Let’s open the Word of God at this point now to 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, and we are looking at the coming man of sin, a man of lawlessness, the Antichrist; we began that last week. I want to read the opening ten verses because I think that’ll suffice to give you the sense of what we’re going to look at.
Second Thessalonians chapter 2, we’ll start at verse 1: “Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you 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. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he’s taken out of the way. Then that 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; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.”
Now obviously, the main character here is the man of lawlessness or the man of sin, the son of destruction or the son of perdition, as he’s called in verse 8, “that lawless one” – verse 9 – “whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and all the deception of wickedness.” This is Paul talking about the coming of Antichrist. And we said last time that this final Antichrist who is to come will surpass all of Satan’s agents, all of Satan’s false prophets, false teachers, false Christs, all of Satan’s demon-possessed leaders throughout human history. This one will be the worst that has ever come. This one will be inspired by Satan and so successful as to literally rule the entire world.
Now as the apostle John revealed, there are many antichrists in the world, we know that. There have always been anti-God forces; of course, that’s Satan’s effort, and all of his ministers are engaged in that effort. And so, the world has always been full of those who are against God and against Christ. There is a pervasive spirit, says John, the spirit of antichrist. There are not only those who directly oppose Christ in their efforts, but there is that pervasive antichrist spirit that just exists in the world and touches all who are without God. What we’re talking about here is not just another antichrist-type person, not just another manifestation of the antichrist spirit, but as John says in 1 John 2:18, the Antichrist, or as it says here, “the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction.”
The earliest Christians knew about the coming of the Lord, and they also knew that at the time of the coming of the Lord there would appear a great global world leader inspired by Satan. They would have known that because Paul taught them that. Notice verse 5, “Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?” Paul gave instruction about the coming Antichrist. John did the same thing in 1 John. There was plenty of material about the Antichrist from the Old Testament. The introduction of the Antichrist in the Old Testament comes through the Prophets, and as we saw last time, Ezekiel and Daniel have much to say about the coming Antichrist. But so does Zechariah, and we’ve looked at that as well and shall take notice of it again. So there was plenty of Old Testament literature to refer to the coming of the Antichrist. And even our Lord had some things to say about that when He preached on His second coming, as recorded in Matthew 24 and 25.
So we here see this Antichrist described. The question really for us is why. Why does Paul bring this man into this epistle? How does this fit in? It almost seems out of character with an epistle written to young Christians to encourage them and urge them to be faithful to the Lord. Why is this discussion of Antichrist give here?
Well, first of all, not for the sheer eschatological facts. It’s not just so somebody can fill out some kind of a chart and know what is coming in the future. It’s not just so that you can have some rather tantalizing concepts in your mind about this amazing figure for the sheer fascination of it. Rather, Paul is saying what he’s saying here for one reason, and that one reason is comfort, comfort. That’s why in verses 16 and 17 as the chapter ends, there is a real benediction here: “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.” How can a presentation of this horrific Satan-inspired global leader be comforting? How is that possible that we can be comforted in the knowledge of this individual? Well, that is what Paul is going to show us.
Now remember, in all that he has said back in 1 Thessalonians about the rapture of the church, the fact that believers will be snatched away before the day of the Lord, he said that, as the end of chapter 4 says, “Comfort one another with these words.” That’s after he tells us about the fact that the Lord’s going to come down and snatch believers out of this world before the day of the Lord begins. We see that in the sequence. The rapture comes at the end of chapter 4, and then in chapter 5 comes the day of the Lord. The end of that little section, chapter 5, verse 11, “Comfort one another.”
Again, “Comfort one another that you’re going to be snatched out. Comfort one another that you’re not going to go through the day of the Lord. As he says in 1 Thessalonians 5, “You’re not of the night, you’re not of the darkness, you’re not of those people for whom that judgment is intended. Be comforted. Be encouraged.” They should have known that they didn’t have to fear the coming day of the Lord. They didn’t have to fear the horrific judgments of the day of the Lord, which we looked at throughout the Old Testament as well as the horrors of the book of Revelation that described the day of the Lord. They had been told by Paul that the Lord was going to snatch them out before the judgment began, that they would be raptured, as we like to say, or snatched out of the world before furious judgments fall, as described in detail in Revelation 6 to 19.
