14. Scripture Twisting and the Second Coming, Part 2 (2 Thessalonians 2:6-12)Related Media
The manuscript version of this article is unavailable. This is a lightly edited transcript of Bob Deffinbaugh’s preached message (available in the related media). Appreciation for the transcription work goes to Marilyn Fine.
II Thessalonians 2:6-12
Good morning. We are on Lesson 14 in our study of the Thessalonians epistles and this is the second part of our lesson on “scripture twisters and the second coming.”
Years ago when I was in seminary we were assigned the task of reading this text and doing a paper in which we would conclude who—and then convince others—who the restrainer was. I wish I had read Augustine at that point in time. I should have turned it in on the top of my paper because he said “I do not know what it means.” I thought to myself. He is a pretty smart guy and if a guy as bright as Augustine comes to that conclusion, there are probably times when the rest of us less bright folks need to admit that, as well. But, what it says to us is that these are very difficult words. This is a difficult text we are dealing with and scholars would probably agree.
This is, perhaps, one of the most difficult texts that we have penned from the apostle, Paul. That leads me to what Peter says in II Peter 3:14-18. We would probably do well to take heed to his advice. Remember Peter is talking about the return of our Lord Jesus and when it is going to come. There is a delay, but it is a delay that is prompted by his desire to see many come to faith. Then, he says in verse 14, “Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given to him, as he does in all his letters, when he speaks in them of these matters.” –which I would take it to be the second coming and sanctified living— “There are some things in them that are hard to understand.” – This is from the guy who wrote about Jesus descending into hell and coming up! Boy, you would have thought this could be applied to himself—But, there are some things that Paul writes “that are hard to understand which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. You, therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people.” (Is that not interesting? We are going to talk about lawlessness in our text.) “and lose your own stability. But grow into grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him be glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (ESV)
So those are good words coming from Peter that we ought to be cautious. We ought to be careful not to be twisting scriptures— especially those which are the most difficult to understand. We ought to be careful not to be building too many cases on those kinds of texts— although we certainly ought to seek to understand them.
So, the two problems in our text that it puts before us are matters of identification; i.e., the man of lawlessness and the restrainer. We need both caution and restraint. Part of the reason we can see that is that when we look throughout the history of the church, people have been pretty fast and loose in terms of using the label, the “man of sin” or the “man of lawlessness,” and branding people.
For example, early in the history of the church, it was used for describing those vandal rebels who would come down and raid and eventually sack Rome. During the time of the crusades, it was used of Mohammed because he stole the holy places and forced people to commit apostasy. In the thirteenth century, emperor Frederick the Second and Pope Gregory the Ninth called each other the “Antichrist” because they, obviously, did not care for each other. The reformers called the pope or even the papacy itself the “Antichrist” or the “lawless one.” Then, during the counter Reformation and those Roman Catholics who were trying to rebound from the Reformation, they called Luther the “Antichrist.” Then, in the Westminster Confession in 1646, they called the pope the “man of sin” and the “son of perdition.” In the last couple of centuries, Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin have all been called the “Antichrist.” If I were to ask you, I suspect you would nominate a few more contemporary names who might also fit the category of the “Antichrist.” All of that is to say, hey, folks, so far nobody has been right. So, we need to be careful that we do not hang that label on people too quickly in a too cavalier fashion.
When you come to this whole matter of the abomination of desolation which is referred to in our text, there are earlier prototypes and later prototypes that we probably ought to take a look at, as well. You see in Daniel’s writings a discussion about the abomination of desolation. Look at verses 31 and 36 in Daniel 11:31-36. “Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate.” Then, if you look down at verse 36, “And the king will do as he wills. He shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished; for what is decreed shall be done.”
Now, when you read Paul’s words, those words resonate in our minds so Paul surely had Daniel’s prophecy in his mind as he spoke. But, you remember that Antiochus Epiphanes the IV in 169 BC, entered into the holy of holies, erected an altar to Zeus and then sacrificed a pig on it. Many would see that as a fulfillment, at least a partial fulfillment, of Daniel’s prophecies about the little horn.
Then, there was Gaius or Caligula in AD 40 that had declared that men were to set up a statue or an image of himself in the temple area and to worship him. That never got carried out, but that was his intent. Then, during the Jewish war from 66 to 70, Jewish zealots actually entered into the sanctuary and profaned it. After that, the Roman soldiers came in with the incident of the emperor and brought it into the temple area and offered sacrifices to it. So, you see that as another, if you would, instance of abomination of desolation. Paul, of course, if talking about it here in our text and after him you have the emperor cult where you have men like Augustus and Nero, but primarily Domitian who decree that men were to worship him, the emperor, as god. So, surely you are looking at something that is close to what we are reading about in Daniel.
