2 Thessalonians 2
2 Thessalonians 2
2 Thessalonians 2
Good morning Church! You guys are the social media profile picture and... dictionary definition of The Rugged Mainer! This is the no excuses crew! Below zero, wind chill off the charts, and you guys determined that nothing was going to stop you from praising Jesus this morning! Well done! Well done!
We are continuing our verse by verse study through 2 Thessalonians, and will be picking up in chapter 2 this morning. Remember, the letter can be broken up into three parts, chapter one is all about encouraging this church that is undergoing persecution. The descriptive word that is used to describe the level of their persecution is crushing. Like a constant feeling of an elephant sitting on your chest.
Chapter 2 is clarifying some things about the second coming of Jesus. Primarily, the persecution they were facing was so strong, they started to believe that they might have missed the rapture of the church and they were in the Great Tribulation. You may remember one of the questions answered in the first letter was what happens to Christians that die before Jesus comes back for the church. Now, things had gotten so bad, and Paul had told them they were not appointed to the wrath of God, but to the love and salvation of God, they thought, maybe, just maybe they had missed it.
The third and final chapter, Paul deals with some closing issues, primarily those Christians that used the imminent return of Jesus for his church, as an excuse to not work and to just sponge off of others in the church. Paul puts the smack down on them.
Before we begin, on this cold, hard, morning, you guys know there is a day coming where there is no more pain, don’t you? No more frozen pipes, no more “feels like temperature, no more tears, no anxiety, no disappointment, no more aches and pains, perfect body and perfect fellowship.
Jesus said, "1 "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." - John 14:1-3 NKJV That is what every born again believer in Jesus has to look forward to. So let’s dig in to chapter 2.
1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,
4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?
I’ve talked about this some in the past, but when I was a kid, the return of Jesus was a topic of frequent conversation. Often times in more of a threatening way, like you know Jesus could come back at anytime, do you really want Him to come back and see your room looking like this!?! Or do you want Jesus to catch you watching Saturday Night Live? What do you think is going to happen if Jesus comes back and you’re drinking with your friends? Just say no to drugs took on a whole new level of fear.
Then after college, mid 90’s the Left Behind Book Series came out, and that really painted a vivid picture on what the Rapture of the Church might be like. The movies they made from the books were even worse. But the scene is portrayed as cars and trucks are suddenly without drivers and crashing in the middle of intersections. Airplanes falling from the sky, because you know, most pilots are Christians. All of them in this church are, so that makes sense.
There was such a level of expectation of the sudden return of Jesus, that people would pull elaborate pranks, trying to get others to believe they missed the rapture of the church, not so funny really. But it was so prevalent that you might remember a time when you wondered if maybe you had missed it. Maybe mom or dad was late coming home from work. Or nobody could find your brother or sister, you know the good kid.
When we got to the turn of the century that really seemed to die down. Within theology, the focus of study took a shift away from the things of God and began to look at the church, the purpose of the church, the mission of the church, and the modernization of the church. What was good, what was bad, what did the people want? Church by popular opinion became the name of the game, and everyone wanted to be as seeker friendly as they could be. Secular ideas began to dominate, truth was misplaced by talent, and somewhere in that the people stopped looking forward, with expectation to the return of Jesus.
There rose up sort of this internet fascination, with identifying who the Antichrist was. Accusations were made that it might be this world leader, or this rising star, maybe a prominent actor or musician, and eventually even most of that faded away. There are important reasons that Paul says we should not be ignorant of the things to come.
One major one is that we are literally commanded to "comfort each other" with these words. When we people are anxious and fear the unknown, information helps, truth helps. So there is actually a two-fold reason of why there is value in being able to articulate and understand God's future plans for the culmination of human history. The first is that we must have an understanding of the events to come, in order that they can be on our lips, spoken of frequently, so as to bring comfort to one another. The second reason why knowledge here has value is so that we won't personally be shook, or fear, if we are living in those days, or fear the things to come. Such was the case with the Thessalonians at the time that they received this second letter from Paul. Verse 1 again says, 2 Thes 2:1-2
1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.
Now I can’t even tell even tell you how many different commentaries, Bible expositors, and other Bible teachers I looked up, and for a chapter written to clear up confusion, you would be amazed at what different men say Paul is talking about here. So I am going to do my best to tell you what I believe it is saying. In verse 1, 2 Thes 2:1
1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you,
When Paul says concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ AND our gathering together to Him. I believe Paul is talking about the two different aspects of Jesus’ second coming. The first being the rapture of the church when our Lord comes back and we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. 1 Th 4:17.
The second coming being at the end of the Great Tribulation Period when He comes back with the church to set up His Kingdom on earth for a period of time, called the Millennial reign of Christ. So brethren, so Christians, followers of Jesus Christ. Paul says concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ...
There are two different aspects of the second coming of Jesus, separated by a period of time. When we look at the totality of the scriptures, we see different world conditions, different descriptions of Jesus’ return or characteristics, and different predictions concerning the date.
I’m going to give you a lot of information here in a short amount of time, because I want you to get the idea of two separate events separated by a period of time. There are different conditions going on in the world at these two different times.