And even as he begins 2 Thessalonians, take notice of the fact that he talks in verse 5 about God’s righteous judgment, and that righteous judgment for believers will be to usher them into the kingdom of God, into the kingdom of God. On the other hand, those who have persecuted them, God will repay. “He will give you relief,” – verse 7 – “and that will come when the Lord Jesus comes. But for those who persecuted you, those who did not believe in Christ, the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will pay with the penalty of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His power.”
On the other hand, He comes to be glorified in His saints. So there is for the saints a coming day of glory, a coming day when the Lord snatches His people out at the end of chapter 1, that this is the day when we will be glorified, and Christ will be gloried in us, and us in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” So they had been told all of this, “You’re going to be snatched out. For you there’s going to be relief. For the Antichrist’s crowd, anti-God crowd, rejectors of Christ, there’s going to be retribution, retribution.”
The whole point of this both in the first letter and the second letter is to let us know that we are not going to be in the day of the Lord; we’re going to be taken out before the day of the Lord begins. “We are waiting” – says 1 Thessalonians 1:10 – “for His Son from heaven, who will deliver us from the wrath to come.” And chapter 5, verse 9 says essentially the same thing: “God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,” or obtaining deliverance.
So, the future for believers is the rapture of the church. The next event in prophecy, the Lord is going to come from heaven with a shout of an archangel, the voice of God, the trumpet of God, and the believers are going to be snatched up. The dead in Christ rise out of their graves. First, we who are alive, caught up in the air to meet them, and we’re always with the Lord. Then comes the judgment of the day of the Lord, including the tribulation, the great seven-year period of judgment leading up to Christ’s return, and total judgment on the ungodly. So that’s the picture.
Now the problem is Paul begins to write this second chapter and he says this: “Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together with Him,” just a comment about that; I don’t know if I made it clear last time. “The coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, even our gathering together to Him,” he’s talking about the rapture, the rapture. “Our gathering together to Him,” that’s exactly what the rapture is; we’re gathered together to Him. The Greek syntax uses only one article, and that means it’s one event explained in two expressions. And by the way, this is the sixth mention of the rapture in these two letters.
So I want to talk to you about the rapture. I want to talk to you about when the Lord comes to gather us to be with Him. He was promising that, and it is going to come to pass. I want to talk to you about it. The reason I want to talk to you about it is because you’re confused, verse 2, “so that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed.” Now this is exactly what happened. They were shaken from their composure. They had lost their comfort, they had lost their hope. They were fearful, they were anxious, they were shaken. Why? They were disturbed 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 were disturbed because somebody had told them they were going to go through the day of the Lord and they were already in it.
In spite of what the apostle Paul had told them, that the Lord would snatch them and gather them to Himself, they were believing that they were experiencing the day of the Lord. Why? Back in chapter 1, verse 4, Paul refers to their “perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.” They were being persecuted. Life was very difficult for them, and they were wondering whether they might be in the day of the Lord and had missed the rapture. This shook them deeply.
Now why would they believe that? Because somebody had come along and given them lies. Notice verse 2, “This disturbing came whether by a spirit, a message or a letter as if from us.” “I don’t care what the source is, whether it’s a spirit, somebody coming and saying they’re speaking for the Spirit of God to let you know you’re in the day of the Lord, that what you thought was true is not true. Somebody coming with a message or a word, somebody with a new eschatology that will help you to understand you’re going to go through the day of the Lord. Or somebody even saying, ‘Here’s a letter, and this letter is from Paul,’ and it says you’re going through the day of the Lord.” Paul says, “Whatever it may be,” – and it might have been all three of those; but nonetheless, Paul says – “in spite of all of that, I want to talk to you about the truth which I already made clear to you. You have come to believe you are in the day of the Lord, and so you are distressed.” He has to correct this deception.
