We have ahead of us a remarkable few weeks in 2 Thessalonians. This ranges all the way from the horrors of the coming man of lawlessness to the great doctrines of salvation, including election. This is a far-reaching portion of Scripture sweeping back all the way to before time began to the very end of human history and the return of Christ, all in this one brief chapter.
I’ve titled the message “The Coming Man of Sin,” and basically that’s drawn because the main character in the opening part of this chapter is identified in verse 3 as the man of sin or the man of lawlessness, also called the son of destruction or the son of perdition. This is an individual who, in verse 4 it says, opposes God and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
It also tells us in verse 8 that this lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming. “This one comes” – verse 9 says – “in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,” – verse 10 – “with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.” This is an amazing person that we know as the Antichrist, a culmination of all of those who hate God and hate Christ, all false Christs, pseudo-Christs, false teachers, false prophets, all hypocritical liars who claim to be spokesmen for God but actually speak for Satan. All of them sort of are embodied in this one final, horrific figure known as the final Antichrist. And while he is the subject of this text of Scripture, he is not a solitary monster, he is simply the final epitome of all that has been set against God and against Christ throughout all of human history. And to show you that, I want you to look at 1 John for just a moment, 1 John chapter 2.
In 1 John chapter 2 look at verse 18. John writes that, “It is the last hour,” – in other words, we’re living in the last days, the messianic days since Christ has come constitute the last days, the last hour; it is the last hour – “and just as you heard that Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.” Then down in verse 22, “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the Antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.” So there is a final Antichrists, but there are in the meantime many antichrists, and they are all defined as those who deny the true Christ and His relationship to His Father.
In chapter 4, again of 1 John, and verse 3, we read, “Every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” Yes, there is a future embodiment of the ultimate Antichrist; but in the meantime, the spirit of antichrist is in the world.
The second letter that John wrote, 2 John, verse 7, he says, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.” Anyone who denies the person and work of the Lord Jesus is an antichrist. That is the antichrist spirit that is in the world, the anti-God, antichrist spirit.”
There will be one final embodiment of that, a sort of collection of all the antichrists, false Christs, hypocrites, liars of all the ages rolled into one individual. John said to his readers, “You have heard that antichrist is coming.” And the apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, says in verse 5, “Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?” So John had informed his readers about the antichrist, and Paul had done the same, even when they were ministering among those people.
It is common knowledge then among the believers in the New Testament that the Antichrist is coming, this man of sin, this man of lawlessness, this son of perdition, this son of destruction. But in the meantime, the anti-God, antichrist spirit is fully operational in the world; and they were aware of that, and we must be as well. Satan began to work against God when he was in heaven and he was still an angel. He worked against God, pulled off a rebellion, took many of the angels with him; they became demons. He literally came to earth, brought the rebellion down here, brought about an encounter with Adam that resulted in the fall of the human race. This was the first attack on God, attack on Christ and divine purpose, and it happened in the garden, plunged the entire human race into sin and death and eternal judgment.
In Genesis 6, Satan further tried to confound the purposes of God by demons literally cohabitating with the people that God had created, and creates some kind of demon-possessed people who were the worst of all people on earth. And in fact, the whole earth was corrupt, and God said it was only evil everywhere at all times by everyone, including those demon-possessed people that are mentioned in chapter 6. So by the time you get to chapter 8 God drowns the entire human race with the exception of Noah and his family, because they’re all in full open rebellion against God and against His purposes.
This is followed later, as you will remember, in an effort to destroy all male children in Israel, as recorded in Exodus chapter 1. This would wipe out the purposes of God by wiping out the people of Israel, the Jewish people from who Messiah was to come. Satan later tried to break the royal line of Christ when Jehoram was killing all his brothers, 2 Chronicles chapter 21. The royal line was reduced to one son, and that one had sons. Then the Arabians came to the camp and killed all the sons but one, the youngest, Ahaziah, and he lived to reign according to 2 Chronicles chapter 22. He ruled only a year, wickedly counseled by his vile mother by the name of Athaliah. But the messianic line is down to one person. He was wounded severely, that one person, and the messianic line hung by a breath. He lived, was later killed in a war with Jehu, but not until he had sons, again, according to 2 Chronicles 22. For a number of years, about six years, the hopes of the world and the purposes of God in the Messiah rested in one life, one life, and God saved that life, and the Messianic line continued.
