Memphis Belle

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2nd Thessalonians 1:1-13
2nd Thessalonians 2:6-12
2nd Thessalonians 2:13-17

 

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2nd Thessalonians 2:1-12

 

“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.  Let no man deceive you by any means:  for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.  Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?  And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.  For the mystery of iniquity doth already work:  only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.  And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:  even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.  And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:  that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 

 

“2nd Thessalonians chapter 2, we kind of read down a few verses at the end of our last study when we did chapter 1, and we’re going to back up and take a running start into the chapter again.  So, the tape library is already in total confusion, and the computer doesn’t understand.  The computer just scratches his head and says ‘Wait a minute, you already began in chapter 2, you can’t do that again,’ computers don’t understand these things.  I enjoy things computers don’t understand.  How’s it feel?  That’s how I feel about computers.  I still read books.  Imagine that.  I tried to become computer-friendly, several years ago.  And I quickly began to be addicted.  And then I started to hear ‘You spend more time with that thing than you do with,’ and then I would find something I liked and I would set the print button to print it out, and I would sit in the park and read it anyway [that’s why all these studies have a print-button section, book-reading is not dead, nor will it ever die].  And then of course my kids were like 40,000 times faster than I am in regards to the computer, and they would change everything, and then I’d come back to a computer I thought I was familiar with, and it would say ‘No, we don’t do it that way anymore, now you have to go this way if you want to save information.’  [I was born “BC, before-computer” too, and no one touches my computer without my permission.  I sympathize with Pastor Joe 100 percent.]  When I started to have violent tendencies I thought ‘I’m really faster with a book, so I’ll continue to read, and do it the old fashioned way.’  [When I first met Pastor Joe he was in his early 40’s and I was in my later 40’s, now we’re both in our mid to late 60s, and technology is racing past us both, leaving us in the dust.  But at least we’re both using computer technology to get this precious information out to the world via the Internet, taking it far and wide.]  So, I hope the computer is completely confused about where I start this evening. 

 

‘Let No Man Deceive You By Any Means:  For That Day Shall Not Come, Except There Come A Falling Away…And That Man Of Sin Be Revealed

 

Really, these twelve verses in this second chapter are the heart of this second letter of Thessalonians, written about a year after the first letter.  And these first five verses are corrective, there has been a problem, and Paul is correcting it.  “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,” and it’s in the sense ‘our being gathered to him as an assembly,’ that is what he had talked to them about in the first epistle.  That he didn’t want them to be ignorant concerning those who are asleep [dead], ‘that you sorrow not even as others who have no hope, for if you believe that Jesus died and rose again,’ and he goes through that passage, ‘that Christ is coming, and that those of us that are alive are going to be caught up together in the air to meet the Lord in the air,’ he includes himself, ‘those of us that are alive are going to be caught up together in the air to meet the Lord in the air,’ he includes himself, masculine personal pronoun “we” shall be caught up to meet him in the air, and the dead in Christ shall rise first, we’ll all be in his presence, wherefore comfort one another with these words.  Now you have no need brethren that we write unto you in regards to times and seasons, you yourselves know perfectly well that the Day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night, and when “they” shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction comes,’ and he goes back and forth between “we” and “they”, and delineates the fact that the hope of the Church, the hope of Christ-receivers, is to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and it is not the hope of Christ-rejecters, which are to be left here through the Great Tribulation.  Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 speak of the Lord, those discourses speaking of his 2nd coming to the earth to rule, and he speaks in those discourses to those who will be here during that time of tribulation, ‘When you see the desolation of abomination spoken of by Daniel the prophet, then let the reader understand, let those in Judea flee to the mountains (Matthew 24, verses 15-16),’ he goes through those things, in regards to the antichrist, ‘When you see this happen.’  John’s Gospel, written to the Church, his teaching on the 2nd coming was ‘Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me, in my Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you.  Lo, I go to prepare a place for you, if I go to prepare a place for you, I’ll come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am you may also be’ (John 14:1-3) no Jew understood that.  Because they believed that Messiah was coming to set up his Kingdom on the earth, and all of a sudden Jesus is talking to the Church about coming, he’s going to prepare a place, and he’s coming to receive the Church to himself.  Paul says here that he doesn’t want them to be deceived, he’s begging them, ‘And by the coming of our Lord, and by our being gathered together unto him, that you be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand’ (2nd Thessalonians 2:1-2), ‘I don’t want you be freaked out by somebody prophesying in the name of the Lord, as by spirit, or by word, something supposedly that’s come from us, or some spurious epistle, false letter written without apostolic authority that says that the day of the Christ,’ your translation may say “the Day of the Lord,” certainly Old Testament prophets wrote of the Day of the LORD, but the New Testament says Christ is the LORD, Day of Christ, Day of the LORD, we won’t make a huge delineation there, ‘that the day of Christ is at hand,’ should be translated “has already come.”    ‘We don’t want you to be shaken from your hope, we’re beseeching you by the coming of the Lord, and our being gathered unto him, that some false report doesn’t come to you and shake you, teaching you, or telling you that the day of the Lord, of God’s judgment, has already begun.’  And they were in the midst of persecution, and there were those who were coming, saying ‘This is the Tribulation that Paul spoke of.’  And Paul says ‘I don’t want you to believe that, that’s not what’s taking place,’  “Let no man deceive you by any means:  for that day shall not come, except there come the falling away first,” there’s a definite article there, there has always been apostasy in the Church, Jesus addressing the seven churches in the Book of Revelation challenged them about certain things.   Jude was going to write about our common Faith, but he had to write that you would defend “the faith that was once delivered unto the saints,” it was already under attack.  “for that day shall not come, except there come the falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.  Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?” (verses 3-5)  Now this is remarkable, again, because these were the earliest epistles most likely that we have of Paul.  This is years, decades, before John writes the Book of Revelation and tells us about the antichrist, very early on.  And you know, he said he received the Gospel by revelation of Jesus Christ, when he was in the desert of Arabia.  We’re not sure what else the Lord communicated to him, but he says ‘Don’t you remember that I told you these things,’ and the tenses there mean ‘I continually reiterated these things, I spoke of these things to you many times when I was with you.’  He was only there for three weeks before he was driven out.  And again, there are those who say that the study of eschatology, the 2nd coming of Christ, apocalyptic things, prophecy is not important to new-believers.  Well here is Paul with these one-week-old, two-week-old, three-week-old baby Christians in Thessalonica, and he said ‘Don’t you remember when I was with you, I spoke to you about these things over and over?---the coming of Christ, the end of the age, the Great Tribulation, the Rapture of the Church, the antichrist, the great deception that would overtake the world.’  Very interesting to see.  And I think 2nd coming prophecy is a very important part of our faith, again, because I think of the hope we have in regards to Christ is a purifying hope.  And Paul is challenging those who are trying to detract from that hope in regards to this young church at Thessalonica. 