John has some interesting words about the Antichrist and he speaks more in terms of a sort of type of person. He says, for instance, in 1 John 2:18, “Many Antichrists have come.” In 1 John 2:22 he says that the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ is an Antichrist. In 1 John 4:3, he says anyone who denies that Jesus has come in the flesh is Antichrist. So, you see that “Antichrist” becomes a sort of type and not necessarily just an individual, although he is that. Now the way I understand this is that there is multiple fulfillment of prophecy and so you see, in effect, rehearsals. I guess that is the way I would look at history. I would see that these incidents that we have seen in history are rehearsals for the big one, if you want to call it that, when the final man of lawlessness will be revealed. But, these early prototypes gives us a sense of what he will be like and how that may work itself out.
I had a couple more things here that I have hastened right past in my multipage notes. (No wonder I lost it!) Let me just talk for a minute about an observation. Paul’s purpose was not to identify the main players. Therefore, if we set ourselves to pinpoint who the man of lawlessness or who the restrainer is, then it seems we missed the point. The issue is the false teaching that the day of the Lord has come. Paul is setting out a sequence that scripture has set down. So, before the day of the Lord comes, there must first of all be this apostasy or rebellion. Then, there is the revelation of the man of lawlessness or the man of sin. Then the Lord returns and the day of the Lord is carried out. So, he is making, in a sense, a chronological argument. He is saying, no, it cannot have happened because these things that preceded have yet to take place.
Let us see a recommended approach as suggested by I Thessalonians 5:27. Remember that is where Paul in very strong words urged that this epistle that he wrote (the first epistle) be read out loud to the people in the assembly. I was reading through Revelation again and in Revelation 1:3, depending on your translation, again it says, “Blessed is the one who reads this out loud to the church.” I am taking that as a bit of a clue to how we ought to go about the interpretation of this text.
You and I, we have all kinds of copies and translations. In fact, it is one of the problems. Somebody reads the translation and everybody is saying that is not what mine reads, but you have all these different translations. Some of you have it on your handheld devices, either that or you are watching the Cowboys and you are not confessing to it! But you have it on various devices and we can do a concordance search and we can look up words and we can do all these things. Folks, they did not have the copy in their hands. All they had was a reader that read it to them and read the whole epistle. So, they did not just get one verse and they were going to deeply analyze that. They had to come away from that saying, what is he trying to say over all? What is the message of this epistle? How do these chapters fit together? So, it seems to me that what we are saying is they had to understand the text in terms of the camel, not the gnats. They did not have the opportunity to go into the gnat straining mode and so they had to listen for the main points. It seems to me that is what we need to do, as well. We need to be looking for those things which are the major points that he makes very clear and on those things that are less clear we do not put the priority on those that we might put on something else.
Okay, the mystery of lawlessness and the man of lawlessness. I put in parentheses, the man of sin. There is a textural difference in some manuscripts. So in the King James Version you will see it is called the “man of sin” as opposed to the “man of lawlessness.” It is really a kind of academic difference because in I John 3:4, he says, “Sin is lawlessness.” So, I do not think it is worth getting into some great tizzy about which of those two readings it is. We know, basically, the person to whom he is referring.
So, the mystery of lawlessness. Paul is talking about a man who is going to be revealed after the restrainer is taken out of the way. A man will be revealed who will be known as the “man of lawlessness.” He will have satanic qualities. No, that is not really the word I wanted. He will have “satanic attributes” and he will exalt himself to be worshipped like God, but he is not Satan. He is Satan-powered. He will have great abilities in terms of miracles and wonders that he performs, but before that, there is this ongoing working of lawlessness that takes place that is culminated by the revelation of the lawless one. The interesting thing I see is there is a parallel. There is this ongoing working of restraint that parallels that lawlessness and it consummates with the removal of the restrainer which opens the door, so to speak, for the man of lawlessness or the man of sin to be revealed. So, the mystery of lawlessness is ongoing throughout history up until this moment and up until the time that the man of lawlessness is revealed when it really goes big time. This is something that is not really understood. It is the mystery of lawlessness that he is talking about.