Esther records how the people of Israel were saved by the fact that a pagan king couldn’t fall asleep, and the plot to wipe out the Jews and the line of Christ was thwarted. We also know Antiochus Epiphanes tried to destroy the Jews, wipe out the Jewish race. Then came Herod who slew all the babies, baby boys, in an attempt to kill Christ. Satan tried to destroy Jesus by temptation to get Him to bow down to Him. People of Nazareth tried to destroy Him by throwing Him off a cliff. Peter even tried to keep Him from the cross and did the work of Satan. The Romans tried to keep Him in the tomb.
The anti-God, antichrist spirit has worked throughout all of human history. That antichrist spirit is always at work, and it’s at work today in every false religion and every denial of the person and work of Jesus Christ as He is truly revealed in Scripture. It is all anti-God, antichrist. It is set to attempt to destroy the work of God, the purposes of God, the plans of God, His redemptive design. But the final Antichrist will be the embodiment of all of these efforts in one figure, the likes of which the world has never seen before that time.
Now Paul introduces us to him here; and if you’ll look at verse 3 for just a moment, a few comments. He is identified as the man of lawlessness or the man of sin, and the son of destruction or the son of perdition. He is a lawless blasphemers, as are all antichrists. He lives in defiance of God, defiance of Christ, defiance of divine law. He is destructive of all that is godly and all that relates to God’s will and God’s plan. This is the final man of sin.
This amazing person, Satan’s final earthly figure attempting to oppose Christ and blaspheme God plays a crucial role in the last days at the time of our Lord’s return. He will be the culmination of all hatred toward God, all hatred toward Christ, the culmination of all blasphemers, false prophets, false Christs; the ultimate hypocrite, liar, and deceiver. Now the spirit of antichrist has been in the world and is in the world now, and is flourishing under the kingdom of darkness. This individual is the most horrible embodiment of that spirit in one person.
Now what kind of a person would this be? I want to help you to understand that by giving you a picture. I don’t want you to think of antichrist as some kind of an abstract term, this is an actual person. And there’s a model for this person; and I know it’s a horrible thing to talk about this individual, but looking through human history, the most obvious and most well-known model for this kind of person is Adolf Hitler. Adolf Hitler desired to rule the world, he had global designs. Secondly, he decided that he would destroy the Jews. This puts him right at the heart and soul of all anti-God, antichrist efforts. Attempted to destroy the Jews in order to destroy the purposes of God through them. Adolf Hitler was not just a man bereft of his senses or driven by bizarre passions, he was demon-possessed at the most profound level. He is a prime example of the coming Antichrist who will be Satan-filled.
There’s a fascinating book called The Morning of the Magicians by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergeir, Avon Books 1969, written the year I came here. It was an amazing thing to read that book The Morning of the Magicians because it talks about Adolf Hitler. The authors, who are non-Christians, present the case for Hitler’s identification with the demon world, drawn from records of the Nuremberg trials, for example, thousands of books and reviews, and the testimony of many eyewitnesses. And here are the things they say about Adolf Hitler. Here’s a quote: “It is impossible to understand Hitler’s political plans unless one is familiar with his basic beliefs and his conviction that there is a magical relationship between man and the universe.” And by saying that, they introduce the reader into the world of mysticism in which Hitler lived – deep, dark connections with demonic powers.
He saw the miracle of his own destiny, Hitler did, as an action of unseen supernatural forces. The writes go on to say, “The probable explanation for Hitler’s deeds is the existence of a magical puzzle, a powerful and satanic mystical current. We shall never be safe from Nazism or rather from certain manifestations of the satanic, which through the Nazis cast its dark shadow over the world, until we have roused ourselves to full understanding of the most fantastic aspects of the Hitlerian adventure,” which is to say you can’t understand him unless you understand his connections with demons.