 

The Great Falling Away, Apostasy From The Faith

 

“Let no man deceive you by any means:  for that day shall not come, except” for two things, first: the falling away” and secondly, “the man of sin…the son of perdition,” the one who sits himself in the Temple, being revealed, the unveiling of the antichrist.  Two things that will happen that will mark that period of time.  First we’ll look at the falling away.  There are those who want to wrestle this and make it “the departure,” and say that it speaks of the Rapture of the Church.  But I don’t think that that is true.  When we do read about the Rapture of the Church, the Church is passive in the process, and it’s the Lord who catches the Church away.  This departure is a departure where the participants play an active role and it is certainly speaking of apostasy, a turning away from “The Faith.”  And it is speaking of a specific apostasy.  Now 2nd Peter chapter 2 and 3, 1st Timothy 4, 2nd Timothy 3, the Book of Revelation, it is certainly warning that in the last days men will step away from the faith.  They’re going to step away from those things that have always been embraced by the Church.  Again, I think this was two years ago in the Orange County Register, it was a survey of the 7,441 denominational ministers by sociologist Jeffrey Haden, over 7,000 clergymen.  Here are the percentages of those ministers who answered “no” to the following questions, by denomination:  1. “Do you accept Jesus’ physical resurrection as a fact?”  This is how many of them said “no.”  The Methodists, 51 percent said “no, we don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead.”  Episcopalians, 35 percent.  American Baptists, 33 percent, Presbyterians, 30 percent, American Lutherans, 13 percent.  2. “Do you believe in the virgin birth of Jesus?”  These are the answers in the negative:  The Methodists, 60 percent said “No, we don’t believe Jesus was born of a virgin.”  Presbyterians, 49 percent said “No, we don’t believe Jesus was born of a virgin.”  Episcopalians, 44 percent, American Baptists 34 percent, American Lutherans, 19 percent.  3.  “Do you believe that the Scriptures are the inerrant work of God in faith, and history and secular matters, the inspired Word of God?”  These are the answers “no”:  Episcopalians, 95 percent said “no, we don’t believe the Bible is the Word of God.”  [I grew up attending the Episcopal church, and personally believed the Bible was 100 percent the work and Word of God, but that was me, as a little boy.]  Methodists, 87 percent said “no, we don’t believe the Bible is the Word of God.”  Presbyterians, 82 percent, American Lutherans, 77 percent, American Baptists, 67 percent.  Now, I don’t think that is “the” apostasy, but it’s sure a good warm-up act.  I mean if you wonder why we’re not having an impact on the younger generation in this nation, if we wonder why we’re not touching the lives of millions that Christ loves and died for, it’s because the percentage of truth that’s being embraced by denominational America, which is in a post-Christian era, is so anemic and so weak and so apathetic that it couldn’t infect anybody, it couldn’t infect anybody.  It will get worse.  This specific apostasy here (in verse 3), I’m not sure exactly what that’s talking about.  Again, after the Rapture of the Church, what will be left?  Certainly there will be a coming together of all world religions under one roof that the Book of Revelation calls “the Great Whore,” a great apostate religious system that calls itself something, that is nothing. 