Now that’s what you have through the rest of this chapter, as we’ll see in the next few weeks, and I’ll break it down into some manageable, simple points. He just says simple things to them like, “Don’t be deceived. Don’t be forgetful. Don’t be ignorant. Don’t be unbelieving. Don’t be doubtful. Don’t be weak,” and marches them through reasons to be encouraged, so that finally in verse 17 he says, “Be comforted. Be strong. You do not have to fear the day of the Lord.”
But let’s look at his first two points: “Don’t be deceived by this spirit or message or letter as if it’s from an apostle, and that indicating that you are in the day of the Lord.” Verse 3, “Let no one in any way deceive you.” They were shaken and disturbed because somebody was teaching them lies, error. Our Lord, in Matthew 24:4, when He launched into His message on the second coming, says, “See to it that no one misleads you.” Look, eschatology is one place where lots of people are misleading others, and our Lord is saying it’s not necessary to be misled; the truth is clear. There’s always imminent danger of false teaching in the church on all kinds of levels, and there’s plenty of it with regard to eschatology and the coming of the Lord. Some of it is even satanic – not all of it – but some of it is satanic, because “Satan is disguised as an angel of light,” – 2 Corinthians 11:14 and 15 – “his messengers are also angels of light,” seeking to devour us with error, to victimize us out of fear and anxiety when we should be living in shining bright hope.
Deceivers will always come and try to confuse. So he says, “Let no one deceive you,” – very strong word, very strong Greek word – “to deceive you completely, to deceive you successfully, delude you, lead you into error in any way, by any means, through any methods, whether it’s a spirit or a letter or a message.” Satan is a deceiver, 2 John 7, “Many deceivers have gone out into the world, who do not acknowledge Jesus as coming in the flesh. This is the Deceiver and the Antichrist.” Deceivers are everywhere and they want to deceive believers as well as nonbelievers.
Believers must not yield gullably to any form of error or deception, particularly with regard to the Lord’s return. You need to get this right, because “he who has this hope in Him purifies himself, even as He is pure,” 1 John 3. You need this. As Peter says, “When you know these things, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holiness and godly living.” The coming of our Lord, the hope that is ours in the rapture when He comes to gather us is a hope that has motivation for our godly living, so that when He comes He finds us faithful. We’re not looking for the Antichrist, we’re looking for Christ, who will deliver us from the wrath to come. So don’t be deceived, we’re going to be gathered to Him before the day of the Lord begins.
Secondly, he says, don’t be forgetful – and I want to dwell on this a little bit, verses 3b down to verse 5, and we’ll just cover that this morning. He says this: “The day of the Lord” – in that little phrase – “it will not come,” the day of the Lord is implied from the previous verse. “The day of the Lord will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. do you not remember that while I was with you, I was telling you these things?”
Second point, don’t be forgetful, don’t be forgetful. “Remember what I told you.” This means Paul had clearly taught them extensively on these things: on the rapture, on the day of the Lord, on the coming judgment, on the apostasy, on the man of lawlessness. Verse 5, “I was telling you these things,” imperfect tense, repeated action. “Now I’m reiterating what I already told you.”
Now look, he doesn’t give a lot of details here, and that’s because he had taught them the details already, just enough to restore their weak memories to a more complete understanding of the issues he had taught them. He doesn’t say much. I know I read this and you read this, and you say, “Wow, what is he talking about, man of lawlessness, son of destruction opposing God and every object of worship, taking his seat in the temple, displaying himself as being God”? What is this all about? And I’m going to try to help you with that this morning. And if I give you a lot fast and you have trouble digesting it, just remember this: I am going to do one better than Paul did, because he doesn’t give us anything but this. So I’m going to try to fill in what Paul left out in part, for you to understand exactly what he’s talking about. Since we now have the full Scripture in our hands we can fill in some of the details.
Prophetic teaching is essential to Christians, to all Christians, to new Christians. Living in the blessed hope of the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is important, again, because it has a purifying hope. When we realize that Jesus is coming we want to be found faithful. This is very important for us as motivation to holiness. So the basic picture is, “Remember what I told you. The day of the Lord will not come; it will not come until the apostasy comes first.”