Some of you will recognize the term the Hollow Earth Society, goes back a couple of centuries. Eric Norman wrote a book in 1972 on the Hollow Earth Society, and he gives us more insight into Hitler’s connection to the demon world. The Hollow Earth Society said basically the earth is hollow, and inside the earth are supernatural beings who live and exist, and they are the super powers; and if we don’t acquiesce to them and find ways to connect with them and submit to them, they will destroy us.
The Hollow Earth Society, Hitler and his Nazi-oriented secret cult were up to their ears in this Hollow Earth Society. It’s a macabre kind of preoccupation. They actually believed the earth was hollow and held these advanced beings, and if we don’t succumb to them we’re ultimately going to be enslaved to them. Norman writes, “Nazi records seized after the fall of the Third Reich indicate that Hitler and his henchmen launched several expeditions into the hollow earth.”
They were always trying to find the way into the hollow earth, and there are lists – I was reading some of them this week – of locations in the world where people believed there was an entrance into the hollow earth to touch these beings. This kind of thing is mentioned in Hinduism. It is mentioned in Buddhism, it is mentioned in certain tribes of American Indians, and it was a part of ancient German mythology, which is maybe where Hitler connected to it.
It is a bizarre kind of thing that prompted Hitler. These demon communications prompted Hitler to use children. And that comes directly from the occult perceptions of the Hollow Earth Society. From that Hollow Earth perspective on children he developed what was called the adolescent werewolves. These were the young children in black uniforms from the ages about 8 to 13 who had sinister death heads on their sleeves; and Hitler at one point had 8.8 million of such children; part of this demonic force. His Third Reich was entirely welded to black, demonic occultism.
Karl Haushofer was one of Hitler’s generals and one of the earliest members of the German what was called the Society of the Golden Dawn, founded for practices of black magic. It was Haushofer who encouraged Hitler under demon influence to write Mein Kampf, My Struggle. Haushofer had visited India, China, and Tibet and adopted Buddhist beliefs, and was essentially initiated into the secret Buddhist society, occult black society from which the only escape was suicide.
And he demonstrated some amazing demonic psychic powers. He had total control over Hitler. Haushofer was the black magician that controlled Hitler. Even Rudolf Hess said, “Haushofer is the power, the magician behind Hitler and his demonic legions.” That’s a quote from Rudolf Hess. Haushofer was the magician, Hitler was the medium connecting with the demons. Swastika was a magical sign from the Orient and Europe as well with demonic origins.
By 1925, a group of Tibetan monks had moved to Berlin. They were members of a black order swearing allegiance to the powers of darkness, to Satan himself. From that time on, funds were made available by the Nazis to finance expeditions into Mongolia and into Tibet to connect with more of these black monks to go deeper into the demonic world where Hitler wanted to extract the power to take over the world. When Germany fell, several hundred in SS death head uniforms were found to be Himalayan Orientals with no IDs. Rosenberg said they were the last of the black monks who had helped Hitler’s dark menacing movement. Rosenberg says in March of 1946, Haushofer killed his wife; then before a Buddhist altar killed himself. His son said he knew his father was the magician behind Hitler.
The seven founders of Nazism were all deep into the occult. The Morning of the Magician says, and I quote, “One cannot help but think of him as a medium,” that is Hitler. “For the most of the time mediums are ordinary, insignificant people. Suddenly they are endowed with what seems to be supernatural powers. It was in this way, beyond any doubt, Hitler was possessed by forces beyond himself, demonic forces which the individual named Hitler was only the temporary vehicle.”
Those close to him said that when he spoke openly and in public, he had a completely different voice than his normal voice, because demons were speaking through him. Quoting Hitler, he said, “What will the social order of the future be? Comrades, I will tell you. Over all will reign a new and exalted nobility of whom I cannot speak.” He was literally talking about demon rule. He was possessed of Satan. He was the tool by which Satan thought to take demonic control over the whole world.