 

That Day Shall Not Come, Secondly, Until That Man Of Sin, The Antichrist, Be Revealed

 

Or is it talking about those in Judaism who will receive the antichrist as Messiah?  Jesus said ‘I’ve come in my Father’s name and you haven’t received me, another will come in his own name, him you will receive.’  Isaiah said that Israel is going to make a covenant with hell and with death.  We had the Israeli ambassador to the American Embassy several years ago at our Men’s Retreat, and he spoke to us, about Scripture, about Israel’s position.  And someone asked him a question, “When the Messiah comes again,”  He said, “No, no, no, no, that’s you, that’s what you believe.  You mean when the Messiah comes.”  He said “I’m a Jew.”  He said, “But I believe the Messiah’s going to be a man like Moses, a powerful political figure that’s going to come on the scene and give us the right to live in peace and rebuild our Temple.”  Then we had a whole back-up of 300 men that wanted to go up and say “That’s the antichrist!!!”  You know, I had to hold everybody back. [laughter]  But that was a very real assessment of secular theology in regards to ‘Is that the apostasy?’  I don’t know.  There is the apostasy, great falling away from the truth.  Certainly that will take place when the Church is gone, by those that are not martyred for their belief during the Tribulation.  The antichrist when he comes on the scene, will be received as supernatural.  He is called here “the man of sin [will] be revealed.”  Your translation may say ‘the man of lawlessness,’ it’s anthropas, it tells us, so we know it’s a man.  It is a human being.  I believe that he’s alive somewhere on the earth now, the antichrist, which means “instead of Christ.”  We’re going to see this contrast between God’s Christ and Satan’s christ, between the true Christ and the false christ.  And antichrist means ‘instead of Christ’ he’s going to come and take the place of other gods and Jesus Christ.  But he will be the man, the human, the man of sin, the man of lawlessness.  And this isn’t complete lawlessness in the sense that there’s going to be complete anarchy when he comes on the scene.  He’s the man of sin, the man of lawlessness in that he comes opposed to any law of God, and any god previous to him who claimed to be God.  It tells us in Daniel chapter 11, verse 37, “Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god for he shall magnify himself above all.”  That gives us the idea that he may be a Jew, the God of his fathers, and probably a European Jew.  “he will not regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women,” some say that means he’ll be homosexual.  It doesn’t say ‘the desire for women,’ it says “the desire of women,” and the desire of every Jewish woman was to give birth to the Messiah.  Barrenness was a curse in Israel.  1st John says, ‘Who is antichrist but he that regards not the Father or the Son.’  And it says in Daniel when he comes he will not only be antichrist, he will be anti-Theist, anti-God, that he will oppose all other gods on the planet, and set himself up as the God.  So he will be the man of sin and the man of lawlessness in a way that we can hardly imagine.  “the son of perdition;” which can be “the son of destruction, the son of ruin,” the second title for him.  And what it means is he is birthed by, the son has the characteristics of his father, he’s the son of destruction, and it’s speaking of the fact that he will be destroyed [as well as implying he’s the son or spawn of Satan, in a spiritual sense].  But he will bring destruction with him on untold multitudes, “the son of destruction.”  [Just as Hitler did.]  And then finally it says he is the one “who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (verse 4)  Now, this is an interesting proposition.  He’s going to go into a Jewish temple, and proclaim himself to be God.  [And this isn’t a synagogue-type temple, it is some structure set up in Jerusalem as the Temple of God.]  This is a temple that is not in existence today.  This is not Antiochus Epiphanes [although he was a prophetic type of the antichrist], as some Bible scholars, you know they get into paralysis of analysis, and they never get anywhere.  Because it says this antichrist “will be destroyed by the sword of his mouth and the brightness of his coming.”  That hasn’t happened yet.  This is a future antichrist, the antichrist.  Jesus, when he spoke of the prophecy, said that it was future, ‘When you see that which was spoken of by the prophet Daniel…the abomination of desolation,’ (Matthew 24:15)  So that tells us that somehow, in this troubled world, with everything we see taking place in the Middle East today, that somehow Israel is going to be given the right to rebuild the Temple.  This word here is naos, speaking of the holy of the holy place, sanctuary [Holy of Holies, the inner part of the Temple where the Mercy Seat was], but when we come to Revelation chapter 11 we hear of the Temple and the Courts, so there’s probably going to be some kind of structure placed there.  That seems impossible today as we look around.  We see what’s happening on the news, we hear the European voice being raised, right now, anti-war, anti-American policy.  And certainly Europe will come to the fore, the Bible tells us, as the last great political and economic power in the world, a reunified Roman Empire the Bible speaks of  [for more on this timely subject, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/2ndcoming_4.htm].  Something will set the stage for this antichrist to come to power.  No doubt the battle described again in Ezekiel 38 and 39.  Many descriptions of battles, the first one in Genesis chapter 14, where Chedolamar and the five kings of the north (Assyrian kings) come down and carry away Sodom and Gomorrah, and Abraham is involved, is described as the first war, first time the word “war” is used in the Bible.  [It is believed there was a major pre-Flood war which occurred, some suspect akin to a world-war of sorts described in Lamech’s limerick in Genesis 4:23-24.  But we’ll have to wait till the Wedding Feast to learn more about this ancient history the Bible only alludes to.]  We hear of the battles that Joshua was involved in, and the sun standing still and the moon in the valley of Ajailon, some of the great battles, we hear about some of the great battles David was involved in.  But we also hear predictive battles, Armageddon is something familiar to all of us, and until Hiroshima and Nagasaki nobody took the words seriously.  But Armageddon has become something, no one likes the way it resonates, Armageddon.  But this other battle, the battle in the Scripture not given  the most amount of print is this one in Ezekiel 38 and 39.  It’s not Armageddon, too many discrepancies.  It makes no mention of everybody on the planet having sores on their skin, that’s not a minor detail.  It makes no mention of all of the water on the entire earth being turned to blood.  That’s not a minor detail.  It makes no mention of foul spirits, fallen angels, bound in the River Euphrates being released, bringing all the kings of the entire earth to battle at Armageddon, that’s not a minor detail.  It makes no mention of the return of Christ, as it does in the battle of Armageddon.  That’s not a minor detail.  Ezekiel 38 says that some day the house of Togomar, Armenia-Turkey, that area, Russia, Iran, Libya and Ethiopia will invade Israel.  Two chapters to describe the battle, and the aftermath of the battle, the fact that the weapons will be burned for seven years.  Now the thing that troubles me about that description is conspicuous by their absence, is Iraq and Syria, who are the major protagonists in that part of the world today [that’s because they no longer exist, pointing to a period of time just after the 2nd coming, my guess].  