So, how do we understand the mystery of lawlessness? Well, I look at it in terms of Ephesians 3 and Ephesians 5. In Ephesians 3, Paul is saying that the mystery has not been understood. I am not saying the prophets have not foretold it, but it has not been clear that God was going to bring together Jews and Gentiles into one body, the church, and make of them one new man. It is not clear that there is this new unity and that work done in Christ now creates a relationship between Him and the church— so that in Ephesians the relationship between Christ and His church is the model, the pattern for Christian marriage. So, I see lawlessness as something which is at work, but its end game, its goal is not really fully grasped. I would say, in particular, it is not fully grasped by unbelievers. For Christians, we ought to see where it is leading. It is leading to the consummation of the revelation of the man of lawlessness. I do not think that people see it for what it is. It is something not grasped.
So, how is this mystery working itself out today? Somehow, lawlessness is ongoing, but kept under containment, to some degree, but that it is going to go full bloom. I am just making a suggestion to you. I am not saying this is inspired, but I am making a suggestion to you how Satan may be working behind the scenes to prepare our age for a lawlessness that is such that the man of lawlessness could be revealed, even in our time. Think about the proliferation of laws and lawyers and, by the way, those go hand in hand, do they not laws and lawyers? When you think about, for instance, the healthcare law, and I downloaded a copy of it and I suppose it depends on whether you do single space or double space, or whatever, but bottom line is mine had 1,990 some pages to it of the healthcare law. Already, I am told, 4,000 pages of rules and regulations have been written to implement that. Now, folks, this is the beginning of woes, sorry for that term, but it really is the beginning. All I am saying is think about this where you have this stack of laws. I think what is going to happen is we are going to be so frustrated and so fed up with laws that, frankly, we will disregard it because it is just so complicated. Who could know what in the world it says. We are still reading it to figure out what it says. You already have disregard in a sense that the majority of the country says, we do not want it. So, I think that could get carried out in a way that leads to an age of lawlessness. Another thing. The way in which our country has come to pass law, we saw this last week, here is a military appropriation bill. What you are saying is we need to pass a law that approves funds for soldiers in Afghanistan to be paid their salaries and for fuel to be purchased and weapons and all that stuff. So, what happened? They tack on all kinds of extraneous legislation which has nothing to do with the carrying on of the war. Again, what happens to people is they begin to disregard the process by which our laws are made, is that not true? There is a disregard, a disrespect for how laws are made and, therefore, there is a subtle disrespect for the law itself. So, I am saying this mystery of lawlessness is working out in our midst and I am not sure that we even see it. But, the end game is that people they just throw their hands up and say, phooey with the law. There are so many of them, they make so little sense people just want to get rid of it. Then you toss on to that the fact that the laws are being passed without a sense of the absolute.
Now, try this on for size. The biblical ideal was the Old Testament. I mean sometimes we talk about the law in negative terms, and it is if you look at as a way in which you are trying to earn God’s favor, but the reality is the law was 10 simple commandments, 10 simple commandments that people could read. They did not have to read 50,000 pages to get it all. Those commandments could be reduced to two commandments. When you look at the rest of the Old Testament books of the law, what you see is that all of the follow-up laws were simply implementation laws of those simple principles. I think you see the analogy. We have a constitution that has simple statements and the laws to follow that up. When our laws cease to honor the governing principles that are over them, then there is disrespect for the law itself. Add to that the post-modern mindset which says whatever I think is true is true for me and whatever you think is true is true for you. You add post-modernism to the mix and, my friend, the law is mighty low on the totem pole of what we respect. I think there will reach a point where there is such disregard for the law that the Lord is now going to open the gates, so to speak, restraint is going to be removed, and you are going to see this deluge of people who are following after this man of lawlessness.
The principle of restraint and the restrainer. Again, what you see is an ongoing influence. Now, think about sin and its ability, as it were to multiply in just quantum terms. When you look at the fall described in Genesis 3 and you move just that distance from Genesis 3 to Genesis 6, the heart of men have become so corrupt. The practices of men have become so corrupt that God, indeed, needed to wipe all mankind off the face of the earth.
Man is really good at developing sin. So, what did God do? Shortened man’s lifespan. That will help, but there is time to implement and carry out your stuff. He added law and government. Capital punishment, Genesis 9. So, there is a restraining effect that the law has to greater or lesser degrees, even in dictatorships. There is a sense in which there is a lid placed upon the sinfulness of man.