In interviewing witnesses of Hitler’s behavior, one eyewitness account was striking to me. Here’s the record of an eyewitness: “A person close to Hitler told me that he wakes up in the night screaming and in convulsions. He calls for help and appears to be half paralyzed. He is seized with a panic that makes him tremble until the bed shakes. He utters confused and unintelligible sounds, grasping as if on the point of suffocation.
“Hitler was standing in his room swaying and looking all around as if he were lost. ‘It’s he, it’s he, it’s he. He’s come for me,’ he groaned. His lips were white, he was sweating profusely. Suddenly he uttered a string of meaningless figures, then words and scraps of sentences; it was terrifying. Suddenly he screamed, ‘There, there, over in the corner, he is there,’ all the time stamping his feet and screaming.” Quoting Hitler, he said, “There is another species of humanity which doesn’t deserve the name humanity, left as a relic of some baser form of life, created along with hideous, crawling creatures, gypsies, negros, and Jews.” Hitler goes on, “They are as far removed from us as animals are from humans. I do not mean I look on Jews as animals; they are much further removed from animals than we are. They are creatures outside nature.” End quote. And so, he butchered six million of them, and wanted to kill every Jew on the earth.
This is the spirit of antichrist doing essentially what all the others tried to do throughout all of human history, and that is obliterate the purposes of God through the people of Israel. That’s why it was the Jews and not some other group of people. Although he said the things he did about the gypsies and, quote, “the negros,” it was the Jews that he was really after.
I know that’s horrible to consider all of this about Adolf Hitler, but I want you to understand that when we talk about the antichrist, we’re not talking about some kind of abstract idea, because here is a model of that kind of person – anti-God, anti-Christ, Satan-driven, demon-possessed – essentially trying to unleash hell on earth. This final man of lawlessness, this son of destruction will be Satan’s tool to destroy Israel, blaspheme God, blaspheme Christ, destroy all worship except the worship of himself, lead the entire world to hell. And as John said, there are many antichrists. There’s a spirit of rebellion at all times against God, against Christ; it’s always been there, it’s not new; but it will find its way into this incredibly powerful, final form.
A little more obscure and ancient illustration of this is Antiochus Epiphanes who lived about 168 or 170 AD. He was the king of Syria who resolved to eliminate the Jews from the earth. Bated Jerusalem, killed thousands of Jews, sold others into slavery. He said that if you circumcise a child you’ll be killed. A circumcision of a child was punishable by death. He erected an altar to Zeus in the Jewish temple, offered pigs’ flesh on that altar, turned the temple into a brothel, did everything he could to desecrate it; deliberate effort, a cold-blooded effort to wipe out Jewish religion, Jewish people, and destroy the worship of the true God. He also was Satan’s man.
But far worse than Antiochus, far worse than Hitler will be the final Antichrist. So lets look at the text and see what it says about him in verse 3. He is the man of lawlessness, he is the son of destruction. In other words, he’s defined by those two things: lawlessness and destruction.
Now where do we first meet this figure? I think the first place you see him in the Old Testament is in Ezekiel 38, verse 2. You don’t have to turn to it, I’ll just mention it. And there he is identified as Gog of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. And summing up what Ezekiel is saying there, he’s talking about a prince who is to come, a chief prince who is to come, who will be the enemy of God’s people, who will lead a coalition of nations against Jerusalem in the end times. The details of this are recorded in Ezekiel 38 and 39.
And then the next time you see the Antichrist in the Old Testament you see him in the book of Daniel. In Daniel chapters 7 and 8, he is identified as the little horn. In Daniel 9, he is the prince who is to come. In Daniel 11, he is the king who does as he pleases. In Zechariah 11, he is the foolish, worthless shepherd. And then, sweeping to the end of Scripture in the book of Revelation, he’s identified as the beast. He is all these things, but best known to us as the Antichrist in the language of 1 John 2:18 – antichristos, against Christ and in the place of Christ.
