Unsettling Reassurances

Unsettling Reassurances

Words of Faith 4-19-19

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

<>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <><

 

2 Thessalonians 2

   [3] Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. [4] He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

 

        To be honest, I am not a big fan of eschatology (End Times Theology).  Don't get me wrong.  It is a fascinating part of Bible teaching, but it can also become so distracting. 

       People will often argue at such great length about where we are in the "timeline" of final things that we get distracted from the basics of living out the Kingdom of God and sharing the Gospel with people. Apparently, this is nothing new. It seems that the people in Thessalonica had gotten a bit distracted.

        Paul was very concerned that false teaching and rumors had unsettled the believers at Thessalonica. "Don't let anyone deceive you in any way."  Some were suggesting that the Thessalonians had missed the Rapture and that the Day of the Lord was upon them. 

       In the ancient world, there was no instant cable news and Christians were relatively scarce in number. What if the Rapture had occurred and they had been left behind to experience the wrath of God?  Paul warned his readers not to be taken in by these speculations, whether through "prophecy, report or letter" or "in any way."

        Paul was, of course, confident that his readers were not experiencing the Day of the Lord.  He pointed out two events that must occur immediately after the Rapture before the judgments of the Day of the Lord take place. These two conspicuous phenomena will dominate the opening phase of the Day of the Lord, and these had not yet happened.

        The first event is called "the rebellion" translated from 'apostasia,' from which we get the word apostasy. The word points to a deliberate abandonment of a former professed position.  This defection of professing Christians is spoken of elsewhere and will occur after the catching away of those in Christ (1Thess 4:17).

        After the Rapture, conditions will immediately worsen.  Those who had called themselves Christian, but were not genuinely such, will turn their backs on God both in what they do and profess.  The insincerity of these people will demonstrate itself outwardly. There will be a worldwide anti-God movement so universal that it is designated "the apostasy" or the rebellion.  This had not occurred.

        The second event will be the unveiling of the "man of lawlessness," a powerful figure embodying everything opposed to God. Paul used a tense for the verb "is revealed" which indicates that this revelation will be a decisive act that will take place at an exact recognizable moment in history.  

        The whereabouts of the man of lawlessness his unveiling are not given. He will be alive for years before his unveiling, but his dramatic public presentation will occur after the rebellion begins. The man of lawlessness will be the epitome of opposition to the laws of God. Satan will so indwell and operate through him that his chief delight will be in breaking God's righteous laws. He will oppose and exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped. His direct and determined opposition to the true God will be a leading feature of the continuing apostasy.

       The presence of such apostasy and counterfeit god will not escape international observation. The fact that these things had not occurred when Paul wrote proved his point regarding the non-arrival of the day of the Lord.

        We can understand why the Thessalonians would be so easily unsettled.  When we look around our world, we see both persecution and apostasy.  We see churches and denominations abandoning what they have professed for centuries.  We see large scale movements both secular and religious that oppose God and his ways. 

        We hear almost daily about world leaders and religious extremists who are dedicated to the obliteration of the historical people of God.  Such messages are coming regularly from many famous celebrities. 

        Famed and honored singer Sir Elton John told Britain's Observer Music Monthly magazine: "From my point of view, I would ban religion completely. Organized religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings, and it's not really compassionate." 

       Well known atheist, Oxford University biologist Richard Dawkins, declares in his new two-part television documentary that religion is "The Root of All Evil" and that deluded believers are starting the first step on the "slippery slope" to hatred and violence. Dawkins forcefully attacks Christians, Jews, Muslims and even cancer patients seeking prayer.

        Popular television bashes Christians as hateful, mean-spirited, narrow-minded bigots weekly while promoting alternative lifestyles as normal. Meanwhile, the talk show religions of self-worship flourish. It would be easy to think that we are in the midst of the great rebellion! But we are not. The great apostasy will be much worse.

        Bottom line, Paul's teaching is reassuring in that we can trust that the Rapture has not yet occurred.  We have not been left behind.  The Day of the Lord has not begun.  But this is also unsettling because things will inevitably get worse.  What do we do with that?  Is there any peace for us in these times?

         Perhaps the answer is to skip ahead to the closing of this letter where Paul concludes with this thought: "Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you" (2 Thessalonians 3:16). 

        There is peace to be had, but it comes only from the Lord Himself, not from our circumstances, from diplomatic breakthroughs, or even from just the "right Christmas."  There is a peace which surpasses all understanding that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  He has declared a peace which carries us through all times-- confusing or difficult-- and in every way.  May that peace of the Lord be with all of us.  In Jesus' name.