Now what is he talking about, “the apostasy”? Paul is not here referring to some general apostasy, some typical apostasy that we experience all the time. If there are many antichrists in the world, many false Christs in the world, many false prophets and false teachers in the world, there’s going to be a lot of apostasy. Apostasy, apostasia, means “to revolt” or “to rebel.” If you’re an apostate you have revolted against the truth, you have rebelled against God. It is a deliberate abandonment of a formerly professed view. It is a deliberate abandonment of a formerly professed view. Apostasy is when someone who said they were a believer, turns and revolts and rebels against that, and abandons that claim. It is defection.
Now we’re not talking about some kind of general apostasy or general defection. Look, defections go on all the time. “Many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and I’ll say, ‘I never knew you.’” There are a lot of false believers. In John chapter 6, some disciples walked away from Jesus, they just walked away. A large group of them walked away. That happens all the time. Judas was a defector. There are many such Judases.
But this is not talking about that kind of general apostasy or defection. In the letters to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3, there were churches that defected. As you know, the church at Sardis, the church at Laodicea. Church at Sardis, a dead church. The church at Laodicea, so sickening the Lord said He would spew it out of His mouth. There are churches that have defected. There are whole denominations that have apostatized.
And I think it’s obvious to us from studying Scripture that as time goes on, even in the church age, there will be more and more and more defectors, as evil men get worse and worse, and as false teachers abound and proliferate, 1 Timothy 4:1 says, and people are led astray. Second Peter 2, Jude – they both talk about the apostasy, the defection, the false teachers, those who abandon the truth as this age goes on. He’s not talking about that. So he’s not talking about defecting disciples during the life of Christ. He’s not talking about defecting churches. He’s not talking about defecting people who have some attachment to Christianity but abandon it. He’s talking about something that is very specific, because go back to verse 3.
He says, “The day of the Lord will not come until the apostasy, the apostasy.” Not just apostasy, defectors always exist, but the apostasy. This is an event. This is a definite article. This is clearly and specifically identifiable, unique, a consummate act of rebellion that is historic and marks a final blasphemous magnitude of rebellion against God.
Now how do we identify what the apostasy is? Well, that’s exactly what Paul tells us. It is this: the apostasy comes first, and it comes with the arrival of the man of lawlessness, when he is revealed, the son of destruction. You know when the apostasy is, because it is when the man of lawlessness, this son of destruction is revealed. These are titles for Antichrist: the man of lawlessness, or the man of sin. The word is anomia. Nomos is the Greek word for law. If you put an alpha privative or an “a” at the front, it negates it lawlessness.
There is coming the man who is lawless. He is the most lawless man who has ever lived. He lives without regard for God’s word, God’s will, God’s law. Open defiance of everything about God, His sovereignty and His rule. He is the ultimate instrument of evil. There have been obviously, and there are, millions of lawless people, and millions of blasphemers and antichrists and God-rejectors, and Christ-haters, and those who reject the Bible. But this is beyond that. This is the man, the ultimate champion of wickedness and blasphemy. “This one” – down to verse 9 – “comes in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness.”
This is a deceiving wonder-working, satanically-inspired human being. He is not Satan, because verse 9 says, “He works in accord with the activity of Satan.” The apostasy is when he is – back to verse 3 – revealed. The apostasy comes first. What is it? It’s when the man of lawlessness is revealed. It’s an event. It’s the event that reveals him to be the final Antichrist.
He’s further called the son of destruction. It means he’s doomed to destruction. He belonged to destruction by nature like a son belongs to a father by nature. He belongs to hell. He belongs to eternal torment. He belongs to perdition. He belongs to apōleia, the word for “ruin.” Not loss of being, because he’ll live forever in the lake of fire, but loss of well-being, loss of value, worth, usefulness. Eternal misery, ruination. Hell will be the hottest for him. He is human trash for the dump of hell.
By the way, one other individual in the Bible is called a son of destruction and it’s Judas Iscariot. For Judas Iscariot, you have the model of the apostasy, one who was with Christ for three years, turned on Him and betrayed Him. Judas is also called a son of destruction. The hell of Judas will be like the hell of the Antichrist. Both men controlled by Satan. John 13:2, “Satan enters into Judas.” Revelation 13, “Satan dominates the Antichrist.”