If you on your own read Isaiah chapter 17 the first few verses, we have the burden of Damascus, that it will be left a heap of ruins, completely destroyed, and Jeremiah chapter 49 and verses 23 to 27 tell us that the walls of Damascus will be destroyed by fire, and all of it’s great men will be slain in the streets, and no one will go near, that’s never happened.  Damascus is one of he oldest cities in the earth.  [I think he’s off on this one, I think the Ezekiel 38 and 39 battles take place after Jesus Christ’s 2nd coming, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/ezek/Ezekiel%20pt3-2.htm and scroll to Ezekiel 38.]  We’ve got a lot of things in the pot right now, cooking.  But certainly that part of the world, and the entire oil cartel, which is the entire economy of the world, will be shaken.  And somebody will arise out of Europe saying ‘Enough! It’s enough!  [in German, ‘Genug!  Das ist genug!’] and the antichrist will then step onto the stage.  It says in that battle in Ezekiel, all the walls will fall to the ground.  No doubt that will include the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock.  And it tells us [not in Ezekiel 38 and 39] that that Temple Mount will be divided, Revelation chapter 11.  Even in Ezekiel, around chapter 46, when it talks about the Millennial Temple, it says to build a wall and leave the area of the profane without, recognizing there was at one time a profane worship at this other end of the Temple.  The Dome of the Rock mosque says “God is not begotten, neither does he beget” around the top of the mosque, which is a direct slander of Jehovah and Jesus Christ, “God is not begotten, neither does he beget.”  And I understand what they’re thinking when they say that, that it is ridiculous that God could have a son.  I understand that thought.  It’s not Biblically true, it doesn’t remove the incarnation.  Somehow, this man will step on the scene.  What he will do, to give the world a hope for peace, is he will confirm a covenant that had been made by many, whether he will resurrect the Oslo Accord, whether he’s going to do something entirely different, and he’s going to confirm a covenant, and he’s going to guarantee Israel peace for seven years, and the right to rebuild their Temple.  Daniel chapter 9 tells us very specifically.  He will sign a seven year peace treaty with the nation of Israel in the midst of all of that tension, guaranteeing Israel the right to rebuild her Temple, and to worship and to have peace.  Israel will receive that personage as Messiah, the world will look to him with wonder, it says nations, tribes, kindreds and tongues will wonder after the Beast.  But it says he will betray the nation of Israel in three and a half years.  In the midst of that seven year period, he himself will go to the Temple.  Now, the Bible tells us that during that period of time, the Church is gone [whether by a Rapture to the throne of God, or to a place of safety on earth, it is really gone, off the scene].  The voice that the world listens to comes from two prophets seated outside of Jerusalem.  And their message is not the Gospel, it is judgment.  And it says for three and a half years they torment all of those who dwell on the face of the earth, they turn water to blood, they stop the rain from falling from heaven, they reproduce the miracles of Moses and Elijah, and I think that’s who they are.  Three and a half years into it, the antichrist overcomes them and kills them.  And then, evidently goes from their dead bodies to the Temple, and proclaims himself to be God, now that he has silenced the standard of God on the earth.  [There is major disagreement as to the timing of the two witnesses, some, like Pastor Joe, believing their preaching and miracles occur during the first half of the seven year covenant, other’s believe it is during the last three and a half years they do their preaching of judgment.  For this other interpretation, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/Pentecost-Revetion1.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/Pentecost-Revetion2.htm.  And personally, I don’t know which interpretation is correct at this point, as I explain in at the end of my Matthew 24 expository study, where I explain why I’m no longer taking sides (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/mathew/Matthew24-1-31.htm).  Their dead bodies lay in the street for three and a half days, the whole world parties, the entire world, CNN, everybody’s got the cameras there.  These that tormented the entire earth are dead, the whole world has a party, and it says they give gifts to each other.  It says after three days, the spirit of life enters into them from God, and God resurrects them.  And it says in the eyes of the whole world they then ascend to heaven.  They probably go ‘Naa, naa, naa, naa, naa.’  [laughter]  There will be a little bit of divine humour in all of that somehow.  Well it’s no doubt, it wouldn’t surprise me if its in that period of time when some zealous Jew may shoot this antichrist in the head when he proclaims himself to be God, and then Satan will reproduce the miracle of the two prophets being raised, and of Christ being raised, and raise the antichrist from the dead.  He receives a fatal head-wound.  On his right hand and on his head, Zechariah chapter 11, verse 17, the Book of Revelation.  And the world wonders after him.  You have to imagine this, look at the tension, I grabbed this article from the new US & World Report, it’s about abortion.  It said it has in fact become one of the most common surgical procedures in this nation, so common, that should the current rate continue, about 35 percent of all US women will have had an abortion in their lifetimes.  35 percent of all the United States women.  To some this represents an American holocaust, a mass-murder of the unborn that has claimed more today, more than 39 million lives [it’s up to over 65 million lives now], 39 million lives.  And we’re battling over it.  We’re battling over what morality is.  And you know, the Right, or the Christian Right, or the Christian Conservative Right, you know, there is this anger.  Imagine what it will be like, imagine if the people on the other side of this today, that want their own standard of morality, they want to have sex whenever they want to have sex, take drugs whenever they want to take drugs, they want to put every foul thing on TV and the movies…they want the freedom to say anything they want on a Rock or a Hip Hop album, imagine if all of those people all of a sudden had somebody supernatural who steps onto the scene, who does miracles, who is lawless, who says ‘You don’t have to listen to any of the Laws of that Jewish God, or of that Christian God.’  And he calls down fire from heaven and does signs and wonders.  That whole ungodly world will wonder after him and own him as God.  And he will exalt himself above all that is called God.  Paul’s saying to this young church, ‘No, don’t let anyone tell you that the day of the Lord, the day of that great judgment has already begun.  Because it will be marked by several things, one is the apostasy, the great apostasy.’  And at this point the Church was growing, it was being founded, it was infiltrating the whole Roman world in an incredible way.  Secondly he said, ‘The other thing is, during that period of time, there will be a personality revealed who is the man of sin, the son of perdition, the one who exalts and opposes all that is called God, and he himself sits himself in the Temple, and calls himself God.  Don’t you remember I constantly told you these things when I was with you?’ 