Then, you have the confusion of languages at Babel so that now men do not have the same collaborative freedom. God, in a sense, was putting restraint. I believe that God has exercised and carried out restraint throughout the centuries. I am not even sure in my own mind that this effort to identify “The restrainer” does justice in a sense. Let us face it. Ultimately “The restrainer” is God. Is that not true? The restrainer is God. He is the one who keeps the lid on things. What you have to restrain is not only men, but there is a whole angelic element that you see in the book of Daniel so there is something going on up here. What is going on up there and what is going on down here are somehow related. So, restraint is a huge thing. I am not sure, unless you make the restrainer God Himself, how that gets carried out. So, I think there are various components to God’s restraint, but we are not told who it is. I think you probably realize the problem. In this text, the restrainer is recognized by a neuter word and once by a masculine word so it is like you are referring to the restrainer as “It” on the one hand and “He” on the other. The way I see it is that the restraining influence that is being carried on is the “It” and the restrainer that is removed is the “He” at some point in history. Then, of course, the man of sin will be revealed and, so to speak, all hell breaks loose. Somehow, this will be personified in a man, but God is the ultimate restrainer.
Now, look at this. I think the text is really making a point of the appearance and sudden destruction of the man of lawlessness. He has said that lawlessness and the mystery of lawlessness is at work and then there will be this time when the man of lawlessness will be set free, so to speak, because the restraint has been removed. Then, the day of the Lord will come after that.
So, let us look at that man of lawlessness for a second. It seems to me that (1) the man of lawlessness is, in a way, a counterpart of Christ. That is, he exalts himself. He sets himself up to be worshipped and he has his...the technical word, parousia...he has his appearance. It is the same word used for him (2 Thess. 2:9) as for Christ’s second coming (2 Thess 2:8). So this is his coming, so to speak. So, he is a kind of counter Christ, anti-Christ, if you would. By the way, if I did not say it already, while John speaks of the term “anti-Christ” the rest of scripture talks about the “man of lawlessness.” I suspect those are one and the same person from what I understand.
So, here is this person, this man of lawlessness, who is the counterpart to our Lord Jesus and his destruction is described not as the result of a long 15-round boxing match where finally Jesus gets a TKO and Satan takes a fall. The way this is described you see that the Lord comes and that literally with His coming He, with the breath of His mouth, blows this guy away. That does not look like a wrestling match to me. Now, I would also say that when you look at scripture, in particular when you look at Daniel 7:21 and following and others, it is obvious that certain events have not been included in the description that Paul gives in our text. That is, we know that the man of lawlessness is going to have a time when he reigns and even prevails over the saints. But, Paul’s purpose is to say here is the sequence of events and unless people think this is some sort of life and death struggle, it is really not that in the sense that there is any real great balance of power. This is a matter where God has allowed the man of sin a time of freedom. Lawlessness has a time of being exercised to carry out His purposes. When He is done with the man of lawlessness, the man of lawlessness is done. So, you see it described in sudden powerful ways that makes it clear God is running this thing, not Satan. God is not doing the boxing match routine with Satan over that. That, of course, is the sovereignty of God which we are talking about.
So, let us talk about the relationship between the man of lawlessness and a lawless society. When I look at our text, it is verses 9-12 that underscore that relationship between the man of lawlessness and the people who are being led astray “by him.” Look at 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 with me,
“The coming (parousia) of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore, God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Now, there are some who would seemingly say that the man of lawlessness is turned loose and that a in a sense you have this sort of neutral group of people who He cruelly deceives and leads down this path. That is not what Paul is saying. Paul is saying the people who will be led down his path are the people who have no love for the truth. They have rejected the gospel. Because they have rejected the gospel, God sends this man who will further lead them down the whole line of delusion and falsehood because they have rejected the truth. So God gives them a man of falsehood who takes them further down that path.
I think I mentioned this before, but I go back to a couple of texts. One would be Romans 1 in my mind. Romans 1 is talking about men who have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. They heard the truth. They saw the revelation of God. They saw the demonstration of His invisible attributes and they said, “no, I am going to worship the creature rather than the Creator.” It is a deliberate choice not to believe in God and to disobey His Word. That is what these people have done, as well, but the consequence in Romans 1 is God gives them over to a depraved mind. He gives them over to a depraved life as the consequence of their choice. Now, that I see in our text as well.
Then, go with me in your mind to II Timothy 4 where Paul is talking about those last days and he says of those last days that men are going to reject the truth of God and they are going to gather men to them who will tell them the things that they want to hear. What I see is this. It is a kind of marriage. The deceiver wants followers and he tells them what they want to hear, just like the false prophets and the false teachers in II Peter and Jude too. They tell people what they want to hear. The point is people want to hear it. They choose to reject the truth. They choose to believe a lie and so when God send the man of lawlessness to them, He sends them what they want.