One way to explain that son of destruction is one who is destined to be destroyed. Now Zechariah looks at this individual. I want you to go back to Zechariah chapter 11. I’m going to fill in a little bit what Paul didn’t give you. There’s a lot here, and I’m going to give you a little. There’s plenty more to say, but we don’t have time for all of it. Zechariah chapter 11, Zechariah is looking at the future time of the coming of the Lord. From chapter 11 to the end of chapter 14, the finishing of the book, it’s all focused on the end times salvation of Israel, the setting up of a kingdom, the day of the Lord in chapter 14.
But notice 11, chapter 11, verses 16 and 17. Zechariah prophesies the Antichrist. “Behold, I’m going to raise up a shepherd in the land” – in the land of Israel – “who will not care for the perishing. He will not seek the scattered. He will not heal the broken, or sustain the one standing, but will devour the flesh of the fat sheep and tear off their hoofs. ‘Woe to the worthless shepherd who leaves the flock! A sword will be on his arm and on his right eye! His arm will be totally withered and his right eye will be blind.’”
Zechariah, looking at the future time of the coming of the Lord, sees this Antichrist figure. He is the opposite of the good shepherd, he is the bad shepherd. He will not visit those who are cut off, those who are in pain, those who are suffering, those who are wounded, those who are dying. “He has no regard for those who are scattered or broken or standing,” may imply about to give birth and the pain of giving birth. He is not interested, he is no real shepherd. In fact, he slaughters the sheep to fill his insatiable hunger.
Verse 17 talks about his arm, that means his strength; and it talks about his eye, that means his intelligence. The sword of God’s vengeance will fall on him and destroy both his power and his intelligence. He is the son of destruction. He is the Antichrist. He is the one Daniel called the little horn, the king who does what he pleases, the insolent king, the man of lawlessness. He enacts this apostasy before he is himself destroyed. So whatever the apostasy is, it involves him.
Now we are given specifics about what it actually is in verse 4, “who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.” That’s the act of apostasy; it is the ultimate Antichrist ascending to the place of God in the temple of Israel in Jerusalem. He opposes and exalts himself as a matter of course above every so-called god or object of worship. Let me talk about that a little bit.
When the Antichrist comes to power he comes to power at the beginning of the period known as the tribulation, the seventieth week of Daniel, that seven-year period. He comes to power. Daniel describes in him chapter 7, chapter 8, and chapter 11. He is narcissistic to the extreme, he is the ultimate egotist; but he coddles religion when he first comes. He doesn’t deny religion, he doesn’t destroy religion, he simply opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship. He is the supreme one. He is a man, human and earthly, satanically-controlled; and because he is satanically-controlled, and because Satan also controls all the religions of the world, the true believers are gone, this false religious leader will by Satan’s power be elevated above all other religions, and the whole world will bow to him. He will be superior intellectually, oratorically, politically, militarily, economically, and even religiously. He’ll become the leader of the world after he has literally reverenced himself above everyone else. This is apparently because he is able to bring global peace to some degree, that’s why Revelation begins – the first thing it begins with is a rider on a horse with a bow and no arrows. He’s coming to conquer without arrows; that means he conquers peacefully, not with war. So the Antichrist rises to global power because of his personality, because of the power of Satan behind him. This is his beginning.
In Daniel chapter 9, I just want to call your attention not to all of it, but a couple of things to think about in Daniel chapter 9. Daniel’s vision sees this individual. And in Daniel chapter 9, verse 27, the last verse of the chapter, talks about this Antichrist; “a prince who is to come,” he’s called. “The prince who is to come” – in verse 26 at the end, “will destroy the city and the sanctuary.” He is going to be destructive. “And in the end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war, desolation,” et cetera. So he is going to create massive trouble.