Now let me have you look in your mind’s eye at just the things that Daniel had to say because I think this will help define him, and I’ll just lay this before you kind of rapid fire. In Daniel chapter 7, verse 8, it describes him as a little horn who rises from obscurity and becomes a dominant power. The horn is the symbol of power. This is a little, insignificant horn who eventually rises to global power. That’s Daniel 7 and verse 8.
Daniel describes him as having the eyes of a man, “eyes like the eyes of a man,” – which indicate his intelligence – “a mouth uttering great boasts,” which indicate both his oratorical skills and his arrogance. Verse 21 of Daniel 7 reveals his hostility towards God’s people, “waging war with the saints and overpowering them.” Verse 23 of that chapter notes that, “His kingdom will be different from all other kingdom and will devour the whole earth, tread it down and crush it.” Unlike Hitler who couldn’t pull it off, the final Antichrist will rule the entire world, his empire will be worldwide.
Verse 25 of Daniel 7 says, “He’s a blasphemer who will speak out against the Most High. He will make alterations in times and in law,” that is replacing the world’s religious ceremonies and observances with new ones in honor of himself. And he will even introduce a satanically inspired kind of fake morality.
But Daniel tells us also that he will be limited to a brief time: a time, times, and half a time, in verse 25. That’s one plus two plus a half is three-and-a-half. He’ll be limited to a three-and-a-half-year period, which is half of the tribulation. His reign of terror for that three-and-a-half will be in full swing. His domination will be so great that he will literally dominate the entire world.
But when it comes to an end at the end of three-and-a-half years, the court will convene, and God will bring judgment, and Antichrist’s dominion will be taken away, annihilated, and destroyed forever. Sovereignty and dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him. He has a three-and-a-half-year period, the latter half of the seven-year tribulation which is called the great tribulation. At the end of that, the Lord destroys him when the Lord comes to set up His own kingdom.
Then Daniel 8 has more to say about Antichrist. Says he is insolent, he has a fierce face, he will intimidate people into submission. Daniel 8, verse 25 says, “He is skilled in intrigue.” We know that his master is Satan himself. Verse 24 of Daniel 8 indicates, “He will derive his power from Satan.” Verse 25, “He will magnify himself in his own heart,” characterized by arrogant pride. Further, “He will destroy many while they are at ease. He will slaughter people not in a war, he’ll just slaughter them to be slaughtering them. He will oppose the Prince of princes,” who is the Lord. He will be a blasphemer of the Lord Jesus Christ. At the end, He will be broken without human agency,” which means God will kill him, and He will kill him with the breath of His mouth.
In Daniel chapter 9, Daniel says in the first half of that period of time the Jews will make a covenant with the Antichrist. He looks like one who will protect Israel in the opening of the seven years, so they make a firm covenant with him for one week at the beginning of the time of tribulation. He acts as their protector until the middle of the week when he turns on them, desecrates the temple – an abomination of desolation our Lord called it in Matthew 24. Halfway through he shows his true colors, turns on the Jewish people, commits a defiling act in the temple, launches the great tribulation, and begins an effort to massacre the Jews and massacre all who belong to Christ. Daniel says God will destroy Antichrist at the return of the Lord Jesus.
In Daniel chapter 11, he is presented as a ruthless, arrogant, proud king who will do as he pleases, a blasphemer without parallel in human history, magnifying himself above every god, speaking monstrous things against the God of gods, showing no regard for the God of his fathers. Forsaking the religion of his ancestors, he will magnify himself above all. He has a religion, he has an ancestral religion which he forsakes. We’re not sure what it is, but it is interesting in Daniel 11 it says that he has no interest in the desire of women. He has no desire for women, which may mean he’s a homosexual, or it could be that he will be a heterosexual celibate. Some think this indicates he could be a pope. God will judge him and bring him to an end at the return of Christ.