Matthew 24: verses 37 through 42 says.... Matt 24:37-39
37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
Now completely different conditions....Matt 24:21
21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.
15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!
Listen to the differences the bible describes the manner of His return. The first is what we recently read in 1 Thes 4:16-17
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
The second, and very different…Rev 19:11
11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.
14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
And there are major differences concerning the date…Speaking of His return for His church, the gathering up, Jesus says, Matt 24:36
36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
Concerning His second coming with His church we read in Daniel 12:11
11 “And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.
Paul is going to talk about this event in our passage today. But in his opening he says, I want to talk to you about 2 Thes 2:1
1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you,
2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.
Again their fear was that they missed it, and now they were going to go through a time where the wrath of God is going to be poured out on a Christ rejecting world. And just like a good parent would never say don’t worry, and leave it at that. Or don’t worry because I told you so. Paul gives them information. Information, knowledge can alleviate worry.
The Thessalonians were just like some of us. When things are bad, their never going to get better right? We focus on the bad, and when we do that the bad is all we can see. When things are good, it’s too good to be true, and will never last.
Paul says I’m going to give you three pieces of information, or things that will Identify when the Great Tribulation is here. Now I’ll tell you, I just listened to a well know Pastor teach that these are the things that have to happen before the Rapture of the church, and that is completely false. These are not precursers they are marks of identity of that time. Paul says 2 Thes 2:3-4
3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
So first he says that Day will not come unless The Falling away comes first. There are lots and lots of opinions on what he is talking about here. The reason why there are lots and lots of opinions is we don’t really know. As someone who is personally convinced in a pretribulation I would love to be able to say this great falling away is the rapture of the church. Many pastors teach that, and there is a narrow possibility linguistically of that, but I don’t think that is what he is talking about.
Falling Away…..In addition, the ancient Greek word in the New Testament (Acts 21:21, forsake) or in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew), always implies something sinful and negative. So, hard pressed to say rapture of the church here. SO I don’t think this is a general departure there has been an continual shrinking of the Christian faith for years and years. But this seems to be speaking of something specific, the falling away. It certainly could be the result of the absence of the church.
Think about that…when the church is gone, who is going to care about marriage, sexual purity, abortion, or morality? We are to be salt and light in the word. I know you guys have heard that explained several different ways, but what it means is that we are to be influencers in this world that we live in. This church in Thessalonica you’ll remember, from the first letter, they were influencers. Paul said that the word of the Lord has sounded forth, from them not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place.
So without the church there will be a great, the great falling way. Lots of people are going to fall away from Jesus.
Then, #2 The man of sin will be revealed. Your Bibles might call him, the man of sin, the man of lawlessness, possibly the antichrist or the Beast. Here also called the son of perdition or destruction. This is not intended to be descriptive of his character but rather of his destiny he is going to be destroyed by Jesus. It is interesting that Jesus had this same title for Judas, the son of perdition.
When we read about him in Revelation and particularly in the book of Daniel, we read about what Paul tells us in verse 4 that he opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, he will sit as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
This is what Daniel and later Jesus refer to as the abomination of desolation. So the Holy Temple will be rebuilt…that in itself is a miracle. He will sign a treaty with Isreal, they as will most of the world think he is a miracle worker. Imagine what it would talk to broker peace between the Jews and the Muslims to allow them to rebuild the temple of God, on the Dome of the Rock, the Muslim holy cite.
Well then he will actually go, not just into the Temple, but into the Holy of Holies, the place that represented the very presence of the God, and he will demand the worship of all. Not just the Jews, but those that follow Islam, Krishna's, Buddhists, pagans, making himself and showing only himself apparently, to be God.
Vs. 5 2 Thes 2:5
5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?
Paul was only with these guys for less than a month and he was able to say, come on guys, think. We talked about this stuff, don’t you remember?
6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
Vs. 7 There is Someone who is keeping all of this stuff from happening. Satan want to kick off all of this today, but he can’t because someone is restraining him, blocking him. The presence of the work the Holy Spirit is doing through His work will depart, but He won’t leave in full.
Check out Rev 19 Needless to say, Jesus will kill him, deliver his destiny of destruction, with the breath of His mouth…a word...
9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,
People will be attracted by this power and signs, but all lies from Satan…A political ruler, so someone with global influence, these lying wonders will turn those that are deceived away from God and to him, that may be part of the falling away as he demands worship.
Paul was giving them information so that they wouldn’t panic. He is giving us information, so we won’t panic. So if we begin to experience persecution and trials it doesn’t mean that we’ve missed the kingdom…He’s giving us markers for those that are left behind to read and know what is going on. Details so we will know now, and they will know later, that we don’t have to panic…God has a plan. God knows everything that is happening now and everything that will happen in the future, and He knows what He is going to do about it.
Man of sin will be revealed.
The restrainer will be removed.
10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,
12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth,
Do you know why God chose to save you? Have you ever thought about that? I have. Paul tells us here in verse 14, 2 Thes 2:14
14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He saved you to bring glory to Jesus! 2 Thes 2:15-17
15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.
Listen will you guys pray with me before you go? Wayne and Megan’s new baby girl Priscilla will be having heart surgery tomorrow morning in Boston...
Grace and Peace