In 2 Thessalonians 2, Paul speaks about the coming Antichrist. I’ll say it again, just so that I’m not accused of saying what I have not said: I do not believe that Mr. Obama is the Antichrist. There’s a simple reason for that. In my opinion, he is simply not intelligent enough. If that hurts anyone’s feelings who supports Mr. Obama, then all I can say is suck it up and leave my blog. I didn’t say Mr. Obama is stupid. I simply said he is not intelligent enough. The Antichrist will be brilliant and will astound the world. Mr. Obama does not do that. He only astounds his breathless supporters.
At any rate, in the second chapter of Thessalonians, Paul begins the chapter by reminding his readers that they should not worry about several things that he had already told them about. The day of the Lord has not happened yet (while they were alive) because several things needed to occur first.
Regarding that day, Paul clearly states that it won’t arrive “…unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God,” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
The first thing that needs to happen is something Paul calls “the apostasy.” Like nearly everything else in Scripture, commentators and scholars disagree over the exact meaning of this phrase. Some take it to mean that large groups of authentic Christians leave the faith and become unbelievers again, right back where they started. Others, like myself, believe that this is referencing when a person who has been previously professing something as a belief, comes to a point of abandoning that previously held profession. In this case, the person can simply be professing something without actually having been transformed by the truth of their profession.
In other words, there are people who merely profess to be Christians today and may actually believe they are authentic Christians. They live their lives however, according to their own wishes and desires. They aren’t really interested in living for Christ and certainly not interested in submitting their life to Him in order that His will be done in and through them. The reason for this is that they have not been genuinely born again, or born from above, as Jesus explained to Nicodemus in John 3. This spiritual transaction has never taken place within them. Instead, they have simply given intellectual assent to certain beliefs and principles as well as lip service or outward expression to them. No real change took place inside them though. They were never born again.
In my opinion then, Paul is saying that at some point in the future (from his POV), masses of people who have at one time defined themselves as Christians or as “religious” will renounce it. They will walk away from it for whatever reason they come up with, such as it doesn’t make sense to them anymore, or they just had a “change of heart” or something else. For whatever reason, they give up on it, kind of like a person would commit to going to the gym twice a week and then after a while, stop going altogether. In essence, they move away from what they used to participate in.
Now, Paul does not really – at this point – tell us specifically why there is going to be an apostasy, at least not for any reason we will physically see. He just says there will be one. He alludes to the fact that people love lies so much that masses will walk away from the truth with relish. What causes the mass falling away or apostasy is likely something that God brings about and it may have to do with the restrainer.
After the apostasy is underway (or completed), the man of sin will be revealed. In other words, first the apostasy, then at some point, the man of sin is revealed following that. The man of sin is Paul’s phrase for the Antichrist. The sense here is that this Antichrist will be the epitome of sinfulness, which is why Paul calls him the man of sin. He doesn’t just sin. He is enveloped by it because he has fully embraced it and allowed it to fully embrace him.
Paul gives no timeline here really. He doesn’t tell us when the apostasy occurs and he doesn’t specify how much time will pass before the man of sin is revealed after the apostasy either. He simply presents the facts concerning these events. He may not have known the timeline.
A couple of other things to concern ourselves with here. People take the phrase the “day of the Lord” in a variety of ways. Some take it to mean one specific day when Jesus will actually returns to earth. Others, like myself, believe based on numerous Scriptures from the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) that this “day” is a period of time which covers and includes the coming Tribulation period of seven years. I’m not going to debate the issue, nor try to convince anyone. That’s up for the reader to study and determine for themselves. I simply want you to know where I’m coming from to avoid confusion, in case you differ with my opinion. This is actually an important issue to thoroughly research and understand, so have at it.
Another slight issue is what Paul means when he speaks of the man of sin being revealed. Some take that to mean that the man of sin will be revealed when he sits in the rebuilt Temple, which will occur halfway through the Tribulation period. It will be obvious to the world then that he is the man of sin. This is one possibility.
I understand it differently. Paul is speaking to believers here and when we compare Scripture to Scripture, we learn that this same man is the man that Daniel speaks of in Daniel 9:27. He brokers an agreement or covenant that includes Israel and the surrounding Arab nations in order to bring about what turns out to be a temporary peace, but a peace that is supposed to last for seven years. It’s very possible that the Roman believers would have been familiar with the book of Daniel and the information provided there.
In my opinion, Paul is simply elaborating on the man of sin’s actions and character when he says what the man of sin will do (sit in the Temple). Paul is simply offering more of a description, as if trying to jog people’s memories, regarding what he has already told them, as opposed to using that information as the event when the man of sin will do the big reveal.
It’s as if someone were to say something like, “You remember what I was talking about this past Saturday, don’t you? Remember how I spoke about going fishing and how we would have to first get our fishing equipment together, buy some worms, then stake out our place on the lake where we would spend all day hanging around under the shade of the trees waiting for some huge bass to take the bait? Don’t forget before we do that, we have to get the car serviced for the trip.”
That might not be the greatest example, but the reality to me is that Paul is simply giving an extended characterization of the man of sin to help people remember what he had told them. In fact, he says this in verse 5. “Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?”
So what is more likely in my opinion, is that Paul is saying that any believers who are alive when the man of sin takes his place on the world’s stage, will know him when he brokers a covenant with Israel and surrounding Arab nations. Since this event happens 3 1/2 years before he sits in the seat in the Temple, he will actually be revealed at that point to the world and any Christians alive then will be aware of this event and understand its significance. He will already be known by the world when he takes a seat in the rebuilt Temple. Yes, he is “revealed” for who he is at that point, but any Christians living when the Tribulation starts are going to know him because of his association with the covenant before he sits in the Temple.