Now what in the world brought this subject up? What is Paul doing talking about all of this to the Thessalonian believers? What is the point of this? The point is clear. They had been told – 1 Thessalonians 4, in their first letter – that the Lord was going to snatch them out, and that the Lord was going to come, the dead in Christ would rise first, and all the other believers alive would be gathered to meet the Lord in the air and be taken to heaven, 1 Thessalonians 4:13 to 17.
“Comfort one another with these words, comfort.” The comfort comes because we’re snatched out. Then you come to chapter 5 and the day of the Lord breaks out, 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 – you can look at it for a moment. “The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night,” – verse 2 – “it’ll come” – verse 3 – “with destruction.” Day of the Lord is coming with destruction while the world is saying, “Peace and safety!”
It all seems good, the Antichrist is ruling the world, that the one world ruler has brought peace, a false peace to the world. The first half will be a time of false peace, basically orchestrated by this demonic Antichrist. “But when everybody’s saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ destruction will come on them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.” This is the day of the Lord. The Lord will bring it all to an end in crushing final judgment.
“But” – verse 4 – “you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; you’re all sons of light and sons of day, not of the night or the darkness.” That doesn’t apply to you. The rapture in chapter 4, you’re out, you’re gone. Then the day of the Lord comes, the day of darkness, the day of judgment. That’s what he had taught them. You’re going to be raptured the day of the Lord even comes, before it starts. That’s what they had been told.
And they knew what the day of the Lord was. Notice it’s mentioned, as I said, in 1 Thessalonians 5, and it’s mentioned here again in 2 Thessalonians 2 at the end of verse 2, the day of the Lord. It’s referred to four times in the New Testament, but nineteen times in the Old Testament; and everybody who knew the Old Testament and had been taught the Old Testament knew the character of the day of the Lord. What is it? It is the day of final judgment.
Listen to Isaiah 2:12, “For the day of the Lord of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up, and it’ll be brought low.” Isaiah 13:6, “Wail, for the day of the Lord is at hand!” Isaiah 13:9, “Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate.”
Jeremiah 46:10, “For this is the day of the Lord God of hosts, a day of vengeance, that He may avenge Himself on His adversaries.” Or Joel 1:15, “The day of the Lord is at hand, it shall come as destruction from the Almighty.” Joel 2:11, “The day of the Lord is great and very terrible.” Verse 31 of Joel 2, “The sun will be turned to darkness, the moon to blood before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.”
Prophet Amos chapter 5, verse 18, “Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord. What good is the day of the Lord to you?” Verse 20, “Is not the day of the Lord darkness and not light?” Malachi 4:5, “The coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” Zephaniah 1:14, “The noise of the day of the Lord is bitter.” Zephaniah 1:15, “The day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness.”
Six times in the Old Testament it’s called the day of doom. Four times it’s called the day of vengeance. Revelation 6:17 calls it the day, the great day of wrath, the final day. The New Testament calls it His day, the day of wrath, the day of wrath and revelation in Romans 2, and the great day of God Almighty.
They knew what the day of the Lord was. They also lived in the expectation of that. Even back in Ezekiel we read, “The day is near, even the day of the Lord is near.” In Joel 2:1, “The day of the Lord is coming, it is at hand.” Joel 3:14, “The day of the Lord is near.” Zechariah 14:1, “Behold, the day of the Lord is coming.”
In the New Testament it’s even more specifically expressed. Matthew 13, Matthew 24, Matthew 25 speaks of the day of the Lord, that it is near, that it is coming. Paul writes about that in 1 and 2 Thessalonians, as we’re looking at. Peter writes about it in 2 Peter 3. The book of Revelation is full of the elements of the day of the Lord.
So here’s the issue. The Thessalonians had been told that they would be snatched out before the day of the Lord; that’s the sequence of 1 Thessalonians 4 and 5. He’d given them instruction about the rapture or the snatching of the church. They were headed for glory, they were headed for peace, and that’s why he said, “Comfort one another with these words. You’re not of the darkness, you’re people of the light, you’re sons of the day. You’re not going to see the darkness of the day of the Lord and the horrors that go with it.”