So, I do not want you to look at people as somehow being dragged off down the path of disbelief. These guys are running to it because they have rejected the gospel of our Lord. So, there is this dance, as it were, between the deceiver and the deceived that takes place because both of them are pursuing the same basic goals. Men get what they want and they get what they deserve.
All right, let us talk about a couple of things. By the way, I think I left some things out in my conclusions and this is a great place to stuff them in. (1) I made a comment last week about the difficulty of interpreting scripture and I basically said something like “nobody has all the answers.” I may have over spoken and given the impression that it is a futile effort when one tries to study prophecy and that it cannot be understood. If I said that, I take it back. What I meant to say was nobody in my knowledge has the ability to fill in all the blanks which God has left and, therefore, to explain all of these things. So we need to come to prophecy with a kind of caution about the particulars. But, the global message of prophecy is clear and that is, men will resist. Men will rebel and God in His sovereignty is working out his plan exactly as He wants. That is why when I see the restrainer taking place and God working, I see Him carrying out His plan. Do you know what restrain? That is not really the issue, because the issue here is about timing. Somebody has come along and said now, you know in a sense, we have turbocharged the day of the Lord and now it is here. One of the things that is very clear, and I see this in Daniel very clearly in Daniel 11:27, “And as for the two kings their hearts shall be bent on doing evil. They shall speak lies at the same table, but to no avail. For the end is yet to be at the appointed time.” Down to verse 29, “At the appointed time, he shall return.” Then, down at verse 35, “And some of the wives will stumble so that they may be refined, purified and made white until the time of the end for it still awaits for the appointed time.” What hinders the man of sin? My answer is God’s schedule. God has a schedule in time. He has a perfect plan and God is not going to allow anything to interfere with that schedule. Because He is sovereign, then He is going to restrain and keep these other things, as it were, Satan on the leash. He is on the chain and he will only be released at the moment when it is God’s time for His program to move ahead in that regard.
Oh, I wanted to say something, too, about the comments that Joseph made and that we pursued this morning in the worship time. Where Exodus 34 basically says God is gracious and kind and forgiving, but He also condemns sin, right? So you have those two dimensions which we see both carried out on the cross of our Lord. In II Thessalonians, especially chapters 1 and 2, is that not exactly what these two chapters say? When our Lord comes, He is going to come and the tribulation and the suffering approves those and demonstrates those who are worthy of His coming and of His blessings but it also is the time when He will bring about the condemnation and the judgment of those who are unbelievers. You see it in Chapter 1. You see it again in Chapter 2. God is bringing to fruition that which he said at the beginning in Exodus. What is part of God’s nature and attributes is what God executes when we come to prophecy in our text and I just think it is helpful to understand this.
So, as I said, I believe that God’s timing is the critical issue when we look at this issue of restraint and that will not be removed until the time that God has chosen. So, if there is anything that is clear to me in all of this it is that God is in control. God is sovereign and we will see that in the prayer that Paul is going to give at the end of Chapter 2 and the beginning of Chapter 3. He sees that it is the sovereign God who calls. It is the sovereign God who sanctifies. It is the sovereign God who regulates the opposition and brings about the conclusion of His purposes. That ought to say to us when I think about prophecy, I do not really need to know all the particulars. What I need to know is that God is the one Who has the plan and He has the power to make that plan work. Okay.
Let me say something for a minute about imminence and the passing of time. The nearness of His coming and yet it is distant. I think there needs to be a balance kept between two tensions of it being imminent yet, having taken so long. In Matthew 24 and in other places (I think here as well) there is a tendency for us to want the Lord to come quickly as in the four certain things must come to pass. So, what you see is here are the disciples in Matthew 24 saying, you know, “when is this all going to come about?” and even, you know, in Acts 1 they are saying, “is it now, is it now that this is going to happen?” What Jesus says is there is a whole bunch of stuff that is going to happen. (By the way, most of it is not pleasant.) So, there is a sense in which we have to grant that in God’s working. I would also say some of the things which may look like they take a lot of time may happen very quickly. I think I may have mentioned this last week. If I did not, I will mention it now. The gospel must be preached to all the world. Well, I am all in favor of missionaries going out and whatever, but Revelation 14: 6-7 says that the angel is going to go about and the gospel is going to be proclaimed to the whole globe. It will happen and it could happen in a day. But, the other side of it we need to be careful that we do not put our Lord’s coming mentally off in the distant so long away that we see it as unreal and, therefore, we are sloppy about it. I am thinking of Luke 12 where remember the servant says, well, my master is gone. He is gone for a long time and so he beats the slaves and does all that. Let us be careful that we do not think like that. Although his coming could be imminent, there is a sequence of things that must take place. The lawlessness and the coming of the man of lawlessness must come before that, as I see it. At the end game, there also is a danger of saying it is so far off somehow that I do not need to worry about it. You have to hold both of those true. It is near, but there may be a wait. I think both of those are involved.
