The Signs of The Times
As we’ve studied 1 & 2 Thessalonians, We’ve discussed: 1. 2nd Coming 2. Heaven 3. Hell The church there was confused about WHEN Jesus would return. One false teaching said: “Jesus has already returned.” In today’s lesson, Paul says: “No, he hasn’t.” “There are some things that will precede his return.” 1) Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him,we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 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. 2) 3 Things To Happen Before Christ Returns 1. Rebellion occurs 2. Man of lawlessness (Antichrist) is revealed 3. Antichrist established in temple & proclaims himself to be God There are 3 passages that will help us understand this passage. 3) Mt 24:24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 4) 1 Jn 2:18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. Both passages show us there isn’t just ONE Antichrist. Who is the Antichrist? A spiritual leader of darkness chosen by satan. History has shown us many. It is dangerous to label someone as Antichrist, & predict 2nd Coming based on that assumption. Rev 13:1-10 2 characters: Dragon- satan Beast- Antichrist 5) The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. 2 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. 4 People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?”5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.7 It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world. The are a couple of ways to understand these passages. 1. Literally 2. Figuratively If you view this literally, You see this as a future event. If you view this figuratively, You likely see this as a past event. Premillenialists identify Antichrist as: final embodiment of evil who gains world dominion: -before 2nd Coming & start of 1,000 year reign Amillenialists identify Antichrist as: One of Roman emperors (Nero, Domitian & Caligula) All three emperors: -viewed themselves as a “god” -insisted on being worshipped -killed those who refused Caligula attempted to set-up his statue in Temple. Which fits in with 2 Thes 2:4 6) 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. Paul tells them not to be surprised. Many evil things will happen before Christ returns. 7) 5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. Paul says: 8) 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; The Antichrist was already at work. Lawlessness is chaos. That’s what satan wants. There is one (vss. 6 & 7), who is holding the Antichrist’s lawlessness back. Who’s holding him back? There are three suggestions: 1. Government & law 2. The Church 3. The Holy Spirit One day (vs. 7) the restrainer will be taken out of way. God will allow society to become more evil. When that happens, the lawless one will be revealed. 9) 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. Paul tells them that these things will happen before Christ returns. Satan & his forces will deceive those Who refuse to accept Christ. 10) He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. God sends a delusion to those who close their hearts to Him. He hardens their hearts. One day satan will be overthrown. Jesus will return & satan will be bound. John describes it this way 11) Rev 20:7 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore.9 They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur,where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. This is the picture of the final outcome. The victory has already been decided. The devil is powerful, but he holds no power over God’s people. So how should we live? As bold people 12) 1 Jn 4:4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. As believers, we have nothing to fear. The Holy Spirit in us, is more powerful than satan. With that truth, Paul finishes the chapter with encouragement. 13) 2 Thes 2:13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.