II THESSALONIANS 2:4-8: “He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God. Don’t you remember that I told you about all this when I was with you? And you know what is holding him back, for he can be revealed only when his time comes. For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way. Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming.” NLT
OBSERVATION: A day is coming – when all hell breaks loose! It is a day that will be unlike any other day. We read the news today and think it is bad. This day will make everything that has happened in history look like child’s play.
Imagine a world without any restraint. A world where evil has full sway!
This is referred to in the Bible as the “Day of the Lord.” This day always refers to the Great Tribulation and God’s final dealing with mankind. At the beginning of this time, the spirit of the antichrist will be manifested in the true Antichrist. He will rise in power and nothing will stop him for a period of time. All hell will break loose! When will this happen?
When the ONE who is holding him back steps out of the way!
This is such a comforting promise for the church. The Thessalonians were under the impression that the persecution they were experiencing was the Day of the Lord. In Paul’s first letter to this church he had written about the “catching away,” or the rapture of the church. It would be a glorious day when the church would meet the Lord Jesus Christ in the air. The dead in Christ would rise first and then those remaining alive would be joined with them to always be with the Lord.
The ONE that Paul refers to is the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that now restrains evil from having its full power on the earth. When will the Holy Spirit step out of the way? It will be when the church is raptured to be with Christ. We must understand the Holy Spirit’s ministry in the New Covenant. In the Old Covenant, the Holy Spirit was present in the world but only rested upon certain prophets and leaders. In the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit indwells every believer in Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit now works in the earth through the Church.
When the Church is removed from the earth, the true Church, those who are true believers in Jesus Christ, then the ONE who now is holding back the Antichrist will be taken out of the way. Why did Paul write about the Day of the Lord to the Thessalonians if the church was not going to go through this time? It was to correct false teaching that the Day of the Lord had already begun.
- “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.” II Thessalonians 2:1-2 NKJV
Some false teachers had been circulating a letter that was teaching the Day of the Lord had already begun. Paul exhorts them “…not to be shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us – as though the day of Christ (Day of the Lord) had come.” How does Paul comfort them regarding this false teaching? He makes it clear in the first verse of the second chapter.
“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him…”
There are two distinct events that will take place. The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Second Coming (at the end of the Great Tribulation, the Day of the Lord, Revelation 19); and our gathering together to Him (the catching away, the rapture of the church, I Thessalonians 4:13-18). The first is what they feared had already taken place. The latter was to comfort them that they would not be going through the Great Tribulation.
Paul then outlines what will take place during the Great Tribulation. This reflects what is written in the Book of Daniel, and later expounded in the book of Revelation, which had not been written at this time. Why did Paul go through such detail if the church was not going to be present during this time? It was to help them understand that the tribulation they were going through paled in comparison to what would be revealed. And, that before this could be revealed – the church would be gathered together with Christ!
Many object to the teaching of the rapture because the word is not found in the Bible. Yet, we use words that are not found in the Bible all the time to define the truths of the Bible. We use the word Trinity to define the revelation of one God, eternally existent in three distinct persons – the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit. If one feels better using the term “catching away,” which is the literal translation of the Greek – so be it. The bottom line is this.
Before the Day of the Lord, the ONE who is holding Him back (through the Church) will be taken out of the way!
Before all hell breaks loose – WE WILL HEAR THE TRUMPET CALL OF GOD! I find great comfort in this truth. How should I respond to this comfort? Should I simply sit back, safe and secure, knowing that the rapture is coming? Or, should I be motivated to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with everyone I can so that they too will be rescued from the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord?
Lord, help me to be motivated to reach others for Jesus Christ! Help me to walk in comfort and a sense of urgency at the same time. Your trumpet call could sound any time and then – all hell would break loose! Help me to lead as many I can to faith in Jesus Christ before that day.
In Jesus Name!