However, let’s go back to verses 1 and 2. Paul writes, “But we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him. I’m going to ask you to listen now as I reiterate what you need to know about this.” Panic had set in. Why? They thought they were in the day of the Lord. They thought they were in the day of the Lord. That’s why in verse 2 he says, “Do not be quickly shaken from your composure or disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.”
The situation is presented very clearly. Paul says, “Look, I have to talk to you about the coming of the Lord. I have to clear up your confusion. With regard to the coming of our Lord and our gathering together to Him, that’s the rapture that collects us into His presence,” – described in 1 Thessalonians 4, the episunagōgē, from which we get the word “synagogue,” the collection, the gathering together, the mustering of the saints, if you will – “to take us to heaven” – John 14 – “to the place that He’s prepared for us; and so shall we always be with the Lord.” So Paul says, “I want to go back and talk about the coming of Christ and the rapture, and remind you of what you must believe. They had been hoping for the rapture, believing that that was next, so they were living in comfort, “Comfort one another with these words.”
But someone had come along and confused them. Look again at verse 2: “You should not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.” They expected to be taken out before the day of the Lord. “They expected that before” – as chapter 1, verse 7 says – “the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution on those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel and pay the penalty of eternal destruction.” They were not expecting to be in when the Lord came in judgment fury; but they had become confused and convinced they were in the day of the Lord.
How did they get to that point? How did that happen? Paul says that, “You essentially have become shaken and disturbed by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us.” Three things there. Triple use of dia indicates three distinct means by which this teaching had come. First, it came by a spirit. What would that be? Oh, some prophetic utterance perhaps. Perhaps somebody said they had a revelation from the Holy Spirit, and the revelation from the Holy Spirit is that, “Now all this persecution you’re suffering, all the difficulties you’re going through, we’re in the day of the Lord now.” Somebody’s saying they got that from the Holy Spirit, or by a message, logos, some sermon. Some preacher came and said, “The way I look at things, this is the day of the Lord.”
And so there was a supernatural source that maybe they thought communicated they were in the day of the Lord. And then there was this preacher who came along and preached and said, “You know, my assessment is you’re in the day of the Lord. But the most troubling of all things was a letter as if from us.” Somebody pulled out a forgery, a forgery as if it were written by Paul and the apostles. Whoever was telling them this – and it may have been the same person who said, “I have a revelation from the Spirit who said, ‘This is how I see it,’ and who said, ‘I actually have a letter from Paul and the apostles.’”
It was that letter above all things that so troubled them, because maybe Paul changed his mind, maybe Paul missed the true revelation the first time. But they were claiming Paul and apostolic authority for the idea that the Thessalonians were in the day of the Lord, and it was terribly troubling. That’s how it affected them. They were shaken. They were in a state of shock, fear, alarm, and confusion, shaken from their composure, Literally broken loose from their mind, nous.
Their thinking was completely disturbed. “Shaken” suggests a rocking motion, shaking up and down like a ship tossed on the waves, or a building in an earthquake shaken loose from its foundation. They were tossed wildly by this teaching. They were disturbed, which means alarmed or frightened. Has the idea of tumult, fear, even crying aloud, clamor, nervous panic, because they were in the day of the Lord. And they knew what the day of the Lord was; I just read you everything the Old Testament said.
Now listen, this is very important, as I wrap it up for today. If they had been taught a post-tribulation rapture, if they had been taught, as some people believed, that they were going to be raptured at the end of the tribulation, at the end of the day of the Lord, then being in the day of the Lord would have been good news, because it would mean that the rapture was coming. But obviously they had believed what Paul said, that they would be snatched out before that would happen. And now to think they’re in it means we either missed it or that was not accurate. And to support the idea that that was not accurate, they had a forged letter purported from Paul; and they were in terror because they were heading into the full fury of the day of the Lord.
Let me say this again. The only reason they were in terror was because they expected a rapture before the day of the Lord, not at the end. They’re now terrified because they’re in the day of the Lord. Paul writes this to comfort them.