I want to say one more thing that you will not find here, but I was going to say earlier. As I have been reading our Lord’s words and Paul’s words about the coming of our Lord, I think there is a danger of thinking that the thing we fear is fear itself. That sounds familiar, does it not. When you read our Lord and He is saying do not be fearful or do not be frightened, I am not sure that those words are implying only fright. I would like to suggest to you that there may be other ways in which the events that take place could rattle us. Think about our Lord. Think about His kind of messiah-ship. What Israel wanted, what the disciples wanted was a Messiah who would come and throw Rome out and would rule immediately over these political powers. Then all the apostles could sit on their 12 thrones in all their glory. Is that not what they wanted? When it became apparent at our Lord’s trial that he was not going down that path the crowd instantly flips. Even Peter bails for a moment. The crowd flips and now they want Barabbas rather than Jesus. Why? Because Barabbas was an insurrectionist. He was given to violence and they wanted violence. They did not want the one who did not utter a word in His own defense.
So now when you see Peter and Paul (Peter in I Peter 2 and Paul in Romans 13) teaching about the government, what do they say? They say submit to governmental power. They say we ought to be subject to masters but also subject, in a sense, to those powers that God has placed over us. I know that there are qualifications but set that aside for a moment to look at the big picture. They are saying do not be a revolutionary. So that when Jesus comes, men may glorify Him, not because of our rabblerousing, but because we have lived righteous lives. So, it seems to me that when you look then at the Jewish revolt in 66-70 A.D., that is exactly what our Lord was saying to Christians: do not join that army. Those people wanted to bring about, as it were, the kingdom of God by revolt.
I think there is a way— and I am speaking for myself now— when I watch the news and hear of circumstances, it makes me madder and madder. You know, like “where is my gun.” I just want to resist and it is getting mad out there. Yet, it seems to me that what our text is saying, where He says the Lord, when He comes, will take care of it with a breath of His mouth that he is not talking about everybody packing Uzis. He says God will take care of this guy in His time and He will take care of him quickly. So, I would say this. For some of us it may be fear and panic that we face. For others of us it may be anger that we experience. Yet, if God is really in control then He is going to bring His plan to pass in His time.
Last point. Why is Paul so concerned about the Thessalonians and the fact that they may embrace this error and be led down, as it were, the garden path? Why is that more of a concern to Paul than it is for us? I realize it was last week in the news that you had a group of a few women and a few kids and they went up to a park and they sat there and waited for the Lord to come. At least they were not packing guns or drinking Kool-Aid. So, I say, you know, as crazy as that was, at least they believe. They really believe Jesus is coming. I think that what happened with the Thessalonians is they are suffering so much and their hope is fixed so much on the future that when somebody comes and offers them what looks to be Jesus who is bringing about the fulfillment of His plans, they jump for it. Now, that is why you need the instruction and the caution and all these things that Paul has set forth. I think when we read it we sit back in our chairs and are rather blasé. I think what that says is we are not as eager for the coming of Christ as they were. It may be because we have gotten too thick with the world. It may be we are too comfy and cozy. In that coziness the world may not be on us like they were on them. So, I say to you when we read this, if it sounds foreign to us, that may be a message to us that maybe we are not in danger because we just do not love His coming and look for it as much as we should!
Well, I pray that God will give us something to think about this week in that regard.
Father, we thank You for Your Word. We thank You for this text and we thank You that You have a lid on everything that is contrary to Your purposes. We also thank You that in Your time You will remove that and You will allow Satan and the man of sin to have their day— but only for Your purposes. I pray that those who are listening to my words may be those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus and who have the assurance of eternal life knowing where they will be and what their destiny is because of Him. If there is anyone here who has never trusted in the Lord Jesus, who has never acknowledged that they are a sinner in rebellion against God, I pray that You might work in their heart. Convince them of their sin and of the judgment that rightly follows. May they trust in Jesus Who is gracious and compassionate and eager to forgive and Who has died on the cross of Calvary so that men might live forever. May they trust in Him. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.