Year 2 Day 362
Read - 2 Thessalonians 2v1-12
Message - Scott Woodburn
There is nothing that tickles our theological tastebuds quite like a discussion of the end times. This isn't a new phenomenon. The Thessalonians were a people with a well developed eschatology, they were eagerly expecting the return of Christ and grew concerned about those who died before that day. In today's passage Paul wrote to calm the fears of his brothers and sisters and to educate them about the Lord's return.
Firstly, Paul urged the church to be neither shaken in mind or alarmed (v2) by any false word related to the return of Christ. Tragically there were many who had made it their business to lie about Christ's return. They were deceivers (v3) who claimed revelations from the "spirit" or who spoke false words or who sent letters supposedly from Paul (v2). Their message was that the day of the Lord had already come and therefore the Thessalonians had missed it.
With this calming word in their ears, Paul then turned to true and solid teaching about the day of the Lord. None of us know the day or hour of Christ's return but the Scriptures are clear about the events that precede the coming of the Lord. Paul tells us that the day of Christ will not come "unless the rebellion comes first" (v3). What does this mean? In the time before Christ's return there will be a great departure from the faith. There will be many professing Christians who will turn their back on Christ - another word for this is apostasy.
Connected to the great rebellion is the revealing of "the man of lawlessness" (v3). Who is this man? Perhaps you will have heard of the Antichrist? Paul also describes him as the "son of destruction" and this individual will rise up within the church in the last days. He opposes Christ and is therefore "against" or "in place" of Jesus - he is anti-Jesus. The man of lawlessness will exalt himself over and above Christ and proclaim himself to be God (v4).
The man of lawlessness is brought forward by the direct activity of Satan (v9) and he will be empowered to do many false signs and wonders (v9b). Those who have refused to believe the truth and be saved will believe the lies of the Antichrist (v10). During the days of rebellion the Lord will send a great delusion across the world bringing condemnation and judgement upon those who took pleasure in unrighteousness (v12).
Amazingly the Scriptures tell us that there have been many antichrists throughout history (1 John 2v18). There are many in this day and age who oppose Christ and just before the return of Jesus there will be one final Antichrist. He will deny the Father and the Son (1 John 2v22) and for a time will be a fierce and final enemy for the people of God.
We can be thankful that even though the mystery of lawlessness (v7) is already at work, the Lord currently restrains the coming of the man of lawlessness (v6). How does the Lord exercise this restraint? There is much debate over the issue and much ink has been put on paper in response. It is my view that the Lord restrains evil and the coming of the final Antichrist by the preaching of the Gospel throughout the world. It is the good news of Christ that thunders through the nations calling all to repentance and faith in Christ. In this way sin is restrained and the coming of the Antichrist is delayed.
Paul speaks of the one who restrains the forces of evil (v7) who will be moved out of the way before the Antichrist comes. Who is the restrainer? Perhaps it is the mighty angel of Revelation 20? Regardless of the restrainer's identity our sovereign God is supreme over the forces of evil.
I'm aware that today's devotion is alarming but my brothers and sisters I offer you the same word of comfort that Paul offered to the Thessalonians. Do not be shaken and do not be alarmed. Yes things are not wonderful and yes we can expect them to get worse before the end - but take heart. God is sovereign and Christ is coming. The ultimate victory isn't in doubt. Christ will come and will kill the antichrist with the breath of his mouth and bring him to nothing (v8). Those who oppose Christ do not win. Evil may seem to flourish but a day of reckoning is coming.
It has been said that everything is going to be okay in the end. This isn't pie in the sky fantasy, it is true. Do not be shaken and do not be alarmed for when all is said and done, Jesus wins.
Q6 How many persons are there in the Godhead? There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.