How does he comfort them? By saying, “You’ve been deceived, you’ve been shaken from your composure, you’ve been disturbed to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. That’s not true.” Verse 3 says, “It will not come until the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. You haven’t seen him. You don’t need to be disturbed, you’re not in the day of the Lord.”
Down at the bottom of the chapter, verse 13, look at this: “You don’t need to live in fear. We should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now follow this. “You were chosen” – this is election – “before the foundation of the world. You were chosen for salvation, sanctification, glorification, not judgment. So then, brethren,” – verse 15 – “stand firm and hold to the tradition which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or letter from us.” And then he says, “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word. Be encouraged, be comforted; you’re not in the day of the Lord; you will never be in the day of the Lord.”
We have a blessed hope. We’re not looking for the Antichrist, we’re looking for Christ. We have that blessed hope in anticipation of the glorious appearing of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. If a post to tribulational rapture was true, Paul would have said to them, “Be glad you’re in the day of the Lord because that means the rapture’s near.” But he says, “Be comforted, you’re not going to be in the day of the Lord. Be comforted.”
It may seem to some people adventurous to say, “Well, we’re going to go through the tribulation.” But if you understand what it is and you read what Scripture says about that and the unleashing of the day of the Lord kind of terminal judgment by God, and you understand what it says in Revelation 6 through 19, all the horrors of the seal judgments, trumpet judgments, bowl judgments, that’s not something you want to experience or do you want your family and the ones you love to experience it either. We would live in fear, we would be like them; we would be shaken from our composure, we would be profoundly agitated and disturbed if we thought we were going to go into the day of the Lord and take all of that kind of judgment. Even though it didn’t fall on us, falling around us it would be overwhelmingly horrific.
They needed to hear again that they were not going to be in the day of the Lord. The day of the Lord was going to be when God comes in judgment; and He will destroy that man of lawlessness and his demonic powers and all his demonic allies and all his human allies at His return with the sword of His mouth. The breath of His mouth He’ll destroy them all, cast them all into the lake of fire. But during that period of tribulation, the Antichrist will be anti-Israel. He will make a pact with them and seem like their friend. Halfway through he desecrates it and begins to want to slaughter them, as all the enemies of God have always done with Israel. The Antichrist’s main objective would be to destroy the Jews, and therefore thwart the purposes of God. “You’re not going to be there,” he says.
We live in the promise of eternal comfort and good hope; and our hope is that the Lord is going to come and take us away as He promised. So he says to them, “Look, you are not in the day of the Lord. The day of the Lord can’t come until the Antichrist shows up. And obviously he’s not here. Before that even happens, the rapture will take place.”
Now that’s the introduction, first two verses, for this morning. From thereon we’re going to answer the question, “How do you avoid confusion and fear regarding the Lord’s return? How do you avoid confusion and fear regarding the Lord’s return?” We’ll pick it up next time.
Father, again, it’s just a thrilling experience to hear Your Word unleashed in all its truth. We thank You that You have prepared a home for us, and You’ll come and take us to be with You forever, that we have been saved from the wrath to come, that we are anticipating our gathering together to You in glory. And we will come back with You when You come to set up Your kingdom. We thank You that Your promise to us from before the foundation of the world is salvation, sanctification, glorification. We’ll be taken to glory before the day of the Lord breaks loose in this world.
We thank You for the blessed hope, the good hope, the good hope by grace that comforts our hearts. Life is hard enough in a fallen world full of antichrists, full of anti-God hatred. The spirit of antichrist is everywhere, and it seems like it’s escalating. It’s challenging to live in this world. But we know that You have promised us we will never live in that horrendous time in the future when Satan’s man, a thousand times worse than Hitler, will rule the entire planet and bring about evil that will cause Your day of the Lord wrath to be unleashed. We thank You that we’ll be with You, gathered around Your throne having the marriage supper of the Lamb, receiving our eternal rewards, and come back with You in glory for Your kingdom. Amazing truth, wonderful promises. We’re unworthy but so grateful. We thank You in the name of Christ. Amen.
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