 

The Holy Spirit Is Restraining, Holding All This Back, In Check

 

“And now you know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.  For the mystery of iniquity doth already work:  only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” (verses 6-7)  I’m sure that’s perfectly clear.  We’ll move right on.  No, the first five verses are corrective.  These two verses talk about the fact that he has not yet been revealed, because there is a restraint in place.  And he talks about what that restraint is.  In verse 6, and the gender in neuter here, he’s talking about the Holy Spirit I believe in the sense of restraining, “and now you know what withholdeth” what’s restraining, “that he might be revealed in his time.”  Just like in the fulness of time, Galatians chapter 4, verse 4, Christ came, God’s Christ came in the fulness of time.  He’s saying, ‘he [the Beast person] doesn’t have the power to come one day early, God has control of all of this.’  [Comment:  In essence God is saying to mankind through actions, ‘You didn’t want Jesus, and a relationship with me through Jesus.  So I’m giving you what you want, your god, Satan, and his false ministers, to the full.  That’s what the tribulation amounts to, giving mankind their choice in the matter, it’s one or the other, God or Satan and his false gods.  Mankind is about to learn a very hard lesson.]  And he’s being restrained.  You know, I believe that Satan would love to have had Hitler be the antichrist [and Hitler was a type, a dry-run].  I think it was Time-Life that did a video series called Tyrants, and it’s very interesting, the one on Adolf Hitler was done by a PhD that had studied Adolf Hitler’s whole life…and as he’s in Germany with his two teenage sons, they come back one day and say ‘Hey Dad, we found a painting of Hitler in this museum that you never told us about, and we never saw before.’  He said, ‘Impossible.  I know every photograph, every thing.’ So they go to the museum and they look, and here is a painting of the Saxon god of war and destruction, and it is a ghastly scene of destruction, with cities laid waste, and it’s all done in grey and in black, and the face in the middle of the cloud is the face of Adolf Hitler.  And the PhD who had studied him his whole life looked down in the corner to see the signature, it was painted by Hitler’s favorite artist, and it was completed the day that Hitler was born.  [Doesn’t that give you the heeby-geevies?]  He’s being restrained until God says it’s time.  He’s withheld.  “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work:  only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” (verse 7)  Now that’s been working, the mystery of iniquity, Paul says it was working in his day.  The mystery of iniquity, it worked through the Old Testament, Satan is fallen.  “the mystery of iniquity doth already work:  only he who now letteth will let, “letteth” is the old King James word for “restrained.”  It worked in 1611, it doesn’t work right now.  “he who now letteth, will let, until he be taken out of the way.”  “he” we’re masculine personal pronoun, is that “now he, “until he is taken out of the way.”  Who is the “he”?  We’ve changed from neuter gender to masculine gender, and we’re talking about someone, a personage that is restraining Satan and the antichrist.  It can’t be the Church, it can’t be Israel, it can’t be a human agency.  Because there is no human agency that can withhold Satan and the antichrist, those kinds of supernatural powers.  There is, no doubt, a spiritual power here, that is restraining, and the Greek, “he” is not removed, “he removes himself.”  “He is now restraining until he becometh gone,” it’s hard to say exactly, the idea is ‘he is restraining now until he removes himself.’  Who is this “he”?  You know, the Holy Spirit is God, so it isn’t like the Holy Spirit is going to disappear.  The Holy Spirit works during the tribulation.  God works during the tribulation.  The Son works during the tribulation…But in his restraining work, he removes himself, he’s taken out of the midst, he takes himself out of midst. 