But Israel is the people of the prince who is to come. How is Israel the people of this prince? They make a pact with him. He looks like the Savior of Israel. As we get closer to the end, Israel needs a protector. Apparently, the Antichrist will be that protector. Verse 27, “He’ll make a firm covenant with the many for one week,” – for one week, for that seven-year period, he’s going to promise to protect Israel – “but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to the sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”
The Antichrist makes a pact with Israel to be their savior and their protector. Halfway through the seven-year tribulation he breaks that pact, he stops the sacrifice. And what does he do? Go back to 2 Thessalonians. “When he stops the sacrifice, he makes himself the object of worship,” verse 4. “He takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.” This is where he abolishes all religion and he sets himself up as God. This is the desecration of the temple. He moves into the temple in Jerusalem, the symbol of Jehovah’s presence, where he is famed to be a protector for three-and-a-half years. And finally, he demonstrates his hypocrisy, and he declares himself to be God, and he actually establishes one world religion.
Revelation 17 tells us about it, verse 1, “One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke to me, ‘Come here, I’ll show you the judgment on the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.’” Goes on to say this is a harlot. The true church is the bride of Christ; this is Satan’s harlot. This is the global one-world religion, and in verse 5, “On her head is written, ‘BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.’” This is the abominable, final, single world religion under the control of the Antichrist, and everybody in the world gives him their allegiance.
Down in verse 13 of Revelation 17, “They give their power and authority to the beast. And then he makes war” – verse 14 – “with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings,” and so forth. So you have in the future this person comes along as a global leader. He looks like a protector and a preserver of Israel. They sign a pact with him. Halfway through the tribulation he sets himself up in the temple of Jerusalem as the one true God, establishes a global religion sort of headquartered at Babylon. And this launches the second half of the tribulation, the final three-and-a-half years, which is the worst, the time of great tribulation. “He will speak” – says Daniel – “against the Most High God.”
For the first half, it all looked peaceful, and he tolerated religion. But then in the middle, he sets up the harlot religion. He is like a direct parallel to Christ. Each has a coming: Christ has a coming, he has a coming. Each has an unveiling, a revelation: Christ had a revelation, he has a revelation. Each has a gospel: Christ’s is true, his is a lie. The man of sin claims exclusive homage and worship, and will tolerate no rival, and so does Christ, only he is Satan’s man. His ultimate goal is blasphemy, overthrowing God, overthrowing Christ, overthrowing the plan of God. So the apostasy then is this act by which this individual desecrates the temple in Jerusalem and establishes himself as God.
Turn to Matthew chapter 24. When Jesus gave His sermon at the end of His ministry on His second coming, He spoke of this very event. Looking forward into that coming time our Lord saw many, many aspects of what was going to happen. But come down to verse 15. “When you see the abomination of desolation” – there’s that phrase again – “spoken of through Daniel the prophet,” – and repeated in part in Revelation 17 – “when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” – that is the Antichrist sets up his throne as if he were God in the holy place – “let the reader understand, it’s time to flee. Let those in Judea flee to the mountains. Whoever’s on the housetop must not go down to get the things that are in the house. Whoever’s in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. And woe to those who are pregnant and those who are nursing babies in those days! Pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. For there will be great tribulation, such as not occurred since the beginning of the world until now.”
When the Antichrist commits the abomination in the temple, he unleashes hatred against Israel, and Israel is slaughtered. Zechariah 13 says that there will be two-thirds of the Jews massacred, two-thirds. A third will be a remnant that God will redeem. He shows his true colors and he goes after Israel. But not only Israel; turn to Revelation 13, we’ll look at one more passage. This satanic person goes after everyone else.
“The dragon stood on the sand of the seashore,” Revelation 13:1. The dragon’s always Satan. “And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea.” That’s the Antichrist rising from the nations. Horns and heads speak of intelligence and power, and it’s consolidated power. “And he appears like three animals: a leopard, a bear, and a lion,” and those are exactly the same images given in Daniel chapter 7. “One of his heads as if it’s been slain,” and that can be a resurrection or a falsified resurrection. “His fatal wound is healed, and the whole earth is amazed and comes after him,” because he appears to rise from the dead. “They worship the dragon,” – they worship Satan because he gave his authority to the beast, the Antichrist – “they worship the beast.”