Obviously then, the man of sin will be known to believers when he brokers a covenant with Israel and gains for them, seven years of peace. I cannot imagine that this will be something that is hidden from world view. Once the man of sin brokers this covenant, the Tribulation will begin and since I believe the Tribulation is part of the day of the Lord, then it all works out according to what Paul has explained. You may have your own reasoning, which is different from mine. That’s perfectly fine, but just be convinced in your own mind and don’t lord it over other Christians who disagree with you. Keep the peace in love and humility.
But getting to the main point of this article, has any of this happened yet in the world today? Yes, I fully believe that the world has been experiencing the apostasy that Paul speaks of for some time. What causes this apostasy? Something behind the scenes that we will not see, as pointed out. We will see the result of this hidden action.
In verses seven and following, Paul speaks of the fact that a “mystery of lawlessness” comes into play with the world. It is this mystery of lawlessness that provides the reason people will succumb to the apostasy.
This mystery of lawlessness has been at work in the world for quite some time, but as we approach the end times prior to the start of the Tribulation, this mystery of lawlessness becomes far more pronounced. Verses 9 and part of 10 tell us, this mystery of lawlessness is “in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish.” The word “perish” here means not simply physically dying, but leaving this physical world and going into eternal torment. Anyone who is not an authentic believer is classified as someone who is currently perishing because that is where they will end up, unless they change course.
Paul then tells us that they are on a course that is leading them to perish because they don’t love the truth that could save them and provide them with eternal life. Put simply, they prefer lies, even though those lies will drag them further away from God and His salvation.
The lies they prefer to believe sound very palatable and even logical to them, so to them, people who believe God are completely out of step. We Christians are to either be pitied, or be on the receiving end of the world’s ire due to our “closed mindedness.” We are unable to change and see that truth is “relative” and therefore changeable, so we are completely out of step with modern society and in the way essentially. The world will pity us for a bit, then simply become angry with us and want us gone. If you consider yourself to be a Christian and the world does not hate you, then you are very likely doing something wrong. Jesus told us that the world will hate us because it hated Him (cf. Matthew 10:22). If we are authentic Christians, He lives in us through the indwelling Holy Spirit, reason enough for the world to be motivated to hate us, even though they, for the most part, will not know why.
Satan is the father of lies (cf. John 8:44), so those who follow his path also love and prefer lies to the truth. That certainly stands up to logic. Ironically, this same world that hates Christians and Christianity, will have no difficulty putting up with every other religious ideology including Islam, because all of these ideologies come from the father of lies and are meant to imitate and even replace the truth of God.
This is the way many people are today. They want to believe what they want to believe and according to God’s Word, much of what people believe today are nothing more than lies. They are so blind to the truth (because they have no love for the truth), that they are completely unable to see truth at all, but instead see lies as truth, even though those lies do not present any logical conclusion.
So lies are the new truth because they are often easier to accept than actual truth. They are certainly more pleasurable to accept. Authentic truth – God’s truth – can be galling and people hate to be “galled.” Yuck. Who wants that? No way. Just give people palatable lies that are easy to swallow to keep them happy in their bondage to sin and Satan.
But Paul is not done. He really saves the worst for last. Because there is a mystery of lawlessness in the world (that will result in apostasy among the religious), this mystery finally “gives birth” to the man of sin. From there, it creates a global society of people who prefer lies to the truth that could save them and then God does one more thing.
For all those who hate the truth, God “will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness,” (v. 11). Ouch! God is simply rubber stamping their rejection of Him, since that is what they truly want.
Looking at society today – either in the U.S. or globally – what authentic Christian would argue that people in general are not deluded by the lies they believe? Certainly, there are many who would say I’m thoroughly off base and they are entitled to their opinions. But the truth of the situation seems to be that America has most certainly been taking over by a belief system that is not in line with God’s truth. Because of that, Paul says that God eventually sends a deluding influence so that they will come to believe what is completely false and they will believe it as if true.
It almost seems circular, but it’s not. People in society reject the truth. They do this continually until they no longer believe the truth they have rejected, but the lies they are drawn to. That’s a decision they have made. At that point, God sends a delusion or deluding influence so that they cannot believe the truth, but only lies. It is on this they are judged.
The United States is still in God’s control though it is obviously being governed by men and women who have been deluded by one lie after another. Psalm 2 makes it clear that God controls the nations. Yet, there are many who hate God and want nothing to do with Him or His truth. They have spent their lives rejecting His truth in favor of lies. They want to believe the lies they entertain instead of the truth.
In order to continue to advance His purposes and plans, He sends a deluding influence that will seal their fate; a fate they have earned because of the way they have spent their lives loving lies.
I believe we have passed the point of no return for America. The floodgates have been opened and those who have been sincerely waiting to see the downfall of this great nation and have even been working towards it, will see it sooner than later. What is coming down the road is not pretty. But there is no way that the world can move toward the Tribulation with America still standing. It simply cannot happen. Everything must collapse.
Frankly, I would not be at all surprised if this was the last presidential election our nation experiences. We may have future elections, but they will be only for show. In many ways, that’s all this one was – for show – to make the populace believe that we actually have a say in picking the person who sits in the Oval Office. We really don’t. Thinking back, I wonder how presidents have been hand-picked by someone or something, but made to appear as if we, the people have had a major part in it.
The pieces have been moved into position. Things are moving ahead with much greater clarity now. I think with this recent election, the timeline for the End Times just got much clearer. Cling to Jesus. Take care of your family. Here we go.
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