 

The Holy Spirit’s Restraining Work Is Through The Church

 

Well, what does that mean?  I think that clearly means, the Church is lifted off the face of the earth.  His restraining work presently is through the Church.  And Jesus said, ‘When the Holy Spirit comes, he’ll abide with you forever. The Holy Spirit is not going to leave us here.  Jesus said ‘I will not leave you comfortless, or fatherless, I won’t leave you orphans, I have been with you, I shall be in you.’ ’ (cf. John 14)   So the Holy Spirit is here now [within us], to convict the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment, the Bible says [and remember, as the Holy Spirit convicts the world through us, the world doesn’t like us for that, that’s why we’re persecuted].  That no doubt, is through the Church.  God has decided to use human agency.  That’s remarkable, isn’t it remarkable to you?  Jesus said, ‘John the Baptist was the greatest prophet born among women, there has not arisen a greater than John, but he who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than John.’  Here we’ll sit, Satan’s knees are knocking that we would ever realize who we are in Christ, and what an impact we could have on this world.  Because the truth that changes a human being’s destiny is invested in you this evening, if you know that Jesus is the Christ, the Jewish Messiah, born of a virgin, what all of these denominations have forgotten, born of a virgin, suffered on the cross, died for our sins, rose, ascended, he’s returning.  You know that, you believe that, you have within yourself the truth that can change the world.  Jesus said, ‘You’re the light of the world, the salt of the earth, the preservative.’ (Matthew 5:14-16)  Remember, judgment did not fall on Sodom and Gomorrah until Lot and his family were taken out, the angel said “I can do nothing until you be taken out of here.”  Before the Day of the Lord, which is Divine judgment, can begin, the Church has to be taken away.  Once the Church is taken out of the way in regards to its restraining influence, then all hell will break loose.  Revelation chapter 6, verse 2 tells us the first thing that happens when the Seals are broken is the white horse comes forth to deceive, the antichrist then is allowed by God to come on the scene.  And it’s going to tell us as we come into the next verses about his short term of deception, the power that will be involved in it (cf 2nd Thessalonians 2:8-12).  That’s being restrained now.  Look, if what’s being restrained now is abortion, the Holy Spirit is doing a lousy job.  If what’s being restrained now is war, the Holy Spirit is doing a lousy job.  If what’s being restrained now is immorality, the Holy Spirit is doing a lousy job.  There is some spiritual force that is being restrained now that will set aside a post-Rapture world, and make it a world that we can hardly even dream of.  Because the whole world will be deceived by this personage and come under one roof [religiously speaking—but I honestly think the powers of the East may not come under this roof, at least not for long---Russia, China, they’re gonna be eyeing this power in Europe with extreme caution], because of the supernatural aspect of it.  Right now, there is restraint.  That restraint is in the person of the Holy Spirit.  But just like the beginning of the Church, when the Day of Pentecost had come, when the Holy Spirit fell on them, the Church began, when the Holy Spirit goes back up in his restraining work, the Church is gone.  So, who is the antichrist?  666, the number of his name, get out your calculators.  You know, it was Ronald Reagan, it was Bill Clinton, you know.  Whose the antichrist?  I don’t know, and I don’t care.  Because I’m not watching for antichrist, I’m watching for JESUS CHRIST, and he’s coming. [applause]  And after I get to heaven, whoever the antichrist is, is fine with me.  I’ll watch from the mezzanine and God in his wisdom will work that program out.  But we’re told that when we see these things taking place we should lift up our heads, because our redemption is drawing nigh…that word used I think five other times in the New Testament, always meant the redemption of the body.  It says to those who will be here, ‘when they come to pass, to completion, then know the Kingdom is nigh,’ so, several verses later.  But when it begins it says ‘When they begin to take place, you lift up your heads, because you’re redemption has drawn nigh.’  We’re to be watching for Jesus Christ. 