Verse 5, “There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act” – this is so amazing – “for forty-two months.” That’s exactly three-and-a-half years, exactly halfway through the seven years. The abomination of desolation is the revelation of the Antichrist who’s been hiding like a good guy, like a global savior. He puts forth the reality of who he is, and he operates for the final three-and-a-half years. “He opens his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. He makes war with the saints, overcomes them. Authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation is given to him.” He rules the world with evil. He slaughters the Jews and he slaughters the believers.
This is the coming Antichrist. His victory is temporary, very temporary. He will be destroyed. He will be destroyed when the King of kings and Lord of lords comes and sends him and the false prophet into the lake of fire. But for three-and-a-half years the world follows his harlot religion.
Back to 2 Thessalonians. We read this in verse 8: “Then the 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.” When Christ comes, as recorded in Revelation 19, He comes to destroy the Antichrist and his entire godless antichrist operation.
Now with all that, Paul is saying to the Thessalonians, “Have you seen him? Anybody seen him? No. Then you’re not in the day of the Lord. You’re not in the day of the Lord. You don’t need to be fearful.” If we were going through the day of the Lord to try to survive the horrors of it, we’d have reason for fear. But Paul says, “I just want to comfort you. That’s not going to happen. God has promised that He’s going to send His Son for us,” – verse 1 – “and gather us to Himself.”
Titus chapter 2 sums up our hope in verses 11 to 13, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,” – listen to this – “looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” We’re looking for Christ, not Antichrist.
John 14:1, Jesus said, “Let not your heart be” – what? – “troubled. You believe in Me; believe in God. In My Father’s house are many rooms. I go to prepare a place for you. If I go, I’ll come again to receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” That’s all comforting. “I’m coming back to save you from the wrath to come, to take you to the room I’ve prepared for you in the Father’s house.” Be comforted. Be encouraged. Be strong. Don’t fear. Remember these promises.
Look, the world is full of doomsdayers, right, all over the place. We should live in joy, thankfulness, gladness, that whatever comes on this world by way of divine retribution doesn’t apply to us. We’re not of the night, we’re not of the darkness, we’re of the light; and the One who is the light of the world will come and shout, and we’ll all be gathered into His presence. That’s the next prophetic event. We don’t fear the day of the Lord because we have been saved from it by our Good Shepherd.
Father, we are grateful again for the encouragement that comes from Your Word, and it’s so wonderful. We think so often of the Scripture as just full of commands and responsibilities, when it is so full of comfort. Whatever’s going to happen in this world, whatever disasters are looming out there, when the worst of it comes, when heaven unleashes hell on earth, when judgment comes in the full fury of the divine war machine that we see in the book of Revelation, we’re not going to be here; we’re going to be sitting around the throne with the Savior, with whom we will be forever, rejoicing in His presence, and even returning with Him, as He establishes His glorious kingdom forever.
Thank You for the comfort of that. May we live in joy, no matter what people say about the future, and how they may worry about environmental issues or cataclysmic collisions from bodies in space, or whatever it is. We know You’re in charge of history. And before You begin to destroy this planet, those who belong to Christ will be taken out to meet You and to ever be with You, and to return to a restored and renewed earth, or Your kingdom, and then into the final new heaven and new earth forever and ever.
We are comforted in this, Lord, but only, only if we know You, only if we have confessed You as Lord and Savior, believe that You died for us on the cross, rose again to purchase our eternal life, that You are the one and only Savior who offers forgiveness to those who repent and believe. Lord, in that case, we live in good hope by grace, good hope by grace; and we are thereby given comfort and strength. The future for us is all-glorious. If we die before the Lord comes to take us, absent from the body is present with the Lord. Far better to depart and be with Christ. We go immediately into Your presence. But if we’re alive at the end before any of this breaks on the world, we will have already been taken into Your presence, enjoying that fellowship for which we long.
Lord, I pray that You will bring these truths home to our hearts for the sake of those who do not believe that You would draw them to Yourself for salvation, the only hope of escaping not only temporal wrath, but eternal wrath. For those of us as believers, may this hope encourage us to live in joy and obedience. We ask those things in the name of Christ. Amen.
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