan's coming attack on the Christian traditions, something that is already underway. Study #12 deals with how believers are commanded to remaining pure of heart in the face of Satanic attacks, and from the hatred coming from wicked men. And Study #13 will deal with combatting the financial exploitation of Christianity.


                                                 



« Last Edit: March 14, 2019, 01:39:17 PM by Hidden In Him »