 

When The Church Is No Longer Around, Great Deception Takes Place On Earth

 

But when the Church is taken, then this seven year period will begin to move forth.  Then the great apostasy will overtake the world.  Then the man of sin will be manifest.  Now, he doesn’t sit himself in the Temple until three and a half years into his term [that is accurate as far as I can determine].  It talks of Jesus destroying him with the word of his mouth and the brightness of his coming, that’s seven years into his term.  So it’s just describing what will be.  He will manifest during the seven year period.  Paul is saying to this church, ‘don’t let any man tell you we’ve entered into that already, because these are the things that will take place in that time period, and they haven’t happened yet.’  “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work:  only he who now letteth [is restraining] will let, until he be taken out of the way.  And then”---and it’s emphatic there, “then, and only then”---“shall that Wicked [one] be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:” (verses 7-8)  Now Paul’s going to put the Wicked one on the page in front of us, but so that we don’t get freaked out right in the first sentence it’s going to say, ‘then that Wicked one will be manifest, whom the Lord will destroy with the spirit of his mouth and the brightness of his coming,’  Now this is how terrible it will be.  But he tells us right in the first sentence, no big war, no big contest here, yea, he’s the man of sin, he’s the one who Satan’s begot, he’s the antichrist, he will be manifest, when the Spirit stops his restraining work.  Not his saving work.  Revelation chapter 7, verse 9 tells us ‘I saw multitudes that no man could number come out of every kindred and nation and tongue on the earth.  And who are these?  These are they who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and have become saved…’  So, you know there are those who say ‘If you hear about the Gospel now, and you don’t accept Christ now, once the tribulation begins, you can’t get saved.’  I don’t find that in the text.  That’s a great tactic to get people saved tonight.  And I hope you do get saved tonight.  ‘Well I don’t have to get saved tonight, I still just want to raise a little hell, have some fun, then I’ll get saved.  Maybe I’ll go into the tribulation, but I ain’t gonna receive no mark, they ain’t puttin’ no mark on me.’  So what you’re telling me is, that you can’t live for Jesus now, but you’ll be willing to die for him then?---I doubt it very much.  I can’t live for him now, but I’ll die for him then.  No, you can get saved tonight and not worry about any of that, that would be the best plan.  Yes, he will be manifest, it says that.  ‘Then emphatically, after the restrainer is removed, that Wicked one shall be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy him with his epiphany, with the brightness of his coming,’ still future, still hanging out there.  “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” (verse 9)  He, this man of sin, comes on the scene, and the miracles that he does are legitimate miracles.  They are to deceive, that is the purpose of them.  It doesn’t say they’re phony miracles, they will be real miracles.  In fact, it says he’s given a time and a season, in the Book of Revelation, and he’s given exusia.  Jesus said, when he sent out the seventy and the twelve, he gave them power to raise the dead, heal the sick, cast out demons, he gave them exusia.  That’s the right, the royal right.  The Church is given dunamis, and it mentions here that the power is dunamis, but it tells us in Revelation that God will give him exusia, he’ll give him the right to do those signs and wonders to deceive, on a Christ-rejecting world.  It says that here, that “even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.  And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” (verses 9-10)  That’s God’s heart, that they might be saved.  Now look, because someone does a miracle, or because something supernatural takes place, the Bible never says that means that it is a genuine miracle of God, that it’s from the Lord.  Deuteronomy chapter 13, and chapter 18 in Deuteronomy, many places tell us that the present world is set to be deceived by the miraculous, but it will not be on God’s part, it will be on Satan’s part.  Just because a miracle happens it doesn’t mean it’s from God.  We see this stuff on TV, and they have stuff about miracles, and you read some of this stuff.  God said in the Old Testament, if a lying prophet or a miracle-worker comes and he gives a sign, or gives a prophecy, or does a sign, a wonder, and he tells you to go after any other god, that he’s to be put to death.  [Not that the genuine Body of Christ has the legislative power to apply those civil laws, that was only for the civil government of OT Israel.  The Body of Christ can only identify false prophets and avoid them.]  Because it’s a deception.  We see the magicians in Egypt, when Moses threw down his rod and it turned into a serpent, they duplicated it.  When he turned water to blood, they duplicated it.  It wasn’t until he turned the dust of Egypt into lice that those magicians said “This is the finger of God.”  They duplicated miracles.  And there’s a dark side to this world out there.  I don’t worry about it.  Now I can’t help but think about The Psychic Friends Hotline in Florida, that went bankrupt, and the newspaper headlines said “They never saw it coming.”  [laughter]  But he comes with all deceivableness, with lying signs and wonders, even him whose coming is after the working of Satan.  Remember, when Jesus was tempted of the devil in the wilderness, Satan said, ‘if you’ll bow down and worship me, I’ll give you all of the kingdoms of the world, all the power of them, because they are given to me, and to whomsoever I will give them.’  Jesus didn’t argue with that.  He just said ‘Get thee behind me, Satan.’  He will give all his authority and power to the antichrist, and work through this human being as an agency. 

 

The World Will Believe “The” Lie---What Is “The” Lie?

 

It says, “the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:” The King James says “a lie”, it is “that they should believe” definite article, the lie.”  For this cause, God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie:  that they might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (verses 9b-12)  They believed “the lie.”  What is “the lie”?  Well I don’t know everything that it will entail, certainly I think the crux of “the lie” is the antichrist proclaiming himself to be God, the antichrist claiming himself above all that is God or that is called God.  That would include all other religions in the world too.  And the great whore, this whorish system that’s been in Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, Rome and Greece, will ride into power on this Beast.  [Comment:  A lot of that whorish system has been in Rome since the 200s to 300s AD, and has infected most of even real Christianity with some of her false doctrines, which have been cleverly woven into what many consider to be orthodox Church doctrine.  It’s gonna take some effort to weed those doctrines out, but weeded out they must be, eventually, before the 2nd coming.] 

