I know I touched on this passage as I was finishing up Micah 3, and I apologize if it seems redundant. I referenced it in that post because it fit, but I could not convey the aggravation I feel as my friend keeps coming back to this particular verse, especially after his pastor, a notable radio pastor, has also answered his question to the best of his ability.
For two weeks, in our very small group, we have gone over 2 Thessalonians 2:3 extensively to no avail.
As I try to figure out why my friend refuses to grasp anything anyone has said to him about the verse, I can’t help but think that this is a common problem for many, and therefore needs to be explained. After all, Paul had to readdress issues as he wrote to the churches in Thessalonica and Corinth, and Paul conveyed the idea that it was a good and appropriate thing to revisit items that are basics of our faith and a foundational aspect of our hope.
The verse in question is 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. (NIV)
I want to make you aware of a few things up front;
- There are so many ways to be deceived, however, most of the deception comes from those we trust, like religious leaders. Many years ago, here in California, there was a decent man named Jim Jones and he was a church leader. At first, things went well, but over time he led his congregation to Guyana South America, where several of his members, at his bidding, murdered the investigators who arrived at the jungle airport. So what did “pastor” Jim Jones do to fix this aberration? He convinced the members to drink a Cyanide laced children’s drink called “Kool-Aid.” Of course, all those deceived who drank the “Kool-Aid” died. The point here is that people can be misled, with horrendous results.
- This verse falls within a context and should not be considered by itself; the full context ends with verse 12, but it is what is in between verse 3 and 12 that enlightens or changes our understanding.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 NASB (1) Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, (2) 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. (3) 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, (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. (5) Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? (6) And you know what restrains him now so that in his time he will be revealed. (7) For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. (8) 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; (9) that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, (10) 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. (11) For this reason, God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, (12) in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth but took pleasure in wickedness.
So there it is,
- “ you know what restrains him now,” What restrains him is the praying church. Obviously, we are not all carrying our weight. If we had not been resisting the work of the enemy how much farther along would the chaos be?
- “so that in his time he will be revealed.” With the church out of the way, the Antichrist will be exposed or uncovered. This is the same word (apokalúptō,) that Paul used in verse 3. If I wanted to get snagged and unable to move forward, I might focus on the terminology “so that in his time he will be revealed.” It almost sounds like the Antichrist is setting the ground rules for this Godly chess game, and he is not. All things are in the Father’s hand; to think any differently merely diminishes God in your eyes.
The passages read from certain versions, use obsolete and bewildering language; those language issues require extra work on your part if you are going to understand what is being said. An example of this is seen in verse 3 where the italicized words, (added to provide clarity,) only cause some people more grief. (The NASB and the KJV have the italicization, however, the NIV took some unwarranted liberties by integrating the italicized words into the sentence.)
The word revealed is the Greek word “apokalúptō.” Apokalúptō has several meanings, most of which convey a similar theme. It means to remove a veil or covering, exposing to open view what was before hidden. To make manifest or reveal a thing previously secret or unknown. (Word Study Dictionary)
So allow me a moment to expose some things that were previously unknown.
Having grown up in a religious setting, no one, it seems, ever thought for a second that the things we are dealing with today would come to pass, and Islam is one of those things. Islam was an ideology that was practiced quietly somewhere else. Movies like the Maltese Falcon, with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, which was set in Morocco; a war-torn but tourist friendly place. Not anymore.
The date, as I work on this post is 12/22/2018, and in just the last two days the “not so headline news” has informed us that several young Muslim men have raped and murdered two pretty blond European girls, decapitating one and attempting the same on the other. And all this happened in Morocco, a name I merely picked out of the air.
The Islamic revolution of 1979 brought down the Shah of Iran’s regime and restarted the rule of the Caliphate and Sharia law.
The Ottoman Empire, an Islamic Caliphate, created somewhat global havoc for centuries until it was subjected to the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920. That treaty was rejected by Turkish nationalists but eventually lead to the abolition of the monarchy by the Government of the Grand National Assembly based in Ankara. The Ottoman Caliphate was, for many years, effectively abolished in 1924 by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.
By the way, the Ottoman Empire played a huge role in this young country of America, forming the Marines, as Islamic pirates, coming off the coast of Libya, were capturing merchant vessels, including some of our own. Not all these ships were merchant’s vessels and many were put in Muslim prisons or made slaves. As long as it did not affect the young American country we did nothing, but when Americans were taken prisoners and abused, is when the Marines were formed as a counter to the piracy. For the doubters, I make note of the words of the Marine Corps anthem, which says, “to the shores of Tripoli.” Tripoli, is of course, in Libya, a Mediterranean, coastal, country. (Much of this information on the Ottoman empire has been extracted from Wikipedia)
I believe that the Ottoman Empire is that head that “appeared to be slain and his fatal wound was healed.”
Revelation 13:3 NASB I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast;
Before you move on or away from this thesis, you should understand that all of history, is God’s history, as players have moved into position, simply for the purpose of God restoring and rescuing those He calls his own; and, therefore, we should not ignore the role of history, as many of those players have managed to command a role in future events, like end times eschatology. An example of this can be understood as you look at the Grecian Empire, the third empire depicted in the statue dream of Nebuchadnezzar. The largest portion, the breast, is understood by most to be Alexander the Great. Alexander dies and in time, only two generals retained control, Seleucus in the North, and Ptolemy in the South. We are impacted by these empires still today. (You have to study Daniel 11, the Assyrians, and the Scythian empires to grasp how they play a role in eschatology. Fortunately, most of this information can be extracted from your Bible.)
Should you decide to base your eschatology on verse 3 alone, you would be considered a mid-tribulation believer.
Sadly, if your dream came true, then your belief system would put you under the subjection of the wrath of God, which is exactly what the seven-year time frame is all about; and, your theology would be in direct opposition to one of the primary reasons Jesus went to the cross.
In opposition to mid and post tribulation theories, there are verses like this.
Hebrews 9:28 NIV so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
While the entire book of Hebrews goes into great detail about our hope and why it is so valid, this verse wraps it up nicely when it says, “he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” We, as a church, should be aware that there are two “returns” of Jesus.
First, He will return for His church. He does not physically return to the earth but will catch us up to meet Him in the clouds. This moment in time is no secret, as we are told every eye will see Him.
The second time He returns, it will be as the warring Messiah. The having been collected seven-years prior, will be riding with Him. There is no polite way to say this, blood will run in the streets at this return. This point in time will mark the transition into the millennial reign.
Stay tuned for part two.