 

How Long Do We Have?

 

How far away is it?  I don’t know.  I don’t know.  I have to turn on the news every day to see what’s going on.  I think we should pray for peace.  We should pray that God would give us a window of opportunity.  We should pray that we may have two years, four years, six years to see a revival.  Because if you love your moms and your dads and your brothers and your sisters, if you love your classmates and people you work with, God loves them more.  He so loved this world, this immoral, treacherous, cutthroat world, he so loved it, that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever would believe would not perish but have everlasting life.  He loved me when I was in the middle of it, and part of it, when it infected all that I was, with selfishness and immorality and everything that it had to offer.  He loved me, and he called me, and he drew me to himself.  Do we believe that we’re as close as the Scripture indicates that we are?  And how should that effect our lives?  I mean, do we really believe that Christ could come tonight?  Do we really believe that Christ could come this February?  This spring we might see the coming of the Lord.  That this thing in the Middle East could precipitate into a nuclear confrontation?  Israel’s already given notice, ‘You use unconventional weapons on us, we reserve the right to answer with nuclear weapons.’  We may see, as Isaiah and Jeremiah says, Damascus burned, destroyed forever, Babylon, Iraq, destroyed as it’s present entity.  We may see something precipitated into the sum of all fears, the thing that none of us would ever think about.  It could happen.  Look, we’re naive to think it couldn’t.  Or we could have that window.  How effective will we be in this world, unless we, we’re sitting here this evening, and we’re saying ‘Hey, we do believe, we do believe that Jesus rose from the dead,’ that’s what we’re saying.  That’s what I’m saying, you don’t have to say that, I’m saying it.  That’s what I believe this book [the Bible] teaches.  You don’t have to believe it, you can tell me ‘I don’t believe Jesus was born of a virgin,’ that’s up to you.  But don’t tell me the Bible doesn’t teach it, because the Bible does teach it.  You might tell me ‘I don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead,’ that’s fine, don’t tell me the Bible doesn’t teach it, because the Bible teaches clearly that Jesus was the Messiah of Israel, that he came, was born of a virgin, that he died on the cross, for our sins, for my sins, that he rose on the third day, that he ascended, and that he is returning.  And the Bible teaches that all the things we see happening around us right now are harking of the return of Jesus Christ.  We know that, because he’s coming for us, because before the antichrist steps on the scene, and that looks like it’s stirring in the soup pot every day now.  [And it looks even more like that now in 2014 as I transcribe this.]  And it’s a great time for us, as husbands and as wives, and as parents, and as teenagers, and as employers and employees to take inventory and say ‘OK, Lord, do I really believe what I say I believe?  And if I really do believe what I say I believe, why should I ever be looking at pornography on the Internet, why should I ever be stopping for a drink on the way home from work?  Why should I ever be considering snorting a line of coke?  Why should I be sleeping with this woman, or with this man?  [excepting if it’s your husband or wife J]  If I really believe what I say I believe, and I believe Lord that you could come at any moment, Lord let that be a purifying belief in my life.’  As it says in 1st John chapter 3, ‘Any man that has this hope purifies himself, even as he is pure.’  So that we know when we see him, we’ll be like him, we’ll see him even as he is.  That’s a purifying hope.  If you’re here tonight and you don’t know Christ as your Saviour, let me tell you something, he loves you.  He wrote all of this stuff out before it happened, he told us all of the things we’re seeing in the news today would be happening, and he said, ‘I tell you these things beforehand so that when you see them, you will know that the things I had to say were true.’  But I apologize because you may not near it in the Lutheran church or the Methodist church or the Baptist church or the Episcopalian church or the Catholic church.  But Jesus said those things, and he said them to us, and unless we [as the Church and its pastors] believe them and embrace them, we won’t have any way to communicate them to you effectively.   But we’re trying to do that this evening.  We believe that Christ is coming.  We believe that he could come at any time.  We believe that he loves you and he died for you, and we believe that you can get saved tonight, just like we got saved.  I was not a church person, you could probably still tell that a little bit, I don’t know.  [laughter]  But I was a lost person, and I was trying to fill my life with every thing out there, and still coming up empty.  I could put on an act in front of everybody else, but I was the one who lay in this body at night in the bed completely alone, and completely empty when there was nobody else to fool.  And I couldn’t fool myself.  And Jesus Christ revealed himself to me, as he has to thousands of us.  And I was overwhelmed with his love and his reality.  He’s given me hope and a future, not religion, relationship.”  [transcript of a connective expository sermon given on 2nd Thessalonians 2:6-12 by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]

 

related links: 

 

To learn about the coming Beast Empire, see,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/2ndcoming_4.htm

 

For the prophecy of Ezekiel 38 & 39, see,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/ezek/Ezekiel%20pt3-2.htm

 

For the Olivet Prophecy, see,

http://www.unityinchrist.com/mathew/Matthew24-1-31.htm            

 

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